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[H.A.S.C. No. 10624]
PERFORMANCE OF THE B2 BOMBER IN THE KOSOVO AIR CAMPAIGN
MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JUNE 30, 1999
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MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
DUNCAN HUNTER, California, Chairman
FLOYD D. SPENCE, South Carolina
BOB STUMP, Arizona
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
JAMES TALENT, Missouri
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARY BONO, California
JOSEPH PITTS, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
NORMAN SISISKY, Virginia
IKE SKELTON, Missouri
JOHN M. SPRATT, Jr., South Carolina
LANE EVANS, Illinois
ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, Illinois
TOM ALLEN, Maine
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJIM TURNER, Texas
ADAM SMITH, Washington
JAMES H. MALONEY, Connecticut
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBERT BRADY, Pennsylvania
Brian R. Green, Professional Staff Member
Peggy Cosseboom, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Wednesday, June 30, 1999, Performance of the B2 Bomber in the Kosovo Air Campaign
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 1999
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPERFORMANCE OF THE B2 BOMBER IN THE KOSOVO AIR CAMPAIGN
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Hunter, Hon. Duncan, a Representative from California, Chairman, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Sisisky, Hon. Norman, a Representative from Virginia, Ranking Member, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Skelton, Hon. Ike, a Representative from Missouri, Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services
Barnidge, Brig. Gen. Leroy, Commander, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri
Esmond, Lt. Gen. Marvin R., Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations, Department of the Air Force
[The prepared statements can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Hunter, Hon. Duncan
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC[The documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Recent B2 Quotations
Building Bombers, Fighting SAMs Top Air Force Goals
The San Diego Union-Tribune, June 20, 1999, Crisis in Kosovo
No Stealth to Pentagon's Bias Against the B2
Excerpts from Press Conference at the Pentagon, May 5, 1999 with Brig. Gen. Leroy Barnidge, Jr., 509th Bomber Wing Commander, Whiteman AFB
DOD News BriefingExcerpts pertaining to the B2 ''Spirit'' Stealth Bomber
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Questions and Answers submitted for the Record.]
PERFORMANCE OF THE B2 BOMBER IN THE KOSOVO AIR CAMPAIGN
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Military Procurement Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, June 30, 1999.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
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Mr. HUNTER. The subcommittee will come to order.
The subcommittee meets today to receive testimony on the performance of the B2 bomber during the Kosovo air campaign. The B2 saw its first combat during this conflict and, by all accounts I have seen, the Department of Defense and the Air Force have been very satisfied with its performance.
Let me say at this point that for years a number of us have believed very strongly that the combination of Stealth and precision munitions would add an important warfighting capability to our ability to project military power. I believe that that concept has been validated very strongly in this Kosovo campaign, but we are going to hear from the experts as to exactly what the results were.
We all know that the B2 has been criticized from some quarters over the years and its critics have expressed many concerns about the cost, performance and maturity of this aircraft. On a light note, I understand that indeed the B2 did fly in the rain and did perform very well in that weather.
Now we have at this point some ground troop data generated by these recent operations that can shed some light on whether these criticisms were validated.
The purpose of this hearing is to hear directly from the Air Force how well the B2 performed its mission during the Kosovo conflict; any lessons learned that relate to how its performance might be enhanced in the future and how we in Congress can contribute to that effort. To help us do that, I am very pleased to welcome Lieutenant General Marvin Esmond, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations; and Brigadier General Leroy Barnidge, Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. We expect that both Lieutenant General Esmond and Brigadier General Barnidge will be able to provide insights into the operational strengths and weaknesses of the B2 and the implications of the strengths and weaknesses for future B2 employment.
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Again, gentlemen, welcome. We are very pleased to have you here. We appreciate your willingness to appear on such short notice. I would also like to recognize, of course, that we have with us today our good friend, Norm Dicks, a great champion of the B2 from the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, who may have some questions and comments also.
With that, I would like to recognize my good friend and Ranking Member, the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Sisisky, for any comments he might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter can be found in the Appendix.]
STATEMENT OF HON. NORMAN SISISKY, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM VIRGINIA, RANKING MEMBER, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. SISISKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly want to join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses this morning, and I am looking forward to their testimony.
