Sponsored by Exensor
09 Dec 22. Hicks Says U.S. Strengthening Indo-Pacific Alliances,
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks spoke at the 2022 Aspen Security Forum yesterday about the DOD’s pacing challenge.
The 2022 National Defense Strategy names the People’s Republic of China as the most comprehensive and serious challenge to U.S. national security.
This, Hicks said, “is the centerpiece of what I work on every day.”
That work involves getting forward, combat-credible capabilities to the warfighter as fast as possible despite the bureaucracy, in order to deter PRC aggression, she said.
The Defense Department is also investing in military-to-military activities with allies and partners in that region.
For example, in the past year, the department landed F-35 aircraft on a Japanese helicopter carrier and on a United Kingdom aircraft carrier, she said.
Another example, is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue among Australia, India, Japan and the United States, along with bilateral activities with a number of other nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Spotlight: Focus on Indo-Pacific
Hicks said the United States is beefing up its defense industrial base, which will be critical for support to Taiwan, and U.S. allies and partners in the region.
U.S. military “support for Ukraine is in no way negatively affecting our ability to conduct foreign military sales or otherwise support Taiwan,” Hicks said, mentioning Javelin and Stinger missiles being shipped to both countries.
Beijing sees the will of Ukrainians, combined with their capability and training to stall Russia’s campaign of aggression, she said, noting that she hopes this will help dissuade the PRC from invading Taiwan.
Hicks also noted strong U.S. bipartisan support for both Ukraine and Taiwan. (Source: US DoD)
08 Dec 22. House passes defense bill with more Taiwan, Ukraine security aid. The House on Thursday passed 350-80 the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act after making several concessions to the Senate, which did not pass its own version of the bill for the second straight year in a row.
The $858bn NDAA amounts to an 8% increase over FY22 defense levels and is $45bn more than the White House requested in its budget proposal last spring. It also provides increased aid to Taiwan and Ukraine. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation next week.
The compromise bill with the Senate drops various House provisions that would have complicated arms transfers to some countries and irregular forces over human rights concerns. House lawmakers had previously attached those provisions as amendments when they passed their version of the NDAA in a 329-101 vote in July.
Additionally, the final bill blocks the Biden administration’s efforts to retire certain weapons systems and discontinue a couple of nuclear weapons platforms.
Securing Taiwan and Ukraine
Despite some of the House concessions, Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and the panel’s top Republican, Mike Rogers of Alabama, both praised the bipartisan comprise bill as necessary to deter Russia in Europe and China in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This is a great product,” Rogers said Wednesday. “It’s helpful in Eastern Europe, but it is imperative as we move toward our concerns with China and [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility] that we pass this bill.”
The bill authorizes $10bn in military aid for Taiwan through FY27 and includes measures intended to help address the multibn-dollar backlog of U.S. foreign military sales for the island nation. Congressional appropriators have yet to strike a deal on how to pay for the authorization, with some expressing concern that the high dollar amount authorized for Taiwan security aid could eat into the U.S. State Department’s $56bn budget.
Meanwhile, Smith noted Wednesday that the bill provides $800 m for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative “to help them defend against Russia’s war of aggression.”
That fund allows the Pentagon to contract for new weapons and equipment for Ukraine beyond the bns of dollars in weapons that President Joe Biden has already transferred to Kyiv using presidential drawdown authority. The modified language this year now allows portions of the fund to go toward replenishing equipment for allies and partners that have sent weapons to Ukraine.
While the initial House bill included language from retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., that would have authorized $100m to train Ukrainian pilots to fly U.S. aircraft, that provision was folded into the scaled-up Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding. Both the Biden administration and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., have previously expressed skepticism over that provision.
The bill also requires the Biden administration to submit a plan for short- and mid-term Ukraine security aid, which must address the Ukrainian Air Force’s needs.
“We expect this report will cover Ukraine’s aerial capability needs over that duration and the plan to build and improve upon such capacities,” according to the report accompanying the bill.
In addition, the bill requires a report on the framework the inspectors general use to oversee Ukraine aid amid growing skepticism from the right flank of the Republican caucus.
“We have the [Defense Department] report before us regularly in a classified setting to tell us about this,” Rogers said Wednesday, expressing frustration over claims within his party that Ukraine aid is not subject to enough oversight.
“There is no evidence that the money we’ve given, the supplies we’ve given, aren’t going where they’re supposed to go,” he added. “It’s my hope that we can figure out how to give more information that’s accurate to the public rather than just the classified stuff we deal with. That would be helpful.”
Negotiators on the House Armed Services Committee agreed to drop a provision from Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., that would have banned arms sales and transfers to any government that has committed genocide or violations of international humanitarian law.
Another dropped provision from Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., would have limited future offensive arms sales to Saudi Arabia until the country stops targeting dissidents at home and abroad.
Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Chris Pappas, D-N.H., also lost their provision that would have complicated Turkey’s efforts to make a $6bn purchase of 40 Lockheed Martin Block 70 F-16 fighter jets. That provision would have required Biden to submit “a detailed description of concrete steps” to ensure that Turkey does not use the F-16s to violate Greek airspace before proceeding with the sale.
Outgoing Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., also lost out on his provision that would have prevented the transfer of two Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigates to Egypt unless Biden certifies the country is in compliance with a 2017 Russia sanctions law and is not wrongfully detaining U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
The final bill also dropped a House provision that would have codified into law U.S. funding and support for irregular forces under the NDAA’s Section 1202, while banning that assistance if those groups have committed gross human rights violations.
