The Insider

By John Liang
September 22, 2010 at 5:56 PM

The head of the National Counterterrorism Center told lawmakers this morning that the increasing ability of al Qaeda's affiliates and allies to support attacks against the United States "makes it more difficult to anticipate the precise nature of the next homeland attack and determine from where it might come."

In written testimony for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Michael Leiter gives an overview of the nature of the terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland:

Regional affiliates and allies can compensate for the potentially decreased willingness of al-Qa‘ida in Pakistan -- the deadliest supplier of such training and guidance -- to accept and train new recruits. Additional attempts, even if unsuccessful, by al-Qa‘ida’s affiliates and allies to attack the US -- particularly attempts in the Homeland -- could attract the attention of more Western recruits, thereby increasing those groups’ threat to the Homeland. Even failed attacks, such as (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula)'s and (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan)'s attempts, further al-Qa‘ida’s goal of fomenting global jihad against the West and demonstrate that some affiliates and allies are embracing this vision. The impact of the attempted attacks during the past year suggests al-Qa‘ida, and its affiliates and allies, will attempt to conduct smaller-scale attacks targeting the Homeland but with greater frequency.

Today al-Qa‘ida in Pakistan is at one of its weakest points organizationally. We have restricted their freedom of movement and reduced their sense of security in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). However, the group has proven its resilience over time and remains a capable and determined enemy, harnessing most of its capabilities and resources on plotting attacks against the West. The threat to the Homeland is compounded by the ideologically similar but operationally distinct plotting against the US by al-Qa‘ida’s Pakistan-based allies, regional affiliates, and sympathizers worldwide, including radicalized US persons, who may not receive training, direction, or support from al-Qa‘ida senior leaders in the FATA but embrace al-Qa‘ida’s global violent extremist vision.

The spike in homegrown violent extremist activity during the past year is indicative of a common cause that rallies independent extremists to want to attack the Homeland. Key to this trend has been the development of a US-specific narrative that motivates individuals to violence. This narrative -- a blend of al-Qa‘ida inspiration, perceived victimization, and glorification of past plotting -- has become increasingly accessible through the Internet, and English-language websites are tailored to address the unique concerns of US-based extremists. However, radicalization among US-based extremists remains a very unique process based on each individual’s personal experiences and motivating factors.

By Carlo Muñoz
September 21, 2010 at 10:19 PM

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, GUAM -- Senior leaders from U.S Pacific Air Forces and their industry counterparts yesterday commemorated the latest addition to PACAF's arsenal, the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft.

PACAF commander Gen. Gary North said the addition of the Global Hawk to the command's inventory represented a larger effort within PACAF and U.S. Pacific Command to “modernize and integrate” next-generation intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities into the greater Pacific region.

The formal inclusion of the RQ-4 into PACAF's toolkit will also assist in “minimizing . . . the tyranny of distance,” which remains a significant challenge in planning operations in the Pacific, he said. The aircraft is the first of three Global Hawks command officials hope to acquire.

The RQ-4 will “improve our ability to support a number of regional missions,” from disaster response to counterterrorism operations, while providing “a proven ISR capability to our combatant commanders,” the PACAF chief added.

The command and control for PACAF's first Global Hawk will be split between the 36th Air Wing and ISR operators at Beale AFB, CA. Aircrews stationed at Andersen AFB, Guam, will carry out takeoff and landing ops for the RQ-4, while remotely piloted aircraft operators stationed at Beale will fly the actual ISR missions, as tasked by 13th Air Force, which has command-and-control authority for all PACOM air operations, North said.

Once PACAF acquires the two other RQ-4 aircraft, the three RPAs will result in a single combat air patrol (CAP) that can provide 24-hour aerial surveillance capability, he added.

“This is truly a total force effort,” North said, adding that aside from coordinating Global Hawk missions across Andersen, Beale and 13th Air Force's headquarters at Hickam AFB, HI, PACAF officials would also look to synchronize the RQ-4 mission intro the various manned and unmanned operations across the command.

