Biden and Carper Announce Nearly $38 Million for Military Construction Projects in Delaware

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper announced that the U.S. Senate today passed the Military Construction Appropriations bill which includes critical measures designed to strengthen the United States’ defense capability and improve the morale of military personnel. Included in the fiscal year 2003 Military Construction Appropriations Bill is $37.915 million for several key military construction projects that are vital to Dover Air Force Base and the Delaware National Guard. Specifically, the legislation provides: $10.8 million for a new Air National Guard C-130 Parking Apron/Taxiway in New Castle $19.615 million for 112 new family housing units at Dover AFB $7.5 million for new Control Tower at Dover “The money and projects included in this bill are critical to strengthening America’s defense capabilities and ensuring that our military men and women have the capacity, the capability and the resources they need to respond to any and all threats against the United States,” said Biden. “The C-130s in the Air National Guard provide 49% of America’s tactical airlift. The C-5 airlifted 48% of the cargo in Operation Enduring Freedom. These planes need bases that can support their vital missions. This bill improves the infrastructure at New Castle and Dover Air Force Base and will help ensure that our Delaware military personnel are given the tools they need to protect our national interests. In addition, this bill meets our commitment to military families by once again adding much needed new family housing units at Dover.” “The outdated taxiway used by the National Guard has hindered both military readiness and morale. The inclusion of funding to repair it is a big win for Delaware, whose military leaders have made it a top priority,” Carper said. “The new tower is vital to protecting Dover’s personnel and C-5 aircraft. The significant funding for projects in this bill ensures our military readiness for generations to come. The future of Dover Air Force Base has never been brighter.” The $10.8 million that was included for the upgrade of the Delaware National Guard’s runway at New Castle County Airport was the top priority for Major General Vavala, Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard. To date, the Guard has spent about $1.5 million in operations and maintenance funds on ineffective patches. The broken and uneven slabs cause damage to tires, requiring expensive aircraft tires to be replaced earlier and more often than normal. The upgrade has become increasingly urgent as the Delaware National Guard continues to utilize the C-130’s in support of ongoing overseas missions in the Balkans, in addition to new missions in the war against terrorism. “The Delaware National Guard is extremely appreciative of our Senators’ efforts to secure funding for our runways at the New Castle County Airbase,” said Major General Vavala. “This is a much-needed upgrade and will greatly enhance our readiness and ability to respond when needed around the world and right here at home.” Dover Air Force Base will also benefit with $7.5 million for a new Air Traffic Control Facility. The Senators convinced their colleagues to add this critical project to the final bill in a Senate floor amendment. The current Tower is the oldest in the Air Force, built in 1955, and no longer meets Air Force design standards. It is too small for modern equipment to be installed or for proper training to occur. In addition, the heating, ventilation, and fire protection problems put Tower personnel at risk. The new Tower will help improve the ability of Dover to do its C-5 mission, a vital part of the war effort. The bill also includes $19.615 million for 112 new family housing units. Dover has a large existing requirement to upgrade its base housing, particularly for families. This year’s money follows $18.145 million last year for 120 new units. The differences between the House and Senate bills must now be reconciled into a final bill and signed into law by the President. The House passed bill includes the family housing funding and $675,000 for the design of the Control Tower at Dover.