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13 Feb 20. Here’s the US Army’s top 10 canceled and reduced programs in FY21. The U.S. Army released its top 10 programs it intends to cancel or reduce in fiscal 2021 on Feb. 13, which accounts for $1.13bn of the $2.4bn the service plans to shift to higher priority modernization efforts. Through a second round of night court — an effort to find and shift funding from programs that don’t align with the Army’s modernization priorities or the National Defense Strategy — the Army plans to eliminate 41 programs and reduce or delay another 39 programs across the five-year budget plan from FY21 through FY25, according to FY21 budget documents released Feb. 10.
That would allow $13.5bn in funds to be moved toward the Army’s top six modernization priorities.
During a budget briefing with the Pentagon press on Feb. 11, the Army said it would produce its list of the top 10 cuts and reductions. But when asked for more details, the service could not explain why it was unable to produce the entire list to the media, but noted it was provided to Congress.
In addition to a few programs the Army already revealed when asked specifically on Feb. 10 — such as its plan to cancel the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and a delayed Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) buy — the service is also cutting from missile, vehicle, communications and electronic warfare programs.
The Army revealed in the list that its cancellation of the APKWS program frees up $122m in FY21.
The service also plans to cancel an FY20 new start program in FY21 — the Mobile Intermediate Range Missile, or MIRM, which will save $90m.
The Army had planned over the next five budget cycles in FY20 to spend nearly $1bn on MIRM, which is essentially a land-based cruise missile eyed for operations in the Indo-Pacific region to address the medium-range (1,000-kilometer) gap in capability there.
The service was going to move into a technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase in FY21 for the effort.
Plans to fund a service life extension program for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System are also canceled, according to the list, and will save the Army $42.5m.
The Army is also canceling the Explosive Hazard Roller, Vehicle Optics Sensor System, freeing up $21.6m as well as the High Mobility Engineer Excavator program worth $16.4m in FY21.
The cancellation of a Heavy Equipment Transporter variant — dubbed EHET in the list — frees up another $7.8m to be used for higher priority programs.
An electronic warfare system called the DOD Manager Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare system is also being canceled — valued at $4.3m.
The service is also eliminating the Route Clearance Interrogation System ($3.5m), the Light Engineer Utility Trailer ($3.3 m), and the Tactical Electronic Power research and development program ($3.2m).
Overall, the top 10 canceled programs amount to $314.8m.
The Army will reduce Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle modifications further after cutting future upgrades beyond its A4 variant in FY20. The service is working to replace the Bradley down the road with an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program, which is currently fraught with uncertainty.
The reduction amounts to $222.2m in FY21 to cover other modernization efforts. The Army intended to spend $715.3m in FY21, according to the FY20 budget justification documents.
The Army will now spend $493.1m which “supports procurement of multiple modifications to the Bradley vehicles including the following: procurement and installation of the Track and Suspension [engineering change proposal], procurement and fielding of M2A4 vehicles, upgrades to the Bradley Fire Support Team vehicle, procurement of training devices and procurement of safety upgrades,” according to FY21 budget documents.
The service notes that current projects indicate the Bradley and its fire support vehicle will remain in armored brigade combat team formations until the 2050s.
Some of the funding reduction comes from the elimination of production and fielding of an active protection system, according to the budget books. The Army is still working toward an APS for the vehicle but has run into a few issues that must be worked through, including changes to the APS itself. And the service needs the Bradley A4 to properly run the system, as A3 power capabilities can’t support it.
The Army is freeing up $201.6 m by delaying procurement of the JLTV by three years, but that won’t affect the service’s overall procurement objective. According to Pentagon budget documents, the Army is requesting $894.4m in FY21 for 1,920 JLTVs of various configurations as well as 1,334 JLTV-T companion trailers.
“If funding levels remain consistent with the [FY21] funding profile, the Army anticipates reaching the [acquisition program objective] in FY41,” the service said in a statement providing clarity to the newly released budget documents.
The Joint Assault Bridge is also taking a $126.2m hit. The JAB program is delayed a year due to difficulty with the hydraulics system, which has since been fixed. The program will go for another initial operational test this year after struggling through its first attempt in April 2019.
According to FY20 budget documents, the Army planned to spend $164.3m in FY21, but will now only spend $72.2m on the program in that fiscal year.
The Army is also reducing its Close Terrain Shaping Obstacle program, which are munitions used to create obstacles on the battlefield, by $92.9m. It will also cut $36.6 m out of its Lightweight Laser Designated Rangefinder program.
As the service prepares to procure a new precision strike missile, or PrSM, it has reduced its plans to conduct a service life extension program for the Army Tactical Missile, or ATACMS, which PrSM will ultimately replace. The Army will save $35.6 m in FY21 for that decision.
Additionally, while the service had funded the ATACMS service life extension program across the five-year defense plan in its FY20 budget documents, the FY21 documents show no funding in its five-year plan past FY21.
The Army is also reducing funding for the Distributed Common Ground System-Army, a data analytics capability for intelligence analysis, by $30.6 m due to savings, the list indicates.
And the service is cutting out $25.5m from PROPHET, a signals intelligence program.
While the Army did not specify what mortars will be cut, it plans to reduce mortar procurement by $22.7m, and the service will cut from its Total Army Munitions Requirement by $21.9m.
Through all of the top 10 reductions, the Army will move $815.8m into priority programs. (Source: Defense News)
13 Feb 20. DOD Officials Warn of Increased Threat From Weapons of Mass Destruction. The threat posed by the use and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is rising, a Defense Department official told a House Armed Services Committee panel.
China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations have, or are pursuing, WMD capabilities that could threaten the United States or U.S. interests, Theresa Whelan, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said at a Feb. 11 hearing of the subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats and capabilities.
Whelan was joined by Alan R. Shaffer, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, who also serves as acting assistant defense secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs. Navy Vice Adm. Timothy G. Szymanski, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Vayl S. Oxford, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, also testified.
“[The] WMD threat landscape is continuously changing,” Whelan told the panel. “Rapid biotechnology advances are increasing the potential, variety and ease of access to biological weapons.”
Whelan said DOD aims to use the National Defense Strategy’s three lines of effort to counter weapons of mass destruction. One of the primary objectives is to ensure lethality by making sure U.S. forces can operate in an environment contaminated by chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, which denies adversaries the benefits of using weapons of mass destruction, she said.
Even before its charter was signed, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Unity of Effort Council began working with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to review readiness requirements and ensure it is prepared to meet them, she added.
Another of the National Defense Strategy’s lines of effort is reform, and to ensure the best return on investment, Whelan said, DOD’s policy office is leading an effort through the CWMD Unity of Effort Council to prioritize threats and provide related policy guidance for the department to organize operations, activities and investments around a cohesive threat picture.
A core tenet of many of the council’s programs, she added, is strengthening alliances and building partnerships, the National Defense Strategy’s third line of effort.
Through its work to reduce the threat from weapons of mass destruction, DOD empowers its partners to detect, prevent and reduce threats on their own, Whelan said.
“This reduces the burden on DOD resources, allows for greater interoperability and reduces WMD threats worldwide,” she told the subcommittee. “The DOD CWMD enterprise’s agility and expertise will enable us to address the existing and emerging WMD threats of 2020 and beyond.”
Consistent with the National Defense Strategy, the effort’s highest priority is maintaining the nuclear triad’s viability and modernization of the nuclear triad as an effective deterrent, Shaffer told the House panel. The triad refers to the three categories of nuclear delivery systems: land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and strategic aerial bombers.
“At nearly the same level, we aim to ensure that no soldier, sailor, airman or Marine is harmed by chemical and biological weapons, and, specifically, to increase emphasis on the emerging chemical and biological warfare threats that we are seeing come into the field now,” he said.
Emphasis is needed on rebuilding an effective and diverse workforce that can handle future threats, Shaffer said. “We’re at an interesting time for countering weapons of mass destruction,” he added, “as the convergence of another number of scientific disciplines, including artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, molecular engineering and system-level autonomy, are opening the door for the development of new challenges.”
Whether it is Russia or China upgrading their nuclear forces with new and advanced nuclear weapons, or the use of chemical weapons in 2018 in England, threats from weapons of mass destruction continue to evolve, modernize and expand, he said.
