WASHINGTON — A House bill would restrict the Pentagon's ability to purchase space launch services from Russian companies, while seeking to shore up missile defenses in Europe and at home.
The House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces subpanel on Wednesday released its version of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and it was immediately clear Moscow is on lawmakers' and aides' minds in a big way.
In fact, the subcommittee's section of the NDAA contains an entire section titled "Matters Relating to the Russian Federation."
One provision would slap restrictions on the Pentagon's ability to award new or renew existing contracts to buy "property or services" for space launch activities under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The restriction, which includes a proposed waiver provision, would be put in place "if such contract carries out such space launch activities using rocket engines designed or manufactured in the Russian Federation."
"The secretary would not be authorized to award or renew a contract ... unless the secretary … certifies to the congressional defense committees that the offeror has provided to the secretary sufficient documentation to conclusively demonstrate that the offeror meets the requirements of the exception," states the subcommittee's legislation.
Another section, if included in the final NDAA, would require Pentagon brass provide quarterly updates to the congressional defense panels on "the testing, production, deployment, sale, or transfer to other states or non-state actors of the Club-K cruise missile system by the Russian Federation." Another provision would require similar notifications on whether DoD believes Moscow has "deployed, sold, or transferred the Club-K cruise missile system to other states or non-state actors."
With an eye, at least in part, toward Russia, the subpanel's bill would press the Pentagon and Obama administration on missile defense systems in Europe.
Specifically, it would "would require the secretary of defense to ensure the Aegis Ashore site to be deployed in the Republic of Poland has anti-air warfare (AAW) capability upon the site achieving full operating capability." It also would mandate that "the Aegis Ashore site in Romania be retrofitted with AAW capability not later than December 31, 2018."
Further, this section would require the Pentagon to "ensure" one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery "is available for rotational deployment to the US European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility not later than 180 days after the enactment of" a final NDAA, if it contains the provision.
To that end, the panel would "require that the secretary study not fewer than three sites in the EUCOM area of responsibility for the deployment of a THAAD battery, in the event one is determined to be necessary." It would require the same for "not fewer than three" Patriot air defense systems there.
Another section, seeking more than a report, "would require that the sea-based X-band radar (SBX) … be relocated to a new homeport on the East Coast of the United States not later than 2020 and shall have an at-sea capability of not less than 120 days per year."
"Prior to executing the relocation, the director of the Missile Defense Agency would be required to certify that the relocation will not impact the missile defense of Hawaii," according to the legislation.
Also on the EELV program, the proposed legislation, which the subcommittee is slated to approve on Thursday, addresses a new acquisition plan.
"This section would express the sense of Congress that the secretary of the Air Force needs to develop an updated, phased acquisition strategy and contracting plan for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program," the bill states.
Yet another section would "establish a unified major force program for national security space programs to prioritize national security space activities in accordance with the requirements of the Department of Defense and national security."
"This section would also include an assessment of the budget for national security space programs for fiscal years 2017-20," states the legislation. "This assessment, in report form from the secretary of defense, would provide an overview of the budget including a comparison between the current budget and the previous year's budget, as well as the current Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) and the previous one with specific budget line identification."