By Jason Sherman
The Pentagon is seeking congressional permission to shift $4.4 billion between budget accounts as part of a broad reallocation that would pump an additional $885 million into modernization efforts, benefiting the Ballistic Missile Defense System and launching five efforts — including mounting an electromagnetic railgun on the Navy’s new Joint High Speed Vessel.
On July 10, Pentagon comptroller Michael McCord submitted a 78-page omnibus reprogramming request to Congress seeking permission to shift funds appropriated in fiscal years 2014, 2013 and 2012 to higher-priority programs in FY-14. The request does not include budget moves the Pentagon is seeking for military intelligence programs, which were submitted separately.
“This reprogramming action provides funding in support of higher-priority items based on unforeseen military requirements, than those for which originally appropriated and are determined to be necessary in the national interest,” it states.
In total, the budget action proposes cutting $1 billion from scores of research and development and procurement efforts and reallocating the funds — along with $885 million siphoned from other Pentagon accounts — to lift modernization spending to $1.8 billion, nearly half of the total reprogramming action.
If approved by the four congressional defense committees, the collective “other procurement” accounts of the four military services would be increased by $493 million, the research and development accounts would see a $280 million boost, and aircraft procurement would be increased by $113 million.
The Pentagon also wants to provide an additional $187.5 million for the Ballistic Missile Defense System, including $167 million for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense program to enhance the Boeing-built Ground Based Interceptor and execute additional systems engineering, according to the budget document.
The Army is seeking permission to reprogram $110 million to buy 21 additional UH-72 Light Utility Helicopters to support instructor training initiatives as part of its aviation restructure initiative. The service would also reprogram $28.6 million to buy 403 Excalibur 1b precision-guided artillery rounds that were cut by Congress in fiscal year 2013.
In addition, the Defense Department wants the authority to start programs not previously authorized by Congress, a budget practice often frowned on by lawmakers. The Navy want to use $12 million to help finance — in concert with Office of Strategic Capabilities — a preliminary design review within the next 12 months for a new electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) gun mount “with as much commonality as practical for both sea-based and land-based missions,” according to the document. This would be a down payment toward a five-year, $57 million project, according to the Navy. The service also wants to reprogram $28.9 million to mount a railgun aboard a Joint High Speed Vessel.
“Funds are required for engineering efforts associated with sea-based EMRG integration requirements to ensure Navy-unique requirements are included as part of the [preliminary design review] evaluation criteria,” the request states. The Office of Strategic Capabilities was established in the summer of 2012 in the research and engineering directorate of the Pentagon’s acquisition shop to cultivate cutting-edge technological concepts that could give U.S. forces new advantages against sophisticated military adversaries.
The Air Force would reprogram $7 million to launch in FY-14 the Next Generation Air Dominance program, its sixth-generation aircraft modernization effort, which the service previously planned to begin in FY-15. The funding would kick-start a three-year, $26 million project to support government and industry analysis of alternatives; it would also prevent a nine- to 12-month delay of a material development decision and the delay of formal program initiation until FY-18, according to the reprogramming.
The Air Force is also seeking $5 million in FY-14 to help launch its five-year, $1.9 billion Next Generation Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) effort, originally set to commence in FY-15.
The Navy wants a $4.5 million down payment on a $70 million, five-year program to integrate the Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) on Marine Corps AH-1Z attack helicopters, a new start in FY-14.
The Air Force is seeking $35 million for B-1B bomber engine survivability efforts “to address degraded engine performance due to harsh environmental conditions” in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The project would fund work on 27 of 135 total engines; funding to upgrade the balance of the B-1B engines is sought in the Pentagon’s FY-15 overseas contingency operations budget.