By Stew Magnuson
Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, Pacific Command commander, raised eyebrows and invited some criticism when he said on Capitol Hill last year that climate change was the number one long-term threat in the Asia-Pacific.
When asked March 6 if that were still the case, Locklear said, “I haven’t changed my position.”
As a military leader, it is not his role to debate political issues, he said during a question and answer session at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. “All I do is report what I see.”
“This is a pretty aggressive area of the world for natural disasters,” he said. Eighty percent of all the catastrophes in the world happen in the PACOM area of operations, which encompasses 36 nations and about half of the world’s surface.
Only 17 percent of PACOM’s region is land mass and six of every 10 people in the world live there, he added. And more of these populations are moving closer to shorelines in search of economic opportunity, he said.
“The implications for any climate change, or any change in the weather pattern or sea level change, are much more dramatic for the mass amount of population,” which are moving closer to the littorals, he said.
Locklear tells junior commanders when they join PACOM that they may not engage in a conflict with another military during their tenure, but they will inevitably have a natural disaster to contend with, and they will have to assist or manage the consequences.
“That has been true every year,” he said.
His area of operation stops short of the Arctic, but he has given some thought to the future of the region as ice melts and opens the area for sea lanes.
It’s all about dollars and “sense,” he said. It is easier and less expensive for shippers to go over the top of the world than around the middle. There are areas rich in petroleum reserves, and as fisheries collapse around the world, there will be more enterprises heading there in search of a new “protein supply.”
“I think the global economy will drive activity in the Arctic,” he said.
“We have to posture ourselves for peace. But you don’t get that peace unless you sense what’s in the area, know what’s going on and you have the ability to protect your own national interests,” he said.
Most the questions directed at the commander centered on China.
“Generally, the U.S. relationship with China, across many aspects, is cooperative, but competitive,” he said. Military-to-military engagement between the United States and China is steadily improving, and he plans on visiting there a “couple” more times this year.
The Chinese navy has also been invited to participate in the annual Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii this year.
“It’s a big deal. It will be historic for them to come there and do that,” Locklear said. They arrive with three or four ships in a U.S.-led exercise where some 20 other nations participate.
“Some of them they are not particularly getting along well with right now,” he added.
Territorial disputes between China and its neighbors are another possible threat to the region, he said. China’s military and navy are growing, he said, which is not surprising for an emerging nation with global economic interests.
But if that military “is used to coerce their neighbors into giving up a legal process … of determining the legitimacy of territorial claims, then that would be a problem,” he said.
China and Japan are disputing sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which may have petroleum resources. The Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are claimed by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.
Credit: Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III (Atlantic Council photo)
By Stew Magnuson
The Air Force on March 4 released a fiscal year 2015 budget that emphasizes the funding of new capabilities over legacy equipment.
On the chopping block are Cold War-era aircraft such as the A-10 Warthog close-air support fighter, the venerable U-2 spyplane, along with the retirement of 51 F-15C jet fighters. Preserved are next-generation F-35 joint strike fighters, the new KC-46A refueling tanker and research and development for the long-range strike bomber.
The proposed cuts of the two platforms came as no surprise after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel mentioned that they were on the chopping block when he previewed the budget Feb. 24.
The proposal calls for the Air Force’s base budget to be reduced slightly from $138.3 billion in 2014 to $137.8 billion for fiscal year 2015. Research, development, test and evaluation remains the same at $16 billion, and procurement is up almost $2 billion, from $16.8 billion in 2014 to $18.5 billion in 2015.
However, the documents released today also take note of what will occur if enacted sequestration levels remain in place starting in 2016. In that scenario, there would be reductions in the acquisitions of the KC-46A, F-35A and the MC-130J special operations tactical airlifter. The out years could also see the elimination of KC-10A tankers and RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk, the documents said.
Maj. Gen. Jim Martin, Air Force director of budget, said at a Pentagon briefing that retiring entire fleets “saves billions instead of millions.”
The Budget Control Act provided relief for two fiscal years from the effects of sequestration, Martin said. Beyond 2015, “Our biggest challenge remains, how to pay the bills and still support national defense requirements, now and into the future. To pay the bills, we had to make more difficult choices.”
Retiring the A-10s would save $3.7 billion over the next five years, with an additional $500 million if work stopped on a program to provide the aircraft new wings, Martin said.
The 2014 proposal includes the purchase of 26 joint strike fighters, seven C-130J Super Hercules, 12 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, and the first seven KC-46 tankers.
Martin also made a surprise announcement that the Air Force would move forward with awarding a contract to Sikorsky to build an expected 122 combat rescue helicopters. The contract will be awarded this year, he said. The decision to move forward with the program was made earlier in the day and did not appear in the budget documents.
“I was informed of the decision just before I walked in here,” Martin told the reporters. Details would be forthcoming, he said.
There are research and development funds for the anticipated T-X trainer, which proponents say is needed to train pilots for the newest jet fighters such as the F-22 and F-35. The T-X would receive $600 million over the out years, with a contract awarded in fiscal year 2017, Martin said.
Research and development for the long-range bomber would increase from $359 million enacted in 2014 to $914 million.
Richard Aboulafia, analyst with the Teal Group, said the T-X program was looking more and more like the KC-X refueling tanker program where the Air Force kept pushing it off until the requirement to field it became critical. Something will have to be fielded in about a decade, he predicted.
As for the U-2 and Warthog, both have constituencies in Congress, and both have arguments for and against retirement. The A-10 less so, because its day has come, Aboulafia said. The aircraft, which was designed to destroy heavily armored vehicles on battlefields, can only do close-air support.
“What are the odds that we are going to be fighting a large, heavily armored tank army without a sophisticated air defense capability?” he asked.
“It is a fairly cut and dry move. It’s a system that’s aging. And a mission that has largely gone away, at least in the foreseeable future,” he said. “The problem is [the Air Force] has a history of trying to retire it perhaps a bit too prematurely. There were contingencies where it was quite useful so it might still be an uphill” battle to convince Congress to cut it, he said.
The U-2 is not as clear when making rational force structure decisions, he said. Substituting the remotely piloted Global Hawks, which would replace the U-2, would not necessarily lead to cost-savings. “You’re not going to get free money. You’re going to have to do that mission, and either way has its costs, advantages and disadvantages,” Aboulafia said.
