Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pentagon Launches Electronic Warfare Study: Growler Line At Stake « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Pentagon Launches Electronic Warfare Study: Growler Line At Stake « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: The Pentagon has launched a wide-ranging study of electronic warfare, looking across the services at major platforms such as the EA-18G Growler and the F-35’s three versions.

“We are doing right now in the Department of Defense a study that looks at all electronic attack[:] what is the situation in electromagnetic warfare across the spectrum in our maneuver,” Adm. Jonathan Greenert told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee yesterday.

That study that goes far beyond any individual weapons system to examine America’s entire capability to control the electromagnetic spectrum, on which our networks, sensors, and precision weapons all depend.

Before making any decisions on specific platforms like the Growler, “I want to hear from the whole Department of Defense, because we are the jammer provider,” Greenert said. The Air Force has a small number of electronically sophisticated but physically ungainly EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, of which they plan to retire many. The Army and Marines have a host of short-range tactical jammers to defeat roadside bombs. But only the Navy provides a survivable aircraft capable of conducting electronic warfare in contested airspace.

The Navy’s unfunded requirements list for 2015 included 22 more EA-18G Growlers, a variant of the Navy’s standard strike fighter, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Congress funded 15. There are no Growlers in the 2016 budget request, so both Boeing — which builds the aircraft — and Congress are eager to hear whether the Navy would like another plus-up. So are reporters, whose questions Adm. Greenert and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus deftly parried after yesterday’s hearing.

Friday, February 27, 2015

AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System Tracks, Simulates Engagements of Three Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System Tracks, Simulates Engagements of Three Short-Range Ballistic Missiles: The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and USS Barry (DDG 52) successfully completed a flight test involving the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system.

At approximately 2:30 a.m. EST today, three short-range ballistic missile targets were launched near simultaneously from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. Two Aegis BMD destroyers acquired and tracked the targets. Using this data, the Aegis BMD ships conducted simulated Standard Missile-3 Block IB guided missile engagements with the distributed weighted engagement scheme (DWES) capability enabled. The DWES provides an automated engagement coordination scheme between multiple Aegis BMD ships that determines which ship is the preferred shooter, reducing duplication of BMD engagements and missile expenditures while ensuring BMD threat coverage.

Several fire control, discrimination, and engagement functions were exercised. As no SM-3 guided missiles were launched, the test did not include an attempted intercept.

This test was designated Flight Test Other (FTX)-19. This was the first flight test to assess the ability of the Aegis BMD 4.0 weapon system to simulate engagements of a raid consisting of three short-range, separating ballistic missile targets. This was also the first time Aegis BMD 4.0 ships used the DWES capability with live targets.

The MDA will use test results to improve and enhance the Ballistic Missile Defense System and support the advancement of Phase 2 of the Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defense in Europe to provide protection of U.S. deployed forces, our European allies and partners.

Top US Navy admiral warns that China has more "fairly amazing submarines" than the US - Business Insider#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs

Top US Navy admiral warns that China has more "fairly amazing submarines" than the US - Business Insider#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs#ixzz3SwDSLsVs: China is building some "fairly amazing submarines" and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

For instance, China had carried out three deployments in the Indian Ocean, and had kept vessels out at sea for 95 days, Mulloy said.

"We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines," Mulloy told the committee.

U.S. military officials in recent months have grown increasingly vocal about China's military buildup and launched a major push to ensure that U.S. military technology stays ahead of rapid advances by China and Russia.

McCain vows 'one hell of a fight' on sequestration | TheHill

McCain vows 'one hell of a fight' on sequestration | TheHill: Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, declared war on sequestration earlier this week.

"Next week, [Defense Secretary] Ash Carter is going to come over with a budget and then we're going to have one hell of a fight over sequestration," McCain said at a New America Foundation conference on Wednesday.

"I will not vote for a budget in the United States Senate that has sequestration in it. I can't do that to the men and women who are serving," he said.

McCain said he didn't know how many people were with him.

UPDATE 1-Bid for more US defense funds gets chilly House reception | Reuters

UPDATE 1-Bid for more US defense funds gets chilly House reception | Reuters: U.S. military officialsseeking a big boost in defense spending received littleencouragement on Thursday from a House panel reviewing their bidfor more funds, with one lawmaker saying the extra money wouldhave to be cut "with you or ... without you."

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a senior member of theAppropriations Committee in the House of Representatives, chidedPresident Barack Obama for proposing a $534 billion Pentagonbase budget that "ignores the law" by exceeding federal spendingcaps by nearly $35 billion.

Frelinghuysen told Navy and Marine Corps leaders to submitspecific lists of programs that could be cut if Congress failedto approve the Democratic president's request for more funding.

"With respect, I will advise you that we will cut the $13billion with you or we will cut it without you, but we need todo the job the law requires us to do," he said, noting theNavy's budget request was about $13 billion above the levelsallotted under spending limits passed in 2011.

"We are bound to follow the law until instructed otherwise,"he said.

Frelinghuysen told reporters after the hearing that he sawgrowing consensus that the military needed more flexibility todeal with "a dangerous world," but said theRepublican-controlled Congress was far from agreement onremoving budget caps known as "sequestration."

McCain Points To ‘Dramatic Change’ In Chinese-Built Islands « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

McCain Points To ‘Dramatic Change’ In Chinese-Built Islands « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: What began with a tiny artificial island built by China to stake a concrete claim in the South China Sea is fast on its way to becoming 600 acres of at least seven islands spread across the South China Sea. One of the most impressive is so-called Fiery Cross Island, the permanent structure above complete with an air strip and, perhaps, the ability to permanently station advanced weapon systems there to patrol the skies and seas.

Sen. John McCain made a point of asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the Chinese actions just before the end of this morning’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on worldwide threats, calling the Chinese actions “a rather dramatic change.”

DNI Clapper told the SASC “this is a worrisome trend of the Chinese because of the tensions this is going to create in the South China Sea. They have been very aggressive about it.”

The biggest worry about these efforts by the Chinese is that they could base advanced aircraft and ships at some of these locations, trying to enforce their so-called Nine-Dash Line claiming most of the South China Sea. That would grant them the presumptive ability to block international shipping in an area every other country in the region — including the United States — says are international waters. It would also provide China much greater range to project power through the region.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Who's who in coalition against IS jihadists

Who's who in coalition against IS jihadists: The US-led coalition against the jihadist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria groups more than 60 countries, of which a dozen are taking part in air strikes.

Washington is carrying out its strikes in Syria with the help of Arab allies - Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In Iraq it has the active support of seven Western countries - Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

The coalition has since August carried out 2,000 air strikes, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on February 8.

While excluding the deployment of ground troops, coalition countries have also sent more than 1,000 military trainers to work with Iraqi forces.

Monday, February 23, 2015

MARSOC remains a growing, changing force after 9 years

MARSOC remains a growing, changing force after 9 years: As MARSOC enters its tenth year, the command has many reasons to celebrate.

Activated Feb. 24, 2006, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command had modest origins, populated with two cannibalized Marine force reconnaissance companies and ambitions to grow to an end strength of 2,500, with 850 critical skills operators.

Today, the command stands at 2,742 strong, with a population of roughly 960 critical skills operators and special operations officers. It continued to grow as the larger Marine Corps shrank to meet post-war drawdown criteria and budget constraints.

And as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wound down, MARSOC found new mission sets that span the globe. With its three Marine special operations battalions aligned with key geographic combatant commands, MARSOC now has small teams scattered across the African continent training indigenous military forces, a permanent company-sized rotational presence in Guam, and a company that recently deployed to the Middle East for counterinsurgency training and other missions.

Patriot, the workhorse of the Pentagon’s missile defense system, to get an upgrade - The Washington Post

Patriot, the workhorse of the Pentagon’s missile defense system, to get an upgrade - The Washington Post: It’s usually the missile that gets all the the attention. The deadly rocket that screams through the sky to take out another missile, sometimes traveling far faster than the speed of sound, in what’s often likened to a bullet hitting a bullet.

But perhaps the most important part of the Patriot missile system isn’t the missile. It’s the radar.

That’s the part that first detects the incoming threat. Sometimes it’s an enemy plane, or a drone. Sometimes it’s another missile moving at a mile a second, which makes every second count. The more time to counterattack, the safer you are.

Raytheon, which makes the Patriot, recently announced a significant upgrade to the radar, which the company says will allow it to have a 360-degree view of the battlefield and also see them at greater distances. The company has invested $150 million over the past 15 years in the technology, it said.

