Lawmakers have once again restored funding for the Army’s CH-47F Chinook Block II program not included in the service’s budget request, with the House Appropriations Committee providing for procurement of a full second set of five aircraft and long-lead funding for a third set in its proposed $706 billion fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill.
The $170 million increase for the heavy-lift aircraft in the bill is intended to “ensure that the Army stays on schedule with the program of record,” the committee wrote in a statement, after the service requested funding for just six MH-47G platforms exclusively for special operators.
The Army has received pushback each time it’s looked to reduce funding for the Boeing [BA]-built CH-47 as a means of shifting dollars toward higher priority modernization efforts, to include Congress blocking an attempt to reduce the program during the last budget cycle and instead adding $189 million for the program to include production of five aircraft (Defense Daily, Dec. 22).
However, the Army did include an additional $252 million to procure five more CH-47F Block II heavy-lift aircraft in its unfunded priorities list submitted to Congress on June 1, noting that a “lack of funding will result in a one year slip” in the current schedule and signaling the service could be open to sticking with procurement for the active force (Defense Daily, June 2).
The bill, which will be marked up by the defense subcommittee on Wednesday, also includes $842 million to fund 33 Black Hawk helicopters, $211.5 million above the budget request, as well as fully funding the $494 million request for 30 remanufactured AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Appropriators also included $1.1 billion for continued development of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft and the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft, $388 billion more than the FY ‘21 enacted level.