Robert Hale, under secretary of defense and the department’s comptroller, said there is now a budgetary argument in favor of retiring the U-2.
“The operating costs on the Global Hawk Block 30s have come down. It was always a close call. Now it comes down in favor of the Global Hawk. We’ll keep them and gradually retire the U-2s,” he said at a Pentagon press briefing.
The Defense Department also on March 4 released its long-range strategic guidance document known as the Quadrennial Defense Review.
Budget reductions reduce the military’s margin of error when it comes to risks, the QDR stated. “The department can manage these risks under the President’s FY2015 budget plan, but the risks would grow significantly if sequester-level cuts return in 2016,” it stated.
The QDR emphasized cyber space operations, which is an area in which the Air Force has been out in front of other services.
“We will modernize next-generation Air Force combat equipment — including fighters and bombers — particularly against advancing modern air defense systems,” the QDR stated. The Air Force — if sequestration continues — will have to retire 80 additional aircraft, and slow down purchases of F-35s, it said.
In the space realm, the budget will cut two advanced-extremely high frequency (A-EHF) satellites that were previously scheduled to be built over the next five years, Martin said.
Meanwhile, Air Force Space Command officials have stated that there will be no new new-start satellite programs for the foreseeable future and that it planned to stick with its current fleet of Advanced-EHF and Wideband Global Satellites communication spacecraft until 2025. The Air Force will continue to study what this future space architecture will look like, the budget document said. New features will be added to its primary highly protected communications spacecraft through the AEHF Capabilities Insertion Program.
The QDR, meanwhile, emphasized defending space systems from adversaries.
“We will move toward less complex, more affordable, more resilient systems and system architectures and pursue a multi-layered approach to deter attacks on space systems while retaining the capabilities to respond should deterrence fail,” the QDR said.
“The department will continue to emphasize space investments that provide enhanced resilience and the ability to deter, defend against and defeat attacks to U.S. or allied systems,” it added.
The budget asks for two previously stalled space programs to get underway again: the ground-based space situational awareness radar known as the Space Fence and a weather tracking system dedicated to military users.
The budget phases funding back in for the Space Fence, two land-based radars that will be used to track space junk and other orbiting objects. The development of a next-generation system had stalled because of budget pressures. A contract award is expected this year with initial operating capability expected in 2018.
The Air Force reorganized its space-based weather tracking system after the Defense Department withdrew from a joint program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System in 2010. The “space-based environmental monitoring” system, dubbed “Weather System Follow-On,” is described as a “disaggregated system-of-systems” that will meet Defense Department weather tracking requirements. “Disaggregation” is the Air Force’s term for smaller satellites and sensors piggybacking as hosted payloads on other spacecraft.
Martin did not have further details on the program at the time of the briefing.
Todd Harrison, senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, said the documents released March 4 lacked details on the weather surveillance system.
As for the Space Fence, Harrison said, “That’s one of those capabilities that is really essential for the future threat environment because you can’t responds to threats in space if you don’t know they exist. ... We need better mapping of what is up there. It’s a good thing that is being restored in this budget.”
The Air Force’s five-year plan will cut some 25,000 personnel from the service, the Air National Guard and reserves. Personnel costs are growing, Martin said. “The Air Force simply has to get smaller,” he added. The cuts would reduce the number of active duty airmen by 18,000, reserves by 3,800 and the Guard by 1,800. There will be incentives for voluntary retirements, but some will be let go involuntarily, he said.
“We had to save billions in this budget and we made some very difficult choices,” Martin said. “We made choices that we really didn’t want to make but had to because of the reduction we had to take.”
The president’s budget included the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, a proposed increase to the federal budget that would appropriate an extra $26 billion of defense spending in return for tax and spending reforms. The Air Force’s piece of that would be spent on two extra F-35s, recapitalization of C-130Js and Reapers and other modifications, Martin said.
Photo Credit: U-2 spyplane (Air Force)
By Dan Parsons
The Navy’s 2015 budget request cut two of its most high-profile and troubled acquisition programs nearly in half even as the service continues its refocus to the vast Pacific Ocean.
The F-35 joint strike fighter and the littoral combat ship paid heavy prices so the Navy could shoehorn its desire to be a global presence into a bleak fiscal reality.
“We are in a very challenging fiscal environment at the same time that we’re still dealing with a dynamic threat environment,” Rear Adm. William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, said March 4 during a press conference at the Pentagon.
Still, the budget and accompanying 2014 quadrennial defense review — also released March 4 — both prioritize the Defense Department’s commitment to refocusing on the Asia-Pacific region, where the Navy and Marine Corps will do much of the heavy lifting. To achieve its goals as an international police force in the region, the Navy’s fleet will grow in total number over the next five years even as some major programs were cut in the short term, Lescher said.
“We bought what we could afford,” he said. That list includes dozens fewer F-35s and LCSs.
The Navy requested the purchase of 36 F-35Cs — designed to land on aircraft carriers — which is a 33-jet reduction from the 69 originally planned. LCS, which is the Navy’s newest class of ship, was reduced from 52 ships to 32 and the entire program will be reevaluated before the fiscal year 2016 budget submission.
The Defense Department’s $496 billion budget supports a Navy of 283 ships rising to a total 309 by fiscal year 2019. The fleet now stands at 291 total ships. The Navy’s cut is $148 billion, of which $38.4 billion will go toward procurement, a $2.8 billion reduction from the current fiscal year.
It provides investments in attack submarines, guided missile destroyers, afloat forward staging bases, and maintains a carrier fleet of 11 ships though a carrier could be scuttled if across-the-board sequestration cuts are allowed to take hold beyond fiscal 2015.
The Navy’s budget request includes $5.9 billion for two Virginia-class attack submarines in FY 2015 and $28 billion for two submarines a year through fiscal 2019. The service also requested $2.8 billion next fiscal year and $16 billion over the next five years to acquire two DDG-51 destroyers per year through 2019. The Navy budgeted $1.5 billion in FY 2015 to buy three littoral combat ships for a total of 14 LCS through 2019 at $8.1 billion.
