The White House critiqued the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) mark of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to be debated on the House floor this week, in part for a $500 million reduction in funds to develop the Air Force’s future air dominance technologies and for reducing the number of new F-15EX fighter jets to be procured.
In a July 9 statement to Congress, the Trump administration decried a number of items included in H.R. 2500, the FY ’20 NDAA, and states that “If H.R. 2500 were presented to the President in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he veto it.”
Among those items, the administration said it “strongly objects” to HASC’s move to cut $500 million in research, development, test and evaluation funds from the Air Force’s next-generation air dominance (NGAD) program, which would help craft the service’s sixth-generation fighter jet and other cutting-edge technologies. The Air Force originally requested $1 billion for the effort, up from $430 million that was appropriated in the FY ’19 defense bill (Defense Daily, March 12).
“Full funding for NGAD is essential to maintaining a strong United States industrial base capable of building the world’s most advanced aircraft,” the White House’s statement said. The reduction would result “in a three-year slip in advanced aircraft development timelines and the cancellation of critical new production technology programs,” the administration added, noting the need to keep up with other nations “applying rapidly evolving digital technology to future aircraft programs.”
The Trump administration’s statement also critiqued the House’s proposed bill, which only authorizes sufficient funds to procure two Boeing [BA]-built F-15EX prototype aircraft, and requests further information before procuring an additional six aircraft to fulfill the Air Force’s $1.05 billion request for eight new F-15EX aircraft in FY ’20 (Defense Daily, June 3). It lambasted a section in the NDAA that designates the F-15EX as a major subprogram of the F-15, which would “needlessly delay the fielding of the F-15EX by an estimated two years while providing only marginal decision-making value to the Milestone Decision Authority given the F15EX high level of technology readiness.”
The White House said it is concerned that delays would impact capacity issues within the tactical aircraft portfolio, and require the Air Force to operate the aging F-15C/D fleet for a longer period.
The House began debate on H.R. 2500 Wednesday evening.