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08 Feb 19. For first time, Pentagon budget will contain reform investments. The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2020 budget request will feature a special section focused entirely on investments that will drive reforms and save taxpayers money long-term, according to the number three official at the department.
“For the first time in the department’s history there will be a formal reform budget within the budget book. And we currently have more than 50 reform initiatives that will be reflected,” Lisa Hershman, the department’s acting chief management officer, told Defense News in a Feb. 5 interview.
“We’re actually giving a nod specifically to numbers allocated for reform. Let’s keep in mind, some of these, to make these big changes, might include some investment, but there’ll also be savings,” she added. “So you’ll see that directly tied to reform initiatives.”
Those 50 initiatives cut across OSD, fourth estate and military departments. Asked whether those figures would include figures showing how much money the investments would return long-term, Hershman demurred to go into details, but said “You will see specific numbers.”
Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps colonel who is now senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies International, is cautiously optimistic about the plan.
“Let’s see what the management reforms actually look like. They may be worthwhile, but it doesn’t sound like they’re saving a lot of money, which was a key part of the budget strategy,” he said.
A major part of the CMO’s charge has been to find wasted money inside the Pentagon that can be redirected towards warfighter needs. Across the tail end of FY17, plus the entirety of FY18, the CMO’s office found $4.7bn in validated savings.
That number could increase slightly, Hershman said, as her office figures out how to handle the various working capital funds around the department and some of the savings found within.
The savings come from many different places, but largely fall into two buckets — changing regulations and statutes, and streamlining procurement. On the process side, Hershman said a team within CMO reviewed 716 regulations and recommended repealing that 249 of them would save approximately $25m.
On the procurement side, look less at major defense acquisitions and more at the day-to-day expenses that crop up as a result of the Pentagon bureaucracy. Hershman pointed to one case where an individual running operations for the National Capital Region took a look at regional electricity bills and realized the department has 15 different accounts. The individual negotiated for a two percent discount from the remaining companies on the basis of the fact the Pentagon was a prompt payer. The savings: $300,000 annually.
That’s small change by Pentagon standards, but it adds up. And Hershman points to that case as an example where someone in the system decided to take reform to heart and find savings without needing a top-down order. (Source: Defense News)
06 Feb 19. Lockheed Martin responds to F-35 performance concerns. Following another Pentagon report raising concerns about the capability of the F-35, Lockheed Martin has responded to reassure operators like the RAAF. From its inception, the Joint Strike Fighter program has been plagued by problems, with the successful design, the Lockheed Martin F-35, frequently serving as a lightning rod with concerns about operational capability and aerodynamic performance, air frame corrosion and service life, low observability performance, and cyber espionage identified by uniformed personnel, academics and industry pundits.
A recent report and review conducted by the US Department of Defense and the Pentagon into the F-35 has only added fuel to the fire, raising a number of concerns about the F-35 across each of the individual variants, including:
- The service life of the F-35B variants adopted by the US Marines, UK Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and recently announced by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) “may be as low as 2,100 [hours]”, a significant shortfall of the expected service life of 8,000 hours.
- “Interim reliability and field maintenance metrics to meeting planned 80 per cent goal not being met”, resulting in fewer aircraft being available to train translating in reduced readiness levels for pilots.
- Cyber security testing raised concerns about a number of vulnerabilities that “still have not been remedied”, raising concerns given the growing concerns about complex, state-backed cyber attacks.
- US Air Force testing highlighted “unacceptable” accuracy when the F-35 was used in air-to-ground attack roles.
In response to these concerns, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Lockheed Martin has responded to reassure operators of the F-35 and to correct the record yet again.
A Lockheed Martin spokesperson told Defence Connect, “The F-35s operating today are delivering exceptional capability, lethality and connectivity around the globe. While we await the full details of the ongoing operational test phase, we are actively enhancing all aspects of the F-35 to ensure it exceeds warfighter demands and outpaces evolving threats.”
The same Lockheed Martin spokesperson was quick to address the concerns identified in the Pentagon report. Lockheed Martin stated:
- F-35B service life: The F-35B has completed full scale durability testing to 16,000 hours. Planned modifications and fleet management of the early contract F-35B aircraft will ensure that they meet the 8,000-hour service life requirement, and aircraft delivering today incorporate these design changes in the build process to ensure they’ll meet 8,000 hours or more.