First established in 2018 in response to Moscow’s support for Ukrainian separatists, Section 1202 authorities allow special operations units to arm irregular forces in gray zone conflict areas with the goal of deterring advanced competitors such as Russia and China. House lawmakers had hoped that codifying those authorities into law would have helped expand those operations into the Indo-Pacific.
Retirements and divestments
Amid concerns over China’s naval modernization efforts, the final bill maintains a requirement for the U.S. Navy to maintain 31 operational amphibious ships despite opposition from the White House.
The White House also issued a statement in July noting that it “strongly opposes” the bill funding a third Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The final bill nonetheless allocates $2.2bn to fund the third Arleigh Burke ship.
Additionally, the bill sets aside $25m to continue the sea-launched cruise missile nuclear development program, also known as SLCM-N, despite the Biden administration’s attempts to cancel it. It also prevents the administration from proceeding with a plan to retire the B83 megaton gravity bomb, which is 80 times more powerful than the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.
However, the bill does allow the Air Force to begin retiring the A-10 Warthog after previous congressional opposition to doing so. (Source: Defense News)
07 Dec 22. China may have surpassed US in number of nuclear warheads on ICBMs. The U.S. may no longer enjoy a numerical advantage against China in certain elements of its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program, according to Strategic Command, which oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
STRATCOM recently sent a classified determination to Congress pursuant to a clause in the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which requires congressional notification if China overtakes the U.S. in at least one of three components regarding its ICBM stockpile.
James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, pushed the Pentagon to declassify the determination as required under the law in a letter sent Monday to STRATCOM commander Admiral Charles Richard.
“We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to China’s growing military might,” Inhofe wrote on Twitter, where he publicized the letter. “The [Biden administration] must be open and honest with the American people about the threat Beijing poses to global order and our way of life.”
Mike Rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, also signed onto the letter alongside the ranking members of the Strategic Forces panels in both chambers: Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo.
Under the law, STRATCOM must notify Congress if China deploys more ICBMs or ICBM launchers than the U.S. Data compiled by the Pentagon in its annual China report and a Congressional Research Service document indicate that the U.S. still maintains a numerical advantage versus China in its number of deployed ICBMs and ICBM launchers. This suggests that those two conditions did not trigger the STRATCOM notice.
The third component of the law triggers the notice if China has more nuclear warheads equipped on its ICBMs than the U.S.
Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at Middlebury College, told Defense News in an interview that the classified notification likely reveals that China has equipped more nuclear warheads on its ICBMs than the United States. Lewis sits on the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board but does not have access to the classified STRATCOM assessment.
“It must be warheads,” Lewis said. “The China military power report estimates that [Beijing’s] nuclear stockpile has surpassed 400.”
That report found that China will “likely field a stockpile of about 1,500 warheads by its 2035 timeline” if it continues at its current pace of nuclear expansion. The report also found that China has doubled its ICBM stockpile since 2020.
China now has 300 ICBMs and launchers. But that’s still less than the United States, which has 400 ICBMs and 450 ICBM launchers.
Lewis noted that China’s Dongfeng-41 missile can “carry multiple warheads, so 300 missiles could get you slightly over 400 warheads.” Meanwhile, all 400 U.S. Minuteman III missiles currently carry just one warhead per ICBM.
Lawmakers and their staff were unable to confirm to Defense News that the Chinese ratio of warheads to ICBMs triggered the notification given the classified nature of the determination.
“We are unable to provide additional clarity due to classification issues,” a congressional aide said on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified notification.
The aide added that the top Republican lawmakers who wrote to STRATCOM’s Richard “strongly encourage the administration to work through the associated classification issues to provide the statutorily directed unclassified notification and ensure the public is informed as possible regarding China’s expanding nuclear threat.”
Still, Lewis downplayed the fact that Beijing likely has a higher ratio of warheads per ICBM than Washington.
“It doesn’t matter because the U.S. could put multiple warheads on its land-based ICBMs, we just choose not to do that,” he said. “You really have to count the ICBMs and [submarine-launched ballistic missiles] together. And once you do that, our number is much higher than theirs. This is like an accounting gimmick.”
The U.S. had 1,389 warheads on a total of 665 deployed ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers as of September 2021, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, questioned whether the U.S. could maintain its vast numerical advantage against China’s nuclear arsenal if Beijing continues its current pace of nuclear modernization on top of contending with Russia’s arsenal.
“I don’t know how long it takes for our system to get another 1,500 warheads in place on our missiles,” said Sokolski. “It could take a while and cost an awful lot. If you’re going in that direction, is there any reason to believe the other side is going to just wait while we catch up? I don’t think so.” (Source: Defense News)
07 Dec 22. Agencies Partner to Aid Small Businesses. On Friday, the Defense Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration signed a memorandum of understanding to help both agencies better meet the needs of small businesses in the United States. While both the SBA and DOD already work with small businesses, the agreement aims to strengthen and expand small business development nationally and locally.
Farooq A. Mitha, director of small business programs at DOD, and Mark Madrid, associate administrator of SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development, signed the agreement at the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, a DOD-funded office in College Park, Maryland. The facility is one of more than 90 such offices that help small businesses find contracts with DOD and other federal agencies. The centers will soon be rebranded as APEX Accelerators, formerly known as the PTACs. The PTACs were administered under the Procurement Technical Assistance Program, which was authorized by Congress in 1985 to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in the government marketplace. The program was formerly housed at the Defense Logistics Agency until October 1, when the program officially moved to the Department of Defense under the administration of the Office of Small Business Programs. The program provides matching funds through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations for the establishment of what was formerly known as the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers now the APEX Accelerators to provide procurement assistance. The mission of the APEX Accelerators is to serve as the axis for existing and new business to strengthen the defense industrial base by accelerating innovation, fostering ingenuity, and establishing resilient and diverse supply chains.
