related is Report to Congress on Defense Spending Under a Continuing Resolution
From the Report
This report provides a basic overview of interim continuing resolutions (CRs) and highlights some specific issues pertaining to operations of the Department of Defense (DOD) under a CR.
As with regular appropriations bills, Congress can draft a CR to provide funding in many different ways. Under current practice, a CR is an appropriation that provides either interim or full-year funding by referencing a set of established funding levels for the projects and activities that it funds (or covers). Such funding may be provided for a period of days, weeks, or months and may be extended through further continuing appropriations until regular appropriations are enacted, or until the fiscal year ends. In recent fiscal years, the referenced funding level on which interim or full-year continuing appropriations has been based was the amount of budget authority that was available under specified appropriations acts from the previous fiscal year.
CRs may also include provisions that enumerate exceptions to the duration, amount, or purposes for which those funds may be used for certain appropriations accounts or activities. Such provisions are commonly referred to as anomalies. The purpose of anomalies is to preserve Congress’s constitutional prerogative to provide appropriations in the manner it sees fit, even in instances when only interim funding is provided.
The lack of a full-year appropriation and the uncertainty associated with the temporary nature of a CR can create management challenges for federal agencies. DOD faces unique challenges operating under a CR while providing the military forces needed to deter war and defend the country. For example, an interim CR may prohibit an agency from initiating or resuming any project or activity for which funds were not available in the previous fiscal year (i.e., prohibit new starts). Such limitations in recent CRs have affected a large number of DOD programs. Before the beginning of FY2018, DOD identified approximately 75 weapons programs that would be delayed by the FY2018 CR’s prohibition on new starts and nearly 40 programs that would be affected by a restriction on production quantity.
In addition, Congress may include provisions in interim CRs that place limits on the expenditure of appropriations for programs that spend a relatively high proportion of their funds in the early months of a fiscal year. Also, if a CR provides funds at the rate of the prior year’s appropriation, an agency may be provided additional (even unneeded) funds in one account, such as research and development, while leaving another account, such as procurement, underfunded.
By its very nature, an interim CR can prevent agencies from taking advantage of efficiencies through bulk buys and multiyear contracts. It can foster inefficiencies by requiring short-term contracts that must be reissued once additional funding is provided, requiring additional or repetitive contracting actions.
DOD has started the fiscal year under a CR for 13 of the past 17 years (FY2002-FY2018) and every year since FY2010. The amount of time DOD has operated under CR authorities during the fiscal year has increased in the past 9 years and equates to a total of more than 36 months since 2010.
"In an unprecedented move announced weeks ago, the president installed his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, on the National Security Council's Principals Committee."
interesting development:Sep 18, 2017
now (dated 07 December, 2017) Congress puts confidence in new A-10 wings
source is FlightGlobal
The PRoblem with the A10 is not what it does but increasingly where it can do it. In Afghanistan The Taliban has limited air defences. No major SAM sites, no S 300, S400, S500 systems at best a MANPAD and some Heavy machine guns. For A10 that's perfect.
At 30 years, the cruiser Mobile May is riding a high.
It recently completed an integration of the Navy’s AEGIS Baseline 9 software onto the older Baseline 8 hardware — a move that is designed to give the ship increased offensive capabilities of the newer software without the added expense of ripping up the combat information center and installing all new hardware.
It’s the product of several years of advancements in combat system technology and it paid off in November with the launch of two SM-2 missiles and an Evolved Sea Sparrow missile from the forward missile launcher.
Launching missiles is what it’s all about for a cruiser-destroyer sailor, which meant the seemingly countless hours of testing and maintenance ahead of the launch – intended to certify the new Baseline 9 install – were for a good cause.
“When it comes to the MISSILE-EX, we’re there from the beginning to the end,” said one fire control tech who spoke to Defense News onboard the cruiser. “So that’s very rewarding seeing that the equipment works and all the effort you put in worked. That’s where it gets paid back to us.”
Installing Baseline 9 onto the Baseline 8 configuration is the result of the older system’s open-architecture design and a common source code library that makes software upgrades simpler. Instead of a new baseline install taking months, the 9 on 8 shift took just a few weeks. That means it’s both cheaper and easier to integrate new systems.
Baseline 9 gives the ship the ability to shoot Raytheon’s long-range SM-6 missile – designed for use against both air and surface targets – but also gives the ship the ability to shoot at targets acquired by other airborne sensors such as an E-2D Hawkeye or the soon-to-arrive F-35 Lightning II.
That’s just the kind of extended range and lethality that Surface Fleet boss Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden has been championing since he arrived at Naval Surface Force Pacific in 2014.
“I think certainly the back-fit of Baseline 9 to the Baseline 8 computing environment for those initial cruisers gives them capability that allows them to pace the threat,” Rowden said in an November interview with Defense News. “And I think those ships will continue to be valuable to our overseas operations.”
The ship’s commanding officer is enthusiastic about the capabilities the new system brings to bear.
“Right now, on a 30-year-old ship, I have the most capable combat system,” said Capt. Jim Storm. “It was a pretty powerful moment when we were sitting on the pier directly across from a destroyer that had just got commissioned two weeks prior – we were gearing up for our MISSILE-EX. I was able to tell my crew that when we deploy, based on where we are going and the threats we’ll be facing, I’d rather be on this ship than that one.
“That’s a pretty powerful thing to be able to tell your crew, it’s something to get excited about.”
‘It will kick you’
The fact that Mobile Bay at 30 is one of the most advanced ships in the fleet speaks volumes about the care the Navy puts into its ships, but the good times are only going to last for so long. Mobile Bay is rapidly approaching its 35-year service life and it needs work.
