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May 31, 2021 | International, Naval

US Navy FY22 budget request prioritizes readiness over procurement

US Navy FY22 budget request prioritizes readiness over procurement

The U.S. Navy has asked for a budget that would boost near-term readiness by investing in ship and aircraft maintenance but shrinks procurement and force structure, again pausing plans to grow the fleet.

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  • GOP coronavirus bill includes at least $7 billion for weapons programs

    July 29, 2020 | International, Land

    GOP coronavirus bill includes at least $7 billion for weapons programs

    By: Joe Gould  WASHINGTON ― Senate Republicans’ proposed $1 trillion coronavirus relief package includes at least $7 billion for weapons programs, part of $29 billion for defense overall. The 177-page draft appropriations legislation unveiled Monday would include funding for military helicopters, aircraft, ships and missile defense systems. The bill also includes $11 billion to reimburse defense contractors for coronavirus-related expenses, as authorized by Section 3610 of the CARES Act. Defense firms and trade associations have lobbied for the funding, fearing the Pentagon would otherwise have to tap modernization and readiness accounts. The legislation’s release marks the end of weeks of wrangling between the White House and congressional Republicans, who are still divided over its price tag. It also kicks off the start of formal negotiations with Democrats. “The American people need more help. They need it to be comprehensive. And they need it to be carefully tailored to this crossroads,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor Monday. The inclusion of defense spending, which Republicans have reportedly touted as essential for the economy and national defense, was just one aspect criticized by Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who said the overall package was inadequate to protect Americans “If all of this were not bad enough, the bill contains billions of dollars for programs unrelated to the coronavirus, including over $8 billion for what appears to be a wish-list from the Department of Defense for manufacturing of planes, ships, and other weapons systems,” Leahy said in a statement. The pandemic has created weapons program slowdowns, temporary factory closures and cash flow problems, particularly for smaller firms. The Pentagon was been working in close communication to respond to the problems, largely by making billions of dollars in advance payments to contractors. Congress previously sent the Defense Department $10.5 billion under the CARES Act. Defense primes Boeing and Lockheed Martin appear to be the major beneficiaries of procurement dollars in the proposed bill. The bill includes more than $1 billion for Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes for the Navy. The Air Force would receive $686 million for additional Lockheed F–35A jets, $720 million for Lockheed C–130Js and $650 million for A–10 wing replacements―which Boeing is contracted to perform. Shipbuilding funds include $1.45 billion for four expeditionary medical ships, $260 million for one expeditionary fast transport ship, with $250 million for for amphibious shipbuilding and $250 for the surface combatant supplier base program. The Army would receive $375 million more to upgrade the Double V-Hull Strykers and $283 million for new AH–64 Apache Block IIIB helicopters. The bill would boost missile defense accounts, with more than $300 million for the the Lockheed Martin-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program and its Raytheon-made AN/TPY-2 radar. Another $200 million would be to extend the life of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, for which Boeing is the prime contractor.

  • Most grounded C-130s OK’d to fly again

    August 13, 2019 | International, Aerospace

    Most grounded C-130s OK’d to fly again

    By: Stephen Losey   The Air Force has inspected, and cleared to fly again, most of the 123 C-130 Hercules that were grounded last week due to concerns about potential cracking in a crucial wing joint. Air Mobility Command has returned 74 C-130s to service as of Aug. 9, AMC spokeswoman Alexandra Soika said on Monday. Just one of those grounded C-130s has been found to have a defect so far, she said. Soika said it is unclear how long the remaining 48 C-130s might take to be inspected, since the pace depends on each base’s capacity. The inspections take about eight hours. “We are making tremendous progress,” Soika said. The Air Force temporarily grounded the aircraft after finding cracks in the lower center wing joint, or “rainbow fitting," of a C-130 during scheduled depot maintenance. The affected aircraft represented nearly a quarter of the 450 C-130H and C-130J aircraft in the fleet. AMC said that even though only one C-130 was originally found to have cracks, the potential risk of a wing becoming dislodged from the aircraft was so serious that the Air Force decided to inspect all planes that could be affected. Each of those 123 C-130s that were grounded have flown more than 15,000 hours, and have not received an “extended service life center wing box.” Repairing cracked rainbow fittings will take about one to two months to finish, depending on how busy a depot is, AMC said.


