Sponsored by Lincad
04 Apr 19. Air Force to SASC: Possible Sequestration Would Cut $29bn from FY ’20 Budget. As lawmakers on the Hill sound alarms about the possibility of entering fiscal year 2020 with a continuing resolution – or worse, sequestration – Air Force leadership said April 4 that $29bn is at stake should the 2011 Budget Control Act spending cap levels return. A return to sequestration levels would cause four times the amount of damage to the Air Force as in fiscal year 2013, Secretary Heather Wilson told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Thursday on Capitol Hill.
It would mean cutting back on all of the service’s major procurement programs, including the Lockheed Martin [LMT]-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Boeing [BA]-built KC-46A aerial refuelers, and halting the B-21 next-generation bomber program, in development by Northrop Grumman [NOC], she said. It would also mean “no ground-based strategic deterrent, no research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) for any space system, most of the fourth- and fifth-gen [aircraft] modifications, and all of science and technology” funding, she added.
Conversely, cutting $29bn from Air Force would remove all of its weapon systems sustainment efforts, defund all flying hours and base operations as well as munitions, Wilson said. “I think you can see that that would be absolutely devastating in scope and scale,” she said.
The Air Force continues to recover from the 2013 sequester impact, Wilson noted. To start the new fiscal year on a continuing resolution and limiting funding to FY ‘19 numbers would immediately impact 16 new military construction projects and 18 current milcon projects,
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said. A CR would also affect plans to move ahead on KC-46 and F-35 procurement, as well as the next-generation T-X end-to-end trainer system in development by Boeing, he added. About 89 RDT&E projects would be targeted. More than six months under a continuing resolution, “would put our end strength growth at risk, because we would not be able to bring on the additional airmen we need to fill our formations to do the missions we’re already doing,” he added. Multiple Republican SASC members, to include Committee Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) expressed concern about the likelihood of a continuing resolution beginning the new fiscal year. Tillis noted that the Air Force’s FY ’20 budget request is “important to advocate for…but I believe it’s more or less going to be a paper exercise and that we’re going to be looking at a CR.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who serves as ranking member of the SASC Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, criticized his Republican colleagues for having “raised the specter of a CR.” “I hear that from one side; I don’t know where that’s coming from,” he said. Democrats “don’t want a CR, we want an appropriations bill.” (Source: Defense Daily)
02 Apr 19. House Dems Unveil Two-Year Spending Deal With $733bn Topline, Higher Caps for DoD. The Democratic-led House Budget Committee released April 2 a new bill that would lift the spending caps for both defense and non-defense funding for the next two fiscal years. The Investing for the People Act of 2019, introduced by House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), seeks to avoid the “draconian cuts” imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which is scheduled to remain in place through 2021. The bill – which was co-sponsored by House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) – sets the defense cap for 2020 at $664bn – a 2.6 percent increase over the enacted 2019 cap of $576bn – and $680bn for 2021. The bill would support a $733bn defense budget in FY ’20, to include $69bn in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding, and $749bn total for FY ’21, including the same amount of OCO funding. As the bill seeks to “adhere to the principle of parity,” non-defense discretionary spending is capped at $631bn – a 5.7 percent increase over the 2019 cap – and $646bn in 2021. The legislation also includes up to $8bn per year for “non-defense [OCO] activities that do not count against the cap.” This line seeks to prevent “abuse of the OCO designation by limiting defense OCO for 2020 and 2021 to no more than this year’s level of $69bn.”
The House Budget Committee states that this proposed bill would provide “stability and predictability to federal funding” and ensure “a timely and orderly appropriations process.”
“As we have learned too many times in the past, governance by continuing resolution inhibits military readiness, hinders efficient agency planning, and undermines investment by local government and the private sector.”
The Tuesday statement criticizes the Trump administration’s proposed FY 2020 budget for reducing non-defense discretionary spending to “the destructively low cap set by the BCA while increasing defense spending through a dishonest budget gimmick to get around the cap,” referring to the $164bn in OCO funding that was included in this year’s budget request. The House Budget Committee calls for the bipartisan agreement to be passed as soon as possible so that the House Appropriations Committee can craft its own legislation with clearly stated topline spending levels. “Delaying this inevitable and necessary decision will only create chaos in the appropriations process at the final hour,” it said. It remains to be seen whether the proposed legislation will receive more broad support on the
Hill. House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has long said that reaching a new deal for budget caps is one of his top priorities this fiscal year; he has also supported a $733bn topline for defense spending in FY 2020. The Pentagon’s proposed FY ‘20 budget proposal currently stands at $750bn, with $746bn allocated for FY ’21 according to DoD budget documents. Analysts have forecast that it is likely fiscal year 2020 will begin with a continuing resolution.
The question remains whether a budget agreement can be reached in time to raise the caps in late 2019 or if there is “a protracted messy stand-off” leading to one or more shutdowns, Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners, said in a Tuesday email to investors.
“A CR that lasts until December, then a budget deal along the lines of the House plan is probably fine for defense sentiment, but something more protracted and messier would be negative,” he said in the email.
The non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget based in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday criticized the proposed Investing for the People Act for potentially adding trillions of dollars to the federal debt if it is not paid for. “Congress must not repeat the mistakes made with last year’s debt-busting Bipartisan Budget Act by extending huge unpaid-for spending hikes. Nor should they consider any effort to circumvent the caps by classifying ordinary expenditures as war spending as proposed in the President’s budget,” the committee said in an emailed statement. (Source: Defense Daily)
02 Apr 19. Kaptur Goes After NNSA Weapons Programs in 2020 Budget Hearing. The head of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) moved to protect weapons life-extension programs and plutonium infrastructure from the budget ax wielded here Tuesday by the House’s top nuclear-security appropriator. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chair of the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee, told NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty that the agency requested too much money in fiscal 2020 for its nuclear weapons operations. The request came at the expense of nonproliferation programs aimed at preventing the spread of fissile materials other nations or terrorists could use to build nuclear or radiological weapons.
“Sustaining a credible nuclear deterrent is a national priority but it must be done in a balanced, cost-effective manner,” said Kaptur, who then put Gordon-Hagerty on the spot to identify the NNSA’s “essential priorities.” Gordon-Hagerty said all NNSA programs were “equally important.” However, she called out programs to extend the life of four existing nuclear weapons — and heavily modify another weapon — plus two major construction projects needed to produce more fissile warhead cores called plutonium pits. Pits remain the top priority, Gordon-Hagerty said. For 2020, the NNSA seeks a combined $600m or so for upgrades to the Plutonium Facility for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, plus pre-construction study work on converting the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., into a pit plant. Together, these upgrades would allow the NNSA to produce 80 pits a year by 2030: 30 at Los Alamos and 50 at Savannah River. The House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee will make its choices about what to cut in the first draft of the lower chamber’s 2020 energy and water appropriations bill. The public will get its first look at that legislation after an open markup that the subcommittee had not scheduled at deadline Tuesday for Defense Daily. (Source: Defense Daily)
02 Apr 19. U.S. expects to resolve spat with Turkey over purchase of Russian air defences. Acting U.S. Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Tuesday said he expected to resolve a dispute with Turkey over its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system, a day after the Pentagon halted delivery of equipment related to F-35 fighter jets to Ankara. The United States is at a crossroads in a years-long standoff with Turkey, a NATO ally, after failing to persuade President Tayyip Erdogan that buying the Russian air defence system would compromise the security of the F-35, the most modern fighter in the U.S. arsenal.
The standoff escalated on Monday as the Pentagon announced it suspended delivery of equipment related to the F-35 “pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400.” The aircraft is made by Lockheed Martin Corp.If the Pentagon takes the next step and removes Turkey from the F-35 program, it would be the most serious crisis in the relationship between the two allies in decades.
Shanahan expressed optimism that both countries would find a way out of the crisis by convincing Turkey to purchase the Patriot air defence system instead of the S-400s.
“I expect we’ll solve the problem so that they have the right defence equipment in terms of Patriots and F-35s,” Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon. The Patriot is made by Raytheon Co. Shanahan added that he expected the United States to ultimately deliver F-35s currently at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to Turkey, after resolving the dispute. Turkish pilots are receiving training on two aircraft at the base.
America’s top commander in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti, was more cautious, saying he thought there was still “some possibility we can work this thing out.” He stopped short of predicting a positive outcome.
