News / USA

    Pentagon Weapons Buyer: Tight Budget Will Force Hard Choices

    Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters fly over Edwards Air Force Base in this Dec. 10, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin.
    Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters fly over Edwards Air Force Base in this Dec. 10, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin.
    Reuters
    Tighter budgets risk hurting the combat readiness of some U.S. military units and will force tough decisions about research and procurement, but key weapons such as the F-35 fighter jet remain a priority, a senior Pentagon official said on Tuesday.
     
    Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said deep cuts across the government due to budget “sequestration” were happening faster than the Pentagon could adjust troop levels and weapons programs.
     
    “We do not find the sequestration levels to be what we need to defend the country and implement our strategy,” Kendall told reporters at the Singapore Airshow.
     
    “If you're going to take a sequestration level cut and pay for your people and pay for their readiness, you have to cut the other part of the budget... So that's essentially research and development and procurement.”
     
    The White House is expected to send its fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress on March 4, which will set off months of wrangling over spending priorities, including for the military.
     
    “It's also going to be hard to protect readiness, which means we'll have some units at least which are not being trained or getting spare parts,” Kendall said.
     
    “I'm most concerned about the research and development cuts because we cannot buy back time.”
     
    U.S. weapons makers have sought to reassure investors, saying they see military budgets likely hitting low points in 2014 and 2015 before spending stabilizes and then rises.
     
    Known as “the chief weapons buyer for the Pentagon”, Kendall said he was working to improve efficiency in the acquisition process, including looking at contracts, incentives and competition while pushing a cost-management mentality.
     
    But that does not mean big-ticket items are vulnerable.
     
    “You have to look at weapons on their value to the war fighter and a system like the F-35, which is a high-cost system comparatively, is a very high-value system,” he said.
     
    “The F-35 remains - despite its relatively high cost - a premier, number one priority conventional warfare program for us, so we're going to continue that under almost any budget level I would imagine that we would have to live with.”
     
    Keeping watch on China
     
    Kendall said the Pentagon was keeping a close watch on China's military modernisation and its “fairly aggressive investments” in anti-access and area denial technologies.
     
    “I'm concerned, with our declining budgets, that we keep pace,” he said. “We've relied on technological superiority for decades now as one of the fundamental things that sets our military apart. I do see that's not assured given the investments being made by China as well as other powers.”
     
    To continue government funding of weapons development, Kendall said, the Pentagon may adopt a “hedging strategy” to invest in earlier phases of research but tight budgets make it “very hard for us to make the kinds of decisions we need to make to preserve our options and to move technology forward”.
     
    He said sharing development costs with the defense industry must ensure the probability of a profit for the companies - the biggest of which are Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co , Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.
     
    “I don't think it's fair to industry to ask them to make investments that are dead-ends,” he said. “We will try to fund the things that we need to do... We'll also have to do it selectively.”
     
    Kendall said the big defense companies will ride out the tight budgets but smaller firms could get hit.
     
    “We're looking at the supply chain all the way down to the component suppliers very carefully to make sure we can identify those critical suppliers who might be at risk,” he said.
     
    “We can look at creative ways of buying in some cases ahead of need. As we work with the larger firms, they can do some things such as financial assistance to the firms that are at risk. We can make some investments in technology in areas where it will be helpful to those firms as well.”

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora