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Hearing of the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - Markup of H.R. 5136, the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

"The subcommittee will come to order. This afternoon the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee meets to markup H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2011.

"We have two new subcommittee members, Mr. Leonard Boswell from Iowa, a longtime member of the House, and Mr. John Garamendi, from California. We welcome you both to the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. I would like to thank the ranking member, Roscoe Bartlett, for his and his staff's support in putting this mark together.

"The proposed mark gives first priority to readiness -- by providing equipment needed to support our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, providing response capability to meet natural disasters or crisis response here at home, and by addressing the most urgent needs of the services.

"Our proposed legislation for HR 5136 would:

* Require the Department of Defense to budget for the F-35 competitive engine, beginning in fiscal year 2012.

* Limit the obligation of funds in fiscal year 2011 for development of the F-35 aircraft to 75 percent until the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics certifies that all funds for development and procurement of the F-35 competitive propulsion system have been obligated.

* Limit obligation of funds to 30 F-35 aircraft until certain conditions are met and certified to by either the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics or the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, as delineated in the legislation.

"The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter request this year is for nearly $11 billion and 42 F-35s and 1 additional F-35A in the supplemental request, as an F-15E combat loss replacement aircraft.

"The Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force plan to procure variants of the F-35 with a total projected acquisition cost of well over $300 billion and a life cycle cost of over a trillion dollars. Thirty F-35s were authorized and appropriated for this year, fiscal year 10.

"Only 3 of the 14 test aircraft planned for the F-35 program have been delivered. Only ten percent of the planned test flights last year were flown.

"Funding for a total of 58 production aircraft has been provided by Congress, beginning in 2006; no production aircraft have been delivered. The first two deliveries are projected for late this year, nearly a year later than last projected. The F-35 program recently experienced a Nunn McCurdy cost breach, which has a 50 percent cost increase threshold.

"Development and production problems with the F-35 program recently resulted in the Department of Defense restructuring the program, with development and completion of testing being further delayed.

"Over the next 5 years, Congress will be asked to approve the production of over 500 aircraft before testing is complete or a full rate production decision is made. Under the current F-35 procurement schedule, Congress will also be asked, in 2015, to approve the highest annual rate of production for the F-35 program, for 2016, before the full rate production decision, that same year.

"Senior Department of Defense officials testified this year that, "Unprecedented' research and development and procurement concurrency still exists in the program. As a result significant cost risk still exists in buying large quantities of aircraft with only three percent of the flight testing complete.

"The Title I provision recommended in the mark would require that in order obligate funding over and above the 30 F-35 aircraft approved for production in fiscal year 2010, the Pentagon will be required to meet its projections for specific program milestones and objectives the Pentagon currently says the F-35 program will meet.

"Regarding the competitive, alternate engine for the F-35, the F-35 competitive engine has been a part of the F-35 acquisition strategy since 1996.

"The engine acquisition strategy was planned such that the competitive engine systems development and demonstration would begin approximately four years after the system development and demonstration for the baseline F-35 engine.

"The committee has always believed that whatever development challenges the F-35 program might have, that to be a balanced program, competition needed to be an element of the engine acquisition program.

"The committee has believed that competition in the F-35 engine program helps ensure against the operational risk of up to 95 percent of the entire U.S. tactical fighter fleet being grounded due to an engine problem.

"The former Pentagon F-35 program manager also believed that operational risk was a consideration in the F-35 engine program and last year stated, "I believe part of the debate that has to occur and is occurring is, is there an operational risk that we are accepting by having just one engine manufactured?..I simply think we focus too much on the discussion about cost benefit and not operational risk benefit.'

"Competition has been demonstrated to help limit cost growth in acquisition programs, including as the first alternate engine program did for the F-15, F-16 and F-14. And competition has also been demonstrated to motivate contractor responsiveness, technical innovation, and improve engine maintainability, reliability, and durability.

"Under the Pentagon's F-35 plan, over $100 billion will be spent on 2,500 to 3,000 engine engines. That does not include F-35 partner nation requirements or foreign military sales. The production of the F-35 is planned for the next 25 years. Since 1996, the committee has said that the F-35 engine should not be sole-sourced, to reduce operational risk and accrue the benefits of competition.

"The Pentagon funded the F-35 competitive engine from 1996 until 2006, when in the fiscal year 2007 budget request the competitive engine was omitted from the request. Surprisingly later that same year the Deputy Secretary of Defense signed a memorandum of understanding with the other 8 international partners that the F-35 program would include development and procurement of the F136 competitive engine. That MOU still stands.

"The only funding for the F-35 competitive engine that has been provided the last 4 years has been funding provided by Congress, at 80 percent of the required level to fully execute the competitive engine program.

"In addition, $70 million of the funds authorized and appropriated in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 remains obligated even though the former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics testified before our subcommittee that all authorized and appropriated funds for the competitive engine would be obligated.

"The proposed mark funds the competitive engine program at $485 million, 50 percent each, in this subcommittee's and the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee marks.

"In other recommended legislation, the subcommittee would also limit the Secretary of Defense from taking any action to procure more than two brigade sets of Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team Increment One equipment, unless otherwise waived due to urgent operational needs.

"The Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team component projects have been troubled by testing shortcomings and high unit costs.

"A Government Accountability Office witness and the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, testified on March 10, regarding the numerous reliability, maintainability, and effectiveness issues with the Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team Increment One equipment.

"Concerns were raised regarding the Increment One unmanned aerial vehicle; the non-line of sight launch system, which was recently recommended for cancellation by the Army; the unattended ground sensors, the network integration kits, and the small unmanned ground vehicles.

"As a consequence of the concerns raised by the GAO and the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, and the fact that significant prior year funds are available to the EIBCT program the recommended mark reduces funding for EIBCT by a total of $891 million of the $2.2 billion requested.

"The remaining $1.4 billion the mark provides for the Early Brigade Infantry Combat Brigade Increment One, in addition to last year's funding, is more than sufficient to provide for all testing in fiscal year 2011 and to field two brigade sets of equipment.

"Additional provisions you have been provided in the markup package include:

* Army Battlefield Plans and Programs,

* Biometrics programs,

* Databases for Counter Improvised Explosive Device Initiatives,

* Body Armor,

* Future Tank Fired Munitions,

* Documentation for the Ground Combat Vehicle Program, and

* Program Elements for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

"Regarding budget issues, the mark includes:

* An additional $700 million for National Guard and Reserve Equipment;

* An additional $290 million in Army designated unfunded requirements; and

* An additional $60 million for Air Force designated Unfunded Requirements.

"Our mark reflects the objective of balancing the health and capability of the current force with the needs of future capabilities. I believe that this mark supports the priorities of the Committee.

"The chair will now recognize Mr. Bartlett, of Maryland, the ranking member on the subcommittee for any opening remarks he would like to make."


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