DEFENSE BILL INCLUDES SHAHEEN, AYOTTE PRIORITIES TO STRENGTHEN PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD, PEASE

Bill authorizes funding for KC-46A, two Virginia Class submarines, and facilities construction at Pease

December 08, 2014

(Washington, DC)- U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced today that the negotiated version of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions championed by the senators that will strengthen Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base. The annual defense bill includes provisions Shaheen and Ayotte fought for that authorize funding for the KC-46A aerial refueling tankers, the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines, as well as modernization and upgrades to the Pease Air National Guard Base and energy conservation projects at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  As Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, Shaheen and Ayotte also opposed the Administration's request for another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

“The annual defense bill we’ve agreed upon both supports our national security and makes targeted investments in New Hampshire that will benefit jobs and the economy,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire has always played an important role in the security of the United States. Support for the KC-46 at Pease and the procurement of Virginia Class submarines will keep the Granite State at the forefront of our national defense.”

“This bipartisan legislation includes important measures to support military readiness and provide our troops with the equipment and resources they need,” said Ayotte. “I’m especially pleased that this bill addresses key priorities at the shipyard and Pease – including authorizing funding for important projects at Pease to prepare for the arrival of the KC-46A, as well as the production of two Virginia class submarines which, with the help of the skilled workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, will protect vital shipping lanes and U.S. national security interests around the world for decades to come.  These measures will help ensure that Portsmouth and Pease remain invaluable national security assets.”

The NDAA authorizes full funding for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker program. The new tankers will replace the Air Force’s current fleet of 1950’s era KC-135s, and Pease – home to the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing – is slated to be the first Air National Guard unit to receive the next generation tanker in fiscal year 2018. The bill also authorizes funding for infrastructure upgrades and facilities construction at Pease Air National Guard Base in preparation for receiving the KC-46A air refueling tanker. Shaheen and Ayotte have advocated for Pease to receive the tanker since 2011, and last year, they announced that the Air Force had designated Pease as the first Air National Guard unit to receive the KC-46A. 

In addition, the bill authorizes the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines in FY2015 and provides advanced procurement funding for two boats in FY2016. Shaheen and Ayotte have touted Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s superior record of performing fast attack submarine maintenance, modernization, and repair under budget and ahead of schedule, and they have advocated for investments in the Navy’s attack submarine fleet, which remains one of the most important assets for the Department of Defense.

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 300 to 119.  The Senate is expected to take up the legislation as soon as this week.