As the U.S. decides who will be president for the next four years a review of procurement spending indicates that the Trump Administration has shown little difference in appropriations versus previous administrations, despite claims to have radically increased spending.
The upshot is that the last four years saw about $2.9 in spending appropriated in inflation-adjusted dollars, which was larger than Barak Obama’s second term, but less than the Obama Administration’s first term.
President Trump’s campaign speech claims of spending during his term relative to previous terms are incorrect. President Trump claimed this year that military spending in the 90s “used to be ‘million.’ And then, about 10 years ago, you started hearing ‘billion.’ And now you’re starting to hear ‘trillion,’ right?” Of course, U.S. defense spending hit the billions in the late 1940s, and recent spending has been on pace with spending from the decade previous.
The Trump Administration has done little to change the often-criticized Pentagon trend of investing more money in fewer pieces of equipment, such as fighter jets that cost a quarter billion dollars each when fully kitted out. The navy is running fewer ships that each cost more. Previous administrations did no better in reversing this trend, of course.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stated multiple times that he has no plans to reduce military spending, but indicated a desire to refocus military budgets and planning on “near-peer” powers Russia and China, while attempting to recover some of the goodwill of allies tested by the Trump Administration’s active skepticism in cooperation with allies, especially the NATO alliance.
Sikorsky won a $550.4 million modification, which is for Lot IV low rate initial production and delivery of six CH-53K aircraft and associated aircraft, programmatic and logistics support, rate tooling and physical configuration audits. The CH-53K Super Stallion can be fielded from amphibious assault ships for the transportation of personnel and equipment. The aircraft can be operated from austere and remote forward operating bases. It is Marine Corps’ heavy-lift replacement for the CH-53E Super Stallion. Designed to lift nearly 14 tons at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles, in Navy high/hot environments, the CH-53K is designed to lift triple the baseline CH-53E lift capability. The CH-53K will have an equivalent logistics shipboard footprint, lower operating costs per aircraft, and less direct maintenance man hours per flight hour. The Marine Corps has a requirement for 200 CH-53Ks. Work will take place in Connecticut, Kansas, Washington, Texas, Canada, Wisconsin, the UK and Florida. Estimated completion will be in July 2024.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) AWACS qualified Aerospace Controllers (AECs) and Aerospace Control Operators (AC Ops) are now able to wear a new ‘wings’ badge that was officially rolled out on October 23. The North American air arm said the new wings recognizes the demanding training, arduous qualifications, and extensive responsibilities needed to maintain Combat Mission Ready status. „When the AWACS positions were established in 1974, it was assumed that AECs and AC Ops in those positions did not directly contribute to the safe operation of the aircraft, which would justify an upswept wing-style aircrew flying badge. In addition, it was assumed they would only fly occasionally. Our understanding of their responsibilities has changed“, it says in a statement.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s Elbit was chosen to supply light tanks and wheeled APCs to the Philippine Army. The contracts are said to include nearly $200 million worth of Sabrah tanks and armored combat vehicles. According to reports, Elbit Systems is the winner of two large tenders for the supply of light tanks and wheeled armored personnel carriers to the Philippine Army. According the website, the Israeli Ministry of Defense received the notice of award for these two tenders several months ago. As part of the light tank contract, Elbit will supply 18 Sabrah ASCOD 2 tracked tanks, 10 Sabrah Pandur II 8×8 wheeled tanks, one ASCOD 2 armored command vehicle and one ASCOD 2 armored recovery vehicle worth approximately $196 million. The wheeled APC contract includes 28 IVECO Guarani 6×6 wheeled APCs worth about $47 million. All APCs have a manned turret with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. In addition, the APCs are equipped with an E-LynX computer-based communication system and a Torch-X combat management system made by Elbit.
Rolls-Royce has signed a collaborative agreement with the UK Ministry of Defense to strengthen ways of working across key Royal Navy programmes. The firm say that the Memorandum of Understanding describes a commitment of both parties to work together to deliver on-going support for Rolls-Royce MT30 and WR-21 engines and an understanding of how that will be done. The agreement will improve on-going support for the Rolls-Royce MT30 engines that power the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) Aircraft Carriers. It also covers support of the WR-21 engines that power the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers.
Lockheed Martin won a $194 million contract modification, which adds a $180,000,000 not-to-exceed, undefinitized line item for the production and delivery of four MH-60R aircraft, and exercises a $13,980,348 option to procure three airborne low frequency sonars in support of the government of Greece. This comes at a time when the Greece is running deep into a dispute with Turkey. In 2019, the US State Department cleared a $600 million foreign military sale (FMS) of seven MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopters to Greece. In July 2020, Greece signed a contract for the purchase of 4 new units, via this program. The MH-60R SeaHawk helicopter is a twin-engine, multi-mission, all-weather Naval utility helicopter, based on the Army’s UH-60 BlackHawk, and is used for a variety of roles including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations. Work under the modification will take place in New York, Connecticut, Alabama, France and Rhode Island. Expected completion will be in February 2025.
A spokesman of the Chinese defense ministry suggested that China will retaliate if $1.4 billion U.S arms sales to Taiwan go through. „The move seriously damages relations between the two countries and the two militaries, as well as the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes it,” said spokesperson Col. Tan Kefei of China’s Ministry of National Defense. „China strongly urges the US side to immediately cancel the plans of selling weapons to Taiwan and cease military contact with the island and handle issues related to Taiwan prudently, so as to avoid serious consequences to Sino-American bilateral and mil-to-mil relations, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he added. The statement from the ministry noted that, according to Tan, “if the US side discards the basic norms of international relations, violates its commitment and acts capriciously and obstinately, China will for sure resolutely strike back.” The U.S. State Department approved arms deals with Taiwan on Thursday, totaling $1.4 billion.