Despite Hackers, DOD Retains Faith In Weapon Systems

By on Monday, June 3rd, 2013


WASHINGTON — The United States military has “complete faith that our systems are secure and reliable,” a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

The military is always concerned about cybersecurity and the chances of losing information to other nations, Army Col. Steve Warren said, but the department has invested a lot of money, time and expertise in combating this threat.

In a meeting with reporters, Warren discussed alleged hacking that targeted U.S. military weapons systems, but he did not address what programs — if any — were exposed to cyber intrusions. “But we have absolute confidence in our systems,” he added. “Suggestions that any of these intrusions have led to an erosion of our capabilities is incorrect.”

Further, the spokesman said, there is no fear in the department that intrusions like this are eroding the U.S. military lead over other nations. “Suggestions that our technological edge has eroded are incorrect,” he said.

Warren said the department has a program that companies can join to help deter and mitigate these attacks. The Defense Industrial Base Enhanced Cybersecurity Information-sharing Program helps companies and the Pentagon defend American secrets, said Air Force Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a DOD spokesman specializing in cyber issues. The program has yielded successes in information sharing and in network defense, he said.

“Any company in the defense industrial base can sign a classified framework agreement and voluntarily join this sharing program,” Pickart said. “If the company experiences an intrusion or a cyberattack on their systems, they can voluntarily bring that to our attention.”

The company shares the signature of the intrusion and details associated with the attack. “We do our forensic analysis of that through the Defense Cybercrime Center,” Pickart said. “Once we looked at what that is, we are able to develop measures that we can then share back to all the companies, and that can help mitigate against future attacks or intrusions from whoever was launching them.”

The program started with DOD as a pilot program a few years ago. Today, 85 companies — about half of the defense industrial base — participate in the program. The department and the companies share both classified and unclassified information.

The Homeland Security Department has a similar program that took the lessons learned from the DOD effort and applied it throughout industry, Pickart said.


F-35A operating costs to exceed F-16, official says

Operating costs for the conventional take-off and landing version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are expected to be roughly 10% greater than those of the Lockheed F-16.

According to the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, who leads the tri-service effort, provided some preliminary numbers to the Dutch parliament comparing costs per flying hour between the two aircraft on 18 April.

“In his statement, Bogdan indicated that the cost per flying hour of an F-35A is estimated to be $24,000 per hour; roughly 10% higher than F-16 cost per flying hour,” the JPO says. “This data was derived in co-operation with the US Air Force and the Department of Defense Cost Assessment & Program Evaluation Office. Comparable baseline assumptions were used to evaluate relative operational costs between F-35 and legacy aircraft.”



 Lockheed Martin

The final cost figures are due to be released in the Pentagon’s 2012 selected acquisitions report for the F-35, which is set to be published during May.

Earlier this year, USAF chief of staff Gen Mark Welsh told reporters that the JPO was attempting to reconcile two different sets of cost estimates: one from the USAF and another from Lockheed. The cost numbers diverged because of differing underlying assumptions from which each side based its estimates.

Hagel: Review to Assess Investment, Force Structure Assumptions


As Defense Department leaders defend before Congress the president’s $526.6 billion base defense budget request for fiscal year 2014, DOD officials are preparing a review that reassesses assumptions driving the Pentagon’s investment and force structure decisions, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hagel said the review, conducted by Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is expected to be complete by May 31.

Rather than accommodate the Budget Control Act’s abrupt and severe budget cuts known as sequestration, the 2014 Defense Authorization Request contains an alternative that proposes $150 billion in added defense savings over the next decade as part of a balanced deficit-reduction package, Hagel said.

The cuts would occur in the years beyond fiscal year 2018, he added, giving the department “time to implement such reductions wisely, carefully [and] responsibly.”

But the secretary said DOD must plan for more reductions to the defense budget that could result from an agreement by Congress and the administration on a deficit-reduction plan, or for sequester-level cuts that persist for another year or over the long term.

“Consequently,” Hagel told the Senate panel, “I directed a strategic choices and management review in order to assess the potential impact of further reductions, up to the level of full sequester.”

