US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.

some time ago
Jun 13, 2015
deciding about 100 billions for the boomers ...
Congressmen: Ohio Replacement Might Now Have Much-Needed Stability in Funding

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The Navy is moving ahead with its Ohio replacement submarines, and is using a little-noticed budgetary gimmick to pay for some of it.
The Navy is finally getting the funding it has sought to push production of its next-generation Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine. But in a move that has raised some eyebrows, hundreds of millions of dollars for the program are not coming from the Navy budget, a situation that could become the new normal amid continuing budget uncertainty.

Navy leadership has said the Columbia program, which will include 12 nuclear-powered boats to replace the aging Ohio-class SSBNs currently in service, is one of their top priorities to stay ahead of Russian and Chinese sub-building booms, and grow the overall attack sub fleet from the current 52 to 66 by the 2040s.

But money is a major problem. With a host of expensive of modernization priorities like building multiple attacks submarines per year, getting the first four Ford-class carriers out of the shipyards, and buying more F-35s, the Navy is looking for help.

These programs are coming online under the shadow of the return of budget caps in 2020, which will force the service to make hard choices while bracing for future shipbuilding budgets that are likely to require more money than is currently planned.

In 2015, Congress was convinced to take the novel step of creating the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, establishing a pot of money controlled by the Secretary of Defense — and outside of the Navy’s budget — to help fund the Columbia program.

Over the past six months, the Pentagon has poured $831 million into that pot, with $231 million
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by Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist.

The money was approved by Congress in the March Omnibus which funded the Defense Department. It comes on top of the $3 billion requested in 2019 for initial Columbia procurement, along with $1.7 billion for nuclear propulsion components for the lead ship, and another $705 million for further research and development.

While some critics say the fund allows the Navy to
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by being able to reach into a separate account to help fund its boomers, the 2015 rule was the result of decades of work by the Navy and some lawmakers to convince Congress that the SSBNs are more like the nation’s ballistic missile defenses, and should be funded — at least in part — from a national account.

That argument received some backup in February in the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, which said the SSBN’s are a critical part of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent force, known as the triad, which also includes land-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and long-range bombers like the B-2 and B-52. The report said the submarines are “the most survivable leg of the triad. When on patrol, SSBNs are, at present, virtually undetectable, and there are no known, near-term credible threats to the survivability of the SSBN force.”

If the boats are so important, however, the Navy should find a way to pay for it under normal budgetary processes, says Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute. Mackenzie, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors,
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that once budgets flatline in 2020 with the return of sequestration, “this arrangement would preclude the hard choices planners will need to make about the future by rendering large components of the Navy shipbuilding budget politically untouchable under the remit of a fund supposedly of national importance.”

Eaglen told me that the fund is little more than “a shell game to move around money. It means that another program loses. Sometimes it is not a big deal, but other times it is.”

Rep. Rob Wittman, chairman of the HASC seapower subcommittee, disagrees. In an email, he told me that “the Congressional Budget Office assessed that the use of the Fund will save several hundred million dollars per ship. As the second largest Department of Defense procurement, it is essential that this program remain within cost and on schedule.” The recent transfer of the $231 million “is another positive step to provide strategic deterrence in support of our nation’s defense.”

The bill for the new Columbia boomers will be huge. The Navy estimated last year that the lead ship (almost the most expensive) would cost roughly $8.2 billion, while additional ships would cost around $7.2 billion per hull. That would take a huge chunk out of the Navy’s yearly shipbuilding budget, which this year hit a high of $21 billion but is likely to flatline should sequestration caps come back in force in 2020.

Total procurement costs, according to the Navy,
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$109 billion for the 12 boomers, with the first coming in 2021, the second in 2024, and the remaining 10 at a rate of one per year from 2026 through 2035.

The deterrence fund, however, according to the the 2015 legislation that created it, is intended to create opportunities for the Navy to save on some of the common components shared between the Columbia program, the Virginia-class attack submarine and the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier. There might also be some cost savings to be had stemming from the assistance the US. is providing the U.K. on its
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. The new boats will make use of the modular Common Missile Compartment, and the United States is also helping with the new PWR-3 reactor plant to be used by the Dreadnought.

In general, criticism of the fund has been muted for the moment.

