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Friday at 5:14 PM
What’s inside the $700 billion defense budget plan headed to Trump's desk?
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"... Whether the military will have that much money to spend is still up for debate. The authorization bill sets policy priorities and spending parameters for military funding for fiscal 2018, but appropriators still must allot the money to the Defense Department before they can move ahead.

That process is expected to take several more weeks. ..."

... and I'm going to quote this post
and here's an update ... Cochran, R-Mississippi cut 50b ... but "The bill received immediate pushback from senior Democratic appropriators, who noted that it exceeds statutory budget caps for defense by $70 billion. Without a deal to ease caps, it would trigger an automatic 13 percent cut, known as sequestration, they said."
Cochran recommends budget-cap busting defense bill

7 hours ago
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Ahead of a bipartisan budget deal expected before year’s end, U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran is recommending a $650.7 billion spending package for the military in fiscal 2018.

The proposal announced Tuesday includes $581.3 billion in base Defense Department funding, $64.9 billion in so-called Overseas Contingency Operations wartime funding and, as Trump requested, $4.5 billion in emergency funding for missile defense.

Cochran’s draft bill was never put to the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, which he also heads, for a vote and never subject to the amendment process. If anything, it reflects the work product of the appropriations committee, with minority input — a marker for the Senate GOP’s position in ongoing budget negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House.

“This proposal recommends funding for programs necessary to protect U.S. national security interests. However, we still require a budget agreement to establish a top-line funding level for national defense spending,” said Cochran, R-Mississippi.

“I am optimistic we will be able to write a final bill that supports a strong U.S. force structure and makes needed investments in readiness, shipbuilding programs, aircraft procurement and missile defense,” he said.

The bill received immediate pushback from senior Democratic appropriators, who noted that it exceeds statutory budget caps for defense by $70 billion. Without a deal to ease caps, it would trigger an automatic 13 percent cut, known as sequestration, they said.

“This is a step forward, though we remain deeply concerned about the process,” said a joint statement from the Senate Appropriations Committee’s vice chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who is the No. 2 Senate Democrat and vice chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee.

In July, Leahy offered a proposal to increase defense spending in 2018 by $54 billion above spending caps and provide an equal increase in non-defense programs, or “parity.”

Leahy and Durbin on Tuesday again called for parity between the defense and non-defense sides of the budget, as well as protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors — a demand
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Though federal spending runs out Dec. 8, Speaker of the House PaulRyan has hinted there will be another stopgap continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government open while lawmakers wrangle. He has said he expects a spending deal to be final by year’s end.

The bill mirrors the 2.4 percent pay raise mandated in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the massive annual defense policy bill that passed both chambers of Congress earlier this month.

Comparisons between the top-line of this bill and the $700 billion NDAA are not easy, as the appropriations bill does not contain all of the same national security accounts as the defense policy bill.

Air Force

The recommendation notably contains far fewer additional F-35s than the NDAA. The appropriations bill included only $1 billion for four additional F-35B short takeoff and landing variants and another four F-35C carrier landing variants — meaning that the Air Force received no additional F-35A conventional takeoff and landing models, though it listed 14 A-models on its unfunded priorities list. The NDAA, by contrast, added 20 F-35s, 10 of which were A-models.

To soften the blow, Cochran’s mark added an additional $120 million for Air Force F-35 advance procurement “to increase planned procurements in FY2019,” according to a summary of the bill.

The committee also added $100 million for one HC-130J search and rescue aircraft and $35 million for Compass Call modifications.


Cochran’s proposal includes two littoral combat ships, one less than was authorized in the 2018 NDAA conference report. It also buys an aircraft carrier, two Virginia-class attack submarines and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

He would also fund a survey ship, an amphibious transport dock, an expeditionary fast-transport ship, and offers up $150 million for the Coast Guard’s heavy icebreaker program.

Boeing’s Super Hornet was a big winner in the draft appropriations bill. As in the NDAA, appropriators added $739 million for another 10 F/A-18E/Fs, which would bring total procurement up to 24 jets and further continue production of the fourth-generation fighter.