Mr. Chairman, as I look around the room and the podium, I can't help but notice an unusually large percentage of B2 supporters in attendance. And to a degree, that concerns me. I understand that the B2, on balance, performed well in Kosovo, and that kudos are deserved. But frankly, I am not surprised. It is a good airplane with great crews and great weapons, especially the Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM, the other hero in Kosovo.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I might point out that the JDAM will soon be carried by other aircraft, including the B1 and the F18E and F. Nevertheless, I agree that we should take this opportunity to learn the specifics on how well the B2 performed during the recent air war.
But because we have to make choices about continued investment in our B2 fleet, I also think we have the responsibility to learn what it didn't do so well, so we can make it better. For example, it seems to me that we have to do something to increase the per-aircraft sortie rate to something better than one every 3 to 4 days. Further, I think the air crews ought to be able to reprogram targets while en route. And for their own protection, they should be afforded defensive electronic systems that work better. The list goes on.
My point is not that this is a bad aircraft. Rather, that additional investment beyond the program cost cap is needed for the current B2 fleet and we should be making that case today.
Towards that end, it would be helpful if our witnesses today could identify and prioritize B2 shortcomings that were either confirmed or uncovered during the air war in Kosovo. Mr. Chairman, I believe this information is essential if the committee is to determine how best to invest further in our current B2 fleet for the benefit of our air crews and to unlock the full capability potential inherent in the aircraft.
So for these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I hope this hearing can be more than a testimonial to the B2, however well deserved. I thank you, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Norm.
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I would also like to recognize my good friend and, of course, longtime supporter of the B2, the Ranking Member of the full committee, Ike Skelton, for any remarks that he might want to make. Ike, thank you for being with us today.
STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much. Let me take this opportunity to welcome Brigadier General Leroy Barnidge from Whiteman Air Force Base, Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing; and Lieutenant General Marvin Esmond, Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations. We thank you for joining us.
Mr. Chairman, I must tell you how immensely proud I am of Brigadier General Leroy Barnidge, how proud I am of his pilots, how proud I am of the ground crews, and how immensely proud I am of the entire Whiteman Air Force Base team. Those of us who fought long and hard to first get 15, and then another 5, and then another 1 B2, feel that this is a day of reckoning when we recognize publicly for the first time in a hearing how well the B2 Stealth bomber performed. It is a testimonial to excellent people in uniform; it is a testimonial to excellent technology. I am sure there are improvements that can be made and should be made. But what has happened, Mr. Chairman, is that this B2 Stealth bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base and its Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), system has changed the doctrine of air warfare. This will be a case study for future decades as to how combat in the air proceeds.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are those who were opposed to the B2. There are still some skeptics, but we can always make something better. Let's aim toward that end. We hope they don't have to be used in the future, but history teaches us that this is a very dangerous world and should that need arise, they will be there to continue that outstanding performance.
Mr. Chairman, it is a privilege to recognize and welcome our good friend, Leroy Barnidge. Back home in Missouri, we are so proud of you and your entire team, so thank you for being with us today.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank my very eloquent friend. I will recognize the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Hansen.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the witnesses being here. I would be very curious, as I have been trying to analyze this Kosovo problem and that F117 being shot down, are you going to have to go to jamming now? What did you use, the 6B, or has the Navy been coming up with jamming things since? I was just curious what the attitude of the Air Force is going to be when you see that the Stealth characteristics require some jamming; what are you going to do about that?
Another thing I would be curious to have you gentlemen respond to, if you would, is if I read the account correctly, was it thirty hours, that round trip? Wow, what a trip. It just amazes me. As I recall, when that was in the special access program, it looked like you had some space in there. Have you ever thought about putting a third pilot in, letting somebody have a little rest during that long trip, if that is going to be the continuing program with the B2? I would like to hear a response on that.
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The jamming thing kind of worries me a little bit, because of all of those years that we heard about the Stealth characteristics and the F117 and also the B2, and now I think that maybe you are going to incorporate something different.
I would be very curious to hear the response on that, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentlemen.
To follow our tradition of hospitality here to esteemed Members of the Defense Appropriation Subcommittee, Norm Dicks, a longtime champion of the B2 is with us today. Norm, we would like to recognize you for any statement you might have.
Mr. DICKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your courtesy, and my colleagues, Mr. Sisisky and Mr. Skelton, and all of the members.
