Washington, D.C. – In its first action on Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations, today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4974, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017, with the support of Alaska Congressman Don Young. The bipartisan funding package provides $81.6 billion in total discretionary funding to support critical Department of Defense infrastructure projects and programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The decision to base two squadrons of F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base and position the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Air Force Station were major victories for Alaska and the nation. Not only will these systems play an immense role in the defense of our nation, they also mean a significant boost to our economy and our local communities,” said Congressman Young. “Today’s House-passed Milcon-VA Appropriations Act lays the groundwork for these two important basing decisions and further supports the needs of our military men and women. I look forward to moving ahead in this process so Alaskans can begin working on these critical projects.
“Not only does this legislation fund vital DOD construction projects, it also works to reaffirm our commitment to our nation’s service members and veterans,” Congressman Young said. “There’s no question that the VA is still in need of major repair and I believe this legislation takes a number of important steps to improve the services being provided. By making investments in medical treatment, mental health, suicide prevention and other services to modernize and reduce wait times, we are taking serious steps to ensure our veterans receive the quality healthcare and benefits they’ve earned through service to our nation.”
H.R. 4974 provides $7.9 billion for military construction projects, including family housing, military medical facilities, DOD education facilities, and Guard and Reserve facilities. The legislation fully funds numerous FY 2017 military construction projects in Alaska requested by Congressman Don Young, totaling nearly $500 million dollars.
Alaska based Military Construction Projects Requested by Congressman Young:
Clear Air Force Station:
- $20 million for a Fire Station: Clear AFS supports the Active Air Force and Air National Guard space warning missions, and will soon be the home of Missile Defense Agency’s Long Range Discrimination Radar. The Clear AFS Fire Department currently occupies a structure built in 1961; a facility inadequate to fulfill the department’s required tasks.
- $155 million for Phase 1 of the Long Range Discrimination Radar: This phase is required for deployment of the Long Range Discrimination Radar, a new midcourse tracking radar that will provide persistent coverage and improve lethal object discrimination capabilities against threats to the homeland from the Pacific theater.
Eielson Air Force Base:
- $22 million to renovate the Field Training Detachment Facility for F-35s: This project will renovate the current Field Training Detachment Facility in order to accommodate requirements necessary for the beddown of F-35s at Eielson.
- $79.5 million to build a 16-bay Weather Shelter for F-35s: This shelter is required to sustain aircraft generation rates during cold weather, mitigate the impact of arctic weather on aircraft support equipment, and maintain overall fleet health.
- $11.3 million to build Earth Covered magazines for F-35s: These facilities are necessary to ensure the two F-35A squadrons will have sufficient munitions storage space.
- $44.9 million to build a 4 bay hangar/Maintenance/Corrosion Control Facility for F-35s: This facility is needed to ensure the F-35A’s state of the art technology and composite materials used to meet stealth mission criteria receive the necessary maintenance and repairs in a secure, climate controlled environment.
$42.7 million to build a 4-bay F-35A Maintenance Hangar/Squadron Operations Center: This facility is necessary to ensure that engine removal/installation and effective maintenance can be performed, critical to ensuring that the F-35A squadrons are able to mobilize quickly, safely, and effectively.
- $12.8 million to build a Missile Maintenance Facility for F-35s: This facility will replace Eielson’s current missile maintenance facility, which is currently in a much degraded condition. The new facility will be larger than the current facility, and will ensure that there is sufficient space to conduct missile maintenance for the two F-35A squadrons.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER):
- $29.1 million to add to and alter the JBER Alert AWACS Hangar: This project will upgrade the current AWACS aircraft sheltering and maintenance hangar space, as well as repair and expand existing squadron operations spaces. The project is necessary for the 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron (AACS) at JBER to fully accomplish its mission.
- $4.9 million for a Fuel Offload Facility: Currently, JBER’s jet fuel is resupplied via a pipeline. In the event of a delay with the pipeline, the mission to supply fuel to the aircraft stationed at JBER will be delayed as well. This project will ensure that, in the event that the pipeline receipt mode stops, JBER will be able to receive fuel in sufficient quantities to satisfy mission requirements by being off-loaded from trucks.
- $9.56 million for a Missile Defense Switchgear Facility: This facility is required to provide the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System with increased capabilities for homeland defense. This project constructs a shielded Switchgear Facility providing redundant switchgear units and site electrical infrastructure upgrades to support current survivability and reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM) requirements.
- $47 million for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Hangar: Supports operations for the Grey Eagle UAV unit stationed at Fort Wainwright, which serve as a critical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform for the Army and greatly increases training capabilities of Alaska-based soldiers.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a total of $73.5 billion in discretionary funding under H.R. 4974, an increase of $13.4 billion from FY16 levels.
VA funding of Alaskan interest supported by Congressman Young:
- $250 million for Rural Health Initiative: Continues the VA’s rural health initiative to provide access and quality care to Veterans in rural areas, including home-based primary care, rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics, transportation of rural Veterans, and home-based therapies.
- $29.3 million for Indian Health Services Reimbursement: Used to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) for direct health care services provided to eligible American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans in IHS facilities.
- $7.8 billion for Mental Health Programs: Ensures the VA has the adequate funding for treating veterans with mental health issues. $164 million of this amount is specifically set aside for suicide prevention outreach.
*A state by state military construction projects list can be found here (Alaskan projects are found on page 86).