DEFENSE FUNDS OK'D FOR COUNTY.
SIMI VALLEY - An estimated $250 million in funding for Ventura County-based defense projects became a reality Wednesday when President Clinton signed the fiscal 2000-01 Defense Appropriations Act.
The funds will go for two new C-130 aircraft to help fight forest fires, upgraded electronic communications equipment for Navy planes and to purchase a battlefield troop defense system from a company in Simi Valley.
``This is a culmination of much hard work by myself, the Air National Guard and the Ventura County community,'' Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Oxnard, said in a statement. ``The citizens and elected officials have been true leaders on this and other issues with Ventura County's military bases.''
The two new C-130s, costing $208 million, will be used by the Air National Guard and Army Reserves to fight wildfires throughout California and the West. Air National Guard officials said planes now being used to fight fires are more than 20 years old.
The spending package includes $23 million in electronic communications upgrades for the Navy's EA-6B aircraft, stationed at the Naval Air Weapons Center at Point Mugu.
The equipment will be manufactured by Northrop Grumman at its facility at Point Mugu.
The bill also provides $12 million to purchase another order of the Shortstop Electronic Protection System, manufactured by Condor Systems in Simi Valley. The system provides defense against incoming artillery and mortar shells, and has been field-tested in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Persian Gulf.
Nationally, the Defense Appropriations Act provides for a 3.7 percent military pay raise, increases in subsistence and housing allowances, pharmacy benefits for military retirees on Medicare and the elimination of health care co-payments for the families of active-duty troops.