Guest Posted December 4, 2014 Share Posted December 4, 2014 [ATTACH=CONFIG]4511[/ATTACH] ORLANDO, FLA. â€” The compromise National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) language, revealed Tuesday evening, limits the US Air Forceâ€™s ability to retire any aircraft in what is a clear message from Congress that the service has not earned its trust on major issues, such as the retirement of the A-10 or U-2. At the same time, negotiators also appear to have listened to concerns from the Air National Guard over a major C-130 upgrade program. The bill states that no money allocated for fiscal 2015 â€œmay be obligated or expended to retire, prepare to retire, or place in storage any aircraft of the Air Force, except for such aircraft the secretary of the Air Force planned to retire as of April 9, 2013, until a period of 60 days has elapsed following the date on which the secretary submitsâ€ a major report on the structure of the Air Force. That report includes a presentation on the mix of each mission and aircraft throughout the total force, and a breakdown of missions and capabilities for any plane the service might want to retire. The Air Force is undergoing a aircraft-by-aircraft evaluation along these lines. The NDAA singles out two aircraft the Air Force has indicated a plan to retire. The fight over the A-10 Warthog is the most visible, but the fight over the KC-10 tanker is also spinning up. The language specifically prohibits any fiscal 2015 funds being used to â€œtransfer, divest or prepare to divest any KC-10 aircraftâ€ until 60 days after the defense secretary submits a series of cost-benefit analyses. Those analyses include a five-year force structure plan for the tanker fleet, a breakdown of current and future air refueling and cargo transportation requirements, and a risk assessment and mitigation strategy. Relations between the Hill and the Air Force are not in a good place, with the fight over the A-10 acting as a catalyst for years of mistrust on both sides. But the Hill does appear to have thrown the service, or at least its Guard component, a bone. The bill requires the service to fund the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) â€” with one potentially large loophole. The AMP has proven controversial, as opponents, including the Adjutants General Association of the United States, argue it does not do enough to meet upcoming FAA regulations and could potentially force chunks of the C-130H fleet to be grounded. â€œA fully funded AMP program, even if immediately restarted today with zero programmatic delays, would modernize only a small fraction of the C-130H fleet by 2020. This is unacceptable,â€ the trade association wrote in a July letter. â€œThe prudent path instead is to allow for a cost-effective â€˜alternative solutionâ€™ that can be quickly accomplished while preserving a realistic fiscal path to C-130J recapitalization.â€ That concern appears to be acknowledged in the NDAA. Negotiators put in language prohibiting any action to cancel or modify the AMP, but included an exception if the defense secretary certifies that an alternative program is â€œrequired to operate C-130 aircraft in airspace controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration or airspace controlled by the government of a foreign country.â€ That would seem to create breathing room for an AMP alternative that would not leave the C-130H, used by the Guard in a number of different missions, grounded when the new FAA regulations come into play. Lawmakers also used the NDAA to draw a line in the sand over the future of the RD-180, a Russian-made engine used for military space launch. Language in the bill would force the Air Force to stop using the engine by 2019. View original article: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141203/CONGRESSWATCH/312030033/ Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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