Navy expands UAS program

Navy expands UAS program: The Navy has been busy developing its arsenal of unmanned aircraft for operations at sea, along the littorals and on shore. This spring Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will begin basic sensor testing for the Triton, a long-endurance Northrop Grumman UAV intended as a theater asset. Likewise, the MQ-8B Fire Scout is deploying on a littoral combat ship, and the unmanned helicopter's larger C model has completed sea tests aboard a destroyer. Finally, the tactical catapult-launched Blackjack is currently undergoing low-rate initial production.

Still, there's much to go before the true value of these unmanned aircraft will be understood. "I think we're just on the cusp of the learning curve [with regard to unmanned aircraft]," said CAPT Christopher Corgnati, Airborne ISR branch head within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance's Battlespace Awareness Division. "The next five years are going to be crucial for the Navy, when Triton hits the fleet and Fire Scout starts showing up in numbers."

MQ-4C Triton

The Navy's plan to develop the MQ-4C Triton, a maritime version of the Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk, is on track despite a recent cut in its fiscal 2015 budget, said Sean Burke, program manager for the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems program office.

With an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles and air endurance of 24-36 hours, the MQ-4C is expected to support the Navy's active numbered fleets from five land bases across the globe. Tritons stationed on these bases will form orbits, each comprising four platforms.

New system helps U.S. step up defense vs biological warfare

New system helps U.S. step up defense vs biological warfare: A unique chamber designed to improve the nation's readiness against biological warfare has debuted at a U.S. Army facility in Utah.

The Dugway Proving Ground, which is about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, now is home to an intricate system that tests how well detection systems of deadly biological agents such as anthrax, ricin and plague do their job.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday for the system, which represents a $39 million investment for the Department of Defense. It's expected to begin operation in the next several weeks.

Detection systems previously have had to be tested component by component to determine how efficiently they functioned.

Typical detection systems used by the military are about the size of a refrigerator, but the new chamber is big enough to accommodate two at the same time so they can be compared side by side and their ability to perform independently can be tested.

"It is a huge deal," Dugway's commander, Col. Ronald Fizer, told the Deseret News. "We have not had the ability to evaluate these systems in a live environment before. This allows us to have a high degree of confidence in our systems."

Republicans, Democrats Want More DoD Spending

Republicans, Democrats Want More DoD Spending: Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided about how much the country should spend on the military, but a growing number of all Americans say the Pentagon budget is too small.

Fifty-six percent of all Republicans polled by Gallup said the United States spends "too little" on its military, compared with 17 percent of Democrats. Independents fell in the middle, at 33 percent.

Notably, the nonpartisan polling firm said 34 percent of all those surveyed answered "too little," the highest amount since 2001. Thirty-two percent believe the US is spending too much on the Defense Department.

"For the past decade, Americans have been more likely to say the US government spends too much on defense rather than too little, but today, a slim margin separates these views," Gallup said in a summary of a nationwide poll, conducted Feb. 8-11.

Army expands Operation Atlantic Resolve to six countries

Army expands Operation Atlantic Resolve to six countries: The U.S. military's Operation Atlantic Resolve will expand into Romania and Bulgaria beginning in late March amid continued fighting and increased tensions in the region.

"Think of Operation Atlantic Resolve as a yearlong, continuous series of exercises from Estonia to Bulgaria," said Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe.

Operation Atlantic Resolve was launched last April in the three Baltic States and Poland as a way for the United States to demonstrate its commitment to NATO as the region faced a new but familiar threat.

The addition of Romania and Bulgaria brings the number of soldiers conducting Atlantic Resolve training and exercises to about 1,900, up from about 900 now, officials from U.S. Army Europe said.

In the last 11 months, Russia has annexed the Crimea region, secured a vital port in the Black Sea and sponsored a civil war in Eastern Ukraine that has claimed thousands of lives – all within a few hundred miles of NATO's borders.

A recent cease-fire between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels did not hold, with continued fighting around Debaltseve, a heavily contested railway hub in eastern Ukraine.

"What needs to happen is Moscow needs to abide by the agreement it signed up to and remove their heavy weapons and the Russian forces from Eastern Ukraine and respect the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Wednesday.

The U.S. military will "continue to reassure our allies and partners in NATO through continued exercises, presence, Black Sea air policing," Kirby said.

The Army is expanding Operation Atlantic Resolve "for the purpose of assurance to those allies as well," Hodges said.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Air Force: Stealth 'incredibly important' for future aircraft

Air Force: Stealth 'incredibly important' for future aircraft: As the Defense Department seeks funding to develop a sixth-generation fighter, the Air Force and Navy appear to have differing opinions on the importance of stealth, while a top contractor on Wednesday called low observability for the future fighter "foundational."

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert told a Washington audience Feb. 4 that stealth might be "overrated" for future fighters.

"What does that next strike fighter look like?" Greenert asked. "I'm not sure if it's manned, don't know that it is. You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated. … Let's face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat – I don't care how cool the engine can be, it's going to be detectable."

The Defense Department's fiscal 2016 budget request includes money for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to "develop prototypes for the next generation of air dominance platforms," Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall told a Senate panel in late January.

Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, told reporters Feb. 12 that stealth will be "hugely important" for the next-generation Air Force fighter, but it will also important will be how the next aircraft integrates its sensors, and its command and control capabilities.

"Stealth is wonderful, but you have to have more than stealth," Carlisle said at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida. "You have to have fusion, you have to have different capabilities across the spectrum.

"It will be incredibly important. It won't be the only key attribute, and it isn't today."

US Army Talks Tanks as Russia's Hit Ukraine

US Army Talks Tanks as Russia's Hit Ukraine: In a force that strives to be lighter, more flexible and expeditionary, one might assume heavy armor had fallen out of vogue for the US Army, but not so, according to one of the Army's top modernization officials. The service is putting the finishing touches on a combat vehicle modernization strategy that explores a range of vehicles.

"Armored vehicles are immensely important, unless you are building a force to re-enact World War I," said Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who runs the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) and is chief of "futures" for Training and Doctrine Command.

In a Thursday morning discussion with reporters, McMaster said the Army's nascent vehicle modernization strategy calls for each formation to have a balance of mobility, protection and lethality for its mission. The document, he said, "endeavors to magnify the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses" in each.

The conversation comes as the Army plans to send an armored brigade's worth of heavy vehicles to Europe by year's end. Forces rotating into the region would fall in on the equipment as they train with troops in Poland and the Baltic states. Soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are next, and then the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

A year ago marked the return of US heavy armor to Europe, as the first Army M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and M2A3/M3A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles rolled into the Grafenwoehr Training Area.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Skunk Works head: New spy plane needed

Skunk Works head: New spy plane needed: The Air Force's current plans for high-altitude surveillance, keeping the decades-old U-2 flying while upgrading the new RQ-4 Global Hawk drone, will not meet the demands of the military for reconnaissance, and the service needs to start again with a new aircraft to replace both spy plans, the head of Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works said.

The Air Force's fiscal 2016 budget request will keep the U-2 flying until 2019 while funding upgrades to the Global Hawk's sensor package to put the drone on par with the aging spy plane. The move will have the drone take over the spy plane's missions in full, though the differences in capabilities means that neither aircraft can really do the other's job.

"I ask myself, when will a program be initiated, which I think will be unmanned, to replace both and do the full set of missions accomplished by both the U-2 and the Global Hawk" said Rob Weiss, the executive vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's advanced development programs, or Skunk Works, which originally designed the U-2.

Air Force officials have repeatedly said there is an ever-increasing demand for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance around the world. The service does not have enough operators, and is trying to upgrade its ISR fleet to keep up with demand.

"There is no opportunity to replace both of them based on current demand," Weiss said.

China's Hypersonic Glide Vehicle: A Threat to the United States

China's Hypersonic Glide Vehicle: A Threat to the United States: Beijing's significant military advance has been furthered with its venture into hypersonic weapons systems. China is working on hypersonic cruise missiles for which it is working on scramjet engines and also on Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV).

In 2014, Beijing has conducted three test-firings of its HGV, the Wu-14. The first test-firing was conducted in January, while the second one was conducted in August and the latest one has been conducted in December and witnessed both success and failure with the tests.

According to the United States, this Wu-14 is believed to be a component of Beijing's strategic nuclear program1 and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission annual report stated that the Wu-14 was a "core component of its next-generation strike capability."2

This "game changer"3 Wu-14 is designed to be mounted atop ballistic missiles to "an undisclosed suborbital altitude and then released." The vehicle then dives towards its target at speeds of up to Mach 10.

