FY13 NDAA includes new airframe for CTANG

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jefferson S. Heiland
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) January 2, 2013. The NDAA affects Connecticut on several fronts, including the Connecticut Air National Guard as well as several Connecticut-based businesses.

The final conference report supports an Air Force plan to base eight C-130H cargo aircraft at the Air Guard's 103rd Airlift Wing at Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby. In the 2013 budget, the Air Force proposed eliminating the unit's previously planned post-BRAC mission--the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft--and assigning it a unit of MC-12 intelligence gathering aircraft as part of a larger reorganization of the Air National Guard. That plan was heavily criticized for its unbalanced approach to the Guard, and both the House and Senate versions of the bill froze the plan pending further review. A subsequent plan submitted by the Air Force to Congress on November 2 made substantial changes to their original plan. The conference report allows the Air Force to implement that plan, including the eight C-130H aircraft for the Connecticut Air National Guard, with additional changes meant to augment the airlift capabilities of the Air National Guard as a whole.

Passage of the bill also ensures steady submarine production in 2014 for Groton-based Electric Boat and authorizes up to 10 Virginia Class Submarines as part of a multi-year contract for 2014-2018. The NDAA includes $4.8 billion in funding for the Virginia-class attack submarine program, including $3.2 billion to build two submarines in 2013 and $1.6 billion in advanced production funding for submarines in 2014 and 2015 -- including $777.8 million above the President's budget request to restore a second 2014 submarine that was removed as part of the budget request earlier this year. Additionally, the bill authorizes $565 million for the Ohio Replacement Program, which will develop the replacement of the current fleet of Ohio Class Submarines. These submarines are expected to begin construction in 2021, with significant research and development work at Electric Boat over the next several years.

The conference report also authorizes $5.9 billion for 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which are powered by Pratt and Whitney engines. Of that total, the report authorizes $3.4 billion for 19 Air Force variants, $1.1 billion for the Navy variant, and $1.5 billion for the Marine Corps STOVL variant.

Helicopter production is also impacted: $1.2 billion for 59 UH-60 Black Hawks for the Army and Guard; $454 million for 18 Navy Knighthawk helicopters, a multi-mission Sikorsky-built chopper used by the Navy for combat search-and-rescue, special-warfare support and airborne mine countermeasures; and $1.01 billion for 24 Navy Seahawk helicopters. The Seahawk features advanced radar, missiles and low frequency sonar. 

Other big news is that there will be no new BRAC. While the 2013 budget request asked for authority to hold two new base closing rounds in 2013 and 2015, the final report rejects this request and does not provide any new base closing authority. In addition, the conference report expands limitations on the DOD's ability to conduct major installation changes outside of the BRAC process.

Finally, the bill authorizes a 1.7% pay increase and extends bonuses and special pay for our men and women in uniform and also rejects Administration proposals to increase some TRICARE fees and establish new TRICARE fees.

--Information from a Press Release from the office of Congressman Joe Courtney was used in this story.