The selection of Andersen AFB as the home of the first Global Hawk detachment put those aircraft squarely in the middle of PACAF's “strategic triangle,” between Hickam AFB and Kadena Air Base, Japan, the PACAF chief said.

“If you look at the Pacific, [Guam] is the perfect place to bed down a platform with this capacity, that enables us to fly missions north, south, east and west in an equidistant environment,” he added.

However, North noted the basing decision for the Global Hawk detachment, and the overall decision to deploy the RPA to PACOM, was not made in response to any specific threat or actions taken by potential adversaries in the region, such as China and North Korea.

Rather, the inclusion of the Global Hawk into PACOM operations simply “complements” other regional ISR efforts in support of “global mission requirements,” according to North.

“The decision to deploy [the Global Hawk] enables us . . . to be able to compete in our farthest U.S. territory . . . to not only meet our national requirements, but the requirements of our friends, allies and partners,” he said. “This platform . . . is a natural evolution in modernization of our ISR equipment and capacity.”

By Cid Standifer
September 21, 2010 at 9:25 PM

Gen. James Amos, the president's nominee for commandant of the Marine Corps, has given a nod to making the Cargo Unmanned Aerial System a joint project.

In written responses to questions from Congress submitted prior to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination, the Cargo UAS was included on a list of projects Amos thinks could benefit from joint Army/Marine Corps involvement, along with indirect fire assets, command and control programs, intelligence programs and unmanned aerial systems in general.

The Army announced last month that it plans to include the Cargo UAS in an upcoming joint capability technology demonstration, which could be transitioned into a quick-reaction capability.

Meanwhile, the Office of Naval Research is examining launching a Cargo UAS program of record as a long-term solution. Thomas Heffern from the Marine Corps UAS capabilities office said in July that such a program would likely involve the Navy, Army and Air Force.

By Marcus Weisgerber
September 21, 2010 at 7:03 PM

Senate supporters of Boeing and EADS have filed competing amendments to the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill, one requiring the Pentagon to consider a subsidy ruling by the World Trade Organization and the other mandating that military leaders ignore the WTO decision when evaluating bids for the Air Force's next-generation tanker.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) -- whose states would benefit from the selection of a Boeing-built aircraft -- introduced a bipartisan amendment that "would require the Pentagon to consider the unfair advantage provided by illegal subsidies in the competition to replace the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker," according to a joint statement released today after the amendment was submitted.

"This amendment is about creating and saving skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs here at home," Murray said. "It will require the Pentagon to finally consider the billion in illegal subsidies that Airbus has been using to undercut American aerospace companies and workers. It will also ensure an even playing field in the tanker competition."

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) also co-sponsored the amendment.

EADS supporter Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) submitted his own amendment, taking the opposite side. "My amendment is straightforward," he said in a statement today. "It simply states that the Secretary of Defense shall not undertake any action with respect to the tanker competition that is inconsistent with the obligations and commitments of the United States to World Trade Organization agreements. The purpose of my amendment to take politics out of the tanker competition and put the focus back where it should be -- procuring the best plane for our men and women in uniform."

By Jason Sherman
September 21, 2010 at 3:36 PM

The Office of Management and Budget today outlined its support for the Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2011 budget proposal in an statement that also flags a handful of provisions the Defense Department would prefer to see changed in a final version of the authorization bill.

Among the issues the White House is concerned about in the bill are:

Defense Weather Satellites:  The Administration objects to the committee’s reduction of $241.8 million in funding for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program.  The decision to restructure the program, taken in February, was designed to address chronic budget, schedule, and management difficulties.  DoD’s senior leadership recently approved a long-term, follow-on weather satellite program to NPOESS – the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS).  The Committee’s reduction would significantly hinder the Department from taking the necessary steps to implement DWSS and to transition critical assets and data to NOAA, potentially resulting in future gaps in military and civil weather satellite coverage.  The reduction could also result in terminating major elements of the existing program, impairing development of NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System program, and incurring an otherwise avoidable termination liability for both DoD and Commerce.