There is little doubt that this 'assassin-mace weapon' is another category of counter-measure being developed by Beijing to evade the US missile defence systems.4 The dragons have time and again raised their apprehensions on the US missile defence program and oppose the same on the grounds that it negates Beijing's nuclear deterrent capability. Beijing has been developing counter-measures like decoys and chaffs on their ballistic missiles.

Competition heats up for next-gen Air Force bomber contract

Competition heats up for next-gen Air Force bomber contract: Plans for the next-generation bomber, one of the top acquisition priorities for the Air Force, remain largely hidden from the public, but the major contractors vying for the program have been throwing punches at each other in their limited open discussions on the project.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing are combining forces to vie for the contract, which is expected to be announced this spring. The two giants of the defense industry are going against Northrop Grumman, the company that produced the Air Force's current stealth bomber, the B-2 Spirit.

Speaking to reporters Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson said the company's deal with Boeing, much like a similar deal to build the F-22 Raptor, puts her firm in the best position to win the deal.

"It's important to our company, it's important to Boeing," she said. "We think it's a very important opportunity."

Carter Asks Kirby to Step Down as Spokesman

Carter Asks Kirby to Step Down as Spokesman: Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary since December 2013, has been asked to step down from his role as the public face of the Pentagon by new Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Carter plans to bring in his own civilian spokesman, as he prefers having a civilian rather than a uniformed member of the military promoting policy decisions from the podium at the Pentagon.

Speaking at an afternoon press briefing on Wednesday, Kirby said Carter "hasn't made a decision about who will be the next press secretary," but that he has known for some time that "he comes to the job wanting to revisit the role of the spokesperson here."

Kirby added that he has agreed to "stay on for a couple of weeks" to assist the new spokesperson with the transition.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tapped Kirby to be his press secretary in December 2013 to replace George Little, who had held the position since 2011 under then-Secretary Leon Panetta.

State Department OKs export of armed drones

State Department OKs export of armed drones: The United States will now allow the sale of armed unmanned aerial systems to other countries on a case-by-case basis, the State Department said.

Any such sales would come with stringent conditions and only through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

"As other nations begin to employ military UAS more regularly and as the nascent commercial UAS market emerges, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers, and subsequent use of all U.S.-origin UAS are responsible and consistent with U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, including economic security, as well as with U.S. values and international standards," the State Department said.

"As a result, the United States has established a new policy designed specifically for U.S.-origin military and commercial UAS. This new policy, governing the international sale, transfer and subsequent use of U.S.-origin military UAS, supplements and builds upon the U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy and is consistent with the requirements of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act which govern all U.S. military transfers."

Among conditions of the new UAS export policy: countries would have to agree to use the systems in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law; and armed and other advanced UAS used in operations involving force, could only do so "when there is a lawful basis for use of force" under international law.

Potential recipients would also have to agree not to use the systems in "unlawful surveillance or use of unlawful force" against their domestic populations.

Boeing to improve laser beam weapon accuracy

Boeing to improve laser beam weapon accuracy: A beam control system for enhanced accuracy of laser weapons on warships is to be designed and developed by Boeing under a U.S. Navy contract.

Boeing said the High Power Beam Control Subsystem, or HP BCSS, will be compatible with high energy lasers using solid-state laser technology and that it envisions a system that will be compatible with laser systems other companies are designing for the Office of Naval Research's Solid State Laser Technology Maturation program.

The system would focus and hold a laser on a moving aimpoint, no easy task in a maritime environment and ship movements.

The beam control system to be developed will capitalize on the company's work with the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, which last year acquired, tracked and destroyed targets in windy and foggy conditions.

Four US littoral combat ships to operate out of Singapore by 2018

Four US littoral combat ships to operate out of Singapore by 2018: Four US warships designed to fight in coastal areas similar to Southeast Asian waters will operate out of Singapore by 2018, a senior US Navy official said Tuesday, further underscoring Washington's military tilt to Asia.

The "rotational deployment" of the vessels, called littoral combat ships (LCS), comes as China continues to flex its muscles in the South China Sea and tensions remain on the Korean Peninsula.

"We will soon see up to four LCS here in Singapore as we rotationally deploy Seventh Fleet ships," said Rear Admiral Charles Williams.

"We envision four ships here by May 2017 to sometime in 2018... but I think what you have is that by 2018, four LCS ships will be rotationally deployed here to Singapore."

Williams, commander of the Seventh Fleet's Task Force 73, was speaking to reporters aboard the USS Fort Worth, an LCS on a 16-month deployment to Southeast Asia.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Obama administration to allow sales of armed drones to allies - The Washington Post

Obama administration to allow sales of armed drones to allies - The Washington Post: The Obama administration will permit the widespread export of armed drones for the first time, a step toward providing allied nations with weapons that have become a cornerstone of U.S. counterterrorism strategy but whose remotely controlled power to kill is intensely controversial.

The new policy, announced Tuesday after a long internal review, is a significant step for U.S. arms policy as allied nations from Italy to Turkey to the Persian Gulf region clamor for the aircraft. It also is a nod to U.S. defense firms scrambling to secure a greater share of a growing global drone market.

But in a reflection of the sensitivity surrounding sales of the lethal technology to allied countries, some of which have troubling records on human rights and political freedoms, the new policy lays out principles that foreign governments must embrace to receive the aircraft.

“The technology is here to stay,” said a senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the regulations. “It’s to our benefit to have certain allies and partners equipped appropriately.”

US kicks off Operation Flintlock amid regional tensions - News - Stripes

US kicks off Operation Flintlock amid regional tensions - News - Stripes: U.S. special operations forces kicked off three weeks of counterterrorism drills Monday in a series of western African states — including Niger and Chad — despite recent strikes by the insurgent group Boko Haram.

“We haven’t canceled anything and our troops are fully prepared to handle anything,” said Bardha Azari, a spokeswoman for Special Operations Command Africa.

The U.S. military on Monday commenced its annual Operation Flintlock, U.S. Africa Command’s premier special operations exercise on the continent. The war games, which are intended to help a range of African militaries bolster their counterterrorism skills, come at a time of crises for several countries in the region.

In the past year, the Nigeria-based Boko Haram has steadily increased the intensity of its assaults, both within northern Nigeria and now stretching into border areas with neighboring states, such as Chad and Niger. This year, Chad is serving as the main host for the event, which includes stations in several other countries, including Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia. The exercise runs through March 9.

Spec-ops Marines, crisis response units may join forces

Spec-ops Marines, crisis response units may join forces: The Marine Corps' new crisis-response forces in Africa and the Middle East may soon begin working with elite special operations teams tasked with teaching them how to best collaborate with special forces in theater.

The idea is in its early stages, Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, told Marine Corps Times recently. It comes as officials evaluate a similar trial concept — attaching six-man special operations liaison teams to Marine expeditionary units — for continuation as a longstanding program.

In a service-wide planning document published earlier this winter, the service's commandant, Gen. Joseph Dunford, emphasized the relationship between conventional Marine units and special operations forces.

"Marines and SOF are highly complementary and have many similar characteristics," Dunford wrote in Commandant's Planning Guidance. "It is only natural that our efforts should work to improve interoperability between the Marine Corps" and U.S. Special Operations Command."

Already, key leaders are talking about how to build on the concept.

Extra space on the America enhances flight ops

Extra space on the America enhances flight ops: The Navy's newest amphibious assault ship, America, has some of the fleet's most advanced command and control capabilities and electronic warfare technology, but one low-tech asset has won over sailors and Marines who have been underway: space

Compared with earlier big-deck amphibs, the America has more room throughout its aviation spaces. This allows the ship to generate sorties farther from shore, maintainers to turn wrenches longer and fix aircraft faster than before, hangars to accommodate larger aircraft, and the ship to stay at sea longer before it has to resupply.

But it comes at a cost.

Unlike most of its predecessors, the America was built without a well deck and the capability to carry Marines and their heavy equipment ashore via surface craft. The Navy and Corps have deployed amphibious ships without well decks before, but the last, the Iwo Jima-class amphibious assault ship Inchon, was decommissioned in 2002. Unlike the America, the Iwo Jima-class ships were designed to carry helicopters instead of an air combat element comprised of jump jets, tilt-rotors and rotary wing aircraft.

Marines on the America said the lack of a well-deck means that there isn't a way to get ashore when flight operations aren't possible, and aircraft weight limits limit their ability to to move the heaviest gear.

Deadlier rifles and ammo may be on the way

Deadlier rifles and ammo may be on the way: If the Marine Corps' top marksmanship experts get their way, Marines are going to get a rifle retooled with an array of upgrades that will make them deadlier shooters. They recently directed the study of a number of significant changes to the service's weapons, ammunition, shooting curriculum and ranges and have approved new competitions.