“We’re going to keep working (on) it until we know that it’s just not possible,” Scaparrotti told a small group of reporters.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also told reporters separately that he wasn’t giving up on Ankara.
The disagreement over the F-35 and the S-400 is the latest of a series of diplomatic disputes between the United States and Turkey, including Turkish demands that the United States extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria.
Scaparrotti warned that if Turkey didn’t change course, the ties would continue to deteriorate and pose a challenge for NATO, with the presence of Russian defence systems inside the alliance.
“I’m not suggesting that Turkey can’t be trusted. But I am saying that you do take another risk … with what is probably our most sensitive technology,” he said.
A senior U.S. State Department official said that while the NATO alliance was “strong and unified,” U.S. tensions with Turkey over its S-400 purchase plans were likely to loom large over a NATO meeting of foreign ministers in Washington this week.
“We have very serious concerns about its stated plans to proceed with the acquisition of the S-400 missile defence system and there will be potential consequences, within sanctions law and the F-35 program if they continue,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Turkey could face sanctions under a U.S. law known as Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Turkey’s lira currency dropped nearly 3 percent on Tuesday after the U.S. halt of the delivery and sanctions warning. (Source: Reuters)
02 Apr 19. Army Leaders Call For Fully Funded Modernization To Meet Peer Competition, Including Russia’s ‘Existential Threat.’ Army senior leadership told a House panel on Tuesday the service’s plan to shift over $30bn toward fully funding development of future weapon systems over the next five years is required to meet growing challenge from near-peer competitors such as Russia, which the chief of staff described as “the only current existential threat to the United States.” Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief, testified before the House Armed Services Committee where they discussed planned cuts to lower priority programs in their fiscal year 2020 budget request and detailed efforts to engage industry on aligning with modernization interests.
“While I am confident that we would prevail against any foe today, our adversaries are working hard to [deter] the outcomes of future conflicts. As a result, the Army stands at a strategic inflection point. If we fail to modernize the Army now, we risk losing the first battle of the next war,” Esper said. “We must build the next-generation of combat systems now before Russia and China outpace us with their modernization programs.”
Milley specifically highlighted Russia’s near-term challenge to the U.S., and a need to fund development of weapon systems that may be required for a future fight.
“Russian remains the only current existential threat to the United States and will become, in my opinion, increasingly optimistic and willing to take greater risks in the near-term,” Milley said during Tuesday’s hearing. “Because of their nuclear capability they are the only country on Earth that is capable, I’m not saying they would do it, but they are capable of hurting the United States”
Esper said Russia is already fielding its next-generation tank, the T-14 Armata, as well as advancing development of air defense and artillery systems and procuring new drones, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities. The Army’s recently released FY ’20 budget request included plans to reduce or cut 186 programs in order to shift $33bn toward modernization programs over the course of the Futures Years Defense Program (FYDP) through FY ’24. Bradley fighting vehicles, Chinook helicopters, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and Armored Multipurpose Vehicles were among the programs included in the procurement adjustments.
Programs within the Army’s six modernization efforts include: the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, two Future Vertical Lift platforms, a new integrated air and missile defense command system and the Precision Strike Missile long-range precision fire.
“Those who are investing in legacy systems will fight to hold onto the past, while ignoring the billion of dollars in opportunities created by investments in new technologies and what it means for the Army’s future readiness,” Esper said. “While change will be hard for some, we can no longer afford to delay the Army’s modernization.”
Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the HASC chairman and ranking member, respectively, offered support for the Army’s effort to evaluate every single program and prioritize modernization.
