Saturday, February 27, 2016

USAF's New Bomber Fielded in the mid 2020s

            Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of the Long Range Strike Bomber, designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26 in Orlando, Fla., and announced the Air Force will be taking suggestions from Airmen to help decide the name of the bomber.

“This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen, and (their) voice is important to this process,” James said. “The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the (Air Force Association) conference this fall.”

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.

The reveal comes just weeks after both James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III delivered the fiscal year 2017 posture statement before the Senate Appropriations Committee, making it clear modernization is a top priority for the Air Force.

“The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50,” Welsh said during his testimony on Capitol Hill Feb. 10. “There are many other systems we need to either upgrade or recapitalize to ensure viability against current and emerging threats… the only way to do that is to divest old capability to build the new.”

James said the B-21 will allow the Air Force to operate in tomorrow's high end threat environment, and give the Air Force the flexibility and the capability to launch from the continental United States and deliver airstrikes on any location in the world.

James also explained why the B-21 shares some resemblance to the B-2.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said.

The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

Friday, February 26, 2016

US Must Rebuild Forces in Europe to Confront Russia

The U.S. military must rebuild in Europe to face a more aggressive Russia, whose advanced submarines, weapons systems and geographic advantage have the U.S. "playing zone defense," the top U.S. commander in Europe said Thursday.
"We have about 20 years of a different paradigm to correct," Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command, said during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.
Breedlove, who has led EUCOM during the command's biggest transformation in a generation, said he did not foresee a need to return to a Cold War-style military posture. But the era of trying to make a partner of Russia is over, and key U.S. capability gaps need to be addressed, he said.
"Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States," Breedlove said.
"This is not the Cold War, but I do believe we are not where we need to be now in a mixture of permanently forward-stationed forces and pre-positioned stocks so that we can rapidly fall in on it," Breedlove said. more

USAF: Second cyberspace weapon system reaches Full Operational Capability status

Air Force Space Command achieved a significant milestone February 12 when the Cyberspace Vulnerability Assessment/Hunter (CVA/H) Weapon System reached Full Operational Capability (FOC) status.

Achieving FOC means the CVA/H weapon system is fully capable to serve as the premier enclave defense platform for prioritized traffic in the Air Force Information Network (AFIN). The CVA/H weapon system enables execution of vulnerability assessments, adversary threat detection and compliance evaluations.

CVA/H is a tool for cyber defense, used inside the boundaries of the defended cyber system. The AF equips its Cyber Protection Teams (CPTs) with the CVA/H weapon system.
"This achievement underscores our commitment to the US Cyber Command Cyber Protection Team mission and to the defense of prioritized cyberspace terrain in the Air Force portion of the Department of Defense Information Network (DODIN).  CVA/H defends the Air Force's ability to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace," said Brigadier General Stephen Whiting, AFSPC Director of Integrated Air, Space, Cyberspace and ISR Operations, who signed the FOC declaration.
The weapon system provides the ability to find, fix, track, target, engage and assess advanced persistent threats to AF missions on prioritized network enclaves within the AFIN.

CVA/H operators focus on providing vulnerability assessment and the Hunter mission.  The Hunter mission provides the 24th Air Force commander and supported combatant commanders with a deployable, precision capability to identify, pursue within network boundaries, and mitigate cyberspace threats impacting critical links and nodes in support of theater or functional operations.  The CVA/H weapon system provides a cyberspace security capability offering in-depth assessment of information system assets such as computers, infrastructure, applications, data, and cyberspace operations.

The CVA/H weapon system consists of four primary components: the Mobile Interceptor Platform, the Deployable Interceptor Platform, the Garrison Interceptor Platform, and the Information Operations Platform-Fly Away Kit.

Active duty weapon system operations are conducted by the 92nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron and the 834th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; and the 835 COS and 837th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, located at Scott AFB, Illinois.  The Air Force Reserve Command is building a classic associate unit at Scott AFB to employ the CVA/H.  Also, 12 Air National Guard (ANG) units employ the weapon system.

"Witnessing Gen Whiting signing the FOC declaration for CVA/H culminated years of effort towards maturing and normalizing the many programmatic activities associated with developing and fielding a weapon system," said Lt Col Greg McCulley, Chief of the Air Force Space Command's Defensive Operations Branch and former commander of the 92nd Cyberspace Operations Squadron.

CVA/H was officially designated a weapon system by the Air Force Chief of Staff in March 2013 and achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in June 2013.

"Weapons system" is a term used as a means to identify requirements and critical resources to ensure that they receive comprehensive and equitable consideration for program-associated funding and does not mean that the particular resource is a weapon as defined by the AF and DoD.
The Air Force Intranet Control Weapon System was the first Air Force cyberspace weapons system to reach FOC, which occurred on 7 January.  Other cyberspace weapon systems include the Air Force Cyberspace Defense Weapon System, the Cyber Security and Control System Weapon System, the Cyber Command and Control Mission System Weapon System, and the Cyberspace Defense Analysis Weapon System.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Army to roll out better body armor, combat shirt in 2019

In 2019 the Army expects to roll out a new, lighter body armor system. The armor will provide at least as much protection as today's system, but with more comfort, and greater flexibility to adjust based on the mission, Army officials said.
The Torso and Extremities Protection, or TEP, program cleared the engineering and development phases last summer, and will move into a few years of limited production and testing. During that time and beyond, technology advances may be integrated.
Already, improved ballistics materials have allowed the Army to cut the weight of TEP, when compared to the Army’s current heavy-duty option, the Improved Outer Tactical Vest. The IOTV, when loaded with heavy plates, weighs about 31 pounds, while a comparable TEP system checks in at about 23 pounds, or  26 percent lighter. more

US Army begins industry survey for Future Vertical Lift

The US Army has provided the clearest details yet about what in needs in a Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platform after releasing two requests for information for next-generation rotorcraft technologies and concepts in the lightly armed reconnaissance and mid-size utility/attack roles.
Published on the US government's contracting website on 22 February, the army's industry surveys, for the first time since FVL was conceived seven years ago, seek information on future rotorcraft, based either on existing types or completely new designs, that could be introduced in the 2030s. The notice seeks information on every core technology from the airframe structure to engines, drive systems, rotors and flight control systems as well as avionics, sensors and armaments.
The emphasis is on improved speed, range, endurance and full performance "in high and hot environments” as well as lower operating and maintenance costs and a comparable or reduced logistical footprint compared to today's army aviation inventory. more

How to Kill a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The United States has poured ten of billions of dollars into developing fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, relatively simple signal processing enhancements, combined with a missile with a large warhead and its own terminal guidance system, could potentially allow low-frequency radars and such weapons systems to target and fire on the latest generation U.S. aircraft.
It is a well-known fact within Pentagon and industry circles that low-frequency radars operating in the VHF and UHF bands can detect and track low-observable aircraft. It has generally been held that such radars can’t guide a missile onto a target—i.e. generate a “weapons quality” track. But that is not exactly correct—there are ways to get around the problem according to some experts. more

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Service Chiefs Reject Proposal to Develop New Military Cyber Force

