Senate Bill Addresses Pacific Deterrence, Legacy Aircraft Retirements, and GPS Interference

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the FY21 defense authorization bill on June 10 by a vote of 25-2. The legislation authorizes $740.5 billion in defense spending for FY21, which is in line with the amount allowed by the 2019 Bipartisan Budget Agreement.  That topline includes the Pentagon, nuclear programs in the Department of Energy, and defense-related activities outside of the Department of Defense.

The bill establishes a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative to bolster operations in the region as a response to Chinese military growth; blocks an Air Force plan to retire a number of A-10s, KC-135s and KC-10s; and provides additional funding for MQ-9 Reapers to prevent the program from ending before a replacement is ready.

Lawmakers also take issue with a recent move by the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year to approve a request from Ligado Networks to build a cellular network that utilizes a portion of the spectrum that could interfere with Global Positioning Systems.  The secretary of defense is directed to determine the potential cost of GPS interference, and lawmakers are seeking an independent technical review.

A summary of the bill is available here.

About Shaun McDougall

Shaun McDougall is an analyst at Forecast International covering the U.S. and Canadian defense markets.

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