Readiness is Focus of Amended DoD Appropriations Request

Additional appropriations requested for the FY 2017 Defense Budget are dominated by technology upgrades, added aircraft procurements and modernization investments.


At the time of this month’s COTS Journal going to press, the new Administration still has not yet put out their DoD budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018. On “normal” years comes out in early February. Of more immediate interest perhaps is the DoD’s request to amended the fiscal year 2017 budget. Released in mid-March, the 2017 budget amendment is the current administration’s opportunity to add its own priorities to previous administration’s FY 2017 budget submission. The $30 billion 2017 budget amendment includes appropriations aimed at accelerating the defeat of the ISIS, al Qaeda, and their affiliated or associated groups, increasing warfighting readiness, and covering new must-pay bills (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Fiscal Year 2017 Total (Base + OCO) funding by appropriation title.

According the DoD, this request for additional appropriations is only the first step toward rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces. The Department absorbed almost $200 billion in funding reductions from FY 2013 through FY 2017 due to the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and its sequestration impacts. The effect of these reductions was exacerbated by continuing resolutions and unpredictable budgets. Warfighting readiness has been hardest hit, as training, maintenance, and modernization have all suffered significantly.

Sequestration Takes its Toll

The goal going forward is to restore warfighting readiness and restore capacity and lethality of the joint force. This will require time and stable funding above the current BCA caps for defense for FY 2017 and beyond, according to the DoD. It remains to be seen how sequestration and the Budget Control Act of 2011 will come into play once the budget is voted on. Although of course the BCA becomes a non-issue if the Congress ends up repealing that law.

In summary, the request for additional appropriations covers three parts. First, it addresses near- and mid-term base budget warfighting readiness requirements including depot maintenance, weapon system sustainment, counter-ISIS munitions and operations; and intelligence community requirement. Second, the request includes critical investments to build readiness including funding a variety of ground vehicles and aircraft. Third, the request addresses urgent OCO requirements, focusing on acceleration of the campaign to defeat ISIS; emerging requirements for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) in Afghanistan, Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in Iraq and Syria, support to global counterterrorism operations, and funding for Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC), and Vetted Syrian Opposition (VSO) forces.

Detailed below are summaries from each of the DoD Branch (Figure 2) illustrating the impact on warfighting readiness that the $30 billion request for additional appropriations for FY 2017 will provide, with focus on procurement and R&D elements relevant to military systems built by COTS Journal readers (omitting budget items such as personnel, training and ammunition.)

Figure 2. Fiscal Year 2017 Total (Base + OCO) funding by military department.

Improving Army Readiness

The U.S. Army’s request for additional FY 2017 appropriations, totaling $8.3 billion (6 percent more than the original FY 2017 budget request) in Base and OCO, funds critical requirements to combat Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), restore some warfighter readiness, and arrest the current and future readiness decline of America’s Army (Figure 3). This request provides resources to support the Combatant Commanders (COCOMs) in the fight, addresses current year readiness shortfall, and is a critical first step to rebuilding America’s Army. This request sets the conditions for increased future readiness, but stable budgets and additional resources are essential in the coming years.

Figure 3. Fiscal Year 2017 Total (Base + OCO) funding for Department of the Army

Included in the Army’s request is $2.8 billion for “Equipment in Units”. After years of declining funding levels in the Army’s investment and modernization accounts, readiness has suffered. This request starts to restore and modernize equipment in Aviation, Armor Formations, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and Air and Missile Defense systems across the operational force, thereby increasing units’ equipment readiness. Among the platform investments for the Army are AH-64 Apache helicopters and M1 Abrams and M2/M3 Bradley upgrades. $1.2 billion is allocated for “COCOM Support / Counter ISIS” funding which means funding for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) for multiple COCOM operations to counter ISIS, al Qaeda, and their affiliated or associated groups.

According to the Army’s summary, this budget amendment request does not grow the force appreciably nor does it increase the lethality of the Army to the levels required. Remaining requirements not represented will need to be addressed in future budgets and include upgrading vehicles in Armor and Stryker formations, increasing aviation and UAS platforms, and installation and infrastructure requirements.

Navy Capacity and Capability Gaps

The Department of the Navy (comprised of the Navy and Marine Corps) request for additional FY 2017 appropriations focuses on improving warfighting readiness and key enablers to address the most immediate programmatic readiness shortfalls, as well as covering pay raises for military and civilian personnel. Longer term efforts to improve the Department’s capability, capacity, and lethality will be pursued in future budgets. The Navy’s request for additional FY 2017 appropriations ($8.3 billion: $8 billion base / $0.3 billion OCO) will drive rapid improvements in ship, aviation, and shore readiness (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Fiscal Year 2017 Total (Base + OCO) funding Department of the Navy (Navy and Marine Corps).

The Navy request buys 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters and six P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replenish combat-worn strike fighters and increase the number of ready available aircraft within 30-35 months. Increased ship depot maintenance funding supports 14 surface ship maintenance availabilities in FY 2017. This enables these ships to begin training for their next deployments on time with improved material condition and modernizations to combat systems, communications, and engineering systems. The Navy’s request also increase in information warfare funding to upgrade and maintain afloat and ashore networks to improve cyber security. It also provides planning and design for the new Command, Control, communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) system at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic building in Norfolk, Virginia.

Modernization for US Marine Corps.