National Nuclear Security Administration Program Reductions:  The Administration objects to reductions to key weapons programs, including the W76 Life Extension, Plutonium Infrastructure Sustainment, Kansas City Responsive Infrastructure, Tritium Readiness, and Fissile Materials Disposition programs.  Failure to provide the requested funding for these programs would delay essential stockpile support and nuclear infrastructure modernization in support of the Nuclear Posture Review and would reduce NNSA’s ability to attain the W76 Life Extension Program production rates needed to meet Navy requirements.

National Guard Deployment to Secure the Southwest Border:  The Administration strongly objects to Section 1041, which the Administration would construe to require the Secretary of Defense to authorize the funding for deployment, under title 32, United States Code, of at least 6,000 National Guard personnel to undertake operations such as constructing fences and border checkpoints, surveying the border, and providing radio communication interoperability among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, until the Secretary, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Governors of the border states, certifies to Congress that the Federal Government has achieved “operational control” of the border.  The legislation would unduly interfere with the President’s role as Commander in Chief with respect to the management of the Total Force.  The Administration continues to pursue a comprehensive, multi-layered, targeted approach to law enforcement and security on the southwest border.  Within this approach, the National Guard will be utilized to meet specific, requirements-based needs where they can implement missions using their unique capabilities.

Building Partner Capacity and Foreign Policy:  The Administration urges the inclusion of its requested proposals, which were developed with close coordination between the Departments of Defense and State, to build the capacity of partner-nation special and conventional forces.  Among other things, these proposals are important for the implementation of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, to enhance and increase coalition participation in Afghanistan in order to reduce the pressure on U.S. forces, and to support the drawdown strategy in Iraq and counter-terrorism programs.  To ensure consistency with broader foreign policy objectives, the Administration urges that any new foreign policy or assistance related authorities or requirements to do reports or determinations should require concurrence of the Secretary of State, particularly those in sections 1304 and 1534.

Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP):  The Administration appreciates the Committee’s continued support for this critical program, but urges the restoration of funding to the requested amount of $1.3 billion.  The CERP remains a critical enabler in support of the responsible drawdown in Iraq and provides the people of Afghanistan with tangible, positive economic opportunities and improvements at the local level, leveraging the execution of the shape, clear, hold, and build aspects of our strategy.

Iraqi Security Forces Fund (ISFF):  The Administration objects to the $1 billion reduction to the ISFF, and the limitation placed on the obligation of these funds.  Full funding of the ISFF is critical to the development of the Iraqi military and police so that they possess the minimum essential capabilities necessary for internal security and external defense.  Reducing the request would impede the transition of responsibility necessary to complete the drawdown of U.S. forces in a responsible manner.  The new requirement for a determination on Iraqi commitment to build security forces and the new authority to accept contributions should require concurrence of the Secretary of State to ensure consistency with broader foreign policy objectives.

Expansion of the Defense Production Act:  The Administration objects to section 214, which  authorizes the use of Defense Production Act Title III authorities to develop advanced technologies for ground vehicles without a determination that the industry involved is essential to the national defense and that government assistance is required for the production of the systems and technologies.  Early stage development of advanced technologies for military vehicles is best addressed in the Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation title.

Incremental and Full Funding:  The Administration is concerned that the committee is authorizing incremental funding of military construction projects.  As a matter of fiscal prudence, the Administration encourages full funding of these programs, which is consistent with the President’s Budget.

The Obama administration also highlighted a number of issues in the bill the bill it supports, including “not authorizing funding for additional C-17 aircraft or for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) extra engine and by authorizing the phased adaptive approach for missile defense in Europe.” In addition, the administration notes its support for other provisions, such as:

Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces:  The Administration supports section 591 as it would allow for completion of the Comprehensive Review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with the standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention.  Such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights and suggestions.

By Dan Dupont
September 20, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Congress will get its say (and hear DOD's) on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' efficiencies initiative next week. The Senate Armed Services Committee says it will meet on Sept. 28 at 10:00 a.m. to hear from:

Honorable William J. Lynn III

Deputy Secretary of Defense

Honorable Ashton B. Carter

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics

General James E. Cartwright, USMC

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

By Amanda Palleschi
September 20, 2010 at 5:35 PM

An increasing number of complex issues on the global agenda is outpacing the ability of international organizations and national governments to address them, according to a report released today by the U.S. National Intelligence Council and the European Union's Institute for Security Studies.

The report concludes that global governance "is at a critical juncture," calling for "more effective global governance" to address threats like "ethnic conflicts, infectious disease, and terrorism as well as a new generation of global challenges including climate change, energy security, food and water scarcity, international migration flows and new technologies."

The report, "Global Governance 2025," is a follow-on to the NIC's 2008 report, "Global Trends 2008." It is the first joint, unclassified report developed between the National Intelligence Council and a non-U.S. organization, and involved consultations with government officials, media representatives, business, academic, NGO and think tank leaders in developed countries around the world.

According to the report, the "shift to a multipolar world, particularly the shift in power toward nonstate actors," complicates the prospects for effective global governance over the next 15 years, “making more effective global governance critical to addressing global problems.

The authors of the report note that global governance is often "seen as a Western concept," but multilateral institutions are critical because of their ability to "deliver public goods that summits, nonstate actors, and regional frameworks cannot supply . . . multiple and diverse governance frameworks, however flexible, probably are not going to be sufficient to keep pace with the looming number of transnational and global challenges absent extensive institutional reforms and innovations."

The report includes hypothetical scenarios that illustrate potential trajectories of the international system as it confronts global challenges over the next 15 years.

By John Liang
September 20, 2010 at 3:34 PM

From now through the end of October, Marines at Camp Pendleton, CA, are checking out a U.S. Joint Forces Command interactive training simulation that closely simulates battlefield conditions, according to a JFCOM statement released this morning:

The Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE), one of USJFCOM's joint capability technology demonstrations (JCTD), is a virtual reality-based training system to improve team decision-making skills through realistic scenarios that challenge warfighters to read and react to situations and signals they may encounter on the battlefield.

Jay Reist, FITE's operational manager, said it provides warfighters and their trainers with an immersive training environment that emphasizes complex tactical and decision-making skills, while viewing their stress levels and gauging their reactions to different scenarios.

"FITE demonstrates the art of the possible. It creates a mixed reality capability for squad-level training, working with interactive technologies appropriately within a realistic scenario that has been developed by subject matter experts based on real events seen in an operating environment," Reist said. "The results will be delivered to the services, which will make a determination to include the capabilities into their programs of record."

He called the FITE effort a department-wide undertaking to make warfighters' first firefight no worse than their last simulation.

"From the USJFCOM perspective, we sought to ensure collaboration took place. We have had participation from all the services, the Joint Staff, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Special Operations Command, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, the DoD, industry partners that have been eager to be a part of something like this, and academia that has been studying human performance under stressful conditions and wanted to be involved from the beginning," Reist said.

As Inside the Pentagon reported in April:

The Pentagon is making advances in virtual-reality training featuring avatar representations of troops and simulating the realistic sights and sounds of battle to bolster decision-making skills and the cohesion of units heading to Afghanistan, according to officials involved in the programs.

U.S. Joint Forces Command's Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE) program provides instructors and participants with an interactive realm emphasizing complex tactical and decision-making prowess. The technology manager is the Office of Naval Research.

FITE is a two-year joint capability technology demonstration program supporting the related virtual-reality work of all the services, according to Jay Reist, the program's operational manager. JFCOM has been working on the technology for about 19 months.

Under this initiative, JFCOM is developing a prototype incorporating hardware that consists of an "individually-worn body computer," a helmet-mounted display, a "realistic, replicated weapon system, and an instantaneous feedback vest," Reist told Inside the Pentagon. A software capability providing the "virtual world" allows all training participants to interact with one another, he said.

Once soldiers don the head-mounted display, they see a depiction of the operational environment -- in this case a village in Afghanistan -- that is similar to a high-end video game like Halo or Doom, he explained. It is accompanied by digital people, terrain and buildings.

