On June 12, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, including a total of $8.257 billion for the purchase and operational sustainment of 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. This funding matches the same production as last fiscal year, and also funds $562 million for advance procurement to increase the production of the JSF to a total of 42 aircraft in 2015.
Congressman Bill Young, who chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has been working to raise public awareness about the JSF program and Congress’ funding goals for it.
In an August 27 letter to a constituent, Young shared that these funding resolutions are a “clear example of my subcommittee’s continued commitment to making the JSF the centerpiece of the Nation’s tactical aviation for years to come, with over 2,500 aircraft programmed for procurement by the United States alone.”
The JSF is the military’s highest priority conventional warfare program, according to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
As published on Sept. 4 by Reuters, Kendall stated that the F-35 is necessary to counter advanced electronic warfare capabilities in other countries that threaten the US military’s ability to “control the air”. While Kendall acknowledged that budget cuts to military spending could lead to a reduction in the total number of F-35’s purchased, he said that the Pentagon was focused on increasing the production rate so that the price of each plane would come down.
To Congressman Young, these are shared goals.
“As my colleagues and I continue our work on FY14 appropriations, you can be sure that I will keep your support for additional JSF program funding in mind and I will follow up with you on any new developments that occur,” Young concluded in his letter.
In addition to its obvious utility for national defense and security, the F-35 program will contribute significantly to the domestic economy. In Florida alone, the F-35 supports more than 12,500 jobs and $1 billion in economic activity.