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps’ request for additional FY 2017 appropriations totals $1.1 billion: $1.0 billion base /$0.1 billion OCO). According the Department of the Navy’s summary, the Marine Corps spent most of the last decade in combat while facing constraints imposed by both fiscal uncertainty and reduced defense spending. Even while near-peer competitors probe for American weakness and the operational environment grows more complex, the Marine Corps of today is largely optimized for the past and has been required to sacrifice modernization to sustain current readiness. Rebuilding the Marine Corps will require near term actions to improve warfighting readiness and restore program balance that can be implemented in FY 2017.

Specifics in the Marine Corps’ request include mitigating critical gaps in combat power including Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems capabilities, long range precision fires, operating force exercises and training (including flying hours and aviation logistics), intelligence and communications, repairs to facilities damaged by recent natural disasters, and the implementation of the Installations Reset plan to address deferred maintenance and demolition of facilities. The request supports essential modernization for the aviation platforms—including the C-40 Clipper aircraft—and enhances the combat capability through electronic warfare and jammer techniques.

Air Force Invests in Technology

The Air Force request for additional FY 2017 appropriations increases Air Force topline by $7.4 billion ($6.8 billion base / $0.6 billion OCO) to accelerate readiness recovery, fill critical gaps, and improve lethality (Figure 5). In includes investments in capability and capacity will to improve the Air Force’s 4th and 5th generation aircraft in areas such as F-16 Fighting Falcon sensor upgrades. Also addressed are MC-130J Commando II and HC-130 Combat King II retrofits, HH-60G Pave Hawk datalink interoperability, C-130H Hercules fleet propulsion upgrades and B-52 Stratofortress engine risk reduction. With these added funds, the Air Force will procure five additional F-35A Lightning II’s and fund production shortfalls for C-130’s, space, and munitions. Funds will also strengthen the Air Force nuclear posture by funding nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3), Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) sustainment, and bomber readiness.

Figure 5. Fiscal Year 2017 Total (Base + OCO) funding Department of the Air Force.

The Air Force request includes $57.4 million for “Weapons System Cyber Resiliency”. That comprises funding for the common computing environment, fixes Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) ground resiliency cyber defense, increases cyber resiliency of Air Force weapons systems, and accelerates multiple cyber resiliency requirements in line with Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense, Joint Staff, and Navy interests. $86.5 million is allocated for the “Counter small Unmanned Aerial System. That supports Strategic Command Joint Emergent Operational Need to protect national assets from increased capability and proliferation of small unmanned aerial systems available in the commercial market place.

Funding for the “Battlefield Airman combat equipment ($109.9 million)” funds operation kits, which decreases the risk of fratricide and decreases the weight of Battlefield Airman Equipment by 30 percent. It also includes funds for communication, situational awareness, explosive detection, and personal-protection equipment for Security Forces, Guardian Angels, Special Tactics, and Terminal Air Controllers. COCOM airlift and security requirements funding request is $91.5 million which comprises critical ISR, airlift, command and control, and transport support for COCOM/Department of State partner-nation efforts and peacekeeping operations.

In terms of aircraft procurement, the Air Force request includes $5.7 billion across a number of platforms. $690.5 million of that procures five additional F-35A’s to bring FY 2017 production to 48 aircraft, and funds initial spares. $466.9 million funds aircraft upgrades and life-extension efforts for multiple weapon systems including F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle, C-130J Super Hercules, MC-130J Commando II, HC-130J Combat King II, HH-60G Pave Hawk, E-3 Sentry, E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), B-1 Lancer, and A-10 Thunderbolt II. Funding of $500.0 million procures four additional MC-130J Commando II aircraft to continue recapitalization to 94 AC/MC-130J Ghostrider/Commando II aircraft, and procures one additional HC-130J Combat King II aircraft for a total of 37 aircraft.

Funding at $27.6 million upgrades radar essential for space surveillance and cyber security, such as detection and tracking of space objects, and operating Geospatial Information Systems. $88.9 million is allocated for funding of critical Nuclear Command, Control, and Communication capabilities to provide National Leadership secure connectivity, Nuclear Missile Sustainment and Security (parts to sustain the ICBM platform), and Nuclear Bomber Support (upgrades for strategic long range bombers).

Cyber, GPS, UAVs

Cyber and Command communications funding request $226.9 million is aimed to combats real world cyber threats/attacks and enables required incident response/forensics; establishes 24/7 global network protection. Long haul communications ($155.1 million) sustains and improves infrastructure and bandwidth to support expanded UAV operations, off-base cloud computing environments, and counter-ISIS operations. GPS next generation control system ($120.0 million) funds operational fielding of Global Positioning System (GPS) Operational Control System (OCX) to provide post-launch checkout and anomaly resolution capability and implement OCX information assurance requirement.

$40.0 million is allocated to accelerate National/Tactical Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) integration and collaboration. That effort procures peer-to-peer cryptologic interoperability with NSA architecture, automated ingest of airborne data, improved geolocation, timeliness, and accuracy for tracking and targeting. $29.8 million procures Compass Call Special Purpose Emitter Array Gen 3 kits. The kits improve survivability of deployed ground and air forces by targeting enemy communications, navigation, and radar systems. Procurement of the Counter Unmanned Aerial System ($76.0 million) protect overseas assets. R&D investment of $15.7 million is allocated for Counter Unmanned Aerial System and Cyber operations technology.

More, More, More for FY 2018

As the above information shows, the DoD’s plans for investments include many opportunities for technology suppliers from our COTS embedded computing industry. Upgrades and modernization programs especially are where our industry shines. In the coming months we’ll see what the new Administration’s DoD budget request for fiscal year 2018 will look like. But most predict: more, more, more. More money, more programs and more modernization. And many advanced programs are likely to see increases in funding.