WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The third of four key U.S. congressional committees on Tuesday approved funding for 12 additional Boeing Co fighter jets in fiscal 2016, increasing the prospects that the company will keep its St. Louis production line running past the end of 2017.
The House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee added just over $1 billion in funding for seven EA-18G electronic attack jets, or Growlers, and five F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets, according to the panel's website.
The committee followed the lead of the House and Senate armed services committees, which each added funding of $1.2 billion for 12 F/A-18E/F jets.
Added congressional funding and a $3 billion order expected soon from Kuwait should allow Boeing to extend its production line into 2019, instead of shutting it down at the end of 2017.
The Navy did not request extra Boeing jets in its base budget, but added 12 extra Super Hornets to its "unfunded priorities" list to mitigate potential shortfalls due to heavier-than-expected maintenance needs for older aircraft.
Roman Schweizer, analyst with Guggenheim Securities, said the move was good news for Boeing.
"Given that three committees have supported the increase, it seems nearly certain that some funds will be added," Schweizer said in an analyst note.
The defense subcommitee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the fourth committee that helps shape the Pentagon's budget, has not yet acted on the measure.
He said 12 more Navy jets and some foreign orders could help stretch the Super Hornet line for another two or four years.
Boeing had no immediate comment on the action of the House defense appropriations subcommittee.
The subcommittee included a total of $8.4 billion for 65 F-35 aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp, including two additional C-model F-35 jets for the U.S. Navy that were not included in the legislation approved by the House and Senate armed services committees.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Diane Craft)