The Pentagon is considering a proposal to award more than $8 billion to expand air-to-ground communications capabilities in the wake of the Air Force’s $9.9 trillion retirement.
The Air Force was expected to retire its fleet of nearly 1,500 air traffic controllers in 2025, leaving the Air National Guard and Army with limited communications capacity.
The Army is asking for a contract valued at $4.6 billion.
The proposal would add the Air Corps and Air National Guards to the list of government agencies and contractors seeking to buy the new capabilities.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told lawmakers on Wednesday that the proposal would take up to 10 months to complete.
He did not say how much the new program would cost.
Hagel said the Air Command Center would continue to operate as usual.
The Defense Department said it would continue its support of the National Guard air fleet as planned.
The Pentagon’s announcement follows a report from The Washington Times that found the Air Guard was short $7.7 billion in retiree health benefits and $1.9 million in retireee benefits over the next 10 years.
The report was based on the estimates of Air Guard leaders who said that retiree medical costs would increase substantially, and that many retirees would not receive adequate support for their care, even though they have retired with benefits.
Defense officials said Wednesday that they are also exploring ways to extend the current life of the base’s $1 billion Air Force Retirement Home.
The base, which is located in a suburban community, was originally built in the 1940s to house servicemen who had not yet retired.
Its current home, a small house in the desert in Texas, was designed to house a small contingent of servicemen after the war, and has been the subject of a number of lawsuits.
The base was expanded in the 1970s as part of a military effort to modernize its infrastructure and expand the force.
At the time of the proposal, the Air Base was home to about 300 people, including many former military officers.
“We are working with our suppliers and our partners to see how we can make sure the Airbase is able to meet the needs of the military personnel and their families who will be arriving at the base in the coming months,” Air Force spokesman Lt.
Col. James O’Donnell said in a statement.