“Leadership took the time to go through each of the programs and make tough decisions. I may or may not agree with all of the decisions you make. That’s irrelevant, but the point is you all have been serious about making the changes internally to ensure the Army is prepared for the challenges coming up,” Thornberry said.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) asked Esper and Milley about the potential effects on the Army supply chain after hearing concern from vendors based in her Pennsylvania district that work on legacy system programs.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with the private sector, particularly CEOs and senior leaders. We could only be as transparent as we could with particular cuts, but we were very clear with regard to where we’re going with the six modernization priorities. There’s predictability, and those priorities are not changing,” Esper said. “Meet us there. Come to talk to us about how you can be a player in that future, because whoever gets on that bus will have a chance for the work in the decades that come after that.” (Source: Defense Daily)
02 Apr 19. U.S. Army Plans to Divest All Alpha-Model Black Hawks by 2024. The U.S. Army plans to get rid of all its UH-60 A-model Black Hawks from the National Guard by fiscal year 2022 and the active duty force by 2024, a top general said on Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. In response to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, director of the Army Acquisition Corps, said Army Secretary Mark Esper has “made it very clear that…we’re going to do it by FY ’22 that all the Alpha models will be outside the National
Guard, so they’ll be either Limas, Victors, or Mike-model aircraft in the National Guard,” referring to more-modern versions of the multiimission helicopter. “By 2024, all the Alpha-model aircraft will be out of the active duty forces as well,” Ostrowski added at the SASC Tactical AirLand subcommittee hearing.
The Army is in the process of divesting its old A-model Black Hawks through the Black Hawk Exchange and Sales Team (BEST) Program, in which the helicopters are stripped of military materiel and sold in the civilian space, generating revenue for the Army. The UH-60L, which entered service more than 20 years after the original A-model Black Hawks, improved upon the original aircraft with a hover IR suppression system, more powerful engines and greater external load capacity.
“Going forward, the intent is also to convert all of the Lima aircraft to Victor models as well,”
Ostrowski said. “Between Mikes and Victors, in the 2030s we will have transitioned both the active duty as well as the National Guard to either Victor or Mike models within our Army.”
The UH-60M- and V-models are modern, digital Black Hawk variants compared to the analogue Limas and Alphas. The UH-60M entered service in 2006 and the V-model — developed to provide a cost-effective upgrade to the Lima comparable in capability to the M-model — is still under development. Both newer models feature a glass cockpit, digital pilot-vehicle interface and open architecture avionics for quick systems integration. The Army plans to convert its 720 Lima-model Black Hawks to Victor-models at a rate of 48 per year. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. Army’s Multi-Domain Unit ‘A Game-Changer’ In Future War. But modernizing the Army will take decades and tough decisions about everything from online propaganda to the National Guard. The Army’s experimental Multi-Domain Task Force is a “game changer” that’s turned the tide in “at least 10 wargames,” the commander of US Army Pacific says. “Plans are already changing at the combatant command level because of this.”
The key: the unit cracked the Anti-Access, Area Denial (A2/AD) conundrum, Russia and China’s dense layered defenses of long-range missiles, sensors, and networks to coordinate them. “Before, we couldn’t penetrate A2/AD. With it, we could,” Gen. Robert Brown said of the task force’s performance in “at least 10 exercises and wargames.”
“With the Multi-Domain Task Force,” he told me after his remarks to the AUSA Global conference here, “we could impact their long-range systems and have a much greater success against an adversary. If I go into any more, it’d be classified.”
In the future, Brown said here last week, “all formations will have to become multi-domain or they’ll be irrelevant, [but] it’s going to be years before it can happen.” The Army’s goal is modernize enough forces to wage multi-domain warfare against either China or Russia — but not both at once — by 2028. To get there, Brown and other officers said at the conference, the Army and the nation must make some tough decisions. Some particularly knotty examples:
- What units should move from the National Guard and Army Reserve to the regular-active-duty Army — always a politically touchy question — to make them quicker to respond to, or, better yet, prevent a crisis? What regular units can move into the Guard and Reserves?
- What new organizations, from field army headquarters to scout aircraft squadrons to cyber/intelligence battalions, does the Army need to create for conflict on a much larger scale than the brigade-based operations of Afghanistan and Iraq? What part of the Army should modernize first?
- Who can push all four services — especially a reluctant Navy — to adopt Multi-Domain Operations as their joint approach to warfare? (To be fair, many in the Navy reply that they’re already doing MDO.) Who can bring in the State Department, civilian agencies, and foreign allies, all of which struggle to keep up with the US military?
- What role should the military play in the gray zone between peace and war, the “competition” phase where adversaries use proxies, covert operations, hacking, and disinformation to achieve their goals without provoking US forces into opening fire?
The Army is just beginning to wrestle with these questions. We’ll be taking them on this week, because those early attempts at answers at intriguing, starting with the Multi-Domain Task Force itself.
