Defense bill with goodies for Conn. goes to Trump’s desk
WASHINGTON — The annual defense authorization bill, including billions for helicopters, submarines and jet engines made in Connecticut, won approval in the Senate on Wednesday and now goes to President Donald Trump’s desk for enactment.
“Connecticut manufacturers are national leaders when it comes to making the subs, helicopters and jet engines that keep our country safe,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on military construction. “Today’s bill is a huge boost for local jobs.”
The annual bill is a spending blueprint for the year rather than a spigot of dollars in the “on” position, flowing to Connecticut and elsewhere. That comes later with individual appropriations bills.
However, with President Trump committed to ever-increasing defense budgets and a Republican-dominated Congress happy to oblige, there’s little reason to believe the dollars for Connecticut giants like Sikorsky and Electric Boat will not be forthcoming.
The bill approved Wednesday includes $7.5 billion for Pratt and Whitney engines made in Middletown for the F-35 joint strike fighter plane.
Sikorsky aircraft also gets authorization for helicopters including six new VH-92A Marine Ones to ferry around the president.
The bill also OKs $1 billion for eight CH-53K “King Stallion” heavy-lift helicopters, replacing the older CH-53E “Super Stallion.”
Electric Boat in Groton gets $3.2 billion for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, replacing the older Ohio class. Also, the bill provides $237 million for expansion of the industrial base needed to produce submarines, a potential boon for the fleet of defense subcontractors in Connecticut providing components.
Electric Boat also is slated to receive $7.6 billion for two Virginia-class attack submarines, which prey on enemy ships.
While submarines may seem like a Cold War throwback to some, defense experts say they are a necessity in world where both China and Russia have ambitions to project naval power in the open sea.
The ballistic-missile sub is part of the nuclear triad that also includes bombers and ground-launched missiles. Of the three, it is considered the stealthiest and therefore a key deterrent to a nuclear attack.