Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Congressional conference committee funds $295 million in Eielson F-35 construction
FAIRBANKS — A congressional conference committee fully funded the military’s request for $295 million in new Eielson Air Force Base construction Wednesday, restoring the $82 million F-35 weather shelter that the House of Representatives had cut from the budget.
The 2017 budget bill funds many of the facilities that will be used for the new F-35 fighter jets, which are scheduled to arrive in 2020. The 2017 budget covers the largest construction year of F-35 construction build-up.
The Eielson construction is part of $1.49 billion in Air Force construction projects funded by the budget.
Earlier this year the House trimmed funding for one of two F-35 weather shelters after the House Appropriations Committee Chairman expressed concern about the proportion of military construction planned for Alaska next year. More funding is assigned to military construction in Alaska than any other state in 2017. The budget also includes $155 million for phase one of a long range discrimination radar system.
The complete funding for two F-35 weather shelters has now passed the House. The conference committee version of the bill passed the chamber on Thursday.
The final bill also has language requested by Alaska contractors which asks the Air Force to consider buying local when picking contractors for the big construction jobs. The budget includes a passage from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that states in part “The (Senate Appropriations) Committee encourages the Department of Defense and the Armed Services to conduct proactive outreach to contractors located in Alaska and experienced in Arctic construction techniques.”
By: Sam Friedman