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SEN. LIEBERMAN: (Sounds gavel.) The subcommittee will come to order.
I thank everyone for being here. A special thank you and welcome to our witnesses who are with us today.
It is against the backdrop of the continued bravery and exemplary performance of the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and in fact around the world -- that we convened this session of the Airland Committee -- subcommittee -- to discuss the present and future of aviation programs, particularly tactical aviation programs.
This in some sense has become an annual meeting for this Airland Subcommittee. Every year we're faced with the challenge of balancing a number of competing demands for limited resources, including a balance between current operations and future modernization -- all of it to fulfill as best we can our constitutional responsibility to enable the men and women of the American military to provide for the common defense.
Because of the pressure on our budget and the pressure on our military, this is a particularly difficult year in which we try to strike exactly the right balance.
The subcommittee and the full committee hope to mark up, as we said, to prepare our authorization bill, if possible, by the end of this month. So what we hear today and what we learn today will be of specific and tangible effect -- have a specific and tangible effect on the deliberations of this subcommittee as we report and recommend to our colleagues on these programs. So I appreciate the extraordinary group of witnesses we have before us.
I'm going to abbreviate my statement and to say briefly that among the issues that we -- as we've said to you in asking you to come and testify that we want to talk about are, of course, the questions about the F-22A procurement, about the FA-18 fore structure issues, about some of the Joint Strike Fighter development progress and the impact of the decision on the F-22 in the president's budget and the increase in the pace of development of Joint Strike Fighter and what impact it will have on that program. And then also the question of the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.
These are difficult and important questions, but we know that the witnesses before us today can help illuminate our path forward and therefore, we thank you for being here.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank our panelists and join you in welcoming our witnesses here today to discuss tactical aviation programs contained within the president's budget request for fiscal year 2010.
The fiscal year 2010 budget is an integral part of the a much longer-term process that will help ensure our defense dollars are spent wisely to address the threats that we face today and will likely face tomorrow.
I understand there are additional issues that must be addressed, which will be informed by a number of ongoing reviews, including the Quadrennial Defense Review and the committee looks forward to being briefed on the full range of those issues and how they will effect future budget decisions.
While the president's 2010 budget submission represents a snapshot of the services' overall requirements, it also raises several questions about our military's tactical aviation programs.
For example, first the Navy has vastly expanded its estimate of the size of the so-called fighter gap, putting the shortfall of fighter planes at 243 aircraft by 2018. Is the Navy taking appropriate action to mitigate that gap and the operational implications of that gap? Can the Navy maintain adequate carrier airwings to satisfy the needs of 11 aircraft carriers?
Second, in hearings on last year's budget request, the Air Force likewise testified that due to new estimates of the life of the legacy fighter force, the current F-22 Raptor and Joint Strike Fighter procurement plans would likely leave a gap of up to 800 fighter aircraft by the year 2024. Is the Air Force taking appropriate actions to mitigate that gap?
Third, given Secretary Gates' decision to end F-22 Raptor production at 187 aircraft and provide 1 billion for modernization of the 810 Warthog F-16 Falcon and F-15 Eagle Strike Fighter aircraft, is the Air Force effectively institutionalizing and enhancing our capabilities to fight the wars we are in today and address the scenarios we are most likely to face in the future, while hedging against other risks and contingencies?
Fourth, the secretary's proposed commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter also requires us to confront serious questions about that aircraft's high cost, risk and affordability. The F-35 variance for the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force all will cost more to procure than the older, tactical aircraft each service is to replace. Those costs have increase 47 percent since 2001 from 65 million (dollars) to 105 million (dollars) per aircraft.
Given very limited flight testing and immaturity of production processes and the degree of technology risks in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, is it wise to accelerate buying those aircraft, only to have procurement costs increase later? Just a few days ago, the commandant testified the development will slip another two to nine months.
Fifth, the combat Air Force restructure plan allows the Air Force to bridge to the predominately fifth generation force of the future. Did the Air Force get it right regarding the decision to accelerate the retirement of 250 strike fighters, and does the plan properly weigh the benefits of retiring aircraft nearing their expected service life against the near-term risk to our national security?
Finally, the president proposes to delay the next generation bomber. Pending the outcome of the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Nuclear Posture Review and in light of post-START arms control negotiations, how is the administration's position on the next generation bomber reconciled with prior statements Secretary Gates has made on the military need to continue that program and his decision to move forward on another program -- the Ohio class replacement program -- given that both programs will be informed by those same documents?
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses, Mr. Chairman, on each of these issues and others and thank, again, our witnesses for being here.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you very much, Senator Thune.
Let's go right to the witnesses. And if I've got the order right, we'll begin with Admiral Architzel and then we'll go to General Shackelford.
Thanks for being here. Admiral, just for the record: principal deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, Research Development and Acquisition.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, Senator Thune and distinguished members of the committee, it is an honor to appear before you today to discuss and fund the Navy's attack air programs.
I would like to submit my statement for the record.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Without objection.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: The Department of the Navy's acquisition teams develop, test and acquire our country's naval aviation weapons system by balancing performance, schedule and cost effectiveness.
The FY 2010 budget supports the Navy and Marine Corps joint forces capable of meeting the wide spectrum of threats to our nation both today and in the future.
The department continues the development and low rate initial production of the F-35 Lighting Two and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, the CH- 53K Heavy Lift Replacement aircraft, P-* Poseidon, unmanned aviation and new strike weapons capabilities.
We will procure our first full-rate production EA-18 Growler this year and continue procurement of the F/A-18E/F Hornet -- the V-22, the T6B JPATS, UH-1 and AH-1Z helicopters, MH-60 Romeo and Sierra helicopters. And in total, the Navy/Marine Corps aviation will procure 98 tactical and fixed wing aircraft, 100 rotary wing aircraft and five VTUAVs for a total of 203 aircraft for this fiscal year 2010 funding.
The Navy is committed to funding and fielding the Joint Strike Fighter as a highly capable, fifth generation multi-mission strike fighter. JSF is in eighth year of design, development and test. Three (SDD ?) aircraft are in ground and flight test. All the F-35 variants are projected to meet their respective key performance parameters.
The F-135 engine has completed some 11,300-plus test hours and on 16 different engines through mid-April of 2009.
Systems integration testing continues on plan via flight test, flying lab and over 150,000 hours of ground labs testing. A fully integrated missions-system jet will fly in 2009.
The F/A-E/F Super Hornet and EA-18 Growler lines continue to delivering a superior capability to the warfighter on cost and on schedule. We have delivered 383 Super Hornets and 11 Growlers to the fleet and procurement 529 of those aircraft total through April of 2009. The program continues to make technological advances in concert with the acquired spiral development plan. Earlier this year, we developed our first -- we deployed our first and second F/A-18 F squadrons with the new APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array AESA radar aboard CVN-76 The Ronald Reagan and CVN-73 George Washington with outstanding results to include significant realized increases in reliability and performance.
I'd like to emphasize the good news acquisition story of the EA- 18 Growler. Built in an integral fashion with the Lot 30 F/A F's -- sorry, F-18Fs, the production became a part of the multiyear two plane initially with the Hornets and has also been leveraged in the FY '10 single year buy of that Hornet. With operational tests complete, we have delivered 13 aircraft to Whidbey Island and are on track for initial operating capability later this year.
In FY '10 we'll procure 22 production aircraft of Growlers. The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program has completed over 92 percent of the System Development and Demonstration Program and Operational Assessment, and currently has two aircraft in flight tests. This program is absolutely critical to the Navy in maintaining our continued superiority in tactical operations against -- (inaudible) -- threats.
Funding reductions (that) resulted in the loss of two aircraft in FY '09, and major -- (inaudible) -- in budget appropriations, as was experienced in (P '09 ?), will (now ?) allow the success that is demanded by today's fiscal environment and this committee.
Another good news story is the P-8A Poseidon Acquisition Program. We are leveraging the efficiencies of a commercial production product, Boeing's 737, to realize a technologically advanced product in a shortened acquisition time line. This aircraft will be delivered only nine years after program initiation, and will be both capable and affordable.
In FY '10, we will procure six LRIP I aircraft. The program will commence flight tests later this year in IOC in FY '13. This weapons system fills a critical need, replacing legacy P3 maritime patrol aircraft in the fleet of tomorrow.
Lastly, we remain committed to the vision to (meld ?) unmanned and manned aircraft systems in the future of Naval aviation by exploring, producing and delivering shore and sea-based systems such as short-takeoff unmanned aircraft and vertical-takeoff unmanned aircraft, and BAMS.
The VTUAV has completed its ship-board landing tests aboard the U.S.S. McInerney, FFG-8, and the BAMS-demonstrator has deployed and commenced operations within CENTCOM AOR.
Our current Navy UCAS, or Unmanned Carrier Aviation System (sic) demonstration efforts include maturing technologies for actual aircraft carrier catapult launches and arrested landings in the future, as well as operation of carrier-controlled airspace.
I'd like to close by emphasizing our commitment to advancing the state-of-the-art of acquisition excellence. One of the cornerstones of our improvement activities is the department's (six-gate, two-pass ?) governance process. We are seeing improvements in our ability to assess program risk and status, and we are making better decisions that will lead to more capable and more affordable weapons systems.
It is an honor to testify before the committee today, and I welcome your questions regarding the Department of the Navy's Naval Aviation programs.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Admiral. Appreciate it. Good beginning.
Now, we'll go to Lt. General Mark E. Shackelford, U.S. Air Force, military deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Chairman Lieberman, Ranking Member Thune, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for calling this hearing and for the opportunity to provide you with an update on the Air Force Modernization efforts. Your Air Force is fully engaged in operations across the globe, engaged in overseas contingency operations and providing support to the combatant commanders to enable them to successfully execute their missions.
