House Approves Defense Dollars for Presidential Helicopter Facility, MMA and Joint EOD Support Center
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Fiscal Year 2006 Military Quality of Life Appropriations bill that contains funding important to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center and Southern Maryland. This funding was also included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Department of Defense Authorization bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday.
More than $13 million was added to these bills at Congressman Hoyer's request that was not included in the President's defense funding request for construction of the Joint EOD Technical Support Center to be located at Indian Head. The bills also included the final $40.7 million to complete construction of the facility to house the Marine Corps' Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program at Pax. And, the bills included $5.8 million to construct a facility to support the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft at Pax River.
"Almost two weeks ago, the Department of Defense recognized the valuable role Southern Maryland's military installations play in our national security when they released their BRAC recommendations," said Congressman Hoyer. "I am pleased that the House of Representatives today reinforced that recognition by agreeing to my request to appropriate funds in support of a vital new facility at Indian Head, to complete the construction of one of the largest programs at Pax River, and to construct a facility at Pax that will support a key component of the Navy's maritime surveillance.
"These projects highlight the impressive capabilities of these installations which play a critical role in helping our nation meet the threats and challenges of a new century. The construction of the EOD Center at Indian Head will directly support the work being done in Iraq and Afghanistan and will better serve our troops by helping them identify and reduce the threat of unexploded bombs, including IEDs. Further, this funding capitalizes on the advanced and innovative talents at work at Pax River by entrusting our very capable engineers with the development, testing and life cycle support of another of our nation's most advanced naval aircraft programs.
"These programs are not only important to our state's economy, but will further enhance the technical development and testing capabilities at Pax and Indian Head and keep these installations at the forefront of energetics and naval aviation testing by increasing the safety and efficiency of our naval operations," Hoyer added.
The funding to benefit Pax River and Indian Head included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Military Construction Appropriations and Department of Defense Authorization bills is listed below:
VXX Presidential Helicopter Program Support Facility, $40.7 Million Congressman Hoyer led the effort in the Congress to ensure that the VXX Presidential Helicopter project was funded. Last year, Congressman Hoyer helped secure the funding for this new state-of-the-art facility. By coordinating the effort between the Navy, the Congress and others, Congressman Hoyer was able to secure $40 million to begin construction on the new VXX facility at Pax River. The $40.7 million secured in today's bill will be used to complete construction of this facility.
The Marine Helicopter Squadron is responsible for transporting the President and Vice President of the United States, foreign heads of state, and other White House officials. This aircraft travels worldwide and operates in varying environmental conditions. It must have the capabilities to ensure that the President can do his job no matter what the circumstances. Currently only two types of helicopters are utilized by the Squadron to transport the President. These helicopters are not able to incorporate all of the latest technology and the need for improved capabilities has grown beyond the current fleet's structural and performance growth ability. The Replacement Helicopter Program, currently referred to as VXX, will be a conventional helicopter designed to meet current threat requirements, as well as other yet unforeseen challenges, to provide the President of the United States with robust and efficient transportation.
Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA), $5.8 Million This funding will be used to construct a facility to support the MMA program, the U.S. Navy's next generation maritime surveillance aircraft. It will provide key anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and will focus on developing a system that will significantly transform how the Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance force will man, train, operate and deploy. Ultimately, the MMA will replace the U.S. Navy's aging fleet of P-3C Orion aircraft, which has been an active program at Pax since the late 1950s, thereby securing the Navy's future in long-range maritime patrol and Pax's expertise in this program for the next several decades.
The MMA is intended to search for and destroy submarines, conduct shipping interdiction, and also possibly engage in intelligence and other surveillance missions. MMA offers a modern, highly reliable airframe which will be equipped with improved maritime surveillance and attack capability, allowing a smaller force to provide world-wide responsiveness while potentially on a smaller support infrastructure. The aircraft will carry torpedoes, depth charges, harpoon anti-shipping missiles, and other weapons. It will also be able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. Finally, it is expected to operate in conjunction with unmanned aerial vehicles to coordinate battlefield intelligence sharing.
Joint Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Support Center, $13.46 Million Funding for construction of the Joint EOD Technical Support Center was included in these bills at Congressman Hoyer's request and was not included in the President's defense funding request. Congressman Hoyer convinced the Committee to add this program to these bills because funding for the this new facility will allow us to better serve the warfighters on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan in identifying and neutralizing unexploded military material including bombs, ammunition, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). This facility, to be located at Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head, will dramatically enhance the ability of EOD technicians to provide real-time EOD support and expertise to warfighters deployed all over the world in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The new facility will include administrative space, a satellite communications center, a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and a Special Access Program SCIF.