Today, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee on the importance of continuing the CH-47F Block II program at Boeing. This contract is not only important to our region but also national security.
Just last month, Congresswoman Scanlon lead a letter to the House Armed Services and Defense Appropriations committees urging them to reconsider the decision to delay this production. This letter, which received bipartisan support from the Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey Congressional delegations, outlined that these delays would result in a loss of roughly 1,000 skilled jobs and result in a $3.2 billion cost increase to the program.
A copy of the Congresswoman's testimony has been made available below.
"Chairman Visclosky, Ranking Member Calvert and Members of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. It's a privilege to appear before you today. I am here to speak in strong support of the CH-47F Block II program. I am honored to represent the district that is home to the Chinook program, and especially proud that the CH-47 program is the longest continuous helicopter production line in the Department of Defense.
"The production facility is home to more than 4,000 skilled men and women who build the finest heavy lift helicopter in the world -- flown by the United States Army, and 19 countries around the globe. These men and women, and the dedicated supply chain across the Nation, deliver the Chinook to the Army, on average, 53 days ahead of schedule.
"In July 2017, after completing a detailed analysis, the Army formally certified to Congress that the CH-47F Block II program was a critical requirement for the Army. The Army told Congress that the upgrades provided by Block II are necessary to significantly advance its capability to lift more weight in terms of both personnel and cargo, fly at higher altitudes, and fly in hotter temperatures.
"Now, just 20 months after making that certification to the Congress, the Army seeks to delay F Block II production by 5 years, and if the Under Secretary of the Army's statement is accurate, not procure additional CH-47F aircraft at all.
"I understand that the Army must make tough decisions, but delaying the production of the Block II program is not in the best interest of national security. There is no suitable replacement for the Chinook and I know I don't need to convince any of you on the utility of this critical aircraft. Delaying or ending this program without having a suitable replacement would have significant consequences both in terms of cost and military readiness.
"The Army's "Analysis of Alternatives" study determined that the F Block II was the most cost-effective way to provide both advanced capability and save taxpayer dollars. The Chinook program supports more than 20,000 jobs and more than 200 suppliers in 38 states. A good number of these suppliers are small businesses, and if the program is delayed or cancelled, they face the very real risk of closure.
"Further, the CH-47F Block II program is one of the top performing programs in all of the Department of Defense. The first F Block II test aircraft has already flown -- one month ahead of schedule and continues to meet or exceed all DoD acquisition metrics.
"I ask you to support the FY20 budget request for the aircraft requested in the budget, a total of 9 aircraft for Special Operations Command - 8 base and 1 OCO- , add $28 Million in Advanced Procurement to enable the previously planned FY21 Low-Rate Initial Production of the first 5 CH-47F Block II aircraft , and include directive report language that conveys to the Army to execute the Chinook Block II program per their formal July 2017 notification to Congress.
"Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to working with you as the important FY20 defense appropriations process moves forward.the important FY20 defense appropriations process moves forward."