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29 May 19. Furious Lawmakers Aim to Block Trump’s Saudi Arms Sales. Lawmakers who are furious about President Trump’s decision to circumvent Congress and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies are now searching for a way to thwart the sale. Experts say legislative options exist despite Trump’s move to invoke emergency powers that waive a congressional review period for the deals. But any attempt to block the president faces an uphill battle in a divided Congress.
Still, arms control advocates are hopeful the issue has ignited enough bipartisan outrage for lawmakers to take action.
“Congress blocking an arms sale like this would be pretty much unprecedented, but given that both the House and Senate approved Yemen War Power Resolutions, including with the support of Republicans in both the House and Senate, I believe the chance of a blocking action is high,” Jeff Abramson, a senior fellow at the Arms Control Association, said in an email. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/The Hill)
31 May 19. US 2nd Fleet command achieves initial operational capability. The US 2nd Fleet has achieved initial operational capability (IOC) and is now ready to lead Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS).
The IOC announcement was made by US 2nd Fleet commander vice-admiral Andrew Lewis on Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The news comes around a year since the command was brought back into service.
Lewis said: “The North Atlantic has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and with the opening of waterways in the Arctic, this traffic will only grow.
“This is a fact acknowledged by both our allies and competitors, and as such, it is critically important US 2nd Fleet reinvigorates the way our forces are employed in this influential theatre.”
The fleet has achieved the capability to command and control forces assigned and will focus on high-end training and employment of assigned assets.
It will support the deployment of forces on the Western side of the Atlantic, the Eastern side of the Atlantic, or in the Arctic.
BALTOPS is set to take place in the Baltic Sea next month. It will be the fleet’s maiden operation in Europe.
The exercise is intended to improve effectiveness, interoperability and integrated combat capabilities with allies and partners in the region.
It will see the US and Nato allies and partners performing exercises for a period of two weeks.
Lewis added: “BALTOPS 2019 is our collective opportunity to promote peace and security through cooperation, collaboration, interoperability, and an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region.
“As an alliance, increasing our capabilities across all-domains, as well as building a command-wide network will give us the ability to deter aggression and project stability.”
The 2nd Fleet has operational and administrative control over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and North Atlantic.
It is also responsible for planning and performing maritime, joint and combined operations. (Source: naval-technology.com)
29 May 19. Pentagon seeks funds to reduce U.S. reliance on China’s rare earth metals. The U.S. Defense Department is seeking new federal funds to bolster domestic production of rare earth minerals and reduce dependence on China, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, amid mounting concern in Washington about Beijing’s role as a supplier.
The Pentagon’s request was outlined in a report that has been sent to the White House and briefed to Congress, said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman.
Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements used in both consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, and critical military applications including jet engines, satellites and lasers.
Rising tensions between the United States and China have sparked concerns that Beijing could use its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths for leverage in the trade war between the world’s top two economic powers.
Between 2004 and 2017, China accounted for 80% of U.S. rare earth imports. Few alternative suppliers have been able to compete with China, which is home to 37% of global rare earths reserves.
“The department continues to work closely with the president, Congress and U.S. industry to improve U.S. competitiveness in the mineral market,” Andrews told Reuters.
He gave no details but said the report was tied to a federal programme designed to bolster domestic production capabilities through targeted economic incentives.
While China has so far not explicitly said it would restrict rare earths sales to the United States, Chinese media has strongly implied this will happen.
In a commentary headlined “United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back,” the official People’s Daily noted the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on rare earths from China.
“Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all? The answer is no mystery,” it said.
John Neuffer, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said the chances of China restricting rare earth exports were growing.
“I do expect the other shoe to drop,” he told an event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association.
The Pentagon has repeatedly flagged its concerns about American reliance on China for rare earth minerals, including in a 2018 report here.PDF on vulnerabilities in the U.S. defence industrial base.
The Pentagon said the latest report was a Defense Production Act III rare earths mineral report. According to a Pentagon website here, that programme gives the U.S. president “broad authority to ensure the timely availability of essential domestic industrial resources to support national defence and homeland security requirements through the use of highly tailored economic incentives.”
