This is GOOD news EXCEPT for the FA/22 program being in jeopardy.
From: Aerospace Daily
New Bomber, Cruise Missiles Get Boost From House Panel
By Marc Selinger
The House Armed Services projection forces subcommittee approved a fiscal 2004 defense authorization bill May 7 that adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bush Administration's budget request to jumpstart development of a new bomber aircraft, boost procurement of the Affordable Weapon and Tactical Tomahawk cruise missiles, and partially undo a decision to retire part of the B-1B Lancer bomber fleet.
The bill provides $100 million for a new research and development initiative for a next-generation, deep-strike, stealthy bomber. Subcommittee Chairman Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) said the Air Force needs to start efforts now to replace its aging fleet of bombers. The Air Force is not scheduled to begin the bomber replacement process until about 2013.
The subcommittee also increased the Administration's request by $376 million to buy more Raytheon Tactical Tomahawks, though it included language by subcommittee ranking Democrat Gene Taylor (Miss.) that would shift up to $200 million of that money to the purchase of long-lead items for an LPD-17 class ship if more Tomahawk funds are provided in a future war-related supplemental appropriations request.
The authorization bill endorses a multi-year procurement of Tactical Tomahawks that would begin in FY '04 and provide "a quantity of missiles to be determined by the secretary of the Navy," according to language that has not been publicly released but that was obtained by Aerospace Daily.
Navy officials have said they could use more Tomahawks to replenish inventories depleted by recent military operations.
"They have to be built back up," Bartlett told reporters.
The subcommittee increased the Administration's request by $178 million so the Navy could speed up procurement of the Titan Corp.-developed Affordable Weapon, a new, relatively low-cost cruise missile.
23 B-1s spared
The bill also adds $20 million to sustain 23 of the 32 B-1s that the Air Force plans to retire. Retiring all 32 would reduce the B-1 fleet to 60 aircraft, an inventory Bartlett said is too small.
The bill contains $229 million that could be used to sustain the Air Force's aging KC-135E air refuelers or to prepare for a purchase or lease of new Boeing 767 tankers. The Air Force is considering a proposal to lease 100 767 tankers.
The subcommittee approved language that would block the retirement of C-5As until the Air Force completes a study to determine whether it makes sense to re-engine the aging transports.
As expected, the bill adds $182 million to the request to increase the Air Force's procurement of Boeing C-17 transports from 11 planes to 12 (DAILY, May 7).
In the ship area, the bill would authorize a multi-year procurement for seven Virginia-class submarines. The legislation also calls for several studies on potential future fleet architectures for the Navy.
F/A-22 'tweak' planned
Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, told The DAILY that he plans to "tweak" the Air Force's F/A-22 Raptor program when his subcommittee considers its portion of the FY '04 defense authorization bill May 9.
Weldon said details are not final, but he indicated in late April that he was considering cutting two aircraft from the Air Force's FY '04 request for 22 F/A-22s (DAILY, May 1).
The Lockheed Martin-built F/A-22 has been plagued by cost, schedule and technical problems. If those problems are not resolved, then "next year, we'll cancel the program," Weldon warned late May 6.
Weldon also said his portion of the bill makes no significant changes in the Administration's request for the Army RAH-66 Comanche helicopter and the multi-service V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
Senate Armed Services subcommittees continued to meet behind closed doors May 7 to consider their version of the FY '04 defense authorization bill.