Unfunded Piority List

The US Naval Institute has published an online copy of the DOD’s unfunded priority list. The Navy’s list runs pages 9-13 of the 49 page document reproduced there.

Which got me to thinking, where is the Coast Guard’s unfunded priority list? Do we have one? If not, shouldn’t we? The FY2015 budget proposal includes only two Fast Response Cutters. First on the list, four more. The additional 14 C-27Js still leave us four Maritime Patrol Aircraft short of the program of record. Four more C-144s (or C-27s) please. There is a documented requirement for three heavy and three medium icebreakers. Lets fix the Polar Sea. To do all its statutory missions, the Coast Guard Fleet Mix Study  indicated we need nine National Security Cutters not eight and not 25 Offshore  Patrol Cutters but 57. We are not ready to order the OPCs yet, but a ninth NSC is something we could use right now. Plus the Coast Guard needs replacements or rebuilds for the inland fleet of tenders and the 65 foot icebreaking tugs. Incidentally the Fleet Mix Study says the Coast Guard need 65 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (listed as C-144s in the study) not the 36 in the program of record or the 32 in the works currently.

The Commandant has been saying the Coast Guard needs $2.5B a year in AC&I. Why not tell Congress how we would spend it. If I remember correctly, Congress has in fact asked for this. The Coast Guard would be remiss in not providing it.



Coast Guard Capital Investment Plan, 2014-2018

Earlier we discussed the House sub-committee hearings on the Coast Guard’s Capital Investment Plan (CIP). The US Naval Institute has published the plan, you can see it here. It is very short, only six pages, and virtually all the useful information is on the last page.

What I found bewildering is that the Coast Guard does not have any unfunded priorities. The report is supposed to include unfunded priorities, after all the long title is “Capital Investment Plan and Unfunded Priority List.”

“This report responds to the language set forth in
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012
(Pub. L. 112-213) as per the following:
SEC. 213 CAPITAL INVESTMENT PLAN AND ANNUAL LIST OF PROJECTS……….(b) UNFUNDED PRIORITY DEFINED.—In this section, the term unfunded priority’ means a program or mission requirement that— (1) has not been selected for funding in the applicable proposed budget;(2) is necessary to fulfill a requirement associated with an operational need; and (3) the Commandant would have recommended for inclusion in the applicable proposed budget had additional resources been available or had the requirement emerged before the budget was submitted.”
If you look at the “Fleet Mix Study” it is clear that both the Coast Guard and the DHS agree that in order to accomplish its mandated missions, the Coast Guard has a significant shortfall in assets and would still have a shortfall even if the “Program of Record” (POR) were complete today.
Looking at the table below which was included in the Fleet Mix Study, that concluded the assets under FMA-4 would be required to complete all mandated missions, we can see that the POR is short one NSC, 32 OPCs, 33 OPCs, 22 C-130s, 31 HC-144s, 62 H-60s, 121 H-65s, 22 land based UAS, and 19 Cutter based UAS.
Table ES-8 Alternative Fleet Mix Asset Quantities
—————-–POR       FMA-1       FMA-2        FMA-3        FMA-4
NSC                8             9                 9                 9                  9
OPC              25           32               43                50               57
FRC               58           63               75                80               91
HC-130         22            32               35                44               44
HC-144A       36            37               38                40               65
H-60              42            80               86                99             106
H-65            102          140             159              188             223
UAS-LB          4             19                21                21              22
UAS-CB       42             15                19               19               19
Where are these unfunded priorities? It is one thing to say, “This is what we think we need, but we understand we cannot afford it right now.” It is another thing entirely to preemptively surrender and not even tell Congress what you need when they have asked.
And, at a subcommittee hearing entitled “Examining Cutter, Aircraft, and Communications Needs,” why was there no mention of the Fleet Mix Study except in passing by the Congress’s own researcher?

And You Thought We Had It Bad

Yes, some of our aircraft are getting old, and our ships are even older, but consider South Africa. It’s Air Force does their Maritime surveillance. Defense  Web reports they use C-47/DC-3 airframes, updated to the extent of having their reciprocating engines replaced by turbines.  That makes the aircraft close to 70 years old. I have to think, this is what happens when you put the Air Force in charge of your maritime recon. It takes last place.

