Sustaining Critical Industrial Capabilities

arial view of industrial port

Although the defense-related commercial industrial base is not technically part of the military force structure, there is a vital and inescapable close relationship between the U.S. military and commercial enterprise. The defense-related industrial base is one of the most difficult and complex elements to preserve when downsizing forces. Naval forces in particular are tied to the industrial base for military-unique items, such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines. There are, quite simply, no civilian or commercial counterparts to these products, and foreign sources cannot produce these ships for the Navy. Essential industrial base technologies and skills must therefore be maintained. The Navy Department’s policy for preserving key elements of the industrial base falls into four main categories, as discussed below.

Submarine Construction

submarine under construction

To preserve these most demanding and complex shipbuilding design and construction capabilities, the Congress approved procurement of the third and final, Seawolf (SSN-21)-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Jimmy Carter (SSN-23). Likewise, Congress approved funding in FY 1998 to begin construction of the lead unit of the Virginia (SSN-774) class, under an innovative and potentially far-reaching teaming agreement between the nation’s two builders of nuclear-powered submarines, Electric Boat Corporation and Newport News Shipbuilding. A total of four Virginia-class SSNs have been approved through FY 2002. The second ship, Texas (SSN-775), will begin construction in FY 1999. Series production of an average of two Virginia SSNs per year beginning in FY 2004-2005 — to preserve minimum-essential force levels confirmed by the QDR — will sustain this unique aspect of the U.S. defense industrial base.

Surface Warship & Aircraft Carrier Construction

The ability to design, engineer, and construct large, highly complex and sophisticated warships is limited to only a few U.S. shipbuilders, with Navy shipbuilding and repair orders comprising the lion’s share of business. For example, the current Navy shipbuilding and conversion plan funds two builders for the Arleigh Burke (DDG-51)-class Aegis guided missile destroyers — Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Congress approved arial view of shipyard a multi-year procurement of 13 DDG-51s from FY 1998 through 2001 that, in addition to helping preserve critical industrial capabilities, will save U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion compared to the traditional, annual procurement strategy. Fifty- seven DDGs are in the Navy’s plan — 25 have been delivered through 1998 and another 20 are currently under contract — before the Navy transitions to the revolutionary new-design DD- 21 Land-Attack Destroyer.

The Navy is also committed to acquiring the tenth Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, CVN-77, which will serve as the initial, transition platform to what will evolve to a truly revolutionary next-generation nuclear aircraft carrier class, CVNX. By accelerating full-funding for CVN-77 — the first aircraft carrier of the 21st century — from FY 2002 to 2001, the nation will save several hundred million dollars on the total cost of the ship. These savings can then be reallocated to other critical Navy requirements. This will also help to preserve a unique element of the U.S. industrial base by safeguarding some 3,000 skilled jobs at Newport News Shipbuilding — the nation’s sole shipyard capable of building nuclear-powered carriers — as well as many thousands of other carrier-related jobs throughout the United States. CVNX-1 will follow, with full-funding anticipated for FY 2006 for a planned FY 2013 delivery to help sustain minimum essential aircraft carrier force levels well into the middle of the next century.

Design and development of the lead ship of the new San Antonio (LPD-17)-class amphibious transport dock ship is continuing, with follow-on requests for another 11 LPDs to ensure the Navy’s 12 amphibious ready groups comprise the most modern ship platforms and systems. Additionally, the National Defense Sealift Fund continues to support conversion and construction of 19 Large Medium-Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off ships to enhance strategic sealift and provide much-needed work for U.S. shipyards.

Aircraft Production

The September 1997 Navy-Marine Corps Naval Aviation Plan lays out the future roadmap for Naval Aviation, and shows the Navy’s commitment to a viable military aircraft industrial and technological base through new acquisition, service life extensions, and upgrades to existing platforms. In the near- term, for example, production of the advanced F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, even at the “reduced buy” called for in the Quadrennial Defense Review, will be critical for maintaining the health of Naval Aviation. For the far-term “tech-base,” the Air Force-Navy-Marine Corps Joint Strikeaircraft in production Fighter (JSF) Program is a priority-one Defense Department major acquisition. JSF objectives are to speed intro duction of new technologies, reduce development costs, achieve manufacturing economies of scale, and ensure compatibility among the services for the next generation of aviation strike systems. The first operational aircraft (a Marine Corps variant) will reach the Fleet in FY 2008. There is an important international element in the JSF Program as well, with the United Kingdom participating in design and development initiatives and several other allied air forces keenly interested in future affiliation.

Weapons Production

The capability to design and produce sophisticated weapons is protected by procuring selected weapons at a minimum sustaining rate from each producer. The cost penalty incurred through buying at less than economically efficient rates has been accepted, albeit reluctantly, to keep production lines open. Key areas of continuing focus include the acquisition of Trident II/D5 ballistic missiles, the Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW), the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), and advanced models of the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo. These efforts are complemented by the development of advanced Standard Missiles for area- and theater- wide ballistic missile defense and the follow-on tactical Tomahawk for a more robust land attack capability, as well as next-generation naval fire support missiles and guided projectiles.