One role of Special Operations Command is as DOD’s coordinating authority for countering weapons of mass destruction. “Our goal is to position the department to support just such coordinated action and nurture those key relationships to prevent the emergence of weapons of mass destruction capabilities, protect the United States and its citizens in our national interest of threat actors, either developing new or advancing existing programs and respond to and mitigate the effects of any use,” Szymanski said.
Oxford said the United States must adopt global partnerships and a global perspective to fully identify the global threat networks associated with China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
“To address [the] global nature of the threat, we have amplified our partnership with [U.S. Southern Command] to take on additional support for the geographical commanders responsible for dealing with these adversaries,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
13 Feb 20. Pentagon seeks to cut F-35s, other equipment to pay for Trump’s border wall. The Pentagon is seeking to divert $3.8bn, largely from its fiscal 2020 weapons procurement budget, in order to fund President Donald Trump’s border wall, according to a reprogramming request to congress obtained by Defense News.
Among the victims of the cuts: a mass of aircraft purchases including F-35 joint strike fighters, C-130J cargo aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper drones and P-8 maritime surveillance planes, as well as ground vehicles and naval priorities.
Overall, the plan would shift $2.202bn in FY20 defense appropriations and $1.629bn in FY20 Overseas Contingency Operations funding towards the wall, a key priority from president Donald Trump ahead of the November presidential elections.
Air Force and Navy aviation spending takes the brunt of the cuts proposed by the Pentagon, with aircraft procurement going down by $558m for Navy and Marine Corps and $861m for the Air Force. Importantly, all of the funding decreases target items that were specifically added by Congress during the budgeting process, which could incur rancor from lawmakers.
For the Navy, the Pentagon would cut two of the six F-35B short takeoff and landing aircraft added to the FY20 budget by Congress and two MV-22 Ospreys, stating that “current funding is more than sufficient to keep the production line open.” It also seeks to eliminate funding for one of the nine P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft funded in FY20, stating that the additional aircraft is “[in] excess to the 117 aircraft required.”
In the Air Force’s budget, the Pentagon slashed funding for the four of the eight C-130Js added by Congress for the reserve and Air National Guard. The department stated that funding for those planes can be rescheduled to fiscal year 2021, when the period of performance for the associated contract starts.
The request would eliminate eight MQ-9 Reaper drones, culling most of the funding added by Congress for an increase of 12 MQ-9s. “The program is currently undergoing a strategic review,” the department stated in written justification, referring to an ongoing debate within the Air Force about how many Reapers to buy and retain over the next decade. “Procurement, if necessary, can be rescheduled to a later fiscal year.” Combatant commanders have consistently said they need more surveillance assets around the globe.
It also strips $156m for advanced procurement for the F-35A and removes $180m for light attack aircraft for the Air Force, which the service has decided against procuring but has been widely supported by lawmakers as a low-cost alternative for the counter-terrorism fight.
The Army would stand to lose $100 m in funding for national guard Humvee modernization and $194.5 m in Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck funding. However, with the Humvee set to be replaced by JLTV, the Army is unlikely to be heavily impacted by these funds being shifted around.
The reprogramming request also cuts $650m in advanced procurement funding for an America-class Amphibious Assault Ship, LHA-9, which is being built in Mississippi at Ingalls Shipbuilding. On its website, Huntington Ingalls Industries says the advanced funding provided by Congress, “enables a hot production line and a supplier base of 457 companies in 39 states to build this powerful warship.”
The reprogramming also cuts funding one expeditionary fast transport ship, which is built in Alabama at Austal USA, which has been an area of interest for the powerful Republican Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby. The ship was deemed “excess to current programmatic need,” the reprogramming document says.
“The procurement exceeds the program-of-record requirement,” the document reads. “This is a congressional special interest item.”
In addition, the national guard and reserves would lose about $1.3bn in what the reprograming request describes as unnecessary funding, given historic underexecution of prior year funds.
A spokesman for the Pentagon declined to comment.
Last year, the defense department had budgets, largely for military construction projects, diverted into funding a stretch of the wall project. Those projects cut included the rebuilding of several DoD schools both in the U.S. and abroad, special operations training centers in Europe and Hurricane Maria relief for Puerto Rico National Guard facilities. Overall, more than 100 projects had funding delayed.
Asked on Tuesday about a potential reprograming of defense funds to pay for the wall, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said “We did receive the request from DHS, that’s all I’ll say right now. We’re working our way through the process, we’re doing all those things we need to do. So when we’re ready to make an announcement, we’ll make an announcement.”
Word that the Pentagon may once again be raided to pay for the wall came in mid-January, and at the time seemed to catch Republican supporters in Congress off-guard.
“I wish they wouldn’t take [wall funding] out of defense. I want to build the wall, I supported direct appropriations for it and fought for it — but we have to evaluate what this does to the military, what it affects, where and how,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Richard Shelby, R-Ala, at the time. But he added that nobody should be surprised the administration repeated the tactic, after it worked last year. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 20. US Navy Gets First Bell-Boeing CMV-22B: What It Means. The Navy’s Osprey differs from the Marine Corps and Air Force versions, boasting an enhanced fuel capacity, which required wing modifications to deal with the greater weight.
The first CMV-22B aircraft was delivered Friday to the Navy, where it will replace the C2A Greyhound, the venerable tail-hook aircraft that has flown on and off aircraft carriers since 1966.
A second Osprey arrived at Pax River the week before for the final round of testing. The fleet of Navy Ospreys should be operational within six years from contract to delivery carrying out a much wider array of roles than the old Greyhounds executed. They’ll be flying VIPs and crew back and forth, as do the venerable CODs, but they will also do search and rescue and support for Naval Special Warfare.
CMV-22B challenge coin
This is just the beginning. In a visit to San Diego the week before the ceremony, I sat down with Vice Admiral Miller, the Navy’s Air Boss, to discuss naval aviation’s future. We will publish that full interview soon, but the he highlighted a significant shift from a focus on the integrated air wing to what we can call the integrateable air wing.
The US Navy over the next decade will reshape its carrier air wing with a number of new platforms. If one lists the initial operating capabilities of each of these new platforms, and looks at their introduction sequentially, the air wing of the future would be viewed in additive terms – what has been added and what has been subtracted and the sum of these activities would be the carrier air wing of the future. But such an analysis would miss the underlying transformation under way. In effect, what is underway is a shift from integrating the air wing around relatively modest and sequential modernization efforts for core platforms to one in which new assets enter the force and create a swirl of transformational opportunities. How might we take this new asset and expand the reach and effectiveness of the carrier air group? How might it empower maritime, air and ground forces as we shape a more effective integrateable force?
Take the replacement of the C-2 with the CMV-22. For Miller, the initial task is to get the Osprey aboard the carrier and integrated with the rest of the air wing. He is looking for the first five-year period in operating the CMV-22 for the Navy to think through the role of the Osprey as a transformative force, rather than simply as a new member of the carrier air wing.
The aircraft differs from the Marine Corps and Air Force versions, boasting an enhanced fuel capacity which required wing modifications to deal with the greater weight. There is another key aspect. The CMV-22, unlike the C-2, can carry an F-35C engine onboard a carrier. In 2015, I was onboard the USS Wasp when an Osprey brought an engine onboard the ship to prove the capability; The Navy signed its first contract for the CMV-22 program that same year.
An F-35B pilot is now head of the Osprey program at Pax River. Col. Matthew “Squirt” Kelly told me in an interview last fall about the impact of broadening the plane’s set of users around the world:
“There is no other air platform that has the breadth of aircraft laydown across the world than does the V-22. And now that breadth is expanding with the inclusion of the carrier fleet and the Japanese. We currently have a sustainment system which works but we need to make it better in terms of supporting global operations. With the US Navy onboard to operate the Osprey as well, we will see greater momentum to improve the supply chain.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
12 Feb 20. Why Congress holds the key to DOD tech. Congress may have to relax its oversight — or at least learn to take leaps of faith — when funding defense technology research if it wants to see dramatic improvements in capabilities. That was the takeaway from the House Armed Services Committee’s hearing for its Future of Defense Task Force Feb. 5. The task force, co-chaired by Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), was chartered in October for six months to evaluate the Defense Department’s technological needs and capabilities through a series of briefings and hearings. Those findings are expected to culminate in a report with recommendations.
