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Senators fight for Boeing appropration in defense budget

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –
A pair of letters circulating in the Senate is calling for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to maintain production lines for both the C-17 cargo plane and the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter.

In St. Louis, Boeing employs about 5,800 workers in production of the two aircraft.
Senator McCaskill says the $50-million price tag for the Super Hornet is a better value than the $140-million F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a more advanced aircraft that's still under development.

"I certainly will sign the F/A-18 letter," said McCaskill. "I've put on my auditor's hat and looked the F/A-18 versus the F-35 and have determined that this is a very cost effective way for the military to go forward."

The Defense Department is proposing to cut orders for the St. Louis-made fighter from 45 down to 31. Missouri Republican Kit Bond says it is premature to do anything until publication of the Pentagon's next Mobility Capability Study.

"This decision to shut down while the study is under way, distressing as it is, is one more example of ready, fire, aim," said Bond.

Bond and Senate Democrat Barbara Boxer have won tentative approval for an additional eight C-17's. However that still requires approval by the full House and Senate.

Gates wants to end the C-17 program after the 205th plane is produced next year.

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