The recent conflict in Yugoslavia was, in my view, an important triumph of the ideals over the worst kind of repression seen in Europe in decades. But most central to the work of this subcommittee is the fact that it also demonstrated and revealed much about the tremendous capabilities of several U.S. weapons systems, and in particular, air power. I am pleased to notify members that the same two witnesses you see here now will be providing all interested Members of Congress with a closed, classified, Top Secret briefing on this topic tomorrow at 1 o'clock as part of the Air Power Caucus briefing. I hope you all can attend.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am pleased that the Air Force has sent over two very capable witnesses today to brief the committee. Welcome, General Esmond. I look forward to hearing your presentation on how U.S. air power was applied and integrated in the recent conflict.
I am also pleased that today we will be hearing from General Leroy Barnidge, Commander of the 509th Bomb Wing based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Congressman Skelton and I have had the privilege of traveling to Whiteman twice in recent months to hear from the pilots there who flew the first combat missions performed by the B2. There can be no doubt that those missions and many others that followed were an almost unqualified success. These missions simply revealed the bottom line: the B2 works and its capability is unmatched by any other military platform.
The conflict in Kosovo represents nothing less than a total vindication of the work of this committee along with the Subcommittee on Defense of the Appropriations Committee on which I serve. Both of these committees in the House of Representatives have worked tirelessly and wisely to preserve and enhance the capability of the B2 bomber. If not for the other body, we might have more of these bombers in production today. But the story of the B2 success in Yugoslavia was not just an issue of technological superiority that helped end the conflict early; it was a story of using military force without putting enormous numbers of U.S. servicemen and women at risk. Flying from the U.S. with global reach and with the advantage of low observabilitystealththat the B2 gives us, this aircraft was able to operate during the worst weather conditions in a manner that put fewer lives at risk. Stealth truly saves lives, and the initial operational campaign was certainly proof of that. The B2 pilots all returned home safely.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, one pilot confided to me that the first time he went to Whiteman Air Force Base, when he returned from his 31-hour mission, his wife said, ''Honey, take a nap, but when you get up, you've got to mow the lawn.'' that is something new and different.
These pilots and the crews who kept the B2s at Whiteman and the B1s and B52s in Europe flying every day were also a major part of the success of the air war. The President was correct during his visit to Whiteman Air Force Base earlier this month to give credit to the personnel who made it happen, in addition to our technological superiority. Those people, the people who load the bombs, the people who keep the low observability, the people who do the mission planning, the team that General Barnidge has put together, truly are remarkable. They answered all the critics; all the questions the GAO raised they dealt with and did it beautifully.
The B2 was the star of the air campaign over Kosovo, but it was not the only star. In addition to Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, and the EA6Bs, the Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM, was a tremendous success. This simple weapon costs only about $15,000 a copy to buy. But combined with the radar and accuracy of the B2, it performed flawlessly and demolished almost every target it was assigned to destroy. Compared to the over $1 million cost of the Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missile (CALCM), also used in Kosovo, the JDAMS was nothing short of a miracle for capability compared to cost.
But as many of you know, JDAMS have only recently entered the U.S. arsenal. Boeing delivered the first production model of JDAMS to the Air Force on June 24, 1998, less than 1 year ago. The B2 was still able to use JDAMS flawlessly, however, because this committee and the Congress appropriated funding for an early version, GATS/GAM. Congress accelerated the GATS/GAM program in fiscal year 1993 by over a year, and it was successfully tested in 1996. Many of you have probably seen the remarkable video of that test in which the B2 destroyed 16 separate targets in one sortie.
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Thanks to all of this early testing, the B2 pilots were fully qualified to use JDAMS when the Kosovo conflict began. Without this action by Congress, we might not have been as successful in the early days of the air campaign when the B2 was the only plane that could access the skies over Belgrade and the only plane that could attack anywhere in bad weather.
There are many lessons to be drawn from the conflict in Kosovo, which was the equivalent of a major theater war in terms of the air assets deployed. One that I will mention now, and I say this to my friend, my good friend from Virginia, the need to continue to weaponize both the bomber and TACAIR forces for conventional, all-weather capability. We saw in Kosovo the importance of being able to forward deploy bombers closer to the theater of combat to get sortie rates up. Hopefully, money included in the Kosovo supplemental will be used to buy deployable shelters for the B2 for this purpose. We also saw the importance of in-theater communications. This highlights the need for Link 16 and inflight reprogramming capabilities on all of the bombers. Chairman Hunter, Ranking Member Skelton, and Ranking Member Sisisky, along with others, have already worked to authorize funding for these improvements in their bill, and I am very hopeful that the Appropriations Committee in the next few weeks will follow their action.