File:Dakota C-47 at Ysterplaat Airshow, Cape Town.jpg
This image, which was originally posted to Flickr.com, was uploaded to Wikipedia Commons using Flickr upload bot on 13:09, 8 January 2008 (UTC) by Evers

C-27Js as MPA?–DOD Declares 38 New Aircraft Surplus


Recent DOD statements indicate they intended to “divest” themselves of 38 C-27J. These are all essentially new twin engine aircraft using the engines and glass cockpit of the C-130J. The USAF just released their Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets. Among the “more than 280 aircraft have been identified in the current budget submission for elimination across all Air Force components over the next five years” are 21 C‐27s. (I believe the remaining 17 aircraft are owned by the Army.)

If the Coast Guard could “missionize” these aircraft as they are doing the HC-144A and use them as Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) instead of buying more HC-144As, the service might save close to a billion dollars and get an aircraft that is more capable in almost every respect, and have them sooner. My understanding is that the Coast Guard originally wanted the CASA C-295 which is very close in specification to the C-27J. In many respects, its capabilities approach those of the C-130H. I think it might be worth a look.

The total “revised baseline” for the MPA program is $2.4B for 36 aircraft. The Coast Guard has accepted or contracted for 15 HC-144s. The fifteenth HC-144A cost $41M. If we assume the CG obtains 21 C-27Js instead of 21 HC-144As and assuming a savings of $40M each, that would be $840M. Enough to buy a new polar icebreaker, or two or three ice strengthened cutters, or perhaps three or four OPCs.

This was originally an Army program, handed over to the Air Force. These aircraft were purchased for infra-theater supply using airfields that were too small for the C-130. That need never really surfaced, C-130s, that they had in abundance, could perform all the supply missions and was more efficient in the cargo transport role. The first C-27J was delivered in 2008. Most were delivered in the last two years.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Minimum two: pilot, co-pilot, (plus loadmaster when needed)
  • Capacity: 60 troops or 46 paratroops or 36 litters with 6 medical personnel
  • Payload: 11,500 kg (25,353 lb)
  • Length: 22.7 m (74 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 9.64 m (31 ft 8 in)
  • Wing area: 82 m2 (880 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 17,000 kg (37,479 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 30,500 kg (67,241 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce AE2100-D2A turboprop, 3,460 kW (4,640 hp) each
  • Propellers: 6-bladed Dowty Propeller 391/6-132-F/10, 4.15 m (13 ft 7 in) diameter


  • Maximum speed: 602 km/h (374 mph; 325 kn)
  • Cruising speed: 583 km/h (362 mph; 315 kn)
  • Minimum control speed: 194 km/h; 121 mph (105 kn)
  • Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi; 1,000 nmi) with 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lb) payload
  • Range at 6,000 kg payload: 4,260 km (2,650 mi; 2,300 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 5,926 km (3,682 mi; 3,200 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 9,144 m (30,000 ft)

Here are the characteristics of the HC-144A for comparison.

  • Airframe Manufacturer: EADS/CASA, Spain
  • Wing Span: 84ft. 8in.
  • Wing Area: 636sq.ft.
  • Height: 26ft. 10in.
  • Length: 70ft. 3in.
  • Max Gross Weight: 36,380 lbs
  • Empty Weight: 21,605 lbs
  • Propulsion: Two General Electric CT7-93C Turboprop
  • Speed: 236 kts
  • Range: 1,565 nm
  • Endurance: 8.7 h
  • Minumum Crew: Two

A Truely Low Cost Maritime Surveillance Aircraft

Spanish IT contractor Indra, SELEX Galileo, FLIR Systems and Airborne Technologies are equipping an Italian built, light twin aircraft to perform maritime surveillance.


“Regarding the sensors, the aircraft will be equipped with SELEX Galileo’s Seaspray 5000E radar whose detail degree allows distinction of the shapes and sizes of objects and is capable of detecting vessels or small objects in the sea. It will also carry a state-of-the-art  electroptical camera of large format and high definition of FLIR Systems. We should also add a vessel id system which captures the automatic signals of ships. This identification signal emitted by ships is compared with that supplied by the aircraft sensors, thus facilitating surveillance and detection of suspicious actions.”

In its civilian form, the Tecnam P2006 is the lightest certified twin engine aircraft sold in the US. It has two 98 HP engines that can run on either AvGas or premium auto-gas. The four seat is about the size and price of a Cessna 172. Fuel burn is less than 10 gal. per hour.

An ability to search up to 40,000 sq miles (e.g. 200×200) on a single sortie is claimed.

This might be thought of as an alternative to UAVs.

Mexico takes delivery of MPA–Their Version of HC-144

The Mexican Navy has taken delivery of the first of four Airbus Military CN235 aircraft equipped as Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) paralleling the Coast Guard’s own planned procurement of 36 CN235s as HC-144A.