The SBA helps with the certification of small businesses and aids in the early stages of starting a business, Mitha said. The agencies already work together in many places, but the MOU will strengthen that partnership.
“One of the things that we want to make sure that we’re doing is providing resources and support to small businesses who are looking to do business with DOD, with other federal agencies, with state and local government and really reduce barriers to entry,” said Mitha. “And we can’t do that without our APEX Accelerators. And we can’t do that without a … strong partnership with the Small Business Administration and the program.”
The agreement, Mitha said, codifies the relationship between DOD and the SBA in a way that allows the two organizations to work closer together.
The DOD operates more than 90 APEX Accelerators around the country, and the SBA runs more than 1,000 Small Business Development Centers. The MOU will ensure there’s greater cooperation between those resources so that small businesses specifically interested in working with the federal government will be successful in finding contracts, including with DOD.
“Today was about breaking down silos and working together because we’re all in it for the same reason,” Madrid said. “If you look at DOD SBA, you look at the APEX Accelerators, you look at our SBDC network, we’re all trying to make government, and ultimately opportunities, more accessible to our small businesses at the end of the day. That’s what we achieved today.”
As a result of the MOU, Madrid said the DOD and the SBA will find ways to better integrate training conducted by their APEX Accelerators and SBDCs and to conduct at least one national event a year together, as well.
Denise Warner, director of the Maryland Procurement Technical Assistance Center, provides services to help the small business community do business with the federal government.
“We do that through outreach training and one-on-one counseling, to introduce small businesses in the state of Maryland to doing business with the federal, state and local government,” she said.
The office Warner now runs will be just one of the beneficiaries of the MOU.
“This MOU will provide greater exposure and assistance to Maryland businesses,” she said. “After a particularly long stretch of economic hardship due to the pandemic, this MOU will be a welcome relief to the business community in the state of Maryland.”
Warner said the agreement will help her office collaborate with other small business development centers, particularly in Maryland.
“We will be able to collaborate in training, we will be able to collaborate in what we call co-counseling, and we will also get firms referred from the SBDC to the Maryland PTAC. All of this will help us reach the small businesses in the community that are interested in DOD contracting, and then also it will provide these firms with a gateway into DOD as a supplier base.”
DOD and SBA are joined by the common goal of strengthening and expanding small business development nationally and locally. Each program offers distinct services and resources which, when delivered in coordination with each other, will provide maximum benefits to U.S. small businesses. In order to further their common goals of promoting small business development and maximizing participation in government contracting, the programs will collaborate and consult to expand small business access to SBA and DOD resources and connect small businesses with support services and assistance to improve small business contract readiness and ability to participate in government contracting.
Additional information on the DOD APEX Program and the SBA Small Business Development Program is available online at www.apexaccelerators.us and sba.gov/local-assistance/resource-partners/small-business-development-centers-sbdc, respectively. (Source: US DoD)
07 Dec 22. Congress would approve A-10 retirements, more F-35s in defense bill. The compromise National Defense Authorization Act released by lawmakers Tuesday would grant the Air Force’s long-awaited wish to start retiring the A-10 Warthog. The $858bn plan would also add more F-35s, EC-37B Compass Call aircraft and HH-60W Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopters, and provide $301m more to speed up the acquisition of the E-7 Wedgetail.
The approval to retire 21 A-10s represents a thaw in a years-long disagreement between the service and lawmakers over the fate of the stalwart, but aging, attack plane. Over 20 years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and against the Islamic State, the Fairchild Republic-made A-10 flew many close air support missions, using its distinctive 30mm GAU-8/A cannon to defend countless ground troops.
But the Air Force has for years said that the A-10, which flies low and slow, would not be able to survive a war against a major adversary with modern air defenses, such as China.
“The A-10 is a great platform for a [permissive] environment,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown told lawmakers in April. “I don’t see very many [permissive] environments that we’re going to roll into in the future.”
The service has repeatedly tried to cut A-10s and use the money to modernize other aspects of its fleet, but Congress has continually rebuffed those efforts. Most recently, it rejected an Air Force request to cut 42 A-10s in the 2022 NDAA.
Now, that has changed. The Air Force’s 2023 budget request asked for permission to cut 21 A-10s at Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base in Indiana, and replace that squadron’s planes with an equal number of F-16s.
More F-35s, Compass Calls
The NDAA also grants the Air Force’s wish to fund four additional EC-37B Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft to replace the aging EC-130H. When the service released its unfunded priorities list in April, it said those four additional Compass Calls would cost $979 m to buy four used Gulfstream G550 business jets, as well as spare engines and kits and components needed for contractor L3Harris to modify them.
The additional four new aircraft will eventually leave the Air Force with a next-generation Compass Call fleet of 10.
And the NDAA provides another five Lockheed Martin-made F-35A fighters for the Air Force, which would bring the number up to 38.
The Air Force originally asked for funding to buy 33 F-35As in 2023, which was lower than the 48 the service asked for in 2022. Secretary Frank Kendall said the Air Force wanted to use the money freed up by buying fewer F-35s to develop the Next Generation Air Dominance platform, work on a new, advanced engine for the F-35 and more quickly bring on the F-15EX Eagle II.
