B-61 Updates Divide Congressional Spending Panels

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 12, 2013, 4:02 a.m.

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.

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