Congress To Request More C-17s In FY-08 Warfighting Supplemental




 
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February 8th, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Congress To Request More C-17s In FY-08 Warfighting Supplemental


Inside The Air Force
February 8, 2008
Pg. 1
The chairman of the powerful House Appropriations defense subcommittee said he plans to request funds in the fiscal year 2008 warfighting supplemental for a substantial C-17 Globemaster buy.
“We’ll definitely have 14 C-17s in” the FY-08 supplemental, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)told a gaggle of reporters Feb. 7 on Capitol Hill. His subcommittee would also insert dollars “to buy enough [C-]130s to reduce the price by $10 million a pop.”
Murtha’s comments come days after the Pentagon refused to close the Boeing C-17 production line in its fiscal year 2009 budget proposal, rebuffing the White House’s demands to fully-finance the Globemaster’s termination.
The decision to leave the C-17 production line open was announced during a Feb. 4 budget briefing by DOD Comptroller Tina Jonas. The Pentagon is not requesting any new C-17s, but defense officials declined to budget termination dollars in the FY-09 blueprint because Congress has overruled past efforts to cease production, she said.
After DOD and the Air Force chose not to request new C-17s in the FY-08 budget proposal, lawmakers approved $2.3 billion for eight more Globemasters in the FY-08 Defense Authorization Act. The FY-08 Defense Appropriations Act contained no corresponding funding.
However, appropriators “may consider procurement of additional [C-17] planes in [the] warfighting supplemental appropriations bill,” according to a November 2007 report on the FY-08 defense budget prepared by the Congressional Research Service.
“We looked at that,” Jonas said of the FY-08 congressional adds, “and we feel that the shutdown costs ought to be then included in a future budget.”
While this year’s budget request punts the C-17’s future squarely into the lap of the next administration, the current occupants of the White House made their feelings on the Globemaster quite clear last year. On Nov. 26, OMB directed the Pentagon to find an additional $243 million to pay the entire $485 million bill in FY-09 for an “efficient and orderly” shut down of the C-17 assembly line once all aircraft ordered by the U.S. government and foreign buyers are complete. Ultimately, that guidance was not followed.
But the Pentagon’s decision to keep the C-17 line open will not automatically translate into a new Globemaster buy for FY-09, senior Air Force officials said during a service budget briefing on Feb. 4.
Maj. Gen. Larry Spencer, the Air Force budget director said any future C-17 acquisition decision will be based on three factors: the future of the C-5 modernization, the impact of Army and Marine Corps growth and pressures of burgeoning airlift requirements across the globe.
On future airlift requirements, the two-star general noted the continued growth within U.S. Africa Command represented one of the near-term challenges to airlift capability. DOD earmarked $389 million in the FY-09 proposal for AFRICOM stand up operations.
“The way I like to look at this is kind of like a triangle,” Spencer said. “So right now, we are really trying to settle down [and see] what is the real requirement for C-17.”
One leg of that triangle -- C-5 modernization -- continues to be a contentious issue for Air Force officials.
The service’s C-5 re-engining and replacement program (RERP) breached Nunn-McCurdy per-unit cost growth ceilings last September.
DOD acquisition czar John Young was expected to issue a recertification plan to Congress on C-5 RERP last month, but lingering concerns over certain aspects of the program prompted Young to seek more time to decide on the program’s recertification.
C-5 RERP and a separate avionics modernization effort are intended to completely revamp the Air Force’s Galaxy airlifters.
That revamped fleet of A and B-model C-5s is expected to fill the strategic airlift gap left by the termination of the C-17 line, Air Force officials have said.
“The determination and recertification -- and what the recertification of that is -- will have a play in whether there are additional C-17s,” Richard Lombardi, the service’s director of budget, said during the Feb. 4 service briefing. “We have to take a look and see what happens with the re-engining program, whether we do the A [model], B [model] or whatever.”
While the pending DOD decision on C-5 RERP will more than likely shift the air service’s future C-17 plans, one senior Joint Staff official dismissed Spencer’s claim that ground force increases will require more Globemasters.
Vice Adm. Stephen Stanley, the Joint Staff’s director for force structure, resources and assessment, said Army and Marine Corps growth and future C-17 procurement were “not directly related.”
“Our strategic lift requirement is based on different scenarios, different war-fighting scenarios,” he said during the DOD briefing. “Just because we grew the size of the ground forces doesn’t mean that our predictions about the percentage of those forces that need to be rapidly deployed, like the strategic airlift, has changed.”
The Air Force’s high-profile 2005 Mobility Capability Study determined that a total of 292 airlifters -- a mix of C-17s and C-5s -- could perform anticipated future missions.
But U.S. Transportation Command chief Gen. Norton Schwartz informed Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) that a total of 205 C-17s would be needed to fill the 316-plane requirement to meet the U.S. military’s strategic airlift goals, a staffer told sister publication Inside the Pentagon in January.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the staffer said Schwartz informed Levin that a mix of 205 C-17s and 111 C-5s would be the “overall the sweet spot” to meet current and future airlift requirements.
--Carlo Muñoz
 


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