Recent Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Today, the Senate passed the Fiscal 2006 Defense Appropriations bill, which includes over $30 million of Senator John Thune’s requested funding for various defense-related projects that will be spent primarily in South Dakota and at least $26 million in upgrade or development programs for the B1-B bomber and Airborne Laser System that will ultimately benefit Ellsworth Air Force Base.

“South Dakota’s integral role in national defense efforts is a source of pride for all South Dakotans and a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” Thune said. “I am pleased to announce this significant funding that will directly enhance South Dakota’s defense-related operations—paving the way for important research and new technology that will create jobs, boost our state’s economy and provide for a stronger, safer America.”

The projects include:
  • At least $13 million for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City in the areas of Strategic Defense Systems Manufacturing, Nano-Reinforced and Advanced Space Structures, Nanotechnology, Joining Technology, Aging Aircraft structural repair, and other research.

  • $7 million for the 3M Corporation for development of a Colorimetric PDA-based Sensor for Rapid pathogen Detection that will ultimately benefit the plant located in Brookings, South Dakota. This technology can eventually be developed for a wide range of applications ranging from clinical diagnostics to environmental biodefense.

  • $3 million for the Advanced Electronics Center on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Reservation for the research, development, testing and demonstration of advanced electronics integration and fabrication technology.

  • $2 million for Polaris in Vermillion for maintenance of Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicles for the Special Operations Command.

  • $1 million for RPM and Associates in Rapid City, which—together with the Army Research Lab—works on Transitional Laser-Engineered Net-Shaping Technology.

Additional funding includes:
  • $19 million for B1-B bomber digital communications upgrades.

  • $17 million for B-1B bomber deployable parts kits.

  • $10 million for the continued development of the experimental Airborne Laser System (ABL) to be mounted on Boeing- 747 aircraft. Once operational and deployed, these platforms could provide a key defensive network against ballistic missile attack on this country. Senator Thune has been active in related efforts to push the merits of Ellsworth AFB to the Air Force as a future deployment site for the ABL.

Dr. Charles Ruch, President of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, issued the following statement regarding his school’s funding:

“We truly appreciate all the work of Senator Thune and the South Dakota delegation,” Ruch said. “It is the delegation’s continued support that allows School of Mines professors and researchers to undertake projects that will make our military more efficient while better protecting our troops in the field. Research infrastructure, new technologies and equipment, that are found no place else in the world, are now being used to transition technology and generate technology-based economic development.”

Mike Magnuson, Plant Manager for 3M Corporation’s Brookings Plant, thanked Sen. Thune for his efforts to secure funding for 3M’s Colorimetric Sensor:

“We appreciate Senator Thune's support of this project, which coincides with 3M's long-term commitment to 3M Brookings.”

Dr. J. Michael McQuade, Division Vice President of the 3M Company Medical Division, also applauded Sen. Thune’s efforts:

“3M greatly appreciates Sen. Thune's work in support of this program. We believe this promising new technology will have significant value in the clinical setting and has the potential to enhance our nation's homeland security and biowarfare defense capabilities,” McQuade said. “Coupled with 3M's continued R&D investments, these federal funds will allow us to accelerate the ongoing development and testing to help advance this technology toward commercialization and production."

3M Brookings and 3M Aberdeen are the company's premier medical and respiratory protection manufacturing locations in the world. With approximately 1,250 employees in South Dakota, 3M is the tenth largest private employer in the state.

The appropriations bill also includes $50 billion in a contingent emergency reserve fund related to the Global War on Terrorism and a 3.1-percent, across-the-board pay raise for military personnel.

The Senate bill now goes into conference with the House of Representatives’ version before the final bill is passed and sent to the President for his signature.