John Luddy, vice president for national security policy at the Aerospace Industries Association, said U.S. government funding could be used to bolster production, processing capacity and stockpiling of critical supplies.
Industry officials liken Washington’s potential role to the way government funding ensures the capability to launch sensitive military and intelligence satellites into space – another costly initiative.
The Defense Department accounts for about 1% of U.S. demand, which in turn accounts for about 9% of global demand for rare earths, according to a 2016 report from the congressional U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Raytheon Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and BAE Systems Plc all make sophisticated missiles that use rare earths metals in their guidance systems and sensors.
Rare earth minerals are also essential in other military equipment such as jet engines, lasers and night vision devices.
California’s Mountain Pass mine is the only operating U.S. rare earths facility. But MP Materials, owner of Mountain Pass, ships the roughly 50,000 tonnes of rare earth concentrate it extracts each year from California to China for processing.
At least three U.S.-based companies have rare earth processing plants under construction or in the planning stages, including one that is set to open next year at Mountain Pass mine to produce about 5,000 tonnes of two popular types of rare earths annually, according to a source familiar with the matter. The other two aren’t expected to open until 2022 at the earliest. (Source: Reuters)
30 May 19. Fair and open? Bulk of DoD dollars continue to filter to a few market giants. In March of 2009, the White House released a memorandum condemning the use of sole-sourced government contracts because of their adverse effects on taxpayer funds, ordering a review of government contracts and a shift to more competition in the future.
Ten years later, 67 percent of major defense acquisition programs, or MDAP, were not competed. Furthermore, nearly half of contracts went to five contractors.
Those recent statistics come from an annual assessment on weapon systems by the Government Accountability Office. The report, released this month, looked at the 183 major contracts currently reported for the Department of Defense’s 82 major programs. Out of those, only 31 percent were competed; and of that slice, 15 percent of the contracts received two bids. Six percent received only one offer, which reflects either a lack of a competitive market or overly restrictive requirements.
Of the 183 contracts, 47 percent were offered to five companies: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, United Technologies and Northrop Grumman. This 47 percent makes up 72 percent of the total money allocated, with those five companies receiving 86 awards totaling $262bn. The other 28 percent of contract dollars went to 30 companies.
Lockheed Martin, the largest defense company in the world, received the most awards at 36. But according to the report, Boeing was awarded the most money, totaling $95.1bn. The other 30 companies combined were awarded $99.9bn.
Agencies are permitted to accept noncompetitive contracts when there is only one company that meets their requirements; when there is an unusual urgency; or when authorized by statute, according to the report. However, the Federal Acquisition Regulation instructs agencies to create competition “as long as it is economically beneficial and practicable to do so.”
“DoD acknowledges the findings of awarding non-competitive contracts to a large number of programs, and DoD agrees that competition is the best way to reduce price,” Stacy Cummings, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, said in a submitted response to the GAO.
According to the report, competition rates can be affected by “the government’s preference for a specific vendor, inadequate acquisition planning, and overly restrictive government requirements.” The report also cites issues that should be addressed by the DoD, including entry barriers that emerge from over reliance on original manufacturers and lack of data rights. (Source: Defense News)
29 May 19. Army Big 6 Gets $10bn More Over 2021-2025. Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy says the service’s new five-year budget plan will be finished within weeks. The Army will move about $10bn more from lower-priority programs to its flagship Big Six over the five years 2021-2025. That’s on top of the $33bn already reallocated in the Future Year Defense Plan for 2020-2024. In particular, the new FYDP will include major increases for lasers and other directed energy weapons, the service’s No. 2 civilian said here this morning.
As a result, by 2025, if you add up all the new technologies the Army is pursuing — from hypersonic missiles to drone-killing lasers, from robotic tanks to high-speed aircraft, from secure networks to AI-assisted rifles — the service’s investments in developing new weapons to counter Russia and China will finally equal its investments in upgrading old ones built for the Cold War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Big Dollars For The Big Six
“By the end of this FYDP, the ’24-25 timeframe, you’ll see about 50 percent of Army investment into developmental systems and 50 percent legacy,” undersecretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters in his E-ring office. “When we started this journey in the fall of ’17, it was 80-20: 80 [percent] legacy, 20 percent development.”