Former NATO commander and retired Navy admiral James Stavridis speaks often of his proposal to develop a fifth U.S. military service branch -- a cyber force that would own operations in the virtual domain.
But comments last week from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller indicate the time has not come for that idea just yet.
Speaking at a San Diego panel moderated by Stavridis on Feb. 19, Richardson and Neller both declined to offer support for such a cyber force when pressed on the topic.
"I think that this must be integrated. I think if we have a completely standalone type of thing, it's just going to be much more difficult to integrate it into operations, into planning and execution, debriefing, all of that," Richardson said. "So while there are potentially some unique skill sets and capabilities, it's through that deep integration into the fundamentals, the basic ingredients of warfare going forward that I think is going to make cyber achieve its full potential."
Neller, who has promised to expand the Marine Corps' cyber capabilities by the end of next year, allowed that more discussion was needed on the topic, but concluded that the current system worked well. more

US secretly agreed N Korea talks before nuke test

The US government secretly agreed to talks with North Korea aimed at formally ending the Korean War just days before Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The talks were offered despite a longstanding condition that North Korea first move to cut its nuclear arsenal. Instead the nuclear weapons program was to be part of the talks, the Journal said in its Monday edition.The 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice, but no formal peace treaty.The US State Department acknowledged the exchange, insisting that it was in accordance with US goals."To be clear, it was the North Koreans who proposed discussing a peace treaty," State Department spokesman John Kirby told the Journal."We carefully considered their proposal, and made clear that denuclearization had to be part of any such discussion," said Kirby. He said the North rejected this."Our response to the North Korean proposal was consistent with our longstanding focus on denuclearization," Kirby said. more

Weapons in Space

The issue of placing weapons in orbit about the Earth continues to be of increasing concern to the U.S. and other nations. Discussions of militarizing space have been ongoing since the first artificial satellite was launched in 1957.
By definition, space militarization is the placement and development of weapons and military technology in Earth orbits. Although ballistic missiles do transit space, they do not stay in space. Therefore, such missiles are not considered to be space weapons.It is true that space is the home of many devices that serve national security interests. For example, there are many imaging and communications satellites that are owned and operated by defense and security organizations of governments. However, these are thought to be weaponless.Based on publically available information, weapons are not currently stationed in space. In fact, the Outer Space Treaty, the basic legal framework of international space law, bars any signatory to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body. more

US dominates arms trade as Asia, Mid-East boost imports

The global transfer of major arms has risen in recent years, with the United States increasing its dominance of the trade while the flow of weaponry to Africa, Asia and the Middle East has increased, a new study published Monday showed.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, the volume of international transfers of major weapons -- including sales and donations -- was 14 percent higher in 2011-2015 than over the five previous years, with the US and Russia doing most of the exporting.The biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).The authors of the report singled out the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is backing the government against Iran-supported Shiite Huthi rebels."A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen," senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.- 'US arms went to 96 states' -The United States has sold or donated major arms to a diverse range of recipients across the globe, the report said.more

Army seeking '3rd offset strategy' to dominate enemy

"Our adversaries have begun to catch us in technology and in some cases, we believe, may overmatch some of our systems," said a senior intelligence advisor.

That's why "we're particularly interested in the pursuit of the third offset," he said.

Gary Phillips, senior intelligence advisor for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's G-2, Intelligence Support Activity, spoke about the outcome of Unified Quest 2016, or UQ, during a Feb. 19 media roundtable. He was joined by Brig. Gen. Lee Quintas, director, Concept Development and Learning Directorate, Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Unified Quest is the Army's annual future study exercise, designed to explore strategies and challenges and offer solutions to the force of 2025 and beyond.


The third offset is a Department of Defense strategy begun in 2014, formally called the Defense Innovation Initiative.

The strategy includes targeting scarce modernization dollars at new technologies that could potentially disrupt technologies being used or being developed by adversaries, according to a speech delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, Jan. 28, 2015.

The reason it's known as the third offset, Work said, is because the first was weaponry developed during the 1950s to offset the Soviet's "very, very great conventional strength."

The second offset also took place during the Cold War in response to Soviet power, but it occurred later, in the 1970s, Work said. That's when the newly-formed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency led efforts to build battle networks and precision-guided munitions.

"But just as with the first offset strategy, the second offset strategy is showing its teeth," Work said. "We're now starting to see the capabilities and the advantages that it accrues to us is starting to erode, and at an accelerating pace."


The Future Forces Design I seminar held in November at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the follow-on to that, Future Force Design II, held in Potomac, Maryland, in January, generated a number of ideas regarding what the third offset might look like, and not all of it was technology driven.

Quintas said a lot of the analysis involved looking at how the Army is structured. Specifically, he said how the Army is structured at the division, corps and theater levels, and how effectively those higher echelons support the brigades in joint and expeditionary maneuvers.

Brigades were examined too, he said.

"We looked at our airborne brigades and realized as we did the analysis that they lacked tactical mobility, they lacked reconnaissance capability and lacked mobile protective firepower," Quintas said. "So, you look at that as a gap and come up with an integrated solution that includes ground mobility for light infantry forces, light reconnaissance vehicular capabilities for the scouts and cavalry squadrons and it includes mobile protective firepower to assist those formations as well."

Quintas said the UQ participants were especially impressed by the speed at which events can occur at any time in the world.

The Army is largely U.S.-based, with a relatively small forward presence, he said. The rapid rate in which situations develop can impact the time it takes getting to any particular place in the world.

"We've got to be able to deploy on short notice to austere locations and operate on moment's notice," Quintas said. "We've got to be agile in terms of transitioning across the range of military operations. We've got to have endurance to sustain those efforts for ample duration. And, we've got to have adaptable formations that possess capabilities to operate across the range of military operations."

Regarding adversaries, Quintas noted: "They've studied us and they know there will be a certain amount of time it will take us to project power forward." As a result, UQ focused on determining what "capabilities and authorities" forward assets may need to make a more rapid transition from buildup to operations.

The other thing that impressed UQ participants was the "transregional aspect to our world," meaning how events in one part of the world can impact others, including the homeland.

For instance, the linkage between the Islamic State and recent attacks in Paris. And, the spread of al-Qaeda to other areas.

Another insight gained at UQ is the extreme complexity of operations in various theaters, Quintas said.

For instance in the European theater, Soldiers must become familiar with a variety of NATO country standards and procedures. Other theaters have their own, he said. The regionally aligned force structure "is an opportunity for us to build greater understanding of those environments and more effectively operate with inter-organizational and multinational partners."


The U.S. isn't the only nation or group pursuing an offset. Potential adversaries are as well, Phillips said.

The growing cyber and electronic warfare capability of potential adversaries threaten to take down sophisticated U.S. defense systems, he said.

Overmatch by the enemy isn't necessarily a new super technology, Phillips said. "It's the way it's integrated into the force and the way it's used."

A "mashup" of technology is an example of this, he said, meaning using new technology to make an old system more lethal.

An example of that mashup, he said, would be using an iPad to site mortar fire from a legacy 82mm Russian mortar.

Phillips admitted that the outcomes of UQ can only inform the Army to a certain extent "because the future is unknowable. But, you can see a silhouette and likely possibilities in understanding causes of war and turning points or shifts in the character of war."

