Members of the Florida delegation called on the leaders of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House Armed Services Committees to support the Light Attack program by ensuring any provisions included in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 to allow the program to reach the next milestone necessary to transition to the battlefield. On September 18, 2019, the Senate voted, 87-7, to conference the Senate and House passed NDAA bills, and appointed conferees.
Signers of the letter included U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
The text of the letter, which was sent at the end of last week, includes the following:
As you work to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, we ask that you support the Light Attack program by ensuring any provisions included in the final report allow the program to reach the next milestone necessary to transition to the battlefield.
The Senate version of the NDAA included SEC. 146, authorizing the military type certification for the AT–6 and A–29 light attack experimentation aircraft pursuant to the DoD Directive on Military Type Certificates, 5030.61. The House version of the bill included SEC. 135 on Light Attack aircraft providing procurement authority to the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command. We urge you to adopt the House provision, with a modification to require the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to coordinate with the Commander of Special Operations Command to determine the Command’s Light Attack Aircraft combat requirements, and to authorize procurement of Air Force Special Operations Command’s Combat Air Advisor aircraft.
The light-attack program offers a low-cost solution to absorb missions currently being conducted by 4th and 5th generation platforms. By enabling this program, it will allow the Air Force the ability to execute Combatant Commander requirements and task orders in order to preserve high-fidelity fifth-generation fighter aircraft such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for a near-peer fight. This opportunity provides our military with long-term cost savings stemming from sustainment and operational costs while fulfilling all mission requirements.
Over the past several years, Congress has acted upon its commitment to the light-attack program by authorizing $300 million and appropriating $200 million expressly to deliver on these capabilities and concepts. We respectfully request you to continue this much-needed effort.