Kelly’s Work on Defense Bill Supports Army, Air Force Modernization, Strengthens National Security
Today, Arizona Senator and 25-year Navy veteran Mark Kelly announced major Arizona and national security priorities that he secured during the Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the upcoming fiscal year’s defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed out of committee yesterday on a bipartisan vote. This includes progress to secure the future of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (DM), as well as infrastructure upgrades at multiple Arizona military bases.
Kelly chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland, where he led work on the portions of NDAA that cover Army, Air Force, and National Guard and Reserve planning, programs, procurement, and research and development. During the NDAA process, he has chaired hearings on Army and Air Force modernization to hear and assess priorities from each branch and subsequently helped to craft relevant portions of this year’s NDAA. Through his leadership on the subcommittee, Kelly delivered on strengthening the industrial base to replenish munitions stocks and systems provided to Ukraine, pursue advanced US munitions, and support modernization of the Army and Air Force while maintaining the readiness and capability of existing systems and aircraft.
“While we continue to face the threat of an increasingly aggressive China in the Pacific, the war in Ukraine has stretched our industrial base and also given us new insight into the capabilities of our adversaries,” said Senator Kelly. “This defense bill is the product of months of hard work with Republicans and Democrats to respond to these challenges and take advantage of new opportunities to inform and accelerate the modernization of our military. It makes many of the necessary investments to develop the next generation of fighter jets, helicopters, long-range precision munitions, and other systems, while also sustaining and upgrading our existing equipment so that we are ready to respond to any threat. I’ll continue working to meet the needs of our national security.”
Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the Arizona defense priorities in NDAA.
See below for a breakdown of additional priorities Kelly secured:
Army and Air Force Modernization from Kelly’s Airland Subcommittee:
- Supports development of Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD), Collaborative combat aircraft (CCA), B-21 Raider programs for the Air Force;
- Supports development of Extended Range Cannon Artillery, Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, long range hypersonic weapon, Mid-Range Capability missile programs for the Army;
- Increases funding for Enhanced Night Vision Goggle development requested by Kelly, and increased funding for Multi-spectral Ultra-Lightweight Camouflage Net System (ULCANS) development;
- Supports requested funding for procurement of enduring combat aircraft, armored fighting vehicles, munitions, long-range fires, and short-range fires for the Army;
- Delivers increased funding for cutting-edge technologies to improve warfighter lethality and survivability including modernization of Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters for the Army; as well as updates on modernization planning for Black Hawk acquisition including generator investment necessary to realize other configuration improvements;
- Includes a Kelly-authored requirement for a plan on modernizing Air National Guard fighter force structure in order to provide long-term planning for Air Force airpower and fighter squadrons like the 162nd Wing which flies F-16s in Tucson;
- Supports requested funding for an increase in procurement of combat aircraft including 83 F-35s, with 48 for the Air Force, to continue growing the F-35A fighter fleet whose pilots are trained at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona;
- Directs a briefing on joint force contested logistics capability in the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) area of responsibility, as well as DOD’s efforts to improve contested logistics capabilities and capacity;
- Includes a Kelly-backed requirement to assess Army prepositioned stocks readiness to ensure timely inspections and proper maintenance following DOD IG concerns;
- Directs a briefing to assess the potential need for the expansion of threat environment training through multi-domain operations training ranges.
- Includes a Kelly-authored briefing on the Army’s Degraded Visual Environment Pilotage System (DVEPS), including plans to incorporate DVEPS into the helicopter fleet;
- Supports Army Futures Command (AFC) access to the newly established Office of Strategic Capital (OSC) and its newly authorized financial resources and authorities provided in the NDAA to drive innovation and help promising partners through the “Valley of Death;”
- Includes a Kelly-authored report assessing the Army’s Individual Assault Munition (IAM) acquisition strategy for shoulder launched munitions.
