The Senate Appropriations Committee today passed a 2015 defense appropriations bill that includes continued funding for the A-10 close-air support jet, a mainstay of operations at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

But it is unclear when the full Senate, which goes into a five-week recess Aug. 2, will vote on the $549 billion defense spending bill.

The appropriations bill includes $338 million to maintain the fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthogs” through fiscal 2015.

Whatever passes the Senate, a joint conference committee will have to reconcile it with the House defense spending bill that passed the lower chamber in June. The House bill provides no money for A-10 operations but includes language prohibiting the Pentagon from spending any money to retire the fleet.

The House version of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets Pentagon policies and influences spending levels, includes funding for the A-10 through 2015. The Senate Armed Services Committee also funds the A-10 in its version of the authorization bill, which has yet to come to a full Senate vote.

Among other provisions of interest in Southern Arizona, the Senate committee's appropriations bill would:

  • Provide $82 million to continue production of the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile, which is made by Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems, overriding a Pentagon plan to halt production until a next-generation cruise missile is ready;
  • Prevent the Army from following through on a plan to transfer all of the Apache attack helicopters used by the Army National Guard to active-duty units, a move that could cut some operations at Marana’s Silverbell Army Heliport;
  • Raise to $622 million U.S. funding for Israeli missile-defense program. That could benefit Raytheon, which has been working with Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems on a developmental missile-defense system, David’s Sling, and is expected to co-produce missiles for the short-range Iron Dome system.