The divisions of the ground forces, air forces, naval forces, and the US Marine Corps carry out combat missions both in long-term conflicts (Afghanistan, Iraq) and in short-term hostilities against the ISIL group in Libya and Somalia. As the American presence in Afghanistan has declined, sequestration of the military budget is increasingly affecting strategic planning, the structure of the US armed forces, and their arsenal.
Western experts have repeatedly noted the presence of contradictions between the White House and Congress on the issue of financing national security. Due to the US involvement in the Afghan conflict, as well as the intention to change the strategic balance in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR), to continue the development of anti-missile defense programs, to carry out military-technical cooperation with various countries, the reduction of the US military budget in the coming years is not expected to be significant. In late December, US President Barack Obama signed a bill on the appropriation of 585 billions of dollars for national defense. The base budget of the US Army for 2015 fiscal year will be 521,3 billion, another 63,7 billion is allocated for military operations abroad under the OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations). 5,1 billions of dollars in spending on OCO will be targeted at fighting ISIS.
“The results of the conflicts showed the need for a third battalion in the brigades, the tactical role of which was often performed by non-designated reconnaissance units”
Compared to 2013 and 2014 over the years, the basic defense budget of the United States has increased significantly - it was previously 495,5 billion and 496 billion dollars, respectively. And now it is a little inferior to 2010 – 2012's (530,1, 528,1 and 530,4 billion) levels. At the same time, expenses under the OCO item show a steady decline. The peak was reached in 2008, when 197,5 billion dollars were allocated to OCO. Last year, funding for this item amounted to 91,9 billion, and now has decreased by another third - to 63,7 billion dollars. Such dynamics can be estimated as a shift of attention from foreign operations to solving internal problems of the armed forces, including their equipment with modern combat equipment.
At the same time, the threat of sequestration increases significantly. One of the main features of an OCO article is the impossibility of pruning. Therefore, funds are often pledged here, which can later be redistributed in favor of the basic defense budget. The cost of an OCO in the 2015 fiscal year is related to it as 0,12. This is the lowest figure in the last ten years. Suffice to mention that the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years were 0,18, and the 2010 fiscal year 0,31.
A year ago, the withdrawal of contingent from Afghanistan was considered the main problem of the US military budget. Officially, this problem is solved. However, in addition to further ensuring the security of this country, no less pressing problems have emerged, in particular the fight against ISIS, the crisis in Africa associated with Ebola.
Andrei Sedykh collage
According to the US military, the main difficulty is not even sequestration as such. The Pentagon is significantly limited in defining cost-cutting items, which, according to experts, may lead to a deterioration in the combat readiness of the US military. “If we had the freedom to choose (cost cutting items), we could do much more,” US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Wark told Defense One at a conference, Defense One. In particular, about 20 percent of the infrastructure of the US defense department are redundant, says expert Michael Flaurnoy. These funds could be reassigned to priority programs.
The US Congress holds costly measures for the closure of military bases, which entails the elimination of a significant number of jobs in the regions where they are located. BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) spent more time on regrouping and closing down more than all the previous stages of the reform combined, representatives of the CSBA (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) said. The next stage of BRAC, scheduled for 2017 year, is currently not foreseen.
Somewhat less than half of current US defense spending — about 258 billions of dollars — is personnel costs. Experts highly appreciate the likelihood of financial reforms in this area, which may lead to a decrease in the size of individual payments.
The F-2015 fighter Lightning 35 (Lightning II), the KC-2A Pegasus (Pegasus) aircraft, the LRSB long-range strategic bomber (Long -Range Strike Bomber), anti-missile defense systems (PRO), various programs in the field of shipbuilding (including the development of replacement of Ohio-type submarines, search and rescue helicopter CRH (Combat Rescue Helicopter), JTARS radar system (Joint Target Attack Radar System), the new training aircraft (TCB) TX. The allocation of about 46 millions of dollars to the development of the American analogue of the liquid-propellant rocket engine RD-220 for launch vehicles (PH) Atlas-180 (Atlas V) is expected. An open competition will be announced for this purpose.
