Funding for military projects at Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, may get a boost after a bill by the U.S. House Armed Services Committee (USASC) was approved on Friday and sent to the House floor.
After applauding the passage of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a press release by Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01) – member of the USASC – says that the proposal includes a $600 million in defense spending, with $359 million being construction projects.
The release also states that spending will include upgrades to facilities in order to “attract” more assets involving research, development, testing, and evaluation and that “tens of millions is dedicated to enhance operational security.”
Some of the projects include $70 million allocated to the construction of F-35 jet hangars, and $20 million for modifications or “upgrades” to the Gulf Test and Training Range’s “Threat Simulator Development and major testing and evaluation investment to combat near peer adversaries.”
Other allocations include; $100 million for the Weapons Technology Integration Center project, which will “vastly increase the local community’s capability to meet contracting needs,” and $91 million for upgrades in weapons testing infrastructure.
“I applaud Northwest Florida’s major funding victories in this legislation. Our community is proud of our contribution to the fight. With this historic financial commitment to Eglin, we are poised to attract even more military mission, strengthening our local economy and our nation’s defenses,” Gaetz said in the release.
In addition, Gaetz’s release highlights that if the bill is approved, it will expand and fund programs that private sector employers in Northwest Florida support like Vertex Aerospace in Crestview, and Solutions for Systems in Niceville.
He also highlighted the Institute for Human and Machine Cognitive (IHMC) in Pensacola that specializes in robotic devices designed for cleaning up environmental and nuclear waste sites. The IHMC will receive full funding as well as an additional $5 million.
The largest allocation of funds is planned to go to the Hurlburt Air Force Base and the Special Operation Command which would receive full funding and an additional $131,500 million for “unmanned aircraft systems” known as the Osprey V-22.
The release concludes by Gaetz again supporting the NDAA’s proposal for a 2.7% increase in pay for all active-duty families, part of the Basic Housing Allowance in northwest Florida.
Action on the proposed defense budget should commence in the coming weeks.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Matt Gaetz” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo by “Fighter Jet” by US Air Force. CC BY-NC 2.0.