House votes to boost spending on Sikorsky ‘copters and F-35’s

Washington – In a boon to Connecticut–based defense contractors, the House on Friday voted overwhelmingly for a defense budget that would increase President Obama’s request for Sikorsky helicopters and for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, whose engines are produced by Pratt & Whitney.

The $491 billion defense bill, approved on a of 340 to 73 vote and supported by all of Connecticut’s House members, would provide $5.8 billion for the Virginia class submarine program, including $3.5 billion to build two submarines in 2015 and $2.3 billion in advanced procurement for two submarines in 2016. The Virginia-class nuclear subs are built by jointly by General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding.

The bill also provides $1.3 billion to continue research and development of the Ohio class ballistic missile submarine replacement, a project Electric Boat is also working on.

“This bill is a strong investment in U.S. security and Connecticut’s economy,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. “It is a testament to the exceptional workers who supply and build the most advanced submarines in the world that we are continuing to prioritize these programs, even in tough fiscal times.”

The bill would add the construction of four F-35s to Obama’s request of 24 planes in fiscal 2015 and would budget $1.5 billion for 87 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks for the Army and National Guard, eight more than the president requested. The defense bill would also provide $100 million to keep plans for a new combat rescue helicopter alive.

The bill also has more than $1.5 billion for other Sikorsky ‘copters, including $388 million to plan and design a new White House helicopter and $870 million for 29 Seahawks for the Navy.

The legislation includes an amendment sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-2nd District, that would ban the Pentagon from contracting or subcontracting for helicopters or other weapons with the Russian state company, Rosoboronexport, which is providing the Defense Department with helicopters for Afghanistan’s armed forces. Sikorsky would like that contract.