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Levin touts Michigan provisions in new defense spending bill

Dec 4, 2014

Crews prepare to launch an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Selfridge.
Credit Terry L. Atwell / Air National Guard

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says a new military spending bill could bring some big wins for the state’s defense sector.

Levin, a Democrat and Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has a big hand in crafting the annual National Defense Authorization Act.

In a statement released Wednesday, he announced that House and Senate negotiators have hashed out a bill with some key provisions benefiting Michigan’s defense installations and industries.

“This bill once again highlights the Michigan role in our national defense that has continued from our history World War II’s ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ until today,” Levin said, citing the state’s “manufacturing excellence, technical know-how and academic excellence.”

One key provision: reversing the Air Force’s effort, announced earlier this year, to retire the A-10 aircraft. That’s a big win for Metro Detroit’s Selfridge Air National Guard Base and its fleet of 21 A-10s.

The Defense Department called that plane, designed as a Cold War era “tank-buster,” obsolete. But the decision to retire it ran into fierce opposition in Congress, led in part by Levin and Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller.

Selfridge is located in Miller’s Macomb County district. While she declared herself “pleased” with the A-10’s continuation, Miller also expressed concern that the bill could allow some of the fleet to be moved from active duty to back-up status.

“No airplane in the inventory performs as well in ground attack and close air support missions as the A-10,” Miller said.

The bill also includes $35.1 million to replace fuel distribution equipment at Selfridge; and $6 million to help Battle Creek’s Kellogg Air Guard Base prepare to operate unmanned, remotely-piloted MQ-9 aerial vehicles.

There’s also some good news for Michigan-based defense contractors and R&D facilities. According to a statement from Levin’s office, some of the main beneficiaries include:

·        $1.4 billion for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) construction. Marinette Marine, just across the Michigan border in Wisconsin, is one of two shipyards building LCS and employs several hundred Michigan residents and relies on many Michigan suppliers.

·        $435.1 million, including $50 million above the budget request, for the Army’s Stryker double-v hull (DVH) armored vehicle. Additional funds will help the Army accelerate production to create a fourth DVH Stryker brigade. General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker program and more than 200 Michigan companies serve as suppliers.

·        $357 million, including $120 million above the budget request, for the Abrams Main Battle Tank program. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Abrams program and more than 200 Michigan companies serve as suppliers.

·        $269.6 million for DOD manufacturing research activities, including funding to support 5 manufacturing innovation institutes. The President recently announced the establishment of the DOD Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute, headquartered in the Detroit area.

·        $182.9 million for Army research on combat vehicle and automotive technologies through the Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren.

More details on the larger 2015 NDAA can be found here. The House could move on the bill as soon as this week.