Again, I thank the Chairman and Ranking Member for their leadership in holding this hearing and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank my colleague. I am reminded that in the Vietnam War, culminating in Operation Linebacker in December of 1972, a large percentage of the attacking B52 force in those days, thirty years ago, were shot down over Hanoi. In fact, one of our members, Sam Johnson, talked about standing in a prison room in the Hanoi Hilton and watching out the window as a Surface-To-Air missile tore a B52 apart right over the city. Against the backdrop of those thousands of aircraft losses in Vietnam, America's best scientists went to work on what I consider to be probably the second-most important military development of the century. If the first was indeed the invention of the radar, the second was probably the ability to evade the radar, and that was, of course, stealth technology, and that technology culminated in the development of the F117 and then the B2.
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I think the American people are going to have a choice to make, because this Administrationand I can remember veto messages coming from President Clinton stating that he intended to veto the defense bill on several occasions over the last several years if the B2 was included in the defense markup. We usually passed it in this committee, passed it in the House; it usually wasn't passed in the Senate, it was a conference item, and of course it became a veto target for the President.
But I think against the stark reality that we only have 21 of these B2s, which have performed well with precision munitions, the American people and this subcommittee and committee and Congress are going to have a choice.
The choice is going to be between continuing with the status quo that the Clinton Administration has recommended, and that is keeping the B52, which was shot down in 1972 by a third-rate military power in large numbers, keeping that until it is 80 years old, which is the present blueprint, and not building any more modern bombers; or following the course of building stealth aircraft with precision weapons capability that can take pilots into harm's way, take them over heavily defended areas, allow them to deliver their payloads in a precise manner, and return back to that home that Norm Dicks spoke of where you can worry about mowing the grass the next day, next to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
I think if this Administration doesn't make the decision to go ahead and give our pilots the best that they can give them which, in fact, is stealth aircraft, if not B2, something very close to it, if they don't make that decision, I think the American people are going to make it for them.
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With those comments, General Esmond, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. MARVIN R. ESMOND, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR AIR AND SPACE OPERATIONS, HEADQUARTERS, U.S. AIR FORCE
General ESMOND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, distinguished members. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here to talk about a topic obviously for which I am very proud. Our young men and women performed marvelously, and I thank you for the opportunity to come and share with you information on another important partner on the team that made Operation Allied Force such a success. This is just a small part of the story that other Air Force and DOD leadership will bring to you in the future and the full committee on the successes, the total successes in Kosovo.
Fourteen weeks ago, NATO conducted its first military strikes against Yugoslavia with the goal of degrading and diminishing the Serb-led military. For 11 weeks, the NATO team pursued this goal with patience, persistence, and precision in order to meet the larger objectives directed by President Clinton, a cease-fire, a withdrawal of all Serb forces from Kosovo, the entrance of an international peacekeeping force with NATO at the core, an environment allowing for the return of over 1 million refugees, and a creation of Kosovar autonomy within Yugoslavia.
With U.S. bombers as a key element, the NATO air-armada destroyed over 80 percent of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's modern aircraft and surface-to-air missile forces; reduced Mr. Milosevic's oil refining capacity to zero while destroying almost 40 percent of the military's fuel supplies; and destroyed more than two-thirds of Yugoslavia's capability to manufacture ammunition.
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The combat force that executed Operation Allied Force was comprised of forces from several NATO members and our own joint and total force. This multinational force employed a variety of munitions and kept around-the-clock pressure on Yugoslavian leaders. For 78 days and nights, a team of men and women executed the campaign. This is the team that made this operation possible. This is the team that allowed for the over 1 million refugees and displaced persons to return home. This is the team that we, as Americans, are proud of and welcome home as the heroes they truly are.
A team unlike any other, they pumped millions of gallons of fuel, launched 34,300 sorties, and used over 23,000 bombs and missiles without a single combat-related warrior loss. Instrumental to the success of this 34,300 sorties was a contribution made by our bomber force. Together the bombers flew over 300 sorties and dropped in excess of 11,200 bombs, constituting a majority of our all-weather capability.
