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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid