U.S. Senate appropriators moved recently to cut nearly 90 percent of fiscal 2014 funds for developing a new B-61 nuclear gravity bomb “tail kit,” adding to a list of funding disputes over controversial updates to the weapon, Inside Defense reported.
Appropriations committees in the House and Senate have funded certain B-61 refurbishment efforts at levels far below ceilings set by the Armed Services committees in each chamber. The Senate’s defense appropriations draft would provide the Air Force tail-kit project with $6 million in the coming budget cycle, a whopping $62 million less than was authorized.
For their part, House defense appropriators left the tail-kit line item with a bit more funding: $55 million of the $68 million authorized. Lawmakers at that committee said the dollar figure the service had requested was “ahead of need,” the website reported.
In May, the Defense Department told Congress it expects the tail-kit effort to ultimately cost more than $3.7 billion, Inside Defense reported separately last Wednesday.
A legislative insider said the reduction would dovetail with the Senate Appropriations Committee’s move earlier this summer to provide $168 million less than the Obama administration had requested for the next fiscal year to modernize other B-61 components.
Separately, House and Senate appropriators rejected an Air Force request for $33 million in fiscal 2014 to lay groundwork for equipping F-35 fighter jets to carry the B-61 bomb. That effort is not scheduled to begin until later this decade.