As Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced internal cost-cutting efforts, including cutting new and ongoing weapons programs, new opportunities will arise to revitalize older defense systems, according to analysts.
Since the military has invested more in new programs in recent years, it has not focused as much on large-scale repair and modernization of older equipment said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “As a result, we still have . . . this lagging need to recapitalize large parts of our force,” he said.
Yet Gates recently announced cost cutting efforts that are making clear that Defense will have to do more with less. For instance, the Marine Corps technically-plagued Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program will be cut and instead the money will be used toward repairing and upgrading the Marine Corps existing amphibious assault vehicles. Gates also outlined a plan to mix existing and planned air and sea platforms with a new amphibious vehicle.
Also, the Army plans to soon modernize some of its Abrams, Stryker and other combat vehicles. Gates delayed part of Lockheed Martin‘s F-35 strike-fighter aircraft program and instead said the Pentagon would buy more of Boeing‘s F/A-18 aircraft. “I think that there are going to be more and more examples like that,” Harrison said.
In response, the Defense industry is now positioning itself for these repair efforts. BAE Systems, for example, is hoping to win work repairing the amphibious assault vehicle it designed. The company said it’s now prepared for both bidding on new programs and modernizing older systems.
“You can’t get wed to any one thing, because all I can tell you is, as the future unfolds, what looks like a very high priority today . . . can change very rapidly,” said Bob Murphy, BEA System’s executive vice president for product sectors. “You’ve got to be prepared for the change.”