Courtney Hails House Passage of 2015 Defense Authorization
WASHINGTON—Today Congressman Joe Courtney released the following statement after voting in favor of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House by a vote of 325 to 98. Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Vice Ranking Member of the Seapower Subcommittee, had a hand in crafting the bill, including a provision that would fund the Ohio Class Submarine Replacement through a separate account under the Department of Defense.
“The bill passed by the House today maintains robust investment in our undersea fleet, including continued two-a-year production of Virginia Class submarines, and full funding for the Ohio Replacement Program and the Virginia Payload Module,” Courtney said. “These programs have inspired unparalleled confidence in Washington because of the fantastic work of the men and women of Electric Boat. This bill is a strong example of our commitment to maintaining the best submarine fleet in the world, and a victory for Connecticut’s economy.”
Highlights of the bill include:
- Denies BRAC Request. The 2015 NDAA specifically rejects the request for a new Base Realignment and Closure round in 2017, and prohibits the Department of Defense from using funds to prepare for a new round.
- Military Pay Raise.Authorizes a 1.8% across the board military pay raise, 0.8% more than requested in the budget.
- Army National Guard Force Structure. The bill blocks the Army from reducing its Active-Duty end strength below 490,000 and the National Guard from reducing its end strength below 350,000 for FY 2015, prohibits the transfer of AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard to the Army during FY 2015, as proposed by the Army and requires the Government Accountability Office to report by March 1, 2015 on a review of National Guard counterproposals to the Army’s proposed plan.
Submarine Procurement and Development
· Virginia Class Submarine. The bill authorizes $5.9 billion for the Virginia Class submarine program, including $3.6 billion for two submarines in 2015 and $2.3 billion in advanced procurement for two submarines in 2016. The bill fully supports the recently announced Block IV multi-year submarine contract, which calls for 10 submarines to be built over the next five years at a two a year rate.
· Ohio Class Replacement. Fully authorizes budget request of $1.3 billion to continue research and development of the Ohio class ballistic missile submarine replacement. In addition, the bill includes a provision, Sec. 1022, authored by Congressman Courtney to create a “National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund” to manage the obligation and expenditures for the advanced procurement or construction of nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarine outside of the regular shipbuilding account.
· Virginia Payload Module. Fully authorizes the budget request of $133 million million for the continued development of the Virginia Payload Module, which would integrate strike payload capacity for Tomahawk Land Attack and follow on missiles in Block V submarines (FY19-23). The bill report also includes language sought by Congressman Courtney indicating the House’s strong support for the program, calling VPM “the lowest risk, lowest cost and best path for maintaining, and eventually expanding, critical undersea strike capabilities.”
Aircraft Procurement and Development
- F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.The bill authorizes $6.5 billion for procurement and $1.6 billion for research and development of the F-35, equal to the budget request, including $3.6 billion for 26 F-35As for the Air Force, $1.2 billion for six F-35Bs for the Marine Corps and $611 million for two Navy F-35As.
- KC-46 Tanker Replacement.The bill authorizes $1.4 billion for procurement of six aircraft, $226 million and one plane less than requested, as well as $777 million for research and development.
- C-130 Upgrades. In order to address the growing concern about the aging of the C-130H fleet, found primarily in the Air National Guard, the bill authorizes $110 million, an increase of $74 million from the budget request, for C-130H propulsion system propeller and engine control upgrades. The 103rd Flying Wing of the Connecticut National Guard is home to eight C-130H aircraft
- F-100 Spares. Includes a reporting requirement requested by Congressman Courtney for the Air Force to explain its plan to address the unfulfilled requirement for F-15 and F-16 F-100 engine spares. Without additional orders, the F-100 production line is planned to end in 2016 and threatens the ability to support these aircraft.
- Cargo Unmanned Aerial Systems. Includes language in the Committee Report urging the creation of a program of record for unmanned cargo helicopter systems in the 2016 budget, as well as a briefing to the defense committees on their plan to create the program.
Helicopter procurement and development
- $1.3 billion for 79 multiuse Black Hawks for the Army and Guard, $98 million more than the budget request to fund six additional UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Army National Guard
- $210 million for eight Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters.
- $880 million for 29 Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
- $573 million to develop the MH-53K Super Stallion transport.
- $388 million to continue research and development of the Marine One replacement, VXX. Sikorsky was recently selected to produce the new presidential helicopter.
· $16.3 million for a new C–130 Fuel Cell and Corrosion Control Center at the Bradley Air National guard base to support their new flying mission
Shipbuilding and Maintenance
· Authorizes $15.1 billion for major Navy vessels, $660 million (4%) more than requested.
· Role of our Domestic Maritime Industry in National Security. Includes a provision sought by Congressman Courtney, Section 3503, expressing the sense of Congress on the role of the domestic maritime industry in our national security.