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Draft US defence spending bill funds 11 more F-35s and 14 F/A-18s

The Lockheed Martin F-35 and Boeing F/A-18E/F has received strong support from lawmakers in the US House of Representatives, with the defence appropriations subcommittee voting today on a draft spending bill that would buy 11 more Lightning IIs and 14 more Super Hornets than requested by the Pentagon for fiscal year 2017.

The committee has recommended $8.3 billion for 74 F-35 aircraft compared to the 63 requested by the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The navy and the air force listed five F-35As and two carrier-based F-35Cs on their respective "unfunded priority" lists to Congress in March.

The navy sought just two F/A-18E/Fs and zero Super Hornet-based EA-18G Growler electronic attack jets in its base budget submission in February, but then recommended 14 more to meet an unfunded need. The draft defence appropriations bill now includes $1.35 billion for 16 F/A-18E/Fs.

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US Navy

The subcommittee also supports buying more Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks, with $1.2 billion recommended for 72 new aircraft. Another $1.25 billion buys 52 remanufactured Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships, plus 10 new examples off the assembly line in Mesa, Arizona.

The draft spending bill would meet the US Defence Department’s request for Boeing-made military aircraft, including 15 KC-46 Pegasus tankers ($2.8 billion), 11 P-8A Poseidon submarine hunters ($1.8 billion) and 27 heavy-lift CH-47 Chinooks ($689 million).

The draft bill recommends $70.8 billion for military research and development, or $664 million more than requested by the department in February, with full support for the Lockheed F-35 and the Northrop Grumman B-21 bomber and MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle programmes, as well as the air force’s Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalisation.

In terms of aircraft procurement, $15.9 billion has been recommended for the navy, $14.3 billion for the air force and $4.6 billion for the army.

Once approved by the full subcommittee, the bill will be considered and voted on by the House and then reconciled with the version approved by the Senate.

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US Army

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