At the Feb. 5 hearing, defense industry leaders seemed to reach consensus on what has prevented DOD from advancing tech-wise: too few incentives and resources.
Raj Shah, the former director for the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the Pentagon’s innovation arm, said program executive offices inside the services make the calls on investments, but there’s no incentive to take a risk.
“No one gets fired for going slow, no one gets promoted for going faster,” testified Shah, current chair and co-founder of cybersecurity risk firm Arceo.ai.
“Many of the things that a PEO or a service does to invest in a particular technology will have implications that go far beyond the Department of Defense,” Shah said, mentioning low-cost drones and the 5G infrastructure markets as dominated by China-run companies.
To help with this, DOD should take the lead in growing the manufacturer base, which would assist allies, improve national security and have economic impact, he said.
“There are lots of these R&D, trial programs — AI to solve driving ships and planes — pick two or three that we think are promising and bet big on them,” Shah said.
Congress has to draw those lines, witnesses said.
Christian Brose, who used to be the Senate Armed Services Committee’s staff director and advisor to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), agreed with Shah, saying more competition is key to tech advancement.
“Technology is not going to save us,” testified Brose, who leads strategy at Anduril Industries. “Unless we’re experimenting with how to use that technology to do different things, we’re just going to be continuing the way that we have.”
But to change current practices Congress may have to back off or grant more flexibility during the fiscal year to accommodate experimentation. To make that more palatable, Brose suggested Congress track which companies and programs were “bridging the valley of death” — the period between an experimental pilot and the establishment of a program of record. Brose said companies that proved more successful here deserved more money.
“Congress always wants to know how the department is spending its money,” said Brose. “We have a proliferation of organizations that are trying to bring new entrants, research and capability into the department. Where does it go?”
A recent Govini report found that DOD’s investments shrank from a 19% share of global R&D in 1967 to just 4% in 2017. China’s grew from 3% in 1997 to 27% in 2017.
“We’re in a really unique, great power competition right now with China in particular, where for the first time in a very long time … we truly lack a definitive technological advantage against our competitor,” Tara Murphy Dougherty, the CEO for the data analytics firm Govini, told Defense Systems. She said recent increases to R&D are “necessary but insufficient.”
“Spending in emerging technology areas is definitely increasing when you look across the board at things like advanced autonomous systems,” but spending is still much higher on traditional systems such as manned platforms, she said.
“Over the past five years, really the department spent almost four times more RDT&E funding on manned systems than it did on unmanned capabilities.”
Govini’s report also showed that DOD’s artificial intelligence and cyber investments were nearly matched at $4.5bn and $4.6bn, respectively, from fiscal 2015 to 2019. But cyber’s growth rate was higher, which could be the beginning of a trend, Murphy Dougherty said.
“I suspect that what we’re seeing is the beginning of a shift in that trend and that there are continuing demands in the area of cyber that are going to warrant big-time investment. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you see the rate of AI spending increase from 5.5% over this time period,” she said.
The task force, which is halfway through its six-month term, has previously looked into autonomous systems, biotechnology, cyber, AI, hypersonics and the effects of Chinese influence.
Moulton, the task force’s co-chair, said during the hearing that harnessing emerging tech is key to “military and economic superiority” and ultimately funding has to align with that.
“With an initial funding of $520m, which would be $4.5bn in today’s dollars, [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] led to current initiatives like DIU, which while particularly noteworthy, simply doesn’t enjoy the same level of support with a mere $41m budget,” Moulton said.
“We cannot expect the same success without the same level of commitment.”
The Defense Department’s 2021 budget request released Feb. 10 asks for more than $106bn in R&D, but Congress will have the last word. (Source: Defense Systems)
10 Feb 20. Esper Discusses Rebalancing U.S. Forces to Align With National Defense Strategy. The Defense Department wants to increase NATO’s presence in Iraq to reduce the number of Americans serving there, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.
“To the degree that NATO can offset the U.S. presence, that would over time allow us to bring some forces home, which you all should know has been my ambition for some time,” the secretary told reporters traveling with him yesterday en route to NATO’s defense ministers conference in Brussels.
A reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq would allow DOD to right-size forces in other theaters, the Indo-Pacific area in particular, in accord with the National Defense Strategy, he added.
It would also be useful, he said, if NATO can assist friends and partners in the Middle East with air defense capability. Saudi Arabia, in particular, needs additional air defense assets to deter Iranian bad behavior, he noted.
“Last fall after the attacks on the Saudi facilities, I called at least a half dozen of our NATO partners who have NATO-compatible air defense systems to assist us with that, and so I want to continue that dialogue, as well,” he said.
Regarding the notification that the Philippines will be ending the agreement that allows U.S. and Philippine troops to train together and conduct counterterrorism missions, Esper said the decision was unfortunate because of “the longstanding relationship we’ve had with the Philippines for their strategic location, the ties between our peoples, our countries.”
In Brussels, Esper will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and other officials to discuss NATO readiness, burden sharing, China, the status of NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq and other topics. He will travel next to Munich to attend a security conference, meet with think tank experts, industry leaders and Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command. (Source: US DoD)
10 Feb 20. DOD Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Proposal. The President and Congress have placed an emphasis on funding the military. Our budgets over the past three years have allowed us to reverse the decline in readiness, while beginning to modernize our air, land, sea, space, and cyber capabilities. However, there is no guarantee that this level of funding will continue into the future. To meet the objectives outlined in the National Defense Strategy, we must continue to make the most of every resource.
Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper
On February 10, 2020, President Donald J. Trump sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request of $740.5bn for national security, $705.4bn of which is for the Department of Defense (DoD). The FY 2021 budget supports the irreversible implementation of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), which drives the Department’s decision-making in reprioritizing resources and shifting investments to prepare for a potential future, high-end fight. This budget resources four focus areas to build a more lethal, agile, and innovative joint force as it:
- Continues to improve military readiness and invest in the modernization of a more lethal force;
- Strengthens alliances, deepens interoperability, and attracts new partners;
- Reforms the Department for greater performance and accountability; and
- Supports service members and their families, recognizing that our people are our most valuable resource.
This budget focuses on NDS priorities of nuclear deterrence recapitalization and homeland missile defense, while refining our focus on the cyber and space warfighting domains and joint enablers for all operations in all domains: Air, land, sea, space and cyber. It advances the development of critical technologies including hypersonics, microelectronics/5G, and artificial intelligence.
The FY 2021 President’s budget request of $705.4bn, when compared to the FY 2020 enacted amount of $704.6bn (excluding natural disaster emergency funding), shows very small growth of approximately 0.1 percent. Given this flattened funding level, the Department made numerous hard choices to ensure that resources are directed toward the Department’s highest priorities. To enable that decision-making, Secretary of Defense Esper initiated a comprehensive Defense-Wide Review that generated almost $5.7 bn in FY 2021 savings, $0.2bn in Working Capital Fund efficiencies, and another $2.1bn in activities and functions realigned to the Services. This initiative allowed the Department to more effectively resource higher National Defense Strategy (NDS) priorities.
