WASHINGTON -- Barely six weeks later, McKeons committee approved the fiscal year 2013 defense authorization bill with the provision ordering the Air Force to keep flying Block 30s.
McKeon, whose district is home to Northrop Grummans Palmdale facility, where final assembly of Global Hawks is done, has received at least $113,000 from the companys employees and PAC since he became the House Armed Services Committee chairman in January 2009, the Center for Public Integrity analysis shows.
In the end, the Air Force didnt get what it said it wanted in 2011 or 2012: Congress ordered it to keep both the U-2 and the Global Hawk Block 30s in operation.
"Theres no free lunch here," then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta complained at a news conference after McKeons committee acted. "Every dollar that is added will have to be offset by cuts in national security. And if for some reason they do not want to comply with the Budget Control Act, then they would certainly be adding to the deficit, which only puts our national security further at risk."
But after Moran and McKeon sent their letter to Hagel, the service folded its cards.
The Air Force considers the three additional Block 30 aircraft excess to need; however, to comply with congressional direction, the Air Force is taking action to execute unobligated funding and acquire these last three Block 30 aircraft, said Ed Gulick, an Air Force spokesman.