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Air Force of the Future: Lasers on Fighter Jets, Planes That Think

Fighter jets that shoot high-powered lasers. Robots that mine hours of intelligence data in milliseconds. A tactical aircraft that can think for itself.
These are just a few of the cutting-edge technology breakthroughs the Air Force hopes will change the game in the future battle space.
This year, the Air Force is reinvesting in science and technology, requesting $2.5 billion for S&T in its fiscal 2017 budget submission. The ask is a welcome change from FY16, when sequestration cuts forced the Air Force to reduce S&T funding, a cut reflected in the service’s deferral of critical capabilities like Global Hawk and B-2 bomber upgrades.
But as Russia and China race to catch up with US technological advances like stealth and precision weapons, the US can’t afford to fall behind, Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias stressed.
“I think we need to do a leapfrog and push the technology even farther, and not sit on our laurels,” Zacharias said. more

Marines Designate Infantry Battalion as New Experimental Unit

Marines assigned to the legendary "Dark Horse" battalion may get the chance to try out new gear, technology, and fighting methods before they are introduced service-wide.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Friday that 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., would spend the next year acting as the Corps' experimental unit, working with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab to field-test new ideas and equipment over the course of ordinary training and operations.
"They're going to be our experimental platform, if you will, and we'll give them capabilities and do it in an efficient way -- which is, give it to Marines and let them figure it out, because they're our best developers and experimenters," Neller said.
It's the first time the Marine Corps has ever designated an experimental unit, and underscores the heavy emphasis the Marine Corps and Navy communities are placing on innovation.
Speaking to following remarks at the AFCEA West conference in San Diego, Neller said 3/5 was chosen because its schedule made it available. The unit is now deployed to Japan for six months with the Unit Deployment Program.
"Normally, when you go to UDP, you end up sending a company here, a company there, and since we're looking at distributed ops and how that will all work, everything that was already built in their schedule will already fit that," Neller said. He added that Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force out of Japan, had shown a keen interest in being part of the planned experimentation.
The unit will participate in the international Rim of the Pacific maritime warfare exercise this summer, Neller said. This year, RIMPAC will feature some 40 experiments and experimental concepts. more

Navy Plans Upgrades at Sasebo Base for Future Warships

The Navy plans to revamp its pier-side power facilities at Sasebo Naval Base on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu to accommodate advanced warships expected to roll off stateside assembly lines in the coming years.
The announcement was made in the draft fiscal 2017 budget released by the Navy earlier this month. Modernization upgrades at Sasebo's Juliet Basin pier were budgeted at $16.42 million.
Navy officials would not say which platforms the upgrades are meant to accommodate, after local media reported they were specifically meant for the new Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer. However, officials did say the planned upgrades are meant to accommodate the Navy's most advanced platforms.
"These upgrades ... will allow the base to continue to support forward deployed and port visits for many different classes of the Navy's most advanced warships," said Darian Wilson, a US Naval Forces Japan spokesman.
The Navy will work closely with Japan to plan and announce any changes to the Navy's forward deployed presence in Japan, he added.

What Happened to Trump’s Veteran Hot Line?

Donald J. Trump is the Republican presidential candidate who believes that military school should count as military service and that Senator John McCain isn’t a war hero because he got captured by the enemy.

Last summer (shortly after he questioned McCain’s manhood), Trump announced a hotline “for veterans to share their stories about the need to reform our Veterans Administration.” The campaign’s press release touted ““If he is elected president, he will take care of these and all veterans complaints very quickly and efficiently like a world-class business man can do, but a politician has no clue.”
As of this week, however, the hotline goes straight to voice mail. Fox News ran a story exposing the situation and the video is embedded below.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Army Works to Beef Up SHORAD

The Army is looking at placing more short-range air-defense capabilities in brigade combat teams (BCT).

For more than two decades, the Army has neglected the short-range threat and focused instead on missiles, said Maj. Gen. John G. Rossi, commanding general of the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He was part of a panel discussion, Feb. 11, at a day-long Association of the U.S. Army-sponsored Hot Topics forum on Air and Missile Defense.

Desert Storm, 25 years ago, brought the Patriot missile defense systems into prominence, Rossi said.

"As we made Patriot better and we focused on it, in essence the Air Defense community migrated to what became a point-defense branch, a missile defense branch," Rossi said.


"We took the 'A' out of Air and Missile Defense in many ways," he said. "We didn't think we really needed to focus on it."

SHORAD or Short-Range Air Defense battalions were deactivated. "We took all short-range air defense out of the architecture as we focused on missile defense," Rossi said, adding "that's caught up to us."

Now the proliferation of small, unmanned aircraft is forcing commanders to reassess the need for SHORAD capabilities to combat low-altitude threats.

"We've got to find a game changer," Rossi said, alluding to the need to find more affordable and lethal air-defense systems.

"We have to change the scenario or change the equation so it's more costly to attack than to defend," he said. "We've got to build to the future."


The Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Mobile Integrated capability, or CMIN, is among systems being researched for the future.

"We already demonstrated this a year ago at Fort Bliss and we're going back again now for the [Network Integration Evaluation] in the spring," Rossi said about testing CMIN at the Network Integration Evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas.

CMIN uses a Q-50 radar to find incoming UAS, he said. The AN/TPQ-50 counter-fire radar was developed by the field artillery community to detect incoming rounds and calculate their trajectory.

Once radar spots the UAS and they are identified, then CMIN has both non-lethal and kinetic tools to stop them, Rossi said.

Other innovations being researched to boost air defense include new sensors and a hypervelocity gun.

The hypervelocity gun weapons system uses a 155mm projectile in an air defense mode, Rossi said.

It's a good example of what he called "cross-domain expansion," merging field artillery and air defense artillery platforms.


Cross-domain expansion uses existing platforms in new ways, Rossi said, and is an important part of the Army Operating Concept.

A battle-tested example of this is the C-RAM, he said. C-RAM stands for Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system. It was adapted from the Navy Phalanx weapons system and was sent to Iraq for the protection of large forward operating bases such as Camp Victory and Joint Base Balad.

"The neat thing about the C-RAM is it was cross-branch -- FA radars, ADA, aviation all put into one," Rossi said. "It was cross-service -- it was Army and Navy-ran, and it was cross-compo -- active and Guard."

Such efforts are essential, Rossi said, especially as the Army gets smaller.

Rossi is not advocating more force structure to bolster air-defense capability in BCTs.

"What we're not going to do is bring back the SHORAD battalion and lay that on top of a BCT," he said. He explained that making a brigade larger would just detract from its expeditionary nature.

What he advocates instead is "multi-functional convergence" or merging select branch attributes.

"It can't be just ADA systems inside the portfolio of air defenders to solve this in isolation," he said.


Air defenders need to work closely with everyone else in the maneuver force, said another member of the panel, Maj. Gen. Glenn A. Bramhall.

