WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that he helped secure $1.2 billion in federal funding for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton as a part of the omnibus spending package that was released today. This funding will provide support for the base’s critical research mission.
“The men and women at Wright-Patt’s Air Force Research Lab provide critical research to our military and the Department of Defense,” said Brown. “This funding will make sure these highly-skilled workers can continue to do their jobs and help meet our national security needs.”
Brown has previously fought to authorize funding and to expand programs that would bring additional resources to Wright-Patt in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law in December. NDAA included several provisions to boost Wright-Patt’s research mission, including the following efforts:
Increasing payments to researchers who develop innovations and technology to support our nation’s military. Federal researchers – including those at Wright-Patterson’s Air Force Research Lab – are responsible for major innovations that have helped our military and servicemembers. The Brown- Portman provision will encourage the best in this field to remain in government service by increasing royalties for patented or licensed innovations.
Providing flexibility for minor military construction. Language authored by Brown and Portman will make permanent programs to fund repairs or minor military construction to a laboratory’s infrastructure ensuring that facilities are updated and have the capacity for new innovation. This will require labs to report unfunded minor construction projects so that Congress can take action to close capacity gaps, which could hamper research. The amendment also makes permanent additional flexibility to fund research and train and retain personnel.
Supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs that help meet national defense needs. The Manufacturing Technology Division of Wright-Patterson’s Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) manages a key national defense industrial base and manufacturing program that enables the federal government to support defense-related manufacturing when domestic capabilities aren’t able to meet national security needs. The Brown-Portman language will prohibit the Pentagon from abruptly shifting project management responsibility away from the experts at AFRL to others in the Pentagon until a formal assessment of the program’s management is conducted, and Congress is briefed on the results. Prohibiting this sudden shift in management would ensure that any major changes that could impact ongoing or future projects or personnel would first be reviewed by the Senate Banking Committee, on which Brown is the lead Democrat, and which oversees the program. It would also ensure that in the interim skilled managers and specialized personnel with years of experience will continue to oversee this critical program, saving taxpayers money by controlling costs, eliminating wasteful administrative duplication, and maintaining efficient project oversight.
Supporting Wright-Patterson’s role in developing unmanned aerial systems. Brown and Portman’s National Defense Authorization Act language will boost collaboration between the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration so the two can work together to integrate UAS into the national airspace and develop best practices for use of this new technology. Wright-Patterson’s Air Force Lab is a center for developing UAS.