    October 29, 2020 | International, Land

    Jen Judson  UPDATE — This story has been updated to correct the location for ISV production in North Carolina. A GM Defense representative previously misspoke. WASHINGTON — GM Defense delivered its first Infantry Squad Vehicle to the U.S. Army in an Oct. 27 ceremony at its proving grounds and production facility in Milford, Michigan, just 120 days after being chosen to build the new troop carrier. The Army awarded the company a $214.3 million contract to produce 649 vehicles by the end of fiscal 2024. The service is planning to procure a total of 2,065 ISVs. Designed to carry a nine-soldier squad, the ISV was specifically put together to be light enough to be sling loaded from a UH-60 Black Hawk and small enough to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook, to provide maximum flexibility for deployment. GM’s design is based off the company’s 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck and uses 90 percent commercial parts including a 186-horsepower, 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel engine and performance race components. It also features a custom rollover protection system. While the first low-rate initial production vehicles — 27 in total — will be built in Michigan, GM has a long-term plan to move its ISV manufacturing to Concord, North Carolina, where it is standing up a facility to manage its higher volume ISV production. The Army first identified a need for a light infantry vehicle in 2015 when its most recent combat vehicle strategy was released, but nothing materialized until Congress forced the Army to launch the competition as part of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act. The Army awarded $1 million contracts to three teams in August 2019 to develop offerings — GM Defense, a team of Oshkosh Defense and Flyer Defense LLC and an SAIC and Polaris team. “One hundred and twenty days from contract award to delivery is a significant milestone, and I am very proud of the team for this accomplishment,” David Albritton, president of GM Defense, said in a statement. “We’re leveraging General Motors' engineering prowess and immense manufacturing capabilities to bring transformative solutions to the military vehicle market. Our initial success with the ISV shows our commitment to our customer and highlights our unique right to win in the military mobility market.” GM Defense has a “very, very talented team," Albritton said during the ceremony, and “their innovation, attention to detail, flexibility when incorporating soldier feedback during testing and a magnitude of other factors helped us to win this ISV contract and gives me great hope for how we will tackle other pursuits in the future.” The first vehicles will be going to the 1st Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, but ultimately 11 IBCTs will be outfitted with 59 vehicles each under the first contract covering the 649 ISVs.   The vehicles are slated to go through tests in the coming year, including further analysis of its air-deployable capability, as well as verification the maintenance manuals are complete. The first unit equipped will take the ISV through an initial operational test and evaluation. With the success of the ISV, GM Defense is setting its sights on other opportunities with the Army and other military services. “We have a strong interest in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Program,” Albritton said. The Army is planning to re-compete for the JLTV and for new Humvees to round out the tactical vehicle fleet. “If you look at the size and scale of this program, obviously, this is closer to a commercial-size vehicle, but as you step up in class and step up in weight, we believe we have a right to win in vehicles sizes of that size,” he added. “That doesn’t limit us there, as well. There are only a few ground vehicle programs across the [Defense Department] right now, but we believe that other than doing a fully integrated vehicle like we do on ISV or what we potentially could do on JLTV in partnership with other companies, we can look at programs like the Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps, or we can look at the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle," Albritton said. “But if you think about power and propulsion solutions, you think about light weighting, think about cybersecurity, there’s other types of capabilities that we can apply in partnership on a variety of platforms as well.” GM spent several recent years helping the Army evaluate a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle using a ZH2 Chevy Colorado and the Army is now taking some renewed steps at getting after an electric vehicles in its fleet to include the pursuit of an electric light reconnaissance vehicle.

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