Defense

Congress clashes with Army over buying cargo helicopters

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Both the House and Senate appropriators are injecting money into the Boeing-manufactured, F-model Chinook program in fiscal 2021 to purchase them for the lively drive after the Army determined in FY20, so as to fund its future fleet of helicopters, that it might solely buy Block II plane, designated the “G” mannequin, for Army particular operations models.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s protection subpanel desires to extend the Chinook account by $119 million on high of the Army’s request for $160.7 million for F-model plane.

Along with the extra funding, the committee “strongly encourages” the Army secretary to “assess the increased cost, expected production issues, as well as industrial base risks of a delay in the Block II modernization,” in line with the Defense Subcommittee’s FY21 spending invoice launched Nov. 10.

The committee additionally notes that an impartial evaluation of alternate options decided the Block II program was “the best value” and “would improve payload capability while decreasing sustainment costs.”

A delay in manufacturing would “cause uncertainty in the domestic supply chains, and delay or reduce the promised benefits of the modernization,” the committee wrote.

The appropriators additionally increase the problem that the Army has no plans to develop a future heavy-lift cargo helicopter.

The House Appropriations Committee, in its invoice launched in July, is extra particular, offering funding for 5 CH-47F helicopters in FY21 — which the committee estimates would price $198 million — and an extra $29 million in superior procurement funding to “enable the second lot of five F Block II aircraft in fiscal year 2022.”

The committee’s protection subpanel wrote that it “expects the Secretary of the Army to restore funding for the CH-47F Block II program across the next future years defense program when the fiscal year 2022 budget request is submitted.”

While the House and Senate payments differ in funding quantities, each clarify the congressional intent to make sure the Block II variant is fielded to the lively part in addition to to particular operations models. The closing funding stage can be labored out in convention committee.

Congressional appropriators and authorizers elevated advance procurement funds in FY20 by $28 million for the CH-47F in preparation to produce the plane to the lively drive in opposition to the Army’s needs.

The Army once more, in its FY21 funds request, didn’t present funding for the F-model variant. The service plans to purchase 69 particular operations variants. The unique plan was to acquire 473 F-model helicopters for the lively part.

The service is planning to overview its complete aviation fleet in FY23, however whether or not that may embrace a change of coronary heart relating to the F-model Chinook manufacturing stays to be seen.

Army management has harassed the necessity to make troublesome choices on the present fleet so as to fund future helicopters anticipated to return on-line in a decade.





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