October 2017 was when then-Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley — now nominated for chairman of the Joint Chiefs — announced the Army’s biggest reorganization in 40 years to pursue six modernization priorities for major war: artillery, armor, aircraft, networks, air & missile defense, and soldier gear (in that order). That December, in an exclusive interview with Breaking Defense, McCarthy told me the Army’s budget plan for 2019-2023 would reallocate over $1bn in science & technology funds from lower priorities to support the Big Six. A year later, McCarthy announced the service would move $31bn into the Big Six over the 2020-2024 plan — a figure that rose to $33bn when the actual budget request came out this March.
For the 2021-2025 plan the Army is now finalizing, McCarthy said this morning, “we put out a target of $10bn over the FYDP… and we are in very good shape there.
“I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen,” McCarthy said. “We’re about to slap the table on the POM [Program Objective Memorandum] here, by no later than the middle of June; I think we’re going to finish maybe a day or two early — because you have the whole system energized and it’s changed behaviors.”
Now, the service is still finalizing its figures for the next few weeks. After that, in June, the Army’s plan goes to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which makes its changes and submits the revised plan to the White House Office of Management, which makes further changes and submits the final budget to Congress, which is free to — and often does — disregard the whole thing. So McCarthy was understandably unready to give hard-and-fast figures at this early stage. But he did sound very confident the service would at least meet the $10bn target.
Lasers, Hypersonics, & Sequestration
One area of investment McCarthy highlighted: directed energy. The service has been working on laser weapons for some years now, with a plan to test a 50-kilowatt drone-killing laser on an 8×8 Stryker armored vehicle in 2021 and field batteries of laser Strykers in ’23. A parallel program is putting a 100 kW laser on a heavy truck. But in recent months, the Army’s newly appointed Program Executive Officer for high-tech programs, Lt. Gen. Neil Thurgood, has reviewed the directed energy portfolio, seeking to cull lackluster laser projects and focus funding on programs most relevant to the Big Six, especially air and missile defense.
“Gen. Thurgood did 45-day review of directed energy,” McCarthy said. “In the ’21 [plan], you’ll see the investments start to increase.”
Thurgood has also reviewed hypersonic weapons, another high-tech high-priority, and one where the Army is working closely with the Navy and Air Force. In fact, the common “glide vehicle” to carry conventional warheads at Mach 5-plus is derived from an Army joint project with Sandia National Laboratory, and the service is finding some surprising synergies with the other services.
“The fundamentals of firing off a truck [are] not that much different than firing off a sub,” McCarthy said. “Where the fundamentals change dramatically is off of some attack aviation platform.” But the basic package that goes on an Army Transporter-Erector-Launcher vehicle and a Navy Virginia-class submarine are remarkably similar, he said, which means the two services can share a lot of test data, shortening the test program and getting the weapon into combat units faster.
All of this, of course, assumes that Congress and the White House can agree on a budget. Key committees have already rejected the administration’s attempt to do an end-run around Budget Control Act caps. That means President Trump, Senate Republicans, and House Democrats must make a deal to raise the caps — hopefully before the fiscal year begins October 1st — or else sequestration will automatically cut about $150bn from the Pentagon budget.
The specter of sequestration would be “my greatest concern” if budget negotiations break down this year, McCarthy said. The Army could “probably figure it out” if the fiscal year begins with a stopgap Continuing Resolution to continue spending at 2019 levels while Congress and the White House thrash out 2020, he said, but the closer we get to the 2020 elections, the harder it becomes to make a deal.
A Continuing Resolution “would stall our modernization agenda,” McCarthy said. “The Budget Control Act [caps] would not only collapse modernization, it would collapse readiness. It would be a massive hit for the Department of Defense.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
29 May 19. Inside America’s multimillion-dollar plan to get allies off Russian equipment. When the Soviet Union fell, many of the former Warsaw Pact nations founded their new militaries on the back of leftover military equipment. And in the thaw of the Cold War, many of those same nations invested in Russian gear, often cheaper than its American equivalents.
But following Russia’s invasion of Ukrainian territory in 2014, those same countries found themselves scrambling to cut the cord with Russian military contractors and turn towards the West. But with limited defense budgets, that has proven easier said than done.