The Defense Department also plans to spend $3.3 billion for eight joint strike fighters – two for the Navy and six for the Marine Corps in fiscal 2015, and $22.9 billion for 105 total aircraft over the next five years. The 2015 budget calls for an overall reduction of 111 aircraft to also include 10 E-2D airborne early warning planes and 10 P-8 Poseidons, Lescher said.
To pay for those ships and aircraft, the Navy had to make some tradeoffs. Eleven Aegis cruisers will be placed in “long-term phased modernization” during which they will be unavailable for deployment, according to the budget document.
Lescher said the plan would save $4 billion over the five-year defense plan and “is not the first step in decreasing the fleet.” They will be overhauled to update technological capabilities and lengthen their lifespans, then returned to the fleet.
The cruisers will be assigned a “special status” with reduced crews during their modernization. Analysis of staffing levels and their operational capabilities should they be needed is ongoing, Lescher said. The ships will begin modernization in fiscal 2015.
“It’s a very well thought out plan,” he said. “We think this is an innovative way to keep these ships in the fleet.”
The reduction in F-35C purchases was based solely on affordability, Lescher said. The decision had nothing to do with ongoing developmental issues like a faulty tailhook design that has kept the jets from properly landing on a carrier. The aircraft is still on track to achieve initial operating capability in fiscal year 2019, he said.
The Navy will also re-examine its littoral combat ship program, according to the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. The budget assumes a fleet of 32 LCSs, down from an originally planned 52 vessels. No new contract negotiations beyond 32 LCSs will go forward.
“The Navy will closely examine whether the LCS has the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary, especially in the Asia-Pacific region,” the QDR says. “The Navy will submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant.”
The Ohio-class nuclear submarine replacement program, which Lescher said was the Navy’s top acquisition priority is on track for the first ship to be built in 2021.
An 11-carrier fleet and its complement of 10 air wings are fully funded in fiscal year 2015, to include the scheduled midlife refueling overhaul of the USS George Washington next year.
That carrier and its airwing will be deactivated rather than refueled if sequester continues beyond fiscal year 2016. To keep it in the fleet, the Navy would have to find another $6 billion to $7 billion to pay for it over five years, Lescher said.
That decision will be made as part of the 2016 budget submission. Sequestration will also force the service to consider cutting a nuclear submarine, up to three destroyers, some logistics vessels and an afloat forward staging base, the QDR says.
The Marines Corps will remain the nation’s quick-reaction force, especially in the Asia-Pacific region where its presence is set to grow even as cuts to end strength begin to take hold.
That service requested $22.7 billion in fiscal 2015 to pay for a force of 182,700 Marines, including 900 more guards for overseas embassies. The force now stands at nearly 196,000 Marines. If sequestration-level cuts continue through fiscal year 2016 and beyond, the Marine Corps could shrink to 175,000, the QDR says.
The budget also calls for a phased acquisition approach to the Marine Corps languishing amphibious combat vehicle development program. The effort to purchase a new ship-to-shore tracked vehicle has all but died because of cost overruns associated with the Marine’s desire for a troop carrier that incorporates both sufficient armor and high-speed capabilities through the water.
The service’s heavy lift CH-53K helicopter has slipped by one year to save money, Lescher said.
“Fiscal reality is a hard thing,” he said. “The 53K was seen as something we could slide one year. Milestone C is scheduled for third quarter FY16.”
By 2020, at least 60 percent of U.S. naval forces will be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region, the budget and the Quadrennial Defense Review both state. That will encompass an increase in the U.S. naval presence in Japan, more LCSs rotated through Singapore, a greater number of destroyers and amphibious ships permanently stationed in the Pacific, and the deployment of surface vessels such as joint high speed vessels to the region, the QDR says.
The plan also includes $128 million for “military infrastructure” in Guam to bolster its position as a strategic hub in the western Pacific. That sum includes $51 million to establish Marine Air-Ground Task Forces throughout the region.
Those forces will assume a geographically distributed force posture in the Asia-Pacific, which will be increasingly important as U.S. forces are rebalanced to that region, the QDR said.
“DoD’s overarching objective in the region is to sustain a stable security environment and a regional order rooted in economic openness, peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime disputes, free flow of commerce, democratic principles of governance and political freedom,” the documents state.
Photo Credit: F-35C (Navy photo)
By Valerie Insinna
The Army is working to balance readiness, force structure and modernization, officials said during the unveiling of the service’s $120.5 billion fiscal year 2015 budget. But fiscal constraints will keep it from achieving that balance during that year, they added
Most of the bombshells in the Army’s 2015 budget had long been whispered among industry insiders or alluded to by service officials in public remarks before being made explicit by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week. The service’s budget sets aside $20.5 billion for procurement and research and development, but also curtails several new start and modernization programs.
That won’t be much consolation to industry officials as they see programs cancelled, aircraft retired and the possibility of further cuts on the horizon if sequestration returns in 2016.
The Obama administration requested $495.6 billion for the Defense Department in its fiscal year 2015 budget, which is $45 billion below the 2014 projections. Although the request conforms to the spending levels set by the Bipartisan Budget Act, it carries increased levels of risk, officials said.
Obama’s five year defense spending plan, meanwhile, is $115 billion more than the sequestration levels that will be re-imposed in fiscal year 2016.
During budget briefings at the Pentagon, Defense Department and service officials such as comptroller Bob Hale indicated that sequestration would increase the chances that the military is unable to accomplish its strategy.
Experts, however, pushed back against the notion that the Army is under-resourced.
"I think it's overstated that we're really in trouble,” said Brad Curran, a defense analyst for Frost & Sullivan. "What is the obvious clear and present danger for a very large ground force? Are we going to fight a ground war in China or in the Ukraine or in Africa? I don't think so."
The president’s budget included Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which would appropriate an extra $26 billion of defense spending in return for tax and spending reforms. The Army would net $7.5 billion of that — 55 percent to be spent on readiness and 45 percent on procurement, Maj. Gen. Karen Dyson, the service’s budget director, said at a Pentagon briefing.
Even with that funding added in, “it does not allow us to achieve balance between end strength, modernization and readiness,” in 2015, Dyson said.
Dyson’s remarks echoed the Quadrennial Defense Review released along with the budget, which also characterized the joint force as out of balance. “It will take time and funding to reset and reconstitute the Joint Force as we transition from operations in Afghanistan,” the QDR said.
