The House Armed Services Committee’s $731.6 billion fiscal year 2021 defense authorization bill sets up key debate with the Senate on cuts to the F-35 program and adjustments to various shipbuilding programs to fund advanced procurement of a second Virginia-class submarine.

HASC’s NDAA markup is split between a $667.7 billion base budget and $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, and also authorizes $1 billion for COVID-19-related funds.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

Committee aides told reporters Wednesday while the HASC NDAA supports the budget request for 79 F-35 aircraft the markup cuts at least $561 million from various upgrades and line items.

“With regard to F-35, the subcommittee recommendation does not satisfy the request for additional funding for F-35s, any variant. The subcommittee believes the F-35 program is troubled enough as it is,” a committee aide said. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s NDAA authorized over $9 billion for the F-35, including procurement of 95 aircraft (Defense Daily, June 11). 

The cuts in the House mark were based on “program performance with Block IV delays that are going on right now and challenges that are happening in other parts of the program,” according to committee aides.

HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, in their markup, expressed concern over the F-35 program and called for information involving the F-35’s future production plans, the Block 4 hardware and software development upgrades, and other modernization and training system efforts before endorsing a full-rate production decision (Defense Daily, June 23). 

For the Virginia-class submarine, while the Senate and House both restore funding that was cut in the president’s budget request, HASC’s NDAA includes an additional $2.6 billion to fully fund advanced procurement of the platform. To meet the additional funds, cuts were instead made to other programs in the shipbuilding portfolio, according to committee aides.

SASC’s NDAA added only an additional $472 million for advanced procurement of Virginia-class submarines (Defense Daily, June 11). 

“The Senate did nothing to fund the second submarine in FY ‘21. They added $472 million of advanced procurement. The second submarine in FY ‘21 has already got all of its advanced procurement, already appropriated and authorized in previous years. So there’s nothing they did to fund the second submarine, even though I believe their summary tries to make the claim that they did,” a committee aide told reporters. “We believe it was absolutely vital that the second submarine be put back. It’s the right thing to do and it was number one on the Navy’s unfunded [priorities] list.”

The Navy in December awarded a $22.2 billion contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat [GD], its largest shipbuilding deal to date, for nine Block V Virginia-class attack submarines and an option for a 10th (Defense Daily, Dec. 2).

HASC is set to mark-up their version of the NDAA beginning on July 1.