As we prepare for the upcoming year, we will be assessing how the Fiscal Year 2010 budget aligns with the standing operational requirements along with the upcoming needs of the entire Air Force. We frame our decisions and recommendations using the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff of the Air Force top 5 priorities list to ensure we are aligned with the desires of our senior leadership.
We understand your focus today is on the fourth priority -- modernizing our air and space inventories, organizations and training. We are prepared to discuss how our rapidly aging aircraft fleet drives our urgent need to find a balance between the acquisition of new inventory and the ongoing effort of sustainment of the current fleet.
The secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force have made recapturing acquisition excellence their fifth priority. Last month they approved the Air Force Acquisition Improvement Plan. This plan focuses our efforts and serves as our strategic framework for the critical work of modernizing and recapitalizing our airspace and cyber systems.
It builds on lessons learned from past shortfalls in our procurement processes. But, more importantly, it establishes five initiatives that ensure rigor, reliability and transparency across the Air Force acquisition enterprise. Those five initiatives are: revitalizing the Air Force acquisition workforce, improving the requirements generation process, instilling budget and financial discipline, improving Air Force major systems source selections, and establishing clear lines of authority and accountability within acquisition organizations.
Your Air Force stands ready to win today's Joint fight and plan for tomorrow's challenges. I thank the subcommittee for allowing me to appear before you today, and for your continued support of the Air Force. I request our combined written statement be submitted for the record, and I look forward to your questions.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, General. Without objection, we'll submit all the statements for the record.
General Trautman, do you have a statement?
GEN. TRAUTMAN: I do, sir.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Please proceed.
GEN. TRAUTMAN: Mr. Chairman, Senator Thune, distinguished members of the subcommittee, it is a pleasure for me to be here as the leader of Marine Aviation to discuss the president's 2010 budget submission.
The commandant and I are extremely grateful for the exceptional way this subcommittee and the Congress supports the men and women who volunteer to serve in our Marine Corps during this time of war. With Marines in the fight every day, my focus is on supporting our deployed forces by striving for operational excellence while managing risks to our air crew and those we support.
Our older aircraft have performed well in sustained combat operations, and they continue to do so, but we are wearing them out. While waging the current fight, we in the Marine Corps Aviation are also embarking on significant transitions to new aircraft and our family of unmanned aerial systems. These aircraft and systems will give us the operational capabilities we need to fulfill our vision of a fast, lethal expeditionary force that is ready for the uncertainties of future combat operations yet has the staying power of engagement in the most austere conditions imaginable.
Two of our key transition efforts promise to change the way we project Marine Corps combat power in the future. First, the MV-22 Osprey has recently finished three highly successful combat rotations to Iraq, and last month the fourth Osprey squadron sailed toward the fight with the Marine Expeditionary Unit that will be deployed for the next six to seven months. The Osprey has transformed the way we are fighting in a manner akin to the introduction to the helicopter in the middle of the last century.
We can now project combat loaded Marines, soldiers or special operators from a sea base, or any forward site, deep into the battlespace at the speed of a KC-130, and we can do it at altitudes above ground level -- and the threat that resides on the ground that has claimed so many helicopters in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. And then we can land that payload anywhere it is needed, just like a helicopter. With its speed, range and survivability, the MV-22 is truly a game changer.
Another game changer would be the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. In the fall of 2012, when the Marine Corps stands up its first operational squadron, this fifth generation stealth aircraft will begin replacing our F/A- 18s, AV-8s, and the A-6Bs with a single platform that will exceed the operational capabilities of any tactical aircraft being flown today.
The Joint Strike Fighter gives us the operational agility we need to support the Joint Force in the hybrid battles that loom off our nation's bow. Most importantly, we intend to leverage the unprecedented sensor capability this machine offers for the benefit of the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force, allowing us to accelerate the decision cycle and fight smarter than ever before.
Just over three short years from now, our operational commanders will be able to combine the effects of these two machines -- the MV-22 Osprey and the F-35 LITENING (II ?) from a sea or land base, to unleash a tempo agility and speed of action that has never been possible in the past. Regardless of the future threats we will face, our unwavering mission remains to be the Marine Corps's aviation force in readiness across the full spectrum of combat operations.
My pride in the accomplishments of or Marines, past and present, and the staying power of our military families, is only exceeded by my confidence that we are properly poised to meet our future challenges. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today, and I look forward to answering any questions that you may have. Thank you, sir.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you, General.
GEN. GIBSON: Yes, sir. Thank you.
Chairman Lieberman, Ranking Member Thune, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, I would also like to thank you for calling this hearing and for the opportunity to provide you with an update on Air Force operations and other matters that are important to our Air Force and to our nation.
The current operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Horn of Africa highlight over 18 consecutive years of planning, resourcing and executing combat missions. Since 2001, the Air Force has flown over 80 percent of the Coalition's combat sorties in support over Operate Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. These missions provide the Joint and Coalition team with global airlift, aero-medical evacuation, air refueling, command-and-control, close air support, strike, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and electronic warfare.
We have flown over 385,000 mobility sorties dedicated to moving equipment and troops to and from the Central Command area of responsibility. 24/7, your Air Force is providing a preponderance of the flying assets supporting the combatant commanders, enabling them to successfully execute their missions both in the AOR, overseas and in homeland defense.
But, this total air, cyber and space effort takes its toll on our equipment and people, and we continue to maintain high ops tempo over time. We currently have over 208,000 airmen contributing to the combatant commander operations, including nearly 36,000 airmen who are deployed to locations world wide. We are fully committed to the Joint fight and as we continue to transform our service into a smaller, more flexible and lethal force across the spectrum of operations.
I thank the subcommittee for allowing me to appear before you today, and for your continued support to our Air Force. I look forward to answering your questions.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks very much, General.
And finally, Admiral Myers. Thanks for being here.
ADM. MYERS: Yes, sir. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, Senator Thune, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today to discuss Navy aviation. I would like to submit my written statement for the record.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Without objection.
GEN. MYERS: I'm delighted to share this time with my colleagues from the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps to convey the contributions of Navy aircraft in our armed forces. Our aviation community -- comprised of aircraft, ships and weapons systems, has proven to be a stabilizing force with the capacity to span the globe.
If we could look back to the days following 9/11, just three weeks after the attack two carriers -- the Enterprise and the Carl Vincent, were in-theatre, ready to provide continuous strikes and close air support. In fact, the Enterprise reversed course while she was steaming out of theater. No need of refuel and no need of immediate replenishment, that strike group commander, with the best- trained crews in the world, were ready to respond. Navy carrier based F-18s provided the first tactical air strikes in-country.
Our response and support (in ?) the events of 9/11, Operation Enduring Freedom, continues today. In fact, recently the chief of Naval operations cited a statistic concerning the contributions of our carrier fleet that I would like to emphasize -- that a single Navy aircraft carrier provides 46 percent of the fixed-wing aircrafts that we're using in Afghanistan. That one carrier provides close air support, airborne reconnaissance and electronic attack to our troops in contact with the enemy. By the way, the response time for those troops in contact with the enemy is often less that 10 minutes.
Augmenting carrier support to our troops ashore, the Navy also deploys land-based airborne electronic attack via the EA-6B. These aircraft conduct critical missions that support U.S. forces and support offensive operations. Is it really any wonder that in moments of crisis we hear the phrase, "Where are the carriers?" Often the first to arrive in response to a crisis, the carrier strike group provides the credible capability, assured access, speed, agility and persistence needed, without reliance on infrastructure ashore.
Sea power provides persistent combat power ashore, while facilitating partnerships at sea, as we've seen off the Horn of Africa with our combined task forces. Sea power is disrupting insurgents on land, as well as disrupting smuggling and piracy at sea. Our fixed- and rotary-wing Navy assets have been engaged in counter-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa. During the Maersk Alabama incident, the first U.S. military asset on the scene was a Navy P-3 and our helicopters have been integral in the apprehension of a number of pirates by providing the necessary surveillance to locate, track and intercept vessels on behalf of the visit, board, search and seizure teams.
Our carriers and the ships remain on-station around the world providing presence in other places as well. The Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Pacific, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Our forces provide (effects ?) ashore, and at sea, strengthening relationships and building regional stability.
The Fiscal Year 2010 President's Budget maintains our ability to meet wartime needs for today and contend with future security challenges. The aircraft that are fighting today's war are being recapitalized or sustained to ensure relevancy against a full spectrum of threats. We're thankful to our predecessors for investing in programs that we are benefitting from today, and those that will meet the future security challenges of tomorrow.
Our budget continues the development of the F-35, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, the B-8, Unmanned Aviation and New Strike weapons capabilities. The Department of the Navy will produce 98 additional tactical and fixed-wing aircraft, 100 rotary-wing aircraft, and five VTUAVs, for a total of 203 aircraft.
I would like to offer my appreciation to the committee. Without this committee's tireless devotion and significant contributions, the great successes of our force would not be possible.
We are truly grateful. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and thank you for your support for what we do today and what we will do tomorrow. I look forward to your questions. Thank you.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks very much, Admiral. We've got a really good turn out of members of the subcommittee this afternoon which is the tangible expression one could ask of the interest in the tactical aviation questions. So we'll do seven minute rounds.
Admiral Architzel I want to start with an overview on future oriented questions. Last year at the comparable hearing, we were told that there was a potential strike fighter shortfall for the Navy of 125 aircraft in the 2017 timeframe, but last week at the full committee the CNO, the Chief of Naval Operations said that the Department of the Navy is now projecting a shortfall could be as high as 250 aircraft. I wonder if you could describe what happened to lead to that doubling of the shortfall, and to comment on then shortfall.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Mr. Chairman, thank you. You're correct in that president's '09 year, the shortfall -- at that time the strike fighter inventory projections used numbers of 69 for the Navy and 125 for the overall Department of the Navy.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Those are based on a model developed at Naval Air Systems Command which projects out, based on the number of factors, what the aircraft total would be in the out years. Using that model, it peaked by the way in the year 2017 to give you the numbers you just quoted, sir. In that model at that time, there were a number of assumptions made. Some of those assumptions assumed that we would continue to operate with 10 carrier air wings which we fully expect to do and with that comes with it 40 strike fighter squadrons and the Navy would have 35 strike fighter squadrons augmented with five from the Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps aviation is essentially 19 strike fighter squadrons and we'll grow with two cadre squadrons to 21.
