The two biggest losers in the fiscal 2012 spending bill approved Sept. 15 by the Senate Appropriations Committee may have difficulty remaining viable.
The committee killed all funding for the(DWSS) and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). With such a strong vote against them and additional cuts by the House, the long-term prospects probably aren’t good for either program.
President Barack Obama asked for $444.9 million for’s DWSS. The Senate panel is still providing much of that amount — not for the satellite itself but for termination costs and $250 million to continue making common sensors. DWSS has three sensors: ’s Visible Imaging Infrared Radiometer Suite (Viirs); the Space Environmental Monitor (SEM), made by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; and a yet-to-be-named microwave sensor.
The program — which was part of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System until it was restructured to split the defense and civilian versions — “remains challenged by a difficult and confusing set of management challenges,” according to its report on the bill. Intellectual property rights and uncertain cost estimates are among the troublesome issues. “Each of these areas of risk indicates that DWSS is not on a sound acquisition footing.”
Likewise, Senate appropriators list three key reasons behind the demise of the JLTV. Engineering and manufacturing costs doubled early in the program. The services already have the Humvee and are replacing only a fraction of their existing fleet. And vehicles on the market can already fulfill most JLTV requirements. In a year when the committee was looking for $26 billion, those factors made the developmental vehicle program an easy target.
The cut netted $172 million from the Army’s R&D request and another $71.8 million from the Navy’s.
Even though the House didn’t take the full swing at the program, trimming $25 million out of the Army’s and Navy’s shares, the House committee’s report on the bill notes similar problems.
Three teams are competing for the JLTV contract:and Navistar, and General Tactical Vehicles, and a Land Systems and AM General joint venture.
The Senate panel also gutted the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle because of schedule delays and changes to the acquisition strategy. Senators reduced the $884 million request to $100 million. The House bill cuts just $116 million, leaving conference negotiators with a wide gap to resolve.
In terms of missile defense, senators are providing money to make 48 interceptors, rather than 68, saying the contractor and the subcontractors cannot make as many as the president asked for in one year.
And the committee is closely watching a recent test failure of the Standard Missile-3 Block IB.
If the test and purchase schedule for the SM-3 Block IB missiles require “any adjustments” during fiscal 2012, Senate appropriators would divert $565 million from the IB and direct the Missile Defense Agency to use that money to buy its predecessor, the SM-3 Block IA.