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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pentagon Request Makes Cuts, Cites New Investments

The Pentagon is requesting $671 billion in spending for Fiscal 2012, including $553 billion in the base budget and almost $118 billion for war operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The administration’s plans seek savings in part from cost-cutting measures like consolidation of several Air Force operation centers and reduced Army construction costs, as well as the Navy’s expanded use of multiyear procurement strategies, officials said Feb. 14. At the same time, the White House and the Pentagon will continue to ramp up unconventional warfare capabilities in nuclear, cyber and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive) investments as the national security complex starts to shift in earnest to post-Iraq/Afghanistan contingencies.
The new topline of $671 billion is a reduction from the 2011 request — which Congress has yet to appropriate — and stems mostly from the drawdown in Iraq and the expectation of reduced operations there. The 2011 estimate for Iraq operations was $46 billion; the 2012 plan is for $11 billion.
The proposal includes about $10.7 billion for missile defense, $4.8 billion for the purchase of unmanned aerial systems and $10 billion for rotary-wing aircraft.
The total procurement request for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 is $113 billion, up from the $104.8 billion estimated through the continuing resolution funding potentially all of 2011. The research and development request is for $75.3 billion, down from the $80.4 billion set aside through the 2011 process. The R&D request in 2012 is lower than the 2010 request, which was $79.3 billion.
New in 2012 is an intended program for a new long-range, penetrating, nuclear-capable and optionally-manned bomber. The Air Force says that $3.7 billion is set aside for the Long-Range Strike family of systems in 2012-2016; a portion of that is for the bomber. Nearly $200 million is included in 2012 for the bomber, roughly the same amount as in 2011. Details on the program’s plans will not likely be made public, as Air Force officials say they will be classified.
This budget request includes a suggested $100.2 billion in proposed cuts; these are deemed “efficiencies” by the Defense Department as it seeks to reinvest this money in other, higher priority projects. The cuts were touched on Jan. 6 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Among the projects proposed for termination is an Air Force Infrared Search and Track program, cancellation of Army procurement of the surface-launched AIM-120 missile and Non-line of Sight Launch System (both are Raytheon projects), a Joint Multi-Mission Submersible program handled by U.S. Special Operations Command and the elimination of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (Aerospace DAILY, Jan. 7). The Marine variant of the F-35, the “B” short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) version, also has been put on probation by Gates for two years pending better performance in testing.
The Navy plans to buy 41 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to make up for some of the shortfall left in the Navy by the lack of availability of the F-35.
“The steps needed to correct any issues or discoveries that arise in [F-35] flight test [can] not affect the weight or the cost so adversely that it cannot perform its mission,” Pentagon procurement chief Ashton Carter tells Aviation Week. For the next two years, the Pentagon is limiting procurement to six F-35Bs annually.
For unmanned vehicles, the Pentagon is proposing to maximize the production of General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers for the Air Force and MQ-1 Gray Eagle aircraft for the Army. This would amount to 48 MQ-9s and 36 MQ-1s in Fiscal 2012. The Air Force would buy three RQ-4 Global Hawks, though the service is proposing to halve the buy of Block 40s designed to track moving ground targets. Fire Scout procurement for the Navy would be boosted to 12 aircraft; this unmanned reconnaissance rotorcraft is conducting its first shipboard deployment in the Middle East now.
Another $300 million is set aside for the Shadow, Raven and Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Another 12 manned MC-12 intelligence collectors are being purchased in the 2012 request, according to Pentagon documents.
The Pentagon also includes a proposal for $877 million for development of a KC-135 replacement, which will be purchased at a maximum rate of 15 aircraft annually. Boeing and EADS are vying for the work, estimated to be worth $35 billion.
The Pentagon’s science and technology request is for $12.2 billion, which defense officials say is 29% greater than that of 2000 in real terms.
Meanwhile, the latest request outlines “full” funding of $31.8 million for the reorganization of a CBRNE response element within the Defense Department and the addition of eight Homeland Response Forces — for a total of 10 — to be in place prior to the end of 2012. Related investments include $200 million for a public-private partnership of a vaccine manufacturing facility in support of the Obama administration’s new Medical Counter Measure Initiative; and $138 million to continue building the department’s Institute of Infectious Disease at the new Interagency Biodefense Campus.
And as outlined last year by administration officials, the Pentagon is backing an additional $2.2 billion for the Energy department’s National Nuclear Security Administration and its weapons activities account between 2013 and 2016.
“Moreover, the administration remains dedicated to sustaining and modernizing U.S. strategic delivery systems, thus helping to ensure diverse deterrents in the face of evolving challenges and technological developments,” according to the White House. Beyond the new bomber, other explicit commitments include maintaining continuous, at-sea deployments of ballistic missile submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the ability to surge additional submarines during crises; and to sustain the Air Force’s Minuteman III missile through 2030.
Finally, the department has opted to limit the multinational Medium Extended Air Defense System (Meads) to a proof-of-concept effort for the near term. U.S. spending on Meads is not to exceed $4 billion, the originally agreed upon cost ceiling with partners Italy and Germany. The effort, which would require $974 million of additional investment through Fiscal 2017, is slated to end in Fiscal 2014.
The Pentagon has decided in this budget request to take on some more risk in air defenses, including this approach to Meads and scaling back on the J-Lens intelligence collector and surface-launched AIM-120 interceptor programs.

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