USN needs amendment for Super Hornet Buy

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U.S. lawmakers are in rush to pass a stand-alone amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization Act to keep the Navy’s planned 124-plane Super Hornet deal alive after a pair of technicalities threatened to ruin the buy.

The four-year purchase of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and E/A-18G Growlers for an unspecified amount was approved by the Act, which was signed into law last October. But Navy officials missed the March 1 deadline for declaring its intention to buy the planes, telling lawmakers that they needed more time to negotiate prices with plane maker Boeing.

On May 15, the Navy announced that it would indeed exercise its option to buy the planes. The deal would save the service $590 million through 2013. But with the deadline past, new legislation is required, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote to the leaders of congressional defense committees in an Aug. 4 letter.

In his letter, Mabus urges the lawmakers to pass an amendment to the 2010 Act by Sept. 30. The missed the deadline means the Navy needs congressional approval to move ahead with the deal in the form of a second act “other than an appropriations act” before the end of fiscal year 2010, Mabus’ letter said.

Representative Gene Taylor (chairman of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee), D-Miss., and Todd Akin (ranking minority member),R-Mo., introduced an amendment to the Act that would reset the March deadline to September and grant the Navy authority to buy the jets.

Backers plan to have the amendment considered in the House of Representatives on Sept. 14 and have it taken up as a unanimous consent bill on the Senate floor later that week, according to one Hill staff member.

Despite the compressed timeline, Hill staffers are confident the amendment will be on President Barack Obama’s desk by the end of September.



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