Larsen: Defense Bill Funds Five Growlers, Underscores Importance of PNW to National Defense

Dec 4, 2014 Issues: Supporting our Naval Bases

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today voted for and the House of Representatives passed the final version of the annual defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. The bill includes several provisions that support Navy bases in Northwest Washington, strengthening national security and improving the local economy. One measure in the bill allows the Navy to buy an additional five EA-18G Growlers, aircraft that are critical to the country’s electronic warfare strategy. This brings the total number of Growlers that Congress will purchase from 135 to 140.

“Congress’ decision to buy five more Growlers indicates the planes’ importance to our national defense in this age of new technology, and continues to underscore the national commitment to maintaining Naval Air Station Whidbey Island as one of our country’s preeminent Navy bases.

“I want to be clear this does not mean NASWI will automatically house five more Growlers. The number of Growlers at NASWI will be determined by the ongoing Environmental Impact Study (EIS), which has provided multiple opportunities for public input,” Larsen said.

Currently, there are 82 Growlers actively flying out of NASWI and 12 used as backup in case an active plane is damaged. The EIS will determine the number of planes to be flown out of the base, which could be as high as 118 aircraft. This scenario could happen even if Congress had not funded any new Growlers this year.

After the EIS determines the number of active planes at NASWI, the remaining aircraft that Congress has purchased will continue to be split between a Navy base in Japan, testing facilities, and spares at NASWI to replace lost or damaged aircraft, or those undergoing extended maintenance.e lost or damaged aircraft, or those undergoing extended maintenance.

The EIS is open for public comment until January 9, and people are encouraged to submit comments here: https://www.whidbeyeis.com/Comment.aspx.

The bill now moves onto the Senate for a vote.

###