Missouri’s U.S. Senators are recommending money be appropriated to keep construction of a high-tech fighter jet continuing in St. Louis County.
Senator Roy Blunt’s (R) office estimates 15,000 north St. Louis County jobs are tied to production of Boeing’s EA-18G Growlers – fighters capable of jamming enemy electronics. Boeing has orders for the plane through 2016 but could have to cease production while waiting for new orders to come in.
Senators Blunt and McCaskill have offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to authorize 100-million dollars to keep production open.
Current budget rules mean finding that money could be difficult. McCaskill says the Navy wants more Growlers, but it could have made that desire more loudly stated.
“I’m frustrated the Navy did not put them in their budget but they did put them number one on their unfunded priorities. Well the tricky part of that is ‘unfunded,'” says McCaskill. “That means we’ve got to steal money from something else in order to put money into that.”
She says the Growler provides a vital service to U.S. defense.
“There is no other aircraft that can do what the Growler can do. There is no other aircraft that serves any of our branches of the military that can really perform electronic warfare, that can jam radar systems, that can do what we need done in cyberspace,” says McCaskill.
The Senators’ amendment would also urges several steps that could encourage future Growler purchases and production.
The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Buck McKeon (R-California) has recommended $450-million be included in the 2015 federal budget to pay for five EA-18Gs.