The review, which includes the service secretaries, service chiefs, Office of the Secretary of Defense principals and combatant commanders as essential participants, will identify strategic choices and further institutional reforms that may be required, including reforms that should be pursued regardless of fiscal pressures, he said.

Such a review will help to sort out the challenges, articulate the risks and look for opportunities for reform and efficiencies presented by resource constraints, the secretary said, adding that the results of the review will inform DOD’s fiscal 2015 budget request and serve as the foundation for the Quadrennial Defense Review due to Congress in February.

Hagel said the review will put everything on the table, including roles and missions, planning, business practices, force structure, personnel, compensation, acquisition and modernization investments, along with how the department operates and maintains readiness.

“It is already clear to me, Mr. Chairman,” Hagel told Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, “that achieving significant additional budget savings without unacceptable risk to national security will require not just tweaking or chipping away at existing structures and practices, but, if necessary, fashioning entirely new ones that better reflect 21st-century realities. And that will require the partnership of Congress.”

The fiscal 2013 DOD appropriations bill that Congress enacted last month allocated DOD funding more in line with the president’s budget request, giving DOD authorities to start new programs and proceed with important military construction projects, the secretary said.

“Nonetheless, the bill still left in place the deep and abrupt cuts associated with sequester, as much as $41 billion in spending reductions over the next six months,” he noted, adding that military pay and benefits are exempt from sequester.

If the sequester provision remains intact, Hagel said, DOD funding will be cut by $52 billion in fiscal 2014 and by about $500 billion over the next nine years.

In his description of the budget request, Hagel said the president’s $526.6 billion DOD base budget request for fiscal 2014 continues to implement President Barack Obama’s defense strategic guidance issued in January 2012 and enhances DOD efforts at institutional reform.

“Most critically,” the secretary added, “it sustains the quality of the all-volunteer force and the care we provide our service members and their families, which underpins everything we do as an organization.”

The budget request also contains a placeholder request for overseas contingency operations at the fiscal 2013 level of $88.5 billion, he said.

The submission does not include a formal overseas contingency operations request because Afghanistan force level and deployment decisions for this year were delayed to give commanders time to fully assess responsibilities and requirements, the secretary explained.

The base budget targets growing costs in areas of support, acquisition and pay and benefits before cutting military capabilities and force structure, and identifies new savings of about $34 billion in fiscal 2014 through 2018, the secretary said, including $5.5 billion in fiscal 2014 from these areas.

To eliminate excess infrastructure, the budget request calls for one round of base realignment and closure, called BRAC, in 2015, Hagel told the senators.

“BRAC is a comprehensive and fair tool that allows communities to have a role in reuse decisions for their property and provides development assistance,” he said. “BRAC, as we all know, is imperfect, and there are up-front costs. The future-year defense program adds $2.4 billion to pay for those costs. But in the long term, there are significant savings. The previous five rounds of BRAC are saving $12 billion annually, and those savings will continue.”

The department continues to streamline its acquisition programs and processes, and over the past four years it has realized significant cost savings as a result of reforms implemented by the Weapons System and Acquisition Reform Act of 2009, he said.

In the current budget request, Hagel added, DOD has achieved $8.2 billion in savings from weapons program terminations and restructuring, and will substitute a new package of military compensation proposals that save about $1.4 billion in fiscal 2014 and $12.8 billion in fiscal 2014 through 2018.

“This package includes a modest slowing of the growth of military pay by implementing a 1 percent pay raise for service members in 2014,” he added.

The department seeks more changes to the TRICARE program in fiscal 2014 to bring beneficiary costs closer to levels envisioned when the health care plan was implemented, particularly for working-age retirees, the secretary said, adding that “survivors of military members who died on active duty or medically retired members would be excluded from all TRICARE increases.”

Even after the proposed fee changes, Hagel said, TRICARE will remain a substantial benefit.

“These adjustments to pay and benefits were among the most carefully considered and most difficult choices in the budget,” he added, “[and] they were made with strong support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the senior enlisted leadership.”