Some other assumptions in that model were that while we would have legacy aircraft we would be able to fly legacy aircraft to 10,000 hours. That would have a total of 623 legacy Hornets could reach 10,000 hours.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: It also assumed that we would have full production of the then projected DNF line of 506 strike fighters. We also had a projection of what's called a high flying hour inspection which would occur at 8,000 hours which would allow us to take it to 8,600 hours for Hornets without having to schlep the airplane, without having to do major structural depot level and repairs. That high flying hour inspection in that model, that number, was projected to be a 5 percent dropout rate; in other words, of the airplanes you inducted into that inspection which is a six month inspection and requires about $474,000 to complete, there would be about a 5 percent airplanes that wouldn't pass that inspection, so I know as a vast majority would. And also we assumed in that model at that time the F- 35 would be -- ramp rate would go to 50 aircraft for the Navy per year.
As you go forward in time we learn more about the -- as we learn more about the Legacy airplanes, we learn more about production rates, we learned more about the model and the model gets adjusted and reworked. Latest information that would be in the most time that I have now would be that that shortfall would still be there, it might be slightly different because we're taking steps to mitigate that shortfall as you can imagine.
So what has changed? One thing would be changed is that we believe that the dropout rate to 10,000 hours for the inspection is not 5 percent, it would be much higher, more like 95 percent. In other words, we won't get those airplanes to 10,000 hours just by inspection, we're going to have to do some serious level depot work to get them there.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Okay.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: The other thing would be that we don't have to get -- if that number comes down from 623 to around 295 we believe we could get to 10,000 hours through schlep. The other 191 aircraft we would take through the high flyer inspection except 8,600 hours on them. Keep in mind if we don't do a high flying now inspection the airplanes would basically drop off the line at 8,000 hours. We do expect to get the full, still plan on the full program of record which we've established to be 506 and we do expect to be able to press forward with that.
So it explains why the numbers changed slightly over the year to year or model to model run, sir, as you go forward with those assumptions that are in there. But the Navy is committed to manage our strike shorter inventory through four principle ways. To manage the JSF and surely get the ramp rate to make sure absolutely as we get the IOC for the Marine Corps in 2012 that's for the sea variant and for the Navy in 2015 for the sea.
We also want to make sure that we maintain program related engineering logistics to make sure we maintain and sustain our airplanes that we have Legacy Hornets and E/F as well to get the most utilization out of them. We will also want to make sure that we go through as I mentioned the slap schlep program (ph), slap is the assessment, schlep is the actual depot level maintenance. Those are considerable amount of work to be done and again that is progressively done between the years 2012 and 2018 or 19 so to keep our force levels up.
And finally as I mentioned the high flying hour inspection that we get to get from 8,000 to 8,600 hours. All of this is based on the operation of our Navy and our tactical Air Force sir, I would point to today while I can't predict what the future would be and we will learn more through the quadrennial defense review about force structure et cetera. But today we have seven carriers deployed, not deployed but operating today at sea, four of them are deployed, two of them are doing workups, George Herbert Walker Bush is off the coast and it vacates doing fleet CQ. And so you have seven aircraft carriers at sea today with six air wings embarked and also replacement air groups operating off the seven.
It just would tell you that in the future we want to be able to maintain and do everything we can from an acquisition standpoint, from a tactical standpoint at NAVAIR to support that fleet in the future.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Let me -- I think you were ready for that question. That was a very thorough answer. (Laughter.) Let me ask this question, so you would accept the 250 aircraft below requirements number. Is that right?
ADM. ARCHITZEL: I'd turn that over to -- if you wouldn't mind, sir -- to the --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Here's my question. I want you to help us understand because in all the discussion about spending on Defense I think particularly on these programs there's no an appreciation, if one accepts the Department of Defense's definition of what's required that we are on a course that is going to put us way below requirements. And so my question really is are we going to be capable of in the case of the Navy for instance maintaining that fleet response plan of being able to surge to five or six carriers within 30 days of notification followed by another carrier within 90 days if the Navy is 250 aircraft below requirements?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Thank you Mr. Chairman, if you don't mind I think I can address part of your question.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Good.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: A year ago I was in front of this committee and talked about the challenges of the strike fighter shortfall and that we were projecting for the U.S. Navy a 60 aircraft shortfall if we were able to get all of the Legacy Hornets through schlep or up to 10,000 hours. These are 6,000 hour aircraft that have been extended to 8,000 hours Admiral Architzel just mentioned we have a method to get them from 8,000 to 8,600 hours, it's called a high flight hour inspection, it's heavy on the inspection and meant to be light on the maintenance required.
Then take those aircraft that we think and get all the way from 8,600 hours all the way out to 10,000. So the bracket that I briefed last year was 69 aircraft if we could get all the aircraft that we needed to 10,000 hours, that would be our shortfall, and if we got none of those aircraft to 10,000 hours, then it would be 243. And that's basically the range that we were working in a year ago.
Now what's changed since last year, Admiral Architzel mentioned that we've got aircraft that are going through the high flight hour inspection, we finished our analysis program and we've got 38 aircraft that entered the high flight hour inspections, we've got the first aircraft just approaching 8,000 hours to try to see how it is we're going to get those to 8,600 hours.
In that inspection meant to be about five or six months worth of work in the depot, they look at 159 focus areas or hot spots. As Admiral Architzel also mentioned the intent or the expectation was that we would be able to inspect when we have about a 5 percent fallout rate, and then we'd return those to the fleet with another 600 hours.
What we found is there's an additional 60 hot spots on those 38 aircraft, nine of them have completed the inspection, and it's increased the time to get through that depot from 11,000 man hours to about 24,000 man hours. So we're already starting to see that it's going to be a lot of work to get these aircraft at least to the 8,600 hour point.
To get beyond 8,600 hours, we're going to have to do an extension for the aircraft and that we're in the process of understanding where we are on the high flight hour inspection and trying to manage what parts we need so that we can start inducting the right aircraft into a service life extension within the next couple of years. We think we're going to schlepping aircraft through about 2018.
So what has happened in the last year is we've got the analysis and a little bit more information and we know that we can get aircraft to 10,000 hours.
And then that would -- we would wind up with a strike fighter shortfall for the U.S. Navy of about 70 aircraft.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: But which year?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: That peaks in about 2015. It starts in about 2013. So we're discovering, by looking at these aircraft in the high flight-hour inspection, is that they're not passing as quickly, so we're going to have a shortfall a little earlier.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Okay. My time is up, but I'll just say briefly, your explanation is very thorough. And I think the point is that we're pushing you hard, and you're pushing the aircraft that you've got hard to meet the requirements, because we're not replenishing rapidly enough. And I think at some point, therefore, it makes it very difficult for the Navy to meet the response plans that you have to crises that we may confront.
I'm going to -- I'll come back to this in my next round. But Senator Thune?
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And let me direct this to all of our witnesses, but I want to get a general reaction and observation with respect to the 2010 Defense budget request in which the president and Secretary Gates have stated that they intend to reshape the priorities of the Defense establishment. In so doing, they propose to cut dramatically or cancel various major weapon systems.
In terms of the tactical aviation portfolio, are there any aspects of that plan with which you have any difficulty? Don't jump.
MR. : Well, I'll start, sir, since I'm probably the happiest with it. I think the exact correct thing to do is to accelerate and move forward to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. If you look across the board at how much is being spent on tac air in this time of other needs, I think that's exactly the right thing to do.
MR. : I think the -- I wasn't sure. Part of -- (inaudible) -- understand the question. But I would say that, as we go into the challenges of the future, whether it be irregular warfare, hybrid warfare or conventional warfare, the carrier capability and its embarked air wings can meet the fight and to be able to provide the full spectrum of availability of that to meet the challenges that exist that you mentioned in all those areas I believe exist within the carrier air wings of today and will in the future.
So I would answer the same way as I did before about supporting the next-generation strike fighter, but also ensuring that we maintain our legacy Hornets and air wings as well as we go forward.
MR. : Senator, if I might, I believe the strategy in the new budget largely relies on re-analysis of what the future threat looks like -- (inaudible) -- upcoming QDR, which will have whatever effect it has on our future weapon systems procurement.
In the meantime, as we look at what the Air Force is capable of bringing to bear in the next five to 10 years, we don't see any risk in shortfall there. We do believe, as was stated prior, that the ramp-up in the production of the F-35 is absolutely critical to recapitalizing Air Force tac air capability. We have a number of programs ongoing which were unaffected by the new budget to sustain the existing weapon systems. We have no major -- (inaudible).
SEN. THUNE: (Inaudible) -- care to comment?
MR. : Senator Thune, I'll just piggy-back on General Shackelford's comment about the view of strategic risk in the relatively near term and what's termed the cap redux within the Air Force, taking some of those savings. I think it's $355 million this year and about $3.5 billion over the FYDB to reinvest that into some of our fourth-generation improved capabilities, both in the aircraft and in some of the enhanced weapons that they'll be able to carry in the near term. So I think it was a conscious decision to start working that gap now.
SEN. THUNE: The -- and this, I guess, I'll direct to General Shackelford and General Gibson. But what's your view of the proposal in the production of the F-22 fighter aircraft to 187?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Sir, you're familiar with the numbers that have been presented by our chief and our secretary. We believe that end of the production of the F-22, as the secretary of Defense has stated, is the end of the program of record. The capability that we get out of those 187 F-22s, we believe, is sufficient for the type of threat that the secretary of Defense is addressing in the future.
