The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its latest report [PDF] on long-term defense budgets (known as FYDP for short). Whether CBO wonks use their own projections or extend the FYDP beyond its 5-year span, they find that the Pentagon will exceed the Budget Control Act (known as sequestration for dramatic effect) ceilings. Which is working as intended because DoD said from the get-go their FY13-17 numbers would not take sequestration into account. Regardless, here’s the part where DoD should take heed:
“Historically, the costs of providing health care, paying military and civilian personnel, and developing and buying weapons have been higher than DoD’s planning estimates.”
Adding to the endless DoD-Congress telenovela, The Pentagon has apparently set a new policy to limit reports to Congress to 15 pages. HASC Chairman Buck McKeon [R-CA] is justifiably miffed. Leon, you’re hollowing me out!
In July 2012, the “Virginia Contracting Activity” accepted 10 firms into the $5.6 billion “Solutions for Intelligence Analysis II” program. It succeeds the original December 2007 SITA contract, which consolidated over 30 different contracts under 1 umbrella. These “professional support services” include services and technologies around the Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency’s mission, which includes support on the front lines, for defense planners, and for defense and national security policy makers.
These winners can compete for individual jobs around the globe under a 5-year, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity umbrella contract, which runs until July 15/17. This lets the Pentagon quickly augment, reassign, or wind down individual efforts. Winners included:
The US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) finalized its Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) RFP to handle the Technology Development (TD) phase of the program, following Technology Maturation efforts that involved ITT, BAE, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. NGJ will first replace ALQ-99 pods on Growlers. More details from NAVAIR.
Pentagon #2 Ashton Carter says it will take 3 months to ramp up truck traffic through Pakistan to Afghanistan. Meanwhile it seems Pakistan is struggling to figure out exactly how much they will get from the US in reconciled Coalition Support Funds.
NATO’s Defense College released a paper [PDF] on post-combat Afghanistan that has the merit of setting realistic, if low, expectations: “The likely scenario is a modest Enduring Partnership that minimizes the risk of combat and the semblance of security guarantees.”
At the opening of the Farnborough 2012 defense exhibition, British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the Eurofighter’s future:
“Typhoon’s growth potential is huge and the four partner nations, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK have agreed the next steps required to further exploit this. The integration of the METEOR missile, an Electronically Scanned Radar, enhancements of the Defensive Aids System, further development of the air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities and integration of new weapons.”
All of these capabilities will be welcome. Indeed, all are necessary, in order to address key platform weaknesses, and keep the plane competitive in the international marketplace as a multi-role fighter. A short synopsis of each aspect follows.
Afghan logistics are a high priority for NATO members in what remains a tense, entangled situation. Use of the Ulyanovsk airport in Russia should start next month, while Pakistan is expanding capacity at the Torkham border crossing. A lot of trucks still seem stuck in Karachi for the time being. Some Islamic clerics protested Pakistan’s border deal with the US over the weekend, followed by an attack killing 8 Pakistani soldiers yesterday. The Obama administration agreed to release withheld Coalition Support Funds, but this may have to gain approval in the Senate.
Jeffrey Zients, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget since the beginning of the year, will testify in front of the House Armed Services Committee next month on the Administration plans, if any, to deal with sequestration. One scenario that has emerged is for budget cuts to remain largely on the table, but executed in a more structured and less precipitated way than the ham-fisted sequester. Zients will tell Representatives that it’s their mess to clean up.
The Australian DoD published its 2012 Defence Capability Plan [PDF]. The DCP shows projected procurement and sustainment spending by sector over the 2012-2016 period and outlines schedules for 111 projects worth about AUD $153B (about the same in US dollars).
In May 2006, the Finnish Air Force officially selected EADS CASA’s C-295M as its next generation tactical transport aircraft. They will replace Finland’s aging Fokker F-27 transports at Tikkakoski AB, as the older aircraft are decommissioned in 2015. This decision finalizes a selection process that took over 18 months, including flights in both near-arctic and hot summer conditions. The C-295M’s standard competitor is Alenia’s C-27J Spartan; each type has won some competitions, and lost others. The C-295 won this one.
May 2010 saw a follow-on order, and then a special aircraft modification, which helped create a global product offering for Lockheed Martin.
In July 2012, Boeing in Long Beach, CA received a $500 million contract for the orderly transfer of the manufacturing assets and data used to produce the C-17A Globemaster III heavy transport, once production ends. Work will be performed in Long Beach, CA by July 5/22. The ASC/WLMK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8614-12-D-2049, Order 0001).
The USAF recently issued its final expected order for a 224th aircraft, as a replacement for a C-17 that crashed in July 2010. Beyond those buys, export orders to customers like India, and additional orders from Australia and Britain are extending the production line. At some point, that will end. When it does end, the line will close, but the US military wants to be able to restart C-17 production if it becomes necessary at some future date. Production restarts are always expensive, and there’s always a learning curve because it involves a lot of new people. Restarts become even more expensive, and much more difficult, if post-production contracts like this one aren’t issued when the line shuts down. The cost of such contracts makes them a step that isn’t taken lightly, but some programs are important enough to justify the insurance value.
A parliamentary majority opposed to buying the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter has emerged in the Netherlands. Despite lobbying from the MvD, and 2 planes ordered already, the issue seems set to come to a vote. If the vote goes badly, the cost of ending the country’s Tier 2 participation in the program could hit EUR 1 billion. Then again, if reported figures regarding Saab’s JAS-39E/F Gripen offer are true, Dutch government budgets could still come out ahead. Industry may be less happy.
Speaking of the F-35 vs. the JAS-39, a study by IHS Jane’s puts the 2 jets at opposite ends of the spectrum for operations and maintenance costs among modern western fighter jets. If these figures are correct, that’s a difference in lifetime O&M costs of about $250 million per fighter.
In South Korea, the F-X-3 fighter competition is underway again, as all 3 competitors have re-submitted their bids. Boeing’s stealth-enhanced F-15SE Silent Eagle squares off against the BAE/EADS Eurofighter, and Lockheed Martin’s F-35A.
NATO supplies started crossing the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier today, after months of negotiation, and the eventual apology from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the deaths in November 2011 of Pakistani soldiers. Releasing withheld Coalition Support Funds (CSF) is also part of the deal. The Pentagon’s FY12 budget reprogramming includes hundreds of millions of dollars of extra shipping costs incurred after Pakistan closed its border.
Meanwhile Russia may consider the same sort of hardball gatekeeper tactics in its dealings with the US over European missile defense, said a prominent Russian legislator. Regardless of which countries withdrawal from Afghanistan will go through, it’s going to be complicated and expensive.