Legislators push Navy to fund FRC East facility

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 06:14 PM.

Legislators from North Carolina are pushing the Navy to fund construction of a repair facility planned for Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point.

The vertical lift fan repair and test facility would be part of FRC East’s repair work on the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and would cost an estimated $43.6 million.

Sen. Kay Hagan and Reps. G.K. Butterfield, George Holding, Walter B. Jones and Mike McIntyre sent a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus requesting the restoration of planned funding for construction of the facility. Though Sen. Richard Burr did not sign the letter, a spokeswoman from his office said that he supported the project and planned to tell Mabus in a personal meeting.

The letter points out that the project was originally to be constructed in 2012, but delays and budget issues prompted the Navy to remove it from the Future Years Defense Program. The legislators want the project funded in 2018 and point out that the recent approval of a pair of budget bills removed most of the across-the-board sequestration cuts that have been affecting the Navy.

“We believe the Navy should provide its own level of certainty to the Joint Strike Fighter Program, the Marine Corps and our international partners” by including the funding for the project, the letter said, which goes on to call the project cost-effective and “absolutely essential.”

Previously, the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group has stated that support for long-term projects like the lift fan facility are paramount to maintaining FRC East’s status as the Navy’s “Vertical Lift Center of Excellence.”

One concern in the letter is that the Department of Defense may rely solely on Lockheed Martin, the jet’s manufacturer, to conduct repair and testing for the aircraft’s vertical lift fan.

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