The draft bill also carves out $400 million for eight MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

The proposal would plan to fund repairs to both the destroyers Fitzgerald and McCain, damaged in fatal collisions this summer. That tab ran to $673 million. An additional $23 million was set aside to implement changes recommended in the review of the incidents.


Cochran would beef up the Army’s aircraft procurement request by nearly $1 billion above the president’s original request of $4.1 billion. The committee is funding nine additional AH-64E Apache helicopters, at $309 million, for the active Army and eight additional UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters specifically for the Army National Guard for a total of $108 million. Another $90 million will buy 11 UH-72 Lakota helicopters and $247 million will cover the cost of an additional four CH-47G Chinook helicopters for the Special Operations Command.

The Army would also get $327 million more in missiles above its request of $2.5 billion. However, the committee wants a report from the Army and Navy secretaries outlining procedures and policies to be used to better estimate missile procurement needs in the future.

The draft bill would add more than $1 billion to the weapons and tracked combat vehicle procurement account, with a large sum of that funding going to Stryker, Bradley and Abrams upgrade programs. The Army originally asked for $3.4 billion in its FY18 budget request for weapons and tracked combat vehicle procurement.

Missile Defense

Cochran wants to provide an additional $1.4 billion above the president’s request of $9.3 billion for missile defense. The majority of that additional funding would accelerate the capacity and capabilities of missile defense programs designed to counter “escalating threats from North Korea,” the lawmakers said.

Congress approved above-threshold reprogramming of $249 million to initiate the expansion of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System designed to protect the homeland from North Korean and Iranian threats by 20 additional ground-based interceptors with a redesigned kill vehicle and the construction of an additional missile field at Fort Greely, Alaska.

And Cochran recommends fully funding the Nov. 6 request from President Trump to supplement the fiscal 2018 budget with money to continue beefing up the GMD system and buy more Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System interceptors and SM-3 Block IIA interceptors.

Cochran would also add $376 million for research, development, test and evaluation to accelerate the “missile detect and defeat capacity and capability enhancements identified and initiated by [the Missile Defense Agency],” a committee report states.

The draft bill adds $329 million above the budget request to accelerate fielding integrated THAAD and Patriot missile defense systems to support a U.S. Pacific Command urgent need.

And the draft bill would increase the MDA budget by $322 million for “unfunded requirements and critical needs, to include enhanced discrimination capabilities, development and fielding of a radar in Hawaii, increased test capabilities and cyber enhancements,” the report states.


Army Looks To Replace $6 Billion Battlefield Network After Finding It Vulnerable

"The U.S. Army has concluded that its $6 billion battlefield communications system would likely be breached by Russia or China in the event of a big-power conflict, rendering it all but useless against sophisticated foes.

The Army says it needs at least two years to come up with a new, more resilient system that can provide the tactical networking that soldiers have come to rely on in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Despite the vulnerabilities and flaws that the Army has identified in the program in recent months, the service will still finish fielding the system to the entire force over the next two years, officials said, while trying to quickly patch in upgrades where they can while they search for a new solution.

Meanwhile, Congress is prodding the Army to find fixes for the communication system and is only offering half the $420 million the Army requested to finish deploying it in 2018."


Soldiers from 1st Stryker Brigade, 1st Armored Division operate vehicles equipped with Warfighter Information Tactical Increment 2 at Fort Bliss, Tx. October, 2014 (U.S. Army)

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Nov 10, 2017
Nov 1, 2017
Here's the latest updates on where JSTARS, T-X and OAX stand
5 hours ago
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and here comes a pretty tough article
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AFA HQ: We finally learned why the Air Force has been backing away from
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: it probably wouldn’t be much use in a real shooting war.

That’s the verdict, stated in less unforgiving terms by the
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, here in a speech.

“The question is, how will we fight and close the kill chain in a contested environment, in a highly contested environment, in the world we live in now,” Holmes said in response to a question posed by my FlightGlobal colleague Leigh Giangreco. “If war kicked off in Northern Europe, soldiers would already be under the umbrella of an integrated air defense when the war kicked off.” (Such multi-layered systems of long-range missiles, fighters, and sensors are known in Pentagon jargon as
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or A2/AD).

