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Lawmakers add F-35s, keep JSTARS in proposed NDAA

US lawmakers have proposed adding billions of dollars and dozens of combat aircraft to the Trump's Administration's request.

The House and Senate armed services committees released details of a conference report on a $700 billion National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) that boosts the number of Lockheed Martin F-35s and maintains the Northrop Grumman E-8C JSTARS recapitalisation programme.

Like Trump’s proposed budget, Congress’ $640 billion NDAA still exceeds budget control act caps. The bill would also authorise another $60 billion in overseas contingency operations funding, which are not subject to the caps, adding to a total Defense Department budget of $700 billion. The authorisation bill stop short of approving funding, which must come from a conference report that reconciles the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill.

While the armed services committees agreed on the report language this week, the two full chambers have not yet signed the deal.

The president’s initial budget requested 70 F-35s, but the NDAA conference authorises the military to purchase 20 more if funding are approved by the appropriations committees.

The House-Senate conference also authorised the Navy to buy 24 Boeing F/A-18E/F, or 10 more than requested by the White House last spring.

The proposed NDAA also doubles the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey authorisation to 12 tiltrotors and more than doubles the Boeing CH-47F Chinook request to 14 heavy-lift helicopters.

The conference report also authorises the Army to buy 71 Boeing AH-64E Apaches, or 11 higher than the White House requested. The army also would be authorised to buy 53 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks, or five more than the Pentagon requested.

The House and Senate lawmakers agreed to keep an authorisation for $417.2 million to begin replacing the 17-aircraft JSTARS fleet, despite a pending review by the USAF that could cancel the programme.

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