The U.S. House of Representatives approved the final version of the annual defense policy bill on Thursday, a measure that blocked the Pentagon from carrying out several changes aimed at saving money because they would cut jobs in lawmakers’ home districts.
Davis said it would likely take another year before lawmakers were more open to changes that would make the services more efficient. “We’re still one budget cycle out from ... where we can truly do the things that make sense because we don’t have the money to do everything.”
Davis said there was some flexibility in the way the defense policy bill was phrased, but the bill would force the services to continue work on some programs the Pentagon had tried to cancel, without Congress providing the needed funding.
“It worries me a lot,” he said. “It clearly does not reflect the fact that we have significant bills that we cannot pay right now, and they’re going to grow through 2014.”
The Air Force’s top priorities were to protect a fixed-price contract it has signed with Boeing Co for 179 new refueling planes and safeguard the already reduced annual buy of Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, as well as a classified program to develop a new bomber, Davis said.
He said the Air Force’s approach to acquisitions reflected the more budget-conscious times.
The service is doing initial technology development work on the new bomber, but that work was focused heavily on “what’s already been out there, what’s been tested, what’s been proven,” rather than pushing for brand new technologies.
“It’ll be a bomber that meets our requirements, but we won’t stretch the requirements to the point that we have to go out and invent a whole bunch of technology in order to do it. We just won’t do it. Can’t afford it. Won’t happen,” he said.