Fresh on the heels of the U.S. Navy's move to buy 124 new F/A-18 Super Hornets and E/A-18G Growlers, Missouri lawmakers on May 18 announced a renewed push for the Pentagon to purchase additional Super Hornets and C-17 Globemaster III cargo haulers.
Calling last week's news of the Super Hornet buy "an important first step," but just a first step in addressing the sea service's looming fighter gap, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., and fellow Missouri lawmakers held a news conference on Capitol Hill to announce they will urge the Pentagon to buy additional fighters using savings garnered from the multiyear Super Hornet buy.
Bond was joined by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who added that she will insist the Navy use the nearly half a billion dollars in savings from the multiyear buy to "go right back into" buying more Super Hornets to address the Navy's fighter gap.
The pending Super Hornet deal, unveiled May 14, is worth about $70 million per airplane, according to Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. Akin and McCaskill called out the Navy for issuing "perplexing" estimates regarding the size of the fighter gap, which have ranged from 243 jets to the current estimate of 100.
McCaskill also said that she is trying to get enough votes in the Senate to allow the Air Force to retire its 50 oldest C-5A Galaxys and purchase additional C-17s in the 2011 defense authorization bill, which the Senate is expected to mark up on May 25.
Retiring the C-5As would free up ramp space for the C-17s without building a fleet of strategic airlifters larger than the 317 the Air Force says it needs, according to the Missouri democrat. The House favors such a move, according to Akin, although McCaskill said garnering the votes in the Senate will be a challenge.