AOC 2018: US EW advocate fears defence budget cuts
US EW programmes fared well in recent budget deliberations, but that progress might soon be derailed by potential cuts to the overall defence budget, according to a leading EW advocate in Congress.
The EC-37B Compass Call replacement programme, which was ‘on hold’ not long ago, was ‘fixed’ by Congress and is now poised to produce two aircraft a year instead of the less efficient rate of one a year that the air force had planned, Rep Don Bacon (R-Neb) said on 29 November.
In addition, the US Navy’s EA-18G Growler aircraft and a modernisation effort for the US Air Force’s RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft are both fully funded in the FY 2019 defence authorization act, which became law in August.
But after two years of robust funding, the Pentagon may have to go on a diet. Concerned about growing government budget deficits, President Donald Trump recently indicated he wants to spend about $700 billion on defence in FY 2020, down from $717 billion in FY 2019.
Congressional Democrats, who will take over the House of Representatives in January, could push for even deeper reductions to pay for non-defence priorities.
‘That topline [is something] we’re going to be grappling with, and a topline reduction will affect what we do on electronic warfare,’ said Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Bacon, a retired USAF Brig Gen and former EW officer, said he plans to resist such cuts. He believes defence spending needs to grow at the rate of inflation to sustain the current military buildup.
‘There will be friction, and I plan to be a part of it,’ Bacon said at the Association of the Old Crows in Washington DC.
Bacon said EW enjoys strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, so cuts would be the result of overall defence budget constraints flowing down to individual programmes.
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