The Department’s FY 2021 budget builds a ready, agile, all domain joint force enabled by:
Nuclear Modernization ($28.9bn). Investments include:
- Nuclear Command, Control and Communications – $7bn
- B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber – $2.8bn
- COLUMBIA Class Ballistic Missile Submarine – $4.4bn
- Long-Range Stand-off (LRSO) Missile – $474m
- Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) – $1.5bn
Missile Defeat and Defense ($20.3 bn). Investments include:
- Sea-Based Interceptors (SM-3 IIA and IB) – $619m
- AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System – $1.1bn
- Homeland Defense and Next Generation Interceptors – $664m
- Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Ballistic Missile Defense – $916m
- Patriot Advanced Capability Missile Segment Enhancement – $780m
In the Space Domain ($18.0bn), investments include:
- U.S. Space Force – $15.4bn which includes:
– 3 National Security Space Launch (aka EELV) – $1.6bn
– 2 Global Positioning System III and Projects – $1.8bn
– Space Based Overhead Persistent Infrared Systems – $2.5bn
- U.S. Space Command – $249m
- Space Development Agency – $337m
In the Cyberspace ($9.8bn) Domain, investments include:
- Cybersecurity – $5.4bn
- Cyberspace – Operations – $3.8bn
- Cyberspace Science and Technology – $556m
- In addition to the $9.8bn, the budget funds:
– Artificial Intelligence – $841m
– Cloud – $789m
In the Air Domain ($56.9bn), investments include:
- 79 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters – $11.4 bn
- 15 KC-46 Tanker Replacements – $3.0 bn
- 24 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets – $2.1 bn
- 52 AH-64E Attack Helicopters – $1.2bn
- 5 VH-92 Presidential Helicopters – $739m
- P-8A Aircraft – $269m
- 7 CH-53K King Stallion – $1.5bn
- 12 F-15EX – $1.6bn
In the Maritime Domain ($32.3 bn), investments include:
- 1 COLUMBIA Class Ballistic Missile Submarine – $4.4bn
- CVN-78 FORD Class Aircraft Carrier – $3.0bn
- 1 Virginia Class Submarine – $4.7bn
- 2 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyers – $3.5bn
- 1 Frigate (FFG(X)) – $1.1bn
- 1 Landing Platform Dock Ship (LPD) – $1.2bn
- Fleet Replenishment Oiler (T-AO) – $95m
- 2 Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV) (Large) – $464m
- 2 Towing, Salvage, and Rescue Ships (T-ATS) – $168m
In the Land Domain ($13.0 bn), investments include:
- 4,247 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles – $1.4bn
- 89 M-1 Abrams Tank Modifications/Upgrades – $1.5bn
- 72 Amphibious Combat Vehicles – $521m
- 32 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles – $290m
Munitions ($21.3 bn) investments include:
- 20,338 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) – $533m
- 7, 360 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) – $1.2bn
- 125 Standard Missile-6 – $816m
- 1,490 Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) – $432m
- 8,150 Hellfire Missiles – $517m
- 400 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – $577m
- 53 Long Range Anti-Ship Missile – $224m
The FY 2021 budget contains the Department’s largest RDT&E budget in its history ($106.6 bn) and is focused on the development of crucial emerging technologies. DoD is making critical investments in several of these technologies, which we refer to as Advanced Capabilities Enablers (ACEs); they are focused on the high end fight. ACEs investments include:
- Hypersonics – $3.2bn
- Microelectronics/5G – $1.5bn
- Autonomy – $1.7bn
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): $841m
The FY 2021 budget maximizes readiness through robust funding. Investments include:
- Army readiness – $30.9bn
- Navy and Marine Corps readiness – $47.5bn
- Air Force readiness – $37.1bn
- Special Operations Command readiness – $9.5bn
- Increases military end strength from FY 2020 projected levels by 5,600 in FY 2021
The FY 2021 budget supports Service members and their families, recognizing that people are DoD’s most valuable resource. The budget:
- Includes a 3.0 percent military pay raise
- Funds statutory increases in military Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence
- Continues family support programs with investment of over $8 bn for:
– Professional development and education opportunities for Service members and military spouses
– Quality, affordable child care for over 160,000 children
– Youth programs serving over 1 million family members
– DoD Dependent Schools educating over 77,000 students
- Funds repeal of the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset
DoD continues to restore, sustain, replace, and build critical facilities. By investing over $21bn in Military Construction and Facilities, Sustainment, Restoration, and Modernization, the budget:
- Funds, on average, over 80 percent of DoD facilities sustainment requirements across the enterprise
- Increases funding for Military Housing oversight by 82 percent ($55m) over the FY 2020 budget request
- Requests $446m in FY 2021 for disaster recovery efforts
– In conjunction with prior reprogrammings, supplemental funding, and emergency funds, the budget fully funds all known disaster recovery requirements through FY 2025
The FY 2021 budget requests $69bn for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The FY 2021 OCO request contains three categories:
- Direct War Requirements: Combat or combat support costs that are not expected to continue once combat operations end – $20.5bn
- OCO for Enduring Requirements: Enduring in-theater and CONUS costs that will remain after combat operations end – $32.5bn
- OCO for Base Requirements: Base budget requirements financed in the OCO budget to comply with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 – $16.0bn
The entire budget proposal and additional material are available at: http://www.defense.gov/cj.(Source: US DoD)
11 Feb 20. F-15EX is a boon to Boeing, but it might not break the international fighter market. Boeing’s F-15 program is getting a second life as the U.S. Air Force begins buying new aircraft, but it remains to be seen whether the company will be able to ring in international sales of the F-15EX model in a competitive fighter market.
In December, Congress approved a $985m request by the Air Force to buy the first eight F-15EX aircraft, with two to be delivered by the end of the year. The Air Force issued a pre-solicitation Jan. 23, declaring its intent to sole source the F-15EX from Boeing.
In a statement to Defense News, Boeing F-15 program manager Prat Kumar expressed concern about the pace of contract negotiations, but sounded optimistic about potential international sales.
“Needless to say, we need to be on contract to deliver these jets. We do not fully control the timing of when we get on contract, but we’re doing everything within our control to deliver F-15EX jets before the end of the year,” he said.
Kumar added that “several” international customers have already expressed interest in the F-15EX, and that the jet’s “advanced new capabilities, mission readiness and affordability make it an attractive fighter platform for our allies to consider.” Defense News asked Boeing to identify the customers, but the company declined to comment.
However, analysts said that any chance of foreign F-15EX sales will probably be limited to a small number of current users.
“It’s been given a nice boost by this [the U.S. Air Force purchase], and it’s very profitable for Boeing — so that’s certainly good,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group. “It helps keep the type in service and effective for decades to come. That’s also good. It’s also good for their sustainment business. But in terms of transforming the fighter business, not so much.”
To begin with, the F-15’s existing customer base is small. Fewer countries bought the more expensive twin-engine F-15 compared to the prolific F-16. Japan, South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Singapore currently operate the F-15, while Qatar is slated to get its first ones in 2021.
But putting aside the competition from international fourth-generation fighter jets — such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Saab Gripen and the Dassault Rafale — another major barrier stands in the way: the total cost of the F-15EX in comparison to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, according to Mark Gunzinger, director of government programs and war gaming for the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
Boeing estimates that an F-15EX will cost roughly $80m; meanwhile, last year’s F-35 contract between Lockheed and the Pentagon sets the cost of a conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35A at $79.2m in the upcoming Lot 13.
Still, the F-15EX might have an edge on operating costs. The Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office estimated the F-15EX’s cost per flying hour clocks in somewhere around $29,000. Meanwhile, it cost $44,000 per flight hour for an F-35 in fiscal 2018, and the government office expects that to taper down to $36,000 by FY24.
However, Gunzinger noted, F-35 sustainment costs may fall more quickly as the F-35 Joint Program Office aims to reduce the cost per flight hour to $25,000 by FY25.
“I think there has been a lot of debate, discussion and concern over sustainment costs,” he said. “But the trend line has been a decrease in sustainment costs, and I think [the goal of $25,000 per flight hour] is very feasible. If you can get a real fifth-gen capability for even a little more than what it would cost to sustain the F-15EX or other fourth-gen aircraft, then that’s a better deal.
“Because what’s more important than unit costs or sustainment costs is the cost per effect. What can you do with these weapon systems?”
Still, the F-15EX has some unique strengths — such as its large payload carrying capability — that makes it attractive to certain nations. The most immediate international F-15EX sales opportunity may come in the form of Israel, which is debating whether to buy additional squadrons of F-35s or F-15EXs.
“There’s a very good chance, I think, that they might buy another batch [of F-15s]. I’d give it even a 50 percent chance,” Aboulafia said, adding that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are even more likely to buy additional F-15s.
Meanwhile, F-15 users in the Asia-Pacific region have bought into the F-35 program, with Japan increasing its order to 147 jets in 2018 and Singapore recently receiving U.S. government approval to begin buying 12 F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing models. However, Aboulafia acknowledged that F-15 operators in Asia could seek upgrades to their F-15s using F-15EX technology.
