Development funding reduced by 18% and launch of major work put back by one year

The US Air Force has cut the E-10A's Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) systems development budget by $75 million, about 18%, and postponed the launch of major work on the programme by 12 months to fiscal year 2005.

BMC2 funding has been cut from $421 million to about $345 million, of which only $1 million is allocated for FY04. But a positive change, says an industry observer, lets the air force ramp up spending much faster starting in FY05.

BMC2 is one of three major components that form the E-10A, along with Boeing's 767-400ER and the Northrop Grumman/Raytheon Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Programme (MP-RTIP) sensor. BMC2 serves as the hub of the overarching Multisensor Command and Control Architecture (MC2A) and provides onboard processing of data from the MP-RTIP ground moving-target indicator (GMTI) radar.

The restructuring comes one month before the USAF begins the final competitive phase of the BMC2 award. The cuts were disclosed on 2 March to industry teams led by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which have been vying for the BMC2 development work since June.

It is understood the budget cuts are aimed at adapting BMC2 to reflect the air force's decision in early February to recast the E-10A primarily as a cruise missile defence platform, reducing its airborne ground surveillance and aerial command and control functions (Flight International, 2-8 March).

More broadly, the recent programme changes also are viewed as an effort by the air force to make the proposed $5.3 billion E-10A fleet of five aircraft more palatable to the Department of Defense (DOD). Negotiations are beginning on the military's next five-year spending plan, and air force officials are wary that the E-10A remains vulnerable.

In December, DoD acquisition chief Michael Wynne considered cutting the E-10A programme entirely, but instead postponed the system development and demonstration phase for the combined platform/GMTI sensor/BMC2 package by one year until June 2005.


Source: Flight International