Big Money for Next-Gen Munitions

 In Defense

General Atomics illus­tra­tion

Pentagon spend­ing on muni­tions is more tilted toward next-gen­er­a­tion sys­tems com­pared with other invest­ment areas, accord­ing to big data ana­lyt­ics firm Govini.

The Defense Department is pur­su­ing new tech­nolo­gies across its capa­bil­i­ty port­fo­lios to main­tain its edge over advanced adver­saries. But older sys­tems are still eating up a large chunk of the budget, Govini ana­lysts said in a recent report titled, “The 2020 Federal Scorecard,” which tracks past, cur­rent and future gov­ern­ment spend­ing trends.

“Investment in next-gen­er­a­tion plat­forms — and DoD’s tran­si­tion to a more lethal and resilient force — is slowed by con­tin­ued invest­ment in legacy plat­forms,” the study said.

However, “more rapid progress is occur­ring in muni­tions … with fund­ing totals more close­ly match­ing legacy muni­tions.”

From fiscal years 2016 through 2025, the Pentagon is expect­ed to spend about $237 bil­lion on next-gen plat­forms and $377 bil­lion on legacy plat­forms, accord­ing to Govini.

However, during that same period, spend­ing on advanced muni­tions and hyper­son­ic weapons are expect­ed to total $39 bil­lion and $18 bil­lion, respec­tive­ly — sig­nif­i­cant­ly more in total than the $48 bil­lion pro­ject­ed for legacy muni­tions.

During the fore­cast period, invest­ments in hyper­son­ics and advanced muni­tions have a pro­ject­ed com­pound annual growth rate of 21 per­cent and 9 per­cent, respec­tive­ly.

Hypersonic weapons are one of the Pentagon’s top three research-and-devel­op­ment pri­or­i­ties, and the mil­i­tary is invest­ing in air‑, ground- and sea-launched vari­ants. The sys­tems are expect­ed to travel at speeds greater than Mach 5, be highly maneu­ver­able and capa­ble of over­whelm­ing enemy air-and-mis­sile defens­es. Plans call for acquir­ing them in large quan­ti­ties.

The depart­ment is also pur­su­ing a vari­ety of other advanced weapons such as the pre­ci­sion strike mis­sile and the long-range anti-ship mis­sile.

Although muni­tions are pri­mar­i­ly deliv­ered by tra­di­tion­al defense com­pa­nies, small busi­ness­es are still a crit­i­cal part of the sector, the report noted.

“The impor­tance of small busi­ness­es in these sub­seg­ments should not be over­looked as they often per­form crit­i­cal roles within the supply chain,” it said. “Small busi­ness­es are most promi­nent in RDT&E con­tracts that sup­port next-gen­er­a­tion sys­tems devel­op­ment.”

That small vendor base is now in jeop­ardy due to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the study noted.

“Leap-ahead tech­nolo­gies are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble as the role of small busi­ness­es is sub­stan­tial­ly higher,” it said. “The short-term dis­rup­tion of COVID-19 may have impacts that are felt years, or even decades, into the future if ven­dors devel­op­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary tech­nolo­gies are ham­pered or put out of busi­ness.”

Topics: Budget

NDIA source|articles

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