Defense bills moving through Congress in recent days include funding for myriad military research and construction projects for Southern Maryland, including a new centralized sewage treatment facility for the Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center in Charles County.

The Senate last week approved a military construction appropriations bill with more than $14 million for projects at Southern Maryland military installations, including $10 million for the Indian Head sewage treatment facility.

"This treatment facility will help keep the Chesapeake clean and its water safe for the people of Southern Maryland," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.).

The new facility would replace septic systems at the Stump Neck Annex, where existing units are failing because of the area's high water table and poor perking soil. It also will upgrade the main sewage treatment center on the base, which has experienced major infiltration problems.

"This project is very important in our ongoing efforts to improve the environmental health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries," said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.).

The bill also includes $4.15 million -- an increase of $2.95 million over President Clinton's budget request -- to begin expansion of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station's air crew water survival training facility. The facility will allow crews to receive practical training in sea survival and rescue techniques for downed air crew members. Currently, training is conducted in a classroom with limited hands-on experience at a recreational pool on base.

"Outside of real life experiences, which we all hope will never occur, this facility will provide aviation training crews with among the most sophisticated and effective training facilities in the world," Sarbanes said.

In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $6 million in federal funds for Pax River for the acquisition and installation of the Navy's Mobile Remote Emitter Simulator, a high-powered electronic warfare simulator capable of tracking fast-moving fighter and attack aircraft, as well as surface ships and submarines.

"Realistic training conditions are essential if our military personnel are to operate successfully in the complex environment of today's electronic battlefield," Sarbanes said.

Indian Head also is slated to receive $6.3 million for equipment in the base's new Continuous Processing Scale-Up Facility, enabling the base to improve the Navy's five-inch gun system.

"This state-of-the-art equipment makes Indian Head a leader in military hardware," Mikulski said. "It will enable Indian Head to meet its vital mission -- to develop effective and environmentally safe weapons technology for our Navy."

The fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Bill, which has passed the House of Representatives, also funds projects at Pax River and Indian Head.

"The House of Representatives has sent the message that these two facilities are vital components of the Navy's research and development program," said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). "These two naval facilities serve important functions and play crucial roles in our armed services."

For Patuxent River, the bill includes $2.7 million for research and development of Hybrid Lidar-Radar Technology, a laser-based radar technology that has underwater applications, including mine detection and anti-submarine warfare. The new technology will improve the sensitivity of radar systems, and has potential nonmilitary applications, including improving medical imaging systems for the early detection of cancerous tissue.

The House-passed bill also authorizes $3 million for research and testing of a control system for unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as $3 million to build a testing and evaluation facility to test the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System Mark II Ship Air Mission system.

At Indian Head, the bill authorizes $2 million to develop "green energetics," which are propellants and explosives that use environmentally compliant materials for undersea, surface and other weapons systems. The bill also includes $2 million for the development of undersea arming systems.