Cuts and changes to capabilities, force structure and modernization programs all will be required, based on priorities and parameters set in the strategic guidance, he said.

Last year, the department proposed reductions of about 100,000 in military end-strength between fiscal 2012 and 2017, the secretary said.

“By the end of 2014,” he said, “we will have completed almost two-thirds of the drawdown of our ground forces, and the drawdown should be fully complete by fiscal 2017.”

This budget request continues to put a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining forces and seeks to leverage new concepts of operations enabled by advances in space, cyberspace, special operations, global mobility, precision strike, missile defense and other capabilities, the secretary said.

It also includes $137.1 billion for military personnel and $49.4 billion for military medical care, Hagel said, and the department continues to support service members and their families, spending $8.5 billion on initiatives that include transition assistance and veterans’ employment assurance, behavioral health, family readiness, suicide prevention, sexual assault prevention and response.

Sea-based X-band Radar


The Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX-1) is a floating, self-propelled, mobile radar station designed to operate in high winds and heavy seas. It is part of the U.S. Defense Department Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The radar is mounted on a fifth generation CS-50 twin-hulled semi-submersible drilling rig. Conversion of the vessel was carried out at the AmFELS yard in Brownsville, Texas; the radar mount was built and mounted on the vessel at the Kiewit yard in Ingleside, Texas, near Corpus Christi. It is nominally based at Adak Island in Alaska (though, as of April 2012 has never put into port at Adak) but can roam over the Pacific Ocean to detect incoming ballistic missiles. The vessel is classed by ABS and has the IMO number of 8765412.


  • Vessel length: 116 meters (380 ft)
  • Vessel height: 85 meters (280 ft) from keel to top of radar dome
  • Vessel draft: approximately 10 meters (32 ft. 9 in.) when in motion or otherwise not on station; approximately 30 meters (98 ft. 5 in.) when on station
  • Vessel stability: remains within 10 degrees of horizontal on station (fully passive stabilization)
  • Cost: $900 million
  • Crew: Approximately 75-85 members, mostly civilian contractors
  • Radar range: 2,000 km (1,242 mi.)
  • Displacement: 50,000 tons


SBX-1 is part of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system being deployed by the MDA. Being sea-based allows the vessel to be moved to areas where it is needed for enhanced missile defense. Fixed radars provide coverage for a very limited area due to the curvature of the Earth. The primary task SBX will carry out is discrimination (identification) of enemy warheads from decoys, followed by precision tracking of the identified warheads.

The vessel has many small radomes for various communications tasks and a central, large dome that encloses and protects a phased-array, 1,800 tonne (4,000,000 pound) X band radar antenna. The small radomes are rigid, but the central dome is not – the flexible cover is supported by positive air pressure amounting to a few inches of water. The amount of air pressure is variable depending on weather conditions.

The radar antenna itself is described as being 384 m2 (4,130 sq ft). It has a large number of solid-state transmit-receive modules mounted on an octagonal flat base which can move ±270 degrees in azimuth and 0 to 85 degrees elevation (although software currently limits the maximum physical elevation to 80 degrees). The maximum azimuth and elevation velocities are approximately 5-8 degrees per second. In addition to the physical motion of the base, the beam can be electronically steered off bore-sight (details classified).

There are currently 22,000 modules installed on the base. Each module has one transmit-receive feed horn and one auxiliary receive feed horn for a second polarization, so there are 44,000 feedhorns. The base is roughly 2/3 populated, with space for installation of additional modules. The current modules are concentrated towards the center, so as to minimize grating lobes. This configuration allows it to support the very-long-range target discrimination and tracking that GMD‘s midcourse segment requires. The array requires over a megawatt of power.

In addition to the power consumed by the radar, the thrusters which propel the vessel are electric and require substantial power. The maximum speed is approximately 8 knots (9.2 mph; 15 km/h). To support this and all other electrical equipment, the vessel currently has six 3.6-megawatt generators (12-cylinder Caterpillar diesels). The generators are in two compartments, one port and one starboard. The maximum power currently drawn is roughly 12 megawatts, and there are plans to expand the number of generators to eight, so that one entire compartment could be lost and the vessel would still continue to operate at full capability.

SBX entering Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for repairs on January 9, 2006

The active electronically scanned array radar is derived from the radar used in the Aegis combat system, and is a part of the layered ballistic missile defense (BMDS) program of the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA). One important difference from Aegis is the use of X band in the SBX. Aegis uses S band, and Patriot uses the higher-frequency C band. The X band frequency is higher still, so its shorter wavelength enables finer resolution of tracked objects. The radar is designed and built by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems for Boeing, the prime contractor on the project for MDA.

The radar has been described by Lt. Gen Trey Obering (director of MDA) as being able to track an object the size of a baseball over San Francisco in California from the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, approximately 2,900 miles (4,700 km) away. The radar will guide land-based missiles from Alaska and California, as well as in-theatre assets.

The CS-50 semi-submersible rig on which the radar is mounted was built as the “Moss Sirius” at the Vyborg shipyard in Russia for Moss Maritime (now part of the Saipem offshore company). It was purchased for the Sea-based X-band Radar project by the Boeing company, outfitted with propulsion, power and living quarters at the AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Texas, and integrated with the radar at the Kiewit yard in Ingleside, Texas.

SBX departing Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on March 31, 2006

The first such vessel is scheduled to be based in Adak Island, Alaska, part of the Aleutian Islands. From that location it will be able to track missiles launched toward the US from both North Korea and China. Although her homeport is in Alaska, she will be tasked with moving throughout the Pacific Ocean to support her mission. The name given to the SBX vessel, “SBX-1,” indicates the possibility of further units of the class. In circumstances when a vessel is required to be continually on duty over a long period of time, common naval practice is to have at least three units of the type available to allow for replenishment, repair and overhaul. Three further vessels of the CS-50/Moss Sirius design were under construction or contract at the Severodvinsk shipyard in Russia as of early 2007, but were configured for oil production. On May 11, 2011, Col. Mark Arn, the SBX project manager for MDA, said that SBX is only one of its kind and there are no current plans for another one.[1] In July 2011, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman explained that other, smaller radars in the Pacific will “pick up the slack” while SBX is in port with its radar turned off.[2]

Operational history

The SBX deployed in 2006. The ship has spent time for maintenance and repair at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii several times, including 170 days in 2006, 63 days in 2007, 63 days in 2008, 177 days in 2009, and 51 days in 2010. When not at Hawaii, the SBX has been on operational deployments in the Pacific, including traveling to waters off Alaska. The ship has not moored at Alaska, in spite of the construction of a $26 million, eight-point mooring chain system installed in 2007 in Adak‘s Kuluk Bay. On June 23, 2009, the SBX was moved to offshore Hawaii in response to a potential North Korean missile launch. Between 2009 and 2010, the vessel spent 396 continuous days at sea.[3]

The SBX failed during a flight test on January 31, 2010, designated FTG-06. The test was a simulation of a North Korean or Iranian missile launch.[4] The test failure arose from two factors, the first being that algorithms in the SBX radar software which are designed to filter out extraneous information from the target scene were left disengaged for the test, and the second was a mechanical failure in a thruster on the kill vehicle.[5]

During flight test FTG-06a on December 15, 2010, the SBX performed as expected, but intercept of the target missile was again not achieved.

