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F22 Advocate Congressman John Murtha Dies At 77

Pennsylvania Representative Strong Backer Of The Raptor Program

Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha (D) died Monday from complications following gall bladder surgery at a hospital in Maryland just outside Washington, DC. The congressman was 77 years old.

Murtha, who chaired the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, had been a strong advocate of the F-22 Raptor and other defense programs. He had tried to have money put back in the FY2010 defense budget to produce more of the planes, but the final budget ended the program without extending it.

Murtha had also been a proponent of splitting the replacement KC-X tanker contract between Airbus and Boeing. As ANN reported in December, he advocated a plan that would have had the winning bidder build two tankers per month, while the losing bidder would have built one. Murtha had expressed concern about Northrop Grumman's decision to pull out of the tanker competition, saying “I can’t imagine they can do it without competition.” His likely replacement as chair of the subcommittee, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) supports Boeing's bid in the tanker competition.

Murtha had served 19 terms in Congress. Some political analysts indicate that the seat may now be competitive, and a special election is likely within three months.

FMI: http://appropriations.house.gov/Subcommittees/sub_def.shtml

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