Pentagon officials are trying to decouple the Quadrennial Defense Review from Russia's annexation of Crimea and other recent events in Eastern Europe as a way of countering calls by House lawmakers for the document to be rewritten.
The review was released in early March, before Russia's incursion into Ukraine, but House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) claims the QDR does not adequately reflect global volatility and instead places too much emphasis on cooperation and nuclear arms reductions to make the United States safer.
McKeon, who has said he intends to introduce legislation to force the Defense Department to rewrite the QDR, aired his concerns about the document again during an April 8 hearing on Russian military developments and strategic implications.
Continuing this Thursday INSIDER with a story filed late yesterday:
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has ruled against AM General's protest of a Ground Mobility Vehicle contract awarded last year by U.S. Special Operations Command to General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, according to a court document.
SOCOM awarded the $562 million GMV 1.1 contract in August 2013; AM General and Navistar Defense filed separate protests with the Government Accountability Office shortly afterward. GAO, however, denied the protests and ruled in favor of SOCOM and GD in December.
AM General then filed a lawsuit in the federal claims court on Jan. 6; the court ruled against the company on April 7, according to a copy of the court's judgment.
Jeff Adams, an AM General spokesman, told InsideDefense.com the company will no longer pursue the matter.
Inside the Pentagon's top story this morning is on Joint Strike Fighter training:
Government and industry Joint Strike Fighter program officials are stepping up preparations for the first-of-its-kind integrated and pooled pilot training system set to open at Luke Air Force Base, AZ, next year, with the base preparing to grow its F-35 fleet and welcome the first internationally owned jets to the desert.
How that arrangement will work, especially on the maintenance side, has yet to be fully determined. The Air Force, partner nations and prime contractor Lockheed Martin have signed on to a pooling arrangement that will allow any pilot to fly any F-35, no matter its owner. But maintenance will be done on a country-specific basis, and partner nations as well as foreign military sales customers are still working out whether and when to transition to organic maintenance at home rather than continue to depend on the Air Force and Lockheed in Arizona.
In recent weeks, Inside the Pentagon spoke with the leaders of Air Education and Training Command's JSF training coordination office, as well as Lockheed Martin's F-35 site director at Luke AFB, Art Cameron, about the process of opening the new training center that will teach members of various international militaries how to fly the conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35A in symbiosis with the U.S. Air Force. The base does not have any F-35s on site -- Cameron said one is undergoing software integration activities at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, and a second should arrive later this month -- but is expected to eventually host well over 100, a mixture of American and foreign-owned aircraft. A formal declaration of the base's readiness to begin F-35A training is expected early next summer.
The Navy has managed to wring more savings out of the Ohio-class replacement submarine program:
The Navy says it has reduced the unit cost of the Ohio-class replacement submarine by $240 million, one-third of the amount needed to achieve a $4.9 billion cost target set in 2011 by the Pentagon's acquisition directorate for each of the new strategic ballistic missile boats.
Service officials this week disclosed the findings of a cost estimate prepared in August 2012 by Naval Sea Systems Command which calculated a $5.36 billion average cost per boat -- excluding the price for the lead ship, traditionally the most expensive, which means the service must find ways over the next two years to shed $460 million from the unit cost. All figures are calculated in constant fiscal year 2010 dollars.
"I've got to keep coming down," Capt. William Brougham, Ohio Replacement Program manager, said of the cost estimate in an interview with reporters at the Navy League's annual convention in Maryland.
The 2012 cost estimate -- the most authoritative tally to date prepared by the Navy, according to Brougham -- is $240 million lower than the 2010 $5.6 billion price the Navy estimated at a December 2010 milestone review.
The Pentagon has submitted a new report to Congress on rare earth materials:
The Feb. 10, 2014, Defense Department report to Congress outlines the Pentagon's "risk-mitigation strategy . . . for rare earth elements focusing on alternative sources of rare earth supply and on the reclamation of rare earths from waste."
U.S. defense officials are not planning reclamation activities for rare earth materials due to cost concerns and indications that market conditions are improving, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall tells lawmakers in a recent report.
The Defense Department "does not currently see a compelling need to take programmatic action with respect to rare earth recycling and reclamation and indeed, because of the lack of a sufficient business case, the department does not currently have any operational-level rare earth recycling and reclamation defense programs," Kendall wrote in the Feb. 10 report.
Such reclamation activities tend to be immature or face other technical and regulatory challenges, the report states. But the department is looking at ways to improve rare earths materials processing and recycling.
DOD continues to "actively monitor" rare earth markets and weigh any potential risks to the department's supply, as well as what the military's needs are, the report states.
Don't expect any F-22 technology to be exported anytime soon:
The Pentagon's top F-35 official has rejected reports that South Korea will receive F-22 technical information as part of the country's deal to buy 40 F-35 fighter aircraft.
The transfer of technical documentation from Lockheed Martin's F-16, F-22 and F-35 programs to support South Korea's development of an indigenous fighter aircraft, known as KF-X, was reportedly key to the country's selection of the F-35 over the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle. But F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said South Korea is unlikely to receive more technical information than is permitted through the current foreign military sale process.
"I want to correct the record here, because I have seen press reports . . . that the United States would give them F-35, F-16 and F-22 information to help with their KF-X," Bogdan told InsideDefense.com after an April 8 Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee hearing. "As far as I know, the only F-35 information they will get is what they're allowed to get through the FMS. They will get F-16 information from Lockheed that gets cleared through the Department of Defense, and I know of absolutely no F-22 information that would ever be part of that."
The F-22 has never been cleared for international sales, even to close allies like Japan who have expressed significant interest over the years.
A Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin team may be getting some good news next month:
The Navy expects to announce the winner of the VXX presidential helicopter competition in May, the program manager said on Wednesday.
A Sikorksy-Lockheed Martin team remains the sole bidder for the VXX program, as Boeing, a separate Bell-Boeing team and a Northrop Grumman-AgustaWestland team dropped out of the competition last year.
"We are in the final stages of the approval process and the contracting process and we hope to be able to make an announcement in a few weeks," Capt. Dean Peters told reporters after his presentation at the Navy League's annual symposium. "All that will happen in the month of May."
-- John Liang