Pentagon Budget Faces Increased Pressure After Elections

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

Rep. Adam Smith has balked at developing a low-yield nuclear warhead, which would be mounted on a Trident missile. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ronald Gutridge

The Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following Tuesday’s midterm elections, setting the stage for what could be a prolonged battle over defense spending and policy.  The Pentagon’s topline was already facing cuts recently announced by the Trump administration, but the change in power in the House will give Democrats momentum as they push for increased domestic spending.

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Trump Opens the Door to Defense Spending Cuts as Sequestration Looms

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

An F-35 Flies Alongside an F-16. Source: U.S. Air Force

President Donald Trump has called on department secretaries to deliver 5 percent cuts for their upcoming FY20 budget requests, opening the door for a potential decline in defense spending.  At the same time, Trump said the defense budget would “probably” total $700 billion in FY20.  Initially, it was unclear if this $700 billion figure applied only to the Pentagon, or to the total national security budget, which also includes programs and agencies outside of the U.S. Department of Defense, such as nuclear programs within the Department of Energy.  Continue reading

USAF T-X Win Could Be Just the Start for New Boeing/Saab Aircraft

By Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, and Carter Palmer, Power Systems SpecialistForecast International.

Boeing/Saab T-X Trainer. Source – Boeing

On September 27, Boeing and Saab emerged as the winning team in the U.S. Air Force’s T-X advanced jet trainer contest.  The Air Force chose the team’s all-new, clean-sheet aircraft to replace its fleet of some 444 Northrop T-38Cs.  The service awarded Boeing an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, worth up to $9.2 billion, for the program.  The contract includes an initial delivery order, valued at $813.4 million, for five engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) aircraft and seven simulators. Continue reading

Congress Pushes Development of Space-Based and Boost Phase Missile Defense Capabilities

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

North Korea Missile Launch. Source: Korean News Agency via Reuters

The U.S. Congress continues to push the Department of Defense to develop new missile defense technologies, but it remains to be seen if some of these efforts will come to fruition.  In particular, the FY19 defense authorization bill recently signed into law calls for developing a new space-based missile defense layer and a boost phase intercept capability.  Last year’s FY18 defense authorization bill also included provisions for space-based and boost phase missile defense, if consistent with the Ballistic Missile Defense Review.  The new FY19 authorization bill essentially reworks those original provisions, and calls for the development of these technologies subject to the availability of appropriations.  Continue reading

U.S. Air Force Awards Hypersonic Weapon Contract as Pentagon Continues Broader Development Efforts

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

High-Temperature Structures Concept Image
Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract worth up to $480 million for the conduct of a Critical Design Review and to provide test and production readiness support for the U.S. Air Force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW, pronounced “Arrow”), one of the service’s ongoing hypersonic weapon development efforts.  The Air Force is obligating $5 million at time of award.  Contract work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be completed by November 30, 2021.     Continue reading

Trump Administration Moves Space Force Plans Forward

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Space Force logo designs were released by the Trump campaign to supporters for a vote. Source: Trump campaign

With a speech by Vice President Mike Pence, along with an interim report issued by the Pentagon, the U.S. government has begun laying out its plan to create a Space Force as a branch of the U.S. military. The plans will shake up an organization that has managed the launch of 116 satellites over the past eight years. Continue reading

The U.S. Defense Budget: Balancing Need Against Cost

by Greg Giaquinto, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

According to The Guardian, President Donald Trump’s call for a major boost in U.S. military spending has been met with an uproar from opponents warning that such a policy would waste millions of taxpayer dollars.  To lend perspective on the issue, in fiscal year 2015, military spending in the United States accounted for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.  Right now the U.S. military has the ability to fight just under two world wars simultaneously.  The International Institute for Strategic Studies says the U.S. accounts for more than a third of the world’s military spending. Continue reading

Top 100 Federal Contractors FY2017

by Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

F-35B & F-35C in formation. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The General Services Administration’s U.S. Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation released its annual Top 100 Federal Contractors report – Fiscal Year 2017.  The top 100 federal contractors accounted for $283 billion of the obligated dollars, up 8 percent compared to $262 billion in FY16. Lockheed Martin remains the dominant contractor with $50.7 billion (almost 10% of the obligated total), followed by Boeing with $23.4 billion (4.6% of the obligated total). Continue reading

Congressional Appropriators Boost F-35 Production

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

F-35C Completes Flyover of USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) Source: U.S. Navy

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is poised for a boost in 2019, as two U.S. congressional defense panels have signed off on additional aircraft for the Department of Defense.  Precisely how many additional aircraft each service will receive must be ironed out in conference committee.  This plus-up contrasts with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, both of which expressed concern about the F-35 production ramp-up.  Continue reading

President Trump Nears Decision on Iran Nuclear Deal

by Derek Bisaccio, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

White House briefing on situation in Syria in April 2018, ahead of President Trump’s decision to conduct missile strikes on Syrian government positions. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead.

Toward the end of April, French President Emmanuel Macron made a three-day state visit to the United States to meet with his American counterpart, President Donald Trump, to discuss in particular the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. The French president, who enjoys a productive relationship with President Trump, sought to urge his American counterpart to remain in the deal. Continue reading