Following the Air Force's plan to take advantage of improved bomber utilization rates by forward deploying, they conducted operations from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and from deployed locations at RAF Fairford, United Kingdom. Forward deploying bombers is one of the initiatives identified by the Long Range Airpower Panel and included in our long-range plan for the entire bomber fleet.
Over the next 10 years, you will see a fleet of aircraft with much improved lethality, survivability, deployability and supportability. All of the Advanced Joint Munitions will be fielded on the bombers, as will other numerous enhancements to include data links, Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) upgrades, and Reliability and Maintainability (R&M) improvements. The end state position is for the bombers to continue the successes displayed during the recent Kosovo operations.
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Today, we are privileged to have with us General Leroy Barnidge who is the commander and has the pleasure and privilege of commanding the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base. At your request, General Barnidge will present his assessment of the B2 Spirit's performance during Operation Allied Force.
Again, I thank you for the opportunity to be here and we look forward to your questions.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, General.
STATEMENT OF BRIG. GEN. LEROY BARNIDGE, COMMANDER, 509TH BOMB WING, WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, MISSOURI
General BARNIDGE. It is really an honor and a privilege and a little humbling for me to be here today. It is a big day for Whiteman; it is a big day I believe for the Air Force, for us to be able to stand here and tell our story a little bit.
I am proud to say that the 509th's contribution to the NATO operations over the former Yugoslavia were indeed very, very successful, but some people accuse me of being a little biased, too. As you know, the B2's initial combat debut did come at an intermediate point in our acquisition of this airplane. The birth of the 509th Bomb Wing as it exists today actually occurred in 1987 when Congressman Ike Skelton acknowledged that the first B2 Wing would be based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Since that time, both the base and the weapons system have been maturing and evolving. Yet, as we entered combat for the first time, we had on the base only 9 of the 21 planned jets, and of that 9, only a pool of 6 were available for us to use in Operation Allied Force at any given time. The other 3 simply were in recurring maintenance inspections; one was in final contractor modification to its final configuration, and the third jet was dedicated to our schoolhouse, because as I said, we are still a new program, training the initial cadre of pilots.
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In spite of our limited numbers, however, the missions that we flew were both rewarding as well as beneficial from a system maturization perspective. As you know, and as was pointed out, a typical mission lasted about 30 hours. We generally took off in the late night hours, which allowed us to also cross the target area during hours of darkness. We had 4 refuelings total for each mission, 2 each way, which gave us a comfortable fuel reserve should anything unplanned happen.
Although each aircraft flew individualized routings once in the target area, I think it is important to know that we did take advantage of the other capable assets that were in the theater already, such as the EA6B Prowlers, which jam enemy radars; the various fighter CAPs and High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile shooters, which provided assurance against both the air-to-air threat as well as the radar-guided Surface-To-Air Missiles and Anti-Aircraft Anti-Armor Weapon systems, and so forth. This was not a permissive environment. As a result of all of this, our missions were planned very carefully and, I think it is fair to say, well executed.
Some people expressed concern about how our crews fared in the face of a 30-hour mission. I can tell you, gentlemen, that our crews fared very, very well. This is the second time in my current job at Whiteman that I have worked with the Air Force Research Lab, which was formerly called Armstrong Research Labs, in the area of fatigue management. Fatigue management, as you all well know, is something that indeed must be managed; otherwise, fatigue loading builds up. However, the good news is that it can be managed up to a point. We in the bomber world have learned the value of what we call power naps. These are short naps which are intended to refresh you, but not long enough to where you get into deep sleep, which then requires an extended recovery period to come out of. Because of the importance of this issue, fatigue management, I asked every crew after they landed, how do you feel and how much sleep did you get? They all said they felt good and all said that they got between 2 and 6 hours of sleep, in small increments, of course, and of course only one guy at a time; and perhaps more significantly, all asked when could they go again. As a result of all of this, getting pilots to fly this mission was not a problem that I was confronted with.
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In terms of mission results, I can say that our crews did very well. The accuracies that we were able to achieve, I believe, are a testament not only to the jet's capability in the hands of our operators, but also, as was pointed out earlier, the Joint Direct Attack Munition that we carried. This satellite-guided munition provided us an all-weather capability that was very useful, especially in the early days of the conflict.
