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US House panel approves more aircraft in budget plan

Appropriators in the US House of Representatives would add billions to the Fiscal 2018 defence budget partly to boost funding for more aircraft.

A budget proposal released on 25 June by the House appropriations subcommittee on defence would spend $658 billion in the fiscal year that begins on 1 October, or $18 billion more than the Trump Administration requested in a budget request sent to Congress in late May.

Both proposals exceed the spending limit set by the Budget Control Act of 2012, requiring a majority in both houses of Congress to approve a waiver or repeal the five-year-old law.

The subcommittee’s proposal still faces a long road to passage, starting with approval by the full appropriations committee and then by all members of Congress. The Senate is set to start working on its own version of the bill.

Meanwhile, the House subcommittee wants the Pentagon to buy two dozen more fighters, including 14 more Lockheed Martin F-35s and 10 more Boeing F/A-18E/Fs than Trump requested. If approved, the subcommittee’s version of the bill would raise the overall number of fighters procured in FY2018 to 108, including 84 F-35s and 24 F/A-18E/Fs.

The subcommittee also approved buying 56 Lockheed/Sikorsky UH-60M utility helicopters, or eight more Black Hawks than the Administration asked for. In the publicly released version of the bill, the subcommittee also adds funds to buy 12 General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1Cs, or one more of the unmanned air systems than the army requested.

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