House Panel Adds Funds From Copters to Sex-Assault Office

The House Appropriations Committee today approved a Pentagon budget with $98.3 billion for weapons, less than the Pentagon’s request, while adding money for Blackhawk helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. and Patriot missile interceptors from Lockheed Martin Corp.

The committee approved the weapons request as part of a $512 billion defense plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The budget would provide an additional $85.8 billion for war spending, primarily in Afghanistan, $6.4 billion more than the Pentagon’s request.

While the $98.3 billion for equipment procurement and upgrades is $750 million less than proposed, it would fully fund the Pentagon’s request to buy 29 more F-35 jets, the military’s costliest weapons program, from Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed.

The legislation includes $129.6 billion to provide pay for 1.3 million active-duty troops and 833,700 reserves, funding a 1.8 percent pay raise instead of the 1 percent the Pentagon requested.

In a move aimed at stemming what lawmakers and military official call a growing crisis of sexual assaults, the bill would add $25 million to bolster operations of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office.

“The committee is outraged by the pervasive problems of sexual assault,” the panel said in its draft report. “Sexual assault is not just an issue in the military; it is an epidemic.”

Navy Ships

The bill provides $15 billion for eight Navy ships, including fully funding two SSN-774 attack submarines made by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and General Dynamics Corp., and money to buy an additional four Littoral Combat Ships, two each from Lockheed and Austal Ltd.

Among the research funds approved is $785 million for continued development of a replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, $592 million for the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle program and $379 million for the Air Force’s new penetrating bomber.

The measure includes $2.2 billion to buy Blackhawk helicopters made by United Technologies’ Sikorsky Aircraft unit. The bill would provide for 37 MH-60S/R helicopters and 73 UH-60s, eight more of the latter model than the Pentagon requested.

The panel added $200 million to the Pentagon request in order to buy more Lakota helicopters made by European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.’s North American unit as well as $200 million extra for more of Lockheed’s Patriot MSE Missile interceptors.

The request also has an extra $100 million to upgrade Hummer vehicles made by AM General LLC and used by the Army National Guard.

The bill would provide $220 million for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket program. For the first time, the Pentagon included money for the system in its annual budget request instead of adding it months later.

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