Edwards Secures $7.5 Million For Texas A&M Defense Projects

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(Washington, DC) - - U.S. Representative Chet Edwards has secured $7.5 million for defense projects at Texas A&M University under the 2008 Defense Appropriations bill, which passed the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

"I am very pleased that the House Appropriations Committee approved $7.5 million for five key defense research projects at Texas A&M. These defense projects are part of a long-term plan to enhance and strengthen Texas A&M's historic partnership with the Department of Defense," said Edwards, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. "These priority programs will strengthen our nation's defense, improve our homeland security, and support jobs and economic growth in the Brazos Valley."

"The single, most-critical component needed to make significant and timely advances in defense-related technology is funding," said Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, Texas A&M Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering. "Thanks to the tireless and faithful efforts of Congressman Edwards, this funding will enable the best and brightest minds among Texas A&M Engineering to continue finding new solutions to defense-related challenges, and ultimately, better protect the citizens of Texas and the nation."

Edwards secured $1 million for Texas A&M to work with the Navy on the development of technology to use lasers to detect biochemical agents in the atmosphere over a battlefield or community. "This important project will help protect installations like Fort Hood from attack, our troops in combat against chemical and biological attacks and could be used to protect our cities and communities from terrorists using chemical and biological agents," said Edwards. "This is a revolutionary capability that would fill a critical unmet need that would help protect our troops in battle," said Edwards.

Edwards also secured $1 million for research that will help protect and extend the life of rotor blades on military aircraft operating in deserts in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The degrading of rotor blades in desert environments has been become a major problem for the Department of Defense and this project will help the military protect against sand and water erosion to keep more aircraft available for military operations," said Edwards.

Edwards secured $1.5 million to help Texas A&M work with the Air Force to develop a sensor for spacecraft to detect objects in their surroundings that may threaten U.S. intelligence operations. "These space surveillance tools will protect American spacecraft and satellites. As more and more countries gain access to space, it is important for us to track objects that come close to our incredibly valuable spacecraft and their important missions," said Edwards.

Edwards added $3 million to continue a program he has supported for years between Texas A&M and Fort Hood which has been recognized by the Texas Council on Environmental Quality for its positive environmental benefits. "This project improves training grounds after they have been eroded and degraded from tank and training operations on base. This is another example of A&M working with Fort Hood to help our troops train so that they can carry out their mission successfully when they reach the battlefield," said Edwards.

Finally, $1 million would go to A&M to help Fort Hood improve training by enhancing their digital command and control systems and simulation capability. "This project, which I have supported for a number of years, has dramatically improved the effectiveness of our Army tanks in combat," said Edwards.

The bill must still pass the Senate and be signed by the President.

"I will continue to work hard in the months ahead in support of these locally initiated projects," concluded Edwards.