Most eagerly anticipated are recommendations to study overhauling M16A4 rifles and M4 carbines with a host of new features, including a new trigger and barrel, all of which will be a hot topic at the next Combat Marksmanship Symposium in October.

The lines of pursuit — the product of the this year's Combat Marksmanship Symposium held here in Quantico — hold a common theme, according to leaders at Weapons Training Battalion Quantico. They are designed to make Marines deadlier in combat and provide them the tools and training to dominate the battlefield whether in the sands of the Middle East or the jungles of the Asia Pacific region.

Exportable Predator Sets Endurance Limit

Exportable Predator Sets Endurance Limit: The export version of General Atomics' Predator UAV, the "XP" model, conducted a 40-hour test flight, the company announced Thursday.

During the flight, Predator XP validated its long-endurance capability by flying at 10,000 feet for greater than 40 hours, the company said. The flight began Feb. 6 and ended Feb. 8, at the company's Castle Dome Flight Operations Facility at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.

Derivative of the MQ-1, the XP is designed solely for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and cannot be fitted with weapons. The company previously listed the XP's endurance at 35 hours.

"This flight was a landmark event for Predator XP in that it truly demonstrated the long-endurance capability of our latest [remotely piloted aircraft]," said Frank Pace, president of the company's aircraft systems unit. "In addition, it was a new company record for our aircraft."

For Carter, Plenty of Advice from Hill

For Carter, Plenty of Advice from Hill: There's no shortage of advice on Capitol Hill for the new defense secretary, and members have some rather lofty expectations.

Just hours after the Senate approved his nomination 93-5, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said "both [incoming] Secretary [Ashton] Carter and Congress have their work cut out for them."

But if the former deputy defense secretary needs some guideposts to help him navigate his news position, members of Congress are offering plenty.

HASC Ranking Member put it mildly when describing a job that will force Carter to deal with more across-the-board budget cuts, new threats like the Islamic State and renewed ones like Russia.

"In the current budget and political environment, this job will not be easy," Smith said in a statement.

Smith then took not easy and raised it to maybe impossible, setting a goal for Carter that has confounded many US officials and lawmakers.

Your new SecDef: What you need to know

Your new SecDef: What you need to know: The Senate overwhelmingly approved Ash Carter as the new defense secretary Thursday, clearing the way for him to take over the Defense Department's top job.

A trained physicist and a longtime Pentagon bureaucrat, Carter will take office at a time when the military faces political battles at home and complex confrontations abroad.

Carter will be the fourth defense secretary under President Obama, and he'll be responsible for guiding the commander-in-chief's policies through to the end of a tumultuous two-term administration. A rundown on the new boss:

Friday, February 13, 2015

US Army Developing Missile Defense Dashboard

US Army Developing Missile Defense Dashboard: In the worst nightmares of the US military's missileers, a foreign foe hits the homeland with a complex barrage of ballistic and cruise missiles, armed UAVs, decoys and electronic attacks, forcing the nation's stove-piped missile defense systems into a dizzying game of whack-a-mole.

To give the US Army a single mix-and-match battle command system for its disparate sensors, launchers and missiles, it is developing the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS). Like a missile defense dashboard, IBCS would one day control existing interceptor, missile and artillery systems along with futuristic laser, microwave and electromagnetic pulse weapons still in development, officials say.

"We will never have enough interceptors in our quiver, and that's why I would say we need to add a level of sophistication to the way we look at the threat," said Army Lt. Gen. David Mann, commander of Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT). "It needs to be more than just a metal on metal application."

Space and Missile Defense Command's R&D efforts include the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator program, designed to defeat short-range aerial threats, like rockets, mortars and one day, perhaps, missiles. In 2013, it destroyed mortars and UAVs, and now efforts are focused on upgrading its power from 10 kilowatts to 50 or 100 kilowatts.

The command has successfully tested an electromagnetic pulse weapon with a 20-kilometer range to defeat roadside bombs, Mann said, adding that preliminary tests against UAVs have been, "very, very promising."

After neglect, U.S. nuclear force seeing improvement: official | Reuters

After neglect, U.S. nuclear force seeing improvement: official | Reuters: Renewed focus on the U.S. nuclear force after several scandals last year is improving conditions for airmen, but more work must be done, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Wednesday after an icy tour of the only U.S. missile and bomber base.

Work said missile launch officers and maintenance workers he met at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota were seeing the result of improvement efforts, including a deep cleaning of underground missile launch capsules and the purchase of new equipment.

But some parts of the nuclear force were still using floppy computer disks and 25-year-old computer technology, Work said after a tour of the base, where temperatures around 2 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius) were accompanied by blistering winds.

"Nothing is better than being able to look the troops in the eye, and the officers, and hear what they're saying," Work said. "It was really good to put eyes on target. We still have work to do."

He said the morale of the troops he spoke to was good and they were seeing the impact of increased spending, including a rise in staffing levels. But he said they wanted to know whether the investments would continue.

Martin Dempsey’s big win - Philip Ewing and Jeremy Herb - POLITICO

Martin Dempsey’s big win - Philip Ewing and Jeremy Herb - POLITICO: Congress may not vote for months on President Barack Obama’s request to authorize the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but the political battle already has one clear winner: Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.

While both Democrats and Republicans expressed strong reservations about the proposal Obama sent to the Hill on Wednesday, raising questions about whether it will pass, the nation’s top uniformed leader appeared to get nearly everything he wanted.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A-10s temporarily deploy to Europe on training mission

A-10s temporarily deploy to Europe on training mission: The A-10 is returning to Europe, albeit temporarily.

Twelve A-10s and about 300 airmen are deploying to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, as part of the Air Force's first theater security package to Europe, according to a news release from U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

"TSPs are different from other deployments because they will generally be six-month rotations and they provide the EUCOM [U.S. European Command] commander and other regional commanders unique air capabilities necessary to support regional security," a USAFE spokeswoman said in an email to Air Force Times.

The airmen and planes from the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, will train with NATO allies as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is meant to reassure NATO's Eastern European members of the alliance's determination to defend them.

During part of the deployment, the A-10s and airmen will be forward-deployed to NATO members in Eastern Europe, the USAFE news release says. As it so happens, the A-10 was originally designed to fight World War III in Central and Eastern Europe. Its 30 mm gun was meant to liquefy Soviet tanks.

The deployment is a homecoming of sorts. In May 2013, the last A-10s left Spangdahlem for Davis-Monthan after the Air Force decided to eliminate the 81st Fighter Squadron. Although the unit went away, the A-10s did not. It is not known if any of the same aircraft are headed to Germany.

Military Looking To Give Troops Super Sensing Abilities - Defense One

Military Looking To Give Troops Super Sensing Abilities - Defense One: The Squad X Core Technologies Program, or SXCT, builds off of a multi-year agency effort to shrink the sensing, detecting, and situational awareness capabilities of ships and fighter jets down to what an individual warfighter could carry with him or her. The program looks to bring troops, sensors and especially drones together in a single web of data collecting and communicating, effectively giving military personnel eyes and ears well into the distance.

“Warfighters in aircraft, on ships and in ground vehicles have benefited tremendously from technological advances in recent decades, with advanced capabilities ranging from real-time situational awareness to precision armaments. But many of these benefits depend on equipment with substantial size, weight and power requirements, and so have remained unavailable to dismounted infantry squads who must carry all their equipment themselves,” DARPA said in a press release.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Army Asks for More Money to Upgrade Abrams Tanks | DoD Buzz

Army Asks for More Money to Upgrade Abrams Tanks | DoD Buzz: Army leaders have thus far taken up a losing battle against Congress to temporarily halt funding for its Abrams tanks. However, that changed in its latest budget proposal as the service has reversed course and asked for 50 percent more funding for the M1 Abrams tank over last year.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Congress in 2o12 that the Army wanted to spend money on other modernization priorities. Congress pushed back saying it was a mistake to shut down the production line of the M1 tank, which is located in Lima, Ohio, even if it’s a temporary shut down. The Army would risk losing the skilled workers at the plants and spend more on training when they needed to reopen the production line for the Abrams upgrades the Army had said it needed in 2017.

The Army apparently listened to the critique, as service officials requested $368 million for upgrades to the M1 tank. Last year, the Army asked for $237 million.

Big BCT changes mapped out for 2015

Big BCT changes mapped out for 2015: The Army is reorganizing 20 brigade combat teams and inactivating six others this year as it pushes to complete a sweeping — and accelerated — reorganization.

