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Shelby fights for tanker funding

WASHINGTON, D. C. — U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) today delivered a statement to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense regarding the omission of $203.932 million in funding for the replacement of the KC-135 tanker, which will potentially be built in Mobile.

Shelby called the project "critical to our nation’s efforts in the War on Terror."               

“It is imperative that this program be adequately funded in fiscal year 2007 so that the Air Force can award the contract in a timely manner,” said Shelby. “I continue to believe that if the Northrop Grumman/EADS team is able to participate in a fair and open competition, their proposal would win. Such success will mean significant jobs and investment in Alabama - particularly South Alabama.”

Shelby’s statement read:

“Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the difficulties in putting this bill together and appreciate your hard work and efforts. However, I did want to let you know of my concern about the reduction of funding for the KC-135 Tanker Replacement.”

“Like you, one of my top priorities is to keep our nation safe, and I am working to ensure that our servicemembers have the best equipment. Our Air Force has a fleet of aging refueling tankers that are currently experiencing problems. I do not believe we can wait 35 years to replace them.”

“I understand the fiscal constraints the subcommittee was under, being allocated $9 billion less than the President’s budget; however I believe that the tanker replacement is vital to our national security and to our servicemembers fighting abroad.”

“While I understand that the subcommittee’s recommendation to reduce funding was based upon their belief that there is sufficient funding remaining in fiscal year 2005 and 2006 to support systems development and demonstration, the Air Force has stated that they would need at least $70 million in fiscal year 2007 to move forward and award a contract in 2007.”

“I appreciate the Chairman’s assistance with this program and look forward to continuing to work with you and the subcommittee to replace our aging tanker fleet.”

Funding History:

According to the Air Force, the tanker replacement program has $119.8 million in unobligated funding from FY 2005 and FY 2006. Shelby saod je plans to work to restore funding for the program during conference on the bill.