The INSIDER daily digest – March 23, 2017

By Thomas Duffy / March 23, 2017 at 2:00 PM

In today's digest, another Capitol Hill leader is expressing concern about the Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget, a top Pentagon official wants to further cut the cost of the F-35 and lawmakers are transferring money to a key Air Force effort.

Inside Defense spent much of Wednesday at a conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse, where officials from Capitol Hill, the services and the Pentagon gathered. House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith discussed the problems associated with cutting the non-defense discretionary budget:

HASC ranking member anticipates challenges in passing Trump's proposed budget

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA) has joined the growing chorus saying the Trump administration will run into trouble with securing its proposed budget.

At the same conference, Shay Assad talked about the Pentagon's effort to lower the F-35's price tag:

Assad promises continued focus on cutting cost of Joint Strike Fighter

The Defense Department's effort to cut the price of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is far from over, Shay Assad, the Pentagon's director of defense pricing, made clear Wednesday.

And Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch shared news about the Air Force's Compass Call program.

Air Force wants L3 to lead Compass Call platform change

The Air Force's top uniformed acquisition officer said this week the service will choose L3 Technologies to lead the Compass Call cross-deck effort, after the Government Accountability Office dismissed a bid protest from Bombardier March 10.

In other Air Force news, the Pentagon is transferring money to the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System and the service is weighing its option for retiring the F-15C/D:

JSTARS Recap avoids schedule stoppage, 'significant risk' to EMD schedule

p>Lawmakers have tossed a lifeline to the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System Recapitalization program -- a $3.1 billion development project that can't freely execute its fiscal year 2017 plans due to concerns raised by Congress last year -- granting the Air Force permission to shift an additional $15 million into JSTARS Recap to keep the program on track.


F-15C/D retirement is predecisional, Air Force operations director says

The Air Force is exploring its options to retire Boeing's F-15C/D in the late 2020s and recapitalize Lockheed Martin's F-16 with improved radar to serve in the Eagle's role, service officials told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.

Lastly, an Army official is expressing concern about how the Abrams tank stacks up against the tanks of foreign nations:

Murray: Other nations have reached ‘parity’ with Abrams tank

The Army’s main battle tank “is still toward the top of its class” in the short term, but some foreign armies -- notably, Russia -- have caught up, according to the service’s deputy chief of staff (G-8).