A few months later, the Air Force asked for another $921m to add seven more F-35As to its 2023 procurement request, which would have brought the total procurement to 40. The service said then that the additional fighters would be Block 4 F-35As from Lot 17, with the APG-85 radar. Lawmakers now appear inclined to grant most — but not all — of that request.
The Navy and Marine Corps would also get 15 F-35Bs and 16 F-35Cs, as well as eight F-18E/F Super Hornet fighters, 12 CH-53K helicopters, seven E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, five KC-130J tankers, three unmanned MQ-4 Tritons and four MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueling drones.
For the F-35C, that would be slight increase from the original budget request, which asked for 13 of the carrier-based variant fighters. And it would be two more Hawkeyes than was in the original budget request.
Congress also wants the Government Accountability Office to audit the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize the F-35′s engines, and provide a briefing to lawmakers on the preliminary results by the end of February 2023.
The military is now considering whether to upgrade the F-35 with a new adaptive engine, which would use three streams of air and new technologies and materials to create more power, thrust, and cooling abilities, or to upgrade the current Pratt & Whitney F135 engine.
General Electric Aviation is pushing its prototype XA100 engine, developed under the Adaptive Engine Transition Program. While Pratt is also developing its own adaptive engine, dubbed XA101, the company said that will be a better fit for the Next Generation Air Dominance platform, and that their Enhanced Engine Program upgrades to the F135 will be safer, cheaper, and able to fit all variants of the F-35.
Lawmakers want the GAO to evaluate the F-35 Joint Program Office’s business case analysis, which is studying the various options available for delivering more power and cooling capabilities to the fighter.
GAO would also have to assess the progress made on each AETP prototype engine, and the costs and timeline for each modernization option to allow the fighter’s full Block 4 upgrades to carry more weapons, better recognize targets and conduct advanced electronic warfare.
Speeding up the Wedgetail, and more Whiskeys
The Air Force would get an additional $301m to speed up the production and acquisition of two prototype E-7 Wedgetail aircraft, on top of the $227 m in research, development, test and evaluation funds the Air Force originally requested. The service plans to use those Boeing-made planes — now being flown by air forces of allied nations such as Australia — to replace the current fleet of E-3 Sentry, or Airborne Warning and Control System, planes, which were also made by Boeing.
The Air Force is planning to retire half its aging E-3 fleet, or 15 planes, in 2023. Because the first rapid prototype Wedgetail isn’t expected to be delivered until 2027, some lawmakers are concerned that might leave a gap in the service’s capabilities.
The NDAA would put some conditions on the Air Force’s plans to start retiring the AWACS. It would require the service to send the congressional defense committees a report on the proposed E-3 retirement, including an acquisition strategy for replacing it with the E-7.
And the NDAA would only allow the Air Force to fully retire 13 AWACS. Two of the E-3s the service had slated for the Boneyard would be kept as training aircraft, the compromise NDAA said.
Congress is also bumping up the Air Force’s procurement of HH-60W helicopters, nicknamed the Whiskey.
In the budget request, the Air Force said it planned to buy 10 more Whiskeys in 2023 — and then no more. This would have brought its total number of helicopter purchases to 75, a reduction of about one-third from the original plan of 113.
The Air Force is worried that a traditional combat rescue helicopter would not be able to survive in a highly contested airspace that would occur in a war against a major adversary such as China or Russia.
The NDAA would provide funding to double the number of HH-60Ws the Air Force would buy, bringing its total fleet to 85. The agreement would also include a provision, originally just in the House’s version of the bill, that would prohibit any funds from being used to terminate, or prepare to terminate, the HH-60W production line.
The NDAA would also block the Air Force’s plan to retire 33 Block 20 F-22s, at least for now. Those F-22s, originally made by Lockheed, are not combat-capable and are now primarily being used for training purposes.
Lawmakers won’t allow the Air Force to retire those Raptors until the service sends Congress a detailed plan on how they would train F-22 pilots without the retired planes, without any hit to readiness or combat capability. The NDAA will not require the Air Force to upgrade those F-22s.
And the NDAA would continue blocking the Air Force from retiring any further B-1B Lancer bombers — which were originally made by Rockwell International, now part of Boeing — or associated personnel until the end of September 2023. Last year’s NDAA had a similar restriction, but the original version of the House’s version of the NDAA would have kept that prohibition in place until the end of September 2026.
The Air Force would also be prohibited from divesting any F-15 fighters beginning in October 2023, until Kendall sends lawmakers a report on how those retirements would affect the service’s missions, personnel, force structure and budgeting, and how it plans to solve any problems that might arise. Congress also wants the report to say whether Kendall plans to change any plans for the procurement of new F-15EXs, made by Boeing.
The NDAA also grants Air Combat Command and Air Force Global Strike Command permission to upgrade the ejection seats of T-38A Talons that haven’t already had an upgrade. (Source: Defense News)
07 Dec 22. Congress reveals plan to increase defense budget by 8%. Congress on Tuesday night unveiled plans for a compromise defense authorization bill that would boost the military budget by 8% over fiscal 2022 levels, setting up a vote in the House as soon as Wednesday.
The $858bn plan — which includes roughly $817bn in Defense Department spending — also includes billions of dollars in additional funding to help the Pentagon cope with inflation and continue certain programs that the Biden administration had sought to cancel. The latest version of the bill comes as the U.S. aims to bolster critical munitions production and lessen the defense supply chain’s reliance on China. The bill comes in about $45bn above what the White House requested in its proposal last spring.
