By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON – U.S. lawmakers sought to increase aircraft and Navy ship purchases in an effort to field a robust military and send a signal to Russia and China in a massive annual defense bill released on Tuesday.
The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizes nearly $770 billion in national defense and adds to the Pentagon’s request for ship and aircraft purchases and increases troop pay.
The Biden Administration’s original budget request from May was debated over the course of the year and the U.S. Congress released its compromise NDAA after Democrat and Republican leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees negotiated what should be included in the bill.
The NDAA, which normally passes with strong bipartisan support, is closely watched by a broad swath of industry and other interests because it is one of the only major pieces of legislation that becomes law every year and because it addresses such a wide range of issues.
Jet maker Boeing saw the bill increase F-15EX fighter jet funding to allow for the purchase of 17 planes. The Pentagon had requested 12 in May. Congress put funding for 12 Boeing-made F/A-18E/F Super Hornets into the bill, after the Pentagon requested zero.
Breaking a trend, the bill did not increase funding for the number of F-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin.
The bill funds the procurement of 13 battle force ships including two Virginia-class submarines made by Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics and three DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers also made by General Dynamics.
Lawmakers included a range of efforts to push back against Russia and China in the massive annual defense bill including $300 million for Ukraine’s military and a statement of support for the defense of Taiwan.
(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Sandra Maler)