Again, as we look at fifth-generation capability, we're going to wind up leveraging the F-35's capabilities as those numbers build in the future. If we had a concern with it, it would lie in the area of sustaining the fleet. The 187 F-22s provides excellent combat capability. To sustain that fleet over a long period of time may become a challenge.
SEN. THUNE: How about the combat search and rescue helicopter replacement program, the proposal to terminate that?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Yes, sir. In the case of CSAR-X, the secretary of Defense was concerned that we didn't have it right in terms of the requirements for that platform, particularly in context of the approach we were taking to take what were essentially existing helicopters and spend a large amount of money on development, to specialize them for the CSAR-X mission.
Now, he did not cancel the CSAR-X mission. He did cancel the program. That gives us an opportunity to work with the OSD staff this summer in a study to come back and relook at those requirements and how it might best be addressed, given other rotary-wing capabilities and the larger body of rotary-wing capability across the department.
SEN. THUNE: And finally, your view of the proposed suspension of the next-generation bomber?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Similar to the helicopter, sir, the secretary had concerns about the requirements for the bomber, particularly in the area of nuclear capability and whether or not it would be unmanned. Likewise, through the QDR, we're going to go back and relook at those requirements and make sure we have them right for what he foresees the type of strategic bomber capability he wants the department to have in the future. And based on the outcome of the QDR, we'll move forward as appropriate with the program.
SEN. THUNE: Let me move back to the fighter gap. And without the benefit of the Air Force's having conducted a service life assessment as the Navy has with regard to its strike fighter capability, do you have a sense of what the probable extent of the Air Force's fighter gap is?
And I think you've sort of answered that question in response to Senator Lieberman's questions in some of your opening statements. But I guess my question comes back to the extent to which buying more quantities of some of the legacy aircraft, such as F-16s and F-15Es, might help mitigate, on a cost-effective basis, the shortfall in the Air Force over the intermediate to long term.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Sir, I think one of the earlier testimonies put that gap at nearly 800 around 2024. With the acceleration proposed with the F-35 buy ramping up to 80, and possibly even higher, we think that that greatly mitigates that risk in the out years.
We also have a number of aircraft, obviously the legacy aircraft that we have now, that in that time frame are extended on or about those dates that could possibly be extended if required. QDR is currently relooking at what those numbers will need to be in future scenarios. So we think at this time it's manageable. And the idea of going back and purchasing more fourth-generation systems is not seen as buying us into the future capability that we'll require.
SEN. THUNE: I see my time has expired, Mr. Chairman. I'll come back in another round.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Okay, thanks, Senator Thune.
Senator Begich, thanks for being here.
SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK): Mr. Chairman, I'm going to yield to Ms. McCaskill. I know she has to catch a train, so I wanted to give her my time for right now.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's very gracious of you.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO): Isn't he nice?
SEN. LIEBERMAN: He is nice.
SEN. BEGICH: I'm making a note of this. (Laughter.)
SEN. MCCASKILL: Believe me, that means I owe you one.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: You elicited that testimony from me. I was not prepared for it.
SEN. MCCASKILL: There you go. There you go.
Thank you very much, Senator Begich. I appreciate it.
Let me drill down a little bit on the testimony that I heard as I came in. My understanding is, Admiral, that you're saying that our man hours to take the Hornet from -- to 8,600 hours has increased from 11,000 to 24,000 man hours, or to get them to 10,000 it's increased?
ADM. : That's for the high flight-hour inspection.
SEN. MCCASKILL: Okay. So what you're saying is that the original estimate of when the gap was going to be most acute may have to be moved forward, because of the number of hours it's taking to extend the hours?
ADM. : Yes, ma'am. What's happening is those aircraft are rolled out of the inventory --
SEN. MCCASKILL: Right.
ADM. : -- so that we can do the inspection before they get to 8,000 hours. And what we thought was going to take a matter of about six to seven or eight months is now taking upwards of 11 months in order to get those aircraft back to the fleet. Now, I want to caveat that. There's only 38 aircraft that have gone into the high flight-hour inspection, and only nine have come out. So this is our early snapshot.
But based on that insight, we're taking a look at our models and we're going to project that we're going to have a shortfall -- we don't have a shortfall today, but we think that, based on the number of aircraft and the rate that they're flying and when they're going to have to be inspected prior to 8,000 hours, that it'll start to pull them out of the inventory earlier than we anticipated.
SEN. MCCASKILL: And we don't -- I mean, we know now that the JSF is 55 percent over cost over the 2001 estimate, and we know it's at least two years behind schedule.
And we know that all the technologies on it have not matured. And what I'm trying to get to here is that there seems to be a strong factual basis that we're not going to get to where we want to be on JSF soon enough or at the price that we had hoped, and that we have got the backbone -- I think I'm quoting the admiral -- the backbone of our ability to push power ashore, the F/A-18, that is on time, on schedule." And what I'm trying to get to is why, we keep talking about the QDR, why there isn't more of an acknowledgement of the cost savings that we would get with a multi-year at this point. I think if you had to guess at this point based on where we are with the JSF and where we are with the FA18, that that number 70 is wildly optimistic, that it in fact is going to be significantly over 70. And if know that, why wouldn't we want to get the billion dollars in savings and do the multi-year?
GEN. GIBSON: Let me take it from an acquisition standpoint, if I could, Senator. Thanks for the question. As we look, first off to understand the strike fighter inventory management, the issue we're talking about is when getting the Hornets to fill an area where we have until we can get the JSF in numbers to replace. The Navy stands strongly behind the JSF program. The capability brings a fifth generation fighter. It is projected to make all of its KPPs. It is, as you pointed out, it is from the most recent milestone, master schedule 6.1 on whether it's A, D or C brandhas some delay to the schedule, but at the same time it is correcting a change. Changes to the program are not what we have seen on other Legacy programs in development. We believe it will make the 2012 and 2015 deliveries for the Navy.
However, saying that, as we also need, we need to manage not just the JSF. We have to manage the Hornets, which is not just the Legacy Hornets, the EF (sp) as well. If we look at the SLIPSLAP program and we talk about what we're going to do and the time we would need it, it's based on when those airplanes would reach 8,000 hours. That begins, and the numbers we're talking about, what would make a difference to SLIP those aircraft is from about 2012 to 2018. And if we look at the airplanes that would reach on the fly rate we project today, which could change, it could change with the QDR, it could change a lot of things, could change how we manage our force levelsbut using what we have today we'd say that we're going to have about 295 aircraft that we want to SLIP as I mentioned, and we'll take another 191 aircraft and run through a high-fly in our inspection program that would allow us to maintain the strike fighters we need projected at that time.
I believe we're managing across the inventory, both to preserve the joint strike fighter we need in the future, as well as to ensure we have the capability of our carrier wings that will meet at the time we have as we bring on the joint strike fighter. But the Navy stands firmly behind the joint strike fighter. There have been challenges in the program, as you mentioned. This is a critical year for that program. The JSF this year is finishing up, if you will, SDDs, system development and demonstration phase. We're also increasing ramp rates on the airplane, and we are also going forward and starting the test profiles in earnest on the airplane.
So it's a very stressing time for the program. But the program is moving forward in all variance, and we have confidence that it will meet the numbers and the performance we need to have that aircraft. Thank you.
SEN. MCCASKILL: You know, and I certainly understand that the Navy stands behind the JSF and that the Department of Defense stands behind the JSF, and that's not really my quarrel. My quarrel is, if we know we're going to have a shortfall and we know we need to fill in, make sure we do it in the most cost-effective way for the taxpayer in terms of multi-year procurement of the SA18. And I guess in long- term, let's fast forward, let's assume that some other senators are sitting here 15 or 20 years from now. Does anybody have any thought as to whether or not it's a good idea to have one, only one manufacturer manufacturing tactical aircraft in the United States?
GEN. GIBSON: We certainly value theI'll start.
SEN. MCCASKILL: I mean isn't the FA18 keeping costs down on the JFS?
GEN. GIBSON: We certainly value the industrial base, and it's not, as we go forward, we do competitive build for the JSF. We have other manufacturered aircraft as we will go forward. So that certainly is--just as we do in the shipbuilding side, we value the industrial base on the aviation side as well. So we also have the programs in place to allow us to manufacture the aircraft components whether it's through, it's not just Lockheed Martin for example on the JSF or it's not just Boeing on the FA18. And you have multiple sub vendors across the United States. So we certainly would not be sitting here and say we didn't value. We know that if we're going to need strike fighters in the future, we're going to need industry that can build them. If we need ships in the future, we're going to need a shipbuilding defense industry base that can build them as well, so --
SEN. MCCASKILL: My time is expired. Thank you all very much for your service, and thank you, Mr. Chairman, and especially thank you, Senator Begich, for your concern.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Senator McCaskill.
Senator Chambliss, good afternoon.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon.
Gentlemen, thank you for your service, and this is an extremely difficult issue that we've been talking about for several years. And my criticism of the process is not directed at you but at those folks that were sitting there 15 or 20 years ago making decisions. We've been very concerned about this road wreck on tactical air force, and it's here. And each of you have just outlined why this is so critical.
And Senator McCaskill makes a good point there with respect to this gap on the part of the Navy. And of course the Navy is proposing to fill that gap in part with FA18s. Ramping up the F35 sounds like it makes sense. That's what the Air Force is doing. But also what the Air Force is doing is taking an airplane that still has years ahead of it from an R&D standpoint, and we know there are going to be problems with it. We absolutely know that. And yet the Air Force is making a decision to ramp up purchase of the joint strike fighter which is a great airplane and I fully support it. But we're doing this in a way that we have never done before.
