Blumenthal Leads Bipartisan Group of Senators Calling for Robust Black Hawk Funding

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Coons (D- DE), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are calling on members of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Committee to provide funding for Black Hawk helicopters at the highest level possible to address urgent Army readiness concerns and provide substantial savings by procuring at efficient rates.

“Black Hawks continue to be the backbone of Army Aviation, and its modernization strategy is incredibly important to all aspects of combat operations,” the Senators wrote. “By supporting strong funding for Black Hawks during conference, we will meet pressing Army readiness concerns to take advantage of unit cost savings that benefit the Army and the taxpayers.”

In March, Blumenthal, along with the entire Connecticut Congressional delegation, sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to both the Senate and House Armed Services and Appropriations Committees requesting additional Black Hawk funding for the Fiscal Year 2017.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

July 6, 2016

Dear Conferees:

We write regarding the conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA). As passed by the Senate, this legislation contains provisions that strengthen defense policy and fortify our national security. As conference negotiations begin with your House counterparts, we urge you to ensure that robust funding for Black Hawks is supported in the final version of the NDAA in order to address urgent Army readiness concerns, while providing substantial savings by procuring at more efficient rates.

Black Hawks continue to be the backbone of Army Aviation, and its modernization strategy is incredibly important to all components, given the wear and tear on the fleet resulting from more than 14 years of sustained combat operations and high OPTEMPO. The proposed FY 2017 budget included a decrease in Black Hawk production down to a total of 36 helicopters. This is a reduction of 24 helicopters from what was planned in the FY 2016 budget. The FY 2017 request for just 36 helicopters could only have been a response to budget pressure and not of need, as the Army provided an unfunded request list that included 36 additional Black Hawks.

While the Senate was able to fund the President’s budget request of 36 helicopters, the House surpassed this to fund 72 Black Hawks, satisfying the Army’s unfunded requests. While we do not support shortchanging the OCO account to fund these helicopters, we urge you to work with your House counterparts to find a satisfactory solution which funds these critical aircraft at the highest level possible.

By supporting strong funding for Black Hawks during conference, we will meet pressing Army readiness concerns and take advantage of unit cost savings that benefit the Army and the taxpayers. We thank you for your consideration of this request and look forward to working with you on this matter. 

Sincerely, 

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