Holmes said “none of those systems we are fielding now, including our current JSTARS or a replacement JSTARS” would allow the US to break that kill chain. He didn’t say it, but the reason must be that the plane would just be too easy a target for the Russian S-400 air-aircraft systems deployed in Kaliningrad and along the western Russian border.

The existing JSTARS was designed to help the US and NATO find, fix and kill Soviet tanks, BMPs and other military vehicles as part of the AirLand Battle doctrine, the general reminded us. Today, JSTARS is largely used as a communications relay system and to spot “small vehicles and dismounted people,” he said. That’s a job that doesn’t really require a new capability since the aircraft can operate in uncontested environments and there are other assets such as the Global Hawk Block 40 and the P-8 that can do the same job.

The most important long-term news from Holmes was that the Air Force seems likely to go ahead with a major commitment to
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innovation, as it has with
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(MDC2) and
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. The vehicle for it would be an
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(ECCT). We had
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, but there’s been nary a peep out of the Air Force about it for months.

“I believe it will” occur, Holmes said, adding that the ECCT will tie into the Joint Study already underway on EW. No one has been picked yet to run it. I asked if they had decided a fundamental question: whether
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would be included in the ECCT. “I don’t know,” he said. “We have to decide how we define that down,” noting the ongoing debate about where EW ends and cyber begins. Perhaps this will open the way for an ECCT on
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source is BreakingDefense
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related to the post right above is USAF doubts new JSTARS could fly in contested airspace
21 November, 2017
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The US Air Force does not believe recapitalising the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) fleet will give the service the capability it needs for contested environments, the head of Air Combat Command says.

The remarks by Gen Mike Holmes at an Air Force Association event on 20 November sheds more light on the reasons why the $6.9 billion JSTARS replacement programme has come to a halt since September, leaving three bidding teams -- Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman -- waiting for a final decision.

The options under discussion are whether to move forward with a large business jet or Boeing's 737-700 as either a temporary or long-term replacement, or jump to a next-generation system that could operate and survive in contested environments.

A key issue in the discussions is how a next-generation JSTARS fits into a US military inventory with several similar capabilities. In addition to the E-8C's ground moving target indicator (GMTI) mode in the synthetic aperture radar, the USAF also operates 11 Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Block 40s with a smaller version of the same radar. The US Army flies manned surveillance aircraft equipped with Northrop's Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar (VADER), a GMTI optimised to track people instead of vehicles. Moreover, the US Navy is developing the Raytheon Advanced Airborne System (AAS) for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, which also has a GMTI capability, says Gen Michael Holmes..

But all of those systems operate in permissive environments, where the platforms can fly in close enough to get a good line of sight. Following a speech at an Air Force Association event outside Washington this week, Holmes warns that even a new JSTARS fleet would not be fit for operating in a contested enviroment.

“How will we fight and how will we close the kill chain in a highly contested environment in a world we live in now, where, if war kicked off in northern Europe, the NATO soldiers and coalition soldiers would already be underneath that umbrella provided by an integrated air defence?” Holmes says. “Our conclusion is, that none of those systems that were fielded now, including our current JSTARS or a replacement JSTARS would give us the capability to do that.”

The crux of the decision comes down to whether the USAF should fund one more recapitalisation or find another way to bridge the capability gap, Holmes says. But the USAF must make that decision with Congress, a vocal proponent of the JSTARS recapitalisation.

While the USAF would like to fund a programme that’s more effective in contested airspace, JSTARS still provides a crucial capability in counter insurgency operations.

“We’re not doing much around the world right now with that broad-area, air battle management because we’re not fighting that kind of war,” Holmes says. “What we are using the airplane for is as a communications relay and to do some specific GMTI work against some, kind of, novel threats that it wasn’t built for, so we’re looking for things like small vehicles and for dismounted people.”

The USAF could create a web of coverage with unmanned air vehicles, such as the Global Hawk. Holmes admitted there are strengths and weaknesses with the Global Hawk, and that the USAF is examining a range of capabilities to provide “nontraditional GMTI capability” against small vehicles in a contested environment. While Holmes says the USAF and Navy are talking about how platforms communicate and share information, he declined to comment on whether the air force could share the P-8’s GMTI capability.

