Defense bill to benefit Springfield airport, drone research


An amendment included in a recent $700 billion defense authorization bill is expected to encourage more cooperation between the military and Federal Aviation Administration, including for work at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

The House bill passed this week will add more planes, ships and troops at a time Pentagon leaders say the military has strained under spending caps and high operational tempo. The legislation included an amendment offered by U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, to encourage collaboration on commercial drone development between the FAA and Department of Defense.

MORE: New commander to take over Springfield Guard base

That amendment is expected to affect the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, where the Air Force Research Laboratories and state of Ohio are collaborating on a project to allow businesses and researchers to test drones beyond the line of sight.

“The goal is it will increase the activity there,” said Davidson, whose district includes Springfield. “This should benefit our installations in the region. It will help advance technology, which is something the Dayton and Springfield region has a great history of.”

RELATED: New commander takes over Springfield base in ceremony Saturday

The Defense policy bill authorizes the purchase of aircraft, sets the numbers of personnel that can be hired by the defense department and changes laws that govern the operation of national defense, said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown offered a Senate amendment that’s similar to the one put in by Davidson.

“Support for Wright-Patt’s Air Force Research Lab ensures the lab can continue and expand the critical research they provide for our military and the Department of Defense,” Brown said in a statement. “Senator Portman and I will continue our efforts to support the research lab and highly skilled men and women who work there.”

The legislation is required annually, Gessel said.

READ MORE: Portman: Springfield base in good position to add missions

“This provision aims at ensuring a closer working relationship between the FAA and the Department of Defense on unmanned aircraft systems research,” Gessel said. “The aim is that the provision will assist the AFRL, which has established operations in Springfield, but will require working with the FAA and securing FAA approval for certain operations. The theme is to smooth those requirements where AFRL will need to work with the FAA in the Springfield operation.”

There are no specific challenges in that relationship now, Gessel said. But the provision will ensure that relationship proceeds smoothly.

“The close working relationship between AFRL and the FAA is necessary in order to advance the AFRL operation,” Gessel said. “In that sense, it could lead to more work but the effort is aimed at supporting the existing operation. There’s not a sense that this will automatically lead to increased operations.”

DETAILS: Former Springfield base commander retiring from National Guard

The bill also includes a provision to increase the number of personnel in the Air National Guard by 900 airmen, but doesn’t specify where those jobs might be located.

Even with the bill’s passage in a 356-70 vote, defense spending caps known as sequestration will remain in place until congressional lawmakers pass a follow-on appropriations bill to lift the spending restrictions. The Senate is set to vote next on the measure.

A continuing resolution that caps spending at last year’s levels expires Dec. 8, putting pressure on lawmakers to act.

“There is a general sense that when the existing (continuing resolution) expires on Dec. 8, that Congress will not be ready to approve a year-long appropriations bill,” Gessel said.

MORE MILITARY NEWS: Champaign County missing sailor: ‘A lot of people’ care about him

Lawmakers face tackling a massive tax reform bill, he said, among other competing priorities.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, a House Armed Services Committee member, urged his colleagues to support the measure.

“If we do not begin with this budget to set favorable conditions to start to reverse the high-risk defense posture we currently have, we will significantly jeopardize our military’s advantage that we’ve taken for granted in past conflicts and steady-state operations,” Turner said on the House floor.

The defense bill voted on Tuesday also authorizes $6.8 million for a fire station at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and would make it harder to move a Department of Defense office at Wright-Patt with 25 employees whose work focuses on boosting the U.S. defense industrial base.

Under the legislation, the Air Force Institute of Technology could expand student numbers by allowing admission of homeland security industry employees, Gessel said. AFIT currently enrolls civilian students in the defense industry, in addition to military and federal government employees.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

11 rookie mistakes to avoid during the first year of your new job
11 rookie mistakes to avoid during the first year of your new job

Whether you're in your first job straight out of college or are a seasoned professional starting with a different company, your first year can set the tone for success or failure.    Early mistakes can be difficult to overcome and can torpedo your career in the longer term. Each office has its own way of doing things, and it's part of your...
25 retailers offering big deals for Free Shipping Day
25 retailers offering big deals for Free Shipping Day

Shoppers can land some sweet deals on Free Shipping Day today. The one-day event guarantees free shipping for consumers from both large and small online retailers that promise their gifts will arrive before Christmas Eve. There are 965 Free Shipping Day participants this year, according to freeshippingday.com. Participating retailers include: 1. Macy&rsquo...
Premier Health announces major growth in health care options
Premier Health announces major growth in health care options

UPDATE: 4:40 p.m. Friday. Miami Valley Hospital is recorded as the buyer of 4.58 acres of land on Miamisburg-Springboro Road/Austin Boulevard, for $850,000. The parcel is between Byers Road and Interstate 75, on the north side of Austin Boulevard. The sale was recorded Friday. ORIGINAL STORY: Premier Health has plans to grow its reach in several Dayton...
RIP AIM: AOL retires its pioneering Instant Messenger app
RIP AIM: AOL retires its pioneering Instant Messenger app

It’s the end of an era. As of Friday, web company AOL’s groundbreaking Instant Messenger program is no more. Oath, the entity formed by AOL combined with Yahoo, announced in October that it would retire AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) on Dec. 15. As of Friday, users were no longer be able to sign into AIM. Officials with Oath said in October...
7 major changes at the Dayton airport in 2017
7 major changes at the Dayton airport in 2017

It’s been a year of changes for the Dayton International Airport — from fluctuating passenger traffic to new, discount flight destinations and a mix-up in air carriers. These were seven of the top stories the Dayton Daily News wrote about the Dayton airport this year: Despite a recent decline in passenger traffic at the Dayton International...
More Stories