Senate Committee Unveils $740 Billion Defense Bill, Targets China (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published June 11, 2020)
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON --- The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday unveiled its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a $740 billion bill setting policy for the Defense Department on everything from troop salaries and equipment purchases to great power competition with China.
The 2021 bill also wades into current controversies revolving around racial issues highlighted by protests after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, an African American.
The proposed NDAA, which is several steps from becoming law, backs renaming bases named after Confederate generals and bars the use of the military against peaceful protests.
This year’s bill, like others in recent years, includes provisions focused on China, including creating the “Pacific Deterrence Initiative,” a nearly $7 billion fund focused on competition in the Indo-Pacific.
It also includes measures to strengthen the U.S. supply chain, after the coronavirus crisis exposed companies’ dependence on China, and extends limitations on integrating missile defense systems with those of China. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.
Click here for the markup summary (20 PDF pages), on the SASC website.
Senate FY 21 Authorization Bill Buys 7 Ships, Adds Oversight on Future Unmanned Air and Surface Ships (excerpt)
(Source: USNI News; posted June 11, 2020)
By Sam LaGrone
The Senate Armed Services Committee version of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act keeps shipbuilding in line with the Navy’s budget request from February but adds additional oversight to the service’s plans for the unmanned ships and unmanned aviation, committee staffers told reporters on Thursday.
In February, the Navy requested the lowest number of ships since the sequestration budget caps of the FY 2015, asking for $19.9 billion for eight ship — $4 billion and four ships short of what the service had planned for previously, according to the outlook in its FY 2020 budget request.
In its mark, the Senate added an additional $1.4 billion to the shipbuilding account, bringing the total to $21.3 billion. The additional money is focused on advanced procurement for submarines and keeps the number of new-construction ships the same – seven or eight, depending on who is counting. The Navy asked for authorization for amphibious warship LPD-31, bringing its request to eight ships; however, the purchase had been previously authorized by Congress, staffers said today.
The bill language:
-- Provides multi-ship contract authority for up to two Columbia -class submarines
-- Authorizes a multi-ship contract authority for three San Antonio-class ships and one America-class ship
-- Authorizes $500 million for LPD-32 and LPD-33 long lead time material
-- Provides for an increase of $472 million for Virginia-class submarine advance procurement to preserve the option to procure 10 Virginia-class ships from FY 2019 to 2023
-- Authorizes $260 million for long lead time material for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers
-- Accelerates construction of the LHA-9 amphibious assault ship with $250 million above the request
-- Authorizes $350 million to improve submarine and surface ship supplier stability.
The committee was cool to the Navy’s requests to start work on a new light amphibious warship, a new supply vessel and future unmanned vessels, largely due to the lack of a long-range shipbuilding budget and the long-awaited Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment. The Navy had planned to release the documents earlier this year, but they were held for review by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the USNI website.
SASC Bill Weighs In on Air Force’s 2021 Priorities (excerpt)
(Source: Air Force Magazine; posted June 11, 2020)
By Rachel S. Cohen
Fighter jets won support among senators in new defense policy legislation that also raised questions about some of the Air Force’s top priorities.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a $740.5 billion version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill by a 25-2 vote on June 10. Its recommendations now head to the full chamber for consideration and a vote as early as next week.
Lawmakers want to allocate $9.1 billion to the Defense Department for 95 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, including 60 F-35As at $5.5 billion for the Air Force, according to a June 11 bill summary. Committee members approved 14 more F-35s than the Trump administration requested, and want the Air Force to use six F-35s that Turkey bought but never used because it was kicked out of the international program.
SASC also encourages the Air Force to pick an F-35 operating base in the Indo-Pacific, where it will be closer to countries like China that it is meant to deter. The Air Force already bases F-35As at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, as part of Pacific Air Forces.
Notably, the legislation sets a minimum number of aircraft the Air Force must own for each type of mission, and stops the service from retiring the A-10, KC-10, KC-135, and manned special-operations intelligence aircraft.
Senators want at least 1,182 fighters, 190 remotely piloted aircraft, 92 bombers, 412 tankers, 230 tactical airlift and 235 strategic airlift platforms, 84 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, and 106 combat search-and-rescue airframes, a committee staffer told reporters. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Air Force Magazine website.