The Pentagon has said a likely short-term continuing resolution to start fiscal year 2020 would impact and delay three major modernization programs, including hypersonic weapon development and the purchase of new Navy and Marine Corps training helicopters.
Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Thursday a short CR would have impacts that are manageable, while noting that Defense Secretary Mark Esper continues to dialogue with lawmakers to avoid a months-long process that would cause significant delays to readiness and procurement efforts.
“There are programs that will be affected, and some of those include our ability to move forward with contracts that should be issued, and as well as looking at some of the modernization efforts we’re putting forward,” Hoffman said. “The hope is that if it’s kept within a few weeks to a little bit more than that, that it’s something we can manage and work through. Once we start getting into months and quarters, the impact grows exponentially, and it becomes more difficult to recover from those impacts.”
A stopgap funding bill would lock in spending at FY ’19 levels, meaning the services would be unable to start new procurement programs or increase buys of current capabilities.
The House on Thursday passed a bill that would keep the government open through Thanksgiving under a CR as lawmakers continue to settle differences in authorization and appropriation bills (Defense Daily, Sept. 19).
On Friday, the Pentagon noted that a short-term CR would still “disrupt major exercises and training events, affect readiness and maintenance, curtail hiring and recruitment actions, and adversely impact contracting negotiations,” while also releasing a list of three key programs that would be impacted.
The Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) program would have critical long-lead purchases delayed “putting planned delivery at risk” and “adversely impacting the ability to deter and defeat near-peer adversaries.”
The Army recently awarded deals to Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Dynetics for work on LRHW, with plans to start flight tests in 2021 and field a residual combat capability in 2023 (Defense Daily, Aug. 30).
Pentagon officials also noted the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) program’s planned November procurement award to purchase 32 training helicopters, 24 for the Navy and 8 for the Marine Corps, would be delayed.
Bell [TXT], Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo have all submitted bids for the AHTS program (Defense Daily, April 3).
The B-52 Global Positioning System Interface Unit Replacement would also face an 18-month delay, specifically with procuring critical processing chips and circuit cards, which the Pentagon said would impact mission-capable rates.