Finally, I am often asked about the robustness of the B2 bomber. The B2 exceeded all of our expectations in terms of durability, reliability and overall performance, period. Although some jets took longer to turn or to make ready for the next combat mission than others, a number of our aircraft took only as long as it took to rearm and refuel. Not a bad deal. Visible evidence to the robustness of the airplane.
Airborne performance was remarkably similar, but when the jet did operate in an unplanned or unexpected way, as you might anticipate with any new system as complex and technologically advanced as the B2 bomber, our crews were either to remedy the situation or work around it in rapid fashion. As a result, there were no work stoppages while en route to Kosovo, and the B2 had an outstanding combat debut. I guess, sir, you could say the bottom line from Whiteman is, from the maintainers to the mission planners to the air crews, this was truly a team effort. No wing commander could have asked for any more.
However, as you also know, the 509th Bomb Wing was just a small part of the overall NATO strike package. We could not have achieved the successes we did without the total effort that existed out there. From the Combined Air Operations Center in Vicenza, Italy, to the AWACS that provided that tremendous airborne surveillance system, the strikes that we participated in were both seamless and effective. And yet, realize this did occur with us taking off as early as 15 hours before the rest of the strike package.
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I believe the B2's participation in this operation was indeed a real testament not only to those directly involved in the program and those who made the program possible, such as you gentlemen, but more so to America's warfighting capability. The rest of the warriors at Whiteman Air Force Base and I were immensely proud to be a part of this effort.
Sir, that concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, General. I just have a couple and then we will move on quickly here. I want to admonish my colleagues that we will have a classified session immediately after the open session where we will be able to get into some depth, get into the specifics of some of the performance areas. I want to also recognize the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Spence, who has joined us here. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for being with us.
Gentlemen, let me ask you, so much of the debate surrounding the B2 over the last several years has involved cost. You have watched the internal debate in the service itself, in the Pentagon; that has been one of the major arguments that has been sent over by the President when he objected to building more than the 21 that we have; that has been a major point that has been made by B2 critics in the House and the Senate.
With respect to cost, it is clear that you used with the B2 the precision munition, the JDAM, the short-range Joint Direct Attack Munition. The older B52s which can't penetrate as far have to use stand-off systems. That has been in the past and, in most cases, has been the CALCM and we all know now, courtesy of USA Today, precisely what our CALCM count is. We are down to just a few birds left. But the Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missile (CALCMs), cost about $1,400,000 per bird.
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General BARNIDGE. That is correct.
Mr. HUNTER. That delivers roughly the same explosive on target as the JDAM; is that not true?
General ESMOND. It is a little heavier weapon sir, but close.
Mr. HUNTER. Fairly close. The JDAM cost, that is the Joint Direct Attack Munition, and that can be dropped by a stealth aircraft that is able to penetrate over the protected area that has fairly heavy air defense, and launch from a short range; is that not true?
General ESMOND. True.
Mr. HUNTER. Whereas the cruise missile, your Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missile, can be launched from hundreds of miles away.
General ESMOND. Yes.
Mr. HUNTER. Was Norm's figure approximately correct, that a Joint Direct Attack Munition is roughly $15,000?
General ESMOND. Yes.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. So that means that if you put the same explosive on target with a stealth aircraft that can penetrate air defenses and drop the short-range munition that is $15,000, versus having to fire a long-range stand-off weapon from an older B52 that doesn't have what it takes to get in close because it will get shot down otherwise, that costs $1,400,000, or let's say $1,500,000, you are spending 100 times as much for the same amount of explosive on target with the older aircraft; are you not? The $1.5 million weapon versus the $115,000 weapon.
General ESMOND. In that case, Mr. Chairman, sure.
Mr. HUNTER. So wouldn't it be fair to say that having observed these Kosovo operations then, on the operational side while it has been argued for years that the B2 up-front cost of $1 billion or more is obviously, a lot more expensive than the B52 cost when it was built back in the 1960sthe last one built in 1962the youngest one, or if it was replicated today, regardless of what the up-front cost is for constructing the aircraft, the cost of operating and delivering ordnance on target with the B52 is enormously more expensive, 100 times as expensive, as the cost of putting that same ordnance on target via a B2; is that not accurate? Is that not part of your lesson?