House lawmakers are expected to pass the measure by the end of the week, setting up a Senate vote next week. If it passes both chambers, it could be signed into law by the president before the end of the month, continuing a six-decade streak of advancing the legislation into law.
Although the authorization bill is considered must-pass legislation annually, this year’s deliberations have dragged on for months.
For the second consecutive year, the Senate did not pass its own version of the bill, opting instead to modify the House-passed version from this summer rather than taking amendment votes on their own military policy priorities.
And in recent days, numerous Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate threatened to oppose the measure unless it included language dumping the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Republicans did score a victory, as the bill would rescind the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for service members.
President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin both defended the vaccine requirement this week as necessary for military health and readiness. It’s unclear whether the president will veto the final legislation because of the provision’s inclusion.
So far this year, more than 8,000 active duty service members were dismissed from the ranks for refusing the vaccine. The vast majority of troops have agreed to the shots.
Opponents have argued that because most troops are young and fit, and because the military is in the midst of a recruiting crisis, the vaccine mandate is discouraging some potential recruits and forcing others out of the ranks.
The authorization bill language does not include language mandating the reinstatement of troops dismissed for refusing the vaccine — another demand of conservative lawmakers.
The bill also pushes back against the Biden administration’s efforts to cancel the sea-launched cruise missile nuclear development program, also known as SLCM-N, by authorizing $25m for its continuation
The White House argued that SLCM-N would undermine other missions of the attack submarine without doing much to enhance deterrence. But bipartisan opponents in both the House and the Senate have maintained it provides a low-yield and flexible option to fill a gap in the nuclear triad.
Beyond that, the bill authorizes $32.6bn to increase the U.S. naval fleet, including for 11 battle force ships. For the Army, it authorizes funding increases for the CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter, the UH-60 Blackhawk medium-lift helicopter and the MQ-1 Gray Eagle drone.
It also allocates $2.7bn to procure new munitions; this is in part to backfill equipment sent to Ukraine but also designed to generally expand production capacity.
Notably, it waives some restrictions for Pentagon contracts on munitions to Ukraine or to increase the Defense Department’s critical munitions stockpile.
And the measure provides $1 bn to more than double the National Defense Stockpile — the U.S. strategic reserve of critical minerals — after years of depletion, highlighting congressional efforts to decrease Chinese influence in the U.S. defense supply chain.
The bill also authorizes funding for five more F-35A aircraft as well as F-22 modernization. It does allow the Biden administration to proceed with plans to retire the A-10 aircraft, a move that Congress has long opposed.
The bill also contains a host of personnel and equipment priorities that lawmakers say are needed to ensure force readiness. It plans for a 4.6% pay raise for troops starting next month and nearly $19 bn in extra funding to deal with extra inflation costs on construction, fuel prices and other military purchases.
The 4.6% pay raise included in the authorization bill will be the largest troops have received in 20 years.
For junior enlisted troops, the 4.6% hike would mean about $1,300 more next year in take-home pay. For senior enlisted and junior officers, the hike equals about $2,500 more. For an O-4 with 12 years’ service, it’s more than $4,500 in extra pay.
The measure also includes language allowing service officials flexibility in housing stipends in high-cost regions of the country in an effort to blunt the effects of high inflation on military families.
It expands the new Basic Needs Allowance from 130% of the federal poverty line as a baseline for help to 150%, and even higher in certain circumstances.
And along with reauthorization of a host of existing recruitment bonuses and specialty pays, the measure includes “targeted recruitment incentives to ensure the military can meet its recruiting and retention needs.”
Even with apparent agreement on the authorization bill, lawmakers will still need to pass an appropriations bill for fiscal 2023 in order for the Defense Department to get and spend the money outlined in the $817 bn policy measure. Government agencies have been operating off a temporary budget since Oct. 1, the start of fiscal 2023.
The House and Senate have until Dec. 16 to pass a full-year budget or another budget extension, or they risk a partial government shutdown. Chamber leaders have said they are hopeful to announce a compromise on those spending issues in the next few days. (Source: Defense News)
07 Dec 22. U.S. Officials Listen to Concerns of African Leaders. U.S. engagement with the nations of Africa has subtly changed with U.S. defense, diplomatic and economic officials listening to African leaders detail their needs, goals, values and concerns, Chidi Blyden, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African Affairs, said.
Blyden spoke to the Defense Writers’ Group yesterday and detailed how the Defense Department and the U.S. Africa Command are working with the nations of the diverse and expansive continent. She spoke in advance of the African Leaders’ Summit that will be held in Washington next week.
DOD’s work with African nations is rooted in the “three D” approach: defense, development and diplomacy. This approach is not new, but DOD and other U.S. agencies are working very hard to learn from past mistakes “and work very closely together with African partners to form genuine partnerships based on mutual respect, trust values and interest,” she said.
The three D approach has always sought to meld the efforts of the State Department, DOD and the U.S. Agency for International Development together with varying degrees of success. “I think the emphasis this time around is going to be that we are going to do this in collaboration, conjunction and coordination with African partners,” Blyden said.
U.S. Africa Command was born with this idea in mind. The command has both Defense and State department leadership, she said. “What we’re doing now is combining and merging these efforts rather than doing them separately, while working in close collaboration with other parts of the government, as well,” the deputy assistant secretary said.
