On March 5, 2014, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Pentagon's fiscal year 2015 budget request. Includes the opening statements of committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MO) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) as well as the prepared testimony of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Stay tuned for more.
Continuing our budget coverage from yesterday:
The Navy's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal is $15 billion below the level forecast in last year's budget submission, with the cuts falling heaviest in aircraft and weapons procurement programs, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, P-8A Poseidon Maritime Surveillance aircraft, the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter and the Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile, according to details the service released today.
The service also said that its budget plan between FY-15 and FY-19 is down $38 billion as compared with what it planned for in the FY-14 budget request.
"Balancing that reduction is what required hard choices and required some innovative solutions and approaches, required strong stewardship initiatives" in the budget request, Rear Adm. William Lescher, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, said at a Pentagon briefing today unveiling the Navy's FY-15 budget.
In particular, Lescher noted that of the Navy's $148 billion topline for FY-15, the procurement account declined from 28 percent in FY-13 and 26 percent in FY-14 to 25 percent in this submission, "reflecting the fiscally driven reductions in procurement, particularly in aircraft and weapons procurement."
The Missile Defense Agency today announced plans to redesign the exoatmospheric kill vehicle that rides atop the Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptors now deployed in Alaska and California, requesting $99.5 million for the effort in the Pentagon's fiscal year 2015 budget.
"The redesigned EKV will be built with a modular, open architecture and designed with common interfaces and standards, making upgrades easier and broadening our vendor and supplier base," an agency overview released today states. "The redesigned EKV will increase performance to address the evolving threat; improve reliability, availability, maintainability, testability and producibility; and increase in-flight communications to improve usage of off-board sensors information and situational awareness to combatant commanders for enabling new tactics such as shoot-assess-shoot."
In its latest annual report, released in January, the Pentagon's operational test and evaluation office recommended that MDA think about redesigning the EKV because of questions about its capability.
The GMD system's flight test failures over the past three years "raise questions regarding the robustness of the EKV's design," the January report stated.
Change is coming to the Air Force's command-and-control aircraft fleet:
A post-Afghanistan restructuring of the Air Force's command and control enterprise will include the near-term divestment of some E-8C and E-3G aircraft in exchange for long-term modernization efforts, according to fiscal year 2015 budget information released by the Defense Department.
The service's fleet of 33 E-3G Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft is due for the deepest cuts, according to the Pentagon's fiscal year 2015 budget request, released today.
A budget request overview document issued by the Pentagon said the service is planning to "reduce AWACS capacity" by seven aircraft in FY-15. The service will also terminate the AWACS Reserve Associate Program -- a specialized unit within the 507th Air Refueling Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, OK, that provides reserve aircrews and maintenance personnel in support of the active AWACS fleet.
In exchange for these cuts, the Air Force will retain modernization funding for the remaining AWACS fleet, and Tinker AFB will pick up four more KC-135 Stratotankers.
News on the Combat Rescue Helicopter program:
In an unusual programmatic move, the Air Force has not requested any fiscal year 2015 funding for the Combat Rescue Helicopter but will move forward with the program anyway, reflecting a slower-paced development effort being designed in consultation with Sikorsky.
Maj. Gen. Jim Martin, the Air Force's budget director, announced the move at a Pentagon briefing today, saying he had been told of the positive decision on CRH shortly before facing the press on the service's FY-15 budget request.
That decision was made today, he said, and Sikorsky -- the only bidder for the program -- can expect a contract award later this year. The service did not include CRH in the budget request and will slow its development plans for the helicopter so that available FY-14 money is sufficient to keep the program in existence.
"Actually in FY-15, there is no money in the budget, but there's enough money in FY-14 that allows us to carry through FY-15," he said.
News from this week's Inside the Army on the Ground Combat Vehicle program:
Heidi Shyu, the Army's acquisition executive, said last week that the terminated Ground Combat Vehicle program will be transitioned into a science and technology project involving industry and government laboratories.
The program's cancellation "is strictly [due to] the fact that we don't have the money," she said during a Feb. 25 industry conference in Washington. "What we're planning to do is invest in the S&T that's needed to give us next-generation capabilities. We have looked at capabilities that are not quite mature enough, but have the capability to make it into the next generation."
Shyu said the GCV program's technology-development phase, featuring General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems as competing contractors, will end in June.
An ITA story on Army end strength:
A three-star Army general last week said he's confident the service could support 10 divisions when active-duty end strength slips from 490,000 to 450,000, but stressed that readiness would be greatly compromised should active-duty numbers fall further to 420,000.
As the Army's active force number is poised to drop, it is "key" that the service makes the "right decisions in terms of force mix" to balance end strength, modernization and readiness, according to Lt. Gen. James Huggins, the Army's deputy chief of staff for operations, G-3/5/7.
"I can tell you that with the 450,000 number . . . [10 divisions] is pretty key when we look at what we have to do in terms of another large-scale land war, despite some folks' speculation that there may not be one," Huggins said at a Feb. 27 Association of the United States Army breakfast in Arlington, VA. "Some people would say 'well why would you need 10?' And I kind of remind them, well we've got two in Afghanistan, we've got one in Korea, I've got one in Jordan . . . and I potentially have another one going somewhere else here very shortly. Well, if I've got a requirement for five just any given day, I've got to have some ability to rotate. It's a very tough mix."
More budget news from yesterday:
The Pentagon today unveiled a $495.6 billion fiscal year 2015 spending request that is $45.2 billion -- or 8 percent -- below what it had planned to spend, with military leaders arguing for significantly more in the near future to support a newly updated national defense strategy and associated force structure and modernization plans.
Defense Department officials are looking at innovative ways to position forces around the world to buttress a smaller force size and mitigate the effects of declining defense budgets, according to the latest Quadrennial Defense Review released today.
Document: DOD's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review
The Army has made no secret of its intent to take increased risk in many modernization programs, and its fiscal year 2015 budget request reflects that plan with the service backing away from the Ground Combat Vehicle, canceling a next-generation scout helicopter program and delaying enhanced on-the-move networking capabilities, according to budget documents released today.
-- John Liang