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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, it is fortuitous now that I rise for the purpose of entering into a colloquy with the gentleman from Florida on an issue that deals directly with the C-17, I might add.

I rise today to voice my concern over recent and devastating wildfires that have enveloped massive amounts of land throughout our country. The ruin caused by these wildfires has consumed 2.1 million acres, destroyed over 1,600 homes, killed 7 people, and threatened many more. This recurring problem, caused by dry conditions, hot weather, and ample fuel, tests the limits of our current Federal, State, and local firefighting resources.

When homes and lives are on the line, I believe we should take all possible action to protect lives and property, including the deployment of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve resources when appropriate. We oftentimes think of the Department of Defense as an entity that should be aimed at defending our Nation from foes abroad, but the fact is that there are enormous resources held by the Department of Defense, such as cargo planes that are capable of assisting in many other efforts, including firefighting efforts, which threaten the lives and property of our people.

For example, one specific concept, named the Precision Container Aerial Delivery System, or PCADS, needs only an additional $2.6 million in funding to complete its already years-long evaluation of this technology. Unfortunately, however, DOD has not committed this meager sum to finish evaluating PCADS, despite the authority to do so.

What are PCADS? They essentially allow any military cargo plane that has a ramp in the back--mainly, our C-17s and our C-130s--to assist in wildfire efforts without having to modify the airplane at all. This means the C-17s and the C-130s, of which we have right now many stationed all over the country, could be deployed to help extinguish wildfires at a relatively low cost, creating a new and enormous firefighting capability. As I say, it's at a minimal cost.

Basically what we're talking about is a huge container system in the back that is made out of cardboard and a water balloon, which will permit putting them onto the C-17s and the C-130s to rolling right on 1,000 pounds of water per container. These C-130 pilots and C-17 pilots are already trained to drop these things, and without modifying the airplane, they could become an enormous resource to fighting fires throughout our country without adding any extra cost after this $2.6 million for the final test.

I, therefore, have one simple request: to the extent that the Department of Defense is capable of exploring new, innovative, cost-effective, and promising firefighting technologies that can be used for our civilian population, but especially for the firefighting capabilities that can aid in support, as I say, firemen's requests throughout our country and from the State and Federal level, I urge the Department of Defense to do so to the degree that it can.

I now yield to the distinguished chairman, the gentleman from Florida.

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Mr. ROHRABACHER. In the past, in order to achieve the goal that you have outlined, we needed to reconfigure the inside of these C-130s and have special C-130s deployed.

This new PCAD system, which we can roll on enormous amounts of water in these little container systems, which is 1,000 pounds of water per container, can be dropped without reconfiguring the C-130s or the C-17s.

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Mr. ROHRABACHER. There's been a series of tests to show this is very effective. One more series of tests will cost $2.6 million and can deploy these. I believe it will increase the value of our C-130s and C-17s to the point that we can actually maybe charge a little bit more money when we sell the C-17s, which will be far more than the $2.6 million for this final test. It will pay for itself, not to mention the property damage that we can protect against.

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