Congressman Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, has included additional provisions in the House passed National Defense Authorization Act. These provisions stand to benefit the development of Unmanned Aerial Systems as well as for the Air Force Research Lab.
“Every year, the NDAA is the vehicle for a number of provisions which have wide-reaching effect on not only our Department of Defense, but also our community of Southwest Ohio. I have continued my efforts of advocating for not only Wright-Patt and its important facilities, but for the development of Unmanned Aerial Systems. Those unmanned aircraft stand to be the future of our regional economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure these provisions reach the president’s desk, and are signed into law,” said Turner.
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
This provision clarifies the authority of the Secretary of Defense to enter into a memorandum of understanding with applicable entities regarding non-regulatory special use airspace.
Air Force Research Lab (AFRL)
Sec 2801: MODIFICATIONS AND EXTENSIONS OF AUTHORITY FOR LABORATORY REVITALIZATION PROJECTS
This provision would increase the authorization from $2M to $4M that the defense laboratories can spend on minor military construction. Provision modifies the Laboratory Revitalization (LRP) section 2805 of Title 10 regarding unspecified minor MILCON. The language is supported by the DoD as it originates from an FY14 DoD legislative proposal concerning minor milcon thresholds in general.
Turner had previously included a number of provisions in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which passed out of the full House Armed Services Committee last week. Those provisions stand to benefit servicemembers, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and Southwest Ohio and are part of the House approved bill. Those provisions follow below.
Military Child Custody Protections
Section 552—Protection of Child Custody Arrangements for Parents Who Are Members of the Armed Forces
This section would amend title II of the Service Members Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. app. 521) to require a court that issued a temporary custody order based solely on the deployment or anticipated deployment of a service member to reinstate the custody order that was in effect immediately preceding the temporary order, unless the court finds reinstatement is not in the best interest of the child. This section would also prohibit a court from using deployment or the possibility of deployment as the sole factor when determining the best interest of a child.
Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)
AFIT Report Structure
Report language has been included to encourage the Air Force to consider alternative organizational structures, including a closer alignment with Air Force or Department of Defense engineering and acquisition functions.
Air Education and Training Command (AETC) provides basic military training, initial and advanced technical training, flying training, and professional military and degree-granting education. The committee recognizes the importance of defense and technical focused education and is concerned, that as budget pressures force the services to reevaluate its priorities, AETC may be forced to shift resources to training and reduce its commitment to professional and technical degree-granting education. Such action could have long term implications on the professionalism of the Air Force. Section 245 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, Public Law 112-239, required the National Research Council to review specialized degree-granting graduate programs of the Department of Defense in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and management. The report required a review of existing organizational structures, including reporting chains, to manage the graduate education needs within the military departments. Until the committee receives this report, the committee encourages the Air Force to continue its traditional emphasis on education and maintain its Air Force education programs.
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)
UAS Research and Development
Report language has been included to encourage the Air Force to aggressively pursue development of technologies which will support advances in UAS and UAS countermeasures, to allow UAS operations in non-permissive environments, and working collaboratively with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to support the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.
The committee has long supported adequate investment for unmanned aerial system (UAS) acquisition and research and development. The committee notes that the U.S. military will continue to use UAS for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, as well as weapons delivery platforms. The committee also understands that current UAS platforms are primarily used in permissive environments, however future operations may require UAS platforms to operate in non-permissive environments. The committee is aware these systems have improved situational awareness and reduced many of the emotional hazards inherent in air and ground combat, thus decreasing the likelihood of causing civilian noncombatant casualties.
The Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces held a field hearing on April 23, 2013 that reviewed UAS modernization and technology investment. As a result of the hearing, the committee notes that the migration of UAS aircraft and sensor technology to the civilian sector could provide for greater competition, innovations in technology for both civilian and military missions, and could eventually decrease costs for both the government and private sectors. The committee also notes with concern that the budget request is procuring 234 fewer UAS than fiscal year 2013.
The committee encourages the Secretary of the Air Force to pursue development of technologies which would support advances in UAS development to include developing UAS for use in non-permissive environments, and encourage the Secretary of the Air Force to work collaboratively with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration to support the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.
Trusted Autonomy for Unmanned systems
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have proven to be valuable tools for our nation’s military, but to achieve the full potential of existing systems, a more seamless environment and ConOps centered on trust must be developed. Building on the capabilities of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Trusted Autonomy will develop enabling virtual and physical verification and validation, inherent trust, autonomous collaboration, closed-loop human-machine awareness, and overall high confidence capabilities for autonomy-based systems.
The committee is aware that the increasing congested national airspace will require the ability of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) of all sizes to operate in close proximity to other unmanned, as well as manned aircraft. As national security operations increasingly require expanded use of small, affordable UASs, the committee is concerned that the military with continue to be severely constrained from training in the National Airspace System due to the lack of a validated, effective Airborne Sense and Avoid (ABSAA) capability. The committee is aware that the services have demonstrated some recent advances in technology in which flight testing has demonstrated a highly reliable ABSAA capability. The committee encourages the Department to continue pursuing such technology efforts, such as those carried out by the Combating Terrorism Technology Support Office, in order to allow for significantly expanded ABSAA operational testing.
UAS Report on Resource Requirements Necessary to Meet the Integration 5 Year Roadmap
Section 1077—Reports on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
This section would require the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, on behalf of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Executive Committee, to jointly submit a report on unmanned aircraft system collaboration, demonstration, use cases and data sharing to the appropriate committees of Congress within 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act. This section would also require the Secretary of Defense, on behalf of the UAS Executive Committee, to submit a report to the appropriate committees of Congress setting forth the resource requirements needed to meet the milestones for unmanned aircraft systems integration described in the 5-year roadmap under section 332(a)(5) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (Public Law 112-95).
National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC)
NASIC Long Range Ballistic Missile Funding
The global threat environment involving long range ballistic missiles is increasing and the recent actions of North Korea demonstrate the continued need to fund long range ballistic missile intelligence. The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) is the primary Department of Defense producer of foreign aerospace intelligence and is the Department expert on foreign aerospace system capabilities. The Committee directs the Department of Defense to fully support NASIC’s funding requirements, especially the long range ballistic missile intelligence function.
Ballistic missile threat analysis
The committee understands the global threat environment involving ballistic missiles is increasing, and the recent actions of the Democratic Republic of Korea, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Islamic Republic of Iran demonstrate the continued need to fund ballistic missile intelligence. The National Air and Space Intelligence Center is the primary Department of Defense producer of foreign aerospace intelligence and is the Department's best resource on foreign long-range ballistic missiles. Likewise, the Missile and Space Intelligence Center is the primary intelligence component for the Department on the threat of short-range ballistic missiles to U.S. forces its allies, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The committee directs the Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, to submit a report to the congressional defense committees and the congressional intelligence committees within 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, that identifies the ballistic missile threats to the United States, its allies, and its deployed forces, as well as the gaps in our understanding of those threats. The committee further directs the Director to include an explanation for how the Defense Intelligence Agency intends to close the gaps identified in the report.
Foreign Material Exploitation
Directive report language has been included to require the Department of Defense (DoD) to take all steps necessary to ensure the Services have all facilities and resources necessary to contradict and exploit current foreign military systems.
Consistent with last year’s report, the committee notes the importance of the foreign materiel exploitation of the Department of Defense. According to Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General Report Number 98-005, foreign materiel exploitation involves analysis, testing, and evaluation of foreign materiel, to include testing against U.S. equipment. Foreign materiel exploitation supports Department of Defense acquisition programs, testing, threat simulator and target development, modeling and simulation, and training and tactics. The committee encourages the Department to ensure the military services have the necessarily facilities and resources to perform this critical mission.
Unmanned Ground Vehicles Upgrades and Repairs
A provision has been included to deal with the upgrades and repair of unmanned ground systems coming back from overseas war zones.
The committee notes that over the past 10 years, the Army has procured more than 5,000 unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) of various sizes and for numerous missions. The committee also notes that if modified, many of these UGVs could support engineering, military police, and chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear missions, as well as gives them uses in domestic support scenarios. However, the committee is concerned that the Army has not transitioned many of its UGV programs to base budget programs-of-record. For example, the PackBot and Talon systems continue to be managed primarily through Overseas Contingency Operations funding outside the Army’s normal upgrade programs. The committee believes that the continued ad hoc nature of the UGV programs will not allow for proper sustainment and upgrades in the future. Therefore, the committee encourages the Secretary of the Army to establish a formal acquisition program for fiscal year 2015 to properly facilitate repair, maintenance, and upgrades of the Army's UGVs. The program should comply with current Federal Acquisition Regulations and should be funded through budget lines for research, development, test, and evaluation, procurement, and modifications.