Thursday, December 23, 2021

Budget has funds for aircraft

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. - The defense budget for the 2022 fiscal year provides money for a special operations replacement aircraft, but not as much as requested. U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) wants 75 of the "armed overwatch" aircraft to be operated by the Hurlburt Field-based U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. They would replace the fleet of U-28 Draco intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Seventy-five armed overwatch aircraft would provide AFSOC with four squadrons and 15 training planes. The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2022 fiscal year, approved by Congress and waiting for the president's signature, includes $166 million in procurement funding for the purchase of an initial six armed overwatch aircraft. That's $4 million less than had been requested. Five aircraft competing to be the overwatch plane were tested at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., earlier this year. Two were dropped from the competition, including one that would have been built in Crestview, Fla. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 12/23/21) See background in the April 2021 issue of Gulf Coast Aerospace Newsletter, page 3.