Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said the defense budget is attempting to protect technical expertise in certain sectors of the industrial base as the Defense Department looks ahead to next-generation vehicles and aircraft. (Office of the Secretary of Defense)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal will put money toward preserving the industrial base in at-risk sectors to protect technological know-how at a time of decreased defense spending, a senior US Defense Department official said.
This includes projects that look at designs for a new combat vehicle, next-generation aircraft and new high-performance engines, Frank Kendall, DoD’s acquisition chief, said Tuesday at a conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse.
But as the defense budget shrinks and the Pentagon looks to tailor its strategic investments, Christine Fox, the acting deputy defense secretary, warned that DoD and industry will likely not see eye-to-eye on everything.
“Clearly the department needs a more cooperative, transparent and ... realistic relationship with the commercial sector,” Fox said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Monday that DoD’s 2015 budget proposal would recommend a $1 billion investment in “promising next-generation jet engine technology, which we expect to produce sizable cost savings through reduced fuel consumption and lower maintenance needs.
“This new funding will also help ensure a robust industrial base, a very strong and important industrial base, itself a national strategic asset,” Hagel said.
Hagel also announced the Army would terminate its Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program. Instead, Kendall said on Tuesday, DoD would look at designs for a next-generation combat vehicle.
“We’re going to go back and take a look at that and try to advance technologies so that we have more capability than GCV was going to give us, hopefully with less weight and the equivalent protection, but with more capabilities in other areas as well,” Kendall said.
Army officials are laying out the details of the GCV follow-on, service acquisition executive Heidi Shyu said at the same conference.
In addition to that project, DoD also plans investments to sustain rotary and design teams, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking at ways to maintain air dominance 30 years from now.
Missile Defense Projects Receive Funding in 2015
The Pentagon’s 2015 budget request, which goes to Congress on March 4, includes funding for ground-based interceptors for missile defense and “kill-and-discrimination technologies,” Fox said.
Kendall said he was concerned about conventional and nuclear ballistic missile threats.
“We are going to be taking an initiative in the budget to address some of those problems,” he said.
DoD recognizes problems with current interceptors, Kendall said. “The root cause of where we are, is in part at least, [was] a desire to field things very quickly and relative cheaply,” he said.
There was “a lot of bad engineering” that led to these reliability issues “and it is because there was a rush,” Kendall said.
“Just patching the things that we already have is probably not going to be adequate,” he said. ■