November 19, 2013
Debate on the Senate’s version of the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill is underway, and lawmakers are considering a long list of amendments, including one that proposes to limit the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt.
The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), would prevent the Air Force from retiring or placing the A-10 in storage until the F-35A is fully operational — a milestone that Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh has said he hopes will happen in 2021.
And in what could be a rare sign of bipartisan agreement — or a sense of resignation — for the first time in recent memory the White House has not threatened to veto the Senate’s version of the defense authorization bill.
That said, the Office of Management and Budget’s Statement of Administration Policy, issued Nov. 18, does raise a number of concerns about the bill. For example, the Obama administration opposes a $100 million cut to the Navy’s Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) weapon development, saying the system is required for the Pentagon’s emphasis on the Asia-Pacific theater. The program “is essential to supporting future operations against heavily defended targets in anti-access/area-denied environments” and leverages investments by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to provide the technology in “the most expeditious and economical manner at the lowest risk,” the statement says.
The administration also is pushing back against a provision in the defense bill that would require the Navy to maintain the number of EP-3 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. The Pentagon is working toward a Maritime ISR and Targeting Transition Plan that would move from EP-3 aircraft to P-8 aircraft and MQ-4C Triton UAVs for that ISR mission, the statement says.