One of the key tasks of the American armed forces is to train personnel in a rapidly changing international environment. In the past two years, special attention was paid not only to acquiring new skills, but also to adapting existing experience, in particular in the field of conducting maneuverable military operations (they were given priority in the 80-e - early 90-x). As the army personnel is reduced, the main tasks of the Pentagon are the development of optimal weapons and equipment, the creation of military doctrines that best meet the prevailing geopolitical conditions, the preservation of the best-trained military personnel in the ranks of the Armed Forces, the processing and use of combat experience accumulated over the past 10 – 12 years. The ultimate goal of the defense department is to create armed forces that, after modernization, would be truly strategically and tactically flexible, capable of responding quickly and gradually increasing their numbers if necessary.
Cut on inanimate
In 2013, the US legislative and executive bodies sequestered the US military budget, which became a landmark. Initially, it was intended to reduce the country's defense spending by 54,6 billion dollars according to the BCA (Budget Control Act). Subsequently, a law was passed on American taxpayers ATRA (American Taxpayer Relief Act), and this amount decreased by 17,4 billion dollars. Due to the use of funds by the Pentagon, which were not spent in previous years, the amount of sequestration decreased by about 6 billion more dollars. In total, the US defense budget 2013-st was cut by 31,2 billion dollars. This was about 5,3 percent of total defense spending.
Initially it was assumed that the US military budget of the year 2014 will be reduced by 54,6 billion dollars. The 2013 budget law adopted in December by the BBA (Bipartisan Budget Act), approved by the Republican and Democratic parties, reduced the amount of sequestration by 20,3 billion dollars. But when drafting defense expenditures, the military budget item on financing OCO hostilities cost about 20 billions of dollars that were supposed to be spent on the basic needs of the army. Thus, the Pentagon partially mitigated the negative effect. Subsequently, the US Department of Defense was allocated another 10,8 billion dollars to provide basic items of expenditure. And, as experts believe, the actual amount of the reduction was only 3,1 billion dollars, or about 0,5 percent of total defense spending.
The sequestration of the budget for 2015 year to date has not been carried out.
The reduction in expenditures conducted in 2013 did not affect the level of individual payments to personnel. However, funding for military training was reduced (with the exception of units that were sent to Afghanistan). The Navy had to reduce the volume of long-term maintenance and abandon the deployment of a number of ships. Of particular concern was the proposed reduction in US command staff.
In mid-July, the US Department of Defense's 2013 completed the SCMR (Strategic Choices and Management Review) analytical report, which has been conducted since the beginning of the year. At the congressional hearing, he was represented by Ashton Carter, who was then the deputy head of the US defense department. An open version of the document was not compiled. It is known that the report identified acceptable areas for funding cuts. It was emphasized that the continuation of sequestration can directly affect the combat readiness of American troops. The report also outlined a planning strategy with three options for budget financing — minimum, average, and maximum. In a speech to Congress, Carter noted that any proposed cuts would have a negative impact on the development of the US military. However, the Pentagon is preparing for additional funding cuts over the next ten years, which may reach the level of sequestration 2013 of the year. The Obama administration has a choice: on what basis to draft the defense budget starting with the 2016 of the fiscal year, taking into account the subsequent reduction, or immediately reduce the level of funding requested. Western experts believe that the second option is preferable.
Brigade in the new composition
Currently, the number of US Army (NE) is more than half a million. Another 200 of thousands of servicemen enter the Marine Corps. These figures are gradually reduced to 490 thousand and 182 thousand people, respectively. The US strategy provides for the possibility of conducting limited combat operations on two fronts. According to experts, in modern conditions the level to which it is intended to reduce the number of personnel is sufficient. However, sequestration of the budget in 2013 year raised the issue of further reductions in military personnel.
The main modernization programs are the tactical radio communications system, the project of a new infantry fighting vehicle (BMP) capable of surpassing the Bradley BMN, the Stryker armored personnel carrier (BTR), the machines in terms of firepower, security, and mobility. with mine protection class MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected), increasing the firepower of the airborne and infantry units, increasing the combat capabilities of the mechanized units equipped with the Stryker BTR.
