The military’s Future Years Defense Program doesn’t fund upgrades for Chinook Ch-47F helicopters at Boeing Corp.’s Ridley Township factory, as the previous year’s budget did, writes Joseph N. DiStefano for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Democratic-led House Armed Services Committee is asking for an extra $28 million to keep the “Block II” upgrade program active during the next five years.
The move, if endorsed by the Senate and adopted in next year’s budget, would help protect 4,600 union and professional jobs at Boeing’s facility.
Boeing is upgrading Chinooks at the Ridley plant to carry larger loads. The company also builds and upgrades Chinooks for U.S. Special Forces and allies around the world. And it builds Osprey military aircraft.
The committee wants the Army to preserve its helicopter-dependent “anti-insurgent” capabilities that supported U.S. wars in Asia, diluting the Army’s new focus on digital, long-range, and space-based weapons.
But those efforts face strong resistance from military leaders who want the Army to meet new long-term war threats from China and Russia.
U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and the mostly Democratic area House delegation are looking for ways to keep the plant busy.
Read more about the Chinook program here.