Mattis Budget Guidance Prioritizes Readiness, Previews 2018 Defense Strategy

By: Megan Eckstein, USNI News

“Defense Secretary James Mattis released an initial budget guidance memo that prioritizes current readiness, filling in shortfalls and then building a larger and more capable force.

The Jan. 31 memo, released today, states that “the ultimate objective is to build a larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force, driven by a new National Defense Strategy,” though it does not preview the new strategy itself.

Rather, the memo calls for intermediate goals of addressing “immediate and serious readiness challenges” and “addressing pressing programmatic shortfalls.”

Phase 1 of this effort calls for a FY 2017 budget amendment that would be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget by March 1. This would increase current-year defense spending over what the Obama administration recommended and Congress marked up and approved, though that budget plan is not actually in use right now; rather, the federal government is still operating under a continuing resolution due to lawmakers not passing their spending bills last fall. For the budget amendment to have an effect, Congress would have to take action this spring.”

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Mattis Orders Comparison Review of F-35C and Advanced Super Hornet

By: Sam LaGrone, USNI News

“Defense Secretary James Mattis is ordering a Pentagon review to compare the capabilities and cost between the emerging carrier-based Lockheed Martin F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter and an upgraded version of the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, according to a memo obtained by USNI News.

The three-paragraph directive orders Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work to, “oversee a review that compares F-35C and F/A-18 E/F operational capabilities and assesses the extent that F/A-18E/F improvements (an advanced Super Hornet) can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative.”

The memo also directs Work to look at the overall F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to find opportunities to significantly reduce cost while maintaining the requirements for the program.”

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Raytheon Excalibur Round Set to Replace LRLAP on Zumwalts

By: Megan Eckstein, USNI News

“THE PENTAGON — The Navy is looking to Raytheon’s Excalibur guided artillery round to replace the effective but expensive Long Range Land Attack Projectile for the Zumwalt-class of guided missile destroyers, defense officials confirmed to USNI News.

The decision to move ahead with the guided rounds for the 155mm Zumwalts’ BAE Systems-built Advanced Gun Systems is codified in the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget submission, a defense official familiar with the move told USNI News.

The Navy would not confirm any details of the change saying the change was, “predecisional.”

“The Navy continuously monitors the gun and ammunition industry capability and capacities. To address evolving threats and mission requirements, the Navy is evaluating industry projectile solutions (including conventional and hyper-velocity projectiles) that can also meet the DDG 1000 deployment schedule and could potentially be used as an alternative to LRLAP for DDG 1000,” Navy Capt. Thurraya Kent told USNI News on Monday in a written statement.”

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ONR’s Autonomous USVs Prove Ability To Allocate Tasks, Dynamically Adjust As Mission Evolves

By: Megan Eckstein, USNI News

“The Office of Naval Research demonstrated for the second time the ability to turn already-fielded small boats into unmanned autonomous systems and use them for missions like harbor defense, two ONR program officials told reporters this week.

A month-long demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia allowed ONR to prove that the 7-meter and 11-meter boats that had been converted to autonomous unmanned surface vehicles could not only perceive their surroundings and plan their routes accordingly while performing a mission, as was demonstrated two years ago, but could also now work as a group to delegate tasks, select appropriate behaviors from a behavior library in response to events around them, and identify nearby vessels as friendly or unfriendly after matching what they see to a pre-programmed database of ships they could encounter.

This demonstration, called “Swarm 2, Mission: Safe Harbor,” proved that with minimal human supervision these four unmanned boats could carry out a tactically relevant mission at sea, Small Combatant Craft Program Officer Robert Brizzolara told reporters Wednesday.”

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Navy Wants to Grow Fleet to 355 Ships; 47 Hull Increase Adds Destroyers, Attack Subs

By: Sam LaGrone and Megan Eckstein, USNI News

“The Navy released a new fleet plan that calls for 355 ships, outlining a massive increase in the size of its high-end large surface combatant and attack submarine fleets but a modest increase in its planned amphibious ship fleet, according to a Dec. 14 summary of the assessment.

The findings of the latest Force Structure Assessment adds 47 ships to the Navy’s battle force over the 308-ship figure from a 2014 FSA.

According to the summary, the service determined the 355 total was the “minimum force structure to comply with [Pentagon] strategic guidance” and was not “the “desired” force size the Navy would pursue if resources were not a constraint, read the summary.”

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Admiral: Attacks Like Those on USS Mason Will Become More Common

By: Megan Eckstein and Sam La Grone, USNI News

“The Navy should prepare for a future operating environment where anti-ship weapons propagate globally and attacks such as the recent ones against guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87) are more commonplace,” one the service’s top budget officials said.

Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, said at the Naval Submarine League’s annual conference Wednesday that the service is not only focused on the current threats posed by potential adversaries such as Russia, Iran and North Korea, but also potential threats down the road if these countries sell their weapons to third-world countries and non-state actors.”

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U.S. Coast Guard Announces Commissioning of Sixth National Security Cutter

By: Julianne Simpson, SIGNAL Magazine

“The U.S. Coast Guard announced the service’s sixth national security cutter, Munro, will be commissioned April 1, 2017, at the Smith Cove Terminal in Seattle.

The cutter will be home ported in Alameda, California, and is named after Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro, the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient.”

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