In order to adjust to new fiscal and strategic realities, the Army plans on downsizing its end-strength from its current 520,000 troop level to as low as 440,000 over the next five years.
It will remain able to conduct the full scale of land operations, “including prompt and sustained land combat as part of large, multi-phase joint and multinational operations,” the QDR said.
Army National Guard and reserve forces also took a hit to their end strength that could ignite a battle between them and the active component. The budget proposed downsizing the Army National Guard from 355,000 to 335,000 soldiers and the reserves from 205,000 to 195,000.
If sequestration cuts are reinstated in 2016, the active duty Army would have to scale back even further, to 420,000 soldiers. Army National Guard and reserves would be cut to an end strength of 315,000 and 185,000 respectively.
“We have protected the National Guard and reserves from cuts to the extent possible, but to maintain a ready and capable force at a time of fiscal constraints, no component of DoD can be entirely exempted from reductions,” Hagel said last week, noting that the Guard and reserves are only being cut by 5 percent compared to a 13 percent cut to the active component.
The National Guard Association of the United States immediately criticized the proposal.
“For the last 12-plus years, Army and Air National Guard units have been nothing less than integral to the Army and Air Force accomplishing their missions around the globe. Service and Pentagon leaders have said as much countless times,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the organization’s president. “Unfortunately, active military leaders all too often change their tune when budgets get tight, even when Guard cost-effectiveness can be the solution.”
Governors from 50 states sent a letter to the president asking him to preserve current Army National Guard end strength, according to a Feb. 28 letter released by the National Governors Association.
“The Army’s proposed cuts suggest a pre-2002 strategic reserve construct. … A return to a pre-9/11 role squanders the investment and value of the Guard and discredits its accomplishments at home and as an active combat force,” it said.
Along with reductions to force structure, the Army’s budget makes official an aviation proposal that has drawn ire from the National Guard community.
It retires the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter and TH-47 training helicopter. It also directs the Guard to transfer all of its AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the active component, while the Guard would receive UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters.
Army officials have said the Black Hawks are better suited to the medical evacuation and transport missions that the Guard will take on in coming years. Meanwhile, Apaches teamed with unmanned aircraft will take over the Kiowa’s role, while the OH-58 cockpit and sensor upgrade program is cancelled.
Army National Guard generals feel as if they were not brought to the table until its was too late, said John Goheen, spokesman for the National Guard Association of the United States. He characterized the aviation restructure plan as being “shoved down the Guard’s throat.”
“This is classic case … when one side decides what the other side needs,” he said. “Why don’t they ask [the Army National Guard]? Why can’t we do this collaboratively?”
Despite the opposition from governors, National Guard organizations and even some lawmakers, Congress will likely approve the Army’s plan to reorganize aviation assets and cut down the active, reserve and Guard force, Curran said.
The Apache program is slated to receive $957 million in 2015, some of which will go toward procuring 25 AH-64E helicopters.
The service also set aside $1.5 billion for the Black Hawk program to buy 55 UH-60Ms. That funding will also be spent on the improved turbine engine program, which will build a more powerful, fuel-efficient engine for Black Hawks and Apaches.
It will spend $55 million on UH-72A Lakotas that will replace TH-47s.
The Army is moving forward with other aviation modernization programs. It plans to spend $1 billion on CH-47 Chinook aircraft, including 26 remanufactured and 6 new-build “F” models.
Some $52 million will go toward the service’s joint multi role demonstrator program, which will develop rotorcraft technologies that will feed into the service’s future vertical lift program. Army officials want to begin replacing legacy helicopters with future vertical lift aircraft as early as 2035.
The Guard could take an even bigger hit to its aviation programs if sequestration returns. The Army plans to cut 50 of its UH-72 light utility helicopters if that happens, Hagel said.
One of the biggest blows to industry was the elimination of the ground combat vehicle program. General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems held technology development contracts for GCV designs to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Hagel has directed Army and Marine Corps leadership to deliver “realistic” visions for vehicle modernization by the end of fiscal year 2014, he said last week.
“The program is no longer affordable under budget constraints,” said Davis Welch, the Army’s deputy budget director. The service is directing $131 million in science and technology funding that would “look at the feasibility” of future combat vehicle technologies, but most of that will be funneled into military research labs, he added.
Other vehicle programs had better luck. The joint light tactical vehicle program netted $210 million, which will procure 176 vehicles during low rate initial production.
The Army remains committed to developing the armored multipurpose vehicle, Welch said. About $92 million in funding will go toward that program’s engineering, manufacturing and development phase.
With the GCV program cancelled, the Army will focus on modernizing older vehicles, such as the Bradley fighting vehicle, Abrams tank and Stryker armored fighting vehicle.
Terminating the ground combat vehicle is a good move for the service, which can save money by making incremental improvements to the Stryker and Bradley, Curran said.
“Keep upgrading those platforms, put the v-hull on them to make them safer from mines and things like that. Add the networking technologies and make the incremental upgrades to the vehicle electronics and to the defensive systems and to the networking capabilities,” he said. “I don’t think we need a brand new vehicle from scratch.”
In order to have the smaller — but more agile and effective — Army force, the service will need to invest in better communications, soldier technologies and networked weapons, Curran said. “You can have a smaller force, but you have to have really good equipment.”
The budget proposes $161 million to procure 9,700 enhanced night vision goggles for special forces and brigade combat teams. It also sets aside $32 million to retrofit and procure 38,000 M4A1 carbines. Also, $84.1 million will be spent on the Army’s Nett Warrior communications system for dismounted soldiers.
In the realm of missile defense, the Army plans on procuring 70 Patriot missiles at a total cost of $420 million.
Photo credit: OH-58 Kiowa Warrior (Defense Dept.)
By Valerie Insinna
The particulars of the $496 billion defense budget will be unveiled tomorrow, but two other funding mechanisms could boost military spending and help alleviate the pain of the Budget Control Act, an analyst said.