“It looks like most, if not everyone, involved accept that this is how we will do business for the Columbia program,” said one official involved in defense budget issues, who requested anonymity. “I can’t see it has hurt any other program.” Since shipbuilding has been enjoying substantial increases in the president’s request and Congress has been eager to add even more money to shipbuilding accounts, “we haven’t gotten to the period where some of the authorities in that fund—cross class purchases of materials, for example—is being extensively used, if at all yet. It has allowed the Navy to more easily cash flow the items it is purchasing, so that makes the Columbia’s program a little easier to manage,” the official added.

More money can float a lot of boats. The test will come when some of that money dries up, and the other services begin clamoring for their own deterrence funds to buy programs they can’t afford, or won’t budget for.
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the last link in a long series of JSTARS recap/no recap is ... Apr 25, 2018
Mar 22, 2018
while House lawmakers move to stop Air Force from canceling JSTARS recap
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now Air Force secretary: China, Russia could shoot down new JSTARS on day one of a war
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Even a new version of the Air Force’s
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battlefield management and control aircraft would be vulnerable to being shot out of the sky during the opening salvo of a conflict with Russia or China, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told lawmakers Thursday.

As part of its proposed fiscal 2019 budget, the Air Force wants to cancel the program to recap the E-8C
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aircraft, which previously sought to buy 17 new Boeing 707-sized planes to replace its old inventory.

But some lawmakers aren’t thrilled with that plan, and are putting up roadblocks.

Last month, the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee included a provision in its portion of the 2019 defense authorization bill that would make life difficult for the Air Force if it
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This provision would cap funding for its proposed Advanced Battle Management System program ― which the service envisions as a possible alternative to the recap ― at 50 percent, until the Air Force moves forward with the JSTARS recap.

In her testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense, Wilson said that a new JSTARS would not be able to get close enough to a fight against an advanced military ― especially against Russia ― to do any good.

“Russian and Chinese surface-to-air missiles have more range, and the plane would be shot down in the first day of conflict,” Wilson said.

Wilson instead floated a middle ground that incorporates the Air Force’s alternative, which would fuse data collected from a combination of manned, unmanned and space-based platforms. But, she said, it would cost billions more.

“The question rises, could we do both?” Wilson said. “It could be recapitalize JSTARS, and also build an advanced battle management system that could operate in a contested environment. Yes, we could do both, and it costs about $7 billion more than what we propose in our budget.”
Swift Calls for Navy Readiness Improvements Before Fleet Buildup in PACFLEET Retirement Speech
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“First, fully fund the readiness accounts of the Navy we have before we start building a Navy for the future,” Swift said.

The Navy is in pursuit of a 355 ship fleet – up from today’s 283. Service reports, government studies and congressional leaders indicate the Navy is struggling to keep current ships – especially the forward-deployed ships in Pacific Fleet – on regular maintenance schedules.


Tyrant King
Bell to finish Marine Corps deliveries of UH-1Y Venom by end of 2018
  • 17 MAY, 2018
Bell Helicopter is set to finish deliveries of the UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter to the US Marine Corps by the end of 2018.

The USMC will continue to take deliveries of the Venom’s sister aircraft, the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, until 2022.

The Venom and the Viper are based on the Vietnam-era family of Huey helicopters, the UH-1 Iroquois and the derivative AH-1 Cobra. The modern variants share 85 percent of their parts including a common tail boom, engines, rotor system, drivetrain, avionics architecture, software and controls.

“This allows us to reduce our ownership costs and it reduces our footprint on board ships,” said David Walsh, programme manager for the UH-1. “Anytime you are on board a maritime ship space is at a premium.”

The H-1 programme is also focused on improving the existing fleet of Bell AH-1Z Vipers and UH-1Y Venoms with upgraded electronic warfare systems, Link 16, an increase in available electrical power and structural improvements to help the helicopters carry more external weapons, said Walsh. New weapons for the helicopters will include JAGM and AIM-9X Sidewinder.

And, the programme is adding upgraded navigation systems such as ADS-B, EGI and M-Code GPS. Bell is also looking into but hasn’t started adding the ability to control unmanned aerial systems from the helicopters, said Walsh.
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US Army eyes long-term role for Apache with futuristic weapons and upgrades
  • 16 MAY, 2018
The US Army is eyeing futuristic weapons and other upgrades for the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, such as directed energy weapons and a compound wing, as it believes a replacement aircraft is not expected within the next decade.

