A U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler electronic warfare jet from the Electronic Attack Squadron “Scorpions” flies over the Mediterranean Sea near Trapani, Italy, in this Canadian Forces handout photo dated March 29, 2011. REUTERS/Canadian Forces Combat Camera/Corporal Marc-Andre Gaudreault/Handout
By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A spending bill agreed by lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate provides $554.2 billion in funding for the U.S. military in fiscal 2015, including $1.46 billion for 15 EA-18G electronic attack jets built by Boeing Co.
A summary of the $1.1 trillion “omnibus” bill released late Tuesday said the base appropriation for the Pentagon would be $490.2 billion, with $64 billion in additional war funding. The measure also includes $112 million in emergency funds to respond to the Ebola crisis.
Congressional negotiators reached agreement on the bill after removing controversial financial services provisions. Procedural hurdles in the Senate mean the House of Representatives must still pass a short-term funding extension to avert a U.S. government shutdown at midnight on Thursday.
Boeing lobbied hard for funding to extend its St. Louis production line for EA-18G Growlers, which had been due to end at the end of 2016. The added funding, which was included in both the House and Senate appropriations bills, will keep the line running through 2017, company officials have said.
The measure also includes $224 million for two additional Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets for the U.S. Air Force and $255 million for two additional F-35s for the U.S. Navy, the summary said. The measure funds a total of 38 F-35 fighters, nine more than in fiscal 2014.
Other key items in the bill include:
* $3.3 billion to address a shortfall in training and other issues reducing the military’s readiness for battle.
* $848.5 million for modernization of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, which spells good news for Huntington Ingalls Industries.
* Full funding for three Littoral Combat Ships to be built by Lockheed and Australia’s Austal, plus $80 million to start buying parts for a fourth ship to be bought next year.
* $619.8 million for Israeli weapons programs, including $347 million for Israeli missile defense, of which $175 million will go to the Iron Dome system built by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which is expected to partner with Raytheon Co for some of the work.
* Additional funding of $341 million for upgrades of up to 12 AH-64 Apache helicopters built by Boeing, and 9 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies.
* $1 billion to fund initial work on a 12th LPD-17 amphibious warship to be built by Huntington Ingalls.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)