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Senate appropriators: Kill JLTV, cut JSF $695M

Sep. 13, 2011 - 12:30PM   |   Last Updated: Sep. 13, 2011 - 12:30PM  |  
Sen. Daniel Inouye said that most of the nearly 600 line-item reductions in the defense bill were "a result of program terminations, schedule delays, programs changes since submission of the budget last February, inadequate justification, unaffordable future year costs, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline."
Sen. Daniel Inouye said that most of the nearly 600 line-item reductions in the defense bill were "a result of program terminations, schedule delays, programs changes since submission of the budget last February, inadequate justification, unaffordable future year costs, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline." (Getty Images)

In its markup of the 2012 defense spending bill, the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense is recommending terminating the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and cutting $695 million from the Air Force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

The moves are part of a $26 billion cut to the Pentagon's 2012 budget request.

Last week, the full appropriations committee agreed to allocate $513 billion for the Pentagon's 2012 base budget, not including military construction. This freezes defense spending at 2011 spending levels.

The full committee also agreed to fully fund the president's request of $118 billion for overseas contingency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"While this was not an easy allocation to meet, I can assure you that this recommendation takes care of our men and women in uniform and their families, fully supports military readiness, protects the forces, and maintains our technological edge," committee chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Tuesday in his opening statement.

At the markup, Inouye announced a cut of $1.2 billion to JSF. However, later in the day, a committee spokesman issued a correction, saying the recommendation was for $695 million.

The subcommittee bill will now move to the full committee, which plans to mark up the bill Thursday.

Fiscal year 2012 begins Oct. 1. Without any appropriations bills passed, Congress will have to pass a temporary spending measure, called a continuing resolution, to keep the government funded beyond Sept. 30.

To meet the $26 billion cut, the subcommittee recommended nearly 600 line-item reductions in the bill.

"Most of these reductions are made as a result of program terminations, schedule delays, programs changes since submission of the budget last February, inadequate justification, unaffordable future year costs, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline," said Inouye, who also serves as subcommittee chair.

For example, the Defense Department identified more than $10 billion that they no longer need in 2012, including $5 billion in excess funds due to troop reductions in Afghanistan that President Obama announced after the budget was submitted.

Inouye said the commander in Afghanistan who oversees training Afghanistan Security Forces identified $1.6 billion that is no longer needed. Another $135 million was cut from the Air Force's tanker replacement program because service leaders said they could not spend the money by the end of next year.

As for the cut to the JSF program, Inouye cited "excessive concurrency in development and production," and recommended maintaining 2011 production levels for two more years "in order to limit out-year cost growth."

"The test program is only 10 percent complete, yet the request continues to ramp up production of aircraft in fiscal years 2012 and 2013," Inouye said. "For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing."

The subcommittee also recommends terminating the Army and Marine Corps JLTV program, which was started as an effort to build a next-generation Humvee.

The program has faced growing scrutiny over the last few years, with other vehicles promising similar capabilities and the Marine Corps expressing concern about the vehicle's weight. Since the program's inception, the services have fielded thousands of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicles to Afghanistan and have launched a competitive Humvee recapitalization program.

In recommending termination, Inouye cited "excessive cost growth and constantly changing requirements. The committee believes that alternatives exist today to meet the Army and Marine Corps' requirements to recapitalize and competitively upgrade the Humvee fleet, and supports funding for those programs."

DoD is currently paying three industry teams to develop JLTV technology.

In February, DoD announced that the award of the JLTV engineering and manufacturing development contract would be delayed until January 2012 because the Army had changed its requirements.

"Some defense and trade analysts suggest that the JLTV program will cost well over $10 billion and possibly as much as $30 billion to $70 billion, depending on the final cost of the vehicles chosen and the number of vehicles procured," the Congressional Research Service reported in March.

The subcommittee bill does not fund the Navy's request for an additional Mobile Landing Platform ship, noting the Congress funded it in the 2011 appropriations bill.

"We believe that this remains an important requirement and expect the Navy to fund the third ship in the fiscal year 2013 request," Inouye said.

In some areas, the subcommittee recommended increased spending.

The bill includes an additional $250 million for vehicle survivability upgrades for MRAPs, an additional $500 million for National Guard and Reserve equipment, and an additional $240 million for Abrams tank upgrades.

It also fully funds the Pentagon's research and development request and increases funding for cyber security, nanotechnology and space situational awareness.

Speaking to reporters after the markup, Inouye said the bill included funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System, a tri-national program with Germany and Italy.

The Pentagon announced in February that it no longer intended to purchase the MEADS system, but required $800 million over the next three years to capitalize on the research and development.

The subcommittee fully funds the Pentagon's requested end strength and the 1.6 percent authorized pay raise for military personnel.

Some may consider the recommended cuts as tough, but Inouye said the subcommittee believed they were "fair and prudent."

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