- Includes a Kelly-authored directive for a briefing to assess the National Guard’s need for upgraded aircraft fuel systems in the UH-60 Black Hawk fleet and KC-135 fleet to ensure the reserve component can meet its intended missions;
- Includes a Kelly-authored directive for a briefing on aircraft survivability equipment, to include the identification of commercial-off-the-shelf threat replication and simulation capabilities that would enhance National Guard Aviation training and readiness, and identify National Guard training sites where it could be implemented;
- Encourages DOD to evaluate and consider commercial-off-the-shelf products currently available to further DOD’s mission to secure and improve its tactical network;
Security Cooperation and Foreign Policy:
- Requires updated threat assessments and recommendations for options to mitigate threats relating to preventing Iranian nuclear capabilities, language drafted by Kelly;
- Seeks to improve coordination among US and regional partners in countering shared threat from Iran, including by supporting integration of Morocco into CENTCOM-led military exercises, a Kelly proposal following a Congressional Delegation visit to the country earlier this year;
- Includes Kelly provision to accelerate training of Israeli Air Force pilots and crew on KC-46 next-generation air refueling aircraft also known as tankers, which they plan to acquire from the U.S. to bolster defense capabilities; the legislative provision also supports a review of opportunities to rotationally deploy U.S. tankers to the region until delivery, authorizes new spaces for IAF members in the USAF Military Personnel Exchange program, and requires updates on timing for delivery of KC-46 aircraft to Israel and any actions to accelerate delivery;
- Extends the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) through 2027 and authorizes the full budget request of $300 million for next year, extends the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), and extends authority to provide training for Eastern European national military forces during multilateral exercises;
- Authorizes full funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), creates a Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative” with Australia, Japan, and India, and establishes a new Indo-Pacific Campaigning Initiative to increase the frequency and scale of military exercises, partner engagements, and other activities in the region;
- Establishes a comprehensive training, advising, and institutional capacity-building program for the military forces of Taiwan;
- Makes improvements to the Department of Defense (DOD) elements of the U.S. foreign military sales (FMS) process including enhanced DoD-industry coordination and information sharing, improved training for security cooperation personnel, and direct input from combatant commands (COCOMs) on regional priorities that would benefit U.S. interests;
- Requires a DOD strategy to counter fentanyl trafficking and new reporting on enhancing security cooperation with Mexico to counter transnational criminal organizations;
- Directs a strategy for improved maritime domain awareness and interdiction capabilities to counter seaborne threats in the Middle East, based on the Maritime Architecture and Response to International Terrorism In the Middle East Act or “MARITIME Act, a bill cosponsored by Senator Kelly and inspired by direct Congressional Delegation engagements with U.S. military and partners in the region;
- Requires a strategy for improved regional cybersecurity cooperation between U.S. and Middle Eastern allies and partners, and requires an update on implementation of the DEFEND Act which Kelly supported through last year’s NDAA to advance efforts to build an integrated air and missile defense architecture among regional partners.
Electronic Warfare and Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations:
- Authorizes a demonstration of a new Western Range Complex proposed by Senator Kelly, that would connect multiple non-kinetic ranges for exercises in the region with sites like Fort Huachuca to better replicate real world threat conditions;
- Codifies the Electronic Warfare Executive Committee and directs renewed focus on Electronic Warfare and Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations strategy, which Fort Huachuca and EW assets like the Compass Call fleet hosted solely at Davis-Monthan AFB will play a central role in executing;
- Directs the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Under Secretary for Research & Engineering to examine capability gaps at electronic warfare ranges to help inform future investment in ranges like the Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca.
National Network for Microelectronics:
- Includes Kelly’s language to synchronize Department of Commerce and Department of Defense programs for research and development as part of the National Network for Microelectronics created in Kelly’s CHIPS Act to maximize U.S. leadership in creating the next generation of microchips. Senator Kelly also secured a requirement for review of chiplet-based domestic advanced packaging capabilities.
Continues Support for Hypersonic and Strategic Capabilities:
- Encourages the Missile Defense Agency to expand its reusable hypersonic testing capabilities;
- Establishes an additional “Lane 2A” within Phase III of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) acquisition program to allow for greater competition within the field;
- Directs a new report on DOD improving integrated space operations with allies and partners.
- Includes the Kelly-cosponsored CONSULT Act that prohibits DOD from contracting with firms for national security matters if they provide consulting services for adversaries or sanctioned entities. The bill also adds new protections against conflicts of interest in accepting employment with adversarial nations.
Multiyear Munitions Authorities:
- Expands the range of munitions eligible for multiyear procurement contracts and extends existing streamlined acquisition authorities that help support both U.S. defense requirements and ongoing support to Ukraine. Kelly has advocated for the expansion including during Senate Armed Services Committee hearings in recent months. In addition, this NDAA seeks to accelerate capacity in next-generation industrial base for advanced munitions like the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) which will replace the Army’s long-range ATACMS.
Building Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains:
- Includes a Kelly authored provision expressing support for the Defense Logistics Agency to prioritize a demonstration of domestic graphite processing to help end the reliance on China. The language builds on Kelly’s past work to reshore processing of graphite, a critical mineral for military systems, battery materials, semiconductors, and protective armor among other uses.
Support for Servicemembers:
- Raises servicemember pay by 5.2%, along with a 4.2% increase to the Basic Allowance for Housing and a 3.4% increase to the Basic Allowance for Subsistence accounts to help alleviate increased housing and living costs;
- Increases access to mental healthcare by making it easier for the military to hire more behavioral health providers; excluding behavioral health providers from authorized limitations on Active-Duty commissioned end strengths; authorizing licensed mental health professionals to provide non-medical counseling services to military families anywhere in the US regardless of state licensure; authorizing the Secretary to waive cost-sharing requirements for three mental health visits per year for active-duty family members and TRICARE Young Adult program recipients; and requiring a briefing on DOD’s progress developing a substance misuse policy;
- Increases Impact Aid program funding, which benefits Arizona schools including the Fort Huachuca School District and Sierra Vista Public Schools.
Click here for the complete executive summary.