The plans are aimed at keeping the Apache relevant for decades to come as the Future Vertical Lift programme’s replacement for the attack helicopter, Capability Set Three, isn’t due to be fielded until at least 2030.

Potential upgrades include a composite tail boom, vertical stabilizer and tail rotor blade. Possible changes to the design of the aircraft include the addition of a compound wing and propulsor. The Army is also keen on updating the gunship’s arsenal with small guided munitions and directed energy weapons.

“You’re not going to replace 791 Apaches overnight,” said Richard Tyler, deputy project manager, Apache Attack Helicopter programme, during a presentation at AHS International's 74th Annual Forum & Technology Display conference in Phoenix, Arizona. “We see the Apache going forward for quite a number of years. We want to keep it relevant. We are going to leverage the work being done in FVL and in ITEP.”

There is likely to be more than a 20 year transition period, he added.

“That is driven by economics,” said Tyler. “You can’t do a straight, full-up replacement. Over time, yes, but not right out of the gate.”
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MH-60 Seahawk production winds down as international interest remains tenuous
  • 16 MAY, 2018
Production of Sikorsky’s MH-60 Seahawk is set to conclude in the next 18 months as the US Navy tops off its fleet and potential international customers have yet to commit to buy additional aircraft.

The USN is set to receive the last of the 280 MH-60R variants in the programme of record this June and then another eight of the helicopters in 2019 – additions to the 2018 budget. The Saudi Royal Navy is to receive 10 MH-60Rs in July.

“The production line is still active. It is still operating. It is coming towards the end of its life,” said USN Capt Craig Grubb, who manages the MH-60 helicopter programme. “If you want to buy MH-60s this is the time to act.”

International customers are expressing interest in the MH-60R but have yet to make commitments, he added. The MH-60R is operated by Australia and Denmark, in addition to the United States and soon Saudi Arabia.

Seahawk helicopter missions include anti-surface warfare, combat support, humanitarian disaster relief, combat search and rescue, aero medical evacuation, special operations and organic airborne mine countermeasures, according to the USN.

In addition to the MH-60R, the USN also operates 275 MH-60S helicopters, which were delivered in 2016, and a small number of the MH-60H helicopters, one of the original Seahawk helicopter variants which was ordered in the 1980s.

The USN plans to retire the MH-60H in spring 2019, said Grubb.

“That will be the culmination of the helicopter master plan for naval aviation,” he said. “Going from a multitude of seven type model series to now end up with just two in the end: the MH-60S and MH-60R.”

The USN plans to operate the latest two variants of the MH-60 Seahawk for decades to come, said Grubb.

“We will operate these aircraft out into the 2030s, maybe even into the early 2040s,” he said.
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Tyrant King
Lockheed loses out on its US Air Force Huey replacement protest
By: Valerie Insinna   2 hours ago

Lockheed's plan to protest the replacement contract for the UH-1N light-lift utility helicopter didn't work out so well. (J.T. Armstrong/Air Force)
OSLO, Norway — The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday shot down a pre-award protest of the Air Force UH-1N Huey replacement program by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky branch.

The defense giant’s helicopter business pre-emptively filed the protest in February due to concerns about the level of intellectual property it would be forced to hand over to the U.S. government if the company’s HH-60U won the competition.

The HH-60U — a variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk — is widely seen as the favorite to win the competition due to the helicopter’s use throughout the U.S. services and the Air Force’s stated preference in the past to sole source the aircraft.

The GAO’s decision will allow the Air Force to stay on track with a contract award, which is planned to occur this June. Sikorsky is competing against a Boeing-Leonardo team, which is proposing a militarized version of Leonardo’s AW139 commercial helicopter, and Sierra Nevada Corp., which is offering to upgrade old Army UH-60Ls.

In a statement, Sikorsky confirmed that the company had received the decision and is now reviewing its options to determine whether to take further legal action.

