The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020 passed the Senate on Tuesday with two line items aimed at helping Marine Corps Air Station – Yuma: $90.1 million to renovate MCAS Yuma’s Hangar 95 and $99.6 million to replace the old junior serviceman’s barracks with a new four-story barracks.
Representatives from MCAS Yuma, the Yuma 50 and U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s office all called the funding for these projects “critical” for the long-term well being of MCAS Yuma.
The NDAA also includes $9.8 billion for the Luke Air Force Base’s F-35 program, which would bring in 90 F-35s.
The spokesperson for Sinema, Hannah Hurley, said that the funding for the MCAS Yuma line items came from Sinema’s visit with the Yuma 50 and MCAS Yuma leadership in August.
“That meeting was critical,” Hurley said. “We came away not wanting to leave an impasse in Yuma. We came away seeing the need for a multi-year plan for multi-year projects. Leaders with the Yuma 50 and (MCAS-Yuma) made clear the things we need to get done and what was a priority.”
Hurley said the hangar and the barracks were what leadership from the Yuma 50 and MCAS Yuma pushed for the most and that Sinema saw the need to address those two issues.
“When we met with the Yuma 50, they made clear that the need to insure that discussion for the next NDAA culminated in the accelerated funding of both the hangar and the barracks. The barracks were in desperate need of repair; they’re from the 1950s. The hangar houses critical and expensive equipment, namely the planes.”
Julie Engel, president of Yuma 50, said that Hangar 95 accommodates new and existing aircraft at MCAS Yuma and is critical for providing maintenance for planes and upgrades to F-35s, Ospreys and the Apache aircraft that come into the base.
The Installation and Logistics Director for MCAS Yuma, Commander Constance Solina, said that MCAS Yuma uses Hanger 95 to support five Joint Strike Fighter Squadrons, one of which is the US Marine Corps only Operational Test and Evaluation squadrons.
“(MCAS-Yuma) has been planning for this project for at least five years,” Solina said. “And is excited to get this into construction continuing to support the Yuma economy.”
Regarding the Luke Air Force Base, Engel said they’ll greatly benefit from the funding going to their F-35s, and what’s being secured by both the Air Force base and MCAS Yuma will have a good impact on Yuma.
“This is a big win for the state of Arizona, a big win for Yuma and a big win for the bases,” Engel said, adding that Yuma Proving Ground should also see residual benefits. “This is critical for the future technology that is being deployed from Yuma.”
Solina also said that the barracks replacement would a great morale boost to the junior Marines who have to live there.
“This project will demolish some old barracks and bring a new barracks to the station,” Solina said. “This will improve the morale and living conditions for our Marines in the stations. Our goal is to ensure that we have happy Marines.”
The NCAA needs the president’s signature to finalize. After that, the funding would start making its way to Yuma in the next fiscal year.
Sinema’s office expressed pride in getting these items through the Senate and a commitment to helping the military get what they need.
“Our servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep Arizona safe and secure,” Sinema said in a press release. “It is our duty to ensure they have complete access to critical resources.”