The recently passed 2018 National Defense Authorization Act includes key components for both the B-52s and Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base.
The NDAA begins the process of re-engining the B-52 bombers at Barksdale. This would extend their life into the 2050s, improve range and fuel efficiency, and lower maintenance costs.
“The B-52s are getting a modern makeover,” U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson said. “It’s a $109 million upgrade of the fleet that will keep those birds in the air until the 2050s. Gen. (Robin) Rand said that’s went we need to do.”
The NDAA also supports the Air Force Global Strike Commands’ strategy to enhance science, technology, innovation and collaboration through outreach to academic institutions and researchers. It also supports the creation of an institute for nuclear deterrence operation and nuclear command, control and communications.
Johnson testified in front of the Armed Services Committed at several hearings, supporting the NDAA and its benefit to Louisiana. In addition to the projects at Barksdale, the NDAA also protects Fort Polk from the base closure list and and keeps Belle Chasse’s F-15 fighters on guard for the Gulf Coast.
“This legislation has a lot of moving parts,” Johnson said. “I am very encouraged and comforted by the fact that Barksdale is so widely acknowledged for its importance. That’s a great relief to me. It’s an easy sell sometimes. There are lots of competing priorities, but people recognize Barksdale’s importance.”
Johnson said the NDAA was a critical piece of legislation and that he was glad to see it pass.
“It’s a big deal,” Johnson said. “Our armed forces are nearing a readiness crisis. This is widely recognized. This Congress and this administration are making it a priority again. Decades of cuts have slashed the military budget by 25 percent. With this act, we are rebuilding the military again.”
By Scott Anderson