July 17 (UPI) -- Two Defense Department contracts totaling $36.9 million, to sustain the U.S. industrial base under Defense Production Act Title III, were announced Friday.
Arkansas-based Amfuel secured a $14.9 million contract to expand production of fuel bladders and auxiliary systems for U.S. military aircraft, and Rolls-Royce will build ship propellers in its Pascagoula, Miss., ship propulsion facility under a $22 million agreement.
The contracts in each case are meant to "retain critical workforce capabilities throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19, and to restore some jobs lost because of the pandemic," the Pentagon said in a statement. It added that the Defense Department remains closely partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Health and Human Services, providing "almost $2.9 billion in life-saving medical services, supplies and equipment to service members and federal agencies in the nation's whole-of-government approach to the coronavirus pandemic."
The DPA Title III program is one of three active authorities in the Defense Production Act, first signed into law in 1950 and last renewed in 2018. The program provides the president broad authority and flexibility, through economic incentives, to ensure availability of essential domestic industrial resources to support national defense and homeland security requirements.
Funding for the contracts comes from the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law in March to help alleviate economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Defense Department has been involved in dealing with the virus since April, with a $133 million project to make 39 million N95 masks, regarded as a critical resource, for hospital personnel in 90 days. The Pentagon also awarded $5.2 billion in contracts in April for various aspects of COVID-19 response, including a $5 billion omnibus contract to nine contractors for supplies and construction of alternate care centers in Bronx, N.Y., and East Orange, N.J.