The new approach also includes the private sector to create a “whole of society approach,” she said. “Our new approach will also harness the ingenuity of both the African diaspora and the African populations, leveraging the expertise of our partners and incorporating both,” she said. “Once we unite these efforts, we will recognize and strengthen the unique links that exist between security, governance and development, and we are confident that it will yield … dividends that we haven’t seen in the past.”
DOD and Africom will focus on working with civilian-led defense institutions to reinvigorate efforts to build institutional capacity. The organizations will also work to build and strengthen relationships with the African security sector through education, exercises and training opportunities.
“Our intent is to try and reevaluate the past to see what it can teach us,” she said. “We’re obviously trying to adapt our approach to show that we have learned from it; we’re looking to adopt creative solutions to help turn Africa’s potential into reality. We’ve seen that they have tremendous promise and that they want our support and partnership to do so.”
The United States is not the only nation seeking to work with African nations. China and Russia are also seeking influence on the continent with China seeking allies to change the rules-based international system, and the Russian Wagner Group looking to leach onto struggling states for influence and money.
Still, Blyden reiterated a statement that Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has made many times: The United States is not asking nations to choose between the United States and China or Russia. “I honestly believe … that we are the best partner for African nations on a number of issues because we share so many strategic and mutual objectives with African countries — such as climate change mitigation, pandemic relief and support, economic recovery post COVID-19, and obviously countering malign influence from outsiders, actors who don’t have African interests in mind,” she said.
The African Leaders’ Summit will focus on engagement and consultation with African partners. “We want to continue to socialize our approach with African leaders to ensure that the approach continues to address the most pressing challenges and seizes upon Africa’s opportunities as they evolve,” she said. “I’m confident that this approach and the efforts that we’ll make through the African Leaders’ Summit will pay the dividends that we hope to achieve. We want leaders to leave here understanding that the breadth of opportunities to work with the United States are endless.” (Source: US DoD)
06 Dec 22. U.S. conducting analysis to ensure it has enough munitions stockpile- U.S. general. The United States military is studying the rate of munitions used in Russia’s war in Ukraine to ensure that the Pentagon is accurately calculating the weapons it would need in case of any future conflicts or operations, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday.
Western officials have said that Russia has depleted a significant proportion of its precision-guided ammunition in its invasion of Ukraine and its industry cannot produce all kinds of ammunition and weapon systems due to Western sanctions.
Ukraine, which is being armed by Western countries, is also using artillery and other types of munitions at a rapid rate.
The United States military has contingency plans for potential conflicts around the world, that include how many troops, pieces of equipment and munitions could be required.
“We are going through a study, an analysis right now, to ensure that our war plans, our contingency plans, which we have multiples around the world in different theaters, to make sure that we’ve done the right math, the right estimates,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said at an event.
“We’ll go back to industry to make whatever corrective action… to make sure that we do have appropriate stockage levels for something that might happen,” Milley added.
The United States has said that North Korea is covertly supplying Russia with a “significant” number of artillery shells for its war in Ukraine.
Russia has also procured drones from Iran that have been used to attack cities and power infrastructure in Ukraine. (Source: Reuters)
06 Dec 22. Official Says Integrated Deterrence Requires Shared Sacrifices. Integrated deterrence is important in three documents released in 2022: the National Defense Strategy, the Nuclear Posture Review and the Missile Defense Review, said the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities. Integrated deterrence can be thought of as two things: integrated and deterrence, Mara E. Karlin said today at Defense Forum Washington 2022.
Integrated means planning, coordinating and operating with all government agencies, as well as allies and partners, she said.
“We are so much more powerful when all of the departments and agencies are doing what they’re best at doing and playing to their comparative advantages,” she said.
Deterrence means building a combat credible force across all domains and across the full spectrum of conflict to deter aggression in the face of the pacing threat from China and the acute threat from Russia, she said.
There are costs and shared sacrifices that come with integrated deterrence, she said.
There’s a $773 bn price tag for modernization, readiness and lethality that comes from taxpayers with approval from lawmakers, she said. Explaining to the public why this money is needed for national security is vitally important.
Costs for Europe include not just supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine but also reducing their reliance on Russian oil. For example, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, Italy was about 40% dependent on Russian energy, she said. Today, it’s around 20%.
Another example is the United States’ message to the world to avoid China’s 5G network, which has serious vulnerabilities, she said.
“Folks are willing to take on costs and reconceptualize risks as they understand that security environment changes,” she said.
Regarding allies’ support for Ukraine and Finland and Sweden’s request to join NATO, Karlin said: “It is very hard for me to imagine that President Xi is not sitting in Beijing watching very, very closely and probably asking himself some very hard, awkward and uncomfortable questions.”
(Source: US DoD)
05 Dec 22. U.S.-Australia Work to Strengthen Alliance. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III began three days of intense discussions with two of the United States’ closest allies: Australia and the United Kingdom. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who also serves as defense minister, arrived at the Pentagon today for defense discussions as part of the defense ministers’ meeting, which will conclude tomorrow at the U.S. State Department. On Wednesday, Marles and Austin will be joined by U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace as the three leaders discuss the Australia, United Kingdom, United States security pact.
“Today, we’re focused on ambitious steps to further strengthen our unbreakable alliance,” Austin said to Marles at the beginning of the meeting.
He noted that Australia and the United States are closely aligned on most important strategic challenges and opportunities. “In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the alliance between United States and Australia is stronger than it’s ever been, and it remains vital to regional security,” the secretary said.
