More money for the B-2 stealth bomber and U-2 spy plane, new homes for Air Force families and hangar and air-traffic control improvements for Edwards Air Force Base are part of a $270.8 billion defense bill, congressional officials said.
The 1999 defense authorization bill includes money aimed at mission capabilities and "quality of life" improvements, including $12 million for housing, at the base in the Antelope Valley, in rural Los Angeles County."Edwards is committed to improving our nation's defenses, and I am pleased that we are able to assist Edwards with these different projects," said Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif.
A list of Antelope Valley-related projects in the bill was released in a joint statement by Thomas, whose district includes most of Edwards, and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, whose district includes Air Force Plant 42.
The bill includes a total of $421.5 million for work on the B-2 stealth bomber fleet, $86 million above the president's budget request. The money will go toward modifying the B-2s to carry additional types of weapons.
Northrop Grumman employs about 2,500 people in nearby Palmdale on the B-2 modifications. Originally, modifications to the bomber fleet were scheduled to end in 1999.
The bill also includes $10.3 million in electronics equipment upgrades and other improvements to U-2 spy planes. That work will be performed by Lockheed Martin Corp.'s Skunk Works in Palmdale.
The bill includes $12 million for replacing homes at Edwards. Base officials are working toward replacing cramped, aging homes built in the 1950s with new and renovated sites.
The Edwards housing money is part of a $660 million military housing component of the bill. The House bumped up the president's budget request by $49 million as part of an effort to improve the quality of life for military personnel.