Defense Authorization Passes senate, Includes Delaware Projects

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper announced that the United States Senate today passed annual legislation that authorizes critical measures designed to strengthen the United States’ defense capability and fortify our nation’s Armed Forces. The fiscal year 2003 Department of Defense Authorization Bill authorizes $393.4 billion for additional personnel and a 4.1% across-the-board pay raise, marking the 6th time military pay has been increased in the last six years. The bill also provides money for special operations forces, military health care, and advanced weapons systems and includes funding for several key military construction projects that are vital to Dover Air Force Base and the Delaware National Guard, as well as $363.795 million for C-5 modernization. “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. “This bill makes critical investments in supporting infrastructure improvements 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. It also balances immediate needs, like additional family housing units at Dover, with longer term research initiatives on critical technologies that Delawareans are pursuing to support our military.” “The outdated taxiway used by the National Guard has hindered both military readiness and morale.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 leaders have made it a top priority,” Carper said. “The re-engining of the C-5 is vital to sustaining and increasing America’s strategic airlift capability. We face a war unlike any fought in my lifetime or before. Our success depends on our ability to quickly move large numbers of men, women and materiel to other parts of the world. The C-5 is the country’s largest plane and can carry what needs to be moved to troubled areas around the world. With the full funding for modernization included, the C-5 will ensure our military readiness for generations to come.” Specifically, the 2003 Department of Defense Authorization Bill includes:

  • $10.8 million for a new Air National Guard C-130 Parking Apron/Taxiway in New Castle;
  • $19.15 million for 112 new family housing units at Dover AFB;
  • $7.5 million for new Control Tower at Dover;
  • $16 million for Army and Air National Guard for Extended Cold Weather Clothing System;
  • $3 million for the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials work with Army on composite materials technology needed for the Future Combat System;
  • $3 million for Patrick Power Products to work with the Army to develop a lighter, more efficient Rotary, Multi-Fuel Auxiliary Power Unit for use in multiple Army vehicles;
  • $363.795 million for needed C-5 modernizations;

1 year of extended authority for the DuPont company to continue working with the Army to improve its civilian worker safety program and reduce high costs associated with worker injuries. The $10.8 million that was included for the upgrade of the Delaware National Guard’s parking apron/ taxiway at New Castle County Airport was the top priority for General Vavala, Commander of the Delaware National Guard. In making this request to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senators Biden and Carper explained that the funding was “mission essential” and wrote: “C-130’s are not able to operate effectively from the current parking apron/taxiway and are at constant risk of severe and expensive damage.” 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 taxiway and parking apron 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, $19.15 million for 112 new family housing units, and $363.795 million for C-5 avionics and engine upgrades. 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. In their request to the Committee, the Senators said, “The poor location and lack of modern air traffic control equipment impairs the safety of all air operations…the existing Tower no longer provides an unobstructed view of the runways, taxiways, and parking aprons.” The new Tower and the modernization money will continue to improve the ability of Dover to do its C-5 mission, a vital part of the war effort since C-5s have now delivered 48% of the cargo needed for Operation Enduring Freedom. Sussex County is in line for new jobs and industry, the Senators said, with $3 million included in the bill for the development of a lightweight auxiliary engine for the Army. This funding will allow Patrick Powers to complete the final phase engine design and testing. Once that is done, Patrick Powers, a firm with business in both Delaware and Maryland, plans to build the engines in Georgetown. In addition, Senators Biden and Carper also announced that the bill includes $3 million for the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials. The U of D funding will be used to continue research being done with the Army Research Lab to develop new lighter, high performance materials for the Army’s Future Combat System. The new materials will help the Army become a lighter, more mobile fighting force. The bill also includes $16 million for the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) which is made by W.L. Gore. It is vital to the deployability and operability of Guard units in bad weather, protecting soldiers and airmen from the cold and rainy weather typical in places like Bosnia and the Afghan mountains. The 2003 Department of Defense Authorization bill is the first step toward providing legal authority for the expenditure of federal funds. The money must now be agreed to in conference by the House and Senate and then appropriated by Congress and signed into law by the President.