TOP STORY >> Funds approved for base, arsenal
Leader Senior Staff Writer
The Senate has approved $41.2 million for construction projects at Little Rock Air Force Base and Pine Bluff Arsenal, including $10.4 million for a new security headquarters and $5.8 million for a C-130J flight simulator at LRAFB.
Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor said the 2010 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill includes $133.9 billion in appropriations for military construction, military family housing, and veteranís affairs programs.
The two items for the air base are already in the House military construction budget with the same appropriation, according to Pryor spokesperson Lisa Ackerman.
The military construction budget now heads to a joint conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions.
Pryor is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and sits on the conference committee.
The new facility will consolidate security functions currently dispersed in three separate facilities on base, thus decreasing the time required to arm, equip and dispatch emergency-response and mobility forces. The new facility will improve energy efficiency and provide space to effectively manage Department of Defense security operations and Air Force base defense programs, Pryor said.
The $5.8 million will be used to fund a C-130J flight simulator, which is a training tool the Air Force uses to instruct and prepare pilots for non-standard flying operations.
Pilots rely on simulators to practice emergency procedures, such as power failures, hydraulic malfunctions, and loss-of-engine situations. This funding was requested in the presidentís budget.
The new simulator will help train crews and trainers not only for the U.S. Air Force, but for many allies.
Itís too early to know if the announced doubling of production of the C-130J would result in more training at LRAFB.
Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the C-130J airlifter, will increase production as demand grows in the Middle East, according to a Lockheed vice president.
Jim Grant told the Wall Street Journal that production would grow from about 16 C-130 Js a year to more than 30, based on orders from Qatar, Oman and Iraq.
Itís uncertain whether flight crews and maintainers will be trained at Little Rock Air Force Base, according to Peter Simmons, a Lockheed Martin spokesman.
LRAFB is the premiere C-130 base in the world, but training also is conducted at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi and in the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia and Canada.