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The U.S. Navy started its week-long celebration of its 237th anniversary in Washington, D.C. Defense officials and service members gathered at the Pentagon on October 9 for a ceremony highlighted by cake-cutting, the traditional bell ringing, and messages from Pentagon leaders including Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter.
Here is a part of Dr. Carter’s message:
“Two hundred thirty seven years ago, John Adams and members of the Continental Congress recognized that a nation that aspired to greatness, even back then, required a great Navy. It’s not the strategy, it’s not the ships and the planes that really define our Navy… it’s you. It’s the men and women who choose to serve. It’s in you that the naval tradition lives… and for that, you have our nation’s gratitude.”
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus was also at the ceremony and offered some remarks:
“In 1776, we declared our independence in Philadelphia. In 1781, we won our independence in Yorktown. But in 1812, we guaranteed our independence and ensured our future by defeating, then, the greatest Navy in world, the British navy. We’ve come a long way since the original frigates, but the things that make us a great Navy have not changed. The Navy is ready to answer all bells. Happy birthday Navy.”
On October 11, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) held a worldwide all hands call. Upcoming events include a concert by the United States Navy Band on October 14 at 4pm. It will be held at Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) Constitution Hall in Washington. The concert will feature performances by the Navy Concert Band, Sea Chanters chorus, and the Country Current country/bluegrass ensemble.
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News Source: blog.usnavyseals.com
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Budget cuts have threatened several Pentagon programs, but the U.S. Navy is keeping its eye in building its warfighting fleet for the future. The Navy is banking on the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to lead the way in its future endeavours.
The Navy is building three units of DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer. The ship offers reduced manning, hybrid drive, unsurpassed stealth and ferocious firepower. Manufactured in Raytheon in Rhode Island and Bath Iron Works in Maine, the first ship is 65% complete. According to Rowden, the ship is a marvel in design and technological development.
Apart from the three futuristic destroyers, the Navy plans to boost their fleet with 55 units of Littoral Combat Ship.
“We must aggressively bring LCS into the fleet,” Rowden says. “With each successive ship, the shipbuilding process has become more efficient and we are achieving better results at lower cost. USS Independence (LCS-2) recently pulled into her homeport in San Diego after completing a series of successful Mine Warfare Mission Module tests off the East Coast, and Fort Worth (LCS-3) passed her acceptance trials with flying colors. The president of the Board of Inspection and Survey commented that LCS-3 had the most complete acceptance trials held to date, and the Navy formally accepted Fort Worth on June 6.”
The Pentagon estimates that the total acquisition cost for the LCS will be $37.4 billion just for the sea frames alone.
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News source: www.aviationweek.com
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The U.S. Navy will keep its aircraft carrier fleet at the now-magical number, 11, while other ships are being slipped or cut over the next five years — even those the Pentagon says it needs and wants to protect — according to a preview of the upcoming fiscal 2013 budget request detailed Jan. 26 by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The plan scuttles months-long speculation that the Pentagon would delay or cancel some carrier programs and reduce the fleet size.
A secure and upgraded 11-carrier fleet — and accompanying big-deck amphibious ships — is needed to meet the Obama administration’s new strategic guidance for “confronting aggression” and projecting power, Panetta says.
With the 2013 request, the Pentagon also aims to increase cruise-missile capacity for future Virginia-class submarines, design a conventional and prompt-strike option for subs, and upgrade ship-borne radars.
Navy officials and defense analysts have been calling for some time to augment the firepower of the Virginia-class subs. At the same, though, the Pentagon plans to slip one of the Virginias beyond the five-year procurement time frame.
The Defense Department also wants to delay the new Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine class replacement, SSBN(X), by two years, a move the Pentagon says can be made “without undermining our partnership with the U.K.”
In addition, the Pentagon wants to slip one large-deck LHA amphibious ship by one year, reduce Joint High Speed Vessels by eight ships over the next five years and cut the planned Littoral Combat Ship buy by two ships over that same time.
Planned for early retirements are six cruisers that do not have ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability and a seventh cruiser that has BMD upgrades but would be too costly to repair.
Two smaller amphibious ships are slated for early retirement as well, and their replacements would be slipped outside the five-year procurement plan.
The Pentagon says it also plans to reduce spending and accept “some risk in deployable regional missile defense” and “increase reliance on allies and partners in the future.”
This suggests the Navy may consider throttling back on some of its Aegis-equipped vessel plans and start investing in more Aegis Ashore platforms.
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For the dozen lawmakers tasked with producing a deficit-cutting plan, the threatened “doomsday” defense cuts hit close to home.
The six Republicans and six Democrats represent states where the biggest military contractors — Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp., Raytheon Co. and Boeing Co. — build missiles, aircraft, jet fighters and tanks while employing tens of thousands of workers.
The potential for $500 billion more in defense cuts could force the Pentagon to cancel or scale back multibillion-dollar weapons programs. That could translate into significant layoffs in a fragile economy, generate millions less in tax revenues for local governments and upend lucrative company contracts with foreign nations.
The cuts could hammer Everett, Washington, where some of the 30,000 Boeing employees are working on giant airborne refueling tankers for the Air Force, or Amarillo, Texas, where 1,100 Bell Helicopter Textron workers assemble the fuselage, wings, engines and transmissions for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Billions in defense cuts would be a blow to the hundreds working on upgrades to the Abrams tank for General Dynamics in Lima, Ohio, or the employees of BAE Systems in Pennsylvania.
For committee members such as Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., the threat of Pentagon cuts is an incentive to come up with $1.5 trillion in savings over a decade. Failure would have brutal implications for hundreds of thousands workers back home and raise the potential of political peril for the committee’s 12.
“I think we all have very good reasons to try to prevent” the automatic cuts, Toomey told reporters last week when pressed about the impact on Pennsylvania’s defense industry. “That is not the optimal outcome here, the much better outcome would be a successful product from this committee.”
The panel has until Thanksgiving to come up with recommendations. If they deadlock or if Congress rejects their proposal, $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts kick in. Up to $500 billion would hit the Pentagon.
Those cuts, starting in 2013, would be in addition to the $350 billion, 10-year reduction already dictated by the debt-limit bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama this month.
Not surprisingly, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described the automatic cuts as the “doomsday mechanism.” He’s warned that the prospect of nearly $1 trillion in reductions over a decade would seriously undermine the military’s ability to protect the United States.
For the Pentagon, “we’re talking about cuts of such magnitude that everything is reduced to some degree,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank. “At that rate, you’re eliminating the next generation of weapons.”
Committee members will face competing pressures as they try to produce a deficit-reducing plan.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton if Obama wins a second term, Sen. John Kerry is certain to be protective of the budget for the State Department.
Yet the Massachusetts Democrat, who recently said he would seek a sixth term in 2014, represents a state that was fifth in the nation with $8.37 billion in defense contracts this year, behind Virginia, California, Texas and Connecticut, according to data on the federal government’s website USAspending.gov.
In Tewksbury and Andover, Mass., deep defense cuts could have serious ramifications for thousands of Raytheon employees working on the Patriot, the air and missile defense system. It was heralded for its effectiveness during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and is now sold to close to a dozen nations, including South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.
Whatever decisions Kerry and the committee make will affect Massachusetts-based Raytheon, which was fourth in defense contracts this year at $7.3 billion, behind Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics. Raytheon also has operations in Arizona, home to another committee member, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl.
“While some will argue there is peril in serving on this committee, we believe there is far greater peril in leaving these issues unaddressed,” Kerry said in a joint statement with Murray and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., after they were selected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
In February, Murray celebrated when the Air Force ended a decade-long saga of delays and missteps and awarded one of the biggest defense contracts ever, a $35 billion deal to build nearly 200 air refueling tankers, to Boeing, a mainstay in her home state.
Boeing was fourth on the list of donors to Murray from 2007-2012, with its political action committee, individual employees and family members contributing $102,610.
Michigan is home to two committee members, Republican Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton, and General Dynamics work on the Abrams tank. The state is struggling with a 10.5 percent unemployment rate, which is above the national average.
Already facing the prospect of $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, the Pentagon could look to scale back some projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy aircraft that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays.
Lockheed Martin, in conjunction with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, is building 2,400 of the next generation fighter jet for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as working with eight foreign countries. But the cost of the program has jumped from $233 billion to $385 billion; some estimates suggest that it could top out at $1 trillion over 50 years.
