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Defense Efficiencies to Fund ISR, UAVs

January 7, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Online Exclusive
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The Defense Department budget efficiencies announced on January 6 by Secretary Robert Gates will generate program activity in electronic warfare (EW), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), tactical communications and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a department statement. These efficiencies, which would total more than $150 billion over the next five years, would be accomplished through personnel reductions, program extensions, consolidations and improved business practices.

The U.S. Army will accelerate fielding of its new tactical communications network down to the soldier level, and it will purchase more MC-12 reconnaissance aircraft to support ground forces. It also will accelerate procurement of advanced Grey Eagle UAVs, and it will begin development of a new vertical UAV system. The M-1 Abrams tank, the M-2/3 Bradley fighting vehicle and the Stryker wheeled vehicle all will be modernized.

The U.S. Navy will accelerate the development of a new generation of electronic jamming equipment, and it will develop a new generation of seaborne unmanned strike and surveillance aircraft. The Navy also will buy more F/A-18s to bridge the gap to the F-35 joint strike fighter in the face of possible program delays. Multiyear procurement should help save $1.3 billion in the purchase of new airborne surveillance, jamming and fighter aircraft, according to Navy officials.

The U.S. Air Force will buy more of its advanced Reaper UAVs and it will move essential ISR programs from the temporary war budget to the permanent base budget. The Air Force will place greater emphasis on unmanned strike and reconnaissance capabilities as part of its force structure. With F-22 production nearing an end, the Air Force will modernize the radar systems aboard its F-15 fighter aircraft. And, a new long-range penetrating nuclear-capable bomber will be developed using proven technologies.

Among the enabling budget cuts announced by the Army are the termination of the surface-launched advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (SLAMRAAM), which had been part of the Future Combat System. The service also will consolidate its e-mail infrastructure and data centers.

The Navy is disestablishing the Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters of the Second Fleet and transferring responsibility for its mission to Fleet Forces Command. It also is disestablishing several staffs and reducing manpower ashore by reassigning 6,000 people to operational missions at sea.

The Air Force promises to reduce the cost of its communications infrastructure by 25 percent. It also will consolidate two air operations centers in the United States and two in Europe. The service also aims to improve depot and supply chain business processes to sustain weapons systems at a lower cost.

Secretary Gates’ announcement can be found at www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=62351.