The moves come as the Army has soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Europe, West Africa and numerous other places around the world, and the service braces for even deeper end-strength and budget cuts.

"We're navigating a few storms. We're an Army that is currently in a significant drawdown," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn. "And while we are drawing down, while we are meeting increasing demands around the globe, we are also reorganizing our Army for the future."

The Army must continue adapting, Allyn said.

"We've done it throughout this war," he said. "We've reorganized several times over the course of this war to meet the emerging demands, and we are already thinking about how our force must operate in the future."

Watchdog: Air Force 'doctored the data' to make A-10 look bad | TheHill

Watchdog: Air Force 'doctored the data' to make A-10 look bad | TheHill: A government watchdog group on Monday accused the Air Force of manipulating data to skew the record of the A-10 "Warthog" when it comes to civilian casualties and friendly fire deaths in Afghanistan.

Recently declassified Air Force data said the A-10 attack jet has killed more U.S. troops in friendly fire incidents and more Afghan civilians than any other aircraft flown by the U.S. military, USA Today reported last week.

But the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) said the statistics were skewed to bolster the Air Force's campaign to retire the A-10 in favor of the costlier F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“The Air Force cherry picked and doctored the data that it released in an attempt to build a false narrative against the A-10,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at POGO.

“The Air Force is resorting to dirty tricks because it can’t make a valid argument against the A-10, proven to be reliable, effective, and a favorite of troops on the ground," she said.

For example, POGO said the data excluded an event in 2009 where a B-1 bomber killed up to 147 civilians and wounded many more. The Air Force data reported by USA Today showed that the A-10 only had a "slightly lower" percentage of civilian casualty incidents per missions flown than the B-1.

The group said its own analysis found that the A-10 is "significantly safer" than most of the other military planes, and is urging Congress to ask the Government Accountability Office to review all of the Air Force data before making any decisions about the aircraft in the 2016 defense policy bill.

Carter Strikes Forceful Tone on Russia

Carter Strikes Forceful Tone on Russia: The United States and NATO should reject Russian assertions that Moscow is entitled to a "sphere of influence" in Eastern Europe — and build militaries capable of handling "any opponent," said the nominee to be the next US defense secretary.

Ash Carter, in a 42-page document prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee, addresses issues from Russia to Afghanistan to cyber war to the US defense budget.

In the responses, obtained by Defense News, the nominee struck a forceful tone about Russia and its recent aggression in Ukraine.

"I reject the notion that Russia should be afforded a 'sphere of influence,' " Carter wrote. "If confirmed, I will continue to encourage US partners, such as Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine, to build their security capacity and military interoperability with NATO."

Carter also said the US should maintain its lead role in "collective defense planning" among NATO allies, and that he would urge allies "to invest in military capabilities that that can impose costs on any opponent" while pushing large and small NATO allies to invest more money and resources "in capabilities that are needed by the alliance."

LRASM Prototype is Three-for-Three on Successful Flight Tests

LRASM Prototype is Three-for-Three on Successful Flight Tests: Initiated in 2009 in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, DARPA's Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) program has been investing in advanced technologies to provide a leap ahead in U.S. surface warfare capability.

The LRASM program aims to reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments while providing innovative terminal survivability approaches and precision lethality in the face of advanced countermeasures.

After LRASM prototypes completed two successful flight tests in 2013, LRASM transitioned from a DARPA technology demonstration program to a formal U.S. Navy program of record in February 2014, with fielding set for 2018.

Monday, February 9, 2015

3-star: Forget paint chipping. There's a laser for that.

3-star: Forget paint chipping. There's a laser for that.: Ship repair may not seem a likely place for the latest and greatest technology breakthroughs, but three are in the works that could make deckplate life a little easier.

Vice Adm. William Hilarides, who heads Naval Sea Systems Command, said rust, non-skid, and aluminum are the "big problems" he faces. His team is testing solutions; on Thursday, he challenged industry and academia attending the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo to help him in this endeavor.

The three-star described a laser ablation system that removes paint, eliminating the gritty sandblast that is the bane of shipyard life. Hilarides said the paint laser shows "great potential," although there are still questions about how the laser affects molecular structure, and how the user will control the temperature. He hopes it'll be a proven technology in the next six months, he added.

A thermally-sprayed aluminum is being tested as a replacement for the epoxy non-skid sailor boots have tread on for the past 30 years. This is especially important for big-deck amphibs. The epoxy non-skid starts to breakdown around 300 degrees; operational exposures from the Marine variant F-35B Joint Strike Fighter will far exceed this limit. The new coating has been on the amphibious assault ship Wasp for three years with no problems, Hilarides said. The only downside: it costs five times as much as epoxy non-skid.

With weapons modernization, Russia’s military ups its game as West watches closely - The Washington Post

With weapons modernization, Russia’s military ups its game as West watches closely - The Washington Post: Russia, the birthplace of the AK-47, announced last week that it had selected two new assault rifles for integration into its front-line units. For the Russian military, the introduction of those rifles marks a key moment in its attempts to modernize — but also highlights broader weaknesses plaguing Russian forces, experts say.

The strength of the Russian military is being watched closely in the West, with growing concerns not only about its intervention in Ukraine but also its posture elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Russia is five years into a modernization plan that envisages spending more than $700 billion on rebuilding over the course of a decade.

The new rifles — the AK-12 and the AK-103-4, manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern — are a part of the Russian Army’s Ratnik program: a suite of equipment that is meant to increase the effectiveness of the Russian soldier. Besides the new AKs, the Ratnik program includes the introduction of more modern communications and navigational equipment, some of which was on display when Russian troops entered Crimea in early 2014.

The Ratnik program “should provide a significant improvement of the individual Russian soldier that uses these systems,” said Nick de Larrinaga, the Europe editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

Russia is trying to overhaul a force whose troop readiness and discipline were in steep decline in the early 1990s and early 2000s, and despite some advances, many experts remain skeptical about its ability to do so. Alexander Golts, an expert on Russian military affairs and current deputy editor in chief of Yezhenedelnyi Zhurnal, said President Vladimir Putin is attempting a “do-it-all” approach that has overextended his country’s manufacturing capabilities.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ex-NATO chief says Russia likely to act in Baltics

Ex-NATO chief says Russia likely to act in Baltics: Russia is highly likely to intervene in the Baltic states to test NATO's collective defence commitment, the former head of the Atlantic alliance was quoted as saying by Britain's Daily Telegraph on Friday.

"This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the daily.

"There is a high probability that he will intervene in the Baltics to test NATO's Article 5," he said, referring to the clause that commits NATO to respond collectively if a member is attacked.

"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin knows that if he crosses the red line and attacks a NATO ally, he will be defeated. Let us be quite clear about that. But he is a specialist in hybrid warfare," he said.

ALASA Getting Closer to Delivering Big Things in Small Packages to Space

ALASA Getting Closer to Delivering Big Things in Small Packages to Space: Through its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, DARPA has been developing new concepts and architectures to get small satellites into orbit more economically on short notice. Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office, provided an update on ALASA at the 18th Annual Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C. Tousley discussed several key accomplishments of the program to date, including successful completion of Phase 1 design, selection of the Boeing Company as prime contractor for Phase 2 of the program, which includes conducting 12 orbital test launches of an integrated prototype system.

"We've made good progress so far toward ALASA's ambitious goal of propelling 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch," Tousley said.

"We're moving ahead with rigorous testing of new technologies that we hope one day could enable revolutionary satellite launch systems that provide more affordable, routine and reliable access to space."

Western Nations Split on Arming Kiev Forces -

Western Nations Split on Arming Kiev Forces -

Differences within the Western alliance over whether to send defensive arms to Ukraine were thrust into the open on Saturday when Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, bluntly opposed providing lethal military support to Kiev and called instead for continued efforts to persuade Russia and separatist forces to cease fire.

“The progress that Ukraine needs cannot be achieved by more weapons,” she told a security conference here. Instead, she spoke of how Western values and persistence won the Cold War.
Ms. Merkel’s position was challenged by Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who noted that there was growing support in Congress for arming Ukraine.
Malcolm Rifkind, the former British foreign secretary and a Conservative politician, said it was unlikely a peace agreement could be reached unless there was a combination of military assistance and diplomacy so that the Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine faced tougher Ukrainian resistance.
The pointed exchanges laid bare the divisions within the West’s ranks and did not provide a sense of how the United States and its European allies hoped to fashion a common strategy that might persuade President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to honor an agreement negotiated in Minsk, Belarus, in September. The agreement called for a cease-fire and the removal of Russian weapons and forces from eastern Ukraine.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A-10 warplane tops list for friendly fire deaths

A-10 warplane tops list for friendly fire deaths: The Air Force A-10 attack jet has killed more U.S. troops in friendly fire incidents and more Afghan civilians than any other aircraft flown by the U.S. military, according to data declassified and obtained by USA TODAY.

