Congress Stands Behind C-5s; Dover Air Force Base Gets $20 Million for Housing as Two Defense-related Bills Sent to President

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper and U.S. Congressman Mike Castle announced today that two separate bills approved by both Houses of Congress include key provisions important to Dover Air Force Base, above and beyond the $57.7 million already approved this year to construct a new, state-of-the-art aerial cargo port. Among the highlights: The fiscal 2004 Defense authorization bill, which sets military policy, includes language that would prohibit the Air Force from retiring any additional C-5As until an A-model has gotten the full Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining modifications and is tested to determine its operational and readiness capability. The delegation worked hard to see that this language was included in the final version of the Defense bill. In addition, the U.S. Transportation Command is required to submit a report to Congress by March 1, 2004, establishing the military’s strategic airlift requirement in the wake of September 11th. The current stated requirement is thought by most experts to be too low and not useful in determining the military’s real needs for the strategic airlift provided by C-5s and C-17s. Both of the above two provisions vindicate what the delegation has said all along – that the future of the C-5A should be based on both its operational capacity as well as the long-term airlift needs of the nation’s military forces. The fiscal year 2004 Military Construction bill includes $19.6 million to build 112 new family housing units at Dover Air Force Base, alleviating the housing shortage created by the dramatic increase in married personnel over the past two decades. “All of this is good news for Dover Air Force Base,” said Senator Biden. “It is critical that the military not make decisions about the future of the C-5 prematurely and without accurate facts. Fully funding modernization, insisting on test data from re-engining, and establishing what the real airlift requirement are is critical to meeting the military’s needs. In addition, the infrastructure upgrades for Dover solidify its central role in today’s military missions. It is vitally important to military men and women, especially when deployed over seas for an extended period of time, to know that their families are being taken care of. Their jobs require them to be 100 percent engaged and focused at all times. They shouldn’t have to be worried about the living conditions of their loved ones at home.” “Because of the work of the delegation, the Air Force will now have to install both the avionics modernization package and the re-engining package in a C-5A and test the plane’s abilities before retiring any additional C-5As,” said Carper. “Combine that requirement with language ordering the Air Force to produce a study of airlift mobility by next March, and we have a very significant policy decision to celebrate regarding the future of cost-effective airlift. It means there will not be a rush to judgment on the fate of the C-5A, and when a decision is made, it will be based on a clear understanding of the overall post-September 11th airlift requirement.” Carper continued, “We’re also pleased that we were able to provide nearly $20 million to improve the housing situation at the base and better the quality of life for the people serving at Dover. With the opening of the new mortuary, the decision to build a new aerial port, and now the money for the new family units, this has been a very good year for the men and women who make a living at Dover Air Force Base, and the delegation will continue to work hard next year on behalf of one of the finest air bases in the country. ” “I believe these projects speak highly of the importance of the Dover Air Force Base to our military in the 21st century. Through this funding we ensure our service men and women at the base can perform their job sufficiently,” said Congressman Castle. “We have worked hard to make sure these projects were heavily pursued during a time of great competition from other states and I am pleased to see our nation’s military recognize the importance of these projects and its impact on our troops. This is an investment in the future of our base that will ensure the greatness of our military and its positive impact on war operations. We will continue to work together as a delegation on future projects for the Dover Air Force Base.”