Sunday, October 29, 2006

Spending Bill Funds 10 More Boeing C-17 Aircraft

Snip: "The government watchdog group Project On Government Oversight has called Talent's provision an example of wasteful spending. The group says Congress is forcing the military to purchase weapons it doesn't want."


SAM HANANEL
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Funding for 10 new Boeing C-17 aircraft will be included in the annual defense spending bill, congressional lawmakers said Thursday, a move the will keep the production line open - for now - for the transport plane built in California and Missouri.

The $2.1 billion in funds secured by Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., would bring the Air Force inventory of the aircraft to 191 planes. New aircraft would be purchased to replace aging transport planes that have been overused.

The C-17 program was in jeopardy last year after the Defense Department recommended buying no more aircraft beyond the 180 planned. With the last of the planes set for delivery in 2008, production on the line would have started to wind down at the end of the year.

"This is a huge victory for our military, our nation and Missouri," said Talent, chairman of the Senate's seapower subcommittee, which oversees the C-17 program. "There are few systems more important to our armed forces than this aircraft."

The C-17 is used to transport military troops, vehicles and supplies to points around the world.

Funds to support the additional planes were included in a conference report that House and Senate lawmakers agreed to late Thursday. Both chambers are expected to pass the bill before the end of the month.

The new funding will keep the production line in St. Louis open until at least 2008. Talent's overall strategy is to secure funding in future years for additional aircraft to extend the line even longer.

The government watchdog group Project On Government Oversight has called Talent's provision an example of wasteful spending. The group says Congress is forcing the military to purchase weapons it doesn't want.

While most of the C-17 is built in Long Beach, Calif., several components are assembled at Boeing's St. Louis-based defense company. Production of the aircraft supports about 1,800 jobs in Missouri and generates $776 million in economic activity in the state.

Earlier this year, Talent secured $227.5 million for the purchase of an additional C-17 aircraft in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

SOURCE: Project on Government Oversight

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