To address the issue, the U.S. State Department has, in the last year, quietly launched a new program known as the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP), a new tool developed with U.S. European Command to try and speed the process of getting allied nations off Russian gear. As envisioned, it targets Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Slovakia.
While still in its early stages, officials at State are feeling confident enough about the potential in ERIP that they expect to make a decision on expanding the program within the next few weeks, potentially opening up a new dollar stream for allied nations — one which could result in those nations buying high-end American defense goods.
“It makes sense,” said Douglas Barrie of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “It ticks two boxes, removing Soviet-era equipment from NATO inventories and provides a win for U.S. industry.”
The program serves two American priorities in one program. First, it helps getting six nations off Russian equipment, which is beneficial from a number of standpoints — cutting off a source of funding for Russia, helping interoperability with NATO allies, and increasing security by removing the need to have Russian military contractors on NATO bases in order to support that equipment.
But it also hits a key priority for the Trump administration: Increasing the sale of U.S. weapon systems abroad. While ERIP funding may be a one-time burst for these countries, it’s enough to get them going on a specific system. If they buy four American helicopters with ERIP funding, they are likely to keep buying that helicopter, not turn towards another supplier such as a European solution.
The first ERIP tranche sits at just over $190 m in reprogrammed FY 2017 funding. While the State Department declined to say what equipment is being considered, researchers at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London shared with Defense News the likely candidates:
- Albania – $30m for helicopters. It is unclear exactly what Russian helicopters would be replaced in Albania, however.
- Bosnia – $30.7m for helicopters. Bosnia operates a series of Russian-made helicopters, including small fleets of both the Mi-8 Hip medium transport and Mi-8MTV Hip multi-role helicopters.
- Croatia – $25m for infantry fighting vehicles. Croatia operates around 100 BVP M-80 vehicles, which were made in Yugoslavia during the Cold War.
- Greece – $25m for infantry fighting vehicles. Greece has almost 400 BMP-1 Soviet-made vehicles.
- North Macedonia – $30m for infantry fighting vehicles. The newly renamed nation has a small fleet of Soviet-era BMP-2 vehicles.
- Slovakia – $50m for helicopters. Slovakia operates a fleet of 17 Russian made Mi-17 Hip H multi-role helicopters.
Critical to the concept of ERIP are three ideas: The first is that the funding is not an incremental plan over many years, but rather a targeted burst of cash that will get the partner nation to 20 percent of an initial operational capability with whatever they end up getting from the United States. That means the money will go towards multiple systems, complete with requisite training and maintenance capabilities, to ensure the systems can be operated in the real world.
Second is a pledge by the chosen country that they stay away from new Russian military equipment in the future, something most of the countries considered for ERIP have already said. However, those nations are not prohibited from buying items needed to maintain legacy Russian kit.
“We understand these partners have Russian legacy equipment and we’re not trying to cut them off at the knees on any of this,” a State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Defense News in April. “If you’ve got to buy a Russian spare part, we recognize that. Those capabilities are important and we’re not trying to diminish their capabilities.”
And finally there is a requirement that any nation that accepts money through ERIP will match that dollar figure with their own investments, roughly equal to whatever dollars Washington gives them – or as the State official put it, “We’re saying, we need you to put skin in the game.”
“It could be we buy two airframes, you buy two airframes. It could be you buy four airframes and we pay for the training or the upgrades or the secure comms,” the official said.
That requirement has meant a constant back-and-forth between defense embassy staff and the six nations, making sure the respective ministries understand what capabilities they should be looking at, and then defense officials going to their local governments to try and secure agreements to match the funding. It’s something the U.S. official acknowledged has been a work in progress, with only two of the six countries having officially submitted their letter of request.
“We’re changing that relationship a little bit, and we’re aware of that,” the official said. “If the MoD cannot do this, they cannot make their own procurements, they cannot commit, then thank you very much, no hard feelings, but we will reprogram those funds to another country.”
However, the need for matching funds raises a red flag for both Barrie and Jim Townsend, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe now with the Center for a New American Security.
