Washington: If you want proof that budgets are getting tighter and the Pentagon gets the message, just look at the last two days.
One system is dead and two are badly wounded, potentially totaling cuts of more than $22 billion.
The Army made it sort of official yesterday that the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) will vanish and the service instead will rely on what was originally an Air Force asset. The House Appropriations Committee had already moved to cut EMARSS’ $524 million funding from budget early this summer. The Air Force system, the MC-12 Liberty, is a modified two-engine Hawker Beechcraft KingAir that carries a largely classified suite of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors. The system was rushed into production to improve ISR capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Number two on the list is the nearly $20 billion Ground Mobile Radio program, apparently mortally wounded by the Office of Secretary of Defense after it failed to meet expectations after several years of field tests. It’s subject to a Nunn-McCurdy program review and word is that acting acquisition czar Frank Kendall is leaning toward the conclusion that the Pentagon can’t certify that the system is vital to national security, as required by the process set in motion after a program rises 25 percent or more in cost.
Finally, the Navy and Army are ready to throw the $5 billion Joint Air to Ground Missile system overboard to save some money, a not uncommon approach by services when they feel “saddled” by a joint program requirement. After all, it’s not really their system. But JAGM is considered one of the Pentagon’s groundbreaking programs because of its recent shoot-off and requirement that the two competitors build almost production-ready prototypes and test them first. Our colleagues at Inside Defense broke the story of JAGM’s apparent impending demise.
But we hear that the Office of Secretary of Defense may come to the rescue on this one because there are no other missile programs being developed and the requirement was recently validated.“The Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) is currently the only new missile development program. This lack of new missile program development limits our ability to fully exercise the industrial capabilities necessary in the missile industrial base – from design concept, system development, and production – to meet our current and future national security needs,” notes the Pentagon’s just-released Annual Industrial Capacities Report To Congress. “Both the Air Force and Navy are developing requirements for next generation missiles and there is concern that the industrial capabilities needed for those systems may not be readily available. While many industrial sectors that support our national security requirements are supported by the commercial markets, the missile industrial sector is mostly defense unique.”
The two companies competing on JAGM were reluctant to say anything that might antagonize their customer, but they issued official statements.
“Raytheon is optimistic JAGM is well positioned for today’s fiscal realities because JAGM is the only weapon that meets a DoD-validated requirement to give fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft the capability to engage moving targets in adverse weather from safe distances,” Raytheon spokesman Mike Nachshen said in an email. “The result of the taxpayer’s prudent $900 million investment in the JAGM program is a mature, capable weapon that fills a critical capability gap for the warfighter.”Keep reading →