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.