Starting in 2003, brigades became the base unit of the US Army. In order to increase their number, it was decided to abandon the deployment of the third battalion and corresponding armament in the mechanized and armored brigades. The three-battalion structure was retained only by mechanized units equipped with the Stryker BTR.
Simultaneous combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan made a demand for readiness to place about 20 brigades in one place. The total number of these units was estimated in 40 or 50 units. Such figures could only be achieved by reducing the combat power of each of the already formed brigades. At the same time, the results of the conflicts clearly showed the need for a third battalion within the brigades, whose tactical role was often performed by completely unrelated intelligence units.
In June 2013, the reform of the US Army was initiated - a third battalion will appear as part of the armored and mechanized brigades. The total number of teams should be reduced to 33. In each deployed division will be three brigades. Only two exceptions are planned: the 25 Infantry Division deployed in the APR will retain the four-battalion structure, while the 1 Infantry Division, which is supposed to be deployed under the leadership of the AFRICOM African Command, will have two battalions. Four brigades deployed abroad (one each in the Republic of Korea and in Italy, two in Hawaii) and not equipped with the Stryker BTR will maintain a two-batch structure to reduce costs. No changes are made to the composition of US National Guard brigades.
Replaced the past Vietnam
One of the biggest events of 2014 of the year for the US Army was the signing of a contract for the development and production of a batch of promising AMPV (Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle) armored personnel carriers, which should replace the M113 armored personnel carriers and their modifications that have been in service since the Vietnam War. The corresponding contract was awarded to the British company BAE Systems (BAE Systems). Its total amount is 382 million dollars. At the stage of AMPV technical development and pre-production, which will last 52 weeks, it is planned to assemble 29 units of the promising BTR in five different versions. These armored personnel carriers will replace the outdated M2897 in the US mechanized brigades with 113.
The AMPV BTR is a combat armored vehicle on the M2 / M3 "Bradley" BMP chassis and self-propelled artillery mounts (SAU) M109A7 without a turret. Its place will be taken by a remote-controlled combat module (SDS), which includes machine-gun, grenade launcher, cannon and anti-tank weapons. BTR can be equipped with additional protective equipment, which are installed in the frontal part and along the sides.
"The signing of the contract is an important step in the modernization of the American armed forces," commented on the signing of the contract, Brigadier General David Bassett, who is one of the responsible persons in the program for equipping the US Army with military equipment. “The AMPV family of armored vehicles will significantly increase military security, survival on the battlefield, and mobility, which is essential for mechanized brigades.”
The contract envisages the production of the head batch of the BTR. It can make 289 BTR, and the total value of the contract - to increase to 1,2 billion dollars.
“The promising APC AMPV will become the base armored vehicle for a number of units. He will support major combat Tanks (MBT) M1 Abrams and BMP M2 / M3 Bradley, act as a combat command vehicle and fire support equipment, evacuate the wounded and killed, ”said Colonel Michael Milner, AMPV Program Manager in the United States Army.
One of the main problems of the outdated M113 armored personnel carrier is the impossibility of following the combat procedures of the MBT Abrams and the BMP Bradley. “AMPV will be able to move at a speed consistent with the characteristics of other military equipment while performing combat missions on terrain with different terrain,” the US Army said in a statement.
Along with BAE Systems, the contract was an American company General Dynamics Land Systems (General Dynamics Land Systems - GDLS) with an adapted tracked version of the BTR M1126 Stryker. But in May, GDLS refused to participate in the competition, justifying its decision by the fact that the customer had developed a technical task for a sample based on Bradley.
However, it cannot be said that all M113 armored personnel carriers in the US military will be replaced by AMPV. The contract issued by BAE Systems can only lead to the replacement of obsolete armored personnel carriers that are part of mechanized brigades. Another 1922 unit M113 are in service with units that are larger than the brigade. “At present, the United States Army is assessing prospective requirements for an armored personnel carrier to be delivered to these units,” Milner added. However, such plans may be delayed by sequestration, which is expected to be quite serious in the 2016 fiscal year.
The M113 armored personnel carrier was adopted by the US Army in 1960, shortly before the outbreak of the Vietnam War. In total, more than 80 thousands of units of this machine were produced in the 40 and more. Currently, M113 is in service with more than 50 countries.
Given the US desire to change the balance in the APR, a special role is acquired by units of the Air Force and Navy, which are guided by the strategy of ASB (Air-Sea Battle).
The United States seeks to minimize the size of the sequestration, motivating it with the need to maintain the combat readiness of the armed forces. The programs have been started, the results of which are planned to be achieved by 2020. In particular, the task of creating the 6 generation fighter, as well as the FX and F / AX aircraft (the latter is intended for the US Navy and USMC) for the potential replacement of the F-35, has already been set.
Submarines at discount prices
Despite the fact that the US Navy has increased significantly since 2001, now there are fewer ships in their composition than approved by US lawmakers - 285 from 306. If sequestration is continued, this number may decrease to 255 – 260. Reduced funding for Navy maintenance and increased service life will also adversely affect the condition of ships.
“F-35 significantly loses to older aircraft when ground targets are hit, and its optoelectronic equipment does not allow full control over the battlefield”
At the same time, it is assumed that the submarine fleet will gradually increase. The program to build a new generation of nuclear submarines SSBN (X) is included in the priority list. It is declared that every five years two Virginia-class submarines will be procured. In April, the US naval systems command 2014 issued a multi-year contract with a fixed cost of 17,6 billion for the construction of 10 nuclear submarines with missile-torpedo armament (PLAT) of the "Virginia-4" (Block IV) configuration. The contract was issued to Electric Boat Corporation (Electric Boat Corporation), which is part of General Dynamics (General Dynamics), and is designed for the period from the financial year 2014 to the financial year 2018. In the case of the implementation of the option for the supply of spare parts, the total cost of the order will be 17,827 billion dollars, the work is expected to be completed by 2024. By last July, the US Navy had supplied the Virginia-type 10. The eleventh boat, dubbed "North Dakota" (SSN-774 North Dakota), was transferred to the US Navy 29 August. Two months later, on October 25, she officially entered the US Navy.
North Dakota is the first of eight Virginia-type submarines built in the 3 (Block III) variant, the design of which has been the most dramatic. They, according to the US Navy, accounted for about 20 percent. This is the result of a program to reduce the purchase price of Virginia type boats and increase their operational flexibility. The design changes have affected the PLAT fore part, in which the hydroacoustic station (GUS) with a wide aperture LAB (Large Aperture Bow) replaced the spherical GAS previously located in this compartment. 12 individual launchers (launchers) were replaced with two universal large diameter VPT (Virginia Payload Tubes) type, each of which can launch six Tomahawk cruise missiles, as well as other systems weapons.
In the future, it is planned to adopt the Virginia-type modular base plate of the 5 (Block V) modification. They are likely to differ in the modified shape of the body in which it is supposed to install four more VPT PUs. The decision to work on this version of the PLAT is currently not made.
Successes in the development of the American surface fleet, are estimated by Western experts as more modest. To date, the commissioning of the first heavy nuclear aircraft carrier (ABT) type “Gerald Ford” (Gerald R. Ford) CVN-78 has been postponed to February 2016. The ship was contracted in 2008, its cost at quoted prices is about 12,8 billion dollars. The second ABT - CVN-79 was contracted in fiscal 2013, its cost is 11,5 billion. In the military budget of fiscal year 2015, an additional $ 1,3 billion was requested. As expected, the third aircraft carrier will be acquired in fiscal year 2018 and will cost about $ 14 billion in fiscal year 2015 prices. Congressional Research Service CRS (Congressional Research Service) has repeatedly drawn attention to the trend of a rise in the cost of ABT.
Despite certain problems that arose during the construction of warships in the coastal zone LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), the US Department of Defense decided to create a new model on their base, which was designated SSC (Small Surface Combatant). The concept of SSC was introduced by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: “It is planned to design multi-purpose ships that can operate in any region of the world. Following the review of 192 projects, it was decided to create an SSC based on the LCS version of the 0 + Flight (LCS Flight 0 +). For combat capabilities SSC will correspond to the frigates. It is planned to acquire a total of 52 ships SSC and LCS. The exact ratio of the two types will depend on the financial capabilities and needs of the Navy. " Currently it is 20 and 32 ship.