And to me it makes no sense, number one. But I'm just afraid that we're headed for even more of a road wreck several years from now. But there's been a conversation here about the strike fighter gap on the part of the Navy, and I think Senator McCaskill adequately dealt with that. It looks like we got somewhere around a 200 shortfall. I guess we could argue about that number, but that seems to be somewhere in the generally accepted range.
I also note that the Navy is requesting the purchase of 31 fourth generation FA18s in the 2010 budget. Now, General Shackleford, General Gibson, last year General Hoffman and General Darnell appeared before this committee in your place and talked about a fighter gap in the Air Force of approximately 800 fighters, General Gibson, just what you alluded to. Frankly, when we look at the 200 number and look at the 800 number, with the problems Admiral Architzel and I hope I'm not mispronouncing it.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Admiral Architzel, sir. Thank you.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Thank you. And Admiral Myers, both of you alluded to assumptions that we have made over the years with respect to previous situations as well as apparent situation, and those assumptions have proven to be false. So we could be looking at higher numbers. Chances are they are going to be higher than they are going to be lower. But in any event and in addition to what we are planning in the Air Force for 800, you now have come forward in this FY '10 budget and say we're going to retire an additional 250 tactical fighters in FY '10.
So let me see if I can summarize this. The Air Force has got a fighter gap that's five times as big as the Navy. The Navy is buying fourth generation fighters that can only fly in a permissive threat environment. And we're going to examine additional FA18 procurement, including a possible multi-year in the QDR. The F22 is the only proven fifth generation fighter, yet the Air Force is not buying anymore F22s, even though the Air Force leadership, General Schwartz, has said that the military requirement for F22s is not 187, but it's 243.
The Air Force is being told to rely on the F35 and it is not allowed to buy F22s; yet the Navy is thinking about purchasing over 100 more FA18s, which will inevitably result in them purchasing fewer F35s.
I really have a hard time understanding, gentlemen, how this makes sense. Now, General Shackelford and General Gibson, your chief of staff has stated that the requirement is 243, and he has characterized the risk of only 187 F22s as medium to high. Do either of you disagree with that assessment by General Schwartz?
GEN. GIBSON: Sir, of course I would agree with the comment of my chief. General Shackelford addressed earlier that the term now is "higher risk," especially when one looks at sustainment of the fleet, with those lower numbers. But I think his recent terminology was in the light of today's constrained resources it was an affordable solution.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Well, and that was my point with Secretary Gates that in spite of what he says with respect to military requirement, this is a budget-driven decision, which means that somebody's going to be at risk.
And we know who's going to be at risk if we do not have the capability of maintaining air superiority.
Now, General Gibson, you represent the operator. As I understand it, with only 187 F-22s in the fleet, none would be stationed in Europe. What kind of deterrent capability do you think the F-22 provides for countering potentially hostile countries like Iran, who may seek to hold the U.S. and/or our allies at risk who could have double-digit SAMs in the near term?
GEN. GIBSON: Sir, clearly the F-22, as all of our tactical air assets, is a deployable asset. It can be moved to locations of stress, at it is now within the Pacific, forward deployed covering assets that are in today's fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. So when one looks at that and its capability, the current basing would probably have -- is going to be reviewed again in QDR, but could be brought forward as required.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: So your answer to that is then, well, we're going to look to the QDR and we're going to decide which part of the world we're going to sacrifice first. We're either going to sacrificed Asia or we're going to sacrifice Europe because we simply don't have enough F-22s in the pike to cover both of them. Is that a fair statement?
GEN. GIBSON: Sir, I'll have to stand with the previous comment from my service chief and the secretary that 187 is higher risk.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Well, gentlemen, I've raised the issue of surface-to-air missiles in two previous hearings this year and I fully believe that this is not -- that it is not the threat of enemy aircraft but the threat of enemy surface-to-air missiles and their proliferation that represent the true threat to our forces today. And in my response to -- in response to my comment about this at our hearing in May, Secretary Gates said, and I quote, "The only defense against surface-to-air missiles is not something that has a pilot in it."
Now, General Shackelford and General Gibson, you mentioned that -- in your written testimony that the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, the JASSM -- JASSM is designed to be a stealthy missile, but you comment that you postponed JASSM production due to unsatisfactory flight tests, and you're not requesting any funds for JASSM procurement in your FY10 budget. In your written statement, the Navy witnesses discuss the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System, or N-UCAS, which is a stealthy UAV, and note that the Navy has requested R&D funds for N-UCAS in the FY10 budget and that you are planning for a potential follow-on acquisition program. I would add that at the Navy posture hearing last week, Admiral Roughead noted that he expects N- UCAS to be operational sometime after 2020. So I'm not exactly sure what Secretary Gates is talking about. JASSM and N-UCAS may someday have a capability against surface-to-air missiles, but it certainly will not be anytime soon. The only system in the inventory that's capable of countering advanced surface-to-air missiles now and for the next several years is the F-22, and that's not going to change over the next several years.
So -- my time is up, and I'll look forward to the next round, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you very much, Senator Chambliss.
Senator Begich? I want to certify that you're not only a nice guy; you can be very tough when you need to be. (Laughter.)
SEN. BEGICH: (Laughs.) Thank you very much. Patience is a virtue.
I just have -- and this is not necessarily -- I just want to kind of put this on the record, but if you want to respond to it, that's great. But it's not about tactical aircraft but related aircraft, and it's the Joint Cargo Aircraft -- the JCA. In Alaska the plan was to replace our Sherpas with these, and what's on the schedule now is about 78 aircraft. There hasn't been a real laid-out plan of how this is going to happen, especially with our Army Guard that was going to be the recipient of these replacements. And I just -- if any of you can answer, that's great; if not, maybe get it to whoever can. And I just want to get -- I bring it up at every Armed Services Committee as well as subcommittees -- I'm looking for the list at some point that will define where the JCAs will go and who -- and what they'll be replacing and what the list will look like. I know the Air Force and DOD is in process of preparing such a list. For Alaska it's critical. The Sherpas are very old, and the plan was for replacement. So I don't know if anyone wants to respond to that. If they do, that's great; if not I look forward to a response at some point by writing.
GEN. : Sir, if I could comment on that -- of course the secretary of Defense moved that program from the Army to the Air Force and at the same time reduced the numbers from 78 to 38 --
SEN. BEGICH: Right.
GEN. : -- the 38 being roughly the same number of Sherpas, though a few less, as you would observe. We're in the process of working the details of how that transfer will occur now as far as the development of the C-27J, as well as the testing of it, how it will be managed to make sure that that's a smooth transition.
Most of these aircraft, based on the concept of operations that the Army is after, which is time-critical resupply in theater, will wind up being forward deployed, so very few of them we expect will be present back in stateside locations, at least for the time being. So the actual lay-down of home bases is to be determined. If you will, we'll take that for the record that you're wanting to know that and get that back to you as soon as we have something.
SEN. BEGICH: That would be great because I know we had this conversation -- who with -- I'm not sure if it was with the secretary -- Secretary Gates in front of the Armed Services Committee, and he had indicated that the decisions have not been formally made of where they'll end up. He did mention the forward theater. But I want to make sure -- you know, in Alaska it's critical, this type of equipment, and so I just want to see kind of how the long-term plan is. And if you can get that -- this is -- just so you know, I think it's my third request. So I'll be patient -- as patient as I can be -- at the next one. Whoever shows up with a lot of brass is going to get the next conversation. So I'll look forward to it.
The second thing is on the F-136 alternative engines, there's a lot of debate of which engines -- the 136 or the 135 -- and I know you've gone one direction. I just want some discussion from whoever can do this. I know GE and Rolls Royce, the producers of the 136, obviously claim their performance is better than the 135, but so does the GAO. It says the same thing. So just walk me through how you determine that, and is there some documentation, cost analysis that show you why you went with the 135?
ADM. ARCHITZEL: I'll start, and then I'll give it over to General Shackelford.
First, the Navy supports the Department of Defense position that -- in general while we do support competition, in this case of the alternative engine we view that the cost of continuing with two development programs on that is not offset by the savings that we would see in the future of having those two engines and also having to support both engine types. So the Navy remains supportive of that position of just the 135.
The 135 performance, as I mentioned in my opening testimony, has been -- we have 16 engines that have been in tests and a significant number of hours on tests with that airplane, which obviously has also been working with the -- (inaudible) -- in terms of Rolls Royce. And so the 135 includes both Pratt & Whitney and the -- (inaudible) -- hookup, if you will. So that would be where we would stand today in terms of the alternative engine versus the 135.
SEN. BEGICH: So, to make sure I'm clear, if I remember the GAO report -- I didn't have it this -- I know I've read it before and I don't have it right handy in front of me, but the GAO report indicated that the 136 was -- had better efficiency and opportunity, but you disagree with that, and the 135 is the course you're taking.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: I didn't say I disagreed with it. Kind of what I said was the Navy position was that we would -- while we generally support competition, we -- in this case the cost of the continuing to develop a second engine versus being able to use that in -- (inaudible) -- dollars for aircraft or in the cost also to maintain two engines, the Navy supports the Department of Defense on just having this 135 engine.
SEN. BEGICH: Is there a process that you'll have as -- because you won't have the competition, what's the process you'll do in order to make sure that the cost of the one producer or one contractor, as time progresses, as they get comfortable in the business of procurement --
ADM. ARCHITZEL: I understand.
SEN. BEGICH: As a (former ?) member I've seen this before, and that's why I'm asking you this.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Senator, what I would like to do is say, I'm sure you're away that the service has -- (inaudible) -- acquisition lead to the Joint Strike Fighter program to the Air Force, and the Air Force in that process is taking steps today, both as they come on board to -- both in the air frame as well as into the engines, so I'd rather have General Shackelford address that because I think he can be forthright with that answer.