Australia and the United States stand for the international rules-based order where countries are free to chart their courses, and disputes are resolved peacefully and free from coercion, he said.
Austin said the meetings come at a tense time with Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful invasion of Ukraine continuing and “coercive and destabilizing military activities by the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
The defense leaders will discuss a range of issues including deepening bilateral security cooperation. They will also speak of the growing trilateral cooperation with Japan. Finally, they will discuss on-going cooperation with India through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue that encompasses the U.S., Australia, Japan and India.
Before coming to the Pentagon, Marles visited submarine builder Electric Boat, where he viewed the complexity of building nuclear-powered submarines. The two leaders last met during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in Cambodia 10 days ago.
Marles stressed the strategic landscape is “as complex as it has been, really, since the end of the Second World War.”
Even with that, the U.S.-Australian alliance is as strong as it has ever been, he said. “We feel there is a very strong alignment between our two governments right now,” Marles said. “We’re really looking forward to an ambitious agenda.” (Source: US DoD)
05 Dec 22. US Army plans ‘dramatic’ ammo production boost as Ukraine drains stocks. As donations to Ukraine strain allied munitions stockpiles, the U.S. Army is seeking a “dramatic” ramp up in monthly production of 155mm artillery shells over the next three years, its chief weapons buyer said Saturday.
Those plans hinge on emergency spending for Ukraine that Congress already approved, but also on the more than $600 m in industrial investments in the next tranche of aid and multiyear authorities in the annual defense policy bill still under debate in Congress, according to Doug Bush, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, technology and logistics.
“Funding is already in place, contracts are underway to basically triple 155mm production,” Bush told Defense News on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum. “There’s funding on the Hill, in the supplemental, to more than double that again. That would take a period of years.
“We want to be able to build our stocks not just where we started the war, but higher. We’re posturing for a pretty ― over a period of three years ― a dramatic increase in conventional artillery ammunition production.”
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth separately told reporters that the U.S. will go from making 14,000 155mm shells each month to 20,000 by the spring and 40,000 by 2025.
The service in recent days awarded contracts to three private companies to produce and deliver 155mm artillery: General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, American Ordnance, and IMT Defense.
The push comes as the U.S. has supplied Ukraine with more than 1 m artillery rounds, and as Pentagon officials see the war in Ukraine continuing indefinitely, further draining stocks for the U.S. and allies. Bush said it’s unclear what the Ukrainian military’s mid- and long-term needs will be, and the U.S. Army wants to be ready.
“We are in a position to support Ukraine, but it’s more the mid and long term,” Bush said. “By creating this capacity … if this war goes three or four years, we’ll be in a position to just vastly outproduce the Russians all by ourselves ― and if you combine that with our allies, then we’re just dwarfing their capability. They won’t be able to keep up.”
Bush noted the Army is paying to expand and improve production capacity at its ammunition plants in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Kingsport, Tennessee; and Middletown, Iowa. Army officials also aim to contract with defense firms outside the U.S. for artillery shells for Ukraine, a step in line with talks between senior Pentagon officials and their foreign counterparts about greater industrial cooperation.
Beyond artillery shells, Bush said he is pushing to double production for the most in-demand precision munitions for Ukraine: Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System rounds for the Lockheed Martin-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and Javelins, the portable anti-tank weapon jointly made by Lockheed and Raytheon Technologies.
The Senate-passed version of the sweeping 2023 National Defense Authorization Act aims to authorize massive purchases of high-priority munitions using multiyear contracts to help Ukraine fight Russia and to refill U.S. stockpiles; the bill would also provide waivers to speed up the process. A compromise bill was still under negotiations between the House and Senate on Monday.
While approval for multiyear purchasing authorities for munitions through the NDAA would be the starting gun for the Army to begin planning those buys, the effort must also get approval in next year’s appropriations legislation, Bush said.
The defense industry’s lack of robust production capacity for ammunition is a product of historically “lumpy” purchases by the military, Ellen Lord, a former Pentagon acquisitions chief, told reporters. She said that without steady demand over time, defense firms haven’t been making capital investments in their plants.
“So we have to be clear about the demand signal and the volumes over multiple years, and then industry will develop that capacity,” said Lord, who now works in the private defense sector. “But industry [executives] can’t go to their board of directors and say: ‘Hey, I think there’s going to be a lot of orders out there, so let’s spend $50 m to build a plant and hope.’”
At the conference, Raytheon’s chief executive, Greg Hayes, said that the war’s consumption rates so far have vastly outstripped industrial capacity. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, donation efforts have used up five years of Javelin production and 13 years of production for portable anti-aircraft Stinger systems, he said.
“So the question is: How are we going to resupply, restock the inventories?” Hayes said.
Speaking on a panel with Hayes, Wormuth said the contracts for a production boost have already begun. She pointed to the service ‘s $1.2 bn award to Raytheon for six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System batteries for Ukraine and a $431 m award to Lockheed to replenish donated HIMARS launchers.
“Thanks to Congress … we’ve actually pushed $6 bn out to industry to help us with replenishment, which is going to enable us to not only continue to supply Ukraine but also to replenish our own stocks,” Wormuth said.
The Army, she added, is now “working closely with industry to increase their speed and capacity” and resolve “chokepoints” in supplies.
”We’re working on it, and we’re going to ramp up,” she said, adding that the Army is also compressing training for Ukrainians to use donated weapons.
