House OKs Air Guard Base Storage

From A Times Staff Writer

The $267-billion defense bill approved by the House on Thursday includes $553 million to revive the B-2 Stealth bomber and $1.8 million to construct a new storage facility in Van Nuys for the California Air National Guard, according to Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Santa Clarita).

McKeon argued that the cost of the B-2 bombers, manufactured by Northrop Grumman Corp., would be significantly cheaper if production is continued at a low rate, rather than stopping now and starting up again in future years.

"While it is true that the Cold War is over, we cannot expect our future military leaders to engage the Saddam Husseins of the 21st Century with 50-year-old B-52s and 30-year-old B-1 bombers," said McKeon, a member of the House National Security Committee who helped secure the funding.

The new facility at the Sepulveda Air National Guard Station would take the place of rented commercial storage space now used by the 145-person unit, officials said.

"This new facility will give the Air National Guard better access to supplies, spare parts, mobility bags and other needed equipment," McKeon said. "It will also provide for a more efficient and secure supply storage system and enhance military readiness."

McKeon said the funding in the National Defense Authorization Act is especially important given the guard unit's important work during the Northridge earthquake and other disasters.

The 1996 defense bill now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers there have said they intend to make some cuts.

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