In fact, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told Congress on Wednesday that the cuts wouldn’t affect money already in the pipeline for defense contractors.
Lockheed Martin is the builder of the F-35 stealth fighter, the costliest aircraft ever. The next-generation fighter jet has been troubled by schedule delays and cost overruns. Ten years in, the total F-35 program cost has jumped from $233 billion to an estimated $385 billion. And, recent estimates say, the entire program could exceed $1 trillion over 50 years.
The committee vote came as the panel approved a $604 billion defense spending bill that reverses proposed Pentagon cuts in Air Force personnel and equipment. The vote was 30-0.
The measure would provide $511 billion for the base budget and $93.3 billion for the war in Afghanistan in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 as the committee moves money to war funding to meet the budget caps.
The bill is nearly $29 billion less than current spending.
The legislation provides $800 million to halt the Air Force’s planned cuts. In its budget proposal, the Pentagon called for a cut of 5,100 troops from the Air National Guard, 3,900 from active duty and 900 reservists as well as 134 aircraft. That proposal met stiff resistance from the nation’s governors and members of Congress.
• Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.
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