Mr. FEINGOLD (for himself and Mr. Kohl) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services:
Whereas the Department of Defense has proposed to modernize the United States tactical fighter aircraft force through three tactical fighter procurement programs, including the F/A-18 E/F aircraft program of the Navy, the F-22 aircraft program of the Air Force, and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program for the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps;
Whereas the General Accounting Office, the Congressional Budget Office, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, and several Members of Congress have publicly stated that, given the current Department of Defense budget for procurement, the Department of Defense's plan to buy over 4,400 F/A-18 E/F aircraft, F-22 aircraft, and Joint Strike Fighter aircraft at a total program cost in excess of $350,000,000,000 is not affordable;
Whereas the Congressional Budget Office estimates that current tactical aircraft plan of the Department of Defense could cost as much as $14,000,000,000 to $18,000,000,000 per fiscal year over the period of fiscal years 2002 through 2020, not considering inflation, compared to current tactical aircraft funding of about $2,800,000,000 per fiscal year;
Whereas the Pentagon's current acquisition strategy would require at least a 54.9 percent increase in annual procurement spending over the next five years, rising from $44,100,000,000 in fiscal year 1997 to $68,300,000,000 in fiscal year 2002;
Whereas the F/A-18 E/F, F-22, and the Joint Strike Fighter tactical fighter programs will be competing for a limited amount of procurement funding with numerous other aircraft acquisition programs, including the Comanche helicopter program, the V-22 Osprey aircraft program, and the C-17 aircraft program, as well as for the necessary replacement of other aging aircraft such as the KC-135, the C-5A, the F-117, and the EA-6B aircraft; and
Whereas history shows that projection of the Department of Defense regarding the number of aircraft that it will procure, the rates at which those aircraft will be produced, and the cost of those aircraft are rarely achieved, and in fact frequently experience significant cost growth on the order of 20 to 40 percent: Now, therefore, be it
(1) it is the sense of the Senate that the United States cannot afford to carry out all three of the F/A-18 E/F aircraft program, the F-22 aircraft program, and the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program at the proposed acquisition levels;
(2) the Department of Defense should reexamine its spending priorities using more realistic assumptions of future spending levels; and
(3) the Department of Defense should develop an alternative acquisition strategy that would provide the United States with an effective, affordable tactical fighter force structure.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, on behalf of myself and my senior colleague, Senator Kohl of Wisconsin, I rise today to submit a resolution calling for the restoration of fiscal responsibility to the Department of Defense's plan to modernize and upgrade our tactical fighter force.
The resolution I am submitting today, focuses on the Pentagon's current acquisition strategy for three new tactical fighter programs; the Air Force's F-22 Raptor, the Navy's F/A-18 E/F SuperHornet, and the multi-service joint strike fighter. Numerous experts, including the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office, have concluded that given our current fiscal constraint and likely spending parameters, the current acquisition strategy is unrealistic, unwise, and untenable.
The administration's fiscal year 1998 proposal for defense spending provides $250 billion in budget authority. According to projections provided by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the overall DOD budget is expected to rise after fiscal year 1998 until reaching a plateau of $277.5 billion. That is pretty amazing.
Amazingly, while all other areas of Government are cutting back, the Pentagon is anticipating a $27 billion peacetime increase over the next 5 years.
The overall defense budget is comprised of several individual budgets, including, among others, those for military personnel, operations and maintenance, military construction, and, of course, procurement, which relates to the purchasing of new aircraft, weapons systems, and technology.
It is the procurement budget that I would like to focus on for a moment. The Pentagon's current procurement funding level for new weapons systems, ships, and aircraft in fiscal year 1997 is just over $44 billion.
But under the Defense Department's current acquisition plan, in order to achieve the projected purchasing levels of new aircraft and ships, procurement funding will have to rise 55 percent, 55 percent Mr. President, over the next five years, until it reaches a level of $68.3 billion.
Every other title within the Pentagon's budget request--whether we are talking about quality of life issues for service personnel or spending on research and development--every other title remains relatively stagnant over the next 5 years.
No other program within the Pentagon's budget is receiving the sort of dramatic increase the procurement budget is slated to receive.
The need for additional procurement dollars--24 billion of them--is the result of the Pentagon's planned purchase of some 4,440 new tactical fighter airplanes at a total price tag of at least $350 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The Defense Department argues that our fighter force is in need of modernization and that as a percentage of the overall defense budget, procurement spending is within historical norms.
It is true, Mr. President, that the Pentagon's projections place our level of aircraft acquisition at or slightly below where we were in the 1980's, in terms of as a percentage of the overall defense budget.
But this omits the fact that the defense budget was an entirely different creature in the 1980's than it is today. Thus, when the Pentagon argues that the piece of the pie they are asking for today in terms of procurement spending is roughly the same as it was in the 1980's, we must recognize that the size of the whole pie was profoundly greater than it is today.
The procurement budget itself is comprised of a number of weapons systems and technology programs, but the Pentagon's acquisition strategy is dominated by the three tactical fighter aircraft proposals currently on the table.
This strategy includes three separate programs, all very expensive, all the subject of questions raised by budgetary and aviation experts, and all scheduled to move forward at unrealistic procurement levels.
We begin with the Navy's F/A-18 E/F SuperHornet program. This aircraft is the followup to the F/A-18 C/D, currently employed by both the Navy and the Marine Corps.
The F/A-18 is an all-weather, multi-mission strike fighter, and the Navy currently has about 580 in its inventory. Although the C/D performed remarkably well in the gulf war and has the capability of achieving most of the Navy's requirements with some retrofitting, the Pentagon is currently asking for 1,000 of the expensive E/F airplanes, at a projected cost of about $42 million per airplane. The F/A-18 E/F program has a cumulative cost of at least $67 billion and up to $89 billion according to the General Accounting Office.
The second program belongs to the Air Force. It is the F-22 Raptor, a stealthy fighter intended to provide air superiority but at a extraordinary cost. This aircraft, which one Navy official referred to as `gold-plated,' will cost at least $71 million per airplane, with some estimates reaching over $100 million per aircraft. In all, the F-22 program, slated to provide some 440 airplanes to the Air Force, will cost at least $70 billion.
The final program is one which is truly still in infancy. The joint strike fighter, formally the Joint Advanced Strike Technology [JAST] Program, is actually still on the drawing board with two major contractors, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, dueling for what is expected to be at least a $219 billion contract--$219 billion, Mr. President. That is some contract. And given the Pentagon's porous record keeping its aviation programs on schedule and on target, the costs of this program will likely surpass the initial $219 billion figure. The JSF is intended to be a joint-service, multipurpose aircraft tailored to each of the service's individual needs. The Navy variant will have carrier landing and takeoff capabilities. The Marine Corps variant will have short takeoff and vertical-landing capability. In all, the Pentagon expects to purchase 3,000 joint strike fighters over a 25-year period from 2005 through 2030.
The Air Force would purchase about two-thirds of these planes, the Marine Corps about 640, and the Navy the remaining 300.
The JSF program has thus far received mixed reviews. On one hand is the Pentagon's contention that these aircraft will be affordable because of commonality of components and high-volume production of an airplane capable of meeting each of the three services' differing operational requirements. On the other hand is the Pentagon's track record and the countless aviation programs that have promised so much in terms of cost savings and have delivered so little. In fact, the General Accounting Office estimates that the Pentagon's projections with respect to aircraft procurement typically have cost overruns of 20 to 40 percent.
This, Mr. President, provides an overview of the Pentagon's current acquisition strategy with respect to tactical fighter aircraft. And although the resolution I am submitting today focuses on tactical fighters, it is important to mention a few of the other programs on the Defense Department's wish list, as these programs will also be drawing on a limited procurement budget over the next few years.
There is the V-22 Osprey--a tilt-rotor aircraft to be used for troop and cargo transport, amphibious assault, and special operations--being built primarily for the Marine Corps and Navy. This is a $46.6 billion program expected to produce some 523 aircraft.
There is the Comanche reconnaissance and attack helicopter for the Army. The Pentagon expects to purchase close to 1,300 of these helicopters at a total price tag of $25 billion. And the Air Force is asking for 80 C-17 cargo and transport airplanes, at a procurement cost of over $18 billion.
That Mr. President, is just the portion of the procurement budget related to aviation spending.
The Navy, for example, is looking to increase the procurement of their surface ships, starting with another aircraft carrier, CVN-77, and 17 of the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers, as well as four new attack submarines. And in fiscal year 1999 the Navy would like to begin procurement of the new San Antonio-class amphibious landing ships for our Marine expeditionary forces.
Mr. President, in recent months a number of respected experts on military spending have warned the Department of Defense of an impending fiscal disaster.
The Congressional Budget Office, the General Accounting Office, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle--even high-ranking Pentagon officials--have all forewarned that the Defense Department will not receive the procurement funding level it has projected and will not be able to sustain these tactical fighter purchases at their planned acquisition levels.
Unless we take a step back right now, in 1997, we will undoubtably have what some have dubbed a train wreck, or maybe more appropriately, a shipwreck, in the next few years.
I understand that many of my colleagues are either strong proponents or opponents of one or more of these individual fighter programs. The resolution I am submitting today does not target any one program for termination--it does not even suggest that one of the programs should be discontinued. The language in this resolution merely states that we do not have now, nor will we have, the necessary available funding to move forward with the purchasing of the number of fighter planes the Pentagon currently has scheduled and given that, the Pentagon should present to the Congress a more realistic acquisition strategy to take us into the next century.
In just 2 weeks or so, on May 15, the Pentagon is scheduled to deliver a reassessment of our strategic blueprint for our Armed Forces, known as the quadrennial defense review, or the QDR.
This is the first such reassessment since the 1993 Bottom-Up Review, and represents a collaborative effort on the part of the
Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the individual services to conduct a comprehensive review of our inventories and projected needs.
The upcoming QDR presents the Pentagon a timely opportunity to reexamine its spending priorities and make a reasoned determination about what our tactical fighter force will realistically look like over the next 20 years. I am hopeful that the Pentagon will use this opportunity to present an acquisition strategy to the Congress that is affordable, tenable, and consistent with the goal of Congress to achieve a balanced Federal budget in the coming years.
If not, I intend to offer the resolution I am submitting today, or a variant of it, as an amendment to the budget resolution or other legislation as part of an effort to force the Defense Department to understand the gravity of this situation. I hope such a step proves to be unnecessary.