The delivery was made through EADS North America under the Mérida Initiative, a joint program between the US Government and the Government of Mexico.

Deepwater program “Unachievable”–GAO, Part One

The GAO has issued a status report on the Coast Guard’s “Deepwater” programs. The Navy Times has a pretty good summary. (Note the Coast Guard has requested that the “Deepwater” designation be dropped, but it had not happened when the report was issued.)

Based on the the GAO report, we can expect that the programs will both cost more and take longer than planned. In fact these two problems appear to be mutually reinforcing. Because the costs are higher, the schedule is stretched out. Because the schedule is stretched out, the cost goes up.

Illustration below: The plan–six years ago


You can see the entire GAO report (pdf format) here. Below is the GAO’s own summary of the report taken from the “recommendations” page associated with this report on their web site.

“The Deepwater Program includes efforts to build or modernize ships and aircraft, including supporting capabilities. In 2007, the Coast Guard took over the systems integrator role from Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) and established a $24.2 billion program baseline which included schedule and performance parameters. Last year, GAO reported that Deepwater had exceeded cost and schedule parameters, and recommended a comprehensive study to assess the mix of assets needed in a cost-constrained environment given the approved baseline was no longer feasible. GAO assessed the (1) extent to which the program is exceeding the 2007 baseline and credibility of selected cost estimates and schedules; (2) execution, design, and testing of assets; and (3) Coast Guard’s efforts to conduct a fleet mix analysis. GAO reviewed key Coast Guard documents and applied criteria from GAO’s cost guide.

“The Deepwater Program continues to exceed the cost and schedule baselines approved by DHS in 2007, but several factors continue to preclude a solid understanding of the program’s true cost and schedule. The Coast Guard has developed baselines for some assets that indicate the estimated total acquisition cost could be as much as $29.3 billion, or about $5 billion over the $24.2 billion baseline. But additional cost growth is looming because the Coast Guard has yet to develop revised baselines for all assets, including the OPC–the largest cost driver in the program. In addition, the Coast Guard’s most recent capital investment plan indicates further cost and schedule changes not yet reflected in the asset baselines, contributing to the approved 2007 baseline no longer being achievable. The reliability of the cost estimates and schedules for selected assets is also undermined because the Coast Guard did not follow key best practices for developing these estimates. Coast Guard and DHS officials agree that the annual funding needed to support all approved Deepwater baselines exceeds current and expected funding levels, which affects some programs’ approved schedules. The Coast Guard’s acquisition directorate has developed action items to help address this mismatch by prioritizing acquisition program needs, but these action items have not been adopted across the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard continues to strengthen its acquisition management capabilities, but is faced with several near-term decisions to help ensure that assets still in design will meet mission needs. For example, whether or not the planned system-of-systems design is achievable will largely depend upon remaining decisions regarding the design of the command and control system. Important decisions related to the affordability, feasibility, and capability of the OPC also remain. For those assets under construction and operational, preliminary tests have yielded mixed results and identified concerns, such as design issues, to be addressed prior to initial operational test and evaluation. The Coast Guard is gaining a better understanding of cost, schedule, and technical risks, but does not always fully convey these risks in reports to Congress. As lead systems integrator, the Coast Guard planned to complete a fleet mix analysis to eliminate uncertainty surrounding future mission performance and produce a baseline for Deepwater. This analysis, which the Coast Guard began in 2008, considered the current program to be the “floor” for asset capabilities and quantities and did not impose cost constraints on the various fleet mixes. Consequently, the results will not be used for trade-off decisions. The Coast Guard has now begun a second analysis, expected for completion this summer, which includes an upper cost constraint of $1.7 billion annually–more than Congress has appropriated for the entire Coast Guard acquisition portfolio in recent years. DHS is also conducting a study to gain insight into alternatives that may include options that are lower than the program of record for surface assets. A DHS official stated that this analysis and the Coast Guard’s fleet mix analysis will provide multiple data points for considering potential changes to the program of record, but Coast Guard officials stated they have no intention of examining fleet mixes smaller than the current, planned Deepwater program. GAO is making recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that include identifying trade-offs to the planned Deepwater fleet and ensuring the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) design is achievable and to the Coast Guard that include identifying priorities, incorporating cost and schedule best practices, increasing confidence that assets will meet mission needs, and reporting complete information on risks to Congress in a timely manner. DHS concurred with the recommendations.”

For those of you who don’t want to wade through the entire report, I’ll be revisiting this topic to highlight GAO’s reservations regarding costs, scheduling, and capabilities.