“You can’t rule out mods,” Aboulafia said. South Korea could want the new AN/APG-82 active electronically scanned array radar, for instance, while Japan has focused on indigenous upgrades, he added. (Source: Defense News)
11 Feb 20. Pentagon budget 2021: USCG sees slight increase in proposed budget. The fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget request for the US Coast Guard (USCG), filed under the Department of Homeland Security, is for USD12.3bn in total gross budget authority, or about USD142.3m more than the FY 2020 enacted appropriation, according to USCG budget documents released on 10 February.
“FY 2021 funding continues efforts on the Polar Security Cutter (PSC) programme to meet growing demands in the polar regions by fully funding construction of the second Polar Security Cutter (PSC),” the USCG noted in the documents. “The budget supports construction of the third Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) and long lead time material (LLTM) for the fourth.” (Source: Jane’s)
10 Feb 20. Pentagon budget 2021: US Navy cuts ship procurement in budget request. While the US Navy (USN) has touted ambitious shipbuilding plans to reach a fleet size of 355 ships or more, the service is proposing an estimated 17% cut in ship procurement for fiscal year (FY) 2021, compared with the funding enacted in FY 2020.
The ship procurement request is about USD19.9bn, or USD4.1bn less than enacted in FY 2020, according to budget documents released on 10 February by the USN.
The USN said its proposed FY 2021 budget “focuses on a more capable, ready, lethal force” that keeps the proposed Columbia-class strategic-missile submarine shipbuilding plan on track for delivery with the procurement of the first boat, develops and expands the service’s unmanned capacity, and procures eight battle-force ships during the fiscal year. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Feb 20. Pentagon budget 2021: US Navy proposed budget procures first Columbia submarine. The proposed US Navy (USN) fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget includes the procurement of the first Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic submarine (SSBN) force as the service moves forward with its programme to build the submarines to replace its Ohio-class boats. Previously, the USN had included only advanced procurement funding for the Columbia-class boats. The FY 2021 request of USD4 bn provides for the first three years of incremental funding for the boat, according to USN budget documents released on 10 February. The funding will continue detailed-design efforts, continuous missile-tube production and advance construction, and procurement of major hull components and propulsion systems for the planned FY 2024 procurement of the second of class. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Feb 20. FY21 Defense Budget: Putting Space Between Us. On Feb 10th, the Administration released its DoD budget request of $705.4bn ($740.5BB including Atomic Energy), which is down 1% y-o-y. The request shifts funding toward R&D investments which rise 2% in FY21 vs. a MSD decline for Procurement. The delta is a shift to new tech, with a particular focus on Space. Although the budget points to headwinds for primes, prior year funding and outlay catch up (3% growth baseline) presents ongoing opportunities.
FY21 Defense Budget Down 1% vs. FY20. The base defense budget plus OCO is down 1% (Ex.2), which includes a flattish base budget (Ex.1). The request was in line with expectations. The defense budget (including OCO) includes a 2% rise in R&D with procurement declining 5%. Within the base budget (Ex OCO), R&D is expected to be up 3%, with a flat outlook for Procurement. The bigger debate is around the future trajectory of the defense budget given funding constraints. Longer term, the FYDP highlights a 2% CAGR for total defense spending through FY25, which could face pressure from future Administrations and Congress (Ex. 4). The base budget increase of 4% through FY25 is offset by lower OCO.
Reallocating Funds to Development Programs. The underlying pieces of the budget reflect some shift to new development programs with pressure on overall procurement levels. R&D stands out as investments are shifted to new weapons systems and domains to counter the emergence of Russia and China. Space systems are well funded in the proposal at $15.5Bbn in FY21, up 30% from $11.9bn in FY20 w/ NOC and LMT the most likely benefactors (Ex. 5). Other areas of y-o-y growth include C4I Systems (+17%), which includes cyber and radio modernization, the latter which benefits LHX. Other funding items are down year over year with the biggest decline for Ground Systems (-11%) and Shipbuilding (-7%). A more appropriate metric may be a four-year CAGR given pent up demand, with the outlook better on this metric (Ex. 5). Other areas of investment toward the “high-end fight” include unmanned autonomous ($1.7BB of funding), Hypersonics ($3.2BB), Microelectronics/5G ($1.5BB), and Artificial Intelligence ($800MM).
Major R&D and Procurement Programs Down 9% in FY21 (Ex. 6). Combined these 77 programs total $92BB or 38% of total investment spending of $243bn. In aggregate 43 programs have down funding vs. a rise for 34. The largest programs are the F-35 w/ funding of $11.4bn requested in FY21 (-10%) followed by the Virginia Class w/ a request for $4.7BB, down 47% vs. FY20 due to timing on the multi-year procurement program, with only one ship vs. two procured in FY20.
IT Services A Modest Boost for non-DoD IT spending. In total, non-DoD federal IT spending is proposed to total $53.4bn in FY21, up 1% from $52.9bn in FY20. DoD related IT spending of $38.8bn is down 1%, with the overall IT budget largely flat. Over 44% of the budget will go toward IT infrastructure, security and management. Four departments including Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs are expected to account for nearly 50% of total non-DoD IT spending. (Source: Jefferies)
12 Feb 20. US DoD plans $29bn nuclear modernisation. The US Department of Defence (DoD) FY2021 budget requests bets big on nuclear modernisation efforts including investment in submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and command and control systems.
As part of an ongoing plan to modernise the US nuclear deterrent force, the DoD’s FY2021 budget request outlines $28.9bn worth of investment in plans to upgrade the nuclear triad.
Encompassing new bombers, submarines, missiles and command and control, the massive modernisation budget follows a number of earlier developments and investments into the US nuclear forces.
Key investments in the US nuclear deterrent include:
- $7bn for nuclear command, control and communications.
- $2-8bn for the development of the B-21 long-range strike bomber.
- $4.4bn for Columbia-Class ballistic missile development and;
- $1.5bn for ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD).
Budget documents for the FY2021 request make clear the budget “prioritises nuclear deterrence recapitalisation and strengthens homeland missile defence” as the US pushes into an era of omni-domain operations along with a return to great power projection competition.
According to a Pentagon briefing presentation DoD views the modernisation of the US nuclear delivery, command, control and communications systems as one of the most important priorities going forward.
In a press briefing, Vice Admiral Ron Boxall commented on the budget request saying that the nuclear deterrent was at the centre of every US military operation and was the foundation of the defence of the US and its allies.
Boxall added: “[The] 2021 budget fully funds and modernises all three legs of the triad with key investments in ground-based strategic deterrent B-21 bomber, the Columbia-class submarine, and nuclear command, control and communications systems.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
10 Feb 20. Four friction points to watch in the FY21 defense budget. Congress will receive President Donald Trump’s FY21 budget proposal for the Pentagon and other federal agencies on Monday, but don’t expect it to pass as drafted.
Now in the second year of a two-year budget deal, the FY21 defense budget’s top line is locked in $740.5bn, which represents a 3 percent decrease from FY20, when adjusted for inflation.
Between Monday and it’s expected passage, there’ll be pressure from Congress, as usual, to change significant details, according to Center for a Strategic and International Studies defense budget experts Seamus Daniels, Todd Harrison, Mark Cancian and Wes Rumbaugh, who held a talk on Friday.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced he intends to move $5.7bn from the defense agencies that make up “the Fourth Estate”―parts of the Defense Department that are not military services―for more “important priorities.”
That is to say priorities connected to the National Defense Strategy’s focus on competition with Russia and China. That will include research into hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and big data, fifth-generation communications technologies, nuclear enterprise modernization, space, missile defense and response force readiness.
In 2018, When Rep. Mac Thornberry, now the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee was chairman, he had a similar idea and sought legislation to slash back-office support services. But Maryland Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown led a successful bipartisan effort to weaken that proposal, and in the end, Thornberry agreed to a less prescriptive plan for cuts.
Last week, spokesmen for Brown and Thornberry said they needed more details from the Pentagon.
“Congressman Thornberry is encouraged by Secretary Esper’s review effort,” Thornberry spokesman Claude Chafin said in an email. “It is clear that the requirements of the National Defense Strategy will require increased agility, new ways of thinking, and repurposed resources.”