Joint Programs

The Naval Services are continuing to participate in several joint U.S. weapon and sensor development programs as a cost-efficient way to acquire advanced systems and to ensure the greatest level of commonality and interopera bility. These include not only a variety of weapons programs, such as standoff weapons, precision-guided munitions, and theater ballistic missile defense, but also more general science and technology efforts.

F/A-18 aircraft in-flight

Development and acquisition of new standoff weapons offers an affordable alternative to the potential loss of aircraft and crew. Weapons such as the Standoff Land-Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) and the JSOW offer greater range, accuracy, lethality, and flexibility, and provide a critical interim capability to strike at ranges beyond an adversary’s area defenses, i.e., an enhanced Standoff Outside Area Defense (SOAD) capability.

Precision-guided and smart/brilliant munitions provide cost- effective means of reducing the required weapon inventories by increasing the accuracy of inexpensive munitions or by allowing multiple target kills with a single weapon. For example, the JDAM upgrades existing Mk 80 series bombs and provides an inexpensive, all-weather weapon to the current inventory of general-purpose bombs.

The Department of the Navy’s Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) programs will provide layered defense against a wide range of theater ballistic missiles, encompassing area defense to protect joint forces in littoral areas and coastal airfields, and a sea-based theater-wide capability to protect vital assets throughout entire regions. As part of the TBMD program, the Aegis Weapon System and Standard Missile-2 Block IV will be modified for the area-TBMD role, while a further upgrade to the Standard Missile — the SM-3 — will enable theater-wide defenses against this proliferating threat. These Navy programs are inextricably linked with national-level efforts managed by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), as well as other service-unique initiatives pursued by the U.S. Air Force and Army. Several foreign countries, moreover, have expressed growing interest in the Navy’s TBMD programs, perhaps recognizing that one nation’s sea-based theater-defense capability could comprise another state’s strategic national missile defenses.

Likewise, the Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability significantly improves joint battlespace Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) and Theater Air Defense (TAD) capabilities by coordinating force AAW sensors into a single, real-time, fire-control quality composite track picture. Tests conducted during the past three years have confirmed the ability of the Navy’s CEC system to enhance ship self- and area-defense by allowing non-Aegis warships to receive full Aegis data, while Aegis warships will benefit from other sensors’ unique qualities. CEC reached initial operational capability in the fall 1996, and development continues apace to ensure full operational capability. Other- service applications are also being explored, including the Army’s Patriot surface-to-air-missile system, the Air Force’s Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft, joint TBMD systems, and other U.S. and allied systems.

A National Fleet

Such an innovative approach to meeting the nation’s naval and maritime security requirements was unveiled by the 21 September 1998 Joint Navy/Coast Guard Policy Statement on the National Fleet. Signed out by Admiral Jay Johnson, Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral James M. Loy, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, this policy refines the way the two sea services will continue to serve the nation. Moreover, it recognizes explicitly the broad contributions that the Coast Guard makes to America’s maritime security.

Navy and Coast Guard ships underway

The policy commits the Navy and the Coast Guard to “shared purpose and common effort focused on tailored operational integration of our multi-mission platforms.” This close partnership calls for the Navy and the Coast Guard to work together to build a National Fleet of multi-mission surface warships and maritime security cutters. The two armed services will coordinate surface ship planning, information systems integration, and research and development, and will expand joint concepts of operations, logistics, training, exercises, and deployments. The Navy and the Coast Guard recognize that, in order to meet the challenges of the next century, they must employ forces with greater flexibility, adapability, and affordability. Particularly at the “low end” of the spectrum of crisis and conflict, where we expect to find the bulk of our security responsibilities, a combined and interoperable force will ensure numerical sufficiency desired for effective operations.

As currently envisioned, the National Fleet will have two principal attributes. First, it will comprise surface warships and major cutters that are “affordable, adaptable, interoperable, and with complementary capabilities,” according to the Policy Statement. Second, whenever appropriate, the Fleet will be designed around common equipment and systems, and will embrace coordinated operational planning, training, and logistics. The Navy’s contribution will be in highly capable, sophisticated, multi-mission surface warships optimized for the full spectrum of naval operations, from peacetime engagement through Major Theater War. The Coast Guard’s contribution will be its maritime security cutters optimized for all Coast Guard humanitarian, civilian law-enforcement, and defense missions. Importantly, all ships and aircraft of the National Fleet will be interoperable to provide force depth for all roles, missions, and tasks that may be thrust upon the Navy and Coast Guard in the years ahead.

International Programs

The dramatic transformations in geopolitical and economic environments, rapid technological change, and evolving threats to the United States during the past decade bring a new level of complexity to naval forward presence, sea and area control, crisis response, and warfighting. The wide variety of regional, global, and technological threats we now face hold important values at risk. There has been a dramatic shift in focus from blue-water operations to littoral engagements and peace-keeping operations that require multi-national forces. The success of the Navy and Marine Corps in accomplishing their missions and tasks in future asymmetrical battlespaces — especially in the littorals — hinges on friends and allies. Coalition-building has therefore become a critical peacetime naval task.