"I think we've lost just about a whole generation of knowledge base of how we work with the maneuver force," said Bramhall, commander of the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

"One of the things we need to do is get back into the dirt -- get back into the maneuver forces and train their commanders on how do we integrate air defense, what does air defense offer... "

Getting back into the dirt means integrating Air and Missile Defense units into National Training Center rotations, the AMD leaders said.

It also means getting back to the basics of old-fashioned training such as how to employ camouflage netting over tactical vehicles to keep them from being spotted by aircraft, said Dr. David M. Markowitz, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, G-3/5/7.

USAF Too Small, Foldfien Tells Congress

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and other senior leaders testified before the House Armed Services Committee about readiness and the fiscal year 2017 Air Force budget request Feb. 12.

The panel, which also included Lt. Gen. John Raymond, the deputy chief of staff for operations, and Lt. Gen. John Cooper, the deputy chief of staff for logistics, engineering and force protection, testified that with today’s national security challenges, the world needs a strong American joint force. The joint force depends upon Air Force capabilities and requires airpower at the beginning, the middle and the end of every joint operation.

“Since our establishment in 1947, the Air Force remains the world’s first and most agile responder in times of crisis, contingency and conflict,” Goldfein said.

He added that the last 25 years of continuous combat operations and reductions in the total force, combined with budget instability and lower funding, have resulted in one of the smallest, oldest and least ready forces across the full spectrum of operations in Air Force history.

Goldfein also stated the Budget Control Act further degraded readiness while limiting recovery. While the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 provided some readiness recovery and modernization efforts, the Air Force needs permanent relief from BCA with consistent and flexible funding, more manpower and time to recover readiness.

For the past two years, instead of rebuilding readiness for future, high-end conflicts, Airmen have responded to events across the globe leading and in support of the joint force while remaining the world’s greatest Air Force. A return to sequestration would worsen the problem and delay the Air Force goal to return to full-spectrum readiness, Goldfein said

“We are too small and you have seen us trying to build back up capacity so we can do what our nation needs,” Goldfein said.

To improve mission quality, the vice chief of staff said the budget includes a modest upsizing of the total force to address a number of key areas, including critical career fields such as intelligence, cyber, maintenance, and battlefield Airmen. Aircraft maintenance career fields are approximately 4,000 maintainers short. The manpower requested will keep existing aircraft flying at home and abroad.

“We have offered numerous retention incentives to our older maintainers so they will stay and retain that training, that expertise, but we are digging a continuous hole as we go forward,” Cooper said.

According to Goldfein, this budget request prioritizes readiness and modernization over installation support. Today’s Air Force maintains infrastructure that is in an operational excess. There are 500 fewer aircraft now compared to 10 years ago, therefore, a reduction and realignment infrastructure would best support Air Force operational needs by base realignment and closure, he said.

Airmen are educated, innovative, motivated, and willing to ensure the Air Force continues to outwit and outlast opponents and defend the United States from harm, Goldfein said. They assure air superiority so American ground forces can keep their eyes on enemies on the ground rather than concern themselves with enemy airpower overhead.

“This budget request is an investment in the Air Force our nation needs,” Goldfein said. "America expects it; combatant commanders require it; and with your support for this budget request, our Airmen will deliver it.”

GAO denies protest, Air Force proceeds with LRS-B

The Government Accountability Office denied The Boeing Company’s protest of the Long Range Strike Bomber contract award following a comprehensive review of the source selection process. The Air Force was confident that the source selection team followed a deliberate, disciplined and impartial process to determine the best value for the warfighter and the taxpayer.

“We look forward to proceeding with the development and fielding of this critical weapon system. This platform will offer the joint community the required capability needed to meet our national security objectives and the evolving threat environment,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “It is important to ensure affordability in this program and the ability to leverage existing technology as we proceed forward.”

The service plans to procure 100 LRS-B aircraft. The aircraft preserves the president’s options for missions across the full range of military operations from permissive to anti-access/area denial environments. It will serve as the air component of the nuclear triad, providing a visible and flexible nuclear deterrent capability.

"Our Nation needs this capability," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "The current bomber fleet is aging. The technology advantage the U.S. has enjoyed is narrowing. This new bomber will provide unmatched combat power and agility to respond and adapt faster to our potential adversaries."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

US Special Operations Command lifts the lid on special mission MQ-9 Reaper

The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has provided details of a new enhanced variant of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was first revealed by the Department of Defense (DoD) in a contract announcement from late January.
The USD34.03 million MQ-9 Medium Altitude Long Endurance Tactical (MALET) Lead-Off Hitter (LOH) contract is part of a rolling upgrade to the 37 MQ-9s procured by the US Air Force (USAF) on behalf of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) that has been on going since fiscal year 2013 (FY 2013), a spokesperson for USSOCOM told IHS Jane's on 15 February.
Since FY 2013, the AFSOC's MQ-9s have received hardware and software capability drops to the platforms themselves as well as to their operating and training stations, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Allen explained. more

Korea lacks technology for anti-US nuclear strike: Pentagon

North Korea is committed to striking the United States with a nuclear-armed missile, but it can't do so without outside help, due to shortfalls in its own technology, the Pentagon said Friday.
The report to Congress was written prior to a fourth nuclear test conducted by Pyongyang last month and the launch of a satellite-bearing rocket earlier this month.North Korea's KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile "likely would be capable" of striking the continental US if successfully designed and developed, said the report.However, North Korea has not been able to conduct flight tests on the highly complex system, and its "current reliability as a weapon system would be low.""The pace of its progress will also depend, in part, on how much technology and other aid it can acquire from other countries," it said. more

Monday, February 15, 2016

Coast Guard Advances its Arctic Readiness in 2015, Challenges Remain

In  2015, as the United States assumed its two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, the high-level intergovernmental forum for the region, the US Coast Guard planned and executed a number of initiatives to advance maritime safety, security, and stewardship mission readiness in the Arctic. Yet the failure of Congress to provide the level of support necessary for the Coast Guard to adequately recapitalize its small and aging polar icebreaker fleet casts doubt on the service's ability to fully meet its mandate to provide year-round, assured access and self-rescue in the polar regions. Hopefully, that trend will be reversed in the coming years. more

Sixth-gen fighter likely won’t be common across U.S. services, Air Force general says

In a departure from the dual-service F-35 effort, the Pentagon’s sixth-generation fighter likely won’t be common between the Air Force and the Navy, a top Air Force general said Friday.
The next generation of fighters will likely be designed as separate aircraft across the services because the Air Force and Navy will have unique mission requirements in future decades, said Lt. Gen. James “Mike” Holmes, deputy chief of staff for plans and requirements.
“We’ll have some different requirements for what we need based on the different things we are expected to provide for the joint force,” Holmes said Friday during a media roundtable at the Pentagon. “It’s not likely [it will be a common airplane]. We’ll use common technologies and maybe some common things, but at this point we think it will be a different enough mission that it won’t be the same airplane.”
It’s a departure from the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II which will be used by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The F-35 was designed as a joint-service fighter, with three different variants built for the various services.
But it looks like the sixth gen fighter development will more closely resemble current aircraft, where the Air Force operates the F-15 and F-16, and the Navy flies the F-18. more

