Sen. Mark Kelly Secures Key Arizona Priorities in Defense Bill

Senate Bill Prevents Retirements of A-10s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Increases funding for national defense and raises pay for servicemembers

Establishes microchip research, testing, and workforce development network

Today, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly announced that he was able to secure a number of Arizona priorities in the upcoming fiscal year’s defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which advanced out of the Senate Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan vote late last night. The $740 billion defense bill blocks retirements of A-10 aircraft, authorizes key infrastructure upgrades at Davis-Monthan and Luke Air Force Bases and MCAS Yuma, raises servicemember pay by nearly three percent, and makes critical investments to improve military readiness and competitiveness.

Senator Kelly is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, which worked on key provisions necessary to ensure America’s long-term strategic competitive advantage over China and Russia. Through his leadership on the subcommittee, Kelly secured $12.6 billion for the United States Special Operations Command; nearly $15 billion for science and technology including university research, hypersonics, robotics, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing; and the establishment of a microelectronics research and development network, which will benefit Arizona’s growing microchip industry. 

“As a 25-year Navy veteran, I know how important it is to make sure our servicemembers have the tools they need to do their jobs and strengthen our national security. I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committee to keep the A-10 flying at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, to keep Luke Air Force Base on track to eventually host six F-35 squadrons, and to expand Arizona’s already critical role in our national security by investing in our bases, manufacturers, and research institutions. By boosting research into advanced technology and harnessing collaboration on microchip development and testing, this legislation is also going to help us maintain our competitive edge over adversaries like China and Russia,” said Senator Kelly.

See below for a breakdown of specific provisions Kelly secured for Arizona:

Prohibition on A-10 Retirement 

Senator Kelly secured a prohibition on retirement of A-10 “Warthogs” for the upcoming fiscal year in the NDAA, as well as a requirement that the Air Force maintain certain mission capable rates in the fleet. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is home to the largest contingent of A-10’s in the country. 

As a Navy combat veteran who has flown close air support missions, Kelly knows firsthand the national security value of the A-10 and has been working on efforts to keep the aircraft flying. Over the last few months, Kelly has led his colleagues in a string of A-10 protective measures — he introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the A-10 aircraft as a critical component of America’s national security, opposed President Biden’s budget request to retire the aircraft, and vocalized his concerns about the proposed retirements through his role on the Senate Armed Services committee. 

Arizona Military Installation Improvements 

Senator Kelly secured authorization for four military construction projects in Arizona — the South Wilmot Gate at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, two F-35 facility projects at Luke Air Force Base in Maricopa County, and housing and training projects at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma. 

The South Wilmot gate construction will help alleviate high congestion in the area, improving base security and traffic flow on major city roads. 

Luke Air Force Base is home to the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the world and the Air Force’s primary active-duty fighter pilot training wing. The authorized facilities will keep Luke on track to house additional F-35 squadrons in the coming years. 

MCAS Yuma has projects authorized to construct both Bachelor Enlisted housing as well as a combat training tank complex.    

Kelly also successfully included a requirement that the Department of Defense, with input from the State Department, report on the feasibility of a shared airspace agreement to support military training needs of installations near the southwest border.

Investing in Microchip Research & Development  

Senator Kelly also advanced major research and development provisions that would require the Department of Defense to establish a network to support microchip research, testing, and workforce development in coordination with industry and universities, including with institutions like Arizona State University, which is within 30 miles of several major electronic manufacturing plants.

This builds on the $52 billion plan that Kelly-led and passed through the Senate to create high-paying jobs and strengthen national security by increasing the manufacturing and development of microchips in Arizona and America. 

F-35 Procurement

Senator Kelly backed the Air Force’s procurement of 49 F-35’s to provide our military with the advanced weapons systems it needs. F-35’s are flown at Luke Air Force Base, the premier fighter pilot training center for the Air Force. Luke AFB is expected to eventually house six F-35 squadrons.

Supporting Servicemembers and Military Families

The NDAA includes landmark military justice reform legislation, cosponsored by Senator Kelly, to reform how the military prosecutes serious crimes, including sexual assault, by moving the decision to prosecute to independent, specially-trained military prosecutors. Kelly also backed adoption of amendments to provide up to 12 weeks of paid military leave, on par with civilian Department of Defense employees, and to provide pay parity for Guard and Reserve members. 

Kelly successfully included a requirement for the Department of Defense to report on areas where Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates don’t correctly reflect the actual cost of living for military families. Additionally, Kelly supported a requirement for the Department of Defense to report results of Child Development Center program inspections with plans to maintain and eventually increase capacity for servicemember child care on military installations.