8 novembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

DOD: Space Force, F-15EX ‘In Peril’ Under CR

By Lee Hudson

The Pentagon has issued a laundry list of items that are “most in peril” during a potential six-month continuing resolution (CR) that includes the UH-60M helicopter, aircraft carrier maintenance, establishing a Space Force and new-start programs like F-15EX.

Congress voted to pass a stopgap CR to keep the federal government funded through Nov. 21. Passing a CR buys Democrats and Republicans more time to reach consensus on fiscal 2020 appropriations bills, which are being held up for defense because of disagreement on funding a border wall. Operating under a CR only allows the Pentagon to operate at prior-year funding levels and the services cannot begin work on new-start programs.

“We would like to see Congress find ways in the CR to fund those,” Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters Nov. 7 during a briefing. “The bottom line is that a CR, top to bottom, is debilitating. Whether it's readiness, we lose buying power, we lose predictability with our contracting, we lose the ability to train.”

A six-month CR lasting through the first half of fiscal 2020 (ending March 31, 2020) would slash munitions procurement by 1,000 Joint Direct Attack Munition tailkits, 99 Sidewinder Air-to-Air Missiles and 665 Small Diameter Bomb IIs, which will constrain industrial production capabilities and delay inventory buildup. The Pentagon says delaying F-15EX production forces the Air Force to operate and sustain the aging F-15C fleet longer than planned, which would incur extensive maintenance actions.

Operating under a six-month CR puts at risk Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk production of 15 aircraft valued at $247 million. A year-long CR would upset the current strategy for the Precision Strike Missile and increases risk to contract the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft competition.

Operating under a longer CR in fiscal year 2020 will curtail 14 ship availabilities, cancel ship underway training, shut down non-deployed carrier airwing and expeditionary squadrons and restrict fleet flying for training and deployments, Navy spokesman Lt. Tim Pietrack told Aerospace DAILY.

The budget uncertainty will detrimentally affect the midlife refueling of the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), which requires funding for advance planning and long lead-time material purchases to begin the maintenance period in January 2021.

“Failure to fund the CVN 74 [refueling and complex overhaul] will cause a month-for-month slip, increase costs, and delay the return of CVN 74 to the fleet,” Pietrack said.

The CR also would impact the production rate of 22 F-5s, three MQ-9s, five F-35Cs and one KC-130J. Operating under budget uncertainty also blocks the Navy from increasing the production rate for the Tomahawk, Amraam, Rolling Airframe Missile, Joint Air to Ground Munition, Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Over-The-Horizon missile, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, Mk. 48 torpedo and LCS module weapons.

“Based on required progress payments, the CVN 80/CVN 81 Carrier Replacement Program will not have sufficient funding to make a required payment on May 1, 2020,” Pietrack said. “This could result in required renegotiation of the contract and higher end costs for both CVN 80 and CVN 81.”

https://aviationweek.com/defense/dod-space-force-f-15ex-peril-under-cr

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