News

Defense bill includes $93.5 million for Utah projects

Spending totals $471B, has pay hike for troops
By Suzanne Struglinski and Stephen Speckman
Deseret Morning News
November 9, 2007

WASHINGTON—Federal money for Utah's National Guard, the Dugway Proving Ground, Hill Air Force Base and other military programs in the state will be on its way once President Bush signs the final version of the defense spending bill passed by the House and Senate this week.

Defense projects in Utah would share at least $93.5 million through the bill, with money specifically set to help upgrade missile programs, improve the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and improve air-traffic control systems, to name just a small portion of what is in the bill.

The bill provides $471 billion for the Defense Department and fully funds a 3.5 percent pay increase for all service members, a half a percent above the president's request, according to a summary.

The measure includes $980 million for equipment for the National Guard and Reserve.

"The nearly $1 billion in funding for much-needed equipment for the Guard nationwide is a welcome development," said Maj. Hank McIntire, spokesman for the Utah National Guard.

"Combat units returning from deployment overseas often find themselves obliged to leave equipment in place to be used by their replacements," McIntire said. "This new appropriation will help our units to more effectively refit and retool here at home, provide the highest quality training for our soldiers and airmen, and be better prepared to protect our citizens as the governor and the president may require."

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The Pentagon bill only funds core department operations, omitting Bush's $196 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for an almost $12 billion infusion for new troop vehicles that are resistant to roadside bombs.

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee that initially writes the bill, put the following provisions into the legislation, according to his office:

  • $13.5 million to upgrade intercontinental ballistic missiles, known as ICBMs, with real-time video devices, which allow forces to respond more quickly to threats.
  • $10 million for equipment to help with technology in airplane frames, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and $9 million for KC-135 aircraft global air-traffic management systems that can help pilots choose better flight routes.
  • $5 million for Utah State University's Space Dynamics Lab to develop reconnaissance systems and imagery processing technologies.
  • $3.5 million for upgrades at the Dugway Proving Ground, and Hill Air Force Base would get $2 million to improve landing-gear design.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, requested money for 12 different projects in the bill that include:

  • $10 million for a partnership between Hill Air Force Base and ATK to evaluate ways to make aircraft weigh and cost less.
  • $6.4 million for ATK to look at a "family" of rocket-engine motors that will dramatically reduce the "booster stack" development costs of future systems such as land-based strategic deterrence and missile defense systems, according to his office.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, included $6.6 million for several Utah-based projects, according to his office, including:

  • $1.6 million for Ceramatec's Electroosmotic Pain Therapy, an alternative to current therapies for chronic pain treatment.
  • $1.6 million for Kennecott's Lightweight Motors for Future Combat System to test and deploy copper-rotor induction motors for drive systems in military applications.
  • $1 million for Cyberkinetic's Neural Control of External Devices, which in conjunction with the University of Utah will accelerate technology of a direct interface between the human brain and artificial limbs.
  • $2.4 million for L3's Rover III to provide enhanced air/ground coordination, significantly shortening the time required for positive target identification and engagement.

© 2007 Deseret News Publishing Company