SEN. BEGICH: Great. Okay. Thank you.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Yes, sir. Similar to Admiral Architzel's comments about favoring competition, the Air Force is one that favors competition in these kind of cases, too.
In this particular case, the analysis that OSD did to look at the costs associated with the second engine yielded a bit of a differing result from what the GAO reported, which basically says the costs associated with development of the second engine would be something that we would consider unaffordable in the current timeframe while we would be doing the development, and that the benefit down the road in terms of comparative costs would be more of a wash than the more optimistic version of what the GAO report said. So when we look at that balancing the risk of having one engine versus the costs associated with paying for the second engine, be it one in terms of costs within the program, which would be taken out of production aircraft, a negative effect in terms of unit costs and whatnot, or even having to source those dollars someplace else within the Air Force in this time, we don't consider that to be an affordable solution.
SEN. BEGICH: Okay, let me end on this last question, and that is, how do you ensure, once you're in production on a single product line, that the company, you know, once they're into production of so many of the engines, that they don't have cost creep, that now you're boxed in, that you don't have a chance to have an alternative that holds down the cost?
How do you internally -- and I'm not -- I'll echo what Senator McCaskill said. My concern is you've got a lot of engines you're going to produce, and once you get down that production line, the contractor -- and again, I've seen this as a mayor -- they have cost creep. They'll have great justification. You'll be in a box.
How do you avoid that? And what guarantees can you work in in your system, contractual or otherwise, to ensure that doesn't happen? I mean, when you build this amount of volume, cost creep is -- you know, they jack it up 2, 3, 4 percent. It may not seem like a lot, but in the volume, it's big money, bottom line.
MR. : Yes, sir. Early on in the program, where we have incentive types of contracts, prior to moving over to a fixed-price type of environment, which will be a few lots down the road in terms of the engines, that allows us to get the cost and pricing data from the contractor so that we have a good understanding of what it actually costs them to build that engine.
SEN. BEGICH: To produce it and make it.
MR. : Yes, sir. And that's essential to having the proper perspective when we then shift into a fixed-price environment a few years from now. So once we move to that fixed-price environment, we no longer have that insight into the specifics of the cost, but we had what it was based on to start with. And barring some technical change in the engine that warrants a change in cost, we've got a pretty good handle on what those costs at that point in time. And then it becomes a unit cost type of issue based on quantity.
SEN. BEGICH: Very good. Thank you very much. My time is up. Thank you.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Senator Begich.
We'll go on to a second round. I want to continue the questions and the topic that Senator Begich has been on. This has been a controversial matter on this committee and before Congress over the last couple of sessions, which is whether we should have an alternative engine or alternate engine program for the joint strike fighter. And I take it, Admiral Architzel, that you agree with the president's recommendation to terminate the alternate engine program in the fiscal year 2010.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Senator, I agree with the president and Secretary Gates on this issue, sir.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right. And General Shackelford, I take it from what you just testified that you also agree with that decision.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Yes, sir, I agree.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Let me ask you, General Shackelford, to go into a little bit more detail on the consequences of the decision. I know both you and the admiral have said that obviously if we build an alternate engine, it's going to cost more money to build two than one.
What are the estimated costs of the alternate engine program? How much would they add to the buy?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Sir, between FY '10 and FY '15, that second engine is going to cost us $1.8 billion in development and $2.8 billion in production.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: The production figure there is not to make the second engine equal in maturity to the first engine.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: It's to facilitate the industrial base to bring them up to the point that they can produce, in a competitive environment, the quantities required, which would be approximately 50 per year out at about lot six or so in terms of the F-35 production lots.
In order to facilitate those dollars, just the FY '10 piece of those dollars, the development piece is $463 million --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Correct.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: -- the production piece, $140 million. Given that we remain within our means status of the F-35 program, what that would require, we estimate, is two to four of the aircraft in lot 10 would be required to make payment for that engine in FY '10.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: In other words, you'd have to cut by two to four the number of joint strike fighters produced --
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Yes, sir. Right now --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: -- to pay for the alternate engine.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Right. The FY '10 production quantity is 30 aircraft, split between the three variants.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: We would have to reduce that by two to four, depending on which of the variants --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: In the one year.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: In one year, yes, sir.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Now, that has a negative effect on the unit cost of the remaining aircraft, buying fewer.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: It also ripples into the next year's quantities and costs. And then, as we take that FY '10 increment of dollars and extend that out through the FYDB, there are equal decrements in terms of the numbers of aircraft that we can buy with the remaining dollars.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: So it would be, what, 10 to 20 less over the five-year period from 2010 to 2015?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Over the five-year period, it would be 53.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Fifty-three less. In other words, I'm asking what would be the consequences on the buy that you want to make of the joint strike fighter if the alternate engine program was continued through 2015?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: The 513 that would presently be bought between now through FY '15 --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: -- would be decremented by approximately 50 aircraft.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: By 50 aircraft. What are the -- what will be the operational consequences of that?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: As we reduce the number of aircraft, particularly in the near years, those aircraft are destined for either the operational test environment or the integrated training center at --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: -- (inaudible) -- Air Force Base, some of which we'll eventually move on to one of the operations locations. So as we start to decrement the number of aircraft early on, we start to push out, just from an availability of aircraft to conduct the test work necessary, developmental -- well, operational test, not developmental test but operational test, that will then have an effect upon the initial operational capability time line at the integrated training center. It'll reduce the pilot through-put so the number of pilots we have, and potentially the number of maintainers who are trained on the aircraft through the same process --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: -- will be reduced somewhat. So, in effect, it pushes the capability out -- (inaudible).
SEN. LIEBERMAN: You know, so this has real consequences. This is not -- in a normal case, of course you'd like to have two engines, two engine programs. But you can't have it all. So if you go over the two engines, we're going to be 53 planes short of what we'd otherwise be within that five-year period.
General Trautman, I have a recollection at a previous hearing on this particular subject -- it was either in the last session or the one before -- the Marine representative -- and I've forgotten who it was exactly -- was very passionate, I would say, about the impact of going with the alternate engine in terms of reducing the number of the joint strike fighter model that will be available to the Marines as quickly as possible. I take it you support the president's budget to eliminate or terminate the alternate engine program?
GEN. TRAUTMAN: I do, sir, and for the reasons that General Shackelford did a very nice job laying out. Our initial operational capability is desired in 2012.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. TRAUTMAN: Loss of any airplanes between now and 2012 would put that IOC at considerable risk. So the early loss of airplanes, each and every one, causes us to go back to the drawing board and rescript our plan to see if we can make the objective that the commandant and I have in mind.
Now, we haven't purchased a tac airplane in over 11 years.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. TRAUTMAN: And our legacy fleets of Hornets, the AV-8s and the A-6Bs, have been ridden very hard in combat. And so we are passionate about keeping the joint strike fighter on track, sir.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Admiral Architzel, why don't you just take a moment and talk about the consequences for the Navy of spending that money on the second engine instead of using it to accelerate the purchase of the joint strike fighters.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman. I really can't add much from what was said from General Shackelford. The facts that he presented, I agree with, as well as General Trautman.
For the Navy, we just have come through the point where this year we get our first aircraft, which our first four gets delivered on the sea variance. While initially it may not affect those four, it certainly would affect us as we go forward into the FYDB in terms of the developmental aircraft and into production. And it would have an impact on us, both on our cost.
At the same time we're talking about ramp rates and managing our strike fighter inventory, this would push things out to the right further, push the IOC out, and then obviously push -- initial operating capability, excuse me, out -- as well as reduce our -- have an impact on our strike fighter count. So that's the same argument I think you just heard.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: I thank you. I thank you all. My own personal conclusion from all this -- and I thank you for the case you've made -- is that we can't afford the second engine, and it will compromise the joint strike fighter program. So I hope we stick with the president's recommendation on that one.
SEN. THUNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Admiral Architzel and General Trautman, long-range bombers appear to share important attributes with carrier air wings, including not requiring in-theater basing, and thereby offering the potential for prompt strikes in a crisis. But the Department of the Navy strike fighter gap could be a problem, especially if the joint strike fighter slips in becoming initially operationally capable.
My question is, to what extent could an increased inventory of long-range bombers in some ways make up for the shortfall in Navy and Marine Corps strike fighters? And I'd like to have you speak, if you could, to cost issues and survivability issues.
ADM. ARCHITZEL: If I could speak on the acquisition side; this question really is more specifically directed to Admiral Myers. I will say, having been a carrier CO and operated carriers at sea, I know the value of the carrier wings and I know the flexibility and adaptability they bring with them. So I see that today. I see that in the future. I don't see that changing. But the answer probably should come from Admiral Myers in terms of requirements, sir.
ADM. MYERS: Well, the short answer is it doesn't replace the carrier air wing on the flight deck. Just to give you a sense of how we're trying to manage this, if we did nothing in terms of extending the life of the current aircraft that we have in our legacy fleet, then you would see a 243 aircraft shortfall.
It's clear that we're going to be doing all we can to get those aircraft to 10,000 hours. And we only need to get about half of them to 10,000 hours. We have a fleet of over 600 legacy F-18s. And if we can get about 295 of those extended, then we will manage a 70 aircraft shortfall. And it's the fleet commanders' responsibility and prerogative of where he's going to put that shortfall. Just to put it in perspective, Senator, we've got that time when we see these numbers of the shortfall -- if we project this correctly, we've got about 760 F-18s. We'll be 70 short. So whether the fleet commander takes the shortfall in a training unit or in test is his responsibility.
Now, what we've got is levers to try to mitigate that and to make it even less. We've got to maintain our JSF wholeness. We've got to maintain the legacy fleet. We talked about SLAP and doing everything we can on the legacy aircraft. And lastly is we need to continue to procure the F-18 Super Hornets. We've got a hot line. That line stays hot for four more years. We're going to continue to assess this in QDR this summer, and we have options.
