The Pentagon’s five-year expenditure plan on weapons procurement for 63’s main defense programs, presented to Congress in March, turned out to be more optimistic than last year’s forecast. This was reported by the analytical company "VizhualDoD" (VisualDoD) on the results of the analysis of these programs. The forecast for 2014 provided for a reduction in expenditure on the 0,6 percent as part of the FYDP (Future Years Defense Program) defense program for the coming years. FYDP-2015 provides for an increase in 2,5 percent.
Significantly change the procurement plans of the US Department of Defense can one factor. The Pentagon’s full five-year projection of spending on 115 billions of dollars exceeds the federal limit. This means that it must be significantly modified or shortened if sequestration occurs in the year and after 2016.
According to the "VisionalPD" from 63 of the main armament programs of the US Department of Defense, the largest increase is expected in the financing of space activities. Additional funding for space may also come from classified Pentagon budget items.
UAV and ground transportation
The expenditures of the US DoD on the main programs of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are expected to decrease compared with the figures planned a year ago, but they will still grow at an average annual rate of 2,5 percent.
Despite the reduction of NATO troops in Afghanistan, UAVs will continue to play a large role there. Stimulate spending in this sector could be a program of reconnaissance and combat drone deck-based US Navy.
But as Pentagon spending on these systems declines, suppliers, according to Frost & Sullivan, are going to have to take an interest in foreign military sales and the global commercial market to stay afloat.
The high cost of developing new UAVs makes some companies simply modify existing devices. “Major defense contractors like Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are likely to buy and / or cooperate with small, technologically advanced commercial firms in order to improve their capabilities in light of the likely reduction in market potential, says Michael Blades, a Frost and Sullivan specialist in defense and space. “Such acquisitions will help companies expand the size of their profits, as well as compete in the emerging market of civilian UAVs.”
The forecast for the main programs of ground vehicles of the Ministry of Defense is much more pessimistic, especially in light of the fact that the US NE has significantly reduced the program for creating a new infantry fighting vehicle GCV (Ground Combat Vehicle) to replace the aging Bradley (Bradley). Ground forces redistributed funds originally allocated for this program to the project tank M1 "Abrams" (M1 Abrams) produced by General Dynamics (General Dynamics) and armored personnel carrier "Stryker" (Stryker). In this regard, the GCV program is currently close to closure.
Since August 2011, BAE Systems and General Dynamics have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for technology development as part of the CGV program for creating new BMPs. And this is despite the fact that the budget department of the congress opposed the adoption of this vehicle because of its ever-increasing mass and booking, as well as the alleged requirements for material and technical support. In the April report for 2013, it was assumed that the US ground forces would spend around 2014 billions of dollars on 2030 machines in the 1748 – 29 period. However, after the congress cut 492 million dollars from 592 millions requested by the army for the 2014 fiscal year, it became obvious that the development of the new generation BMC GCV turned into a program for research and development in this direction.
In January of this year, Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces of the US Army, General Ray Odierno, explained the situation as follows: “Do we need a new BMP? The answer is yes. Can we currently afford this new technique? The answer is no.
Part of the ground transportation niche could support major overhaul and maintenance. The only two new programs that are being implemented in this sector are the creation of a light tactical combat armored vehicle JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) and a multipurpose armored vehicle AMPV (Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle).
The dynamics of the estimated costs of the US DoD for various helicopter programs over the next five years does not look optimistic. According to experts, the annual cost of purchasing rotary-winged cars in the period of 2015 – 2019 will decrease by 14 percent.
"Funding for military helicopter programs has been cut by a total of 50 percent, which will significantly affect their implementation," said Richard Abulafia, vice president of research at Teal Group.
At the moment, the number of search-and-rescue helicopters (PSV), which is supposed to be purchased under the CRH (Combat Rescue Helicopter) program of the US Air Force, is not precisely determined. The Air Force intends to issue to Sikorsky a contract for the supply of new PSV based on Black Hawk 112, intended to replace the outdated HH-60G Pave Hawk by the end of June of this year. In total, it is planned to spend about a billion dollars on the implementation of the CRH program during the 2015 – 2019 period.
Over the past ten years, the US Armed Forces actively used helicopters, especially in Afghanistan, where rough terrain limited the capabilities of airplanes and various armored combat vehicles. In the period of 2015 – 2019, according to the new draft budget, the production of Sikorsky, Boeing and Bell helicopters is expected to be reduced. The anticipated decline in the helicopter market, at first glance, has negative consequences. However, as noted by Richard Abulafia, over the past few years, the number of American rotor-wing machines produced has been very large. According to the analyst, the reduction in the production of helicopters may lead to the fact that instead of three major manufacturers in the American helicopter market there will be two. The third will be acquired or absorbed.
The main manufacturers of American combat helicopters have relatively successfully experienced a decline in production in the 90-ies, and the current decrease, as experts believe, will not affect their functioning so much.
“Even with the decline in production, output will remain significant,” Abulafia said. “At the same time, real production is likely to differ from the result expected by aircraft manufacturers.”
Airbus Helicopter (formerly Eurocopter) and Agusta / Westland (AgustaWestalnd) have also repeatedly tried to gain a foothold in the US market for military products.
New major programs for the creation and construction of helicopters at the moment is not expected. After 2020, the JMR (Joint Multi-role) project for the development of a new rotorcraft is expected to begin.
A study of the procurement system of the US Department of Defense, conducted last year, revealed a number of problems for the Pentagon in purchasing and acquiring new helicopters. In the period of 1997 – 2011 in the 10 of the 13 helicopter programs, real expenditures differed from those planned by at least 15 percent.
The most unpredictable in the Pentagon's procurement mechanism for military products at the moment is the possibility of obtaining additional funding under the OGSI (Opportunity Growth and Security Initiative) program, which is not included in the defense expenditure project for the 2015 fiscal year. “During the OGSI discussion, lobbyists really play a significant role,” said Byron Callan, an analyst. “Major defense companies will push for OGSI adoption.”
The OGSI Funding Act may increase the Pentagon’s defense spending in the 2015 fiscal year by eight billion dollars. These funds include 1,2 billion dollars to be spent on the acquisition of 56 helicopters, and 1,1 billion for the acquisition of P-8 Poseidon naval intelligence aircraft manufactured by Boeing.
The exact amount assumed for combat operations abroad under the item of the draft defense budget 2015 of the OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations) fiscal year is also unknown. Traditionally, funding for this article is limited, but the Pentagon has requested the replacement of equipment damaged or destroyed in battle.
In the draft defense budget for the 2015 fiscal year, the Pentagon has determined the amount of 79 billions of dollars sufficient to conduct combat operations abroad. However, it may be reduced in connection with the withdrawal of the American contingent from Afghanistan. By the end of this year, the government of this country has yet to endorse an agreement regulating the number of military personnel of the NATO countries, which will remain after the withdrawal of the main contingent.