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Defense budget has $327 million for Prowlers

The fiscal year 2003 Department of Defense budget as recommended by the House Armed Services Committee passed the House of Representatives by 359 to 58 votes during the wee hours of Friday morning and will now head to the Senate.

If the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee has its way, the Prowler community at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will be in store for a big chunk of maintenance and upgrades money in the next federal fiscal year.

Rep. Rick Larsen’s office announced this week that the committee is recommending more than $327 million for FY 2003, which begins Oct. 1, for EA-6B wing structural enhancements and for upgrades to communications- and radar-jamming equipment.

Additionally, the committee specifically recommends $9.18 million for an A/C Direct Fueling Station at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, which would allow Prowlers to be refueled while the engines are running, said a press release from Larsen’s office. Currently, the engines must be shut down in order to refuel, and the whole process takes about two hours. The new fueling station would reduce down time.

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is also slated to get about $9 million to erect new fencing, as part of the military’s force protection measures for protecting military personnel and assets from terrorism.

The bill includes an across-the-board 4.1-percent military pay raise, as well as funding in the amount of a half-billion dollars for concurrent receipt for veterans. The concurrent receipt money will allow disabled veterans to keep more of their military retirement pay while also receiving disability compensation from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“The bill includes critical measures to beef up military readiness, while improving quality of life for women and men serving in the military and their families. It also moves Congress a step toward keeping its promise to veterans,” Larsen said in the release.

Larsen is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Military Readiness Subcommittee.

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