* Amidst the bickering on Capitol Hill, there's one thing that key lawmakers from both parties seem to agree on: the United States needs more fighter aircraft.
The fiscal year 2020 national defense authorization bill approved in May by the GOP-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee would authorize $10 billion to procure 94 F-35 joint strike fighters, 16 more than the Trump administration requested.
The legislation "prioritizes investments that ensure the U.S. military sustains or regains our comparative combat advantage in the current climate of great-power competition,... enabling the forces to modernize and equip themselves with the most advanced and capable fifth-generation aircraft," a summary of the bill said.
It would also authorize the purchase of a number of fourth-generation aircraft including 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, and eight of the controversial F-15EX fighters that the Trump administration requested.
Meanwhile, the Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee passed a bill in May that would provide $8.7 billion for 90 F-35s, 12 more than the Trump administration requested. It would also provide $1.7 billion for the procurement of 24 Super Hornets and $986 million for eight F-15EXs to recapitalize the F-15C/D fleet.
"The committee recommends this as a reasonable balance between advanced capability and near-term capacity concerns," the lawmakers' report on the bill said.
Rick Berger, a defense analyst at the...