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Levin Announces Passage of Defense Bill

At the end of the year, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced the authorization of funding for programs with the potential to tap into Michigan’s manufacturing and research strengths in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.

“Michigan continues to be a center of innovation and manufacturing excellence, strengths that are important not only to our economy, but to our national security,” Levin said. “This legislation recognizes Michigan’s central role in helping our military develop and build the vehicles, weapons and other systems to protect our country and give our troops the tools they need to complete their important missions.”

The bill includes $170.4 million for Army research on combat vehicle and automotive technologies through the Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren. TARDEC is the Department of Defense’s leading laboratory for research and development of advanced military vehicle technologies, including efforts to protect Army vehicles against rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles; advanced materials for tactical vehicle armor; more efficient engines; fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles; unmanned ground vehicles; computer simulations for vehicle design and training of Army personnel; and technology partnerships with the automotive industry and academia.

The bill also includes funding for the programs of the Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) in Warren. TACOM LCMC is the Army’s lead organization for the development, acquisition, and support of ground vehicle combat, automotive and armaments technologies and systems; weapons and equipment for Soldiers; and other critical integration and logistics functions. TACOM LCMC-managed systems include the Abrams main battle tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Stryker Armored Vehicle, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, and all Army tactical vehicles, such as the HMMWV and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.

Other programs funded in the bill that impact Michigan are as follows:

Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Program

The Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Program (RIP) was established by the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (Public Law 111-383) as a competitive, merit-based program designed to fund innovative technologies, reduce acquisition or life cycle costs, address technical risks, improve the timeliness of test and evaluation outcomes, and rapidly insert technologies needed to meet critical national security needs.

The bill includes a total of $200 million for the RIP. Funding authorized for the RIP could provide significant opportunities for Michigan companies, universities, and other organizations to further research and development efforts with the DoD in the following research areas:

  1. Enhancing energy security and independence: $50 million for increased investment in technologies that will improve energy efficiency, enhance energy security, and reduce the department’s dependence on fossil fuels through advances in traditional and alternative energy storage, power systems, renewable energy production and more energy efficient ground, air, and naval systems. The Department of Defense remains critically dependent upon energy for its infrastructure and global military operations. Improved energy efficiency, especially in remote areas such as Afghanistan, can reduce the dependence of our armed forces on fragile fuel supply lines that are vulnerable to enemy attack and help save lives.
  2. Developing advanced materials: $50 million for increased investment in a broad range of materials technologies, both organic and inorganic, that can provide enhanced performance in extreme environments; improved strength and reduced weight for the spectrum of applications ranging from aerospace to lighter soldier loads; greater survivability of ground, air, and naval systems; and tailored physical, optical, and electromagnetic properties for the wide variety of challenging environments in which military systems must operate. Such materials could include advanced composites and metals, nanomaterials, and rare-earth alternatives. Whether increasing survivability or improving fuel efficiency for greater performance, advanced materials are critical to military systems across all services and all warfighting domains.
  3. Improving manufacturing technology and the defense industrial base: $50 million for increased investment in advanced and innovative manufacturing technologies across the spectrum of applications to significantly compress design to production time cycles, reduce cost, minimize waste and energy consumption, and improve product quality and reliability. Historically, the department has heavily invested in technologies to improve the performance of military systems, but not in the processes needed to improve the production of those military systems. Numerous high-level studies have stressed the benefits of advancing the state of manufacturing technologies for long-term savings and the need to capitalize on the latest innovations in manufacturing processes for defense systems.
  4. Advancing microelectronics: $50 million for increased investment in the development of resilient advanced microprocessors, application-specific integrated circuits, field programmable gate arrays, printed circuit boards, photonics devices, and other related electronics components for the next-generation of military and intelligence systems. Given that the majority of costs of most advanced weapons platforms are in electronics and supporting software, investments in this area to improve processing capacity, decrease weight and power requirements, and increase resiliency would have high return on investment.

Manufacturing Research and Development

$30 million to continue the Industrial Base Innovation Fund. Manufacturing technology plays a critical role in addressing development, acquisition, and sustainment problems associated with advanced weapons programs. This funding helps support DoD’s ability to address specific shortfalls in the defense industrial base to meet short term surge manufacturing requirements. This program was initiated in fiscal year 2008.

Procurement

$434 million for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV). Meritor of Troy, AAR Mobility of Cadillac, and a number of other Michigan companies are involved in the production of FMTVs.

$658.4 million for the Army’s Stryker armored vehicle. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Stryker armored vehicle. Many Michigan companies serve as suppliers in support of this program.

$552.5 million for the Abrams Main Battle Tank program. General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights is the prime contractor for the Abrams program and more than 200 Michigan companies serve as suppliers.

$34.7 million for the Lightweight 155mm Howitzer. Howmet Castings of Whitehall is a major contractor for the Lightweight 155mm Howitzer program.

$602.5 million for the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles. Detroit Diesel manufactures and supplies the engine for this program.

$3.2 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Spartan Chassis of Charlotte, Meritor of Troy, and Demmer Corporation of Lansing and many other Michigan companies are involved in this program.

$250.7 million for Bradley Fighting Vehicle modifications. L-3 of Muskegon is a major contractor for the Bradley program.

$1.8 billion for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) construction. Marinette Marine, just across the Michigan border in Wisconsin, is one of two shipyards building LCS and employs several hundred Michigan residents and relies on many Michigan suppliers.

Other Research and Development Initiatives

More than $2 billion for merit-based fundamental research to support the military at American universities and government laboratories. Many Michigan universities perform high quality fundamental research for the Department of Defense in all fields of science and technology.

 $10 million for the Air Force’s Metals Affordability Initiative (MAI). The MAI is a government-industry cooperative program focused on the development of new aerospace materials and alloys. Alcoa Howmet in Whitehall is a participating member of the MAI and is developing new materials that will reduce aircraft engine maintenance costs and help enable the next generation of fighter aircraft and unmanned air vehicles.

DoD STARBASE

$19.3 million for the DoD STARBASE program. STARBASE is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education program run by the Department of Defense for elementary school students. The STARBASE program is designed to excite students about STEM topics through exposure to the technological foundations of national security. STARBASE currently operates 60 locations in 34 states. Michigan has two DoD STARBASE programs located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township and Kellogg Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek.


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