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Pentagon Releases 30-Yr Aviation Plan; Drones to Increase by 45%

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Drones to Increase 45% in Pentagon 30-Year Aviation Plan (excerpt)

(Source: Bloomberg news; issued Apr 10, 2012)

The Pentagon plans to increase its fleet of armed and long-haul surveillance drones by at least 45 percent over the next 10 years.

The U.S. military’s inventory of unmanned aerial vehicles, will grow to 645 aircraft in fiscal 2022 from about 445 in fiscal 2013, including versions of Northrop Grumman Corp.’s RQ-4 Global Hawk and General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predators, the Defense Department said in a report required by Congress on its aviation blueprint for the next 30 years.

In addition, the U.S. Army wants to buy 164 Gray Eagle drones from closely held General Atomics of San Diego from 2013 to 2022 “in direct support of ground forces,” the Pentagon said in the report obtained today.

Drones are playing an increasing role as the Pentagon seeks a force that will be “smaller and leaner” and more technologically advanced, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta put it when he introduced a revamped national security strategy in January. Even as the inventory of drones grows, the U.S. military is buying fewer than originally planned because of reduced budgets, a defense official told lawmakers.

“The military departments adjusted their plans to comply with a constrained top line by procuring fewer aircraft than desired,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter wrote in a letter to the leaders of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on April 4. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Bloomberg website.


Annual Aviation Inventory and Funding Plan: Executive Summary

(Source: US Department of Defense; issued April 4, 2012)

Section 231a of title 10, United States Code, as amended by section 1069 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Public Law 112-81, requires the Secretary of Defense to submit an annual, long-term aviation plan for fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, to include unmanned systems, for all Services and for combatant commanders that have aircraft assigned to them. This report responds to that requirement.

Guided by the new strategic guidance, Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, and by the January 2012 Defense Budget Priorities and Choices, this plan represents the Department’s commitment to a balanced force: one that is able to meet the unique demands of current conflicts, while providing the flexibility to respond to a broad spectrum of future challenges.

The FY 2013-2017 Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) and the long-term aviation force structure and funding plans presented in this document are shaped by the following primary missions defined in the new strategic guidance:

• Counter Terrorism and Irregular Warfare;
• Deter and Defeat Aggression;
• Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges;
• Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction;
• Operate Effectively in Cyberspace;
• Operate Effectively in Space;
• Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent;
• Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities;
• Provide a Stabilizing Presence;
• Conduct Stability and Counterinsurgency Operations; and
• Conduct Humanitarian, Disaster Relief, and Other Operations;

Summary of the Annual Plan and Certification

Changes in technology and organizational structure make categorizing aircraft into bins of like capability increasingly difficult. However, this aviation force structure plan provides the diverse mix of aircraft needed to carry out the ten missions identified above. The capabilities provided by aircraft identified in this plan reflect five principal investment objectives identified below:

• Meet the demand for persistent, multirole intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities;
• Provide sufficient enabler capability and capacity;
• Acquire fifth-generation fighter/attack aircraft while maintaining sufficient inventory capacity;
• Modernize long-range strike (LRS) capabilities; and
• Emphasize modernization and readiness.

The FY 2013-2042 aviation plan is consistent with the tenets of the January 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance; it meets the national security requirements of the United States. The Department’s FY 2013 budget request and the associated FY 2013-2017 FYDP provide the requisite funding to implement the aviation investment plan through FY 2017 for all programs of record.

Click here for the report (36 pages in PDF format) on the Bloomberg website.