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Secretary Gates Talks Defense Budget

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified in front of the House Appropriations Defense panel on Wednesday, and after first outlining his belief that a 2-3% yearly base defense budget increase will be necessary for the indefinite future, he took the opportunity to address some of the more hot-button budget items.  HAC-D is currently considering the Department’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Proposal, and members unsurprisingly had a lot of questions.

High on the list was the F-35, a high priority and higher profile program that recently underwent a .  Secretary Gates assured lawmakers that the new plans are based on “brutally realistic” cost and schedule estimates that will benefit the program in the long-run.

The Secretary also addressed the continuing KC-X tanker saga, first reiterating the Department’s plan to not depart from the latest solicitation details for the roughly $50 billion dollar program.  However, with European aerospace giant EADS rumored to be considering a bid, members then prodded Gates on the inherent lack of fairness in a private American company (Boeing) competing with a company that receives governmental subsidies for their aerospace development.  Gates replied that Department lawyers currently see “no basis” for incorporating such subsidies into contract award consideration.  To say the least, this will be an issue that will receive serious congressional scrutiny should EADS in fact present a tanker bid.

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