One wild card is the Obama administration’s Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative that would boost defense spending by $26 billion in exchange for tax and spending reforms. The military could also continue to use its Overseas Contingency Operations funds — a wartime fund that is separate from the base budget — to soften cuts to accounts, said Todd Harrison, senior fellow of defense budget studies for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
But don’t bank on either to provide real relief. The former initiative is unlikely to be approved by Congress, Harrison said during a conference call with reporters. The latter fund could disappear in just a few years, and the Defense Department has yet to work out how it would fit OCO expenses back into the base budget.
The Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative would increase defense spending by $26 billion in exchange for tax and spending reforms. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated that most of that funding will be funneled into readiness, but some of it could be used for modernization, Harrison said.
It’s unlikely that Congress will be able to pass that initiative, he said. “They won't be able to get Republicans in the House, at least to go along with the revenue increases that are included in that.”
However, the initiative will be important to watch because it spells out a “second tier” of defense priorities for the Pentagon — the things the department currently cannot afford in its budget but would like to have, if given a little extra money.
Another factor shaking up the budget planning process is the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which helps to pay for wartime expenses and isn’t affected by the Budget Control Act, Harrison said. Since the BCA was enacted, the Defense Department has offset cuts by transferring some budget items from the base budget to OCO.
Harrison estimates the Defense Department has moved about $20 billion to the OCO budget in 2014, and Congress transferred another $9.6 billion in its appropriations bill. Most of those items were from operations and maintenance accounts, which includes funding for depot maintenance and flying hours.
“When people talk about why aren't we seeing more impacts [from sequestration], well, that's part of the reason,” he said.
OCO funding could dry up in the next couple years, so depending on it to soften the blow of sequestration is dangerous, Harrison said.
“It's not clear that we're going to have any troops remaining in Afghanistan after 2014. It's a real possibility we could be forced to pull out all troops if we don't reach a security agreement with the Afghani government like what happened in Iraq,” he said. If that happens, the military might be able to maintain an OCO budget through fiscal year 2016, which would provide some aid to Afghanistan and pay for the cost of resetting the military’s equipment. Past that, “it’s very much possible that there just wouldn’t be much of a justification.”
“Over the next few years, DoD is going to have a big bill they have to fit back in their base budget, and that’s not something they’re planning for right now,” he added.
During the roundtable, Harrison also presented the results of an exercise where analysts from CSBA and three other think tanks were tasked with creating a list of spending priorities: one that would fall in line with the Budget Control Act including sequestration, and one in which only half of the BCA cuts are enacted. The second scenario is about the same funding level as the fiscal year 2015 budget, he said.
The other three participants were the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for a New American Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The exercise participants agreed with the Defense Department’s decision to retire the U-2 and A-10 and start a round of base closures.
In some cases, the think tanks favored even greater cuts than the Defense Department. For example, it advocated for greater cuts to Army and Marine Corps force structure in both scenarios.
In the “half BCA” scenario, analysts called for a force structure of 406,000 soldiers and 175,000 Marines, down from the 440,000 soldiers and 182,000 Marine force outlined in the 2015 budget. They would also cut 240 joint strike fighters and two carrier strike groups in the half BCA scenario.
The think tanks were more supportive of the ground combat vehicle program, which they said should merely be delayed for five years. The analysts also called for the acceleration of the long range strike bomber program.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
By Stew Magnuson
Calling an attack that takes down an electric grid in the United States a near certainty, a think tank Feb. 28 recommended the establishment of an organization tasked solely with preventing and mitigating the risk involved in such a scenario.
The Bipartisan Policy Center released a report, “Cybersecurity and the North American Electric Grid: New Policy Approaches to Address an Evolving Threat,” which said an industry led group “could substantially advance cyber security risk-management practices across the industry and, in doing so, serve as a valuable complement to existing … standards.”
Actions are needed, said retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, because agents have already infiltrated computer systems that control the nation’s power grids.
The supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer programs that run power plants do not contain trade secrets or information of interest to a cyber spy, he pointed out at a Washington, D.C., panel discussion discussing the report. Infiltration could only be for two purposes: a recreational hacker in there just for the challenge; or some agent who wants to conduct what the military calls, IPB — intelligence preparation of the battlespace.
“I’ve played offense too as director of the CIA and [National Security Agency], this is quite easy. This is a domain that favors the attacker,” said Hayden, who co-chaired the committee that wrote the report, and is now a principal at The Chertoff Group consultancy.
There has never been a cyber attack on the electric grid, although there have been blackouts and loss of power because of natural disasters, which have shown just how economically devastating an attack could be.
“Ten years ago we would have this conversation and say, ‘what if?’ Today … I think the question is, ‘When?’” said Curt Hebert, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and co-chair of the committee.
Current efforts to provide for electric grid cyber security are dispersed and involve numerous federal, state, and local agencies, the report said.
“Urgent priorities include strengthening existing protections for the distribution system as well as the bulk power system; enhancing coordination at all levels; and accelerating the development of robust protocols for response and recovery in the event of a successful attack,” the report said.
The industry-led body would comprise power sector participants across North America and be modeled on the nuclear power industry’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO).
“Based on experience with INPO, we believe such an organization could substantially advance cyber security risk-management practices across the industry and, in doing so, serve as a valuable complement to existing [North American Electric Reliability Corp.] standards. NERC is a nonprofit that enforces reliability standards, monitors the flow of electricity, and trains and certifies personnel.
There is an Electricity Sector Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which is housed within NERC. It must have strict firewalls between the two organizations in order to protect the privacy of participants, the report said. NERC has the authority to fine the utilities for regulatory noncompliance. Operating where there is a fear of triggering non-compliance actions is not conducive to the free flow of information, the report said.
These privacy fears, along with a reluctance on the part of the government to share what it knows about cyber threats, are the two biggest impediments to creating a robust organization, the report said.
Further, Congress needs to pass legislation to give companies that in good faith share information, protection against lawsuits. The government should also streamline security clearances for power sector employees.
The proposed organization would go beyond information sharing and develop cyber security performance criteria, conduct detailed evaluations of security systems and provide technical assistance when necessary, the report recommended.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
By Sandra I. Erwin
The Army's latest attempt to build a ground combat vehicle is in the dustbin of history and there are no prospects of new production for the foreseeable future. Saddled with excess industrial capacity, the Army must soon begin to pare down its suppliers, an industry expert said.