Fire & Maneuver
Just how does the Multi-Domain Task Force change the game? Created just two years ago, its capabilities include intelligence-gathering, long-range attack and the ability to maneuver from island to island across the vast Pacific, Brown told me. It’s a pilot project, an experimental unit initially built around a rocket and missile artillery brigade. But, Brown told the AUSA conference, the original emphasis on “strategic fires” has evolved into a much wider appreciation of the need to combine “fire and maneuver,” an ancient military principle the Army’s now trying to update for the 21st century.
Sometimes, Brown said, the task force is maneuvering in physical space. It can move elements among the Pacific’s 25,000 islands to position itself to deter adversaries, reassure allies, surveil targets, launch long-range missiles or hide from attack.
“A small formation that is maneuverable is highly survivable,” Brown said, especially on land, where it can take shelter from surveillance in tunnels, jungles, mountains, and other cover that’s simply not available to air and naval units, let alone to static bases the enemy can find on Google Maps. On land, it’s also easier to put out decoys — from things like the inflatable tanks of World War II to high-tech emitters that mimic a full-size radar — since they don’t have to fly or float. A land-based unit can also stockpile missiles and other munitions without the limitations of space or weight that affect aircraft and warships, giving it much greater firepower over time.
Land forces certainly can’t substitute for air and sea, which are far more agile, but the Army can support the other services from land in ways it hasn’t done for decades — if ever. Long-range batteries on islands can provide an “umbrella” of covering fire for friendly forces well out to sea, Brown said, an American equivalent of Anti-Access/Area Denial. The Army can intercept enemy missiles aimed at the fleet. It can shoot down enemy fighters trying to intercept the Air Force. It can even sink enemy ships or force them to flee from the shallows into the open ocean where the US Navy awaits them, like beaters driving game into the huntsman’s path.
Not all fire and maneuver is physical, however, Brown emphasized. In fact, the “heart” of the Multi-Domain Task Force is the recently created (and cumbersomely named) battalion for Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare, & Space — I2CEWS, pronounced “eye two Qs.”
“Information ops is absolutely critical, [but] we didn’t originally have it in the ICEWS formation,” Brown said. “That was added [because] you’ve got to get it in there.”
As the first such unit in the Army, operating in highly classified fields, I2CEWS is still pretty mysterious. From what I’ve gathered, however, it appears to not only pull together data from outside sources — satellites, drones, spy planes — to inform friendly forces of threats and targets, it also wages war in cyberspace and across the electromagnetic spectrum, hacking and jamming the sensors and networks that tell the enemy where to shoot.
But some of the most important contributions of both the I2CEWS battalion and the Multi-Domain Task Force as a whole come before the shooting starts — hopefully, deterring anyone from firing the first shot at all. This is the period traditional US doctrine blandly calls Phase Zero and traditional US strategy calls “peace,” cold or otherwise. Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang, however, see peace as simply a continuation of war by other means: assassination, Little Green Men, economic pressure, online espionage, social media disinformation, and more. The US is belatedly recognizing this period as what the National Defense Strategy calls “competition,” as opposed to “conflict” — although our adversaries would consider both to be forms of conflict, complete with violent death, just on a different scale.
“Phase Zero…I never liked that term, it implied nothing was happening. Boy, stuff is happening all the time now,” Brown said. So for the I2CEWS battalion in particular, he said, “they must be present in the competition phase, that’s when they do their best work.”
To paraphrase Woody Allen, a big part of the conflict phase is just showing up. Since the 1990s, when the US largely withdrew its massive Cold War garrison from Europe, the US has adopted an “expeditionary” approach with few foreign bases. Most units deploy from the United States as needed. The problem is they’re increasingly needed all the time. In Europe, the Army now conducts back to back deployments of one armored brigade after another to deter Russian aggression. But in most parts of the world, even most parts of Europe, there are long gaps between international exercises or crisis operations where the US military simply isn’t around.
“Russia and China, they’ve been there the whole time,” Brown told me. “If you’re not there in the competition phase, you’re coming in late. You’ve got to be there to compete, [and] quite honestly, before we had Multi-Domain Ops, the Multi-Domain Task Force, that wouldn’t have happened.”
