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Committee Reports

110th Congress (2007-2008)

House Report 110-652

Partial Report: House Report 110-652 2 of 2

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{link: 'http://www.congress.gov:80/cgi-bin/cpquery?%26r_n=hr652.110%26sel=TOC_203936hd_count=2',title: 'THOMAS - Committee Report - House Report 110-652' }

House Report 110-652 - DUNCAN HUNTER NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009


AIRCRAFT PROCUREMENT, AIR FORCE

OVERVIEW

The budget request for fiscal year 2009 contained $12.7 billion for Aircraft Procurement, Air Force. The committee recommends authorization of $12.6 billion, a decrease of $57.8 million, for fiscal year 2009.

The committee recommendations for the fiscal year 2009 Aircraft Procurement, Air Force program are identified in the table below. Major changes to the Air Force request are discussed following the table.

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ITEMS OF SPECIAL INTEREST

Air National Guard RC-26B modernization

The budget request contained $151.9 million for other aircraft modifications, but contained no funds to design, install, and test one RC-26B aircraft with the block 20 software and hardware modifications and the beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) data link modification.

The RC-26B is a low-density, high-demand intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform that can be rapidly deployed for operations in the United States and overseas. The block 20 hardware and software modifications would allow the RC-26B's mission equipment to fully utilize accurate position information and the BLOS data link modification would add a capability to pass real-time data to ground terminals. The committee notes that the Chief of the National Guard Bureau has included both the block 20 software and hardware modifications and the BLOS data link among his essential 10 equipment requirements for fiscal year 2009.

The committee recommends $154.9 million for other aircraft modifications, an increase of $3.0 million, to design, install, and test one RC-26B with the block 20 software and hardware modifications and the BLOS data link modification.

KC-45 aerial refueling aircraft program

The budget request contained $893.5 million to initiate systems design and demonstration to begin replacement of the KC-135 aerial refueling fleet, a fleet that averages 47 years old. The committee notes that the Air Force has prior year appropriations of $421.7 million available for the KC-45 program.

The committee supports the Air Force's number one acquisition program of tanker recapitalization and understands that the ability to aerially refuel aircraft during military operations is a critical capability in meeting national military strategy objectives.

The committee includes three provisions in title I of this Act, sections 132, 133, and 134. Section 132 would require the Secretary of the Air Force to maintain a minimum of 46 KC-135E aircraft in Type-1000 storage to alleviate the challenges of maintaining the current fleet of KC-135R aircraft due to parts obsolescence issues and diminishing manufacturing sources of supply. Section 133 would repeal section 135 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Public Law 108-136), associated the KC-X tanker lease program, which was not executed and no longer applies. Section 134 would require the Air Force Secretary to submit a report to the congressional defense committees by December 1, 2008, that examines the processes used to determine KC-X requirements and provides an evaluation of very large tanker aircraft as a potential Air Force aerial refueling platform.

The committee also recommends, without prejudice to the KC-45 program, a decrease of $61.7 million for advanced procurement funding, because advanced procurement funding is not required for KC-45 program execution.

Mission support aircraft

The budget request contained no funding for C-40 aircraft. The Air Force unfunded requirements list contained $370.0 million for procurement of three C-40 aircraft.

The committee notes the Air Force has a validated operational requirement to provide worldwide air transportation for executive branch officials and high-ranking U.S. dignitaries as well as other operational support missions. The committee understands that in fiscal year 2007, one-third of all requests for special mission airlift support aircraft went unfilled due to current fleet limitations and performance characteristics of the C-9 aircraft. The committee notes that the C-9 will be retired from the Air Force inventory in fiscal year 2011 and that no planned replacement aircraft exists.

The committee recommends $88.0 million for procurement of one C-40C aircraft to replace one C-9C aircraft, currently at Scott AFB, scheduled for retirement in fiscal year 2011.

Special Operations Command aircraft recapitalization

The budget request contained $507.7 million for HC-130J and MC-130J recapitalization, and $80.0 million for advanced procurement for HC-130J and MC-130J in fiscal year 2010. The budget request also contained $36.3 million to modify MC-130J aircraft to meet requirements for Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) MC-130J aircraft to conduct operations in low-visibility conditions. The MC-130J will replace Special Operations Command's MC-130E and MC-130P fleets.

The committee notes that the average age for the MC-130E and MC-130P fleet is 43 and 40 years, respectively. The committee understands that SOCOM has a requirement to field 11 MC-130J aircraft prior to fiscal year 2012 to maintain adequate mission capability. The committee further understands that all 11 MC-130Js must be funded no later than fiscal year 2010 to meet the SOCOM requirement.

The committee notes that the current MC-130J acquisition plan includes a total of eight MC-130J aircraft for Special Operations Command in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. The committee is concerned, however, that this plan may fail to adequately meet SOCOM's warfighting requirement, since a total of 11 MC-130Js may not be planned for acquisition by fiscal year 2010.

Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to the congressional defense committees on the Department of the Air Force's and SOCOM's plan to recapitalize the MC-130E and MC-130P fleets with the MC-130J as it relates to meeting the SOCOM MC-130J force structure requirement. The report shall be provided to the congressional defense committees by March 1, 2009.

Strategic airlift aircraft programs

The budget request contained $561.9 million for C-5 aircraft modernization programs. The Air Force Chief of Staff included $3.9 billion on the Air Force unfunded priority list for procurement of 15 additional C-17 aircraft.

The committee notes that on September 27, 2007, the Secretary of the Air Force notified Congress that the C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP) experienced a critical Nunn-McCurdy cost growth breach of 48 percent above the current program acquisition unit cost (PAUC), and 68 percent above the original PAUC established in fiscal year 2000. The committee notes that on February 14, 2008, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) certified the C-5 RERP program to Congress during the Nunn-McCurdy process. The committee understands that USD(AT&L) concluded that a program to perform RERP on only 52 C-5B/C aircraft and perform only the Avionics Modernization Program on the remaining 59 C-5A aircraft is the most cost-effective solution to meet airlift requirements contained in the 2005 Mobility Capabilities Study (MCS).

In written testimony to the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces on March 11, 2008, USD(AT&L) stated that the 2005 MCS concluded that a `fleet of 112 modernized C-5s, provided sufficient strategic airlift capacity' to meet the Department's future airlift requirements. However, the committee notes that the 2005 MCS actually stated that a fleet of `112 modernized and reliability improved C-5s' meets the Department's strategic airlift requirements. The committee is extremely concerned that the newly certified RERP program conflicts with the recommendations of the 2005 Mobility Capabilities Study that USD(AT&L) states was used as the analytical basis for determining C-5 inventory requirements.

The committee's concern is validated by written testimony of the Commander, Air Mobility Command to the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces on April 1, 2008, that states `the current program for 190 C-17s, 52 RERP modified C-5s, and 59 legacy C-5As will not quite provide the organic strategic airlift capacity of 33.95 million ton miles per day specified by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. Therefore, we remain concerned and vigilant that given the dynamic nature of our world and the increasing imperative for rapid warfighter response, coupled with the fact that our current strategic airlift baseline is based upon a three-year old MCS, that we have the correct balance.'

The committee is extremely concerned by the shortsightedness of the MCS used by the Department to make critical decisions concerning the C-17 production line because the MCS did not: take into account the end strength increases of 92,000 personnel for the Army and Marine Corps; consider any mobility requirements of the Army's Future Combat Systems and modularity concepts of employment; consider the fact that the Army Manned-Ground Vehicle is too large to be transported by a C-130 aircraft; consider the 159 percent over-utilization rate of the current fleet of C-17 aircraft; consider the use of C-17s in multi-use roles for which the C-17 is being used extensively in current operations; have or use historical mobility forces operational data in its analysis to verify actual mobility requirements and operations.

The committee understands that the Department is conducting the 2008 Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study (MCRS) to determine the appropriate inventory requirements for airlift and sealift to meet the National Defense Strategy. The committee notes that the estimated completion date of the 2008 MCRS is May 2009. The committee is extremely disappointed by the Department's decision to set a completion date for the study one month prior to delivery of the final production C-17 in June 2009. The committee also notes that the Department's 2008 MCRS will not be completed in time to inform the President's fiscal year 2010 budget request to Congress.

To compensate for the Department's decision-making and planning process concerning strategic airlift production and force structure requirements, the committee recommends $3.9 billion in title XV of this Act for procurement of 15 additional C-17s. Additionally, the committee strongly encourages the Secretary of Defense to program funding for additional C-17 aircraft in subsequent budget requests if the Department determines during the 2008 MRCS execution process that procuring additional C-17 aircraft is required to meet the National Defense Strategy. The committee also recommends a decrease of $86.7 million to RERP funding due to the Department's stated inability to execute this amount in fiscal year 2009.

The committee also includes a provision, section 131, in title I of this Act that would allow the Secretary of the Air Force to retire C-5 aircraft from the inventory and replace the capability with C-17 aircraft if the cost analysis performed is prudent in meeting strategic airlift requirements and does not significantly increase overall costs above those already planned in the out-years.

The committee understands that the Air Force should have a minimum of 299 strategic airlift aircraft in the inventory with delivery of the 189th C-17 in June 2009. Consequently, the committee understands that no C-5A retirements will occur before the delivery of the 189th C-17. Additionally, the committee understands that after section 8062(g) of title 10, United States Code, was implemented with the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (Public Law 109-364), the C-17 delivery schedule changed due to additional C-17 foreign military sales which will impact the Secretary of the Air Force complying with section 8062(g) of title 10, United States Code.

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