The close-air-support aircraft has been embroiled in a battle over its survival between hawks on Capitol Hill and the Air Force. To Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others, the jet represents an Air Force commitment to troops engaged in ground combat. To the Pentagon, it's a Cold War relic with no future in a time of tight budgets.

Wednesday, Ashton Carter, President Obama's choice to be Defense secretary, was drawn into the fight to kill or save the Warthog, as it is known. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a member of the Armed Services Committee, wrested a commitment from Carter to meet with an association of troops and veterans who support the jet.

Obama security plan highlights Russia threat - Nahal Toosi - POLITICO

Obama security plan highlights Russia threat - Nahal Toosi - POLITICO: President Barack Obama’s new National Security Strategy calls out Russia for its aggression against Ukraine and also puts heavy emphasis on climate change as a growing threat to peace, according to details shared with POLITICO.

The much-delayed strategy document, used to prioritize threats and policies across the administration, is due to be unveiled Friday. It holds fast to the diplomacy-heavy approach that the White House has long pursued despite criticism by some in the GOP who say it makes the United States look weak.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pentagon’s Weapon Wish Lists Could Disappear - Defense One

The Pentagon’s Weapon Wish Lists Could Disappear - Defense One: Aides for both the House and Senate Armed Services committees say members of the panels have not decided whether they will request the unfunded priority lists. Traditionally these lists, which are closely watched by defense firms and lobbyists, are chock full of expensive programs that fell just below the cut line.

In the past, the military brass from services compiles the lists, at the request of lawmakers. It’s seen as a way for service chiefs to go around the administration’s budget request and ask Congress to fund or put back items they want.

“Actually I’m not really big on unfunded priority lists,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Defense One Wednesday. “I think they’re sort of a backdoor way of getting things done.”

Washington Unveils NATO Weapon-Sharing Plan

Washington Unveils NATO Weapon-Sharing Plan: The US State Department and the Pentagon's office for selling military equipment to foreign allies announced on Wednesday that they are embarking on a program that will for the first time allow NATO members to acquire and share American military hardware among members of the alliance.

At a time when defense budgets among most NATO nations are expected to be flat at best for the foreseeable future, NATO has been experimenting with pooling and co-development arrangements through its Smart Defense program as a way to share costs and risks in developing and fielding new weapons systems.

As this Smart Defense initiative has gained traction, the US government has looked for ways to become involved, in part to assure the interoperability of alliance assets, and in part to make sure that the US defense industry remains a major player in the European defense market.

A Jan. 30 memo signed by US Navy Vice Adm. J.W. Rixey, head of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), said that while there has been "no past practice to accommodate" transactions that would allow pooling or use by more than one NATO partner of US

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Cold War: US, Russia fight over Europe's energy future - Europe - Stripes

New Cold War: US, Russia fight over Europe's energy future - Europe - Stripes: The United States and Russia are once more locked in what could be a generation-defining conflict, and Europe is yet again the core battleground. But this Cold War reprise isn't about military supremacy.

It's about heat and electricity for tens of millions of Europeans. The points on the map aren't troop deployments, tank battalions and missile silos but pipelines, ports and power plants.

As the Obama administration escalates economic sanctions on Russia and weighs military support to Ukraine, it also has revved up a less noticed but far broader campaign to wean Central and Eastern Europe off a deep reliance on Russian energy. Success, U.S. officials say, would mean finally "liberating" former Soviet states and satellites from decades of economic bullying by Moscow.

To that end, Washington is helping set up new natural gas pipelines and terminals in a region that depends on Russia for more than 70 percent of its energy needs. It is pushing American companies' bids for nuclear plants and fracking exploration in Europe.

Hornets to deploy with Corps' Middle East crisis response unit

Hornets to deploy with Corps' Middle East crisis response unit: The second rotation of the Marines' crisis response force in the Middle East will include a new squadron of fighter aircraft.

Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command is swapping out its AV-8B Harriers for a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 out of Miramar, California officials with the rotation confirmed.

Activated this fall, the task force has proved a crucial support element for Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led effort to counter the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. Col. Jason Bohm, the commanding officer of the task force, told Marine Corps Times the unit had used its Harriers to conduct multiple strike missions on IS targets.

UPDATE 1-U.S. to lead redesign of Raytheon missile defense 'kill vehicle' | Reuters

UPDATE 1-U.S. to lead redesign of Raytheon missile defense 'kill vehicle' | Reuters: The U.S. Missile DefenseAgency on Monday said it was close to finalizing agovernment-led effort to redesign a Raytheon Co "killvehicle" used in the ground-based missile defense system thatwould involve Raytheon, Boeing Co and Lockheed MartinCorp.

Vice Admiral James Syring, who heads the agency, said thegovernment would own the new design, which it would use as thebasis for a competition to produce the new vehicles in 2018.

The government decided to spearhead the redesign effortinstead of hiring a prime contractor so it could benefit fromthe positive aspects of each of the proposals submitted by thethree rival companies, Syring told reporters at a budgetbriefing.

"It's our desire to get the best of all three, and that'swhat we intend to do," Syring said.

The redesign effort is part of a broader effort led bySyring to improve the reliability of the existing fleet ofground-based interceptors after a series of test failures,quality problems and other issues in recent years.

STRATCOM, Germany make arrangement to share space services, data

STRATCOM, Germany make arrangement to share space services, data

U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) signed a technical arrangement with Germany to share Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services and information, Jan. 9.

The arrangement, signed by Maj. Gen. David D. Thompson, the STRATCOM director of Plans and Policy, and German army Brig. Gen. Dirk H. Backen, the defense attache at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington, D.C., will enable and enhance each nation's awareness within the space domain and increase the safety of their spaceflight operations."Space Situational Awareness requires cooperation, and arrangements such as this allow us to partner more effectively," said U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the STRATCOM commander."As more countries, companies and organizations field space capabilities and benefit from the use of space systems, it is in our collective interest to act responsibly, promote transparency and enhance the long-term sustainability, stability, safety and security of space."Germany joins seven nations, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and Australia, and two international organizations, the European Space Agency and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, already participating in SSA data sharing with the United States.Additionally, STRATCOM leaders have signed agreements with 46 commercial entities in 16 countries.SSA data sharing enhances multinational space cooperation and streamlines the process for STRATCOM partners to request specific information gathered by its Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The information is crucial for launch support, satellite maneuver planning, support for on-orbit anomalies, electromagnetic interference reporting and investigation, satellite decommissioning activities and on-orbit conjunction assessments.

Ballooning offers platform for space-like environment

Ballooning offers platform for space-like environment: New discoveries are being made on an annual basis by researchers flying their instruments on a high-altitude balloon platform. Ease of access to ballooning, relatively low cost and the potential for quick turn-around response times create a large appeal for using this platform to perform novel science and to train new scientists.

This appeal is reinforced by the availability of a range of balloon sizes to accommodate various payload types, multiple launch sites (for shorter and longer duration flights), and more sophisticated gondolas.

Since the 1950s, and the invention of the 'natural' shaped polyethylene balloon, there has been a surge in the quality and amount of science being performed on this platform.

The flexibility, reliability and relatively low-cost of the high-altitude balloon platform, over that of a satellite, makes for an attractive means of carrying out novel science in a space-like environment across multiple disciplines, which include: high-energy astrophysics (particle, x-ray and gamma-ray), IR/sub-mm (CMB to planetary), heliophysics, geospace and atmospheric research.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Land-based Marine Corps units could move back to sea

Land-based Marine Corps units could move back to sea: Facing a shortfall of amphibious ships that won't go away anytime soon and an unwavering need to launch operations from the sea, the commandant has a message for Marines: If it floats, you may have to deploy on it.

"As Expeditionary Force 21 emphasizes, we need to modify traditional employment methods and augment amphibious warships by adapting other vessels for sea-based littoral operations," Gen. Joseph Dunford wrote in his planning guidance, released Jan. 23. "We will aggressively develop concepts of employment for alternative platforms that are consistent with mission requirements and platform capabilities."

Dunford said the Corps has tried to make up for the dearth of amphibs by creating new land-based crisis response units, but it doesn't substitute for Marines operating from the sea. He doesn't expect an increase in the number of new amphibs, he wrote, so he's tasked the service with developing ways to use all sorts of Navy ships to quickly put Marines and their gear into hot spots.