Navy considers electric gun for a Zumwalt-class destroyer

Development of a futuristic weapon depicted in video games and science fiction is going well enough that a Navy admiral wants to skip an at-sea prototype in favor of installing an operational unit aboard a destroyer planned to go into service in 2018.
The Navy has been testing an electromagnetic railgun and could have an operational unit ready to go on one of the new Zumwalt-class destroyers under construction at Bath Iron Works.
Adm. Pete Fanta, the Navy's director of surface warfare, has floated the idea of foregoing the current plan to put a prototype on another vessel this year and instead put it directly on future USS Lyndon B. Johnson, though no final decision has been made.
"The Zumwalt-class is one of a number of options being explored for the electromagnetic railgun," said Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a Navy spokeswoman. "Due to the size, weight and power requirements, some platforms will be better suited for the technology than others."
Railguns use electricity instead of gunpowder to accelerate a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound — creating enough kinetic energy to destroy targets.
It's literal whiz-bang technology that holds the possibility of providing an effective weapon at pennies on the dollars compared to smart bombs and missiles.
There has been talk since the inception of the Zumwalt program that the massive destroyers would be a likely candidate for the weapon because of its power plant. The USS Johnson will be the third and final destroyer in the Zumwalt class.
The 600-foot-long warship uses marine turbines similar to those that propel the Boeing 777 to help produce up to 78 megawatts of electricity for use in propulsion, weapons and sensors. That's more than enough juice for the railgun.
If it's placed on the warship, the system could replace one of the forward turrets housing a 155mm gun that fires rocket-propelled projectiles. more

Navy strike groups must adapt to rising threats

Smaller aircraft carriers and more cruisers. Multiple unmanned airframes for tanking, strike missions and dog-fighting. Sixteen carrier strike groups.
As budget season kicks into high gear, House lawmakers called in experts Thursday to discuss the future of the carrier air wing.
With possible looming threats from China, Russia and Iran, they testified, the Navy needs to re-think how it will use its carriers in an environment where they might be vulnerable to an adversary with batteries of long-range missiles.
"The risk to U.S. aircraft carriers is arguably as large as it’s ever been since our carriers were actually out there fighting in the Second World War," Michael Horowitz, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told members of the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on seapower.
Horowitz was joined by Seth Cropsey, director of the Center for American Seapower at the Hudson Institute, and Naval War College professor emeritus Robert Rubel, who shared their ideas for switching up the carrier air wing to keep it safe from attack while still patrolling contentious parts of the world.
"This will be a difficult process for a Navy that has become accustomed to being unchallenged for the past 25 years," Rubel said. more

US Army Pivots to Europe

For years, the US administration has cast a longing gaze on a pivot to the Asia Pacific but wars in the Middle East have managed to divert attention.
And now Russia has re-emerged as the number one threat to the US. So if there’s a pivot happening anywhere it’s to Europe, and it’s clear the Army will lead.
President Obama’s last budget request more than quadrupled the amount of overseas contingency operations (OCO) money funneled into what is being called the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).
The $3.4 billion in fiscal 2017 funding is part of an effort to deter Russia’s military aggression in Eastern Europe and to bolster allies’ defense capabilities.
And it’s clear that the majority of those dollars — $2.8 billion of it — are Army green.
The majority of the Army’s OCO boost in the budget is due to ERI, Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, the Army’s budget director, said. more

Top Marine Looks to Science Fiction to Prepare Corps for Future

The book Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller is encouraging all his troops to read isn't Lao Tzu's "The Art of War" or the age-old reading list classic "A Message to Garcia."
It's "Ghost Fleet," a futuristic "Novel of the Next World War" published last year by think tankers August Cole and P.W. Singer.
As the Marine Corps expands its cyber warfare and information warfare communities and looks for opportunities to embrace cutting-edge technologies, the lines between science fiction and future warfare quickly blur.
To underscore the point, the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab hosted a "Science Fiction Futures" workshop Feb. 3, featuring Cole, Singer and other sci-fi authors who met and discussed concepts and ideas with a group of 17 Marines and sailors selected from a pool of applicants.
In a town hall meeting on Feb. 12 with Marines at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia, Neller suggested that even seemingly far-fetched future warfighting concepts, like exo-suits and fighting surrogates from the 2009 blockbuster movie Avatar, could pose dilemmas for troops in the near future.
"All the stuff with the brain and the body, it's kind of crazy," he said. "There's ethical and moral issues there that might slow us down, but I'm not sure it's going to slow down our adversaries."
New technology has healing potential, too, Neller said. He discussed a recent visit to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon's research agency, in which he had seen troops using prosthetic arms with sensors that allowed the brain to control and move an artificial limb. With advances in 3-D printing, he suggested, wounded troops may spend much less time out of commission. more

Friday, February 12, 2016

Back-to-back rotations to Europe could stress the Army's armored BCTs

The Army’s armored brigade combat teams could soon begin back-to-back rotations in Europe as the Pentagon looks to boost the region’s defense against Russia.
The military’s 2017 budget request, released Tuesday, calls for $3.4 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative. The request quadruples previous funding levels and signals a new recognition that the former Cold War foe is once again a major global rival.
If approved, the Army will begin what it calls “heel-to-toe” — or continuous — rotations of an armored BCT into Europe. The move would come just five years after budget cuts forced the Army to shut down the two heavy brigades stationed in Europe and bring home all its tanks and other heavy vehicles.
It also adds an additional overseas requirement for the Army’s already busy armored brigade combat teams.
The active Army only has nine ABCTs, and they already are tasked with nine-month rotations to Kuwait and South Korea. more

US Rejects Russian Charge That A-10s Hit Aleppo Hospitals

The U.S. military denied Thursday Moscow's charges that A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft hit Aleppo, where Syrian regime forces backed by Russian airstrikes have triggered a humanitarian crisis.
"There were no Coalition airstrikes in or near Aleppo on Wednesday.  Any claim that the coalition had aircraft in the area is a fabrication," Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for Combined Joint task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in an e-mail statement.
In a later e-mail statement from Baghdad, Warren said that the only U.S. airstrikes ever carried out near Aleppo were in the beginning of the U.S. air campaign in August 2014 and were aimed at the Khorasan group, an Al Qaeda affiliate operating in Syria.
The Russian charges came a day after Warren gave a video briefing to the Pentagon in which he railed against the indiscriminate airstrikes using "dumb bombs" carried out in and around Aleppo by Russian warplanes to support the forces of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Warren singled out Russian strikes that he said hit two hospitals Wednesday, depriving an estimated 50,000 civilians of medical care.
In Moscow, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement that "only aviation of the anti-ISIS coalition flew over the city yesterday (Wednesday)", referring to the U.S.-led alliance of countries fighting the Islamic State terror group.
"Two U.S. Air Force A-10 attack aircraft entered Syrian airspace from Turkish territory. Reaching Aleppo by the most direct path, they made strikes against objects in the city," Kornashenkov said. more

