Senate Approves Defence Spending Bill

Biden and Carper Add $19.7 million for 6 AMP kits for C-5s

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper today announced that the Senate voted 95-0 last night to approve legislation that will fund vital Department of Defense initiatives to better prepare the military for the demands of combat in the 21st Century. The fiscal 2004 Defense Appropriations bill totals $369.2 billion and includes $468.317 million for C-5 modernization, $237.7 million for new Blackhawks, and $50.7 million for defense research and equipment from Delaware. “We are asking more and more of our military men and women each day,” said Senator Biden. “It is our absolute responsibility to provide them with the tools they will need to get the job done – first-rate gear; the best possible equipment and the most advanced technology available. This bill does that for both the active duty and for the Reserves and Guard who are working side-by-side the active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans.” “The defense bill highlights Delaware’s strategic, scientific and technological importance at a time when the nation is facing continued security threats at home and abroad,” said Senator Carper. “The money for C-5 modernization will strengthen our military’s strategic airlift capacity, while other money in the bill will help develop better vaccines and buy new protective gear for our troops. All in all, this bill is a big win for Dover Air Force Base and the state’s research community.” Specifically, the bill would provide:

  • $468.317 million to upgrade and modernize the C-5 fleet – $165.66 million for the Avionics Modernization Program, $290.507 million for the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program, and $12.2 million for emergency generators.

This includes $19.7 million for 6 additional AMP kits for the C-5s that Biden and Carper got added to the bill as a floor amendment. This brings the total number of kits in the budget to 24 and will help the Air Force get back on their desired schedule of having the entire fleet AMP-ed by Fiscal Year 2007. Dover Air Force Base is home to 32 of the nation’s C-5s and will install the new avionics equipment;

  • $237.7 million for 17 UH-60 Blackhawks. This total is $70.7 million (7 UH-60s) above the President’s request. The shortage of modern helicopters in the Army Reserve and National Guard has been a problem in Delaware and around the nation.

In addition, the bill would provide money for Delaware-based research and development, including:

  • $11 million to find ways to combat biological weapons and biological terrorism, which includes:

    • $5 million to help Fraunhofer USA’s Center for Molecular Biotechnology develop a safer and less expensive small pox vaccine using plant proteins. The new vaccine would greatly reduce the health risks of vaccination and could be produced much more quickly than the current vaccine; and
    • $6 million for Quantum Leap Innovations to develop an Integrated Biological Warfare Technology Platform. The IBWTP will provide naval ships and state health personnel with better capability to respond to various biological threats. The IBWTP is being tested using Delaware’s state needs for biodefense. IBWTP will take data from multiple sources (such as hospital records, biological sensors, weather inputs and laboratory results), assess the probability of an outbreak, immediately alert decision makers and appropriate responders, and assist them in developing response strategies.

  • $15.7 million for University of Delaware work for national security, which includes:

    • $4 million for research equipment for a new oceanographic research vessel for the University of Delaware. Like the Cape Henlopen research vessel it will replace, the new ship will be part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS). It will be specifically designed to operate near coast lines in shallow water, having a minimal impact on the surrounding aquatic environment;
    • $4 million for University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) to develop lightweight multi-functional composite armor and munitions for the Army’s Future Combat System;
    • $2.5 million for UD-CCM’s work with the Office of Naval research to produce new composite materials for fire protection on ships and new products and simulations for ballistic and mine blast resistance;
    • $4 million for UD-CCM to demonstrate how the use of advanced composite materials and processing techniques can greatly reduce the cost of replacement body parts for the Army’s 400,000 wheeled vehicles. Currently these parts are made from sheet metal, which is damaged more easily and more susceptible to corrosion. Replacing the parts with composite material will be less expensive and require less annual maintenance;
    • $1.2 million for UD-CCM’s Army Center of Excellence for basic research on lightweight, multifunctional armor for a range of Army equipment needs.

  • $24 million for WL Gore protective clothing, which includes:

    • $5 million for the U.S. Marine Corps to purchase and begin it’s initial issue of the All Purpose Environmental Clothing System;
    • $5 million to purchase Extended Cold Weather Clothing Systems (ECWCS) for the Army;
    • $7 million for ECWCS for the Army Reserve;
    • $5 million for ECWCS for the Army National Guard ;and
    • $2 million for ECWCS for the Air National Guard. The bill must now be reconciled with the House version before being signed into law.