No Warm and Fuzzy From Senators on More BRAC

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday raised concerns to the Pentagon leadership over the Obama Administration's proposal for two new BRAC rounds in 2013 and 2015. "Finding further reductions in consolidations in our overseas force posture should be our first priority before another BRAC round," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, during the oversight hearing on DOD's Fiscal 2013 budget request. "I have serious questions whether we save any money from a BRAC process," added Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he'd oppose more BRAC since the US military is being reduced "to an unacceptable level." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he understood the lawmakers' concerns as a former Congressman whose district had to absorb a base closure. "I recognize how controversial this process is for members and for constituencies. And yet it is the only effective way to achieve needed infrastructure savings," he said. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was one voice expressing favor for consolidation, saying "it's appropriate to consider another round." (Panetta prepared remarks) (Dempsey written statement)

Rebalanced Priorities

The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request reflects the Obama Administration’s new defense strategic guidance that emphasizes rebalancing US military forces towards the Pacific and Middle East, said Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale. Examples are the decisions to maintain the Air...

Aircraft Purchases Breakdown

The Air Force seeks to buy 54 airplanes (30 manned and 24 remotely piloted) in Fiscal 2013, drawing from the $11 billion for aircraft procurement in its base budget request. This includes: 24 MQ-9s, 19 F-35As, four CV-22s, four MC-130Js,...

Stretching F-16 Service Life

The Air Force's Fiscal 2013 budget request includes two life-extension programs for the service's aging F-16 fighters to keep them viable until the F-35 strike fighter comes online in sufficient numbers to replace them. The Service Life Extension Program, or SLEP, will include "full-scale durability test and structural modifications to add eight to 10 years of service life to each airframe," according to USAF's budget overview, released Monday. The Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite, known as CAPES, will add an AESA radar and new cockpit display, along with data link enhancements and an improved defensive suite, to a substantial portion of the F-16s receiving the SLEP. Air Force headquarters spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy told the Daily Report that the notional plans call for awarding the first contract for 30 SLEP kits in March 2016, followed by a second contract for 48 kits in January 2017. She said the SLEP is meant to be "a depot-level upgrade program." Earlier this month, the Air Force announced that it would upgrade approximately 350 legacy F-16s as part of these life extensions. The first SLEP-equipped F-16s are slated to join the fleet in 2017, followed by CAPES-enhanced airplanes the following year.

Slowing Growth in Missile Defense

The Pentagon is requesting $9.7 billion for ballistic missile defense in Fiscal 2013, nearly $700 million less than what Congress appropriated in Fiscal 2012, according to budget documents released Monday. "We will protect our investment in homeland missile defense and we will protect the European Phased Adaptive Approach," said Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale in explaining the BMD proposal during his budget rollout briefing on Monday. Among the highlights, the funding would support the continued maturation of EPAA, which protects NATO allies from Middle Eastern missile attack, beyond its first phase. Plus, the United States "will pursue phased adaptive approaches in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East by building on current efforts in those regions," states the Defense Department's budget overview document (caution, large-sized file). The funding request would also allow for continued development of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor, states the Missile Defense Agency's budget request summary. However, the Pentagon is cutting back on purchasing some TPY-2 radars, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense batteries, and SM-3 IB missiles in anticipation that "we will slow the growth in missile defenses in those areas," said Hale. (Hale-Spencer transcript)

Air Force Investigators Nab Cyber Crook

Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents in California and Texas worked closely with the US Postal Inspection Service to catch a cyber criminal who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods, mostly from the Army and Air...

Firefighting First

The Air Force’s first revolutionary P-34 firefighting vehicle arrived at Tyndall AFB, Fla., where the Air Force Research Lab’s Fire Research Group partially developed the fire tender. Equipped with an easily controlled small-diameter high-pressure hose, “the techniques for firefighting with...

Raytheon Restarts Laser Maverick Production

Raytheon announced that it has formally restarted production of the laser-guided variant of its AGM-65 Maverick direct-attack air-to-ground missile after more than two decades of dormancy. Manufacture of the new Laser Maverick began following a rigorous Air Force-Navy testing program...

The Home She Never Knew

Reuniting with its former unit in a new home, an F-111E Aardvark pulled from the boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., arrived to Shaw AFB, S.C., home of the 20th Fighter Wing, for restoration and static display. “It was definitely a...