San Diego Union-Tribune

December 20, 2001

Region's economy due big boost from defense appropriations bill


December 20, 2001 

WASHINGTON -- The Southern California economy will get a
boost from billions of dollars in major weapons programs and higher military pay funded by the defense appropriations bill heading for final approval this week.

San Diego County firms will benefit from more than $500 million for a ship to be built by NASSCO and for two types of unmanned aircraft developed by San Diego-area firms, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido, said yesterday.

The bill also provides funds for a military pay raise ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent, which will put millions of additional dollars into the pockets of San Diego-based sailors and Marines, and, thus, into the local economy. The legislation also pays for continuation or increases in various bonuses and incentives to retain military personnel and it includes higher housing allowances.

California's aerospace industry, particularly the Los Angeles
region, will get the major share of nearly $3 billion for 15
Boeing-built C-17 transports next year, and the assurance of similar purchases until at least 2008. The state also will share in multibillion-dollar funding for the Navy's new F/A-18 "Super Hornet," the Air Force's F-22 "Raptor" and the missile defense program.

A House-Senate conference committee approved the $317.4
billion spending bill late Tuesday night. The House plans a final vote today with Senate action expected by tomorrow. 

The bill represents an increase of $19.2 billion over last year's defense spending, not counting the more than $20 billion in extra Pentagon funds included in the emergency supplemental appropriations passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Cunningham, a member of the House Appropriations
Committee, had to lobby his colleagues to restore funds for two San Diego programs. The biggest issue was $370.8 million for another Navy T-AKE fleet support ship, to be built at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. Skipping a year in funding the series of ships could have disrupted the NASSCO work force, he said. 

The bill provides $118.9 million for another Global Hawk,
long-endurance unmanned plane, which is designed by the
Northrop Grumman Ryan Aeronautical Center in San Diego and built in Rancho Bernardo. The measure also provides $33.5 million to start work on another Global Hawk and $16 million for electronics improvements to the drone's intelligence-gathering systems.

The measure approves $17 million to buy three Predator
unmanned planes, made by General Atomics in San Diego, and $5.1 million for components of the ground control stations. 

The Air Force and the CIA have been operating Predators in
Afghanistan throughout that conflict and a Global Hawk was sent there on an operational test.

San Diego's private shipyards also will share in the $2.9 billion in Navy ship maintenance and repair funding, a substantial increase over past levels.

Southern California high-tech and aerospace firms will get
hundreds of millions of dollars in subcontracts from $2.8 billion for 13 F-22s, $3 billion for 48 F/A-18s and $7.8 billion for continued development of the missile defense system.