US Un­der­sea War­fare pro­gramme hit by funds


The US Na­tional De­fense In­dus­trial As­so­ci­a­tion (NDIA) in its 2011 re­port on the Un­der­sea War­fare (USW) In­dus­trial base has said the USW pro­grammes in the US were af­fected by ‘fi­nan­cial con­straints’ among other rea­sons. The re­port sub­mit­ted by NDIA Pres­i­dent and CEO, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) Lawrence P. Far­rell Jr., said that “the cur­rent as­sess­ment of the USW in­dus­trial base is con­sis­tent with pre­vi­ous NDIA UWD bi­en­nial re­ports, i.e., we continue over a decade long strug­gle to sus­tain an in­dus­try crit­i­cal mass in the face of Navy bud­get chal­lenges. Since the Bud­get Con­trol Act of 2011 brings new un­cer­tainty to ev­ery facet of how the gov­ern­ment will in­vest and spend its re­sources, and noth­ing is off the ta­ble, we can­not pre­dict, yet ex­pect USW fund­ing to be neg­a­tively im­pacted.

“This as­sess­ment drives our rec­om­men­da­tions as we en­ter the next decade in a fis­cally con­strained en­vi­ron­ment: a) Sus­tain the force struc­ture pro­cure­ments, e.g., LCS, DDG-51, P-8, MH-60R/S, and SSN pro­duc­tion to pre­serve the vi­tal crit­i­cal mass for ma­jor plat­forms and b) en­sure fund­ing of the Ohio SSBN re­place­ment pro­gramme as a vi­tal el­e­ment of na­tional se­cu­rity and the nu­clear ship­build­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.” The Novem­ber 2011 NDIA as­sess­ment in­di­cated the trends: Force struc­ture in­vest­ments and pro­duc­tion of key USW plat­forms has slowed the at­ro­phy in ma­jor cap­i­tal fa­cil­i­ties, e.g., the Lit­toral Com­bat Ship (LCS), DDG-51 De­stroyer, P-8 Po­sei­don air­craft, MH60R Sea­hawk he­li­copter, and Vir­ginia class sub­ma­rine, and Ohio SSBN re­place­ment pro­grammes are as sig­nif­i­cant to the USW in­dus­trial base as they are to force struc­ture.

In­vest­ments in mod­erni­sa­tion of ex­ist­ing plat­forms, weapons, and sen­sors is at a min­i­mally sus­tain­ing level which strains the abil­ity for in­dus­try to pre­dict favourable or sta­ble re­turns.

In­dus­try con­sol­i­da­tion is a nat­u­ral out­come of con­strained or de­clin­ing re­sources; this trend is expected to continue hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on both the phys­i­cal and in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal, i.e., lit­tle or no bench strength.

Few, if any, busi­nesses can sur­vive with a US USW only fo­cus; this di­lutes both crit­i­cal mass and tar­geted in­vest­ments. As a con­se­quence, the num­ber of se­nior in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives who spent their ca­reers in USW is also de­clin­ing.

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