In May 2011, the SBX-1 entered Vigor Shipyard (formerly the Todd Pacific Shipyard) in Seattle for a $27 million upgrade and maintenance work by contractor Boeing.[6] The work was completed in about three months and in August 2011, SBX-1 departed Seattle for deployment.[7]

In February 2012, the Missile Defense Agency requested only $9.7 million per year for Fiscal Years 2013 through 2017, down from $176.8 million in fiscal 2012. This reduced amount would be used to maintain SBX in a “limited test support” role, “while also retaining the ability to recall it to an active, operational status if and when it is needed.”[8]

In April 2012 it was reported that SBX-1 had left Pearl Harbor and was assumed to be being deployed to monitor North Korea’s planned Unha-3 missile in the launch window of 12–16 April 2012.[9] The vessel returned to Pearl Harbor on 21 May 2012.[10] It redeployed to monitor the next North Korean launch attempt at the end of 2012.[11]

In April 2013 it was reported that SBX-1 was being deployed to monitor North Korea. [12]

FY 14 budget: Sequester puts key Air Force objectives at risk

Upon release of the Air Force Fiscal Year 2014 budget here April 10, the services’ senior leaders said the shadow of sequestration in 2013 and on-going fiscal uncertainty will affect critical programs and objectives for years to come.

While Air Force officials have scrambled to minimize impacts on readiness and people, the bow-wave of reductions, deferments, and cancellations will challenge the strategic choices made in the FY14 budget submission, said Maj. Gen. Edward L. Bolton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget.

The Air Force FY 2014 Budget Request is strategy-based, fiscally informed, and sets a course toward full-spectrum readiness of the force to execute the Defense Strategic Guidance, he added.

Under the Budget Control Act, the Defense Department is required to reduce expenditures by $487 billion over the next 10 years with a reduction of $259 billion over the next five.

“Given today’s fiscally constrained environment, the Air Force must pursue the best combination of choices available to balance force reductions and manage war-fighting risks, resources and the bow-wave of impacts from FY 2013,” Bolton said. “Taking these actions allows us to keep faith with our 687,634 total force Airmen and continue to excel in our role to fly, fight, and win in air, space and cyberspace.”

The general said the FY 2014 Budget Request supports military end strength of 503,400. This includes active component end strength of 327,600, a decrease of 1,860; Reserve component end strength of 70,400, a decrease of 480; and Air National Guard end strength of 105,400, a decrease of 300 relative to the Air Force’s FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act-enacted levels.

“This budget reallocates manpower to our highest priorities and sustains, with less-than- desirable risk, our cornerstone programs across the broad Air Force portfolio of mission sets,” Bolton said.
According to Bolton, the FY14 operation and maintenance budget request supports 79 major installations: 72 active duty, two Air National Guard and five Air Force Reserve. The request also funds flying operations, space operations, cyber operations, intelligence, logistics, nuclear deterrence, search and rescue and special operations activities.

The procurement portfolio, officials said, delivers both immediate and future capabilities through investment across four specific appropriations: aircraft, missile, ammunition and other procurement.

A new multi-year C-130 procurement initiative leverages resources across services, funding six C-130J aircraft, one HC-130, four MC-130s and five AC-130s in FY14, Bolton said.
“Additionally, the Air Force procures twelve MQ-9, nineteen F-35A, and three CV-22B Osprey in addition to various upgrades and modifications to the existing fleet.”

The Air Force’s space and missile objectives include procuring a fixed price block buy of advanced extremely high frequency satellite vehicles and space-based infrared systems in addition to space situational awareness systems and global positioning systems.

“To ensure future viability of our nation’s nuclear deterrence operations, we’ve requested funding for long-range, penetrating bomber as well as Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile modernization projects,” Bolton said.

In addition to funding for the KC-46A cargo aircraft, resource allocations will foster system development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the next generation strike aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and our allies, the general explained.

The Air Force military construction appropriation, Bolton said, funds construction projects supporting operational needs, infrastructure modernization, combatant commander priorities and quality-of-life initiatives for Airmen and joint personnel.

“The FY14 MILCON budget request restores funding to historic levels when compared to last year,” he said.

In FY14, the Air Force requests $1.3million for the active, Guard and Reserve MILCON programs, an $880 million increase from FY13.

“We do maintain the capability to support the strategy; we did accurately balance the active duty, Guard and Reserve,” Bolton said. “We do support Airmen and their families, but the capabilities are at risk as a result of the bow wave between ’13 and ’14. Bottom line … to completely reconstitute the Air Force is going to take some time.”