Congress Pushes Back on Army Plan to Cut Tens of Thousands of Troops

Senators on the Armed Services Committee said Thursday it was time to rethink the Army's planned drawdown amid growing threats abroad, including the Islamic State group and Russia.
The senators' comments were followed later in the day by 12 House lawmakers filing a bill to block any manpower cuts.
The opposition came just as the Army unveiled its budget proposal for 2017 this week and lawmakers kicked off hearings on funding the military. Cutting soldiers was a way for the Army to save money amid spending caps imposed by Congress and resistance will likely trigger a fight over how to pay for more troops.
"It seems to me when I hear some of these threats it is time for us to think about not drawing down and how we can best protect this nation," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said Thursday during a hearing on the future of the service.
In 2016 and 2017, the Army is planning to cut 10,000 soldiers from the active-duty ranks, bringing the force to 460,000 soldiers. The Army National Guard would be cut by 7,000 and the Army Reserve by 3,000.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, criticized what he called "budget-driven" cuts that do not fit the current needs of the military.
"On the present course, we are running the risk that in a crisis, we will have too few soldiers who will enter a fight without proper training or equipment," he said.
Overall, the Army announced last summer that it planned to eventually reduce its active-duty strength from 490,000 to 450,000. The cuts would affect military bases in Georgia, Texas, Alaska, Washington and Hawaii and save about $7 billion in four years, according to the service's projections. more

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Air Force Plans to Keep A-10s, Buy Fewer F-35s, Delay C-130 Upgrades

The Air Force on Tuesday released a 2017 budget geared to rebalance the force and counter readiness problems resulting from years of deployments, personnel shortages and sequester-forced spending caps that have cut into modernization programs across the board.
At $167 billion, the service's budget is roughly $5 billion more than was appropriated for fiscal 2016, according to Air Force figures that show end strength will remain unchanged from the current year at 317,000 airmen.
Funding is designed to meet combatant commanders' needs in part by delaying the previously planned retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II now being used for operations in the Middle East. But officials are warning that the money is still not enough to retain a solid edge over adversaries who are "closing the gap in military capability," according to budget documents.
On the reserve side, end strength for the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard is basically unchanged for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The Reserve would drop from 69,200 airmen to 69,000, while the air guard would actually increase by 200 airmen when it goes up to 105,700.
The Air Force continues to leverage the Guard and Reserve to meet mission, officials said.
"The Air Force continues to have significant readiness concerns," the budget documents state. "Though very good at current operations less than 50 percent of combat air forces are proficient in other required mission sets. Moreover, adversaries are closing the gap in military capability."
The Air Force reduced from 48 to 43 the number of F-35s it planned to buy next year and also put off modernization and recapitalizing programs in a number of areas, including delaying incremental replacement of its C-130H fleet.
"The [fiscal year] 2017 budget request represents a 'pivot point' for the Air Force to continue the recovery to balance the force for today's readiness and the readiness needed 10 to 20 years from now," the Pentagon said in its overview of the budget. more

After Drawdown, Marines Propose Investments in Aircraft, Training

Drawdown days are officially over for the Marine Corps. The service's fiscal 2017 budget request would keep the active-duty force at a steady state of 182,000 troops, a number projected to remain constant until fiscal 2021.
The Marines' base budget request of $23.4 billion represents a $169 million increase over the previous year, with an additional $1.6 billion in overseas contingency operations funding earmarked for operations and maintenance, personnel and procurement.
The spending plan calls for a significant investment in Marine Corps aircraft.
The service plans to buy its first two CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift replacement helicopters at a cost of $437 million as it continues to invest heavily in development for the airframe. The aircraft, which will replace the Marines' workhorse CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, is expected to reach initial operational capability by fiscal 2019. By 2021, the Corps plans to purchase 40 of the choppers.
The Marines will complete a five-year procurement contract for MV-22B Ospreys next year, with plans to buy another 16 of the tiltrotor aircraft. The service also wants to purchase 16 more F-35B Joint Strike Fighters as it prepares to deploy a first squadron of the fifth-generation fighters to Japan in early 2017. The budget includes funding for 24 new AH-1Z Venom helicopters, which replace AH-1W Super Cobras first introduced in 1986.
Ground vehicle procurement will also get a boost.
As part of a joint program with the Army, the Corps plans to buy 192 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles at a total cost of $113 million, up from 118 of the Humvee replacements in 2016. As development of the Marines' amphibious combat vehicle continues, the service plans to spend about $159 million to manufacture and deliver 32 test vehicles for the future armored personnel carrier. more

Navy Budget Confirms Plans to Cut Purchases of Littoral Combat Ships

It's official: The U.S. Navy plans to reduce its Littoral Combat Ship buy from 52 to 40 vessels over the next five years, according to the service's fiscal 2017 budget request released on Tuesday.
With a base budget request of $155.4 billion, the Navy's spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 is about $4 billion less than it was for fiscal 2016, though some of that will be offset by a $9.5 billion request in overseas contingency operations funding.
The Navy is also set to lose 4,400 active-duty sailors, nearly all enlisted, as it approaches a long-term steady state that will have 50,000 sailors underway on ships year-round. This end strength reduction, from 327,300 sailors to 322,900 sailors, represents the most significant reduction in forces since fiscal 2012. Current projections show the service maintaining its end strength after this year with small adjustments, with a projected active-duty force of 323,100 by fiscal 2021.
"Over the next five years the Navy will continue to make adjustments to properly size manpower accounts to reflect force structure decisions, reduce manning gaps at sea, and improve fleet readiness," the service budget request states.
In a briefing to reporters at the Pentagon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. William Lescher said the drawdown would take place through natural attrition, primarily as the service deactivates its 10th Carrier Air Wing in the coming fiscal year.
This deactivation, he said, will also allow the Navy to match its air wings up with its deployable aircraft carriers, and shore up readiness through the reallocation of aircraft to remaining wings.
This strategy has its critics, though. In one of a series of statements Tuesday criticizing the Navy’s budget request, Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, called the deactivation of a carrier air wing a "dangerous" move. more

Army Budget Cuts Modernization and Personnel, Invests in Readiness

A shrinking U.S. Army rolled out its proposed fiscal 2017 budget today -- a plan that funnels more money into readiness but cuts every other area including personnel, modernization and construction.
"As we built this budget and sought to strike the best possible balance within our top line funding levels, we ensured that our absolute, number-one priority remained readiness," Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, director of Army Budget, said during a Feb. 9 Pentagon briefing.
The $125.1 billion request is $1.4 billion less than the service's approved fiscal 2016 budget, according to budget documents.
The Army proposed personnel budget is for $55.3 billion, compared to fiscal 2016's $56.2 billion. The active force is scheduled to get $40 billion -- down from last year's $40.9 billion. The Reserve and National Guard receive slight increases with the Guard getting $8 billion and the Reserves getting $4.6 billion.
The Army's active component takes the biggest hit to personnel compared to other services. The Army is the largest service, but its active force is scheduled to shrink from 475,000 to 460,000 -- that's a 3-percent decrease, compared to the Navy's 1-percent cut to its active component. Both the Air Force and the Marine Corps have no planned cuts to their active components, according to budget documents.
The Army National Guard is slated to cut its force from 342,000 to 335,000 and the Army Reserve plans to shrink its force from 198,000 to 195,000. This is the last that the Guard and Reserve will downsize, but the active force is scheduled to cut another 10,000 in fiscal 2018 for an end-strength of 450,000, according to budget documents.
The Army plans give $22.6 billion to its modernization efforts, compared to last year's $23.9 billion. Procurement programs take the largest cut with a proposed $15.1 billion, compared to last year's $16.4 billion. more