The concept of the SSC ship coincides with the strategy of the use of small surface ships by the United States. The SSC should be more resilient and effective than existing samples. He will be able to perform various types of tasks on the destruction of surface ships, as well as to fight with submarines. The new ship will be able to provide air defense. In addition to the basic LCS armament of the 0 + flight, which consists of an 57-mm automatic cannon and ground-to-air missiles of the SeaRAM type (SeaRAM), the new ship will be equipped with ground-to-ground missiles launched outside the direct visibility goal. It is planned to modernize air defense systems (including sensors and weapons), install an improved EW, a modernized set of false targets, a flexible towed sonar station for detecting submarines and torpedo protection, two 25-mm automatic guns, an eight-missile attack helicopter “ Hellfire "or torpedoes Mk.54, helicopter-type BLA" Fire Scout "for reconnaissance, data collection and target designation.
It is planned that the SSC will be built according to a modular principle, which will allow equipping it with additional anti-submarine or anti-ship weapons and equipment in accordance with the combat mission. As additional modules for fighting surface ships, hellfire-class missiles, two 30-mm automatic guns Mk.46, two 11-meter high-speed rigid-hull inflatable boats like RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) or GUS for the fight against submarines, which, together with the towed multi-purpose GUS and helicopter, makes the SSC quite an effective anti-submarine weapon.
Along with modern weapons, which reduces the likelihood of the enemy being hit, the small surface ship will be equipped with improved passive protection. They will reduce vulnerability from sea mines and protect vital systems from possible disabling. In general, these measures will significantly increase the survivability of the ship.
It is assumed that as a result of the integration of new weapons and equipment, the capabilities of the SSC in the naval units to search for and destroy submarines and surface ships, to escort, and also in the carrier strike group will increase. “For the Navy issued three directives. By May, it is necessary to prepare a program of financial support for the development and acquisition of SSC no later than for the 2019 financial year. At the same time, it is intended to improve the survivability and effectiveness of these ships. The second measure, which is also to be completed by May, contains a detailed analysis of the cost and the possibility of integrating the SSC equipment into the design of the LCS ship. The third directive suggests that before preparing the budget for 2017, the fiscal year should provide the Deputy Minister of the Navy for procurement, technology and logistics, as well as the director of the programs for evaluating the development of projects and their cost, a detailed plan for the relevant costs and their control, ”the US Secretary of Defense said in a statement. .
At the same time, experts believe, the expected holding of new stages of sequestration will significantly limit the plans of the leadership of the US Navy for the construction and deployment of ships such as LCS and SSC. In particular, their total number may be reduced to 24 units.
F-35 caused friction
For the US Air Force, the 2014's latest F-5 Lightning X and the advanced Long Range Strike Bomber strategic bomber of the 35 generation F-2 of the XNUMX generation became the top priority weapons in the XNUMX.
Last November, significant success was achieved in the F-35 program. In particular, the F-35C made the first landing on the deck of the CVN-68 Nimitz carrier (Nimitz) using an aero-finisher, and a few days later this operation was performed at night.
The US Department of Defense continues to purchase these aircraft. In November, the Pentagon negotiated the terms of a contract for the supply of the eighth pre-production batch F-35 with Lockheed Martin. The total cost of the 43 aircraft ordered is 4,7 billion dollars. 29 machines will be transferred to the US military, and 14 will deliver to five foreign buyers. The US Army will receive the X-NUMX base F-19A, six short-take-off and vertical-landing fighters (KVVP) F-35B and four deck-mounted F-35C. Two F-35A are supposed to be transferred to Israel, four F-35A - to Japan, two F-35A - to Norway, two F-35A - to Italy, four F-35B - to the United Kingdom. The contract for the supply of fuel turbine engines F35 is performed separately. For the eighth installment purchased 135 engines worth 48 billion dollars. The head of the Pentagon’s F-1,05 creation program, Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, noted that the turbofan engines have become cheaper by 35 percent.