“A bipartisan group of lawmakers in 2018 came together to reaffirm the importance of ‘Fourth Estate’ defense agencies as force multipliers and as important support for our war fighters,” said Brown spokesman Christian Unkenholz. “The public servants at these agencies are critical to executing the National Defense Strategy and keeping this country safe. Their work allows commanders to focus on accomplishing their missions … Bottom line – we shouldn’t risk capability and civilian jobs for marginal cost-savings.”
Retirements for significant numbers RQ-4 Global Hawk drones, older F-15s, F-16s, B-1 bombers will be proposed in the Pentagon’s five-year defense plans―to pave the way for more copies of the F-15EX, F-35 and B-21 stealth fighter, Foreign Policy reported last week.
Harrison noted how Air Force plans to retire the A-10 showed just how fiercely lawmakers can fight when aircraft housed in their districts are threatened, suggesting they will almost assuredly push back here.
“The Air Force force reductions will be a violent fight,” Harrison said. “Regardless of where they actually come out, you’re talking about retiring planes that are in someone’s district.”
On the operational side, the Global Hawk’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities make it one of the most used aircraft in the military. “The argument you’re going to run into with the F-15C’s is you’re retiring them sooner than we have replacements. I think Congress will want to see what the replacement will be because they’ll be nervous about having a shortfall in fighters,” Harrison said.
Nuclear weapons vs. Virginia-class submarine?
After the National Nuclear Security Administration won a battle to increase its proposed budget, the Navy was forced to drop plans for a second Virginia-class submarine in its proposed budget, Bloomberg reported last week―a move that has fueled speculation the submarine had been used as a “pay-for.”
Because DoD and NNSA, the federal agency that maintains America’s nuclear arsenal, are under the same budget cap for defense, the NNSA increase would have to come out of DoD in one way or another. Whether or not there was a direct swap within the administration, it’s an open question whether Congress will agree to either.
For FY20, NNSA won only a modest increase as Democrats sought a steep cut. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., is among Republicans like Thornberry and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, who support the proposed 20 percent boost for FY21, as Inhofe argues it’s needed to compete with Russian and Chinese development efforts.
Meanwhile, the Navy in December awarded a $22.2bn contract to General Dynamics for the construction of nine Virginia-class submarines. General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp., based in Groton, Connecticut, with facilities in nearby Quonset Point, R.I., as the main contractor and Huntington Ingalls Industries based in Newport News, Virginia, as the main subcontractor.
Among the advocates for the Virginia-class with local ties to the program are SASC ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., along with House Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Joe Courtney, D-Conn., and ranking member Rob Wittman, R-Va. Courtney, for one, has argued that a two-per-year build rate for attack subs bests support the nation’s security and industrial base.
How much will the administration seek to invest in the newly-announced Next-Generation Interceptor, the agency’s single biggest new start program and a follow on to the troubled Redesigned Kill Vehicle program, which the Pentagon cancelled in August? Both were intended to replace today’s ground-based interceptors.
Because the NGI is described as a ten-year program, “that’s gotten a lot of consternation about the plan and viability of that. That’s probably the single biggest thing to look for there,” Karako said.
It’s unclear whether a test of a SM-32a against an ICBM planned for early this year will spark plans to make that SM-32a an “underlay” to protect the continental United States. Karako questioned whether it would be accompanied by the necessary ground infrastructure and sensors or whether it would simply lead to the purchase of more missiles that might be placed in Poland, Romania or Aegis Ashore in Guam.
Will development of a space-based sensor layer capable of detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons remain within the purview of the Missile Defense Agency or migrate to another entity within the Pentagon’s research and engineering directorate, led by Michael Griffin?
The Pentagon’s FY20 budget proposed moving it to the Space Development Agency, but Congress rejected that out of concern it would be lost amid SDA’s larger mission. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 20. Air Force makes reductions to B-1s, A-10s, Global Hawk drones and more in FY21 budget request. What retiring some B-1s could mean for the Pacific | Singapore Airshow 2020. For the past several months, Air Force leaders have hyped the fiscal year 2021 budget as a pivotal one, where the service would be forced to make near-term and possibly contentious sacrifices to its existing posture in order to ramp up investments in technologies needed to counter Russia and China.
But the budget request the Air Force released on Feb. 10 seems a compromise between the service’s more radical force planning organizations in the Pentagon and the combatant commanders around the world, who fought back against making major cuts that could greatly impact readiness.
On the whole, the Air Force states that it will realign $4.1 bn in spending over the next five years, divesting some of its oldest aircraft and putting the savings toward future technologies like joint all domain command and control. In FY 21, it will begin retiring a portion of its B-1 bombers, A-10 Warthog attack planes, RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drones, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers and C-130H planes.
However, the service’s budget plan is less ambitious than it has telegraphed over the past six months, with the Air Force ultimately deciding against divesting entire aircraft inventories, making no cuts or cancellations to major ongoing procurement programs, and ultimately keeping research and development funding stable.
“We didn’t get everything we put on the table. Some was walked back,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said of the budget in January. “But we got a lot of what we put on the table.”
What got cut
The Air Force is retiring 17 of its oldest B-1s, which officials say are straining the fleet as maintainers exhaust themselves trying to keep the airframes ready to fly.
“We flew the B-1s very hard in the [U.S. Central Command area of responsibility], and that’s what’s caused some of the challenge they’ve run into. So part of the discussion here is do you put a bunch of money in to preserve that at the expense of some other things you’re going to be able to do to give you other capability?” Pacific Air Forces commander Gen. Charles Brown told Defense News at Singapore Airshow on Feb. 10.
Although the service plans to operate the majority of its A-10 Warthog fleet until 2030, it has opted not to rewing a portion of the fleet — 44 aircraft, or about three squadrons worth of aircraft. That will bring the total A-10 inventory to 237 planes.
The service is also cutting its Global Hawk Block 20 and 30 surveillance drones — a total of 24 aircraft — leaving its RQ-4 Block 40s around to conduct the high-altitude surveillance mission alongside the venerable U-2 spyplane.
Because some of the Block 20 Global Hawks host the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node that serves as a communications relay across platforms that are not interoperable, the service will buy five new E-11A aircraft integrated with the BACN systems to replace the outgoing EQ-4Bs, an Air Force spokesperson said. The Air Force plans to buy the E-11s at a rate of one per year starting in FY21.
While the Air Force is retaining the entirety of its MQ-9 Reaper fleet, it plans to reduce the number of combat air patrols from 70 to 60 in FY21, saving money by cutting 10 CAPs that were contractor-operated. Sources tell Defense News that this was one of the most hotly contested items under debate, with combatant commanders opposing other elements in the Air Force that sought wider MQ-9 divestiture.
The mobility fleet is also losing aircraft in FY21, with the Air Force requesting the retirement of 13 KC-135s and 16 KC-10s as the new KC-46 comes online. The service will also retire 24 C-130Hs, which will be replaced by 19 C-130Js that will be delivered that fiscal year.
What got funded
The Department of the Air Force’s FY21 budget is split in three major parts: $153.6 bn for the Air Force, $15.4 bn for the Space Force, and $38.2 bn for “non-blue” expenses that pass through the Air Force budget but typically pay for classified space projects.
Spending stayed roughly stable across FY20 and FY21 for both the procurement and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) accounts — which sit at $22.9 bn and $26.9 bn in FY21, respectively — with a few major programs getting modest boosts or reductions in spending.
Funding for the Air Force’s next generation intercontinental ballistic missile, Ground Based Strategic Deterrent set to be manufactured by Northrop Grumman, tripled in FY21 with a $1.5 bn request. That money will fund “activities to deliver a flexible integrated weapon system critical design,” according to budget materials.
It also increased money for one of its biggest priorities, the Advanced Battle Management System, from $144 m to $302 m. That money is currently being used to fund ongoing exercises meant to develop and test technologies that can help network assets that are currently inoperable.
Meanwhile, hypersonics prototyping fell from $576m in FY20 to $382m, and funding for the Long Range Standoff Weapon decreased from $713m to $474m.