He's starting by developing a concept of operations for two land based units: Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa, a Spain based unit that responds to emergencies in Africa, and Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, based in Australia. Additionally, he'll develop a plan for using alternative ships, which will be implemented this year, he wrote.

"Alternative platforms," literally means every blue water vessel in the Navy, said Jim Strock, the director of the Seabasing Integration Division in the Combat Development and Integration office at Headquarters Marine Corps.

CMC's plan for ship-to-shore connectors soothes critics

CMC's plan for ship-to-shore connectors soothes critics: Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford's new planning guidance places renewed emphasis on the need for a high-speed amphibious troop transport that can swim ashore without the assistance of a Navy connector.

Language in the document, published Jan. 23, is placating some of the service's harshest procurement critics who say that the Marine Corps will lose its amphibious assault capability without a self-deployable, high-speed vehicle that can hydroplane ashore from over the horizon.

"My belief is that the [Amphibious Combat Vehicle] 1.1… is recognized as not being the self-deploying, high speed amphibious combat vehicle capable of ship to shore amphibious assault that the Corps needs," said retired Col. James G. Magee of the planning guidance's tenor.

He and retired Maj. Richard G. DuVall, two armored vehicle experts who served as career infantry officers, were outspoken critics of the service's amphibious procurement strategy under retired Commandant Gen. Jim Amos. But they see Dunford as prepared to pursue with more vigor the procurement of a vehicle better suited to the amphibious assault mission — even as he pushes ahead with ACV 1.1 and a partnership with the Navy to overhaul current ship-to-shore connectors while researching new options to ferry the ACV.

Air Force increases combat air patrols for Reaper pilots

Air Force increases combat air patrols for Reaper pilots

The Air Force plans to increase the number of combat air patrols that MQ-9 Reaper pilots fly.

The Air Force's fiscal 2016 budget would fund 60 MQ-9 combat air patrols in a 24-hour period, an increase from 55, said Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein. MQ-1 Predator pilots would be funded to fly five combat air patrols, for a total of 65 combat air patrols per day.

The Reaper is a newer unmanned aircraft that will eventually replace the Predator. The fiscal 2016 budget would add about 400 airmen to the MQ-9 community.

Each combat air patrol involves a varying number of aircraft and airmen, depending on the mission.

By raising the number of combat air patrols for Reapers, the Air Force is acknowledging that it cannot throttle back on the number of missions that remotely piloted aircraft pilots fly, said Peter Singer, of the New America Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C.

"It is to officially recognize the need to meet the continuing huge demands for CAPs [combat air patrols], which will allow the system to better plan for it in staffing, assignments, budgets etc.," Singer said in a Feb. 2 email to Air Force Times. "There was a push by some to reduce these numbers and 'return to normal.' This is a recognition by better minds that this is the new normal."

The RPA community as a whole is under severe strain because the Air Force does not have enough pilots for unmanned aircraft, and the service is losing more RPA pilots than it can train. The manpower shortage will become more acute as the first pilots trained solely to fly unmanned aircraft near the end of their active-duty service commitments.

A requirement for 65 combat air patrols would be crushing for RPA pilots, who work long hours, don't get much leave and have no time for professional military education, harming their careers, said an RPA pilot, who asked not to be identified.

Future Force Expo gets underway this week

Future Force Expo gets underway this week: Naval scientists are working to help meet the challenges of the 21st century warfighter, and their latest creations are display this week at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.

Sailors and members of the general public attending the biennial event, Feb. 4-5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., will be able to see everything from the electromagnetic railgun to underwater gliders. Key technologies on display also include:

The Shipboard Autonomous Fire-Fighting Robot (SAFFiR), a bipedal humanoid robot designed to assist sailors in the location and suppression of fires.
An autonomous swarmboat.
Optical scans of the outer ear and 3-D-printed, custom molded ear plugs produced on site.
The CQ-10B, a lightweight unmanned helicopter capable of carrying 500 pounds.

"This year's Expo promises to deliver opportunities for sailors and Marines to interact with members of the naval science and technology community who are confronting the toughest technological challenges that they face on the front lines," said Peter Vietti, Office of Naval Research spokesman. "In addition, they will be able to see, first-hand, displays and demonstrations of the latest innovations that are contributing to the building of the future force."

Navy Pushes UCLASS Fielding Date, Air Segment Request for Proposal - USNI News

Navy Pushes UCLASS Fielding Date, Air Segment Request for Proposal - USNI News: The Navy has pushed its planned fielding date for its carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from 2020 to 2022 or 2023, a Navy budget official told reporters in a late Monday afternoon briefing on the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget request to Congress.

In addition to the delay in initial fielding, the service has decided to push the request for proposal of the air segment of the Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) into Fiscal Year 2016 pending the completion of an ongoing Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) comprehensive information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) UAV review, said Rear Adm. William Lescher, the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget.

“Work on the other UCLASS segments – such as the carrier segment and the control system and connectivity segment – associated programs of record – such as stand up of the integration labs and test facilities continues throughout the requirement and review process in order to reduce cost and mitigate overall program risk,” he said.

The Navy included a modest $135 million for research and development efforts for the program, a significant drop from the FY 2015 request of $403 million.

Marine Corps budget request reflects new focus - News - Stripes

Marine Corps budget request reflects new focus - News - Stripes: President Barack Obama is calling for a 7 percent increase in the Marine Corps budget as the service seeks to buy new high-tech platforms while returning to its roots as an expeditionary, emergency response force.

The president’s fiscal 2016 budget request, released Monday, seeks $24 billion for the Marines base budget, an increase of $1.6 billion. It also proposes $1.3 billion for Marine Corps “overseas contingency operations”, also known as OCO.

About $1.1 billion of the Marines’ budget would go toward procurement, as the service focuses on post-Afghanistan missions.

For more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Marine Corps was engaged in slogging counterinsurgency warfare. But the last contingent of Marines in Afghanistan withdrew last fall, and other hot spots have grabbed the Pentagon’s attention.

The Marine Corps is in the process of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific and has been tasked to respond to crises in Africa and the Middle East.

USAF Budget Funds Munitions, Keeps U-2

USAF Budget Funds Munitions, Keeps U-2: The US Air Force's budget request reflects the service's delicate situation — balancing the need to recapitalize an aging fleet with real-world concerns and ongoing operations.

While focusing heavily on research and development, the budget also funds a significant jump in air-to-ground munitions to help current operations. And while the service will continue its fight to retire the A-10, the U-2 spy plane has been spared retirement until 2019 under the new plan, according to a budget briefing released by the service Monday.

Overall, the budget requests $122.1 billion in "blue" money. (Due to budgeting methodology, the Pentagon funnels some funds through the Air Force, which the service cannot use.) $24.2 billion of that goes to procurement with $17.9 billion going to research, development, test and evaluation programs (RDT&E).

USN Budget Includes $10B for New Missile Sub

USN Budget Includes $10B for New Missile Sub: The Navy plans to fund a total of 48 ships through fiscal 2020, according to the 2016 budget sent today to Congress, including 10 new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and 10 Virginia-class submarines from 2016 through 2020.

Advanced procurement for the SSBN(X) strategic missile submarine begins in 2017, with the first ship to be ordered in 2021. The cost to build a class of 12 submarines is expected to dominate service shipbuilding budgets through the 2020s.

Last summer, the Navy estimated the procurement cost for the first of 12 planned SSBN(X) subs to cost about $12.4 billion, but is working to get the average cost of each submarine down to about $5 billion.

Army Request Emphasizes Global Presence

Army Request Emphasizes Global Presence: The highlights of the US Army's budget request continued to emphasize Army leadership's argument that it is a force stretched to respond to crises and in need of funding.

The 21-page "budget overview" of the Army's $147 billion request to Congress tout's the presence of 140,000 soldiers in 150 countries, and casts the service as, "the backbone of the Joint Force."

The topline budget is $127 billion in base budget dollars, supplemented by $21 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding.

DoD wants to grow total budget, cut personnel costs

DoD wants to grow total budget, cut personnel costs: The Pentagon is seeking an overall budget increase next year, but spending on military personnel will remain essentially flat, squeezed by cuts in the size of the force and recent efforts to scale back troops' pay and benefits.

The Defense Department's budget request for fiscal 2016, which starts Oct. 1, seeks a total budget of $585.3 billion, roughly 4.4 percent more than this year's total defense budget.

Meanwhile, the portion of the budget that accounts for military personnel will tick downward by a small fraction to $139.9 billion, or about $55 million less than the amount approved for this year, according to budget documents released Monday.

Those figures include both the base budget and funding for overseas operations.