“We remain confident the Sikorsky HH-60U offering is the strongest, most capable and only technically compliant solution for the UH-1N Huey replacement program,” the statement reads. “We remain committed to supporting the Air Force and providing them with a proven, in-production military aircraft for the critical no-fail mission of protecting our nation’s nuclear missile silos and supporting the continuity-of-government mission.”

At the core of Sikorsky’s protest was a disagreement with the government over what type of information constitutes operations, maintenance, installation and training data — informally called OMIT data — which automatically would transfer to the government for its unlimited use.

“The issue there is they can use that however they see fit. Give it to other services, other vendors,” David Morgan, Sikorsky’s business development director, told Defense News in February.

But according to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, “software source code is not considered as sustainment or OMIT data.”

Sikorsky officials said then that the company had previously filed an agency-level protest to try to address its issues with the Air Force before protesting with the GAO. However, the outcome, they said, did not address their concerns.

If the GAO decided to sustain Sikorsky’s protest, the Air Force would likely have been forced to rework its requirements, adding at least months to the process.
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Apr 17, 2018
... as Trump administration repurposes $65 million for new nuclear warhead design
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now Former defense officials beg Congress not to fund new nuclear warhead
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A group of prominent former national security officials have sent a letter to members of Congress asking that the Hill not fund a major defense priority of the Trump administration: the creation of new low-yield nuclear warheads.

The letter, delivered this week to members of the relevant committees with oversight on nuclear weapons, warns that pursuing so-called tactical nuclear weapons is a “gateway to nuclear catastrophe” that “should not be pursued.”

The Pentagon’s
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, released in February, called for the creation of
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– a low-yield variant of the W76 nuclear warhead, launched from the Trident II missiles aboard America’s nuclear submarines, as well as a potential new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile. The letter targets the W76-2 variant, which the administration hopes to see
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The systems are supposed to
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from using its own arsenal of low-yield nuclear weapons, an argument the authors of the letter do not support.

“Ultimately, the greatest concern about the proposed low-yield Trident warhead is that the president might feel less restrained about using it in a crisis. When it comes to using a nuclear weapon, restraint is a good thing,” the 32 authors write.

“The proposed ‘low-yield’ Trident warhead is dangerous, unjustified, and redundant. Congress has the power to stop the administration from starting down this slippery slope to nuclear war. We call on Congress to exercise that authority without delay.”

Among the signees of the letter are William Perry, the former defense secretary
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; George P. Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state; Ret. Gen. James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; and Ret. Lt. Gen, Robert Gard, who used to lead National Defense University.

It is also signed by Jerry Brown, the sitting governor of California. The senior senator from California, Diane Feinstein, has been a
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in recent years, including during the Obama administration.

Notably, as the letter is targeted specifically at the Hill, several former members of Congress are also signed on. Those include Richard Lugar, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Byron Dorgan, former chairman of the Energy & Water development Appropriations Subcommittee; Gary Hart and Mark Udall, two former Senate Armed Services Committee members; Barney Frank, the longtime Massachusetts representative; and John Tierney, former Chairman of the House Oversight national security subcommittee.

The letter comes as Democrats have launched an attack on the W76-2, with procedural attempts to strip its funding from defense and energy bills. However, the Republican majority has successfully defended that funding so far.
Today at 6:18 AM
Chinese connection in ...
...The risks facing the Pentagon’s high-end electronics and radars
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A new Pentagon report warns that the supply chain for high-end electronics and rare materials is increasingly at risk, likely putting radar and electronic warfare capabilities in danger as the Department of Defense relies more on these items.

Among the concerns highlighted by the annual industrial capabilities report from the Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy is how to make sure the supply of key electronics components is always available to meet department demands. The report was quietly released on a department website May 17.

Part of the challenge for the department is the reality that it has “limited leverage” to
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, as global military production represents only 6 percent of the overall market.

While DoD can drive other areas in certain directions through research and development funding – for instance,
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by investing heavily in that sector and offering the dream of large contracts in the near-future for industry partners who play along – the electronics sector has too many larger, less difficult clients it wants to please to be swayed.

Meanwhile, the ability of DoD to assure its microelectronics are not compromised is “increasingly difficult,” thanks to the global nature of production on these vital parts. For instance, the printed circuit board market hit $60 billion in 2015, so there should be plenty of suppliers for the department.

But half of that market is owned by Chinese firms and the U.S. share is down to around 5 percent, the report said.

