Congressional approval is required prior to authorizing a service to commit to multi-year procurement of major weapons systems, since it ties the hands of the legislature in future discretionary spending accounts. In early February of this year, DoD Secretary Robert Gates explicitly rejected multi-year procurement of FA-18E/F aircraft to bridge the Navy’s “fighter gap” in the out-years, before the F-35 joins the force in numbers:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday shot down congressional efforts to enter into a multiyear commitment to buy more F/A-18 aircraft for the Navy, arguing that the deal would not save enough money to make it worthwhile.
During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Gates estimated the multiyear deal would cut only 6.5 percent off the price of each of the Boeing Co. aircraft, far less than the 10 percent savings threshold that is customary for such long-term commitments.
Today we learn that OPNAV is busily beavering away at the justification documentation required for Congress to approve multi-year procurement of new FA-18E/F aircraft:
The Navy is working to meet a Monday deadline to inform Congress of plans to pursue a multi-year buy of Boeing [BA] F/A-18E/F Super Hornets that could help to fill some of the service’s strike fighter gap, according to a lawmaker.
Under section 128 of the FY ’10 defense authorization bill, the Navy would need to obtain congressional authority to enter into a multi-year for the Super Hornet no later than March 1. At a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing yesterday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told lawmakers the service is working to meet that deadline.
“We received a letter of intent from the contractor on Monday. We are working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to make the notifications to meet the deadline,” Mabus said. “We are working hard to meet that deadline…[we have] very limited time.”
Things change pretty quickly some times.