Thursday, February 21, 2013

F-35: The toll sequestration will take

In terms of defense, sequestration is almost unthinkable.  On top of the $500 billion cut in defense spending mandated by President Obama, sequestration would add another $500 billion cut.  The effect, as you might imagine, will be devastating.

Some examples of that point, using the F-35 program:
Under the Congressional sequestration budgetary maneuver, the US Department of Defense's coffers would be automatically cut across the board by 10% every year for 10 years. That is on top of the $487 billion that has already been cut from the spending plan.

If the full sequestration were to take effect, "we're going to have to look completely at the [F-35] programme," US Air Force chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on 12 February. "It's going to be impossible to modernize." 
Or, our young pilots will continue to fly fighters older than they are while our potential enemies continue to advance their 5th generation capabilities. Say it however you wish, the bottom line is we would be put well behind the power curve.  Meaning:

The consequences operationally would mean that the US Air Force would not be able to operate as effectively in contested airspace as it had planned. "Our kick in the door capability would be impacted," Welsh says.

While there are those who claim the possibility of us needing to operate in contested air space any time in the future is pretty slim, not advancing this program will make that likelihood less "slim".  In fact, it may encourage those who are also developing 5th generation fighters to be a bit more audacious in their actions.

The other services will be just as negatively impacted, and not just because of restructuring of the F-35 program:

For the US Navy, the consequences of the full sequestration are as dire. Adm Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations, told the Congress that if the USN had to suffer the effects of nine additional years of sequestration, the service would lose two carrier strike groups and a "proportional" number of amphibious strike groups.

The US Marine Corps may also have to "cancel major multi-year procurements such as the [Bell-Boeing] MV-22 and incur greater cost and program delay in future program buys," USMC commandant Gen James Amos says in his prepared testimony.

Those are huge capability losses.  And, of course, those sorts of losses put much more strain on the assets that are left.

Defense cuts are reality.  The first $500 billion is being absorbed and seems survivable.  Sequestration's "meat axe" cuts are cuts that tear into muscle and bone. That means increased risk for our military and they will put our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in a future situation where the possibility exists that they'll face

That's unacceptable.


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