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October 8, 2019 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

Outgunned and outranged: Why the Army must get more from cannons and missiles

By: Jeff Martin

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is now at an inflection point: After years with little urgency to extend the range of ground-launched missiles and cannons, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty is no more and countries like Russia, China, and North Korea have built up capabilities of their own systems.

That's led to what many call a “range gap." Find out more below.

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  • Navy Mulling How to Make Surface Fleet Flexible, Lethal

    June 20, 2019 | International, Naval

    Navy Mulling How to Make Surface Fleet Flexible, Lethal

    By: Otto Kreisher WASHINGTON, D.C. — A panel of senior Navy civilian officials said the planning efforts for the future combat fleet was focused on making the fleet more flexible, interoperable and lethal. There also is an emphasis on open architecture to make it easier, quicker and cheaper to upgrade combat systems, they said. Those priorities would reduce the cost of sustaining the fleet going forward, the officials said at the American Society of Naval Engineers' annual Technology, Systems & Ship symposium on June 19. Michael Stewart, deputy director for integrated warfare systems, said his job was to look at the available capabilities across all the different surface platforms to make the fleet more capable and lethal. He also would ensure that all requirements going forward were clearly tied to the National Defense Strategy, since “we can't afford to fund everything.” John Hootman, the deputy director for surface warfare, said he was looking at the architecture for the future surface combatants in the 2030-2040 timeframe, when the Ticonderoga-class cruisers and some of the early Arleigh Burke destroyers would be retiring. But, he said, “we can't know what we'll need until we know how we'll fight.” In response to a question, Hootman praised the creation of the Surface Development Squadron, which will help in that effort to determine how the future fleet would fight. Hootman also emphasized the need to look at capabilities across the fleet, not at specific platforms, to promote commonality across the fleet, including a common combat system that could equip the whole range of surface combatants and even the amphibious ships. But that focus on common systems also could apply to the hull, mechanical and electrical elements of future ships. “The push for commonality is key.” Another official extended that quest to communications systems, arguing that every different circuit in the fleet reduces capacity, flexibility and the ability to integrate operations in the strike group. Steven Dries, filling in for Rear Adm. Steven Pardoe, director of integrated warfare, noted that the capabilities that ships would need in the future will change, which makes it all the more important to field systems that can be modernized with software changes, rather than having to tear out hardware. Hootman stressed the same thing as a way to more efficiently modernize ships and gain commonality. He also cited the savings in training sailors to operate and maintain systems that are common across platforms.

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    March 3, 2023 | International, Aerospace

    Northrop Grumman Chartered to Grow Australian Maintenance Capabilities for Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Fleet

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  • Defense industry’s COVID costs could tank DoD modernization plans

    June 11, 2020 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Defense industry’s COVID costs could tank DoD modernization plans

    By: Joe Gould WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon is facing billions of dollars in pandemic-related claims, which may force it to dip into modernization and readiness accounts if Congress doesn't backfill the money, the department's top acquisitions official said Wednesday. Testifying at the House Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord reaffirmed the Pentagon's commitment to request supplemental appropriations from Congress, beyond its fiscal 2021 budget of $740 billion. It's been seven weeks since Department of Defense officials first publicly disclosed a request was coming; that request is currently sitting with the White House Office of Management and Budget. The defense industry claims are expected to be covered by Section 3610 of the coronavirus relief package, among other provisions, Lord said. To give an idea of the scope, one of the major prime contractors told the DoD it and its suppliers could claim as much as $1 billion. Under Section 3610, the Pentagon and other agencies can reimburse suppliers for expenses to keep workers employed. Under other provisions, contractors can seek reimbursement for leave and DoD-directed purchases of personal protective equipment, cleaning, and costs associated with spacing out workers in factories. “The department does not have the funding to cover these costs,” Lord said, which she later said were “in the lower end” of “double-digit billions of dollars.” Lord affirmed the Defense Department would need Congress to pass supplemental appropriations beyond its fiscal 2021 budget during an exchange with HASC ranking member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. “Otherwise these contractors are going to have to eat several billion dollars, which could well come at their employees' expense, which this was supposed to help to begin with,” Thornberry noted. “There's a choice there,” Lord said. “Whether we want to eat into readiness and modernization ― and slow down modernization or readiness on an ongoing basis ― or whether we want to remedy the situation in the next six months or so ... and continue to have the ready forces we need for our national security.” Though some House Democrats have expressed reservations about the size of the Pentagon's budget request, HASC Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Joe Courtney, D-Conn., expressed support, saying: "The intent of Congress needs to be followed up on with an appropriation.” Courtney called on the DoD to provide Congress the data underlying its request, when the request actually arrives on Capitol Hill, saying it would foster conversation among lawmakers. The Pentagon has rough calculations, but contractors have not yet filed claims, Lord said, because Congress has not drafted an appropriations bill. She speculated the full extent of the issues will emerge over time. “I believe they are concerned that they'll get a one-time shot and want to make sure what the entire situation is,” she said. “We believe we understand the lower end of the number.”

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