GOP Leaders Reject Obama's Sequester Plan

GOP Leaders Reject Obama's Sequester Plan: A key House Republican greeted the White House's fiscal 2016 budget proposal with a rhetorical shovel, saying its tax increases means it immediately is headed for a political grave.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., was among the first lawmakers to respond to President Barack Obama's penultimate federal spending request, which includes $585 billion for the Pentagon and proposes getting rid of sequestration.

Many congressional Republicans want to end the sequestration budget cuts, but only for the military. Some Democrats are willing to support that, but only if domestic sequester cuts also are eliminated. The two sides disagree on how to do that, just as they have for four years.

Obama’s Defense Budget Aims Higher, and at Overseas Conflicts -

Obama’s Defense Budget Aims Higher, and at Overseas Conflicts - President Obama is asking the new Republican Congress for a base defense budget of $534 billion in 2016, the Pentagon said on Monday in its annual budget release, exceeding by $35 billion the mandatory across-the-board reductions known as sequestration.

Separately, Mr. Obama is asking for an additional $51 billion to pay for operations in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as the continued American military presence in Afghanistan.

The administration said next year’s overall military spending was a continuation of efforts to take into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. The result, administration officials say, will be a military that continues to be capable of defeating any adversary but is too small for protracted foreign occupations.

US asks for $8.8 billion to fund fight against IS

US asks for $8.8 billion to fund fight against IS: US President Barack Obama has requested $8.8 billion to fund the fight against the Islamic State group in his 2016 budget unveiled Monday.

A total of $5.3 billion would go to the Pentagon to finance Operation Inherent Resolve, which was launched in August with a series of airstrikes against militants in Iraq and Syria.

Last week, defense officials told AFP that US and coalition aircraft had carried out 705 bombing raids around the Syrian town of Kobane since September 23 after it was captured by jihadists.

The State Department, which has been leading efforts to build a multinational coalition against the IS group, has requested a further $3.5 billion.

The money would "strengthen regional partners... provide humanitarian assistance and strengthen Syria's moderate opposition," Deputy Secretary of State for Management Heather Higginbottom said.

Pentagon asks for more funds for high-tech weapons

Pentagon asks for more funds for high-tech weapons: In a bid to keep the US military's technological edge, President Barack Obama's proposed budget for 2016 calls for an increase in defense spending to pay for high-tech weapons and training.

The $585 billion request for the Pentagon would devote $107.7 billion to big-ticket weapons -- an increase of $14.1 billion over the previous budget.

And it would set aside $50.9 billion for the US mission in Afghanistan and the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria -- a 21 percent decrease in war funding, known as the "overseas contingency operations" fund.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marine Corps considers new unmanned tank, micro-drones

Marine Corps considers new unmanned tank, micro-drones: The next member of your squad might carry a M240B machine gun with 400 rounds, a few sensors, and still manage to stay on pace for hours, despite weighing more than 350 pounds.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory hopes that a machine gun toting robot can one day provide more firepower to foot patrols. Qinetiq's Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, a tracked robot with cameras and a machine gun, was on display at Marine West, a defense expo here on Jan. 28. It was one of the handful unmanned systems that attracted crowds at the event.

The Warfighting Lab said MAARS could give Marines additional protection on patrols and while standing on post, and the lab is in the process of determining if the device is a good fit for the Corps.

"It's a medium machine gun that's not typically taken on patrol, so it increases a Marine's firepower" said Tim Brooks, an applications engineer at the Warfighting Lab.

Operated with a handheld controller, it provides a surveillance feed from thermal and video cameras. It can "stand post" for 12 hours if it doesn't move much and just uses its cameras. It can also be left in "sleep mode" for just over a week, Brooks said.

But it has limits, he said. It's too small to ram through doors to enter a room, and it's too big to move smoothly through tight corridors.

Marine Corps merges units that operate in Africa

Marine Corps merges units that operate in Africa: Two European-based units that operate in Africa have merged in an effort to streamline Marine Corps missions on the vast continent.

The Corps has combined SPMAGTF-Africa, a unit based in Italy that conducts training with military partners in African countries like Uganda and Senegal, with its Spain-based unit that responds to crises across Africa. The two units now fall under SPMAGTF-Crisis Response-Africa.

Marine officials termed the merger a name change with little structural effect. It was designed to avoid confusion as more crisis response units were created like the new crisis response unit for the Middle East, which is called SPMAGTF-Crisis Response-Central Command.

The name changed in September, but Marines with the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina-based 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, are the first battalion to deploy to fill the two missions that now fall under one unit.

"There is no loss or relocation of resources, personnel, or capabilities in connection to this name change in September," said Lt. Col. Sean Roche, the operations officer with SPMAGTF-Crisis Response-Africa. "The redesignation, or name change, only clarified the already existing command structure under the [colonel] level commander."

The Marines will still be split between Italy and Spain, as they were when the units were separate.

Missile defense ships face arms race, high op tempo

Missile defense ships face arms race, high op tempo: There may be rough seas ahead for the Navy's ballistic missile defense force.

Demands are high for the Navy's BMD-capable ships and, soon, land sites, and for good reason. More than 1,200 ballistic missiles have been added to the arsenals of potential adversaries in the past five years, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

North Korea, Syria and Iran are making strides in development and production, with Iran ready as soon as this year to test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States, according to reports by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

As this new arms race threatens American allies, 33 ships — five cruisers and 28 destroyers — are standing on point to deter any such attack. Ships armed with ballistic missile defense radars and interceptors are among the fleet's most in-demand vessels, whether in the Asia-Pacific or European waters.

And those crews have paid a price. The former head of Fleet Forces Command, Adm. Bill Gortney, said the ballistic missile defense armada is "the most stressed [and has] the highest operational tempo of all our forces." The new FFC boss is working to cut deployments of stateside BMD-ships to seven-and-a-half months.

Despite the increasing threat, the Pentagon plans to lay up four of the fleet's newest ships, and the remaining gray hulls are faced with increasing maintenance issues.

Kendall Unveils 6th Gen Fighter Strategy

Kendall Unveils 6th Gen Fighter Strategy: Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall unveiled part of his strategy for procuring a next-generation fighter for the Air Force and Navy in congressional testimony last week.

The core of the strategy, Kendall told members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), is called the Aerospace Innovation Initiative.

"What it will be is a program that will be initially led by [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency]. But it will involve the Navy and the Air Force as well," Kendall said. "The intent is to develop prototypes for the next generation of air dominance platforms, X-plane programs, if you will."

The initiative will also include work on a next-generation engine, Kendall said, adding that more details about the plan will appear in the fiscal 2016 budget request being unveiled this week.

Whereas the F-35 joint strike fighter was billed as one plane that can fit the needs of the Air Force, Navy and Marines, the next-generation fighter will instead be two planes that share common parts.

The Navy and Air Force have offices looking at a next-generation fighter that would replace the Navy's F/A-18s and the Air Force's F-22s, respectively. An Air Force official told Defense News in September that he hopes to have Milestone A acquisition activity started in fiscal 2018.

The 6th generation initiative will be a "fairly large-scale" program, and one that Kendall said was designed with the industrial base in mind.

Budget 2016: Defense Faces Stiff Political Headwinds - Blog

Budget 2016: Defense Faces Stiff Political Headwinds - Blog: The president’s budget for fiscal year 2016 seeks a sizeable boost to defense and domestic spending. But there is little to no chance that Congress will go along. Domestic political disputes and a broken budget process almost guarantee the Pentagon will continue to live under a cloud of fiscal uncertainty for the remainder of the year.

The Obama administration is proposing a federal budget for 2016 that exceeds legally mandated limits on discretionary spending by $74 billion, including $35 billion for defense. For the Pentagon, which has pleaded for relief from the spending caps for the past three years, this ought to be a welcome reprieve. The Budget Control Act restricts defense baseline spending at $499 billion. The 2016 proposal seeks $534 billion for the defense baseline budget and $51 billion for war spending, according to officials who disclosed the figures to reporters ahead of the Feb. 2 release. The president’s budget also increases nondefense discretionary spending by $34 billion.

Whatever Congress ends up appropriating likely will be less than the president’s request but higher than the ceiling allowed by the four-year-old budget law, analysts and budget experts said. The final amount will not be known for months.

The political and fiscal environment, in theory, should be receptive to bigger military budgets. The United States is dealing with complex security crises in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The federal budget deficit has dropped significantly. And the traditionally pro-defense Republican Party controls both houses of Congress.

But the practical reality is that defense spending decisions continue to be underpinned by Washington dysfunction and a protracted stalemate over government spending and taxes.