Senate Passes SASC Chairman John McCain’s Defense Authorization Bill, Vital For Arizona’s Military Community

Jun 14 2016

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 and those provisions within it that are of significant importance to Arizona:

“I’m very proud that the Senate voted overwhelmingly today to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The NDAA is an ambitious piece of legislation that makes major reforms to the Department of Defense in order to save taxpayer dollars where we can and reinvest savings into supporting the readiness and capability of our warfighters.

“I am especially proud that this year’s legislation enhances Arizona’s remarkable contributions to national security and gives troops, veterans and military families across our state the resources and support they need. From once again preventing the Obama Administration from prematurely retiring the A-10s stationed at Davis-Monthan to maintaining the Marine Corps’ last Search and Rescue unit in the country in Yuma to training the next-generation fighter pilots at the unparalleled Barry Goldwater Range, the NDAA will allow Arizona’s proud military community to continue making critical contributions to the defense of our nation.

“The horrific terror attack in Orlando has reminded us all of the grave threats facing our country and world. It has never been more important to support our troops with the resources they need to confront a diverse array of threats to our homeland. I look forward to working with our colleagues in the House of Representatives to produce a bill that ensures our troops have all they need to defend our interests and rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world.”

The following provisions are included in the NDAA:


The NDAA once again prevents any premature retirement of the A-10 Warthog, which continues its vital role in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and supporting NATO’s efforts in Eastern Europe to deter Russian aggression by protecting American service members and our allies in combat. Despite the Obama Administration’s repeated attempts to retire the A-10 fleet, the NDAA once again prohibits the Air Force from retiring any A-10 Warthogs and fully funds the flight hours, pilot training, fuel, maintenance and ammunition for all A-10s for the upcoming year.

The NDAA also prohibits the Air Force from destroying any A-10s in storage in order to maintain the availability of spare parts for combat A-10s.


The NDAA fully funds the EC-130H Compass Call electronic attack airplanes stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. Last year’s NDAA prohibited the Air Force from retiring the EC-130H Compass Call for another year. These jamming and surveillance aircraft are critical to protecting our ground troops from sophisticated electronic attacks in conflicts across the Middle East such as Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as against potential threats in the Pacific and Europe.


The NDAA funds 63 F-35 fighter jets for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Luke Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma will provide unparalleled training at the Barry Goldwater Range complex for many of America and our allies’ next-generation of fighter pilots.


The NDAA prohibits the Marine Corps from retiring the last search and rescue unit in the country at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. This unique search and rescue mission provides critical assistance not only for military air operations but also for civilian and local law enforcement in the region. More than half of all Marine aviation sorties are flown out of MCAS Yuma which necessitates keeping this asset for safety reasons for our military pilots as well as for local needs.


The NDAA ensures that Arizona’s defense industry continues to manufacture and innovate new weapons systems and defense technologies that our troops need to defend and protect the nation:


  • Directs a study of increased utilization of excess solid rocket motors currently being stored in Arizona for new space launch opportunities.


  • Fully funds the Army’s request of $1.14 billion for 52 Apache helicopters to be remanufactured at Boeing in Mesa and authorizes the Army to enter into a long-term contract with Boeing for Apaches. The Army’s AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter has played a vital role in every major combat operation since entering service. Just this week, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed the AH-64 Apache aircraft have been providing combat support to Iraqi security forces in the coalition campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Apaches have also been active in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. This funding authorization will not only be critical for supporting our missions overseas, but also providing Mesa with stability and predictability for Apache manufacturing for several years while saving critical taxpayer dollars.


  • Directs the Air Force to increase the use of commercial and next-generation communications satellite constellations provided by Arizona’s satellite industry.


  • Requires the Army to plan for the growth of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) throughout the military, including the increased use of training resources and ranges at Fort Huachuca.


  • Nearly doubles the budget for Raytheon to manufacture 96 additional Tomahawk missiles for a total of 196 missiles in 2017 and 439 Sidewinder missiles which will be manufactured at Raytheon in Tucson. This will provide our forces the advanced capability and capacity to deter and defeat any potential adversary.
  • Fully funds the Navy’s request for 125 SM-6 missiles to be developed and produced at Raytheon in Tucson. This will provide the Navy with the latest technology to deter and defeat the most advanced threats in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and European theatres.
  • Fully funds the Navy’s request for 2 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) airborne payloads that will enable Navy units to detect objects in the beach zone.
  • Fully funds the Missile Defense Agency’s request to procure 35 SM-3 Block IB missiles, which are engineered and developed in Arizona. This will provide the United States and our allies advanced protection from ballistic missiles.


The NDAA provides much-needed funding for military construction projects in Arizona, including:

  • Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma: $16.6 million for Aviation Maintenance Facilities for new F-35 aircraft;
  • Luke Air Force Base, Phoenix: $15.6 million for F-35 Flightline Operations Facilities for increased safety and additional flights;
  • Luke Air Force Base, Phoenix: $11.2 million for F-35 Maintenance Facilities for additional aircraft arriving at Luke Air Force Base;
  • Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista: $1.87 million at Fort Huachuca for communications facility renovations for the Defense Information Systems Agency; and
  • Army Reserve, Phoenix: $30 million for a new Army Reserve Center in Phoenix that will meet force protection and training standards. This will support more than 600 Army Reservists in the Phoenix area.


The NDAA requires the Department of Defense to coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security on military training operations in Arizona and along the southern border, which will enhance the military’s ability to share information and intelligence collected during training that could benefit the drug interdiction and border security operations of the Department of Homeland Security and civilian law enforcement. These provisions will not only increase military readiness, but also help Arizona to stop illegal drug trafficking and secure its borders through enhanced intelligence and information sharing.

The legislation also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop metrics to measure the effectiveness of security along the border, including at ports of entry, between ports of entry, and in the maritime environment. These metrics will enhance the ability to more accurately assess progress in securing the border by using consistent and robust performance measures and will help inform how our border security capabilities can be most effectively employed.

Finally, the bill urges the Secretary of Defense to accelerate the transfer of any excess inventory of night vision technology to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to enhance border security operations.


The NDAA funds $25 million in supplemental impact aid to local educational agencies with military dependent children and $5 million in impact aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities in Arizona and around the nation.


As the challenges to our national security continue to grow in diversity and complexity, the NDAA bolsters support for the fight against terrorism and worldwide threats:

  • Authorizes $1.3 billion in consolidated funding for counter-ISIL efforts, including “train and equip” programs in Iraq and Syria and border security operations in Jordan and Lebanon.
  • Authorizes $3.4 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund to preserve the gains of the last 15 years and continue to degrade and defeat terrorist organizations with transnational operational reach and intent to harm U.S. national security interests.
  • Authorizes $239 million for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs.
  • Authorizes $3.4 billion to support the European Reassurance Initiative and increase the capability and readiness of U.S. and NATO forces to deter and, if necessary, respond to Russian aggression.
  • Authorizes up to $500 million to provide security assistance to Ukraine, including lethal assistance. The bill restricts half of these funds until the Secretary of Defense certifies that Ukraine has taken substantial action to make defense institutional reforms to fight corruption, increase accountability, and sustain capabilities developed by security assistance efforts.