Senior Defense Department officials testified April 25 before Congress highlighting the activities the department has undertaken to save an estimated $1 billion and provide a balanced national security space program.
Gil I. Klinger, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space and intelligence, and Douglas L. Loverro, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, appeared before the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on strategic forces to review the department’s fiscal year 2014 budget request for national security space activities.
Klinger said the Defense Department is introducing competition as early as possible with a more efficient contracting strategy for acquiring space launch services and associated launch capabilities, resulting in significant savings.
“These actions resulted in an estimated savings of over $1 billion in the Future Year Defense Program, below the fiscal year 2013 President’s budget, without excessive and unacceptable risk,” he said.
Klinger said the department continues to consider potential alternative acquisition and procurement strategies across the national security space portfolio and remains committed to a disciplined cost approach.
“The undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and the service acquisition executives have established affordability targets for the majority of our large, critical space programs,” Klinger said.
The department also is assessing how to take better advantage of commercial opportunities, he said, and will continue to pursue more production-oriented processes and quantities as part of each overall mission architecture.
Klinger noted this approach may result in greater affordability and reduced time to fielding in the future.
“Your authorization in fiscal year 2012 to incrementally fund up to six years to procure two advanced extremely high frequency satellites and your fiscal year 2013 authorization to fund two space-based infrared system satellites are reflected in the fiscal year 2014 president’s budget,” he said.
DOD is committed to balancing the modernization of mission capability with the associated risks, Klinger told Congress, both in acquisition and operations.
“It is paramount that we deliver the capabilities the warfighter will need in the future, given the evolving threats,” he said. “The 2014 budget proposal increased investments over last year in the Space Modernization Initiative for missile warning to inform future acquisition decisions and anticipate evolving threats.”
And the Defense Department is implementing various Better Buying Power initiatives, Klinger said, to make GPS more affordable and to ensure it can sustain this “critical” global utility.
“In fiscal year 2014, the department’s budget proposal requests funding for an assessment to determine if we can accelerate the military GPS user equipment program,” he added.
Klinger said it would fund the development of the next-generation operational control system. “Both are required to enable a new military signal to further improve our GPS anti-jamming capability,” he said.
Klinger also noted he was “pleased” to report the completion of studies to help the department frame potential decision points for follow-on capabilities.
“In fiscal year 2012, we completed the architecture studies for resilient-based satellite communications, space control, and overhead persistent infrared capabilities,” he said.
Loverro emphasized the “basic reality” that space defense remains vital to national security during his testimony before the HASC subcommittee.
“[This] evolving strategic environment increasingly challenges U.S. space advantages, advantages that both our warfighters and our adversaries have come to appreciate,” he said. “As space becomes more congested, competitive, and contested, the department must formulate programs and policies that will secure those advantages in the years to come.”
This reality, Loverro said, is juxtaposed with the fact that as a nation, the U.S. provides these capabilities in an environment that is increasingly cost-constrained. And, growing budgeting challenges coupled to increasing external threats compel the department to think and act differently, he said.
“While these two realities present a clear challenge, I do not by any means view them with a sense of ‘doom and gloom,’” Loverro noted. “New entrepreneurial suppliers alongside our legacy suppliers are creating an ever-burgeoning commercial space market that can provide a significant advantage to the DOD if we formulate the policies and strategies to encourage their growth and use.”
Similarly, he said, there’s been growth worldwide in allied space investments in capability, which provide the Defense Department with “significant” opportunities to help build resilience into itsspace capabilities.
These policies and strategies will begin to address challenges and opportunities, but they are just the initial steps in an area that will continue to demand attention and action, Loverro said.