SEN. THUNE: What about any comment on how long-range bomber might fit into that?
ADM. MYERS: The effects that you're talking about from a long- range bomber are limited to kinetic. And the effects that our carrier air wings today are delivering in Afghanistan and OEF range from airborne early surveillance to electronic attack to close air support and then also include kinetic effects. So that would be only one piece of what a strike fighter carrier air wing would deliver in the course of supporting our troops on the ground.
GEN. TRAUTMAN: Senator Thune, I think I understand your premise. And it's an apt -- your premise, and it's an apt premise, that is, all the parts of the joint force need to fit together in some kind of a puzzle, a combination of long-range bombers, carriers with a combination of legacy and F-35Cs or Bs, F-22s, unmanned aerial systems, the STOVL variant of the F-35B. These all have to fit together and provide the joint force the capability set that will do what our nation needs done, both now and in the future.
From my perspective, I haven't personally studied the long-range bomber issue, so I'm not qualified to talk about whether the secretary and the chief of the Air Force has it right, but I trust their judgment and have to -- have to stand by where they are on that -- on that decision at this point, sir.
SEN. THUNE: General Shackelford and General Gibson, in testimony before the committee, General Schwartz testified regarding the decision to accelerate the retirement of 250 strike fighters, that it, and I quote the review, "weighed the benefits of retiring aircraft nearing their expected service life against near-term risk to our national security," end quote. When were these aircraft previously planned to be retired?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: The 250 that are proposed to be retired in FY '10 were spread between '10 and '13.
SEN. THUNE: Okay.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: The assessment that the chief brought is one that the -- we believed the risk in that time frame is minimal, given the world situation and given the depth of fighter capability we have now. The previously addressed shortfall in fighters out in 2024 was based on ramping the F-35 to 48 per year and based on 187 F-22s, with the remainder of the force timing out between now and the mid '20s. So as we move now to ramping the F-35 up to 80 of the Air Force variants or possibly to a higher number, it mitigates that issue from a total force-structure shortfall, if you will, but it brings that capability back up. We dip slightly below where we would really like to be for four or five years there and then come right back up to it.
SEN. THUNE: How many hours are on the aircraft that are going to be retired?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Yeah, the service life for the 15s right now is 8,000 hours, 16s is 8,000, just a few A-10s in those numbers. Now, the A-10s go out to 12,000 hours -- actually, 16,000, excuse me.
I don't know off the top of my head the specific tail numbers in terms of the hours that they have. If you would like that information, we --
SEN. THUNE: Was it done by tail number? Is that kind of how the -- that was how it was -- decisions were made about which ones would be retired?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: I expect we would be very careful in picking and choosing the aircraft that we would be retiring.
SEN. THUNE: Did the combatant commanders sign off on that plan, on the restructuring plan?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Sir, I don't know.
SEN. THUNE: General, no?
GEN. GIBSON: Sir, it's my understanding they were briefed on it. Obviously, they needed to understand the impact. And some of those discussions are still ongoing, but they were all aware.
SEN. THUNE: Okay. And I know you sort of explained how the interaction between the retiring planes and the F-35s coming and the existing F-22s, but was the risk quantified? Was there a way of -- that -- a formulaic way that you went about quantifying the risk?
GEN. GIBSON: Senator, I'm not certain of the particular study that was -- that was done. We can take that for record and review it. I -- it's our understanding that it was taken in the context of strategic risk in the near term, as mentioned before, to take that and then reinvest it into both fourth-generation -- fourth-generation fighter capability, bomber upgrades, as well as weapon upgrades, to use that for investment, to bring that legacy capability up.
SEN. THUNE: And did you guys -- did you look at joint force capability? Did you look at Navy, Marines, in that assessment?
GEN. GIBSON: Sir, in the context of the COCOM and the risk?
SEN. THUNE: Yeah.
GEN. GIBSON: Sir, I can't say for certain.
SEN. THUNE: Okay. I see my time's expired, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you all again very much, and thanks for your service.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Senator Thune.
SENATOR MARK BEGICH (D-AK): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mine's just kind of a general question, and just more of a discussion point. Can you -- and I started this discussion at the Armed Services Committee in the full committee. But can you talk a little bit about the future of the unmanned aircraft and the variety of -- you know, where you see that and what does that mean for our military over -- as you move forward on the next five years? Can you just have a little discussion on that? I'm not asking any specific question in the sense of how many or what and cost. I'm more interested in how do you see that fitting in.
And then how do you -- this one you may not want to answer the second part -- how do you deal with the conflict of the pilots, who probably aren't very excited about this idea, because they may be behind just a little stick shift in a room, versus in a plane flying around? I know that -- how do you see to overcome that, but also how do you see the unmanned aircraft in the variety of sources?
ADM. ARCHITZEL: Again, from an acquisition standpoint, we have a number of unmanned aerial vehicle systems, both ashore and -- well, both at sea, as I mentioned, on the McInerney, for example, with Fire Scout, where we are producing systems and testing them. Today it's doing well, both in day-night testing and to be able to deploy that aboard all air-capable ships in the future is a significant step forward in that regard. That's for reconnaissance and surveillance and maritime domain.
We look to the next-generation P-8 as we go forward. And that airplane is being built around being able to use with it the BAMS aerial system as well, unmanned. That will allow us to then not have to have as quite the -- for example, the P-3 squadrons of today man the 12 squadrons, BAMS, the P-8 squadrons of the future -- less numbers of aircraft, because some of that role can be taken up with the BAMS aircraft to go forward.
Two examples there: We also have on the -- on the land site to support the Marine Corps -- (inaudible) -- niches -- short takeoff, unmanned aerial systems as well as unmanned aerial systems further on the ship.
So, again, acquisition-wise, we're in a lot of development and stages on those programs, but also getting to the point of moving out on them. We have the BAMS demonstrator for the Navy as well, which is actually deployed to CENTCOM, has deployed CENTCOM in support of forces.
So I'd like to turn that requirements and operational piece over to Admiral Myers.
ADM. MYERS: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for the question.
Our approach is to leverage the unmanned vehicles at every opportunity for their capacity and for their capability. Admiral Architzel laid out a couple of levels, and I'll talk about four levels. The first on the surface ships, we have Scan-Eagle which is going to replaced with STUAS, and that extends the sensors from the surface ships and they're able to use the electrical, optical and IR sensors and they're also using that. Eventually we'll be taking that kind of a sensor and putting AIS on it, so it'll increase the situation awareness and it saves wear and tear on helicopters and things like that.
On the next level is VTUAV, and what Admiral Architzel just mentioned is we just finished the DTE on the McInerney, the development test, and we'll go into OTE -- the operational test in --
SEN. BEGICH: Thank you for describing DTE, OTE.
ADM. MYERS: Yes, sir.
SEN. BEGICH: Not just for me, but for people who watch this.
ADM. MYERS: Yes, sir.
SEN. BEGICH: I'm assuming the three or five people that watch this --
ADM. MYERS: Happy to decipher.
And the LCS is going to be on all of our Littoral Combat Ships -- or the VTUAV is going to be on all of our Littoral Combat Ships -- the vertical take-off unmanned aerial vehicle, VTUAV.
So what we're doing is we're going to deploy our Littoral Combat Ships with a helicopter and one or more unmanned helicopters, if you will. So it'll augment the manned helicopter. It'll serve as communications relay. And we have some other EO/IR, EIS and some other growth development areas for VTUAV.
The next level is to complement our P-8s, the 737 variant, and to give some persistence in ISR, some -- and -- where we can use the P-8, leverage the capability that the P-8's going to offer with air-to- surface or ASW close-to-kill kind of capability. We can take advantage of the N-UCAS BAMS dwell time and then use the same maintenance folks that are launching and recovering the P-8s to launch and recover the BAMS N-UCAS. So we think that that's about the right blend of capability and capacity.
When it comes to the air wing, we replace our -- about half of our strike fighter air wing about every decade. We have 44 strike fighters in our carrier wing, and in 1983 we IOCed the F-18A and B. In '87, we IOCed the C and D variant. And then a little over a decade later, we brought on board the Super Hornet. And then in the teens, we're going to bring on board the Joint Strike Fighter. And then in the 2020 time -- 2020s, later 2020s, we're going to replace our F-18 Super Hornets with F/A-XX.
Now, a -- one of our technology maturation and risk mitigators is to fly that kind of variant onto a carrier and prove that a tailless, unmanned vehicle can land on a carrier safely and taxi. And that's what the N-UCAS demonstration is going to do. We're going to go to a carrier in 2011 and then we're going to test unmanned air-to-air refueling with the Probe and Drogue in 2013. And that puts us on a course for F/A-XX to make the right decision in the 2020s time frame.
But to replace the F-18 E and F Block II Super Hornet, we need a lot of capability. So we've got time to replace -- to do the right kind of technology maturation to take us into the mid- to late-2020s so that we can make the right decision, but each time we replace half the air wing, we always have a very capable fighter than can provide the effects for the soldiers and the Marines on the ground today and have what it takes for future security challenges. So that's why having a hot line on the -- for Boeing right now for the F-18 E and F is important to us as we transition to the JSF, which is the Navy's future for TACAIR on our flight decks. So we have to have both. Our challenge is to do everything that we can to mitigate the risk as we transition to a JSF and F-18 E and F Block II Super Hornet air wing.
SEN. BEGICH: Thank you very much. My time has expired, so I just want to quick summarize that, I mean, one of the pieces in the next five years is a lot of testing and demonstration to see the capabilities and capacity to ensure that it can not only take off, land, refuel, but give the coverage that is necessary. Is that a fair quick summary of -- I'm not sure who's going to --
ADM. MYERS: Essentially, yes. It's the take-off and landing piece which we can -- we know we can do. We've done that with N-UCAS. We've done that with -- or Global Hawk, I mean, and VTUAV. I mean, we know we can take off and land and taxi, but it's the carrier piece --
SEN. BEGICH: That's right.
