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Defense bill nets SCV $7M

• Two companies would benefit

Posted: May 24, 2008 2:08 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2008 5:04 a.m.

In an overwhelmingly partisan vote, the National Defense Authorization Act passed in the U.S. House on Thursday by a 384-23 vote, authorizing more than $7 million in defense spending for the Santa Clarita Valley.

A majority of representatives who voted in favor of the bill were Republicans. The House bill, which had a counterpart in the Senate, aimed to address the readiness of and strain on America's military and directly impacts two defense companies in the Santa Clarita Valley.

With the bill's passage, 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 that would allow the military to upgrade ground vehicles without redesigning them from scratch each time.

Also receiving funding is Valencia's Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company in Valencia, which is authorized to receive $2.5 million to 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.

"While it's not a perfect bill, it does make important provisions for the men and women who serve in our Armed Services," U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon said in a statement. "I am also pleased that two critical projects were funding for the Santa Clarita Valley area.

"The 25th Congressional district is home to some of the most advanced technological research, development, and evaluation for the Department of Defense and the funds secured in this bill ensure Santa Clarita Valley's role in that continues."

Introduced by California Republican Duncan Hunter and Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton, the House version of the proposed bill also aims to increase the 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.

House Resolution 5658 also authorizes funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lays out the policy framework for the Pentagon for the coming year. Approximately $601.4 billion in funding is authorized by the bill 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 Defense Authorization Act, if resolved with the Senate version of the bill and then signed by President George Bush, will take effect in fiscal year 2009, which begins Oct. 1, 2008.

Neither Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company nor Curtiss-Wright could be reached for comment.


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