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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress


Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

CVN-78, CVN-79, and CVN-80 are the first three ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN- 78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).

CVN-78 was procured in FY2008 and is being funded with congressionally authorized four-year incremental funding in FY2008-FY2011. The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $11,531.0 million (i.e., about $11.5 billion) in then-year dollars. The Navy’s proposed FY2011 budget requested $1,731.3 million in procurement funding as the final increment to complete this estimated procurement cost.

CVN-79 is scheduled for procurement in FY2013, and has received advance procurement funding since FY2007. The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $10,253.0 million (i.e., about $10.3 billion) in then-year dollars and requests $554.8 million in advance procurement funding for the ship.

CVN-80 is scheduled for procurement in FY2018, with advance procurement funding scheduled to begin in FY2014. The Navy’s proposed FY2012 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $13,494.9 million (i.e., about $13.5 billion) in then-year dollars.

On April 6, 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced a number of recommendations he was making to the President for the FY2010 defense budget submission. One of these was to shift procurement of carriers to five-year intervals. This recommendation, which was included in the FY2010 defense budget submission, deferred the scheduled procurement of CVN-79 from FY2012 to FY2013, and the scheduled procurement of CVN-80 from FY2016 to FY2018. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on April 6, 2009, that shifting carrier procurement to five-year intervals would put carrier procurement on “a more fiscally sustainable path.”

Oversight issues for Congress for the CVN-78 program include technical risk and the potential for cost growth on CVNs 78, 79, and 80, and technical and design issues for CVN-78 class carriers that were raised in a December 2010 report from the Department of Defense (DOD) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).



Date of Report: April 20, 2011
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RS20643
Price: $29.95

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F-35 Alternate Engine Program: Background and Issues for Congress


Jeremiah Gertler
Specialist in Military Aviation

For four successive years, Congress has rejected Administration proposals to terminate the program to develop the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 engine as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine that currently powers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The Administration’s FY2012 budget submission again requests no funds for the program.

The alternate engine program began in FY1996, when defense authorization conferees directed DOD to ensure that the JSF (then “JAST”) program “provides for adequate engine competition.” Through FY2009, Congress has provided approximately $2.5 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program. The program is projected to need an additional $1.9 billion-$2.9 billion through 2016 to complete the development of the F136 engine.

Critics of the proposal to terminate the F136 alternate engine argue that termination was driven more by immediate budget pressures on the department than the long-term pros and cons of the F136 program. They argue that engine competition for the F-15 and F-16 saved money and resulted in greater reliability. Some who applaud the proposed termination say that single-source engine production has been the norm, not the exception. Long-term engine affordability, they claim, is best achieved by procuring engines through multiyear contracts from a single source.

Canceling the F136 engine poses questions on the operational risk—particularly of fleet grounding—posed by having a single engine design and supplier. Additional issues include the potential impact this termination might have on the U.S. defense industrial base and on U.S. relations with key allied countries involved in the alternate engine program. Finally, eliminating competitive market forces for DOD business worth billions of dollars may concern those seeking efficiency from DOD’s acquisition system and raises the challenge of cost control in a singlesupplier environment.

Continuing F136 development raises issues of impact on the overall F-35 acquisition program. It also raises issues of the outyear costs and operational concerns stemming from the requirement to support two different engines in the field. 

FY2011 defense authorization bill:
In markup on May 19, 2010, the House Armed Services Committee added $485 million to continue the alternate engine program, and passed language that would limit F-35 procurement to 30 aircraft and prohibit DOD from spending 25% of its F- 35 budget until all alternate engine funds had been obligated. On May 27, 2010, the House voted to defeat an amendment that would have eliminated funding for the alternate engine. The version of the authorization report reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee does not include such funding.

As passed, H.R. 6523, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2011, did not include program-level detail, so no amount is specified for the F-35 alternate engine (nor, for that matter, the F-35 itself). 

FY2011 DOD appropriations bill:
The House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee report included $450 million for the F-35 alternate engine. The Senate Appropriations Committeereported version of the bill, released September 16, 2010, included no such funding. On February 16, 2011, the House voted to remove alternate engine funding from the final FY2011 DOD and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act. As enacted, the act included no funding for the F-35 alternate engine.



Date of Report: April 20, 2011
Number of Pages: 66
Order Number: R41131
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nuclear Cooperation with Other Countries: A Primer


Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Mary Beth Nikitin
Specialist in Nonproliferation


In order for the United States to engage in civilian nuclear cooperation with other states, it must conclude a framework agreement that meets specific requirements under section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act (AEA). The AEA also provides for exemptions to these requirements, export control licensing procedures, and criteria for terminating cooperation. Congressional review is required for section 123 agreements; the AEA establishes special parliamentary procedures by which Congress may act on a proposed agreement.


Date of Report: April 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RS22937
Price: $29.95

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Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues


Amy F. Woolf
Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy

Prompt global strike (PGS) would allow the United States to strike targets anywhere on earth with conventional weapons in as little as an hour. This capability may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but it has restricted funding and suggested some changes in funding for specific programs.