Coalitions of U.S. Navy-Marine Corps forces and friendly nations provide valuable deterrence against regional and global aggressors. The more numerous and effective America’s partners, the less likely important mutual interests are to be challenged. Thus, U.S. planning efforts and Navy international programs lay the groundwork for and facilitate integrating allied forces with U.S. military forces. Fundamental imperatives for an effective and efficient international program of navy-to-navy cooperation, training, and security assistance are clear:

Although constrained resources have made achieving these objectives more difficult, the Department of the Navy’s international programs continue to emphasize the need for cooperation and collaboration with core U.S. allies and friends. The Navy’s goal is to enable America to meet its demanding joint and international responsibilities in the most efficient manner, and to ensure the U.S. regional commanders’ warfighting needs are satisfied.

As important indicators of America’s tangible support, the Navy’s international programs — principally security assistance and foreign military sales, technology transfer and security, cooperative programs, education and training, and non-strategic arms control compliance and implementation — demonstrate U.S. commitment to regional security and help to deter aggression. Strengthening America’s friends reduces the need for active U.S. assistance or intervention and helps protect American servicemen and women should it become necessary to respond to a crisis or regional conflict. Providing allies or likely coalition partners with U.S. equipment, training, and logistics support — as well as taking best advantage of our allies’ and partners’ technologies and systems — improves interoperability and common infrastructures among the Armed Forces.

Constant involvement with foreign militaries also increases our knowledge of likely operational scenarios, regional and local military-political priorities, and threats, and expands our crisis-response and warfighting capabilities — all of which are indispensable elements of a credible U.S. conventional deterrent. Ensuring total crisis-response and warfighting capabilities of future coalition forces will thus remain a vital U.S. objective.

International activities also reinforce intangible aspects of U.S. security relationships, promoting democratic principles and strengthening international ties that extend well beyond the purely military dimension. The Navy’s international programs enhance U.S. security with effective diplomacy and promote democracy abroad. International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs expose allied participants to the U.S. military and the American way of life. The participants in these courses often advance to positions of national or military leadership, and exposure to democratic processes and institutions during their IMET courses can ultimately affect the political and strategic decisions in their countries.

flightline brief

Finally, the Navy’s international programs bolster America’s economic health and help sustain the U.S. defense industrial base. Foreign military and direct commercial sales keep production lines operating at efficient economic levels. Cooperative programs ensure that the United States has access to leading-edge technologies and systems of our allies and friends. Domestic benefits also accrue through expansion of our ability to take advantage of ongoing U.S. acquisition reform initiatives that promise lower costs and advanced commercial products that satisfy military needs, while at the same time enhancing the vital “two-way street” aspect of our links to our allies.

SUMMARY

America will continue to rely upon its Navy-Marine Corps Team to protect U.S. citizens, important interests, and friends whenever and wherever they might be at risk. The sustained, robust presence of highly capable, multi-mission naval expeditionary forces in important world regions and the resulting ability to deter or stabilize international crises, to support national policy with a multiplicity of options, and to project tailored power from the sea — alone or in concert with other U.S. and allied forces — make the Naval Services’ contributions to America’s security posture unique.

Marine on boat with American flag

As the Naval Services downsize, however, the importance of maintaining America’s technological edge remains, and must be considered a fundamental characteristic of our national military advantage. This will be accomplished not only by maintaining an essential level of investment in the Department of the Navy’s FY 2000 FYDP, but also in leveraging the private sector for economies of scale and for cutting-edge technologies now increasingly found on commercial shelves. Emphasis will be placed not only on technology for superior performance, but on technologies to enable “high-enough” performance at an affordable cost.

We must also invest in the necessary spare parts, tools, maintenance, and training. We must recruit and retain quality people, to broaden their education, to improve their quality of life, to embrace new technologies, to build an adequate number of capable platforms, and to anticipate untraditional threats. In an era of tight fiscal resources, we recognize that the best may indeed be the enemy of good enough, and we are encouraged to explore “out-of-the-box” solutions that offer significant returns on our scarce investment resources.

The Navy has focused its programs on the real requirements of today’s world and a sober, comprehensive assessment of future needs. Critical capabilities to achieve these objectives are being sustained and developed by carefully balancing resources among force readiness, force structure, and force transformation. The remainder of this 1999 edition of Vision … Presence … Power describes how the Navy’s planning, programming, and budgeting process has maintained this delicate balance and provides information on key Navy programs.

In short, we will continue to invest for the future; to sustain a fiscally prudent recapitalization and modernization of ships, aircraft, and weapon systems; to continue the transformation of the Cold War Navy to the 21st-century Navy; and, at the same time, to ensure that our people enjoy the highest quality of life possible so that the Navy of today can meet its global commitments and operations — anytime, anywhere.


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