The Mobile Bay is, along with the Bunker Hill, are the first two cruisers on the chopping block
The officers and sailors on board the ship mostly seem to agree that the ship has plenty of life left in the tank, so long as the Navy puts the money in to keep her. But therein lies the dilemma.
Keeping a 30-year-old cruiser that’s been rode hard is like keeping up a classic car: it takes a lot of time and care to keep it running smoothly.
Pipes that have been running cooling water, sewage, sea water and potable water for 30 years have thinned out and are starting to leak. The aluminum superstructure has been suffering cracking problems for years. Tanks have been wearing down and the old SPY-1A radar that is the whole raison d’être of the CG is an enormous time suck to keep alive and ticking.
The SPY-1A, unlike the solid state SPY-6 radar going on the next iteration of the Arleigh Burke destroyers, runs off a central nervous system inside the ship that directs energy through tubes and wave guides up to the arrays and outward. All that equipment is old and obsolete.
To keep it alive, sailors have to get creative – horse trade with other ships for parts and use the old mothball fleet in Philadelphia as a parts locker.
“It’s like anything old, it takes love,” said another FC who spoke to Defense News. “I like the radar but, yes, it is very maintenance intensive. If you don’t show it the love, it will kick you.”
Rowden, the Surface Fleet boss, has been vocal about his desire to find a way to keep the cruisers.
“The cruisers are phenomenally capable ships, not only from the standpoint of the crews we have on them and the seniority of the commanding officers that are running those ships, but in the technological capability that those ships deliver,” he said.
“They are extremely valuable not only in the execution of carrier strike group operations but as we look to start bringing the F-35s onto the big-deck amphibs, the opportunity to build and understand the concept of the up-gunned [amphibious expeditionary strike group]. I think that argues for perhaps the utilization of those ships in that type of situation as well.
The Navy is studying what it would take to keep the cruisers around well into the future. One solution being explored would be back-fitting a solid-state radar onto the cruisers, but the added weight in the already top-heavy cruiser presents a design challenge, according to several sources who spoke to Defense News on background.
The old SPY-1 radar distributes its weight around the superstructure and decks of Ticonderoga-class. Adding the full SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar to the Arleigh Burkes required a nearly 50 percent redesign of the hull, adding length to support the weight and a new power and cooling system to operate it.
That might mean a scaled-down version of the SPY-6, such as the one being proposed for the Navy’s future frigate program.
But that still leaves a significant investment in new wiring, pipes and other hull, mechanical and electrical equipment to keep the ships going for another decade or so. The House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee chairman, Rep. Rob Wittman, told Defense News in November that he hopes to find a way to keep the oldest cruisers in commission.
The sooner the better
But one thing that’s clear to the crew: the sooner the Navy makes a decision on whether to keep Mobile Bay and her sister ships around the better.
Crew members said that some maintenance that they need to get done is difficult-to-impossible to get approved because they are within the five-year window of getting decommissioned, and if the Navy acts soon they can begin to schedule some of those upgrades during upcoming maintenance availabilities.
That has the added benefit of spreading the work out over a number of smaller avails rather than one whopping modernization with a staggering price tag, one crew member said.
With the ship reaching its sell-by date, the Navy will get as much life out of Mobile Bay as it can give, crew members said, something Rowden agreed with.
“I think it’s true for any ship: as long as the funding is there the ship hangs around,” Rowden said. “When the funding dries up they take it out of service, whether you are talking about cruisers or aircraft carriers or anything in between.”
Storm, the ship’s commanding officer, echoed that sentiment, saying that the capabilities the ship brings to the fight are valuable but keeping Mobile Bay boils down to a financial decision.
“I think any platform will get to whatever service life you want if you are willing to fund it and give it the time to get there,” he said. “To me, the upgrades that we have make us a pretty formidable asset for my boss. The capabilities that it give us from both a defensive and offensive perspective – they’re pretty neat.”
As for his aging ship, as it stands today, he’s pleased with how its holding up, something he credits to his crew.
“To tell you the truth she’s running pretty good, knock on wood,” Storm said.
Aurora's long-range Orion UAS receives USAF funding
- 04 JANUARY, 2018
- SOURCE: FLIGHTGLOBAL.COM
- BY: LEIGH GIANGRECO
- WASHINGTON DC
The US Air Force has awarded Aurora Flight Sciences a $48 million contract to develop a certificated version of the ultra-long-endurance Orion unmanned air vehicle, possibly reviving the unmanned air system's prospects after a four-year hiatus.
The Air Force Research Laboratory selected Aurora more than a decade ago for an ultra long endurance study contract to explore a new surveillance aircraft that could exceed the endurance limits of the USAF’s MQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk.
Orion demonstrated a record-setting 80h flight in 2014 but the air force’s chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance argued the service had no operational requirement for a multi-day, long-endurance unmanned aircraft.
But Aurora Flight Sciences continued to market the aircraft as an option for meeting the USAF's seemingly insatiable appetite for aerial surveillance coverage. Boeing acquired the Virginia-based company in October, giving the previously small contractor significantly more sales support.
The twin-engine Orion is designed to fly for more than 100 hours and carry payloads over 453kg (1,000lb).
In November, US Senate appropriators proposed adding $40 million to the still-pending fiscal year 2018 defence budget for an “ultra long endurance aircraft”. The contract awarded by the USAF to complete Orion certification uses funds from the fiscal 2017 budget, an Aurora spokesperson tells FlightGlobal.