Obama's Last Defense Budget Adds Funds for Europe, Counterterrorism

President Barack Obama's last defense budget proposal totals $583 billion and marks a legacy document that seeks to prolong a fundamental shift in the ways the nation prepares for and fights wars -- changes for which he has advocated with mixed results.
The $583 billion proposal for fiscal 2017, an amount some lawmakers in Congress have already charged isn't enough, represented an increase of $2.4 billion or less than 1 percent from the level enacted in fiscal 2016.
The total included $524 billion for the base budget that pays for the daily operations of the Defense Department and weapons programs, and $59 billion for the so-called war budget, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Arriving at the final figures involved last-minute bickering between the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon over which items should go into the OCO account, which is not subject to the restrictions of the Budget Control Act and the sequester process, according to sources.
"This budget marks an inflection point" for the military, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement. "Even as we fight today's fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come in 10, 20 or 30 years."
In a lengthy fact sheet, the White House said that the $4.1 trillion overall federal budget proposal "provides the resources to address security threats wherever they arise and continues to demonstrate American leadership around the world."
Counting Defense and State department resources, the White House said that the budget was devoting a total of $11 billion to defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, also known as ISIL, in fiscal 2017. more

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

USAF 2017 Budget Request Filed

The Air Force presented its fiscal year 2017 president's budget request Feb. 9 following the Defense Department and sister services’ budget briefings.

Maj. Gen. Jim Martin, the Air Force budget director, presented the service's budget request and said the fiscal 2017 budget request supports the defense strategy, resources combatant commander requirements, continues readiness recovery from fiscal 2016, but still reflects the many tough choices the service had to make to live within the limits of the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act.

The Air Force requested a top-line budget of $120.4 billion in Air Force-controlled funding that continues to take care of people, strike the right balance between readiness and modernization, and make every dollar count.

Martin said the temporary relief provided by the BBA allows the service to restore end-strength to recover some critical skill sets; continue the top three modernization programs, but at reduced rates for the F-35; sustain capacity to meet combatant commanders’ most urgent needs and readiness for today’s fight; and resource strategic assets in nuclear, space, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission areas.

The budget supports a total force end strength of 492,000 personnel and that the service will continue to assess capability gaps and grow end-strength to meet that demand where they exist, he said.

To help with that effort, this budget supports a 1.6 percent pay raise for active-duty and civilian personnel; adds approximately 100 basic training and tech training instructors, and supports approximately 2,100 accessions above fiscal 2016 levels; increases Officer Training School accessions to a maximum capacity of approximately 1,100 candidates; implements the training and integration of enlisted remotely piloted aircraft pilots into the RQ-4 Global Hawk community; and offers a skills retention bonus for critical career fields such as intelligence, cyber, maintenance and battlefield Airmen.

For readiness, this budget request funds flying hours to executable levels and weapons system sustainment to near capacity. It ensures advance weapons schools and combat exercises like Red Flag and Green Flag are fully funded to help in a long-term effort to restore full-spectrum readiness; supports 60 RPA combat lines while sustaining critical space programs; and continues to establish 39 cyber teams and trains these cyber Airmen to meet today’s and tomorrow’s threats.

The fiscal 2017 procurement budget preserves top modernization programs, sustains our space procurement strategy, invests in the nuclear enterprise, and funds munitions to near capacity to support ongoing operations and to start replenishing current inventories, Martin said.

“Unfortunately, in this budget, we had to sacrifice modernization for current readiness, and, as a result, were forced to delay five F-35s, some fourth-generation modifications, and delay completion of the recapitalization effort of the C-130H in fiscal 2017,” he said.

The budget supports the goal of maintaining assured access to space and viability in contested and increasingly congested environments by continuing the block buys of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency System satellite vehicles 5 and 6 and Space Based Infrared System 5 and 6; and funding five Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle launch services, three of which are competitive launch opportunities.

“We appreciate the relief BBA gives, but tough choices remained, leaving critical capability, capacity and readiness gaps,” Martin said. “Budget stability and the repeal of BCA limits are necessary for the Air Force to remain true to its long-term strategy and to meet all the demands we are being asked to meet, both today and in the future.”

Monday, February 8, 2016

Army Budget Boosts European Presence, Sacrifices Modernization

The Army's fiscal year 2017 budget request would boost the service's European presence but also sacrifices modernization efforts, particularly in the aviation account.
The Army’s fiscal 2017 base budget would be $123.1 billion with an additional overseas contingency operations (OCO) account of $25 billion, according to a defense official.
This means the Army’s base budget would be down $1.2 billion from the $124.3 billion passed by Congress in fiscal 2016, but OCO is growing by $2 billion to account for funds shifting from the base budget to the OCO account. The move is in line with the two-year bipartisan budget deal reached in Congress in 2015 that took $8 billion out of the Defense Department’s base budget and moved it into the OCO account.
The fiscal 2017 budget request seeks to preserve the Army’s planned end-strength and readiness but significantly cuts Army aviation modernization, the defense official told Defense News prior to the roll-out of President Barack Obama's budget request planned for Tuesday.
The service will also see a big ramp-up in OCO funding for Europe as part of an effort to deter Russia’s military aggression in Eastern Europe and to bolster allies defense capabilities.
Yet, the budget will reveal how much of the OCO dollars for Europe is considered an increase and how is just a reallocation of funding for operations in Europe that already existed, Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said. More

Defense Budget ’17 Preview: Advanced Capabilities in Focus

As US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter crossed the nation last week previewing the Pentagon’s fiscal 2017 budget request, a few trends appear to be forming for the Department of Defense.
Carter’s comments made clear that the Pentagon will not allow itself to be fully distracted by the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, commonly known as ISIS or ISIL, and instead will push to continue long-term modernization programs to battle "great power" competition.
“We must have — and be seen to have — the ability to impose unacceptable costs on an advanced aggressor that will either dissuade them from taking provocative action, or make them deeply regret it if they do,” Carter said Feb. 2, adding, “In this context, Russia and China are our most stressing competitors.” More

Congress Drawing Battle Lines in '17 Defense Budget Fight

The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat says if House Republicans follow through on threats to raise defense spending through the wartime account known as OCO, they can expect resistance from Democrats.
Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., pushed back against House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Mac Thornberry’s assertion that $59 billion allocated for the overseas contingency operations account (OCO), was considered a floor and not a ceiling by the two-year bipartisan budget deal reached late last year. Thornberry has said in recent weeks that last year’s budget deal clearly set the amount as a minimum to be raised based on current threats.
“I viewed it as a ceiling, not a floor, but I would like to hear his explanation,” Durbin said of Thornberry on Thursday. “There is one abiding concern: fifty-fifty, defense and non-defense.”
A key principal for Democrats during last year’s budget negotiations was that any increase for the defense side of the budget be matched equally on the non-defense side. Asked if Democrats would stick to that principal, should the GOP seek an OCO plus-up, Durbin told Defense News: “I will.”
As Capitol Hill awaits the president’s 2017 budget proposal Feb. 9, familiar lines are being drawn in a battle that threatens to undo the carefully crafted Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 (BBA), a two-year deal that was supposed to provide stability to a budgeting process that has been irregular for most of President Barack Obama’s administration. More

