Friday, December 16, 2011

12/14/11 RD Bulletin: New Problems Found in F-35 JSF

State of Play

Legislative: Congressional appropriators are working behinds closed doors to complete a conference report on an omnibus measure to finish appropriations for FY12.  However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has blocked the conference report’s release pending cooperation from Congressional Republicans on moving the President’s signature payroll tax cut extension.  Current funding for the government expires this Friday, December 16.  The conference report would increase funding for the Pentagon’s base budget by $5 billion above the previous year’s spending level.  House and Senate armed services conferees have concluded work on a conference report for the annual defense authorization bill, which lawmakers hope to clear both chambers by the end of the week.  A provision in the Senate-passed version that would have expedited the year by which the Pentagon must be audit-ready was removed during conference.  A group of Republican senators and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) continue work on deficit reduction legislation that would spare DoD from sequestration cuts under the Budget Control Act.  And Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says the Senate could begin work on the annual intelligence authorization bill this week.

Executive: An internal Pentagon memo has leaked that describes thirteen design flaws in the F-35, which may cost $1 billion to fix in aircraft already produced, leading Winslow Wheeler to proclaim, “The new revelations are numerous and significant enough to call into question whether F-35 production should be suspended--if not terminated--even in the minds of today's senior managers in the Pentagon.”  Reuters reports that next month, Secretary Panetta will begin publicly discussing the Pentagon’s strategy review, which will help guide decisions on how to cut $460 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over ten years.  Meanwhile, Panetta is in Afghanistan today to “assess progress” in the fight against the Taliban.  Center for a New American Century (CNAS) founder and former president Michele Flournoy has announced that she will be stepping down as the Pentagon’s first female undersecretary for policy in February.  Following the F-22 fleet’s return to the air this past September, pilots have been using backup emergency oxygen supply system more frequently, prompting the Air Force to examine all of the backup supply systems on its F-22s.


The Will and the Wallet: Problem is the Process, Not the Pay-Out
Matthew Leatherman reiterates the argument in favor of modifying the Budget Control Act to allow for a more gradual decline in defense spending over ten years while achieving the same results as sequestration.  (12/13/11)

New York Times: A Pentagon the Country Can Afford
In a New York Times op-ed this weekend, the board argues in favor of significant spending reductions at the Pentagon and cites Russell Rumbaugh’s recent report “What We Bought: Defense Procurement from FY01 to FY10” (12/10/11)

The Hill: Military Spending is the Weakest Job Creator
Citing the updated UMASS report, Miriam Pemberton argues that defense spending reductions’ impact on job creation can’t be examined in a vacuum, but rather must be analyzed in terms of trade-offs with other forms of government spending that may prove more stimulative.  (12/7/11)

Other News and Commentary

Politico: DOD Must Protect Industrial Base From Cuts
Two analysts from CNAS argue that the Pentagon must identify and prioritize high-value weapons technologies in order to maintain the ability of the defense industrial base to produce certain critical capabilities.  (12/13/11)

DoD Buzz:
Highlights from the Defense Auth Bill

Philip Ewing provides highlights from the recently released defense authorization conference report, including directions to retire six B-1 bombers.  (12/13/11)    

AOL Defense:
Tough Road Ahead for GOP’s Plan to Dodge DOD Cuts

Congressional efforts to spare DoD from sequestration cuts are likely doomed because they would need to come up with requisite savings from entitlement programs or increase revenue, two options that are almost non-starters politically.  (12/13/11)

National Defense: A Decade of Misguided Priorities
Retired Army colonel Nathaniel Sledge critiques Russell Rumbaugh’s recent report “What We Bought: Defense Procurement from FY01 to FY10” and concludes that the services did not modernize their equipment through procurement because no new capabilities were added.  (12/13/11)

Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Internal Pentagon Report Finds Major Problems With F-35 Performance and Components

An internal report from the Pentagon “found that ‘unsatisfactory progress’ had been made in development and testing of the F-35 in nearly all combat roles.”  (12/13/11)

Reuters: U.S. to Mothball Gear to Build Top F-22 Fighter
The Air Force is retaining the technology needed to build the F-22 Raptor in case the decision to cancel procurement of the next generation fighter is reversed.  (12/12/11)

AOL Defense: Top Defense Programs Unscathed in $669 Billion Spending Bill
Carlo Munoz examines the recently released defense authorization bill, which reflects $450 billion in cuts over the next decade.  (12/12/11)

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: We Need a War Spending Cap
Congress should place caps on war funding in order to constrain the ability of appropriators to shift funding from DoD and State Department base budgets into the OCO account as well as to prevent Congress from using war savings to pay for spending items like the AMT patch or Medicare doc fix.  (12/12/11)

Washington Post: Pentagon Program to Limit the Threat of Roadside Bombs Faces Budget Cut
Walter Pincus looks at the future of the Joint Improved Explosive Device Defeat Organization following SASC’s move to cut $265 million from the program.  (12/10/11)

Reports and Publications:

Small Wars Journal: Lopsided Wars of Peace: America’s Anemic Ability to Project Civilian Power
A new report from the Small Wars Journal examines America’s “limited ability to project its full non-military capabilities” abroad.  (12/12/11)

Congressional Research Service: Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Discussion of Proposed Revisions
CRS examines more than 50 statutes relating to cybersecurity in a new report.  (12/7/11)

Congressional Budget Office:
The U.S. Federal Budget: Infographic

A new graph from CBO breaks down the federal budget for easy examination.  (December, 2011)