The service maintained funding for the B-21 bomber, Air Force One replacement, T-7A trainer, and Next Generation Air Dominance fighter programs at about the same levels as FY20. In FY21, the Air Force requested $2.8bn for the B-21, $801m for Air Force One, $249m for T-7 and $1bn for NGAD.
The Air Force will keep F-35A procurement stable, buying 48 jets at about $5.8bn. Despite ongoing problems with the KC-46’s camera system, the service will continue buying planes at a rate of 15 per year, spending $3.1bn in FY21. It will also purchase another 12 F-15EX planes for $1.4bn. To recapitalize its rotary wing fleet, the Air Force will buy 19 HH-60W combat search and rescue helicopters for $1.2bn, and it will also buy the first eight low rate initial production MH-139 Grey Wolf helicopters for $212m. In addition, Air Force Special Operations Command will get another four MC-130J aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
10 Feb 20. Sorry, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Textron: The US Air Force isn’t buying light attack planes. At long last, the U.S. Air Force has definitively stated it will not procure light attack planes, putting to bed a three-year-long debate about whether to buy upward of 300 low-cost aircraft for the counterterrorism fight. In a statement to Defense News, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed that the service will not move forward with a program of record for light attack planes.
Instead, U.S. Special Operations Command has requested $106m in the fiscal 2021 defense budget for its armed overwatch requirement, according to Defense Department budget materials. As part of that program, SOCOM is set to acquire as many as 75 light attack aircraft, the command stated in a Feb. 3 solicitation.
The funding would support “prototype demonstrations and the testing of Special Operation Forces-unique capabilities and air worthiness release efforts” as well as the “procurement of aircraft, mission kits and associated support equipment,” according to the department.
Last year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said the Air Force would continue experimenting with light attack aircraft, using funding from FY18 and FY19 to buy a handful of AT-6 Wolverine turboprop planes from Textron and A-29 Super Tucanos from a Sierra Nevada Corp.-Embraer team. Then, in FY22, the service would be ready to decide whether to venture into a program of record, he said.
The Air Force still intends to buy two AT-6s and two A-29s, Stefanek said. However, the scope of their future operations has become more limited as the service opted to not pursue a larger buy.
At Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, “[the] AT-6 will be used for continued experimentation on exportable network/data link capabilities for allies and partners,” said Stefanek, referencing a project under development known as Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network, or AEROnet.
“The Air Force has prior year funds available to continue the experiment,” she added.
Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command pilots will use the A-29s to conduct training at Hurlburt Field, Florida, allowing them to act as instructor pilots and advisers for partner nations that plan to operate the A-29, Stefanek said.
For the past year, Air Force leaders have been sending signals that their interest in buying light attack aircraft was waning. The service originally considered a buy of several hundred planes that would be able to augment pilot absorption and provide a less expensive alternative to using high-cost fighters like the F-15 and F-35 for low-threat strikes against terrorist groups. However, a national defense strategy that prioritizes the fight against near-peer adversaries like Russia and China made it difficult to justify buying an aircraft fleet only survivable in the most uncontested environments.
In contrast, SOCOM has been bullish on light attack capabilities, with its commander, Gen. Richard Clarke, describing it as “a need for SOCOM” and “a need for our nation.”
In the FY20 national defense policy bill, Congress instructed the Air Force to coordinate with SOCOM on light attack capabilities and included an option “to transfer a portion of funds authorized for Air Force light attack aircraft experiments to procure aircraft for supporting the combat air adviser mission of the Special Operations Command.”
While the Air Force seemed most interested in the A-29 and AT-6 as potential light attack platforms, SOCOM appears to want to explore all options. The command is holding an Armed Overwatch industry day March 4-5 to discuss an upcoming demonstration of prototype aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
06 Feb 20. The Pentagon’s weapons tester has concerns about the F-35’s new software development process. The Pentagon is banking on agile software development to keep the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter capable of evolving to beat looming threats, but a new report questions the department’s ability to keep on top of continual software updates.
In 2018, the F-35 program shifted to an agile software development model, known as DevOps among coders and as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2) within the program. The goal, according to program leaders, was to push out incremental software improvements and corrections to past deficiencies on a quicker pace rather than implementing a large update once a year or so.
However, Robert Behler, the Pentagon’s independent weapons tester, characterizes the current schedule for C2D2 as “high risk” and said the program office is struggling to stay on schedule, he said in an annual report published Jan. 30 by the Operational Test and Evaluation Office.
“The current Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2) process has not been able to keep pace with adding new increments of capability as planned,” the office’s director wrote. “Software changes, intended to introduce new capabilities or fix deficiencies, often introduced stability problems and adversely affected other functionality.”
Under the C2D2 construct, F-35s are set to receive software updates every six months. That leaves little time to test out the new code, often resulting in “significant” bugs being discovered in the field, Behler wrote.
To prove out new software, the program office intends to rely more on modeling and simulation tools like the Joint Simulation Environment, which emulates high-end threats. However, the DOT&E report states that the Pentagon needs to adequately fund these simulation tools, and that as of the writing of the report, no significant changes to the F-35’s existing laboratories or simulation environments had occurred, the report said.
A spokesperson for F-35 Joint Program Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement, Lockheed Martin said that the F-35 is “the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter in the world” and that the company was driving down costs and improving reliability.
Here were the other big takeaways from the report:
ALIS is still problematic
The F-35’s logistics system, called the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, is used for many functions, including mission planning, ordering parts and diagnosing maintenance issues. But while ALIS is showing some improvements to its overall functionality, it’s still prone to glitches and slow processing time.
The F-35 program office intends to transition from ALIS to a cloud-native logistics system called Operational Data Integrated Network, or ODIN, over the next couple years.
Unlike ALIS, which was developed by Lockheed Martin, ODIN will be government-owned and co-developed by the Defense Department and Lockheed, with the first batch of ODIN hardware expected to be delivered this year, the Joint Program Office said in a Jan. 21 statement. A full ODIN capability is to be fielded in December 2022.
The DOT&E report applauds the F-35 program for taking some “innovative approaches” through ODIN and an agile software development effort called Mad Hatter, but it also questions whether the program is investing enough in those efforts.
Meanwhile, ALIS continues to be plagued with issues, even as updates introduce improvements.
“ALIS remains inefficient and cumbersome to use, still requires the use of numerous workarounds, retains problems with data accuracy and integrity, and requires excessive time from support personnel,” the report stated. “As a result, it does not efficiently enable sortie generation and aircraft availability as intended. Users continue to lack confidence in ALIS functionality and stability.”
Although DOT&E noted that users reported faster processing times for certain functions like pilot debriefing or extracting propulsion system data from portable memory devices, response times for other functions became slower.
A new software update, ALIS 3.5, was planned to be released last October, but was delayed to January 2020 due to a number of deficiencies. Once it is fielded, ALIS 3.5 might help improve assessments of the F-35’s stealth coating and lower the time it takes to process data from the Production Aircraft Inspection Reporting System.
However, DOT&E urged the F-35 program to do more to correct ALIS’s Electronic Equipment Logbook data, which follow spare parts through the supply chain and frequently contain errors that need to be corrected by maintainers in the field. That process remains a “major ALIS degrader, frequent source of user complaints, and a major ALIS administrator burden,” the report found.
Things are looking hopeful for the Joint Simulation Environment
Last year, the Defense Department announced it was delaying the full-rate production decision for the F-35, which was slated to occur in December and now won’t occur until January 2021. Although Lockheed is already manufacturing F-35s at what is considered “full rate,” as it delivered 134 jets in 2019, the department’s formal signoff on the full-rate production is an important, symbolic signifier that the program has made it past operational testing and is now mature.
The problem is that operational tests won’t be complete until the F-35 is put through its paces in the Joint Simulation Environment, which allows the Pentagon to conduct simulated evaluations of the F-35 in a range of high-threat scenarios. And the JSE won’t be ready until July 2020, according to DOT&E.
However, the F-35 program office looks like it is on track to meet that timeline. Behler wrote that the “JSE team was consistently meeting most planned timelines and appeared to be on a path to provide” a simulator for operational tests this summer.
