Congress has extended the service’s funding until April, instead of passing a defense spending bill for 2017, giving the GOP-controlled legislative branch and the White House time to decide how to direct the budget for the rest of the fiscal year.
The service restored funding for eight C-130Js and five F-35s, in its original $7.2 billion list of unfunded priorities. These were cut from 2017’s fiscal budget request, but the new list calls for two MC-130Js, 11 C-130Js, an HC-130J, and doubles the number of F-35As the force would find, if it can get the money.
Some line items reflect new priorities for the service, like an $8 million experimental light attack aircraft program that could signal future Light Attack/Armed Reconnaissance OA-X development.
After a January incident at Minot Air Force Base, in which a B-52 lost an engine mid-flight during a training exercise, the force added $10 million for a re-engining risk-reduction study for the aging bomber.
According to Defense News, the force also added $63 million to modify the EC-130H Compass Call, $120 million for its Operational Control System (OCX) program, and about $51 million to fund the new Nuclear Command, Control and Communications program office’s manpower requirements.