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Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Caucus Co-Chairs Announce Record Support for Program

April 3, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. -  Today, the Congressional Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. John B. Larson (CT-01), Marc A. Veasey (TX-33), Martha Roby (AL-02), and Michael R. Turner (OH-10), announced record support for the F-35 Program, with 103 bipartisan cosigners for the FY2019 appropriations and authorization letter. The letter requests funding for 102 F-35 aircraft.

 

“As you consider the Fiscal Year 2020 defense authorization and appropriations bills, we strongly urge your continued support for the F-35 Lightning II program.  As you well know, our adversaries continue to advance surface-to-air missile systems and develop their own stealth fighters. It is essential that we continue to increase production of our nation’s only 5th generation stealth aircraft in order to ensure the United States maintains air dominance and to further reduce overall program costs,” wrote the Members.

 

“Global threats continue to increase and it is imperative that we continue to support our nation’s only 5th generation fighter. The F-35 is of vital importance to the national security of the United States and our allies, and supports thousands of high-skilled manufacturing jobs in Connecticut and across the country. I am tremendously proud of the unprecedented support that our request received,” said Larson.

 

“The competitiveness and safety of the United States military is our top priority,” said Veasey.  “Congress’ financial commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is key to bolstering and maintaining our national security and the security of our allies. I’m proud that Dallas-Fort Worth is home to the development and production of F-35s, and continue to believe in the mission and future of this vital program.”

 

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is our military’s most cutting-edge war machine, and it is critically important to the national security of the United States and our allies. Congress must increase procurement of this next-generation fighter jet to ensure our country’s continued dominance in the skies,” said Roby.

 

“The F-35’s unique capabilities and lethality have enhanced our air superiority and bolstered our ability to deter adversaries,” said Turner. “Now is the time to increase procurement to match emerging threats. Doing so ensures our continued dominance of the skies, enables the realization of cost savings, and assures our partners that we are committed to 5th Generation Aircraft.”

  

The F-35 JSF program contributes to our national economy by supporting more than 1,400 suppliers and more than 220,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country. This adds up to more than a $44.2 billion annual economic impact across 45 states and Puerto Rico.

 

The letter can be viewed here and below.

 

April 1, 2019

 

 

The Honorable Adam Smith                            The Honorable Peter J. Visclosky

Chairman                                                         Chairman

House Armed Service Committee                   House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee

2216 Rayburn House Office Building             H-405, The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515                                   Washington, DC 20515

    

The Honorable Mac Thornberry                      The Honorable Ken Calvert

Ranking Member                                              Ranking Member

House Armed Services Committee                  House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee

2216 Rayburn House Office Building              H-405, The Capitol

Washington, DC 20515                                    Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chair and Ranking Member:

 

As you consider the Fiscal Year 2020 defense authorization and appropriations bills, we strongly urge your continued support for the F-35 Lightning II program.  As you well know, our adversaries continue to advance surface-to-air missile systems and develop their own stealth fighters. It is essential that we continue to increase production of our nation’s only 5th generation stealth aircraft in order to ensure the United States maintains air dominance and to further reduce overall program costs.

 

The F-35 is the most advanced fighter in the world and is exceeding operational expectations.  The F-35A reportedly logged a 28:1 lethality ratio at the Air Force’s recent Red Flag exercise in Nevada, Marine F-35Bs just returned from their first successful combat deployment in South Central Asia and the Middle East, and the Navy just declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35C at the end of February.  The three US Services and our allies are now flying more than 370 aircraft at 16 locations around the world.  The program is at an important crossroads and warrants continued support.

 

In fact, as global threats continue to rise, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, which includes funding for 78 F-35s (48 F-35As, 10 F-35Bs and 20 F-35Cs) - 15 less than Congress appropriated in Fiscal Year 2019 - leaves the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a capability gap that 4th Generation, or legacy, aircraft cannot fulfill. To reach the minimum 50% ratio of 5th Generation and 4th Generation fighters in the timeframe required to meet the threat, the U.S. must acquire F-35s in much larger quantities.  Not only does the F-35 program deliver air superiority for the United States and its key allies, it also bolsters our domestic economy by supporting more than 1,400 suppliers and more than 220,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

 

Therefore, we are requesting your support for a total of 102 F-35 aircraft in the Fiscal Year 2020 defense authorization and appropriations bills, which is an increase of 24 aircraft over the President’s budget request.  It is vitally important for Congress to provide authorization and funding for 60 F-35As (+12), 22 F-35Bs (+12), and 20 F-35Cs in Fiscal Year 2020.  This increase in procurement will restore previously-planned F-35 production rates negatively impacted by the sequestration era budget caps resulting from the Budget Control Act. 

 

Additional funding is needed to address readiness, enhance aircraft availability, and most importantly accelerate compliance with the DoD 80% Mission Capable Mandate.  Specifically, additional funding is needed for spare parts and depot level repair capability to meet the required availability rates and accelerate the stand-up repair process of mandated organic government repair capabilities.

 

We also urge you to fully fund the President’s budget request for modernization efforts known as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2).  C2D2 is critical to meeting the evolving threat in the mid-2020s and into the 2030s.  Full funding is needed for the delivery of new weapons and critical capabilities necessary to keep the F-35 ahead of our adversaries.  F-35 modernization is crucial for 4th generation aircraft systems, which are increasingly vulnerable and reliant on 5th generation production. 

 

The F-35 aircraft costs have come down more than 60 percent since the procurement of the first production aircraft more than 12 years ago and the Fiscal Year 2020 F-35As under consideration in this budget request will cost approximately $80 million per aircraft.  To maintain these costs savings and to ensure future air dominance, it is critical that we increase F-35 production and provide the necessary program investments in the upcoming defense authorization and appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2020.

 

Thank you for your continued support of the F-35 program and for your leadership.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

_________________                                                                  _________________

John B. Larson                                                                           Martha Roby

Member of Congress                                                                Member of Congress

 

 

 

 

_________________                                                                  _________________

Marc A. Veasey                                                                          Michael R. Turner

Member of Congress                                                                  Member of Congress