Instead, DoD is investing in domestic microelectronics production through the
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; it has also launched a Microelectronic Innovation for National Security and Economic Competitiveness strategy to try and find solutions to the reliance on internationally-produced goods. But how much impact such programs can have remains unclear.

Many of the challenges identified in the electronics sector are reflected in the radars and EW industrial base, including sourcing of high-end components. But there is a specific concern about innovation and competition for tactical active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems.

Right now, the department has 17 radar programs in procurement, five programs in development, and 73 programs in sustainment. Of those, Raytheon (five procurement, two development, 19 sustainment), Northrop Grumman (six procurement, 13 sustainment) and Lockheed Martin (one procurement, one development, 16 sustainment) dominate the market.

“Radar production for all but the F-35 tactical AESA radar will stop within the FYDP [future years defense program],” the authors conclude. “At that time, the DoD will have a single qualified source. Without stable funding for a development effort through the FYDP, the next generation of radar systems will not be ready for future fighter aircraft and there will not be a competitive industrial base for advanced radar systems.”

There are also concerns about availability of crucial parts. Currently, there are single domestic sources for high-frequency traveling wave tubes (used largely in older EW systems), samarium-cobalt magnets, and high-temperature ceramic packaging for AESA systems. And there is a foreign dependency for tungsten – 3 percent rhenium wire, used also in older systems.

Which brings up another core problem: the availability of vital, rare materials

At the same time the United States is using a greater range of materials, contributing to their scarcity, the country is also
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on foreign sources for those materials. In 1980, the authors note, the U.S. imported 50 percent or more of its needs on only 20 different materials; that number had doubled by 2014.

There are a number of mitigation efforts underway in the materials realm, many of which are classified due to the sensitive nature of what materials are at risk, the authors note. But broadly speaking, there are authorities available should there be a shortage of needed materials that would allow department needs to be prioritized over civil and commercial requirements in time of conflict.
Yesterday at 5:23 PM
Apr 17, 2018
now Former defense officials beg Congress not to fund new nuclear warhead
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but House rejects limit on new nuclear warhead
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The U.S. House on Wednesday shot down a proposed
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on the Trump administration’s pursuit of a
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It was among several amendments to the House draft of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that were voted down Wednesday afternoon. Of the 558 amendments filed for the NDAA debate this week, the House Rules Committee made in order 271 of them and the House voted to adopt 98 of them Tuesday night.

The rejected amendment would have fenced half the 2019 funding for low-yield nuclear warhead development in lieu of an assessment of its impact on strategic stability and options to reduce the risk of miscalculation. Reps. Jim Garamendi, D-Calif., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., sponsored it.

The amendment was defeated 188-226 largely along party lines, with seven Democrats voting “no” with Republicans and five Republicans voting “yes” with Democrats.

The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, released in February, called for the creation of two new nuclear designs — a low-yield variant of the W76 nuclear warhead on Trident II missiles aboard America’s nuclear submarines, as well as a potential new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile.

The vote came as group of prominent former national security officials sent a
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to lawmakers asking them to deny the administration’s funding request for the W76-2 variant.

During floor debates Tuesday, Democrats argued against obtaining a more usable nuclear weapon, while Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., argued the U.S. must match Russia’s many thousands of low-yield nuclear weapons to deter their use.

“America’s approach should be nuclear weapons are the red line to all red lines,” House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash., said in response. “What we need to communicate to Russia is: If you use a nuclear weapon, we will respond with nuclear weapons, so don’t.”

The House defeated an amendment by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., that would have required 20-year life-cycle cost estimates for each type of nuclear weapon. The vote was a relatively close 198-217, as only one Democrat broke ranks to vote “no” with 216 Republicans and nine Republicans voting “yes” with 189 Democrats.

An amendment to
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the authorization for all off-book wartime funds, from Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., was voted down 62-351. Seven Republicans and 55 Democrats voted “yes,” while 217 Republicans and 134 Democrats voted “no.”

Hawaii Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s amendment to strike a requirement in the NDAA for a strategy to counter destabilizing activities by Iran was rejected, 60-355. Fifty-two Democrats and eight Republicans voted “yes,” and 217 Republicans and 138 Democrats voted “no.”