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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Bush Budget Request Would Pare MH-60, Fire Scout Buys

The Bush administration is asking Congress for $481.4 billion to fund the Pentagon’s basic operations in Fiscal 2008 — up more than 11 percent over this year, our sister publication Defense Daily reports.

The Army’s $130-billion portion of the Fiscal 2008 request is 18.5 percent higher than the $109.7-billion Fiscal 2007 request. It would support aviation modernization, covering 37 Bell ARH-70A armed reconnaissance helicopters at $468 million; 44 EADS UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters at $230 million; six new and 23 remanufactured Boeing CH-47F Chinooks at $771 million; AH-64 Apache upgrades and conversions for $712 million; 42 UH-60 Black Hawks at $705 million, and aircraft survivability equipment at $414 million.

The Navy’s overall budget request increased by $9 billion, or 8.1 percent, from Fiscal 2007 to $119.3 billion in Fiscal 2008. It includes cutting the number of MH-60Ss and MH-60Rs it plans to buy — the MH-60S by 26 and the MH-60Rs by eight through Fiscal 2013. Still, the budget would cover acquisition of 45 UH-60 naval variants.

The Navy also plans to restructure the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle program, paring acquisition of the aircraft based on Schweizer Aircraft’s Model 333 helicopter from 43 to 39 over the next several years.

The defense budget request also allots $2.5 billion for the acquisition of the V-22 Osprey in Fiscal 2008, compared to the $2.1 billion Congress authorized for Fiscal 2007. That would cover acquisition of 21 MV-22s for the U.S. Marine Corps for about $2 billion and five CV-22s for the Air force for about $500 million.

The Air Force would also spend $290.1 million on development of its new combat-search-and-rescue helicopter in Fiscal 2008, pending the outcome of protests of its November selection of Boeing’s HH-47.

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