- F-35 reliability: The F-35 weapons system reliability continues to improve and all variants of the F-35 are currently exceeding nearly all reliability specifications at this point on the maturity growth curve. With enhanced reliability, newer aircraft are now averaging greater than 60 per cent mission capable rates with some operational squadrons near 70 per cent.
- Cyber security: Lockheed Martin has made significant investments in countering cyber security threats and remains confident in the integrity of its robust, multi-layered information systems security. Safeguarding the F-35 enterprise against the continually evolving cyber threat is foundational to the F-35 program and Lockheed is constantly monitoring, assessing and improving its cyber security posture across all spectrums of the program.
Regarding concerns about aircraft readiness, the Lockheed Martin spokesperson told Defence Connect, “As we deliver more low rate initial production (LRIP) 11 and beyond aircraft, and as the earliest lot aircraft are upgraded as planned, we expect readiness rates to significantly increase and operating costs to decline. In addition, we’re also leveraging data across hundreds of thousands of flight hours to identify and invest in the biggest drivers to improve performance, which will enable us to achieve the DoD’s 80 per cent mission capable rate goal across tactical fighters.”
Lockheed Martin also sought to respond to concerns regarding cyber security and the data integrity, through continued investment in the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) aimed at delivering improved data integrity, improved user experience and interface, combined with the robotic automation used to lower maintenance labour.
“We’ve reduced the Lockheed Martin portion of the F-35’s cost per tail per year (CpTpY) three years in a row and by about 15 per cent since 2015. We fully expect to reduce the F-35’s CpTpY and cost per flight hour (CPFH) to be equal to or less than the cost of fourth-gen fighters, just as we have demonstrated in production cost reduction,” the Lockheed Martin spokesperson told Defence Connect.
For the RAAF, the F-35A’s combination of full-spectrum low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites – combined with a lethal strike capability – means the aircraft will be the ultimate force multiplying, air-combat platform.
The F-35A – the variant chosen by the RAAF – will have with a projected life of 30 years in service. More than 340 F-35s are operating today with partner nations, more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 170,000 cumulative flight hours.
Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17bn AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985. (Source: Defence Connect)
04 Feb 19. Defense Budget Release Not Expected Until Mid-March. The Office of Management and Budget has indicated to Congress that the president’s fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Pentagon is expected to be delayed until mid-March, a congressional staffer said Feb. 4. The 2020 defense budget blueprint was originally slated to be released Feb. 5, but the weeks-long partial government shutdown that lasted from late December to late January threw a wrench into those plans. The partial shutdown was the result of an ongoing political fight over President Donald Trump’s insistence that the fiscal year 2019 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill include more than $5bn for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Democrats have strongly opposed such a move.
A temporary deal was reached to fund DHS — and other agencies that had yet to receive full funding for 2019 — through a continuing resolution until Feb. 15, the next deadline for bipartisan budget negotiations. Meanwhile, industry and other observers are anxious to see where the Pentagon plans to invest its money in 2020 and the future years defense program.
“We got an email this morning from [the Office of Management and Budget] saying that they are projecting right now to give us the skinny [defense] budget March 12 with full budget documents … on March 18,” John Lucio, a staffer on the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, said Feb. 4 during a panel discussion at the Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Conference in Monterey, California. The conference is hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.
T.J. Stapleton, president of Stapleton & Associates, said his organization is currently tracking mid-March as a likely release date. “I don’t see us getting anything sooner,” he said, adding that there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t be pushed back further to a later date.
Lucio said it is rumored that the 2020 defense budget request will be $750bn, with the base budget close to the Budget Control Act caps and the rest of the money in overseas contingency operations accounts, also known as OCO. In recent years, OCO funding has been used extensively to pay for enduring costs unrelated to ongoing war efforts.
Bruce Hock, vice president of legislative affairs for SAIC Corp., who previously served as a Senate Armed Services Committee staffer, said the 2020 defense budget request could include money for Trump’s promised border wall.
“I heard … there’s going to be money in it for the wall, which is a nonstarter which is just going to further complicate any kind of [defense appropriations] bill to get done this year,” he said. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
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