WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Tom Carper announced today that the Senate Defense Authorization Bill provides more than $36 million dollars for high priority national security programs and projects. The legislation includes funding for military construction projects as well as the full funding requested for C-5 modernization. The projects in the bill are critical to strengthening the nation's defense capabilities and are important to the Dover Air Force Base and Delaware National Guard. More than $10 million was included for the upgrade of the Delaware National Guard's parking apron/ taxiway at New Castle County Airport. Major General Vavala, Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard, has made the project his number one priority. In their request to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senators Biden and Carper explained that the funding was "mission essential and a top priority for Adjutant General Vavala. C-130's are not able to operate effectively from the current parking apron/taxiway and are at constant risk of severe and constant damage." 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. "Both the C-130 tactical airlift and C-5 strategic airlift are vital to protecting American interests and winning the war on terrorism. But our troops can't do their jobs if these planes can't get off the ground," 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 "The outdated taxiway used by the National Guard has hindered both military readiness and morale.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 material 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." The taxiway used by the Air National Guard's C-130s is in severe disrepair. Cracks in the concrete create significant amounts of foreign debris. As a result, there is a constant risk of losing C-130 engines from damage caused by the debris. While the National Guard has attempted to keep the apron in operating condition, their efforts have only been minimally effective and waste money because they fail to solve the problem. 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 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." 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, will build the engines in Georgetown. In addition, Senators Biden and Carper also announced that the bill includes $19.6 million for new family housing units at Dover Air Force Base and $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 more mobile. The fiscal year 2003 Department of Defense Authorization bill includes: $10.8 million to repair, extend and upgrade the parking apron/taxiway for the Delaware National Guard at New Castle County Airport $3 million for Patrick Powers for a Rotary, Multi-Fuel Auxiliary Power Unit $3 million for the University of Delaware's Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) $19.615 million for 112 new family housing units at Dover Air Force Base $363.795 million for C-5 Modernization funding "The funding included for Delaware projects is substantial and mission essential," Carper said. Senators Biden and Carper have been working closely with Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee for the inclusion of the Delaware projects. With the funding requests included, the bill is expected to reach the full Senate for debate after the Memorial Day recess.