U.S. Congressman Scott DesJarlais said he has inserted measures into the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that will give more aid to Middle Tennessee’s Aerospace and Defense Technology Corridor.
According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee’s aerospace cluster includes 52 companies, including the Arnold Engineering Development Complex. The region also has advanced research centers and manufacturers that supply the U.S. military and commercial enterprises with state-of-the-art equipment.
President Donald Trump signed the NDAA into law this week.
The NDAA sets yearly policy at the federal Department of Defense.
“In terms of Tennessee, there are all kinds of military bases and service members across the state who are interested in national security,” said Brendan Thomas, spokesman for DesJarlais.
“In terms of what the congressman is doing, this is the area through Middle Tennessee and parts of Alabama and Kentucky, known as the Aerospace Tech Corridor. This is where there are bases and private enterprises on the forefront of hypersonic and nuclear research. He directed his energy into those endeavors.”
Among the beneficiaries are Fort Campbell, the research facilities at the University of Tennessee Tullahoma, and the nuclear research facilities in Oak Ridge.
The 2019 NDAA will also increase funding for hypersonic research by $20 million.
More U.S. Air Force investment in hypersonic aircrafts, for instance, benefits the Tullahoma facility.
Hypersonic relates to speeds of more than five times the speed of sound.
“The Chinese are already very advanced in this area,” Thomas told The Tennessee Star.
“People wonder why we need to apply ourselves in this area.
Our enemies are not slowing down. We can’t sit on our laurels and pretend there are no dangers in the world.”
The Chinese, he went on to say, are also developing lasers.
The NDAA also gives the secretary of defense more hiring authority and to hire certain people more quickly, Thomas said.
“My understanding is there are some civil service and employment regulations that prevent quick hiring of skilled personnel in cybersecurity and other areas and this is actually going to speed up the process of hiring those people,” Thomas said.
“It’s a very competitive market for computer engineers, for technicians of all kinds of cybersecurity experts. There are a lot of opportunities these days in the private sector for these people to get a great career and make money and one of the problems with the federal government is it takes so long to hire people. It takes a long time to train them to do what the federal government needs them to do.”
According to a press release, the 2019 NDAA will also help to enforce Russia’s cooperation with a nuclear arms control treaty, gives troops a pay raise, and it builds on Trump’s proposal to create a new space force to counter foreign threats.
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