ADM. MYERS: -- and to make sure that we can taxi around the carrier safely, launch, and then also to go to the next step with the aerial refueling with an unmanned vehicle.
SEN. BEGICH: Thank you very much. At another time, I'm sure, when we have a Personnel Committee I'll talk to them about -- just kind of get a sense of how they make that transition with pilots who -- it will be an experience, I'm sure, for them. I mean, I'll leave it at that. I won't leave it for you to discuss. But I'll leave it to the Personnel Committee when we meet.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Senator Begich.
SENATOR SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA): Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
General Shackelford and General Gibson, please know that I understand you guys are the messenger and that your statements reflect the policy coming out of the Pentagon. But in your written statement, you make a comment regarding the F-35 being the premier surface-to-air missile killer. And you also commented that the F-35 is uniquely equipped for that mission.
Now, based on the information that I have, and -- that is not correct. And based on the comments before the House Armed Services Committee last month, I don't think General Darnell thinks that that statement is correct, either.
I'm particularly concerned about this discrepancy since it was one of the department's justifications for terminating the F-22 program. And that was the need for the additional air-to-ground capability that the F-35 provides and that the F-22 does not provide, according to DOD. And that clearly is just not an accurate characterization. The F-22 has superior speed and altitude, and it has the clear advantage, particularly against advanced SAMs, especially when you combine advanced SAMs and enemy air.
So I know we can't get into all the details here, but I would simply offer to you or to the Air Force otherwise that if you want to come in and talk to me about this particular issue and about the assets that both the F-35 and the F-22 bring to the table, I would welcome that.
Gentlemen, you refer in your written statement also to the Joint Air Dominance study, and that this study has been mentioned as the justification for the department's TACAIR procurement plan. And I've talked to General Schwartz about this study, and I understand that the JAD study was done by PA&E in 2006 and was based on a single major contingency operation. Now, to my knowledge, the JAD study assumed that F-22s with only air-to-air capability and no air-to-ground capability.
Now, first, as we previously established, the F-22 has always had air-to-ground capability. And the newer blocks of the F-22s will even have more robust air-to-ground capability. Second, regarding the MCO scenario, my staff received a briefing from the Air Force last month, when the Air Force explained that the fundamental difference between DOD's assessment and the Air Force's assessment regarding how many F- 22s are required relates to whether F-22s are required in more than one MCO. The Air Force believes that F-22s may be required in more than one MCO, which leads the Air Force to the conclusion that a higher number of F-22s are required than the 243 F-22s, and therefore that's how we arrive at the moderate risk analysis.
Now, I agree with that conclusion. I think you're exactly right. SAMs are proliferating right now. And although we can slow them down, we're not going to stop them. And I find it perfectly reasonable to believe that a nation aligned against the United States like Iran, North Korea, Syria or even Venezuela may acquire double-digit SAMs in the near term.
Now, I know in your discussions, when you're talking about threats, you include -- and I find it perfectly reasonable -- that one of those countries may look for a time when we are occupied with another country and take advantage of our preoccupation to threaten the United States and our allies. And as we've established before, only the F-22 currently has the ability to take out SAMs for the foreseeable future.
Now, I've said a lot there. I don't have a question to ask you about that. But having said a lot, if you want to make a comment or dispute anything I've said, gentlemen, please.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Senator, if I may, that area of countering double-digit SAMs is one area where both the F-22 and the F-35 complement each other very well. You're correct in observing that the F-22's performance, which is from an altitude and air speed perspective greater than the F-35, gives it some advantages in some scenarios. The F-35 brings a different sensor set that the F-22 sensor set, the radar, gets upgraded to better air-ground capability in the 3.1 increment that comes along. fielding in FY '11. The F-35 has a wider array of sensor capabilities that are more optimized towards air-to-ground and has a larger payload capability, similar stealthiness to an F-22, just not as fast, in terms of how fast it can get in and get out, but has similar anti-SAM capabilities to the F-22 in that context.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: And I don't disagree with that at all. I -- you know, we've had this situation before where the Pentagon has come forward with a major recommendation like this -- in fact, 2006, we had two scenarios.
The Air Force first recommended the termination of the B-2 -- excuse me, the B-52 and, Lord knows, here we are today flying the B-52 in close air support scenarios. And thank goodness Congress overrode that decision from the Air Force. Secondly, the Air Force made the recommendation that we terminate the U-2 program. And, again, we -- Congress made the decision we should not do that, and today I think you gentlemen would have to agree that the right decision was not to retire the B-52 or the U-2 because of the significant services that they are providing. So we'll have to see where this goes, I guess.
I've got one more area that I want to cover with General Trautman. Unlike in previous years, your FY '10 budget request does not include any KC-130Js. It's my understanding that the Marine Corps may have requested those planes and that DOD chose not to support the request. But in any event, they're not in there. How is this going to affect the Marine Corps' ability to execute your mission? And what is the Marine Corps' remaining requirement for KC-130Js?
GEN. TRAUTMAN: Thank you, sir.
Our requirement is -- validating requirement is 79 KC-130Js. We currently have 47 KC-130Js either on contract or soon to be on contract. And you're right; there were zero in FY '10. I think that was just a matter of other priorities resolving in that line being (zero-ized ?). but in the future, we hope to get back into the procurement line and continue from 47 up to 79.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Well, what if Congress --
GEN. TRAUTMAN: Last year probably had something to do with this, in that we were able to add in the supplemental some of the KC-130s that we needed. And that was a very wise measure on the part of the Congress, because it enabled us to take out of service our 40- or 50- year-old KC-130Fs and Rs. And we retired that last F and R in Okinawa, Japan, in December of '08. So now our full active-duty fleet is KC-130Js, and we're very, very pleased with the performance of that airplane.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Mr. Chairman, I -- it's another scenario we got there where all of these decisions are being budget-driven. And I don't know what the answer to it is. I don't think any of us know that answer. But I think we've got some serious decisions that we're going to have to make with respect to what I treat as basically recommendations coming out of DOD with respect to these weapon systems, and we try to find the money and determine what the priorities should be.
So I thank you for --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: I agree with you, Senator Chambliss. Thank you.
Senator Thune has one more question.
SEN. THUNE: Mr. Chairman, I have a question I'll submit for the record having to do with close air support.
But I do want to just get your reaction very quickly, if I might, to the -- earlier this month, Defense Secretary Gates told his Japanese counterpart to the United -- that the United States still has no plans to export F-22s. And he reportedly said this -- and he cited a long-standing congressional prohibition on international sales of the F-22 -- but keeping the F-22 line hot may make sense while the verdict on whether the first operationally capable F-35 JSF will be delivered on time.
So I guess my question for you is should Congress consider lifting that prohibition and allow foreign military sales of F-22s to countries like Japan and Australia, which have expressed some interest?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Senator, of course, the Obey amendment prohibits foreign military sales of the F-22 and also prohibits us from using any dollars to even go look at that right now. Were that to change -- were it to be taken out of statute, that we could look at foreign military sales, we would go into the process dealing within the Defense Department, with the policy crowd and the international affairs community to go look at the potential to put together a foreign military sales version of the F-22. And we would do that using just normal foreign military sales processes to look at it.
What would come out of that would be some kind of a plan that would, given the rules for foreign military sales, have to be funded by the international entity, in this case. So there would be still a fairly large question of affordability on their part, given the cost of the F-22 as to whether that was worthwhile for them to pursue or not.
SEN. THUNE: Anybody else? (No audible response.)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I would echo Senator Chambliss's comments about budgetary factors driving a lot of our decision-making. And that's obviously a concern. There are a lot of threats and a lot of dangers around the world, and it's frustrating to have budgets making -- driving a lot of decision-making with respect to how we respond to some of those threats and where we put our resources. So -- but I thank you all. It's not directed at you. I know you have a job to do and I thank you very much for your service to our country.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Senator Thune. I agree. I was thinking when Senator Chambliss said you were messengers that you should be assured that this is a subcommittee where we do not kill the messengers. So we appreciate your service very much.
You know, I can't -- I just want to -- one follow-up on what -- on Senator Thune's question. And I understand it's -- that what's involved here is the Obey amendment, not the Shackelford amendment or the Architzel amendment, but what's -- how would you describe the rationale for prohibiting foreign sales of the F-22 but really encouraging and kind of outreaching on the JSF, because we've got a bunch of foreign investors and partners in that program?
GEN. SHACKELFORD: Sir, in the case of the F-22, that aircraft was designed and built in a time frame where it was not envisioned to be shared in the international community. There are a number of very sensitive technologies --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: -- with the aircraft that are not protected in the same manner they're protected on the F-35, which has been built from the ground up with an international sales market in mind. So the F-22 that the United States flies would not be exactly the same F-22 that country X would fly --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Gotcha. Okay.
GEN. SHACKELFORD: -- if they had a foreign military sales version.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you. I'm not sure even Congressman Obey could have answered that that well.
I want to thank the five of you -- you've been -- for your presence, but you've been very responsive to our questions. And I've been impressed by the extent to which you're right on top of all the information that -- and the programs that you oversee. And I thank you for that. You've helped to inform our decisions. We're making tough and important decisions this year. We are, on this committee, always mindful that we're a nation at war. And obviously the budget has to play some role and researchers have to play some role, but it's -- we also have a role, which I think is a superior role, to do everything we possibly can to support your effort on our behalf -- and all those who work with you and under you -- to protect our security.
So this has been a very productive hearing from the subcommittee's point of view, I believe, and will help us as we go forward to our mark-up at the end of the month.
Do either of my colleagues have any final words? (No audible response.) If not, the hearing is adjourned. (Sounds gavel.)