Competition & Perception
Much of the “competition phase” is the kind of high-stakes shadow-boxing familiar to veterans of the Cold War. The Army believes it needs not only to passively collect intelligence, but to actively test enemy systems, using both electronic transmissions and physical maneuver to “stimulate” enemy radars, jammers, cyber defenses, and physical units into responses that can be monitored, analyzed, and fed into targeting databases. It also needs to deter adversaries by consciously revealing some capabilities and concealing others, publicly flexing some muscles to show US strength while keeping secret weapons in the shadow so enemy planners are never sure what they’re dealing with.
“It’s really essential, something we’ve been good at a long time” — Patton’s fake army before D-Day — “but we’ve kind of lost a little bit: denial and deception,” Brown said. “You don’t want to be so obvious and predictable.”
That’s where the second “I” in I2CEWS, information, comes in. But information operations means different things to different audiences, from hacking networks to handing out leaflets.
“Perception is very powerful,” Brown stressed. “A tweet can go around the world in seconds, and look at the impact.”
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media were certainly central to Russia’s 2016 campaign to influence US elections. They’ve been high-speed channels for propaganda, disinformation, calls to arms, and even bomb raid warnings from Syriato Venezuela. It’s a whole new form of conflict where the US government appears to be woefully behind.
But is this kind of information war one the Army should be fighting? That’s one of the knotty questions the service — let alone the wider government, Congress, and the public — has barely begun to untangle. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
02 Apr 19. 99 House lawmakers push for more F-35s. With Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-35 and Boeing’s fourth-generation F-15X in a dogfight for budget dollars, a bipartisan group of 99 House lawmakers has called on colleagues to add 24 F-35s over President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, for a total of 102.
The Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, on Monday, sent a letter to lead House authorizers and defense appropriators, following an Air Force budget request that proposed buying F-15s after a 20-year hiatus while holding the F-35A buy-rate flat.
Caucus leaders sent the letter arguing their proposed production hike would reduce overall F-35 costs and ensure air dominance as, “adversaries continue to advance surface-to-air missile systems and develop their own stealth fighters.”
“In fact, as global threats continue to rise, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, which includes funding for 78 F-35s (48 F-35As, 10 F-35Bs and 20 F-35Cs) – 15 less than Congress appropriated in Fiscal Year 2019 – leaves the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a capability gap that 4th Generation, or legacy, aircraft cannot fulfill,” the letter argues.
“To reach the minimum 50% ratio of 5th Generation and 4th Generation fighters in the timeframe required to meet the threat, the U.S. must acquire F-35s in much larger quantities,” they wrote, adding later: “F-35 modernization is crucial for 4th generation aircraft systems, which are increasingly vulnerable and reliant on 5th generation production.”
The leaders of the caucus and the letter are Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Marc A. Veasey, D-Texas, and Mike Turner, R-Ohio.
They propose adding 12 F-35As for 60 total — which mirrors the Air Force’s annual unfunded priorities list — but also, 12 F-35Bs for 22 total. It does not add to the request for 20 F-35Cs.
The effort comes as both chambers of Congress prepare the annual process of drafting their authorization and appropriations bills, which typically extends beyond the summer. Such internal lobbying efforts are not unusual, and last year, congressional appropriators added 16 F-35s to the Pentagon’s request.
The recent letter emphasized the F-35’s lethality, its overseas deployments, its growing ubiquity among allies, its falling per-aircraft price tag and its impact on the American economy — “by supporting more than 1,500 suppliers and more than 194,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.”
The lawmakers said that an unspecified increase in funding would help the F-35 get in line with a Pentagon mandate that 80 percent of key tactical aircraft be mission capable. It would pay for, “spare parts and depot level repair capability to meet the required availability rates and accelerate the stand-up repair process of mandated organic government repair capabilities.”
While the lawmakers argue for a production ramp up, the government’s F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed have said in recent weeks that as production rates have risen, so have manufacturing defects connected to the jet’s unique stealth features. In September, the Pentagon temporarily halted F-35 deliveries to correct production errors.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, has also pressed Lockheed to lower costs more rapidly.
Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson, earlier this year, defended her company’s progress toward getting the unit cost down to $80m. Its price dropped below $90m for the first time last year as the company has been producing the planes at a faster rate.
