Congressman Says Defense Bill Helps Robins Air Force Base

Robins Air Force Base. (U. S. Air Force file photo by Sue Sapp)
Robins Air Force Base. (U. S. Air Force file photo by Sue Sapp)

The House Armed Services Committee on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a defense policy bill that is good for Robins Air Force Base, said U.S. Rep. Austin Scott.

By a vote of 60-2 the committee passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act following 16 hours of debate on amendments. It authorizes $610.5 billion in defense spending.

Scott, a Republican who represents the 8th District, said the bill includes $128 million to continue a program to buy new planes for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System at Robins. It also continues a block on any retirements of existing J-STARS planes.

Scott said he was able to remove language from the bill that could have allowed private industry to do some of the C-130 work currently done at Robins. He said the bill includes language that will bring a few more C-130s to Robins that are currently being done at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

"Georgia had a good night last night," Scott said. "I'm pleased with the way things came out."

One part of the bill that he opposed was an amendment to require women to register for the draft. That provision passed 32-30, with mostly Democrats in favor of it and mostly Republicans against it.

Scott said that amendment and some others might not be in the bill that is approved by the full House, but he does not expect the provisions related to Robins will see any trouble.

One tantalizing item for Georgia is a call for a study on what it would take to restart the F-22 production line. The advanced fighter jet was produced at the Lockheed Martin plant in Atlanta before funding was cut.

With continuing delays in the development of the F-35, Scott said the F-22 restart is worth a look.

The original plan to buy new planes for J-STARS called for retiring the current J-STARS planes at a rate of about one or two per year. As the older planes became due for overhaul maintenance, instead of getting that done the planes were to be retired and the money saved from the overhaul would be put toward buying the new planes.

But Scott said the J-STARS remain in such high demand that the fleet cannot be reduced. The bill approved Thursday prevents any retirements through 2018.

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