Air Force Requests Congressional Relief for E-7 Wedgetail Contract

Air Force Requests Congressional Relief for E-7 Wedgetail Contract

While Congress has not approved their 2023 budget just yet, the United States Air Force hopes to receive it by October, when the new fiscal year begins.  In the meantime, the agency has requested lawmakers do what is necessary to allow them the awarding of a E-7 Wedgetail contract to Boeing, even if the federal government is still operating on a continuing resolution.

At present, the USAF hopes to sign this deal with the aircraft maker for new E-7 aircraft by Februaury of 2023. According to USAF Program Executive Office Digital leader Steven Wert, Congress has consistently failed to pass appropriation bills before the October 1st deadline over the past twenty years.  Instead, the government has tried to solely rely on continuing resolutions in order to avoid a government shutdown, which delays these advancements.

Prolonging the already CR extension into the new year would easily delay the Air Force from commencing any new work on programs like E-7. This includes, of course, solidifying a contract within an established time frame.

During a roundtable discussion at the Air Force’s Life Cycle Industry Days conference, Wert says they presently have a “new-start, above the threshold reprogramming request” they are working through the system, in addition to a CR anomaly they are triying to figure out.  All of this is intended to offer more flexibility, if it is approved, of course.

Wert goes on to say, “That new start reprogramming would give us the flexibility to potentially speed it up somewhat. It’s not going to be a dramatic speed up, but we’re doing everything we can.”

Now, the Air Force may not receive the concessions they are requesting, but it would still be possible to finalize a contract with Boeing in February if lawmakers can pass an appropriations bill. Wert adds, “In most years, CR is resolved by that point,” adding that the USAF has greatly improved its ability to sidestep any budgetary obstacles brought on by annually continuous resolutions.