In the wake of the cancelation of the ground combat vehicle program — which was conceived as a replacement for the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle — the industrial base is in a "tenuous" position, said retired Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, a partner at A.T. Kearney Aerospace & Defense practice.
A.T. Kearney, a consulting firm, recently completed a sweeping study of the Army's combat vehicle and tactical support vehicle supplier base. The first portion of the study, which probed private sector suppliers for combat vehicles, was delivered last year. A second piece, dealing with combat support systems, will be briefed to Army Acquisition Executive Heidi Shyu in March, Sorenson said in an interview.
The Army has not released the portion of the study that addresses government-owned industrial depots. "They only felt comfortable putting forth the supplier piece," said Sorenson. Every piece of information the Army asked for has been delivered, he said. Now it is up to service leaders to use the data to make funding decisions.
Because the A.T. Kearney study was completed before the termination of the ground combat vehicle, it is fair to predict that the Army's excess capacity is only going to grow, Sorenson said. GCV was supposed to be "the system" that was going to keep contractors' assembly lines in business for the next decade. Now the Army is going back to the drawing board after it concluded the GCV was too heavy and too expensive.
The Army's remaining vehicle programs — a new armored multi-purpose vehicle to replace aging M-113 armored personnel carriers and upgrades to existing M-1 tanks and Bradley vehicles — do not provide enough work to sustain private sector suppliers and organic depots, Sorenson said.
BAE Systems already has slashed its workforce at the Bradley plant in York, Pa. General Dynamics could face similar decisions at its Lima, Ohio, plant where the M-1 tanks are refurbished. "The situation in Lima has become more tenuous since the time we delivered the study," said Sorenson.
While the Army's five maintenance depots and three manufacturing arsenals would be kept busy doing repair and upgrade work on existing vehicles, prime contractors would suffer without new programs, he said. "As you look at the future, a real effort will be needed by the Defense Department to keep some of these prime contractors healthy."
The A.T. Kearney study identified weak links in the supply chain in areas such as thermal sensors, engines and transmissions. The termination of the ground combat vehicle raises new questions about the entire industrial base, Sorenson said.
"Over time we have built large capacity, not just in General Dynamics and BAE but also in the organic base. We ramped those guys up to deliver capability that we required. We had the money to do it because of the supplemental budgets," he said. "Now we have to make some hard decisions."
Army leaders will be walking a tightrope, said Sorenson. They have to balance the workload of the organic base, a prime vendor base and key suppliers. "It is not trivial," said Sorenson.
The broader budget crunch the Army faces — including steep cuts to its active-duty force — means it has to postpone modernization decisions until it can downsize enough to free up money for new hardware. "Senior leaders are doing the best they can given the circumstances," said Sorenson.
According to the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal, the Army would drop from 520,000 to about 440,000 to 450,000 soldiers. Experts predict the budget squeeze beyond 2016 will compel further cuts. Bloomberg Government analysts estimated that a reduction of 50,000 troops saves approximately $5 billion in personnel costs.
How these troop cuts shape future industrial workload is a big question. The Army has yet to define the "new normal" for the industrial base, said Kevin Fahey, program executive officer for combat support and combat service support. "Depending on where you sit, it looks a little different," he said last week at an Association of the U.S. Army conference in Huntsville, Ala. A central question is the future size of the Army and what equipment will be required for that force, he said. Until that issue is resolved, it will be difficult to manage industrial capacity, he said. The Army is not yet clear on the specific workload that industry needs to satisfy uncertain requirements.
The good news for Army depots is that there will be plenty of repair work as damaged equipment returns from Afghanistan. Army chief of logistics Lt. Gen. Ray Mason said that more than half of the Army’s $16 billion worth of gear now in Afghanistan will be brought back. The Army will spend $9.5 billion, he said, to repair that equipment as well as the backlog from the Iraq war.
The two prime contractors that were competing in the ground combat vehicle program — BAE Systems Land and Armaments, and General Dynamics Land Systems — are weighing their next moves. Both firms had been awarded about $1.2 billion in incremental contracts since 2011 to design and develop prototypes. Current GCV contracts expire in June. The companies were expecting about $600 million of new funding in the 2015 budget, but the Army opted to terminate GCV and request $100 million for technology studies.
Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems' combat vehicle operations, said the company already had been shedding workers before the cancellation of the GCV. Since the wartime production peak through the end of 2014, BAE’s land armaments workforce dropped by 75 percent, he said at the AUSA conference. Just in the past year, the company experienced a 45 percent reduction in manufacturing hours and 61 percent drop in engineering hours. By the end of the year, it will complete the shutdown of two major manufacturing facilities in Fairfield, Ohio, and Sealy, Texas, as well as significant downsizing in York, Pa. and Louisville, Ky.
“We are trying to identify the minimum core of capability we need,” Signorelli said.
Vehicle manufacturers worry about keeping enough engineers employed so they can respond when the military asks for a new design. BAE has 250 combat vehicle engineers and GDLS has about 300.
After losing the GCV, it remains to be seen whether companies can keep their current engineers on the payroll, said Peter Keating, spokesman for General Dynamics Land Systems. That will depend on the amount of work the Army funds in 2015 for research and development, and for vehicle upgrades, Keating said in an interview. “These are not people who can be moved to other programs." The Army has committed to funding upgrades — known as engineering change proposals — for the Abrams tank and the Stryker wheeled armored vehicle, he said. “That keeps engineers working."
“No one has cracked the code yet on how you maintain the industrial base in lean times,” he said. “Government policy and law have a major effect on the industrial base. It's not a free market per se.”
Before the A.T. Kearney study, the Army lacked reliable data on the industrial base. Now that it has that information, industry executives believe that it should be able to make sound policy decisions.
“When you take everything in aggregate, you probably have too much capacity,” Keating said. Consolidating is a balancing act because many facilities do not have overlapping capabilities. And by law, the Army has to allocate at least 50 percent of the maintenance and repair work to government-owned depots. “When you look at it in large scale, there is not enough work to feed all those facilities, and the law complicates your ability to spread and manage the work hours,” said Keating.
Both Army and industry officials have called for greater collaboration between the depots and private manufacturers to get through the downturn. That was done in the 1990s rather successfully, said Keating. Public-private teaming requires “reasonable policy changes” so the Army doesn’t build up capacity in the depots that it already has in industry. It also means the depots and industry have to work in a trustful relationship to level the work fairly.