The decision to include eight F-15Xs in the Pentagon’s 2020 request is expected to feature prominently as Air Force officials appear for Capitol Hill budget hearings this week. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has said the service did not initially seek the F-15Xs.
Pentagon officials have said the decision, driven by the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, was in part meant to maintain a robust defense-industrial base, and they have discounted reports that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, influenced the process. (Source: Defense News)
01 Apr 19. Army’s Retooled Rapid Capabilities Office To Focus On Hypersonics, Directed Energy And Space Technologies. The head of the Army’s newly retooled rapid capabilities office said senior leadership has tasked his organization with a focus to specifically deliver emerging hypersonics, directed energy and low-Earth orbit technologies.
Col. John Eggert, acting executive director of the newly named Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), told attendees at last week’s AUSA Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., his office will now operate under a board of directors delivering directed requirements and prioritized resourcing to work around traditional acquisition and prototyping efforts.
“This office, the RCCTO, is enabled to take emerging technologies and build experimental prototypes out of that critical emerging technologies, and then rapidly take it out to the field to allow the operators a chance to use it and collect data,” Eggert said. “Army senior leaders were deliberate in adding the ‘critical technologies’ to our name, and that was to combat the so called ‘valley of death’ where you have some immature technology that gets thrown over to acquisition and it kind of just languishes.”
The Army’s rapid capabilities office received its new charter in December, which included transitioning away from a sole focus on electronic warfare, position, navigation and timing, and cyber, while also setting up the new board of directors.
“This new charter actually pivots us to three new technology areas that are going to be critical in Multi-Domain Operations. The first is hypersonics, the second is directed energy and the third is space, specifically low-Earth orbit,” Eggert said.
RCCTO’s six-member board includes Army Secretary Mark Esper, Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Vice Chief Gen. James McConville, top acquisition executive Bruce Jette, and Gen. Mike Murray, head of Army Futures Command. “We don’t fit under Army acquisition. We don’t fit under Army Futures Command. We’re kind of a hybrid unit. We take all of our direction from the board of directors, which is made up of six individuals,” Eggert said. (Source: Defense Daily)
02 Apr 19. Pentagon Halts Deliveries of F-35s to Turkey Pending S-400 Procurement. The Pentagon has ceased deliveries of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) bound for Turkey and associated activities as Ankara continues to pursue the Russian-made S-400 weapon system, the department confirmed April 1.
“Until they forgo delivery of the S-400, the United States has suspended deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability,” said Acting
Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Charles E. Summers Jr. in a statement Monday.
Reuters first reported today that the Defense Department had begun to halt F-35 equipment deliveries to Turkey.
“The United States has been clear that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 is unacceptable,”
Summers said in the statement. “Therefore, the DoD has initiated steps necessary to ensure prudent program planning and resiliency of the F-35 supply chain. Secondary sources of supply for Turkish-produced parts are now in development.”
Summers added: “We very much regret the current situation facing our F-35 partnership with Turkey, and the DoD is taking prudent steps to protect the shared investments made in our critical technology. … Should Turkey procure the S-400, their continued participation in the
F-35 program is at risk.”
DoD officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long expressed concerns about Turkey – a NATO member state who has committed to the F-35 and is an industry contributor to the system’s production – desiring to procure the S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system and the potential impact of a Russian-made system on the Joint Strike Fighter.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the “Protecting NATO Skies Act of 2019” bill March 28, which would prohibit the foreign military sale of F-35s to Turkey as long as it commits to the S-400 (Defense Daily, March 28). One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said in a statement Monday that the department’s decision to halt deliveries of F-35 aircraft and equipment “is an important step forward, but doesn’t go far enough.”
“I’ll continue to call on the administration to prevent the delivery of the F-35 aircraft until Turkey abandons its plans to obtain the Russian defense system,” she added. “Senate Republican leadership should allow a vote on my bipartisan bill with Senators Lankford, Tillis and Van Hollen that would do just this and give the administration the tools it needs to safeguard our national security.” Shaheen is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Russian-based news outlet TASS reported March 29 that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the S-400 contract with Moscow is moving ahead, despite the proposed bill on Capitol Hill. (Source: Defense Daily)
01 Apr 19. Budget Numbers Add Up to Possible Sequestration. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request is drawing fire from Democrats, raising doubts that any agreement on defense spending can be reached before the start of the next fiscal year. The administration asked for a defense topline of $750bn, including a whopping $164bn in overseas contingency operations spending and another $9bn in “emergency” spending largely aimed at funding Trump’s border wall initiative. It also called for cuts in non-defense discretionary spending.
