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Defense funds may flow to SCV

Defense bill would authorize $7M toward development of military designs

Posted: May 22, 2008 1:59 a.m.
Updated: July 23, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
Aiming to address the readiness of and strain on America's military, both the House and Senate are considering the National Defense Authorization Act today, which may bring more than $7 million in defense spending to the Santa Clarita Valley for Fiscal Year 2009.

The House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee considered the bill last week, and it is on the legislative docket for a vote in the lower house today. Debate on the bill began Wednesday night.

Introduced by California republican Duncan Hunter and Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton, the House version of the proposed bill also aims to increase United States' capabilities in Afghanistan, monitor the development of nuclear arms in Iran, improve interagency coordination and provide benefits to those who served at home and abroad.

"I think it reflects Republican support for the men and women serving in our armed forces," said Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, who is a member of the House Armed Forces Committee. "It increases the size of armed forces and helps provide better protection in the field. It also allows for the Dept. of Defense to provide annual updates of Iran's nuclear enrichments and capabilities."

If passed, House Resolution 5658 would authorize funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also lays out the policy framework for the Pentagon for the coming year. The bill authorizes $601.4 billion in funding for national defense programs in Fiscal Year 2009, including $531.4 billion directed toward Pentagon and Energy Department defense programs and $70 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the beginning months of 2009.

According to the bill's language, a Strategic Communication Management Board would be established "to provide advice to the Secretary (of Defense) on strategic direction and to help establish priorities for strategic communication activities."

The bill, which will be up for a full vote on the House floor today, does impact the Santa Clarita Valley.

Should the bill pass today, approximately $4.8 million will be allotted for the development of a Common Ground Combat System electronic architecture prototype. Curtiss Wright-owned Vista Controls, a military and aerospace firm with operations in Santa Clarita, will receive the funding in order to develop a prototype which would allow the military to upgrade ground vehicles without redesigning them from scratch each time.

Also contingent on the bill's passage, another $2.5 million will be authorized for Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company in Valencia, which will oversee the development of the Micro Arm Fire Device for the Department of Defense Rocket Systems. The device will be used to help protect the safety of some of the Department's missiles and rockets. According to the bill, current technology does not have a chip small enough to insert into some existing missiles.

Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company is authorized to develop a chip that is small enough to insert into current weapons systems without spending money on redesigns.

The U.S. Senate introduced a version of the bill - called the Military Construction Authorization Act - which was considered Wednesday by its Armed Services Committee. Both bills face scrutiny and modification in pending committee reviews, followed by a markup session. After committee, both bills must be reconciled before being heading for debate. Once the debate is complete, both the House and the Senate will vote on the act, then it will go to the president for signing.

The Defense Authorization Act, if passed and signed, will take effect in fiscal year 2009, which begins Oct. 1, 2008.

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