Many analysts believe that the United States should use long-range ballistic missiles armed with conventional warheads for the PGS mission. These weapons would not substitute for nuclear weapons in the U.S. war plan but would, instead, provide a “niche” capability, with a small number of weapons directed against select, critical targets, which might expand the range of U.S. conventional options. Some analysts, however, have raised concerns about the possibility that U.S. adversaries might misinterpret the launch of a missile with conventional warheads and conclude that the missiles carry nuclear weapons. DOD is considering a number of systems that might provide the United States with long-range strike capabilities.

The Air Force and Navy have both considered deploying conventional warheads on their longrange ballistic missiles. The Navy sought to deploy conventional warheads on a small number of Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In FY2008, Congress rejected the requested funding for this program. The Air Force and DARPA are developing a hypersonic glide delivery vehicle that could deploy on a modified Peacekeeper land-based ballistic missile—a system known as the Conventional Strike Missile (CSM). In FY2008, Congress created a single, combined fund for the conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) mission. This fund is supporting research and development into the Air Force CSM and two possible hypersonic glide vehicles. The Obama Administration has requested $239.9 million for the CPGS program in FY2011.

Congress may consider a number of issues when it reviews the budget requests for CPGS weapons. It may question DOD’s rationale for the mission, reviewing whether the United States might face circumstances in conflicts where it would have to attack targets promptly at the start of or during a conflict, and when it could not rely on forward-based land or naval forces. It might also review whether this capability would reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons or whether, as some critics have asserted, it might upset stability and possibly increase the risk of a nuclear response to a U.S. attack. This risk derives, in part, from the possibility that nations detecting the launch of a U.S. PGS weapon would not be able to determine whether the weapon carried a nuclear or conventional warhead. Congress has raised concerns about this possibility in the past.

Although the Air Force Conventional Strike Missile is the main contender for the CPGS mission, the Air Force may not be able to deploy this system until later in this decade, as the hypersonic glide vehicle has not yet had a successful test flight. Hence, Congress may review other weapons options for the PGS mission. These include not only ballistic missiles and boost-glide systems, but also bombers, cruise missiles, and possibly scramjets or other advanced technologies.

Finally, Congress is likely to question how the New START Treaty, signed by the United States and Russia in April 2010, would affect U.S. plans for the CPGS mission. Warheads deployed on boost-glide systems would not be affected by the treaty because these are new types of strategic offensive arms. But those deployed in existing types of reentry vehicles on existing types of ballistic missiles, like the Navy’s CTM program, would count against the treaty limits. This report will be updated as needed. 
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Date of Report: April 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 41
Order Number: R41464
Price: $29.95

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The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions


Amy F. Woolf
Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy

The United States and Russia signed the New START Treaty on April 8, 2010. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee both held hearings on the treaty. The U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on December 22, 2010, by a vote of 71-26. Both houses of the Russian parliament—the Duma and Federation Council— approved the treaty in late January 2011, and it entered into force on February 5, 2011, after Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov exchanged the instruments of ratification.

New START provides the parties with seven years to reduce their forces, and will remain in force for a total of 10 years. It limits each side to no more than 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM and SLBM launchers and deployed and nondeployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. Within that total, each side can retain no more than 700 deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear armaments. The treaty also limits each side to no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; those are the actual number of warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs, and one warhead for each deployed heavy bomber.

New START contains detailed definitions and counting rules that will help the parties calculate the number of warheads that count under the treaty limits. Moreover, the delivery vehicles and their warheads will count under the treaty limits until they are converted or eliminated according to the provisions described in the treaty’s Protocol. These provisions are far less demanding than those in the original START Treaty and will provide the United States and Russia with far more flexibility in determining how to reduce their forces to meet the treaty limits.

The monitoring and verification regime in the New START Treaty is less costly and complex than the regime in START. Like START, though, it contains detailed definitions of items limited by the treaty; provisions governing the use of national technical means (NTM) to gather data on each side’s forces and activities; an extensive database that identifies the numbers, types, and locations of items limited by the treaty; provisions requiring notifications about items limited by the treaty; and inspections allowing the parties to confirm information shared during data exchanges.

New START does not limit current or planned U.S. missile defense programs. It does ban the conversion of ICBM and SLBM launchers to launchers for missile defense interceptors, but the United States never intended to pursue such conversions when deploying missile defense interceptors. Under New START, the United States can deploy conventional warheads on its ballistic missiles, but these will count under the treaty limit on nuclear warheads. The United States may deploy a small number of these systems during the time that New START is in force.

The Obama Administration and outside analysts argue that New START will strengthen strategic stability and enhance U.S. national security. They contend that New START will contribute to U.S. nuclear nonproliferation goals by convincing other nations that the United States is serious about its obligations under the NPT. This might convince more nations to cooperate with the United States in pressuring nations who are seeking their own nuclear weapons.

Critics, however, question whether the treaty serves U.S. national security interests, as Russia was likely to reduce its forces with or without an arms control agreement and because the United States and Russia no longer need arms control treaties to manage their relationship. Some also consider the U.S.-Russian arms control process to be a distraction from the more important issues on the nonproliferation agenda.



Date of Report: April 21, 2011
Number of Pages: 36
Order Number: R41219
Price: $29.95

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