If those six nations have to borrow money to match for ERIP, it could create a spiral of debt for the poorer countries, or create a situation where a nation can’t borrow money needed for the future, Townsend warned. “Does that mean poorer nations, like Albania, are out and only the wealthy countries can take advantage? I think that would be a problem.”
Both analysts also warned that the upgrade programs need to align with the national priorities assigned to each country by NATO.
While the first round of ERIP still has to be finalized, officials aren’t waiting for the initial six countries to submit their letters of request and work out all the details before looking towards the future.
Sometime in late June or early July the department expects to make a decision on whether to do a second ERIP round, based on reprogrammed fiscal year 2019 dollars. If approved, officials will start identifying new projects at the end of the fiscal year.
That could include adding new countries into the mix. While the initial mix is heavy on NATO nations — Bosnia being the sole non-NATO ally on the list, if one counts North Macedonia, which is underway with the process of joining the alliance — the official said there isn’t necessarily a preference towards NATO countries.
Barrie identified Poland and Hungry as two nations that would make sense for a second wave of ERIP dollars, as well as another round for the Slovakia and the Czech Republic. And Townsend says the Baltic nations would be logical recipients, although Estonia, which doesn’t operate Soviet-era gear, doesn’t seem a great fit.
Latvia has expressed interest, per a source, but that comes with a caveat. The nation has already made a decision to procure Black Hawk helicopters to replace its small Mi-17 fleet by the middle of the next decade. Getting ERIP funding now could help speed that process up while freeing up money for Latvia to upgrade elsewhere, perhaps in ground vehicles, its next major planned procurement. However, whether State would be willing to use ERIP to support acquisition decisions that have already been made is unclear.
Notably, if the European projects works out, there are indications State could look to expand the program outside of Europe, perhaps as a way to blunt Chinese initiatives in Africa and Asia. But such decisions are down the road.
“I think it’s great and I hope that it continues and I hope the Congress knows this is a good use of taxpayer money, because it enables allies to do more,” Townsend said. (Source: Defense News)
29 May 19. B-21 Stealth Bomber: The Air Force’s Ultimate “Black” Program (Armed with Nukes). The Air Force now appears to be testing components and building initial models of its new, highly-secret B-21 stealth bomber, a platform intended to hold any target at risk, anywhere in the world, at any time, for decades to come.
Despite a chorus of dialogue about the pace of technological progress underway with modern air defenses, the new bomber is said by senior Air Force leaders to include an unprecedented new generation of weapons, sensors, attack technology and stealth applications.
While, of course, the exact timing of specific stages in the development of this weapons system is understandably not available for security reasons — the B-21 is basically a “black” program — senior service developers are pointing to great progress with the program now that it has moved beyond critical design review into a manufacturing phase. Former Air Force Secretary, Heather Wilson, made specific reference to the aircraft’s construction in a written statement included in the United States Air Force 2018 Acquisition Annual Report. Wilson said “the B-21 program is on the right track…as it transitions from the design phase into a robust manufacturing phase that will ultimately produce our first B-21 test aircraft.”
Wilson’s reference to a first B-21 test aircraft seems quite significant and entirely consistent with the purpose of the current acquisition phase the platform is undergoing — Engineering, Manufacturing and Design — the point in the process where platforms are built. The program does seem to be entirely on-track given that its plan to have an operational aircraft by the mid 2020s has not changed in years. The service plans to buy at least 100 of the new bombers.
“The program completed a critical design review in November 2018 and is continuing with detailed design work,” the Air Force report stated.
The Air Force Acquisition Report also contains a few other significant details. While the B-21 will, of course, be a nuclear-armed platform, the report specifies a timeline for the integration of nuclear weapons, stating that there will be “nuclear certification within two years of declaring initial operational capability,”
Long-Range Stand-Off Weapon
When it comes to nuclear weapons, it appears likely, if not certain, that the B-21 will be armed with the now-in-development Long-Range Stand-Off Weapon (LRSO). The Air Force Acquisition Report states that the LRSO is being designed to be compatible with the B-52 bomber and the B-21 Raider. Furthermore, the service report says that the Air Force will acquire 1,000 LRSOs.
