A consensus spending bill agreed to by U.S. House and Senate budgeters would fully fund military rotorcraft procurement programs and boost funding for Army helicopters and Marine Corps tiltrotors.
The conference report on the 2019 Defense Appropriations Act approves a total $41 billion and change in aircraft procurement funding for the Air Force, Army and Navy, which includes the Marine Corps.
Congress added several aircraft to the Army’s overall $4.3 billion aircraft procurement request, most of which are for the Army National Guard. Congress approved $510 million for six Boeing AH-64 Apache Block III new-build aircraft on top of 12 the Army requested in fiscal 2019. All six are reserved for the Guard.
The Army’s total Apache request, funded by the conference report, was $3.8 billion, including $1.04 billion for 60 aircraft, of which 48 are remanufactured and 12 are new build.
The conference report also includes eight more Sikorsky UH-60M on top of the 49 the Army requested, which would bring Black Hawk spending to $1.2 billion for fiscal 2019.
Army officials budgeted only $7.8 million for installation of improved vibration control systems on CH-47 Chinooks, but the funding bill would provide $27.8 million. UH-72 modifications also would receive a boost of $10 million each for sustainability improvements and enhanced ballistic armor protection.
While the Army requested no Airbus UH-72 light utility aircraft in fiscal 2019, the conference report approves $34 million to purchase four. The Lakota is the Army’s dedicated training helicopter.
Navy aircraft procurement would be set at $20 billion, including $1.26 billion for eight Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters and $843 million for seven CVM-22 tiltrotors the Navy will use to perform carrier onboard delivery (COD).
The Marine Corps did not request any MV-22s in fiscal 2019, but both it and the Navy would receive additional aircraft if the conference report passes. Boosting tiltrotor funding to $1.01 billion provides for four more Navy CMV-22s at $316 million and three Marine Corps MV-22s for $240 million.
Also included in the Navy’s helicopter procurement appropriation are six Sikorsky VH-92A Presidential Helicopters at $649 million. The VH-92 is scheduled to replace the VH-3D “Marine One” and VH-60N support helicopters that transport the president and his retinue.
The Air Force UH-1N replacement program is funded at the House-approved level of $258 million, $30 million less than the service initially requested.