U.S. DEFENSE BUDGET FOLLOWS THE CURRENT THREAT
06 Apr 09. U.s. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today laid out his recommendations for the 2010 budget during a Pentagon press conference.
The secretary said he included his experiences in national security to make the decisions.
To start, Gates plans to significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat Systems program. “We will retain and accelerate the initial increment of the program to spin out technology enhancements to all combat brigades,” he said.
But he said there are unanswered questions about the program’s vehicle design strategy. “I am also concerned that, despite some adjustments, the FCS vehicles — where lower weight, higher-fuel efficiency and greater informational awareness are expected to compensate for less armor — do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
The current vehicle program, developed in fiscal 2000, does not include the recent $25 billion investment in the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles that have saved so many lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gates also noted problems with the current fee structure, which he said gives the government little leverage to promote cost efficiency.
“Because the vehicle part of the FCS program is currently estimated to cost over $87 billion, I believe we must have more confidence in the program strategy, requirements and maturity of the technologies before proceeding further,” he said.
“Accordingly, I will recommend that we cancel the vehicle component of the current FCS program, re-evaluate the requirements, technology and approach — and then re-launch the Army’s vehicle modernization program, including a competitive bidding process.”
The Army needs a vehicle modernization program to meet the needs of the full spectrum of conflict.
“But because of its size and importance, we must get the acquisition right, even at the cost of delay,” the secretary said.
Seasoned BATTLESPACE readers will have seen thbis one coming over the last year or so culminating in this years AUSA whre a number of pointed questions were put to the FCS Panel with regard to the vehicle Program.
In previous years Gen. Charles Cartwright had one lone NLOS C canon going on to 2017 with no other vehicles visible! The truth is now out and the whole vehicle program, rightly put out to grass.
The new reset program will benefit BAE Systems and GD in the medium term but they will lose the huge reset in the $87bn FCS vehicle Program. Other companies to benefit will be Raytheon, DRS and other systems suppliers to the current fleet. The NLOS C canon is unlikely to proceed alone and may face cancellation like its Crusader predecessor, which would also benefit BAE who would likely reset the Paladin fleet. One loser would be QinetiQ which had hoped to have its hybrid drive system fitted to all FCS vehicles as on NLOS C. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.11 ISSUE 10, 07 March 2009, FCS – PROGRESSES WITHOUT GROUND VEHICLES, By Julian Nettlefold)
This decision will also have ramifications for the stayed U.K. FRES Programme where a re-look at the type of vehicle types required now almost inevitable.
It does not bode well for the CTA Programme where David Leslie had hoped to replace the 30mm Bushmaster with his 40mm canon.
The secretary recommended halting the F-22 Raptor procurement at 187, and investing instead in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The secretary also would like to end other under-performing programs, such as the VH-71 presidential helicopter. “This program was originally designed to provide 23 helicopters to support the president at a cost of $6.5 billion,” he said. “Today, the program is estimated to cost over $13 billion, has fallen six years behind schedule, and runs the risk of not delivering the requested capability.”
Gates said the military wi