Questioned about the defense cuts, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen recently said that “programs that can’t meet schedule, that can’t meet cost … requirements are very much in jeopardy and will be very much under scrutiny.”
The Joint Strike Fighter is being built in Fort Worth, Texas, and Palmdale and El Segundo, Calif. Those are the states of committee members Reps. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems also have operations in Pennsylvania.
The Pentagon could decide to scrap the program or scale it back while upgrading the existing F-15 and F-18 aircraft, a troubling prospect for lawmakers from the states that benefit from F-35 production.
In the military world, however, reducing the number could make it more costly.
“The problem when you cut back in numbers is you increase the number for one, you increase the cost for one,” said Laicie Olson, a senior policy analyst with Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Sometimes it’s almost better to buy more.”
Boeing, in a statement, said it has been “anticipating flattening defense budgets for some time.” Company spokesman Daniel C. Beck said that while Boeing is trying to improve production and efficiency, it’s moving into new markets such as cybersecurity and energy management.
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Military and industry officials rave about the V-22 tiltrotor’s performance in Afghanistan but know they need to show the aircraft is worth its high price tag.
The Marine Corps are flying V-22 Ospreys in theater and “it’s more effective than we expected,” Maj. Gen. Jon Davis, Second Marine Corps Air Wing commander, told reporters here recently. “We have only scratched the surface with this aircraft. … “We’re doing things with the V-22 we did not plan to do.”
But there are questions in defense circles about whether — after years of technical delays and cost spikes —such glowing reviews will be enough to avoid future cuts as White House, Pentagon and congressional officials look for ways to trim the annual Defense budget.
Despite rave reviews from war fighters, the program is among the most expensive at the Pentagon. Each Osprey has a flyaway cost of $65 million. The Pentagon already has spent over $30 billion on the V-22 program, according to the Congressional Research Service. In its 2012 budget request, the Defense Department is seeking another $3 billion to buy Marine Corps and Air Force special-operations versions of the V-22.
The Pentagon intends to buy around 450. The majority would go to the Marine Corps, with the Air Force slated to buy around 50. Those kinds of cost figures lead many fiscal hawks to place the V-22, being built by Boeing and Bell Helicopter, on their lists of Defense programs that should be ended.
Marine Corps and Bell-Boeing officials also say to avoid budget cuts or a reduced buy, they will have to show critics like Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) that the fleet is reliable.
Woolsey dubbed the program a “boondoggle” for the “military-industrial complex.” Terminating the program would save more than $12 billion over 10 years, and $2.5 billion in 2012 alone, she claimed.
Right now, the Osprey’s closely monitored reliability rate in Afghanistan is around 73 percent, according to program officials. Davis wants to push that figure to 80 percent, saying that would make the V-22 among the military’s most reliable aircraft.
DOD and Bell-Boeing officials are working on plans to make the fleet more reliable.
Source: The Hill
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Lockheed Martin is negotiating to cut the price for the next group of its new F-35 fighter planes to at least 20 percent less than Pentagon officials projected last fall, chief executive Robert J. Stevens said last week.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently revamped the F-35 program and removed the general in charge, after long delays caused the Pentagon’s projected costs to soar by 64 percent to $382 billion for 2,457 planes.
Mr. Stevens told reporters that the contract would start a transition to fixed prices for the stealth planes two years earlier than planned. He would not say what that price was likely to be for the next group of 32 planes.
He also said Lockheed was confident enough that it was regaining control of the F-35 program, the Pentagon’s largest, to start bearing more of the risk instead of leaving the federal government obligated to cover any cost increases.
Bruce L. Tanner, Lockheed’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in an interview that it could save hundreds of millions of dollars through the cost-cutting, which began in February.
The Air Force, the Navy and the Marines are all buying their own versions of the F-35, known as the Joint Strike Fighter. Eight other nations have invested in developing the F-35 and could buy hundreds of the planes.
Mr. Stevens said on Thursday that the $382 billion estimate over 25 years “shows the potential” if nothing changed in the program. But, he said, “we’re determined to beat the government cost estimate.”
Mr. Stevens said that if the Pentagon kept buying the planes at the planned pace, Lockheed believed it could bring the cost down, by 2014 to 2015, to a level comparable to updated and fully loaded versions of older fighters. That would mean reducing the price of each F-35 to $65 million or less.
- The New York Times