Defense bill includes $480.6-million for Oklahoma interests


Sunday, July 25th 2004, 10:29 am
By: News On 6


LAWTON, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma military interests stand to benefit from $480.6 million in federal funding in the defense spending bill awaiting approval from President Bush.

The $417.5 billion spending bill contains $1.6 billion less than what Bush requested. The Senate approved the Pentagon spending bill 96-0 Thursday and the House passed it 410-12 the same day.

In the measure, Fort Sill would receive $47.8 million, including more than $13 million for the third phase of the Consolidated Maintenance Complex and more than $14 million for the Vehicle Maintenance Facility.

Altus Air Force Base would benefit from $158.6 million allocated to buy 15 C-17 aircraft in support of the ongoing training and planned operational mission of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at the base.

The bill also includes $2.8 million for improved toilet equipment onboard KC-135 tanker aircraft like those at Altus and $600,000 for the extension of the Sooner Drop Zone, allowing for increased training capability and training safety for students using the Dual Row Airdrop System.

``It was essential that Congress pass this appropriations bill in a timely fashion to ensure that our men and women in uniform have everything they need to protect and defend our nation,'' said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.

``Oklahoma plays a central role in the defense of America, and I believe that the level of funding we received in this year's defense appropriations bill is reflective of that fact.''

Among other funding affecting Oklahoma:

_ $5.4 million to upgrade B-52H aircraft at Tinker Air Force Base with Airborne Electronic Attack receivers,

_ $5 million for the Institute for Creative Technologies to develop Call for Fire and Joint Fires and Effects training systems at Fort Sill,

_ $4.8 million for a research program at the University of Oklahoma for suborbital rockets,

_ $3.5 million to replace radar processing equipment at Fort Sill,

_ $3.4 million for Excalibur Life Cycle improvements, which will indirectly benefit Fort Sill by increasing production quantities and creating economic efficiencies for Excalibur artillery munitions,

_ $3 million to help integrate Excalibur Munition, a precision-guided range artillery projectile, with Paladin howitzers in the Fort Sill area.

``I'm happy to see this bill on its way to the President's desk,'' said Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla. ``These funds are vital to maintaining the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force in the world and will help ensure that Oklahoma installations continue to play an important role in the defense of our nation.''