Friday, February 5, 2016

The commandant of the Marine Corps and the chief of naval operations have been discussing how to design a more effective naval campaign that leverages both the carrier strike group and the amphibious ready group to fight a near-peer competitor, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told USNI News on Thursday.
Speaking at an Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition’s congressional forum, Neller said he had followed up on his January fragmentary order – an add-on to the existing Commandant’s Planning Guidance – by working with CNO Adm. John Richardson to develop a naval operational concept.
“Your Marine Corps is first and foremost a naval combined-arms expeditionary force, and we are strongest as a fully integrated Navy-Marine Corps team, so we are going to man, train and equip and educate the force for that role,” he said.
“This requires more than just amphibious lift – the term amphibious lift denotes transportation. Marines ands sailors need to operate from the sea in the 21st century.”
Neller told USNI News after the event that he and Richardson are looking to revive the Navy-Marine Corps relationship that made the team so successful in the Pacific during World War II, and adapt that operational concept to apply to today’s potential adversaries. More

Pentagon Nuclear Budget Woes

Since the 1950s, the United States has built its existential security framework around a simple idea: Nuclear superiority ensures the nation’s safety.
It’s a strategy that represents the pinnacle of the proverbial “peace through strength,” but that began to change as the Soviet Union fell. The US delayed major modernization of the naval, air and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) components that make up the “nuclear triad” at the core of the US global strategy. And as the US emerged as the sole super power in the world, calls began to emerge to eliminate one or more of the triad’s legs.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and the rise of special forces-dominated counterinsurgency operations as the norm – only added to the feeling that the nuclear arsenal was a Cold War relic.
As time passed, the technologies that comprised the US nuclear enterprise began to near their expiration dates. Now, with a rising China and a resurgent Russia, as well as six other nations armed with nuclear weapons, the Pentagon is sounding an alarm that the tab for nuclear recapitalization is due.
And what a tab it is.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

US open to joint patrols in South China Sea with Philippines

The United States will consider joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea as part of efforts to ensure freedom of navigation in waters claimed by China, the US ambassador said Wednesday.
Washington angered Beijing in recent months by sending US warships and warplanes on patrols near artificial islands built by Beijing to bolster its claim to most of the Sea.The Philippines, one of five claimants to parts of the waterway, has backed Washington's military actions and last month suggested joining US patrols."The United States... will continue to enjoy our rights under international law to sail through international waters or fly through international airspace," ambassador Philip Goldberg told reporters."So I'm not going to prejudge what we're going to do or when we're going to do it. Whether we're going to do it with the Philippines... I'm not discarding that possibility."Asked later if he thought the United States would say "yes" if the Philippines formally asked to take part in joint patrols in the South China Sea, Goldberg said: "I think so."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

'Micro' Drones, 'Arsenal' Plane, Railguns Funded in New Defense Budget

A couple of decades ago, the Navy had an idea for an "arsenal ship" that went nowhere, but Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did the service one better Tuesday with his surprise proposal for an "arsenal plane."
Nobody knows yet what an arsenal plane would look like, or what its potential missions would be, other than that it would fashioned from an existing large aircraft platform -- maybe a B-52 bomber -- and it would be crammed with all manner of munitions. It might be manned or unmanned.
The arsenal plane concept was the most striking in a range of ideas for new weapons and military technology Carter unveiled in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington in a preview of Pentagon's proposed $583 billion fiscal 2017 budget.
Other new systems included anti-missile railgun projectiles for Navy ships and Army artillery, "swarming microdrones" for battlefield intelligence, and mini-cameras for precision-guided munitions.
The new ideas were coming out of the Pentagon's secretive Strategic Capabilities Office, which was Carter's brainchild and which, he said, "we don't often talk about."
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US Military Charts New Course

Addressing diverse global challenges requires new thinking, new postures in some regions and new and enhanced capabilities, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said this morning during a preview of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2017 budget request.

Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Carter said the $582.7 billion defense budget to be released next week as part of the administration's fiscal year 2017 budget request marks a major inflection point for the department.

"In this budget we're taking the long view," the secretary said. "We have to. Even as we fight today's fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come 10, 20 or 30 years down the road."

Five evolving challenges drive the department's planning, he said, including Russian aggression in Europe, the rise of China in the Asia-Pacific region, North Korea, Iran, and the ongoing fight against terrorism, especially the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.


The department must and will address all five challenges and across all domains, Carter said.

"Not just the usual air, land and sea, but also particularly in the areas of cyber, space and electronic warfare, where our reliance on technology has given us great strengths but also led to vulnerabilities that adversaries are eager to exploit," he added.

Highlighting new investments in the budget to deal with the accelerated military campaign against ISIL, Carter said the department is requesting $7.5 billion, 50 percent more than in 2016.

Of that, he said $1.8 billion will go to buy more than 45,000 GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets. The budget request also defers the A-10 final retirement until 2022, replacing it with F-35 Joint Strike Fighters squadron by squadron.


To support the European Reassurance Initiative, the Pentagon is requesting $3.4 billion in 2017, quadrupling the fiscal 2016 amount, the secretary said, to fund more rotational U.S. forces in Europe, more training and exercising with allies, and more prepositioned fighting gear and supporting infrastructure.

Investments in new technologies include projects being developed by the DOD Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, which Carter created in 2012 when he was deputy defense secretary, "to reimagine existing DOD, intelligence community and commercial systems by giving them new roles and game-changing capabilities," he said.

To drive such innovation forward, the 2017 budget request for research and development accounts is $71.4 billion.

Carter said SCO efforts include projects involving advanced navigation, swarming autonomous vehicles for use in different ways and domains, self-driving networked boats, gun-based missile defense, and an arsenal plane that turns one of the department's older planes into a flying launch pad for a range of conventional payloads.


The budget request also drives smart and essential technological innovation, the secretary added, noting that one area is undersea capabilities for an $8.1 billion investment in 2017 and more than $40 billion over the next five years, Carter said, "to give us the most lethal undersea and anti-submarine force in the world."

The Pentagon also is investing more in cyber, he said, requesting $7 billion in 2017 and nearly $35 billion over the next five years.

"Among other things," Carter said, "this will help further improve DOD's network defenses, which is critical, build more training ranges for our cyber warriors, and develop cyber tools and infrastructure needed to provide offensive cyber options."


The Pentagon's investment in space last year added more than $5 billion in new investments, and this year the department will enhance its ability to identify, attribute and negate all threatening actions in space, the secretary said.

"With so many commercial space endeavors, he added, "we want this domain to be just like the oceans and the Internet: free and safe for all."

Carter said the Pentagon also is investing to build the force of the future, highlighting opening all remaining combat positions to women and strengthening support to military families to improve their quality of life.