A fiscal 2017 defense policy bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday includes language to restrict the number of RD-180 engines that the Defense Department can purchase from Russia to no more than nine engines, SpacePolicyOnline.com reported Thursday.
Marcia Smith writes the number is only half of the RD-180 potential procurements that the House Armed Services Committee approved as part the panel’s version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
Under HASC’s proposal, the department would be allowed to buy as many as 18 units of the Russian-built engine technology in order to help the U.S. Air Force and its current launch services provider United Launch Vehicle send military satellites to space until a locally made engine becomes available.
The report said the Air Force estimates it will need an additional 18 RD-180s for use on ULA’s Atlas V rocket through the early 2020s.
SASC members believe industry can produce a domestic substitute by 2019 through the service branch’s ongoing RD-180 replacement competition and that nine engines will be sufficient until that time.