Opening Statement (As Prepared)

Click here to stream the hearing.


Thank you, Chairman Kelly.

Before I begin, I’d also like to thank our witnesses for being here and for their testimony. Mr. Hunter, Lieutenant General Moore, great to have you back before the subcommittee again.

Today’s hearing is rather timely, as the President’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget request was released yesterday. I look forward to discussing the Department’s priorities today. This also comes at a time of great uncertainty, as we are discussing the FY25 request while we still do not have a full FY24 budget signed into law yet.

As our subcommittee continues to move forward on the next NDAA, we, like we have done in past budgets, will make the necessary adjustments on a bipartisan basis and ensure we are investing in the right efforts to sustain our technological supremacy and unmatched logistical advantage.

Just last week, the DOD decided to lift the grounding order for V-22 Osprey flights and return to operations after three months of grounding across the inventory following the fatal Air Force CV-22 crash off the coast of Japan in November. I remain incredibly concerned and believe that in order to return to flight there must be significant modifications to prevent future mishaps from occurring. I understand that more rigorous inspections of aircraft will occur, but I have significant concerns of future materiel failures that will unnecessarily put service members in harm's way while performing routine missions. While the investigation is still underway, and we have not yet been briefed on its findings, I hope that we can discuss elements of the investigation here today.

In that light, this subcommittee is focused on ensuring the Department has a proven bomber roadmap as the B-21 moves into low-rate production and upgrades the B-52 with new engines and capabilities. Failure is not an option as you take a two-pronged approach that incorporates divesting legacy B-1s and B-2s from the fleet.

Pivoting to the air refueling mission of the Air Force, the Department continues to invest in the KC-46 Pegasus while making prudent adjustments to enhance the aircraft’s Remote Vision System, and I am glad to see that those issues have been worked out, and there is an acquisition and integration strategy to begin outfitting aircraft with RVS 2.0 soon. This subcommittee needs to see a clear commitment and strategy for how we will execute a bridge tanker concept, as well as proceeding forward with the next generation air refueling system.

Lastly, I remained concerned that the VC-25B program continues to be plagued with rising costs, labor challenges, and lengthy delays for this critical platform. Under the current schedule, the first VC-25B aircraft will be over 10 years old when it delivers to the Air Force. I think it goes without saying that the Air Force needs to stabilize production and work with industry to prevent future schedule delays.

Thank you all for being here today, and I look forward to your opening testimony.

With that I yield back.