On May 20/13, the UK MoD’s Chief of Defence Materiel Bernard Gray talked about the Astute program experience during a Public Accounts Committee hearing concerning carrier strike. Actually, he talked about the concept of buyer oversight vs. contractor-directed programs in a much more general sense.
“Bernard Gray: …While I appreciate that the defence industry will quite often say that it wishes to be left alone, thank you very much, my experience is that that is not on the whole a good idea…”
The Pentagon is brushing up on its shutdown plans as there is less than 2 weeks to go before the US federal government potentially legislates itself out of money. Meanwhile the defense authorization bill won’t even be brought to the Senate floor before December.
The Pentagon’s Inspector General released a report [PDF] on the US Navy’s commercial access control (NCACS / Rapidgate). This system will come under heavy scrutiny in the wake of the killing of a dozen people last Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. Aaron Alexis, the shooter who was himself killed at the scene, was a subcontractor and former Navy reservist whosetrack record should probably have raised red flags.
Singapore’s Minister for Defence Dr. Ng Eng Hen has confirmed that they’ve picked MBDA’s SAMP/T Aster-30 missile system as their upper-tier air defense system on land. Singapore already uses the missiles at sea, aboard its Formidable Class frigates, so the land-based buy will draw on an existing support network. It isn’t entirely clear whether or not a contract has been signed, which isn’t unusual for Singapore.
MBDA’s Aster-30s will replace Raytheon’s MIM-23 I-Hawk missiles as Singapore’s upper tier air defense on land, offering Singapore the ability to intercept short range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft, cruise missiles, etc. It’s the latest step in a series of interlocking improvements. One tier down, SAMP/T will be complemented by new RAFAEL Spyder mobile air defense systems, whose short to medium range coverage will supplement older Rapier missile systems from Britain. In the air, Singapore’s new IAI Gulfstream G550 CAEW jets offer Singapore greater endurance and warning distance than the RSAF’s retired E-2C Hawkeyes, and can coordinate responses from ground systems and RSAF fighters. Sources: Singapore MINDEF, “Reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen to Parliamentary Question on Relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base”.
Acting US Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning restated that his department’s three big acquisition priorities are the F-35, the KC-46 and a future bomber. Meanwhile, “single mission fleets”, such as A-10s or KC-10s, will be the likely targets of cuts.
US Navy Chief of Information Rear Adm. John Kirby writes about the FY14 budget outlook:
“Sequestration could cost us a littoral combat ship, an afloat forward staging base/mobile landing platform, and up to 25 aircraft (Prowler, JSF, Osprey and others) needed for our future fleet. It will also delay a Virginia-class submarine.”
Keeping them running is a job for ARCTEC, who has also handled contracts related to the USA’s more advanced BMEWS and PAVE PAWS early warning radars, one of which is located at Clear Air Force Station, AK. This article covers ARS maintenance contract orders from the FA5000-04-C-0011 contract’s beginning in 2004 to its final period in 2014.
During a hearing at the US House Armed Services Committee, Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge outlined significant shortfalls in the future submarine fleet – which today counts 55 boats – but while the Navy says they need to maintain a fleet of at least 48 SSNs:
“Over the next 15 years, the forward presence of SSNs and SSGNs taken together will fall by over 40%. Roughly half of this reduction is due to the decline in the number of SSNs and half is due to the retirement of the SSGNs. […] Between 2025 and 2030, the SSN force drops to 42, all 4 SSGNs retire and the SSBN force drops from 14 to 10.”