The US Department of Defense has submitted its FY 2007 budget request for $439.3 billion. This is 7% more than the FY 2006 request, but slightly less than the $441.5 billion eventually appropriated by Congress in the FY 2006 budget. Note that this is just the first step in a long process that involves bills drawn up in both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, which will add some things, subtract others, and impose conditions. Then the House and Senate bills must be reconciled in committee into one common bill for the President to sign into law. Last year’s FY 2006 budget, introduced in February 2005, was finally signed into law on December 30, 2005.
This budget would wait until October 17, 2006 for Presidential signature as Public Law No. 109-364. It provides $462.8 billion in budget authority, and Senate and House conferees added the $70 billion defense supplemental budget request to the act – overall, therefore, the act authorizes $532.8 billion for FY 2007.
Because this budget was put together in parallel with the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, it bears some imprints from that process and begins to implement some of the QDR’s proposed directions. Rather than try to summarize such a vast document for our readers, DID will simply link you to the key source and ancillary materials, which contain their own summaries as well as access to more detailed information.
NATO reports that they’ve moved a step closer to providing their helicopters with added protection from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) thanks to the successful demonstration of prototype technology in Bulgaria. While countermeasures exist for shoulder-fired infrared missiles, the simple ballistic flight and fuzes on RPGs are a different challenge. Helicopters are very difficult to hit with RPGs, but it is not impossible – “Black Hawk Down” in Mogadishu, Somalia was one example, and the 2005 downing of a MH-47G Special Forces helicopter in Afghanistan was another. With known terrorist suppliers producing a surfeit of RPGs, and NATO countries facing future operations in Afghanistan and urban terrains, this kind of work is timely. See also this US Army CALL report re: RPG-7s in Iraq.
Early testing has been promising, with important improvements made over the past year. More testing must be conducted, and the next stage is to demonstrate practical application by fitting the technology to a helicopter so the RPG debris impact and the influence of different weights and shapes can be measured. More active measures that destroy incoming RPGs rather than just preventing them from exploding are also under investigation.
Bulgaria is the lead country in the development of helicopter protection technology under NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism program, with Greece and Poland also involved. Poland is currently conducting a parallel programme of testing. Read the entire NATO article.
Preliminary details are leaking out concerning the “Duke” Cunningham corruption investigation; his resignation from Congress and plea of guilty in November 2005 were based on his activities as a member of the Congressional Defense Appropriations subcommittee, where he inserted “earmark” provisions for funds into various legislative bills on behalf of the people who paid him. A five-page summary of the interim internal report was released this week by that committee’s top Democratic Party lawmaker, and reported in the Los Angeles Times:
“Over a five-year period, the report said, Cunningham inserted language into spending bills adopted by the intelligence panel that provided approximately $70 million to $80 million for those companies. The committee oversees about $40 billion in annual spending on the nation’s spy agencies. Because budget details are classified, the public has virtually no ability to scrutinize individual contracts… Most of the money that Cunningham earmarked went to companies operated by Poway businessman Brent R. Wilkes and Wilkes’ former associate, Mitchell Wade of Washington. Wilkes remains under investigation, and Wade pleaded guilty in February to bribing Cunningham and offering illegal inducements to Pentagon officials… The investigation found no evidence of criminal activity by other lawmakers or committee aides, according to the report. But it describes a permissive environment…”
Having said that, the political effects of this campaign may have lobbying impacts. EADS’ C-295M and its longer cargo space is still competing with Alenia & L-3’s C-27J “Baby Herc,” with its C-130J commonality plus tactical vehicle/helicopter lift capability, in order to become the USA’s Joint Cargo Aircraft light transport.
Back in December 2005, “Elec Tricks: Turning AESA Radars Into Broadband Comlinks” covered some preliminary breakthroughs by Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and discussed the implications. Their work involved using cutting-edge AESA radars as direct transmitters for secure, high-bandwidth communications, a move that could vastly increase the transmission and information-sharing capacity of planes like the F-15 C/SG (with the new APG-63v2/3 radar), F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet (APG-79), F-16 E/F Block 60 (APG-80), F-35 Lightning II (APG-81), and F-22 Raptor (APG-77). A follow-on article noted that one of DID’s readers had also done preliminary work in this area as a Ph.D. thesis, including some work that wrestled with the issues of long range transmission.
It would appear that these investigations have now moved beyond the preliminary research stage.
Several countries were already buying C-130Js, however, and have been flying them for some time. While the USAF was busy certifying that its C-130Js have reached the “Initial Operating Capability” milestone, therefore, other customers were negotiating jointly with Lockheed for upgrades…
AAI Corp. of Hunt Valley, MD has now detailed 3 contracts announced by U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL on October 5, 2006. While the initial awards add up to $57.7 million, AAI states that their total potential value is $102.6 million. This contract follows $152.7 million in contracts for 36 Shadow UAVs, associated systems, and support in May 2006. In addition to the production and upgrade of RQ-7 Shadow tactical UAVs, AAI provides performance-based logistics support and sustainment operations for fielded and deployed U.S. Army TUAS units; these contracts cover both production and support.
As of October 2006, Shadow systems have flown more than 33,900 missions and in excess of 129,000 flight hours worldwide – more than 85% of them in connection with operations in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. DID has covered some of these experiences, and lessons learned. The new contracts follow below:
It’s often said that an army travels on its stomach. Well, they base that way, too. In addition to contracts for field rations like MREs, the US military has an extensive network of bases with a correspondingly extensive set of mess halls and even commissary stores where military families can go to buy food and other goods. To get an idea of the scale involved, annual sales at those commissaries exceeds $5 billion.
This article will track an often-overlooked area during the month of October 2006, covering all food-related contracts issued by the US military and explaining just what an “economic price adjustment” contract is.
It will be updated as new contract items are published on DefenseLINK…
Vector Aerospace Corporation in Toronto, Canada announced that it has been chosen as the preferred bidder for a 3-year contract to maintain and overhaul the Rolls Royce T56 engines used on the Royal Saudi Air Force fleet of C-130 military transport aircraft. The final contract with Vector’s UK subsidiary Sigma Aerospace is expected to be signed in the next month. Scramble notes that the Saudis base their C-130Es and C-130Hs out of Riyadh and Jeddah, though there are also some KC-130H aerial tankers at Price Sultan Air Base (Al Kharj, near Riyadh).
On September 22, 2006, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems subsidiaries HDW and Nordseewerke (DBA “ARGE 2. Los 212A”) signed a contract with the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement. It covers the delivery of another two U-212A Class diesel-electric submarines with air-independent propulsion systems and “major” communications improvements, as well as improved underwater sensor and signal processing technologies. See HDW release. In April 2006, a German U-212A set a world record for non-nuclear subs with a two-week-long dive from Eckernfoerde in Germany to Rota in Spain.