The Senate Armed Services Committee completed its markup of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, revealing some details of the $740.5 billion defense policy bill on Thursday.
While many of the in-the-weeds details that we’re all looking for haven’t been released, here are some highlights from a committee summary, with a big assist from Capital Alpha Partners’ Byron Callan who singled out some of them in a note to investors earlier this afternoon.
As expected, the bill included some $6 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a new spending account intended to help counter China. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the committee’s chairman, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking member, had said they would create this fund.
The bill includes $9.1 billion for 95 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 14 more than the Trump administration asked for. It also “encourages the Air Force to establish an F-35A operating location in the Indo-Pacific quickly to posture ready forces in our priority arena.”
The Senators’ legislation would block A-10 retirements, and delay retirements of KC-10 and KC-135 tankers until the new KC-46 works properly. (More on that below.) It also would prevent the Air Force from retiring F-15C fighter jets based in Europe.
The panel authorized $21.3 billion for shipbuilding, $1.4 billion above the Pentagon’s request. The bill “requires the Navy to create a fighter aircraft force structure acquisition strategy and report on aircraft carrier air wing composition and carrier-based strike fighter squadrons to better prepare for potential conflicts envisioned by the National Defense Strategy.”
As for the Army, the panel “Increases investments in Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, a top Army modernization priority ($5 million above the request), and support ongoing development of future vertical lift capabilities.”
Here are some other areas where the panel added funding:
- The measure authorizes “more than $300 million above the President’s request for DOD Science and Technology research, and extends or adds authorities that accelerates research.”
- It includes an unspecified amount of “additional funding for missile defense priorities, including the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, components for an eight Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii, and additional SM-3IIA interceptors.”
- It also allows “military construction projects to convert Minuteman III launch facilities to GroundBased Strategic Deterrent configurations under certain conditions.”
Here’s the panel’s 20-page summary of its recommendations. Keep reading for the House Armed Services Committee NDAA markup schedule below.
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A New Era at Lockheed
The Marillyn Hewson Era at Lockheed Martin comes to an end this weekend as James Taiclet becomes the company’s president and CEO on Monday. Hewson will remain chairman. Also changing roles this weekend are Frank St. John, 53, who will become the company’s chief operating officer. Stephanie Hill will take over St. John’s current position as head of the company’s Rotary and Mission Systems business.
New Catapults Break on USS Ford
In the latest setback for the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, its new electromagnetic catapults broke during the USS Gerald Ford’s latest round of sea trials, preventing the ship from launching planes for five days, USNI News reports. The Government Accountability Office, in its most recent annual assessment of the Pentagon’s $1.8 trillion weapons portfolio, said the Navy has been “struggling to demonstrate the reliability of key systems,” including the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System.
Air Force Delays KC-46 Production Decision
That might sound a little strange considering the Air Force has already purchased nearly 70 of the 179 aerial refueling tankers it plans to buy from Boeing, but the so-called “full-rate production decision” has been pushed to late 2024 when the plane’s troubled refueling system is expected to be fixed. “There are no contractual cost or delivery impacts of a [full-rate production decision] decision later in the program,” Capt. Cara Bousie, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. “[D]eclaring full-rate production is supposed to be a Pentagon stamp of approval to taxpayers and foreign customers that a weapons system has demonstrated its combat effectiveness and that it can be efficiently produced and maintained,” Bloomberg reports. The Air Force has received 33 tankers.
State Wants Feedback on COVID Regulation Suspensions
The Political-Military Affairs Bureau’s Defense Trade Control directorate wants the public (and companies) to weigh in on temporary, coronavirus-driven suspensions and other changes to provisions in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Last month the State Department said it would lower the fees that companies pay to export weapons. Comments are due on June 25. More info about how to comment is here.
CNAS Launches Export Control Initiative
The Center for a New American Security announced the project on Tuesday. “The project will address how the foreign policy and national security goals served by U.S. export controls are changing, the extraterritorial and unintended effects of export controls, and how to best engage allied governments on these issues,” the think tank said in a statement. “The project will convene stakeholders through a series of workshops and discussion forums and produce a series of concise policy briefs and other publications that will inform decisionmakers in both the government and the private sectors.”
Report Recommends Drone-Export Changes
The Mitchell Institute report makes several recommendations, including changes to the Missile Technology Control Regime, which “treats UAVs as if they were nuclear/WMD cruise or ballistic missiles, thereby restricting foreign sales.” The report says Jordan, UAE, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are buying Chinese-made drones because the U.S. denied them export licenses. Read the whole report here.
Mitchell has another new report from Heritage Foundation analyst John Venable about how the Air Force can acquire more combat aircraft, here.
Two ‘In-Person’ Events This Week
The Association of the U.S. Army and data analysis firm Govini are among the first (to my knowledge) non-government organizations to host an event with multiple people on camera in the same room. The Association of the U.S. Army held a Monday discussion with Bruce Jette, the head of Army acquisition, and AUSA president and CEO Carter Ham. The backdrop included a sign with an arrow saying, “We Are Social Distancing.” Govini’s briefing with reporters featured four of its employees around a conference table. Until this week, only the military and other government agencies have held such briefings since coronavirus-related distancing measures were widely put in place in March.
Bell Names Team for Army Helicopter Competition
The company’s subcontractors building the Bell 360 Invictus prototype include Astronics, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation, ITT-Enidine, L3Harris Technologies, Parker Lord, Mecaer Aviation Group, MOOG and TRU Simulation + Training. The Bell 360 Invictus is competing against Sikorsky Raider-X for U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, or FARA, program.
Last week: Bell delivered the 400th V-22 Osprey .
HASC Sets Markup Schedule
The House Armed Services Committee did a trial run of the hearing room it will use for its annual markup this week during a coronavirus-related hearing with Ellen Lord, the defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment. While some lawmakers were inside the hearing room, many participated through video conferencing. Members better make sure their laptops are plugged in as the markup tends to run all night into the early morning hours. Here’s the markup schedule released by the committee.
- Monday, June 22, 11 a.m.: Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee; 1:00 p.m.: Strategic Forces Subcommittee
- Tuesday, June 23, 11:00 a.m.: Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee; 1 p.m.: Military Personnel Subcommittee; 3 p.m. Readiness Subcommittee; and 4:30 p.m.: Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
- Wednesday, July 1, 10 a.m.: Full Committee Markup.
- President Trump on Thursday nominated Anthony Tata, a retired one-star Army general, to be defense undersecretary for policy.
- Raytheon Technologies appointed Dantaya Williams its chief human resources officer, replacing Doug Balsbough, who is retiring
- The Senate confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown to become the U.S. Air Force chief of staff, making him the first black service chief. Brown is expected to remain the head of Pacific Air Forces until next month. He would become the Air Force chief at some point after that.
- Navy Vice Adm. James Malloy, commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command and Fifth Fleet, has been nominated to become deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.
- Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command, has been nominated to be director of the Defense Logistics Agency.
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly, deputy chief of staff of Air Force operations, has been nominated to receive his fourth star and become commander of Air Combat Command.
- Air Force Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, has been nominated to be AMC commander and receive her fourth star.
- Calypso AI, a leading start-up in AI security and validation, has created a National Security Advisory Board that includes Tony DeMartino (a former aide to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis), Kari Bingen, Sean Roche, Michael Molino and Bob Eisiminger.
- Longtime Cato Institute scholar Christopher Preble has joined the Atlantic Council as co-director of the New American Engagement Initiative.