Construction of the planned Electronic Test Range in western Utah depends upon congressional action on the Reagan defense budget, Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, said Wednesday. President Reagan budgeted more than $14 million to start work on the range next fall, the precursor of what may become a billion-dollar project.
Hansen told reporters he expects Congress to make deep cuts in Pentagon spending and warned Utahns not to count on the range to get more than a dribble of design money and possibly funds for some minor construction.Hansen said he wants to see another, unbudgeted project go to Hill Air Force Base: a large-aircraft hangar that would give the base the ability to work on the Stealth or other large bombers or transports. Such work would give the base, which is in Hansen's district, long-term employment security.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hansen said he expects to see cuts this year, such as reduction of the B-1 bomber to the status of a standoff weapons platform for missiles and concentration on the B-2 Stealth bomber alone.
More military bases could be cut, he said, including some overseas such as Clark Air Force Base and the Cavite Naval Base in the Philippines. Hansen said the Philippine government is asking far too much in lease payments for the bases, which, he added, could be replaced by an existing carrier task force.
"What are we protecting with those bases?" he asked. "The Philippines. If they don't want us, why are we there?
"Once we owned (the bases) and needed them, but Jimmy Carter gave them to the Philippines and leased them back. Cory Aquino is asking billions in lease payments at the wrong time."
Hansen said Colorado Democratic Rep. Pat Schroeder made a lot of recommendations for overseas base closings in her recent burden-sharing report.
The domestic base-closing bill, under which Fort Douglas would be shuttered, is "unstoppable," he said. "We will probably get our bill through giving it to the University of Utah."