WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) offered bipartisan amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will support jobs and the important research mission at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Air Force Research Lab. The bill also includes $6.8 million to help the base construct a fire and crash rescue station. All of the Senators’ amendments passed along with the full NDAA.
“Wright-Patt’s Air Force Research Lab supports a highly-skilled workforce in the greater Dayton region and produces cutting edge research for our military and the Department of Defense,” said Brown. “I’m working with Senator Portman to support and expand that work, and the men and women on the job at the Lab.”
“The research conducted at the Air Force Research Lab at Wright-Patt is critical to our national security and to maintaining our military’s technological edge,” said Portman. “I am pleased to continue my efforts with Senator Brown to bolster this important national security resource and the highly-skilled workforce that supports it.”
The Senators’ amendments would:
- Increase 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 amendment would encourage the best in this field to remain in government service by increasing royalties for patented or licensed innovations.
- Provide flexibility for minor military construction. The amendment would 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. The amendment would 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.
- Support 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 amendment would prohibit the Pentagon from abruptly shifting project management responsibility away from the experts at AFRL to others in the Pentagon. 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 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.
- Support Wright-Patterson’s role in developing unmanned aerial systems. The amendment 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.