“What the president sent over … is dead on arrival,” House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., said at a recent conference hosted by McAleese & Associates and Credit Suisse.
Much criticism has been directed toward the enormous amount of money proposed for the overseas contingency operations account, which is intended to pay for war efforts or other crises. Defense Department budget documents identified $98 bn of the OCO request as actually going toward base budget needs. Critics are referring to the $98 bn as “fake OCO.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said the White House appears to be trying to keep the 2011 Budget Control Act caps in place for non-defense programs while getting around them for the military using OCO accounts, which are not limited by the BCA caps.
“How does the White House work its way back to something sensible?” he said. “If they don’t, we are staring at possibly another shutdown or best-case scenario, another [continuing resolution] and delayed defense budget.”
Rick Berger, a defense budget analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Senate Budget Committee staffer, said the Trump request is “a nonstarter” on Capitol Hill. When a fiscal agreement is eventually reached, he expects the OCO number to be more in line with what it has been in recent years, perhaps somewhere in the $55 bn to $65 bn range.
Another highly contentious issue is the inclusion of funding for Trump’s promised border wall in the defense budget proposal. About $3.6 bn in the “emergency” account would go toward wall construction while another $3.6bn would be to backfill military construction projects that didn’t receive money in 2019 because the administration reprogrammed funding to help pay for the wall.
Political fighting between Democrats and Republicans over wall funding led to a partial government shutdown this winter. Berger predicted it will be “an even nastier issue” when it comes to 2020 budget negotiations.
The border wall is still priority No. 1 for many GOP voters, he noted.
“It’s really going to come down to whether or not Republican lawmakers can countenance continuing to use the military as a vessel for achieving border security goals,” Berger said. “My guess there is that they probably will.”
Additionally, there appears to be a gap between the toplines favored by Democrats and GOP members of Congress.
“We hear that the Democratic Budget Committee might be somewhere at $733bn,” said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio. That would be higher than what some Democrats had previously signaled they would support, but less than the $750bn that Republican hawks in the House and Senate have called for.
While Democrats may accept higher levels of defense spending, they have made clear that they will want similar increases in non-defense spending, Berger noted. “If you make the base number too big in defense it jacks up the non-defense number, which is a problem for a lot of Republicans.”
Somewhere in the range of $720bn to $740bn for defense is probably the “sweet spot” where both parties can eventually agree, he added.
Meanwhile, Trump looms large over the upcoming negotiations.
“The problem is really how do you … have appropriations packages that can both pass both chambers and not get vetoed by the president?” Berger said.
Berger isn’t optimistic that an agreement will be reached before Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2020.
“I’m pretty confident that we will start this year on a CR for the entire government,” he said. “There’s a very real risk that we go into the new year and get a taste of sequestration.” (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
Lincad is a leading expert in the design and manufacture of batteries, chargers and associated products for a range of applications across a number of different sectors. With a heritage spanning more than three decades in the defence and security sectors, Lincad has particular expertise in the development of reliable, ruggedised products with high environmental, thermal and electromagnetic performance. With a dedicated team of engineers and production staff, all product is designed and manufactured in-house at Lincad’s facility in Ash Vale, Surrey. Lincad is ISO 9001 and TickITplus accredited and works closely with its customers to satisfy their power management requirements.
Lincad is also a member of the Joint Supply Chain Accreditation Register (JOSCAR), the accreditation system for the aerospace, defence and security sectors, and is certified with Cyber Essentials, the government-backed, industry supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber attacks. The majority of Lincad’s products contain high energy density lithium-ion technology, but the most suitable technology for each customer requirement is employed, based on Lincad’s extensive knowledge of available electrochemistries. Lincad offers full life cycle product support services that include repairs and upgrades from point of introduction into service, through to disposal at the end of a product’s life. From product inception, through to delivery and in-service product support, Lincad offers the high quality service that customers expect from a recognised British supplier.