The House Appropriations Committee has directed the Pentagon to evaluate a radar-foiling Stealth as the nation's future bomber.
The committee, as part of its report on a bill providing $156.9 billion in fiscal year 1981 defense funds, states that it added $175 million to President Carter's requests to finance detailed evaluations of bomber options, specifically naming a "new technology aircraft such as Stealth" as one of them.
This formally and publicly nominates Stealth a candidate for the manned bomber role, if Congress succeeds in its current effort to have one built whether or not the administration wants it.
"While witnesses agreed that the existing B52 force will remain capable into the 1990s," states the committee in its 392-page report, "it is also true that any follow-on aircraft must be started soon.
"The evaluation of a number of alternatives," continues the committee, "including the B1, derivatives of the B1, derivatives of the FB111 and new technology aircraft such as Stealth aircraft or other designs is a logical starting point for fiscal year 1981."
In separate authorizing legislation Carter signed into law on Monday, the Pentagon is directed to submit its bomber evaluations to Congress by next March 15 and have one of them flying by 1987. Defense leaders intended to leave it up to Congress to extend that 1987 deadline if Stealth ends up as their choice.
The House committee also cited Stealth in making the case that "there is no cause to be alarmed" about the state of U.S. defenses.
Aides said that in his "separate views" to be added to the final committee report on the defense money bill, Committee Chairman Joseph P. Addabbo (D-N.Y.), without mentioning Republican standard-bearer Ronald Reagan by name, complains that "it is unfortunate that we hear so much about the problems of the United States and little is said about the very major problems of the Soviet Union.
"The military power of the Soviet Union is real and the intentions of the Soviets toward the United States are not friendly. However, there is no cause for Americans to be alarmed.
"We remain substantially ahead of the Soviets in those technologies [microelectronics, computers, jet engines] most crucial to military capability," Addabbo writes in rebutting Reagan's charge that the United States has fallen behind the Soviet Union.
The House and Senate in earlier legislation setting ceilings for part of the Pentagon's budget exceeded the president's request by $6 billion, partly because the lawmakers authorized a 11.7 percent pay increase for the 2 million men and women in uniform and approved bringing two World War II ships out of mothballs to build up the Navy.
The Appropriations Committee went along with the pay raises, scuttled the idea of activating the battleship New Jersey and aircraft carrier Oriskany and gave the president most of what he wanted, with money for a new military transport a notable exception.
The $156.9 billion in the Appropriations bill is $2.4 billion more than Carter requested for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, mostly because military raises of 11.7 percent that the president did not request are funded in the bill.
The committee also refused to heed Carter's pleas for $81.3 million to start developing a CX aircraft to help airlift Rapid Deployment Force troops and equipment to distant trouble spots like the Persian Gulf.
Complaining that C5 transports already in hand cannot be kept flying for want of spare parts, the committee contended that "the Air Force should be caring for its existing assets before embarking on a new effort" to build a CX at an ultimate cost of up to $15 billion.
Besides that, continued the committee in explaining why it cut the CX request down to $20 million, "no one is able to say what a CX will look like; what its capacity will be, or what it will cost. Even the secretary of the Air Force has said that the Air Force has failed to make a convincing case for the CX."
The committee also scolded the Navy for failing to earmark enough money to keep its aircraft in spare parts. "The failure of three helicopters on the ill-fated Iranian rescue mission points to a symptomatic problem with respect to maintenance and its overall affect on readiness," said the committee in its report.