Wicker Proposal on Bigger Navy Included in Defense Bill
Miss. Senator Also Adds Measure to Help Navy Find the Cause of Safety Issues With T-45 Training Jets at NAS Meridian
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, today announced that he successfully added his “SHIPS Act” proposal to help the Navy reach its requirement of a 355-ship fleet in this year’s “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved the national defense bill, authorizing $640 billion in overall funding for America’s servicemembers, military installations, and industrial base. It now awaits consideration by the full Senate.
“My proposal to make a 355-ship Navy a matter of national policy – a goal shared by President Trump and outlined by the Navy’s force requirements – received overwhelming support from members of the committee,” Wicker said. “There is bipartisan agreement that a strong Navy is critical to our national security and to projecting American power around the globe. The 355-ship goal is completely achievable, and now one step closer to being realized.”
The bill includes a $4.8 billion increase in shipbuilding above President Trump’s budget request, gives active-duty military personnel a 2.1 percent pay raise, and does not authorize a new round of base realignment and closures.
Additional provisions added by Wicker to the defense bill that could impact Mississippi include:
Encouraging the Navy to leverage technology developed for the Next Generation Jammer airborne electronic jammer into follow-on versions.
Directing the Air Force to study opportunities to increase use of civilian airports to support pilot training, which could inform how Columbus Air Force Base makes cooperative agreements with nearby airports; and
Mandating that the Pentagon reviews its protected vehicle inventory, including Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
Funding for an additional Marine Corps amphibious transport ship (LPD-30);
Authorizing multiyear procurement contract authority to allow the Navy to buy up to 15 DDG-51 Flight III Destroyers;
Financing advanced procurement to buy long-lead items for Flight III Destroyers;
Encouraging the Navy to accelerate procurement of 9th Amphibious Assault Ship (LHA-9); and
Requiring the Navy to evaluate expanding its test and training range locations for unmanned maritime systems.
Wicker also added a provision to the defense bill to help military officials identify the cause of recent physiological episodes (PE) experienced by Navy and Marine Corps pilots at NAS Meridian and other training facilities. The plan would authorize the Secretary of Defense to offer a $10 million prize – similar to the XPrize – to incentivize the brightest minds in academia and industry to help find the root cause or causes of PE.