Quad A: ITEP funding shutdown looming?
One point of agreement among Army leaders at this week's Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Mission Summit has been the critical importance of the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) in future aviation fleet planning.
That's why it was surprising to hear that the participating contractors might be stopping ITEP activities as early as next week.
Major General Robert Marion, Deputy for Acquisition and Systems Management in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, identified the looming shutdown as one consequence of ongoing US defense budget uncertainties for the current fiscal year.
Acknowledging that the Army's annual budget has been 'unpredictable' for several years, Marion pointed to the lack of a budget for FY 2017.
'We have a potential for a year long continuing resolution,' he said. 'That further exacerbates our modernisation challenges. Our lack of a 2017 budget is keeping nearly 50 new starts, across the Army, from starting in 2017. Among those is the Future Vertical Lift programme.'
Marion pointed to another '80 programmes whose funding will have to maintain at our 2016 levels, that we won't be able to fund at our 2017 levels, because we don't have a budget.
'One of those, also addressed today, is ITEP,' he added. 'We awarded two contracts in 2016 [to Advanced Turbine Engine Company – a Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney team and GE Aviation] for competitive technology maturation and risk reduction phases. And both those vendors developed schedules and are executing to that program. But their 2017 activity is constrained at their 2016 budget levels.
'So both of those vendors this week – this week – will stop, because they will exceed their 2016 funding levels,' he continued. 'So we won't be able to execute our analysis of alternatives and we will stop our ITEP program because we don't have a 2017 budget.'
He concluded, 'The net effect of a year long [continuing resolution] means procurement funding currently on hold remains on hold, preventing the Army from immediately addressing known shortfalls and gaps critical in maintaining overmatch with our adversaries.'
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