“We’ll worry down the road about exactly who has what and how many of what do we need to buy,” he says. “I think the first task is going back to what we’re talking about in equipping for that contested environment, the platforms are important, but more important is how do they tie together?”
USAF needs Reagan-level dollars for penetrating counterair platform
21 November, 2017
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The US Air Force will need to replicate funding levels not seen since President Ronald Reagan's military spending build-up in the early 1980s in order to make its next-generation air dominance (NGAD) concept a reality, the head of Air Combat Command says this week.

The service has a solid grasp of what it would take to guarantee control of the air after finishing its 2030 air superiority study last spring, which assessed its limitations against future airpower threats. What the USAF is still struggling with is where to find the dollars to fund its next ambitious acquisition programme.

“I don’t see a shortcut to doing it,” Gen Mike Holmes says. “Whatever path you choose, to go after maintaining that air superiority option, it’s going to cost about the same as it did 30 years ago.”

While the superiority study proposed a family of systems rather than one central fighter like the Lockheed Martin F-35, the core of the NGAD concept appears to rely on a penetrating counterair platform.

The study’s author, Brig Gen Alexus Grynkewich, has been careful to stay away from an “F” designation for PCA, instead emphasizing a capacity for range, persistence and lethality that will vary from contemporary fighters designed for 20th-century warfare tactics.

“We believe you have to go fight the enemy in their airspace if you want to make air superiority work,” Holmes says. “Certainly we think we’re going to pursue counterair, we’re going to pursue suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses, we’re going to have to pursue an electronic warfare component of that.”

The USAF must also figure out how to afford all those capabilities while the service ramps up ongoing F-35 production, he adds.
"The USAF must also figure out how to afford all those capabilities while the service ramps up ongoing F-35 production, he adds."

while in the meantime Saturday at 12:17 PM
according to AirForceMag Pilot Shortage is Even Worse Than Announced

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Lieutenant General
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Cochran recommends budget-cap busting defense bill
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Complicated ! :rolleyes: so Administration/President request but also House, Senate add in genral maybe can devrease funds ? after bipartisan budget deal according sequestration caps :eek: and finaly :confused:

But yet some budget forecasters have plans i hope...

After holiday break, shutdown threat looms for Congress

WASHINGTON — After Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess, budget forecasters are hoping for a year-end spending deal, a pre-Christmas miracle to avert a government shutdown.

But by no means is a deal in hand.

Multiple reports suggest that as 2017 winds down, a showdown is heating up over whether any spending deal will include a remedy for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said no, but a bloc of House Democrats have demanded it for their votes on any year-end funding bil

Though federal spending runs out Dec. 8, Ryan has hinted there will be another stopgap continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government open while lawmakers wrangle. He has said he expects a spending deal to be final by year’s end.

Roman Schweizer, an analyst and managing director at the Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a note to investors he expects a deal before the new year — as opposed to a long-term CR — and potentially a two-year deal.

“A two-year deal makes a lot of sense” because Congress has amended budget caps two years at a time before, because it would avoid having to make another deal in an election year and because “a hold-your-nose catchall bill” with enough vote-getting provisions will win passage, said Schweitzer.

Lawmakers are reportedly considering a GOP proposal of a two-year budget deal that would raise 2011 Budget Control Act caps for defense by $54 billion and nondefense funds by $37 billion in both fiscal 2018 and 2019.

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over that possibility, that budget caps would be set at $603 billion for defense. The
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that passed the House and Senate earlier this month authorized much more: $626.4 billion in base defense spending and $8 billion in defense funds authorized in other committees.
The defense industry applauded passage of the NDAA earlier this month, but not reports of the potentially lower top-line for the Pentagon. The National Defense Industrial Association expressed its own concerns in a Nov. 20 statement.

“NDIA urges swift action to reach a budget agreement that provides sufficient defense funds for the remainder of FY 2018,” the statement reads. “It must also meet the needs indicated in the soon-to-be-released National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review that will drive the FY 2019 budget request and Future Years Defense Program.”

Some arguments are emerging for Democrats to push back both against the higher top-line and — linked to defense — tax reform.

