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F-35B Cost Overruns Threaten Marine Helos

Deficit Politics May Require Raiding Funding For UH-1Y, AH-1Z

Some defense budget overruns are covered by Congress simply gritting its teeth and writing bigger checks. But with a growing public outcry over the federal deficit, overruns on the development of the Marine Corps F-35B variant of the Joint Strike Fighter are so large that corresponding cuts elsewhere may affect other aviation assets.

According to comments from a senior defense official to The Marine Corps Times, two programs that could be in the crosshairs are the Marines’ UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters.

The Marines have been in nearly ten years of continuous combat in Iran and Afghanistan, and say their existing attack helicopter fleet is about worn out. Retired Marine Lieutenant General George Trautman, The Marines' former deputy commandant for aviation, emphasizes, “They absolutely need to be replaced. The Marine Corps is not getting out of the attack helicopter business.”

As badly as the Marines need new helicopters, Trautman says the service can't do with fewer than 420 F-35Bs. “There is no give there...The pace they reach 420 is the only thing in question.”

FMI: www.marines.com

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