WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that the Fiscal Year 2004 Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed the full Senate late Thursday, includes significant funding for many of the nation’s most critical military priorities, including broad support for Tennessee.
“Ensuring that our military can protect our homeland and our missions abroad must be a priority of this Congress. The funding provided in this year’s defense appropriations bill supports Tennessee’s top priorities while providing many quality of life measures for our armed forces,” said Frist. “We face continued challenges in many parts of the world to secure peace and protect our nation from terrorist threats. Our military plays a critical role in these efforts, and I applaud the Senate for passing funding to ensure the armed forces and our reserve components are able to properly do their job.”
"This funding will go a long way to provide our military men and women with the resources they need to protect our freedom," said Alexander. "I am proud that Tennessee is playing a vital role in these important defense projects."
Some of the key Tennessee projects included in the Senate version of the FY 2004 Defense Appropriations Bill include:
$1 billion for the purchase of nine V22/Osprey aircrafts. A portion of these aircraft will be built in the Nashville area. This funding fully supports the President’s budget request.
$9 million for the SensorNet program, a nationwide system for the real-time detection and assessment of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. The technology is part of efforts at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
$106 million for the Guardian Portable Radiation Search Tool (PRST), a neutron and gamma ray detector capable of protecting against radiological weapons of mass destruction. Nusafe of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is expected to be a manufacturer of the technology. This is $30 million increase over the President’s budget request of $76 million.
$5 million for the medical consortium conducting medical Mustard Gas Antidote Research for the Department of Defense. The consortium includes Meharry Medical School and East Tennessee State University. This research utilizes a new and promising technology to counter the deadly effects from weapons of mass destruction exposure.
$18.49 million for the Medical Free Electron Laser (MFEL). Vanderbilt University is one of the primary research facilities involved in the MFEL program. This represents a $9 million increase over the President’s budget request.
$6.125 million for APN-241 Radar Upgrade, the only radar capable of meeting U.S. Air Force safety, navigation and aerial delivery requirements. This additional funding will be used to procure eight APN-241 units into the Tennessee Air National Guard, including the 118th Military Airlift Wing.
$3 million for research, development and testing of Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicles. Remotec in Oak Ridge is a principle developer of the technology.
$4 million for the U.S. Army Tank Command (TACOM) National Automotive Research Center University Consortium, which includes the University of Tennessee. Several important military automotive programs will be impacted by this research.
$14 million for the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS), modern personal equipment which is urgently needed by our active forces to improve both their military effectiveness and quality of life. Of the funding, $5 million will be directed to the Army National Guard, $7 million to the Army Reserve and $2 million to the Air National Guard.
$1.5 million toward the Communicator-Automated Emergency/Notification System which provides instantaneous real-time emergency mobilization notification in the event of war or any other emergency. The Tennessee National Guard would benefit greatly from this system.
$2 million for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Lightweight Maintenance Enclosure (LME). These are frame-supported lightweight tents designed to provide a covered facility to conduct tactical maintenance operations in difficult and varied climates. Camel Manufacturing in Campbell County, Tennessee, is expected to be the principle supplier.
$48 million to provide three brigades of Bradley Fighting Vehicles with Reactive Armor, enhancing the survivability of the fighting vehicles. The reactive armor tiles are manufactured at the Army Ammunition Plant in Milan, Tennessee. The funding is a $25 million increase over the President’s budget request.
$4 million to establish and fund an Advanced Carbon Nanotechnology Program which is to be headquartered at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. This five university consortium will develop and apply new technology in the rapidly emerging area of applied carbon nanotechnology to improve biosensors, soldiers and weapons armament, and energy conversion.
$3 million for the Center for Optical Logic Devices (COLD), which is a cooperative research effort between Fisk University and Idaho State on encryption and decryption code and optical communications.
The bill will now go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.