The team made “slow progress” in 2019, with integrating F-35 in-a-box software — a simulated representation of the F-35 air vehicle and its aerodynamic performance — but that progress improved as the year went on, and the work is likely to meet requirements, DOT&E stated. The report also pointed to progress on correcting JSE problems concerning weapons, sensor functions and overall JSE stability. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
07 Feb 20. Trident Defence seeks U.S. partners to collaborate on armaments manufacturing in Ukraine. Trident Defence is a commercial enterprise established in Ukraine by Noosphere Ventures. Founded by Maxim Polyakov and located in Menlo Park, California, Noosphere Ventures manages a portfolio of several dozen companies in the information technology, space, security and defence sectors, with over 5,500 employees across the globe, including 5,000 in Ukraine.
Based in Dnipro in east-central Ukraine, a key center of the space and defence sector of the former USSR, Trident Defence taps into a highly developed and internationally competitive ecosystem of engineering talent, business innovation and industrial plant.
This combination of US and Ukrainian workforce, management, finance and technology has driven the success of Trident Defence start-ups like ArtOS and MyPol, as well as Noosphere companies in the space sector like Firefly Ukraine – the ITAR and FCPA-compliant sister company of Texas-based rocket manufacturer Firefly Aerospace.
Trident Defence is seeking to replicate the Firefly model of successful ITAR and FCPA- compliant industrial collaboration between the US and Ukraine – now in defence. We are actively soliciting proposals for co-production, licensed production or sub-contracting for the manufacture of US-origin armaments in Ukraine, for sale on the Ukrainian, US and international markets.
Ukraine already has a significant presence in the international arms trade, listed by SIPRI as the 14th largest defence exporter globally. The new government has made a priority of attracting foreign investment, reforming national defence procurement, and liberalizing the defence market.
Ukraine is also a major recipient of US security assistance (over 350M USD per year) and has begun to procure significant amounts of US-origin armaments using its own funds. With over 250,000 active military personnel and a rapidly growing budget for defence and security, Ukraine on the way to become a major European arms market.
Trident Defence was established to safeguard Ukraine through defence investment and security cooperation, capitalizing on Ukraine’s emergence as a major US partner in the region.
Trident Defence offers US-based companies an opportunity to reduce costs and expand to new markets and prepared to invest up to 100% of the cost to set up manufacturing in Ukraine. (Source: Google/Defence Blog)
09 Feb 20. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on how the Navy can get to 355 ships. Despite expected cuts to shipbuilding programs in the fiscal year 2021 budget request, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is committed to a bigger, but much lighter, naval force, he said in an exclusive interview with Defense News.
In the wake of reports that the Navy may cut shipbuilding in its upcoming budget request, Esper said he is “fully committed” to building a fleet of 355 ships or larger. But to get there, the Navy is going to have to fundamentally reshape itself around smaller ships that can be more quickly bought than the large, exquisite designs the service now relies on — a shift that could have big implications for both the industrial base and the carrier force.
Such a plan would mark a departure from the current Navy force structure assessment that calls for twice the number of larger ships over small surface combatants: 104 large, 52 small. But inverting that structure is essential to building a bigger, more deadly fleet that lives within the constraints of future budgets that the Pentagon expects to remain largely flat, Esper said.
To get there, the Navy must push hard on fielding lightly manned ships, Esper said, an effort that has been a major focus of Naval Sea Systems Command’s Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office in recent years.
The first step, though, is getting through the process of figuring out what the fleet should look like.
“What we have to tease out is, what does that future fleet look like?” Esper said. “I think one of the ways you get there quickly is moving toward lightly manned [ships], which over time can be unmanned.
“We can go with lightly manned ships, get them out there. You can build them so they’re optionally manned and then, depending on the scenario or the technology, at some point in time they can go unmanned.
“To me that’s where we need to push. We need to push much more aggressively. That would allow us to get our numbers up quickly, and I believe that we can get to 355, if not higher, by 2030.”
Cuts versus growth
In addition to the reported cut of a Virginia-class submarine out of the FY21 budget, it is expected that other cuts may be coming in the short term for the Navy.
Late last year, a memo from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to the Defense Department, obtained by Defense News, outlined a series of cuts over the next five years that OMB contends would shrink the size of the fleet.
The cuts outlined in the OMB memo included cutting a submarine, a next-generation frigate and a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer from the 2021 budget. On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the Navy intends to request eight ships in its 2021 budget, which would be four fewer than was requested in 2020, but that the budget restored the missing Arleigh Burke.
The Navy contends that even with the cuts, the service is still on a path to growth. In a recent interview with Defense News, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said the budget documents that leaked were not final.
Esper noted that his stamp on the 2021 budget was relatively limited, given he took office in August, at which point most of the service budget work had already been completed.
“The services have already developed their budgets at that point,” Esper said. “So now it’s at OSD level. As you know, at this point I was able to go through budgets, free up money. I was able to move some money around, but, to me, my big impact will be on the upcoming budget.”
Esper’s backing of a larger Navy built on the backs of lightly or optionally manned ships echoes calls by Modly to get to a fleet of 355 ships in the next 10 years, and is in line with recent statement by the Navy’s top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday.
At the USNI Defense Forum in December, Gilday said the Navy needed to change the way it built its ships.
“I know that the future fleet has to include a mix of unmanned,” Gilday said. “We can’t continue to wrap $2bn ships around 96 missile tubes in the numbers we need to fight in a distributed way, against a potential adversary that is producing capability and platforms at a very high rate of speed. We have to change the way we are thinking.”
Congress, however, has been reluctant to back the push for more unmanned ships, believing that the Navy hasn’t done enough work on how the concept of operations would work or how they’d support them.
Esper said his office would be taking a leading role in bringing Congress to the table on a new fleet design.
“DoD will run this … I want to invite some of our congressional interested parties in, certainly from the defense committees, to observe the process and watch what we’re doing and how we’re going about it,” Esper said. “That’s part of what I want to do, is to invite folks in.”
Retired Navy and defense officials will also be involved in the planning and outreach process to make sure the department is on the right track, Esper continued.
“We talk about the gray beards as validators, folks who make sure that nobody’s putting their finger on the scale, that we’ve considered all factors,” Esper said. “I want it to be that type of process, if we can get there.”
Expanding the fleet with more small, lightly manned ships will also increase opportunities for smaller shipyards to enter the shipbuilding industrial base, a proposal that may be attractive for congressional members in an election year.
The secretary stressed that “the United States must have an expanded and healthy industrial base with modern shipyards” to make such a reality happen, adding that “I think we can actually expand the number of shipyards in the United States and highly skilled workers [as well] around the country to ensure adequate capacity.”
In terms of planning, Esper said the Pentagon’s Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE), along with the Navy, will be conducting a series of war games and exercises in the coming months in order to figure out the way forward. But any major decisions will be based around the completion of a new joint war plan for the whole department, which the secretary said should be finished this summer.
“I think once we go through this process with the future fleet — that’ll really be the new foundation, the guiding post,” Esper said. “It’ll give us the general direction we need to go, and I think that’ll be a big game changer in terms of future fleet, for structure, for the Navy and Marine Corps team.”
The Carrier Question
As the Defense Department looks to craft a lighter Navy, the obvious question is: What will become of the Navy’s 11 super carriers? Defense Department officials such as Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin have publicly questioned whether ground-based hypersonic missiles might more effectively deter China than an aircraft carrier that he believes is increasingly vulnerable.
Esper said he’s not sure what the ultimate answer is on aircraft carriers – but rejected the idea there is a binary choice to be had.
“This discussion often comes down to a binary: Is it zero or 12?” Esper said. “First of all, I don’t know. I think carriers are very important. I think they demonstrate American power, American prestige. They get people’s attention. They are a great deterrent. They give us great capability.”
The Navy may have to think about new ways of building carriers, however, if they are going to stay relevant in the future, Esper said. As an example, he pointed to what Japan is doing with its F-35B jump-jet models, which have been tested for use on lighter ships previously designed for use with helicopters.
“There are various ways to do carriers,” Esper said. “So, we can talk numbers or we can talk the sizes of carriers, right? There’s been discussion in the past about: do you keep building big carriers or do you go to smaller carriers, Lightning carriers? Acting Secretary Modly and I have talked about that.
“I think this gets into the future fleet designs we look at. That will be one element that we look at.” (Source: Defense News)
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