The lead contractor, Lockheed Martin, is expected to begin supplying the F-35 fighter aircraft of the eighth production batch since the middle of 2016. The official representative of the program, Joe Dellavedova, said that after the completion of deliveries of aircraft of this party in the ranks will be around 200 F-35.
The cost of the F-35, the main aspect of the criticism of the 5 generation fighter program, has recently declined substantially. The price of the F-35A / B / C of the fifth production batch in 2011 was 106, 113 and 126 million dollars, respectively. The cost of one fighter of modifications A, B and C of the eighth pre-production lot is 94,8, 102 and 115,7 million. The price of the aircraft does not include the cost of the F135 TRDD.
In December, Lockheed Martin reported on the implementation of the fighter plan for 2014 a year. Speech about 36 aircraft of three modifications. Of this number, the 23 F-35A will be handed over to the United States Air Force, two F-35A - the Australian Air Force, four F-35B - the United States International Police, seven F-35C - the American Air Force and the International Medical Commission. In total, since the start of work on the F-35 program, Lockheed Martin has delivered 109 fighter aircraft to customers. The company plans to produce a total of 3083 F-35, of which 2443 will be transferred to the US military. The first number may change depending on the increase or decrease in overseas orders.
In the course of the creation and production of the F-35, serious shortcomings were identified. One of the biggest disappointments of last year was the ignition of the engine of one of the F-35 at the Eglin airbase (Florida), which happened on June 23. It was the main reason why the aircraft was not shown at the Farnborough-2014 international air show.
According to experts, the F135 powerplant, developed by Pratt & Whitney (Pratt and Whitney), is one of the main problems of the newest fighter. In September, it became known that the manufacturer temporarily suspended the transfer of finished engines to the customer. This was due to the use of titanium, which, according to the Pentagon, was of suspicious quality. But in October, the US Department of Defense ordered a new, seventh production batch of F135. The contract worth about 519,9 million dollars was adopted in the form of an amendment to the previously concluded agreement. Under the updated agreement, it is planned to supply 19 TRDD F135-PW-100 for the USAF and four more for the Navy, six F135-PW-600 engines (for the F-35B modification) will receive a Marine Corps.
Shortly before the announcement of the next contract, the investigative commission held a meeting on the final determination of the cause of the F-35 fighter on the Eglin airbase. The representative of the Pentagon responsible for the program informed that the cause of the fire was friction in the stator of the engine, which led to overheating of the titanium screw, caused cracks in the power unit housing, which prevented the fan rotor of the third stage.
F-35 significantly loses older aircraft with the defeat of ground targets. Experts say that it will not be effective with the direct support of the troops, and its optoelectronic equipment will not allow full control of the battlefield. As a result, the newest fighter will not be able to transmit the recorded video data to land units in real time.
It is assumed that the F-35 will replace earlier models of aircraft in the US Air Force, Navy, and ILC, including aircraft specifically designed for aviation SV support (including A-10 attack aircraft).
“In my opinion, after reaching the state of initial combat readiness, the F-35 will lag behind older aircraft by a decade in several aspects,” said the representative of the US Air Force participating in the program. “It will not have weapons or a set of sensors designed to directly support the troops on the battlefield, which the multi-role fighters of the earlier design already had by the middle of the 2000’s.”
According to experts, one of the reasons is that the technologies of the main F-35 sensor set for using air-to-surface weapons used in the EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System) located in the nose were developed more than 10 years ago and therefore significantly outdated. The EOTS system, similar to the principle of working with large high-definition television and infrared cameras, is designed to identify and track ground targets. It can also mark targets for guided aerial bombs with a laser beam.
“Using EOTS is a big step backwards. Technologies implemented in the system for more than 10 years, they can not use all the advantages of upgraded suspension containers. In order to reduce the size of the equipment and ensure invisibility, we had to make some concessions, ”said a US Air Force source familiar with the F-35 program. “In this aspect, the aircraft avionics will be a disappointment.”
Experts believe that such flaws may be the reason that the US Congress intends to keep part of the A-10C Worshog attack aircraft.