Government depots and private facilities each contribute particular skills, Keating said. “Neither are viable on their own if they do not share and cooperate.”
GDLS officials are banking on congressional support to keep the Lima M1 Abrams tank plant running with a combination of U.S. and foreign orders. “We've gone to Congress in the past asking for U.S. production. We'll continue to advocate for that,” at least until 2017 or 2018, when the Army said it would start funding engineering upgrades, Keating said. Current international orders include upgrades to Saudi Arabia’s and Egypt’s tank fleets. The company expects an order later this year for upgrades to Iraq’s tanks. Modifications to the Stryker — from the conventional hull to a double-V design — will bring some work to Lima and to GDLS’ facility in Anniston, Ala.
“There's no one program that solves all your problems,” Keating said.
Both BAE and GDLS will be competing in an upcoming Army program to build a new armored personnel carrier to replace the Vietnam-era M113. The armored multipurpose vehicle, or AMPV, was advertised as a 13-year program to produce more than 2,900 vehicles.
Playing in BAE’s favor is the Army’s decision to have AMPV be a derivative of the Bradley, in order to reduce costs. Competitors were asked in November to submit bids.
“AMPV will probably be the biggest production program for sustaining the combat vehicle industrial base in the near term,” Keating said.
The schedule is in flux, however, pending the resolution of a dispute over GDLS being given sufficient time to study the Bradley’s technical specifications.
“We have said that to compete in this program we need access to the data on the Bradley,” Keating said. “We need time to analyze that data.” GDLS asked the Army for an extension and got one, but it wasn't adequate, so it filed a protest with the Army Materiel Command.
AMC has to rule by March 24. “We'd like to have a dialogue with the Army on this,” Keating said. AMPV has now taken on such great significance, he noted, that the company is going to fight to ensure it is a fair competition.
Credit: BAE Systems' Ground Combat Vehicle (BAE Systems photo)
By Valerie Insinna
When the cuts that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced as part of his Pentagon budget preview come to Congress, expect a battle, said the two top Republicans on the House and Senate armed service committees.
Hagel previewed on Feb. 24 the fiscal year 2015 budget, which calls for downsizing the Army from its wartime high of about 570,000 troops to 440,000. It would retire the Air Force's A-10 Warthog and U-2 spy plane — as well as eliminate the Army's nascent ground combat vehicle.
As long as the top line of the budget remains the same, fighting about the particulars isn’t going result in any significant changes to defense spending, said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.
“The reserves are going to be fighting the National Guard," he said. Global Hawk proponents are going to fight those who favor the U-2, he predicted during a Feb. 27 roundtable with reporters. "What we should be looking at are what are the threats to this nation, and how are we going to defend ourselves against these threats? And I tell you, we get no leadership from the White House. I don't know what they're doing there."
Almost all of the measures proposed in Hagel’s preview are unpalatable to Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
For example, the administration is planning to cut its fleet of U-2 planes and replace them with Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems. However, if sequestration comes back into effect, Hagel has said the Air Force will be forced to retire its Global Hawk Block 40 aircraft.
That’s almost one-third of the Global Hawk fleet, Inhofe said.
House and Senate leadership can only have so much of an effect on individual lawmakers, which will rally to defend their own constituencies, McKeon said
"You can talk until you’re blue in the face to 435 members in the House and say, 'Don't be parochial,' but 435 of them were elected by their people to be parochial,” he said. “So they're going to come and they're going to defend what they think is important to our national defense, but they don't separate it as much from what is important to their district."
When Virginia lawmakers, who represent a state with a large shipbuilding industry, see plans to place 11 cruisers in reduced operating status, “where do you think that's going?" he asked.
McKeon and Inhofe slammed the Defense Department’s five year plan, which will be released alongside the budget, for not including sequestration cuts. Both lawmakers believe sequestration will be reinstated in fiscal year 2016.
“When they come up and give us a budget based on the fact that sequestration's not going to be in existence. Where's the reality?" McKeon asked.
Inhofe said he agreed with the service chiefs on the negative effects of sequestration, but he didn’t have any solution for how to keep it from taking place. “The only answer I can give you that if the American people knew how serious it was, it would correct itself,” he said.
Both Inhofe and McKeon levied most of their barbs against President Barack Obama, even as the House leader allowed that some members from his own party have supported sequestration cuts.
The lawmakers dismissed Obama’s “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” which would bolster defense spending $26 billion and other accounts by $30 billion in exchange for spending and tax reforms.
The Obama administration wants to force legislators to raise revenue for defense and other spending by increasing taxes, McKeon said. Republicans aren’t going to allow that.
“What they're trying to do is trying to set up a system that is so bad that we're going to have to raise taxes. Well, we're not going to raise taxes. So it's going to be a very tough fight."
The Defense Department plans to ask Congress for another round of base realignment and closures in 2017, Hagel said on Monday.
Base closings cost money in the near term, but are supposed to harvest long-term savings. That doesn’t really help solve any current budget problems, McKeon said. Furthermore, Congress is unlikely to agree during an election year.
"They ought to probably start by documenting and showing us what was saved in the last BRAC. If they are serious about wanting a BRAC, they're going to have to show that a BRAC would save some money."
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
By Sandra I. Erwin
If U.S. troops must completely withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year, the scramble to move people and cargo will test the military’s vaunted logistics capabilities.
In the absence of an agreement between the U.S. and Afghan governments over the status of American forces past Dec. 31, all 34,000 troops will have to leave the country and 80 operating bases will have to be closed down by year's end. So far, there is no agreement in sight, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week ordered U.S. commanders to prepare for the so-called “zero option.”
Military logisticians — whose job of transporting troops and cargo already is made difficult by Afghanistan’s land-locked location and tough terrain — are drawing up plans to expedite operations if so ordered.
“We have developed a number of options in order to meet whatever the final decision is,” said Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Feb. 27, Fraser said a complete withdrawal is doable despite the short timeframe. “We have sufficient capability through both organic and commercial capabilities to meet whatever decision is made,” he said. “We can travel via ground through the northern distribution network.”
