Saturday, July 24, 2004

Bill funds defense projects

Fairfield company to get $587 million

By Malia Rulon
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Ohio will get at least $719.5 million for defense projects, such as developing a faster combat vehicle, testing a vapor for use during biological attacks, and building a plant to produce a metal used in nuclear weapons, cars and cell phones, under a spending bill passed by Congress.

The bill, which includes $417.5 billion for the war in Iraq and other defense projects, passed the Senate 96-0 and the House 410-12 late Thursday, and was awaiting the president's signature Friday.

Among a long list of Ohio defense programs to get funding was $3.6 million for Steris Corp. of Mentor to field test a vaporous hydrogen peroxide system as a decontaminant that could be used during a biological or chemical attack.

The two biggest chunks of funding for Ohio will go to the General Dynamics Tank Plant in Lima and Fairfield-based O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, which installs armor on Humvees.

The tank plant will get $625 million, some of which will be spent outside Ohio, to continue developing its eight-wheeled combat vehicle that is expected to be lighter, faster and easier to transport than existing tanks and vehicles.

O'Gara-Hess will get $587 million for more armored Humvees, a vehicle that has been in big demand since the Iraq war started.

Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican member of the Appropriations Committee, said defense preparedness must be the nation's priority "in this tumultuous time."

Other Ohio companies and government labs that got combat equipment funding include TPI Composites of Clark County, which will get $4.5 million to research a vehicle that's more mobile, easier to maintain and less detectable.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton will get $2 million to help produce low-cost components for unmanned air vehicles, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Akron will get $1.25 million to research new materials to use in the tires of joint strike fighters.

The bill also includes money to purchase combat equipment produced in Ohio, such as $2 million worth of 25-person life rafts made by RFD Beaufort of Medina, and $2.1 million worth of night vision goggles from Specialized Technical Training Services in Columbus.

The bill also includes the federal government's first step toward building a facility to produce beryllium, a metal that is in demand for use in weapons and computers. The bill allocates $3 million to study a preliminary design for the plant.

Brush Wellman Inc. near Toledo produced beryllium until it shut down in 1999. The company has a supply of beryllium that is expected to last until 2009 and is considered the favorite to secure this contract.

Also included in the bill:

• $3 million for the Timken Co. in Canton to develop a new electric wheel and axle for military vehicles and a new surface coating for wheel bearings.

• $2 million for the Battelle Laboratories in Columbus to research a new way to identify individual human beings from a distance, a project that could be especially beneficial to covert military operations.

• $1 million for Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to develop fuel cells for use in munitions, a project that is expected to generate 100 jobs in the next two years.

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