The Air Force states that “initial operational capability is planned for 2030.” The program completed Systems Requirements and Systems Functional Reviews in 2018, the report states.
The Air Force has been working with industry on prototyping and design work on the nuclear-armed cruise missile, set to enter into a new Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of construction by 2022, service officials said.
US Air Force weapons developers believe the emerging nuclear-armed Long-Range Stand-Off weapon will enable strike forces to attack deep within enemy territory and help overcome high-tech challenges posed by emerging adversary air defenses. Air Force officials have told Warrior the developing LRSO is, by design, closely aligned with the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review.
The LRSO will provide an air-launched component to the Pentagon’s current wish to expand the attack envelope possibilities for its nuclear arsenal; the NPR calls for the addition of a new low-yield submarine-launched nuclear-armed cruise missile.
A cruise missile armed with nuclear weapons could, among many things, potentially hold targets at risk which might be inaccessible to certain stealth aircraft, given the growing pace at which modern air defenses are able to detect a wider range of aircraft – to include the possibility of detecting some stealth bombers.
As a result, senior Air Force leaders say that engineering a new, modern Long-Range Standoff weapon with nuclear capability may create one of a very few assets, weapons or platforms able to penetrate emerging high-tech air defenses. Such an ability is, as a result, deemed crucial to nuclear deterrence and the commensurate need to prevent major-power warfare. Some have raised the question as to whether a nuclear-armed cruise missile could lower the threshold to a nuclear engagement or, at very least, cause confusion among enemies who might mistake a conventional attack for a nuclear one. Pentagon and Air Force developers have consistently maintained that the weapon will bring an indispensable element to the US deterrence strategy.
Therefore, in the event of major nuclear attack on the US, a stand-off air-launched nuclear cruise missile may, along with submarine-launched nuclear missiles, be among the few weapons able to retaliate and function as an essential deterrent against a first-strike nuclear attack.
The LRSO will be developed to replace the aging AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile or ALCM, currently able to fire from a B-52. The AGM-86B has far exceeded its intended life span, having emerged in the early 1980s with a 10-year design life, Air Force statements said. Both the ALCM and LRSO are designed to fire both conventional and nuclear weapons. While Air Force officials say that the current ALCM remains safe, secure and effective, it is facing sustainment and operational challenges against evolving threats, service officials also acknowledge.
Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has a Masters in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.(Source: News Now/https://nationalinterest.org/)
28 May 19. USAF weapons development schedule achieves century of streamlining. The US Air Force (USAF) has achieved its target of cutting at least 100 years of unwanted schedule time from existing weapons development programmes since May 2018. The milestone was announced USAF Secretary Heather Wilson who named Congressional support in terms of new legal authorities to rapidly prototype and test weapons as a key factor in achieving the target.
“We have to get critical technologies to the warfighter faster. Cost and performance matter a lot. So does speed,” said Wilson. “History will look back on this era and see how the air force outpaced its competitors because of these authorities.
“The air force established guidelines for rapid prototyping and fielding in May of last year. This put greater control in the hands of our program managers, at a level where decision-making is critical.”
The aptly named ‘Century Challenge’ was intended to streamline and accelerate programmes. The task of streamlining the USAF weapons development schedule was assigned to the service’s acquisition community.
Under the memorandum issued last May, each programme executive office was asked to track both schedule and delivery acceleration over traditional approaches.
USAF acquisition, technology and logistics assistant secretary Dr Will Roper said: “We’re able to dismiss things that don’t add value to our programmes while remaining exceptionally disciplined on things that do.”
The streamlined approach has had a positive impact on communications and defensive systems on the F-22 Raptor and F-15 Strike Eagle, cyber networks, satellites.
In its 2020 budget, the USAF proposed the procurement of eight Boeing F-15EX aircraft to replace the aging F-15s.
Other systems to have benefitted from the programme include hypersonic weapons and key intelligence technologies.
Furthermore, the service recently unveiled a new science and technology strategy for 2030 and beyond with focus on maximising its technological advantage.
The approach adopted for rapid acquisition included awarding contracts in a short time as well as accelerated software development.
According to DefenceNews, the USAF achieved a reduction of more than three years from the development cycle of the B-52 engine replacement programme. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
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