WASHINGTON — Two U.S. House committees have drafted legislation that would spare, at least temporarily, an aircraft modernization project led by Boeing workers that is scheduled to move to Oklahoma City.
The annual defense bill approved by the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday would prevent the Air Force from ending the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program until six months after the completion of a study on the potential costs and benefits.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, added an amendment that would allocate $20 million on the C-130 program in the next fiscal year.
“By requiring a cost-benefit analysis, this legislation ensures that decisions about the future of the program will be made responsibly, with the input of Congress in conjunction with military leaders,” Cole said. “The AMP program impacts jobs in Oklahoma and is vital to ensure greater reliability, simplified fleetwide training and a reduced crew size for our military. I will continue working with our military leaders to protect this key defense capability.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been urging colleagues to protect the program. He plans to offer language requiring a study when the committee takes up its version of the defense bill this month.
As it looked for ways to cut spending, the Air Force chose to end the program to upgrade C-130 cockpits and automate communications and navigation equipment. About half the 550 Boeing jobs set to move from California to Oklahoma City this year are devoted to the project.
The Air Force projected it could save $2.3 billion over five years by ending the program. Officials said they could do less extensive upgrades to comply with international civil aviation requirements. The analysis required in the bill would compare costs and benefits of the AMP and the less extensive upgrades.