U.S. Transportation Command created the northern distribution network in 2009 after Pakistan denied NATO supply routes. The network combines trucking, rail and sealift. It gives U.S. forces access routes into Afghanistan from Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
U.S. officials have secured transit agreements and overflight rights from countries in the region, which will be immensely helpful as troops and equipment leave Afghanistan, Fraser said. “Getting those agreements is giving us options, whereby we can go and fly things out of the theater, fly to another location, and then onward move it back to the United States via sea.”
Fraser said the most cost-effective route is through Pakistan. Despite recent difficulties in moving cargo through that country, Pakistan’s southern port is “working very well, and we continue to move goods both out of and into Afghanistan,” he said.
Army Col. Glenn Baca, director of operations at the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, told National Defense that nearly half of the cargo leaving Afghanistan in recent weeks has been airlifted because ground routes through Pakistan were disrupted by protesters. The protests, stirred by recent U.S. drone strikes, were led by activists from the political party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. They blocked a major NATO supply route, Baca said. “In the last few weeks, the redeployment has been mostly by air because we've had impediments moving through Pakistan.”
Baca estimated that about 30,000 pieces need to be sent back, and more than two-thirds are shipping containers. The other 30 percent are rolling stock, including armored vehicles. The Army alone has $10 billion worth of equipment in Afghanistan that will be coming back.
In addition to security concerns, U.S. transportation officials have had to contend with a burdensome Afghan bureaucracy that keeps imposing new fees and restrictions on shipments, Baca said. “As the Afghan government has gotten more capable, they have gotten more bureaucratic,” he said. “When we were first moving into Afghanistan we had relative freedom of movement” without having to clear customs or coordinate movements with the local authorities.
Now the Afghan government is looking for ways to generate revenue, and has created customs processes that have become a “pretty significant impediment to our movement,” Baca said.
The Afghan Public Protection Force, or APPF, is the only authorized security force for private and commercial movement through Afghanistan. “APPF is a means to create revenue,” he said. “You have to coordinate for convoy escorts and security through APPF and that process is somewhat cumbersome and has slowed us to some extent.”
Baca said he is still hopeful for a bilateral security agreement that would give U.S. forces more time to withdraw and logisticians more breathing room.
He recalled the chaotic departure from Iraq in December 2011 after nine years of war. It was organized chaos, he said. “When the Iraq agreement couldn’t be signed and the ‘zero option’ was decided, the last 90 days was a hectic retrograde movement.”
But Baca, like Fraser, insisted that their troops are prepared for whatever comes next. “We have options, we have capacity and we have capability, and we developed all of this in order to respond to whatever the decision is.”
Greater use of airlift, Baca noted, will increase costs, compared to surface and sea transportation. The mission can be accomplished “effectively,” Baca said, but not necessarily “economically.”
Photo Credit: Army
By Stew Magnuson
The Boeing Co. has nearly wrapped up all the tests for the long-awaited Family of Advanced Beyond Line of Sight Terminals (FAB-T) program, the company’s program manager said Feb. 26.
The Boeing Co. and Raytheon Co. are in a two-way competition to build the satellite terminals, which will connect to the new Advanced-Extremely High Frequency satellites. The AEHF spacecraft are hardened against jamming and intended to provide protected communications in extreme conditions such as nuclear war.
Boeing is finishing in the next few weeks the security verification phase and reliability verification testing which includes about three months of being subjected to extreme heat and vibrations. There will then be some engineering and development models pushed out, Paul Geery told National Defense.
“Then we will just be in a wait mode for the production down-select decision,” he said. “I think that is moving to the right a month or two, because we just got a bunch of questions that we are going through the process of answering. I would guess, based on where they are at, that [the decision] is probably moving.” The program executive office has been saying the decision will come in the second quarter, he added.
When the Air Force makes its final decision, it will be the end of a long development road. Boeing was the original sole contractor on FAB-T when the program kicked off in 2002, but it became mired in delays and cost overruns. The Defense Department decided to re-introduce competition into the program and selected Raytheon in 2012 to begin developing its own terminals. The motive was to bring down the cost and get the program back on schedule.
The March decision will only be a down select for initial production work, and the final contract won’t be awarded until later this year. The Air Force announced late last year that it would only be purchasing command post ground stations meant for forward operating bases. Plans to integrate the terminals on B-2, B-52 bombers and RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft are on hold. The Air Force would be purchasing 84 ground stations, which includes the terminals themselves, the modems and antennas. The airborne version would have included 216 sets.
Geery has only been on the program for two and half years, but in his estimation, the delays were caused by the parallel development of the satellites and the ground terminals. There were two different contracts managed by two different Air Force offices.
“If you’re trying to design your com payload that goes on your satellite at the same time that you’re trying to design the com terminal that works on the ground, and at the same time you’re firming up the waveform that connects those things together, you’re kind of ripe for potential problems,” he said.
The Air Force is always going to insist that a ground system conforms to the multi-billion dollar satellite, he said. That meant when the specifications for the AEHF satellites changed, the terminals had to change as well. “The one major challenge early on was doing those things in parallel. … When both are being developed at the same time, both are moving targets.” One should have its design stabilized before the other was developed, he said.
Midway through the process, the hardware also had to be redesigned to conform to a change in requirements for more robust protection against nuclear threats, he said. The terminals are designed to function during nuclear war and to give the president command and control over forces.
After years of delays, the Air Force ended Boeing cost-plus contract, changed it to fixed price, and chose Raytheon as a competitor.
Scott Whatmough, vice president of integrated communications systems at Raytheon said Jan. 22 during a conference call with reporters that “Anytime there is competition, it forces creativity and innovative solutions,” he said. He was confident that the process will lower the price and, if Raytheon is selected, that it will be delivered on time.
Raytheon, in order to complete the project, took off-the-shelf technologies that the company had developed for other programs. Boeing’s terminal is purpose built.
Geery said the decision to introduce competition didn’t necessarily save time for the government because the down-select process takes longer. “We could be out ordering parts and doing all the long-lead stuff to ensure that we are in really great shape … now we have to wait a little bit as [the Air Force] works through the process.”
From the government perspective, it was a good back-up plan if one of the two contractors faltered, he said. “Wearing the government hat, it made a lot of sense.”
Credit: Family of Advanced Beyond Line of Sight Terminals graphic (Boeing photo)