LVC, robotic targets, threat emitters … but F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots? Marty Kauchak highlights the proposed US defense authorization.
The US House of Representatives House Armed Services Committee placed the first marker on the Fiscal Year 2023 Pentagon defense budget when it passed the $839.3 billion FY23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The document is winding its way through review and mark-up processes in other House and US Senate committees, with the desired end-state of having a budget in place with President Biden’s signature by the start of FY23 (October 1).
Of additional significance, Congress routinely exerts its oversight over big-ticket acquisition and high-visibility programs in budget documents. Such is the case with this HASC bill, which also selectively requires DoD offices to provide updates and briefings on a wide range of simulation and training efforts. The scope of defense spending and oversight in this document, of course, extends across the US DoD enterprise.
Simulation – LVC, Marksmanship, Aircrew
MS&T routinely reports on the long-gestating, disparate efforts of industry, academic institutions and the military services to field live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) training environments for US DoD. Congress is focused on helping to bring a more rigorous, persistent LVC to reality sooner rather than later. In this case, the HASC is directing the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in coordination with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Education and Training, to provide a briefing on the DoD’s overall plan to field joint, interoperable, blended live, virtual, and constructive training environments.
MS&T has also covered increased fidelity added to virtual marksmanship training systems. That trend is expected to continue as this document directs the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology to provide a report on the requirements and plans for the development and acquisition of autonomous robotic targets for small arms training.
With attention on aircrew training, the HASC NDAA directs the Secretary of the Air Force to provide a briefing on efforts to field a non-developmental, high-fidelity, full-effective radiated power, X-band threat emitter capability that would be suitable for aircrew training.
The HASC inserted the requirement for an annual report by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics on the evolving T-7A training aircraft acquisition program. Additionally, this version of the NDAA directs the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a report regarding the planned reduction of advanced pilot training aircraft capacity of the Air Force. Further, this document authorizes the Air Force to procure upgraded ejection seats for certain T-38A training aircraft.
Training with Allies and Friends
Live training with defense services around the globe remains a tenet of US strategy and policy. For 2023, the HASC stated its support for the use of joint military exercises with Taiwan. In a further expansion of the US Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercise series (https://www.halldale.com/articles/19633-defying-the-dragon-rimpac-2022), the HASC inserted language, a “sense of Congress” in this instance, that Taiwan should be invited to participate in the 2024 RimPac exercise.
Elsewhere in the Pacific, Australia currently operates six diesel-electric guided-missile submarines. The maritime nation has announced the AUKUS plan to field nuclear-powered submarines instead with the help of the UK and the US. The new Australia-US Submarine Officer Pipeline Act would allow Australian naval officers to begin training in the United States to learn how to operate and maintain nuclear-powered subs, before eventually becoming commanding officers of the future boats.
One of the more interesting amendments to this bill was a provision from Rep. Adam Kinzinger to authorize $100 million to provide training to Ukrainian pilots and ground crews to become familiarized with American aircraft. This sets up a rather interesting discussion point during the FY23 budget deliberations with the White House. While Ukrainian pilots and defense officials have pleaded for the US to provide them with F-16s and other aircraft, thus far the Biden administration has rejected those calls.