JFCOM finished the first phase of the program two weeks ago with the help of Marines at Camp Lejeune, NC, and soldiers at Ft. Benning, GA, Reist said. The command is undertaking "detailed planning" this week to prepare for September's next spiral, which is a "facility-based, mixed-reality capability," Reist said.

This second stage will bring in animatronics or robotic characters like Disney World's Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as sophisticated, 3D capabilities, he said. It will be coupled with a live environment featuring "real role players and live entities, all within a full stereo/audio capability . . . [and which have] all the sights and sounds and smells" of a real operation, Reist said. The role players will be projected onto screens as avatars. No live fire will be involved.

By Jason Sherman
September 17, 2010 at 8:25 PM

Pratt & Whitney, the maker of the primary Joint Strike Fighter engine, may have jumped the gun in its eagerness to spin the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee's mark of the FY-11 Pentagon spending bill.

On Tuesday, when the the subcommittee issued a sparse summary of its recommendation for a FY-11 Pentagon budget that was silent on the matter of the F136 JSF alternate engine, P&W spokeswoman Erin Dick blasted out a statement to reporters praising the committee for not funding the F136, which she claimed was an endorsement of the Obama administration's position to veto any bill that adds new funds for the program. She said:

This Senate action is a clear message that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense supports President Obama and Secretary Gates in their position that funding an alternate engine will not save taxpayer's money or improve military readiness in any way.

On Thursday, however, the full Senate Appropriations Committee outlined more fully its position on the F136 in the report accompanying its bill calling it an award-winning, “near-model program.”

Far from slamming the door on the F136 program, as the Pratt & Whitney release suggested, the committee, according to sources on Capitol Hill and defense analysts, may have instead signaled that it might support FY-11 funding for the JSF alternate engine during an upcoming conference with House appropriators who have backed the F136 in their version of the bill.

While the Senate panel did not fund the F136, its report included language that was very supportive of the JSF alternate engine development effort.

The panel's report asserts that F136 engine development is “on track,” with the “program being awarded 17 straight performance awards in the past eight years with an average approval rating of 93.5 percent” -- a track record amassed as the development of the JSF airframe has “seen cost increases and significant delays.”

The incongruence of the insistence on canceling the second engine program which is a near-model program and which most analysts expect would curtail long-term costs of the entire JSF program with equal insistence on the need to fully fund the JSF program is hard to rationalize.

Pratt & Whitney is not exactly an objective observer on this issue. If the F136 engine program -- under development by rivals General Electric and Rolls Royce -- is successfully terminated, Pratt & Whitney will have a lock on as much as $100 billion worth of engine business over the life of the JSF program.

Asked about her Tuesday statement in light of the committee's full report, Dick today told she stands by her statement.

By Tony Bertuca
September 17, 2010 at 8:03 PM

EL PASO, TX, -- Officials from the Army, the Pentagon and the Government Accountability Office converged at White Sands Missile Range, NM, today to conduct the limited user test of the Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a suite of "spin-out" technologies left over from the canceled Future Combat System.

The test was scheduled to include the Network Integration Kit, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, the Class 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and two varieties of Unattended Ground Sensors.

Army spokesman Paul Mehney said the test would also involve pulling other elements of the service's network plan together, including the use of aerostats and the Joint Tactical Radio System Ground Mobile Radio.

E-IBCT has been criticized by some members of Congress and officials from the Pentagon after a poor performance during a 2009 LUT. The Army, however, has asserted that E-IBCT has improved dramatically over the span of one year, and service officials have predicted a far more successful test this time around.

Test results were not yet available this afternoon. “It's like an election; the results are still coming in,” said Col. Steve Duke of the Army's Operational Test Command.

Spc. Conrad Slater, a soldier testing the equipment here, said he finds Tactical Unattended Ground Sensors useful but would prefer that they transmit video as opposed to still images. “Right now, you're either catching the tail of something or the front of something,” he told a reporter.

