Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Article excerpt

CRUSADER RISING FROM THE ASHES

To appease lawmakers who resisted the Pentagon's decision to cancel the Crusader cannon-artillery system, the Army assured them that the funding would be transferred to a replacement system, also manufactured by United Defense, under the Future Combat Systems program. But when the Army decided in July to delay the FCS by two years, the schedule for the Crusader replacement, called the "non-line-of-sight cannon," actually was accelerated by two years. "Congress wanted it that way," said an Army source. "They didn't want it killed or delayed." Unlike the rest of the FCS program, which is vulnerable to cutbacks, the NLOS cannon funds were "fenced off," said the source, in order to shield it from any future FCS reshuffling.

'JOINT' WEAPONS ARE OK, BUT Do THEY CREATE JOBS?

The military services often are accused of being parochial and wedded tightly to their individual weapon systems, which slows down Pentagon efforts to field a "network-centric" force. The criticism may be unfair, however. More often than not, it is Congress and the budget process that make it tough to integrate weapon systems, some argue.

"When we talk to the Hill, they want to know 'where is this program being made?'" said Air Force Brig. Gen. (S) Richard Dinkins, who oversees interoperability programs. "The Defense Department wants capabilities delivered, but in Congress, they are still dealing in programs," and mostly care about how many jobs a program creates. "That's a challenge we face," Dinkins said. "How can I get capabilities and programmatic needs to match up?"

LOSING A BIG CONTRACT NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING

The Navy's decision to select a Boeing jet as its future maritime surveillance aircraft obviously was bad news for Lockheed Martin, which was competing for the $4 billion award. The Boeing jet eventually will replace the venerable P-3 Orion, made by Lockheed. But that is no reason to despair, noted Fred Moosally, president of Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems. The P-3 still has many international customers, and the U.S. Navy will continue to upgrade the aircraft for at least another decade. Further, Moosally said, it is not unusual for companies that lose a contract to find a way back into it. "You never know what will happen," he said. An example of an unexpected reversal of fortune is the Navy's DDX destroyer program. …

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