Hayes credited Army and Pentagon officials with compressing contracting and delivery processes, from months to days, for NASAMS ― once U.S. President Joe Biden made the decision to send them.
But Hayes also said that because NASAMS, which are co-produced with Norway, were infrequently manufactured, “we’re going to have ramp up production from zero here.” (Source: Defense News)
03 Dec 22. Strong Deterrence Enables U.S. to Ensure Global Rules, Rights. With many hotspots around the globe creating uncertainty, the United States will need more than the assistance of Congress and American industry to build, maintain and strengthen the deterrent capability needed to defend democracy and maintain a free and open global world order.
“These next few years will set the terms of our competition with the People’s Republic of China, and they will shape the future of security in Europe, and they will determine whether our children and grandchildren inherit an open world of rules and rights, or whether they face emboldened autocrats who seek to dominate by force and fear,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III during a keynote presentation Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.
Deterrence is at the heart of the National Defense Strategy, which the Defense Department released just last month, Austin said.
“We’ve got the right strategy and the right operational concepts,” Austin said. “And they’re driving us to make the right investments for our warfighters. So we’re upgrading and honing and strengthening our armed forces for a changing world.”
In an imperfect world, Austin said, “deterrence does come through strength. We will continue to make clear to any potential foe the folly of aggression against the United States at any time, or any place, in any theater, or any domain.”
Austin laid out some of the efforts the U.S. military is undertaking to strengthen that deterrence, including that on land, air and at sea.
In the fiscal year 2023 budget, he said, the Defense Department requested more than $56bn for airpower. That is focused on the F-35 Lightning II, the F-15EX fighter, the B-21 Raider and other systems.
“American airpower helps deter conflict every day, from joint exercises with our Indo-Pacific partners, to aerial drills with our allies to protect NATO’s eastern flank,” Austin said.
Deterrence also happens on the ocean, he said. There, the Defense Department is investing in construction of nine battle-force ships, and continuing to invest in the Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines. Just last month, he said, an American Ford-class nuclear powered carrier made its first transit to Europe.
Also included in deterrence are long-range fires — the kind finding success now in Ukraine.
“Long range fires will be vital for contingencies in the Indo-Pacific as well,” he said. “We’re investing in land-based hypersonic missile batteries and in an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile. And the USS Zumwalt will become the first Navy platform to field hypersonics.”
Perhaps the strongest deterrent, Austin said, is America’s nuclear capability. And there’s plenty of investment there as well, he told the audience.
“Deterrence means a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal as the ultimate backstop to deter strategic attacks on our country and our allies, including NATO, Japan and the Republic of Korea,” he said, adding that the fiscal year 2023 budget includes $34bn to modernize the nuclear triad and to bolster nuclear command, control and communications.
Austin called on Congress to pass an on-time appropriation to ensure the department gets the capabilities needed to further strengthen its deterrent capability. (Source: US DoD)
04 Dec 22. DOD Scouts Innovative Ideas From Industry, Allies, Partners.
The Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which was stood up last year, is a collaboration between the military services, combatant commands, industry and coalition partners with the aim of discovering new and innovative warfighting capabilities. The idea behind this initiative is to get the best ideas, test prototypes in the laboratory and then in the field or even in contested environments, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering said. Heidi Shyu spoke on a panel yesterday at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
The innovations that result don’t need to be a 100% solution. They could be a 70 or 80% solution to solve a vexing warfighting problem, she said.
Small companies are and will be playing a critical role in this endeavor, she said. The Office of Strategic Capital will assist in funding companies developing technologies deemed critical to national security.
Also, the Defense Department is working with the Small Business Administration to help fund small startups, she said.
Shyu mentioned a number of DOD organizations focused on innovation.
The Defense Innovation Unit is focused on accelerating the adoption of commercial technology for military use, she said. DIU awards contract to companies that have innovative solutions.
The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office serves to expedite critical capabilities to the field to meet combatant commanders’ needs, she said. The office enables the Army to experiment, evolve and deliver technologies in real time to address both urgent and emerging threats, while supporting acquisition reform efforts.
Each of the military research laboratories is also coming up with brilliant and innovative warfighting solutions, she said.
The department is eager to attract new talent to those labs, she said. One of the ways it’s doing so is helping to fund college tuition for promising students, who then will work in one of the labs for a certain period of time.
Last year, the department funded 482 scholars and is looking to increase that number, she said.
Additionally, DOD has created science, technology, engineering and mathematics camps for high school students, she added.
“Having a strong workforce is incredibly important,” she said, noting that DOD cannot match the salaries paid in the private sector.
Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Air Force chief of staff, also spoke on the panel.
“Accelerate, change or lose,” he said, implying that DOD needs to stay ahead of adversaries when it comes to fielding effective capabilities.
“We have done this before. Our nation has come together in times of crisis, to be able to provide capability. I’ve watched us during the course of the events in Ukraine. Some things we’ve been able to move very fast on in certain areas. What we want to do is not wait until there’s a crisis to actually move at a pace with a sense of urgency. We’ve got to do some things crisis-like ahead of a crisis so we’re better postured and prepared to move forward,” he said.
Brown provided an example of innovation: The AGM-88 HARM, the High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile, was originally designed as an air-to-surface missile for the F-16 fighter aircraft. The Air Force figured out how to put these missiles on the MiG-29 fighters, which Ukraine uses.
“If someone had asked us before the Ukraine events if we could put a HARM missile on a MiG-29, we’d have said it’s too hard to do. In a crisis, we figure out how to get things done,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company