In recent weeks, Army leaders have increasingly pointed to the development of the network as the service's top priority.

Check back to next week for more.

By Pat Host
September 17, 2010 at 3:57 PM

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.'s defense and security division is being rebranded Cassidian as part of the company's 10th anniversary.

The Netherlands-based EADS is also reinforcing itself as the "umbrella brand" of its four divisions with a common visual identity: Airbus, Eurocopter, Astrium and Cassidian. Airbus produces aircraft, Eurocopter produces helicopters and Astrium provides civil and defense space systems and services.

"This brand renovation embodies exactly the spirit of Vision 2020, our strategy for EADS' next ten years: Reinforce each of the four divisions, give them the visibility they need to market their business and at the same time materialize the strength and unity of the group," said EADS CEO Louis Gallois in a company statement.

EADS is also modernizing its logo and branding scheme as part of its 10th anniversary.

By John Liang
September 16, 2010 at 9:20 PM

The Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing a $425 million funding reduction for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, according to the report released today that accompanies the committee's fiscal year 2011 defense spending bill.

"The committee is aware that due to several issues, in particular the Laser Initiated Ordnance System (LIOS) and microcracks in the Heat Shield, THAAD production is about one year behind schedule," the report states, commending the Missile Defense Agency and Office of the Secretary of Defense "for delaying the production decision until the missile has been thoroughly evaluated.

"Due to the production delay, the committee recommends a reduction of $425 million in fiscal year 2011 and directs MDA to keep the congressional defense committees informed on the progress of THAAD production and any schedule changes for outfitting the Army's THAAD batteries as a result of the production delay," the report continues.

By Jason Sherman
September 16, 2010 at 9:19 PM

Reps. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and K. Michael Conway (R-TX), the chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee's acquisition reform panel, are urging colleagues to support funding in the Pentagon's FY-11 budget for the F136 engine, the alternate Joint Strike Fighter propulsion package.

Backed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who believes the alternate engine is an example of wasteful DOD spending,

Still, the lawmakers argue there are sound public policy reasons to support continued development of the engine, built by a General Electric/Rolls Royce industry team.

Citing the recommendations of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, as well as former Pentagon Acquisition Executive Jacques Gansler's views, as expressed recently to Inside the Pentagon's Amanda Palleschi, the lawmakers “strongly encourage your support for the Joint Strike Fighter competitive engine program.”

Competition is precisely what we need today for the $100 billion JSF engine program. Funding for the engine is already 75 percent complete. Let's complete the program, allow real engine competition to occur and enjoy the benefits that will result.

By John Liang
September 16, 2010 at 7:10 PM

The Senate Appropriations Committee just finished marking up the $669.9 billion fiscal year 2011 defense spending bill and approved it by a party-line 18-12 vote. The total is $8.3 billion less than what the Obama administration is asking for.

The defense subcommittee approved the bill on Sept. 14. The $669.9 billion in the Senate bill includes $157.7 billion for the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts worldwide.

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee approved a $670.9 billion bill on July 22, $7.2 less than what the administration wanted, but the full committee has not yet approved the legislation.

By Jason Sherman
September 16, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today is touting a new GAO assessment that could complicate Defense Secretary Robert Gates' bid to halt funding for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine, a program Gates believes is an example of wasteful DOD spending but one that many supporters in Congress argue is pivotal to sound acquisition policy.

The Michigan lawmaker today issued a statement reacting to the GAO finding, made public yesterday, stating that DOD's estimate of an additional $2.9 billion and six years needed to complete development of the F136 engine “could be lower.” Our coverage of that assessment is here.

Specifically, Levin said, the findings in the report “add to economic arguments in favor of competition.”

But economic benefits “are not the only argument in favor of competition,” he added:

That is why I strongly supported enactment of the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 (WSARA), which, among its main directions to the Defense Department, calls for competition throughout the life cycle of major acquisition programs.  Since the JSF program is the single largest DOD acquisition program, the JSF engine is a great place to begin implementing WSARA.