In a Center for a New American Security podcast posted Nov. 20, former U.S. Army Secretary Eric Fanning, due to become the chief of the Aerospace Industries Association in 2018, expressed skepticism about the force structure growth mandated by the NDAA.

Fanning flipped on its head a hawkish argument for the NDAA: that it provides troops with needed readiness funding. He argued that what it provides for training and modernization was not enough for the force-structure boost.

“I think we hadn’t properly resourced the force that we had, and if there’s going to be an emphasis on growing the number of Marines, ships and fighter squadrons, I’m concerned that we won’t get enough money for that,” Fanning said.

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that the GOP tax plan, unless it is revenue-neutral, will add downward pressure on future defense budgets.

In a Nov. 15
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to senior congressional leaders, three former defense secretaries who served under President Barack Obama — Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel and Ash Carter — warned that because the tax plan is expected to increase the debt, passing it will probably mean future cuts to Pentagon budgets “for training, maintenance, force structure, flight missions, procurement and other key programs.”

“The result is the growing danger of a ‘hollowed out’ military force that lacks the ability to sustain the intensive deployment requirements of our global defense mission,” the letter reads. “The Navy’s recent report on the causes of the
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with civilian cargo ships that took the lives of 17 seamen confirms the lack of adequate training.”

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., made a similar argument in a floor speech a day earlier, that GOP tax reform plans would “undermine the ability to fund” the NDAA’s spending plans.

“We are having this debate now and talking about how underfunded the military is and how badly we need to shore up our readiness,” Smith said. “The rest of the week, we will make sure how our government takes in trillions of dollars less money. That is wildly inconsistent. If we believe we have these needs, we ought to be able to pay for them.”

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Lieutenant General
Registered Member
Damn ! Search and rescue for three personnel continue

UPDATE: Eight Personnel Recovered from C2-A Crash, Search Continues


Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer's statement on the incident: "I would like everyone to take a moment and keep some of our Navy family in their thoughts and prayers. A C2 Greyhound with 11 personnel on board crashed in the Philippine Sea while in transit to USS Ronald Reagan. Eight have been rescued, and a full search and rescue mission is underway for the missing three. We are grateful to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) for their assistance, but I would ask that we keep our fellow Navy family members in our thoughts and prayers."
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Thursday at 7:28 AM
the first time I heard of him was ... Nov 3, 2017

Senate confirms Esper as Army secretary
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and Mark Esper sworn in as 23rd Army secretary
Almost four months after the Senate first received his nomination to be the top civilian in the Department of the Army, former Raytheon executive Mark Esper took his oath of office Tuesday.

Esper, a West Point graduate and former lieutenant colonel, will join Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy, who had been serving as the acting secretary since his own August swearing-in, on an ambitious line-up of initiatives that includes reforming the Army’s notoriously slow — and often wasteful — procurement process.

“Thanks to your service, our Army remains the world’s premier ground combat force and the bedrock of our nation’s defense,” Esper wrote in a Tuesday
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addressed to the force. “This is why the readiness and welfare of our soldiers, civilians and their families will always be foremost in my mind, and why I intend to pursue initiatives that will offer the professional opportunities and quality of life all deserve.“

His top priorities will be readiness, modernization and a commitment to Army values, Esper wrote.

“This includes treating everyone with respect, collaborating broadly, and always doing the right thing,” he wrote. “The Army is at its best when it works and fights as one team, and with the challenges we face ahead, a recommitment to these values will serve us well.”

Esper, whom the Senate confirmed on Nov. 15, succeeds former Army Secretary Eric Fanning, who left with the outgoing Obama administration in January.

Esper is President Trump’s third Army secretary nominee. The previous candidates, Tennessee State Senator Mark Green and businessman Vincent Viola, dropped out because of political controversy and an inability to untangle conflicting business interests, respectively.

Esper’s nomination hearing and confirmation vote had been delayed for months by summer recesses and a Pentagon-Senate battle over the Defense Department’s communication about policy and operational decisions.

“We owe our young men and women in uniform leadership that fits their service,” Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona said before the vote. “I’m confident that [Esper] will provide our Army with that leadership. His record of service in the Army, in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill provides the foundation for the leadership our soldiers deserve.”
source is DefenseNews
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