May 02 2008

$86M headed here for defense

Huntsville Times

By Shelby G. Spires

Senate panel OKs money for projects in Huntsville

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a defense spending bill Thursday that would pay for $86 million in Pentagon projects based in Huntsville.

Also included in the bill was money for the Air Force's newest aerial refueling tanker - the KC-45 - which will be based on a European jetliner and assembled in Mobile, Sen. Jeff Session, R-Mobile, announced.

Included in the Redstone projects is $45 million for development of Advanced Hypersonic Weapons, a program managed by the Army Space & Missile Defense Command.

Military leaders want to develop the hypersonic weapons to strike targets around the globe. The weapons would be boosted to high speeds and could be launched from a ship or a base thousands of miles from the targets, according to Defense Department information.

"Advanced Hypersonic Weapons technology is critical for long-range precision strikes. I am pleased that my subcommittee has been able to provide substantial support to this program for the second year in a row," Sessions said.

Sessions serves on four committees - Armed Services, Judiciary, Energy and Natural Resources, and Budget.

If approved, the spending bill would provide $16.5 million to pay for completion of a software engineering lab on Redstone. The $56 million for Software Engineering Directorate Annex construction has been spread out over the past three years of Pentagon spending bills.

"Once again, the Senate has recognized the SED building's value to our Armed Forces," said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa. "This project will allow our service members to be more versatile by enabling every war fighter to troubleshoot and operate any comparable weapon system with a minimum of training."

Shelby serves on the Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee and he is the ranking member on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

"Software has become a crucial component of our modern fighting force and the SED building will be the development, analysis, training and proving ground for military software of the future," he said.

Also included in the bill is $2 million for fielding the Quick Material Express Delivery Systems (QuickMEDS). An aerodynamic pod, QuickMEDS could be dropped to troops cut off from resupply from an aircraft or a pilotless drone.

An Unmanned Center of Excellence, based at Fort Rucker, would receive $3 million.