General ESMOND. In the analogy you used, that is correct, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Well then, General, let me ask you, in your estimation, should this Kosovo experience then cause at least some reanalysis of what I understand the current Clinton Administration's air plan to be; that is, continuing to rely on the B52 as the core of its bomber force until those aircraft are 80 years old, versus taking up a new line or departing on a new line of development of long-range stealth bomber, whether it is B2 or a follow-on to B2? Do you think there is some rethinking as a result of this cost analysis, $100 to $1?
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General ESMOND. Absolutely, Mr. Chairman. I think we will continue to reevaluate all of our options and take into account those lessons that we have recently learned in Kosovo and study what the proper mix of stand-off weapons versus penetrating weapons and what threat scenarios would drive us to those kind of mixes. We will continue to learn those lessons and size our force accordingly.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you.
Mr. SISISKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Most of the questions that I have would be in closed session, but I would like to talk about a couple of things. Number one, to compliment both of you gentlemen and particularly Brigadier General Barnidge. You look so proud, and as an American I can tell you we are all proud of you, too, for what you did. Whatever I said in opening statements and even now does not mean that I am not proud of you and delighted that it worked.
I do worry a little bit about fatigue. Now, it is one thing to talk about control fatigue, and it is all right if you have 6 days before you are flying again, but the question that was asked, one of the drawbacks of that plane was always to me that you just had two pilots; and I used to jokingly say, I would hate to be the first two pilots who got ejected on a $2.5 billion airplane.
But is there a way to put another pilot in there, that you could rotate? Because 30 hours, you know, just going over 15 or 16 hours, or 20 or whatever, it seems to me to be a pretty lengthy time, and I tell you why I say that.
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I have been in a cockpit twice in my life when planes were refueled, and I could see the knuckles of the pilots holding that speed and holding that height, and it seems to me it would be a lot of pressure. But is there a way to do the plane that we could add another pilot?
General ESMOND. Mr. Congressman, we haven't done a study to accurately assess what the space available is in the cockpit to add another pilot because we haven't had the requirement to date. But I will let General Barnidge comment, and I can tell you that it is about 29- 1/2 hours of boredom surrounded by 30 minutes of sheer, stark terror, and you know that. But that is one of the concerns that we all have as leaders in the Air Force is taking care of our young men and women and the pilots, and making sure that they can perform.
But I will let General Barnidge comment further on that.
General BARNIDGE. The only thing I would add, sir, as you well know, the airplane was sized in the cockpit to accommodate space-wise a third seat. None of the hardware, the structure is there, and therefore, it would be a major modification.
But more importantly, sir, I have to tell you that I am not uncomfortable at all with our guys riding 30 hours in the jet. I was very worried about it early on, and that is the reason why I met every airplane after they landed just because I was pretty proud, as you, and I appreciate you noting, pretty proud of our guys, but also to make sure that we were headed down the right path with this thing in terms of how we dealt with it. In fact, at this point, I don't start getting concerned until we start talking closer to 40 hours in the airplane.
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Now, the white-knuckled refueling, well, I suppose anybody who has refueled has had white knuckles at one time or another, but this airplane is a Cadillac to fly, and when you pull up, the jet does well; and the pilots, we talked about the refuelings, the third refueling, and I will give you more specifics about it in the closed session, but it was a very heavy offload after a number of hours in the airplane and the guys didn't have a problem.
Mr. SISISKY. I guess my problem is I fly in a Metro jet for 2- 1/2 hours, and I promise you I am fatigued. I am a pretty big guy, so I guess that isbut let's come back to what the chairman was talking about, and a very good argument about the B52 with stand-off weapons. But as I understand it, the B52 is being outfitted with JDAMS; am I correct in that?
General ESMOND. That is correct.
Mr. SISISKY. All right. Now, I know that is a great big target, but you don't fly in the daytime, do you? At any time did you fly over target during the day?
General ESMOND. No, we didn't.
Mr. DICKS. Not with the B1s or the B52?
Mr. SISISKY. I am referring to the B2s.
General ESMOND. No, we didn't fly it in the daytime.
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Mr. SISISKY. B52s could, because they were standoff then.
The reason I ask you the question, and I am trying toI don't know whether this should be in a closed meeting or not. Did you have to use the EA6Bs in order to do electronic warfare just as if the B52 would have to use it?
General ESMOND. Let me, if I may, as much as I can in this session, tell you that we felt it important to afford all of our crews as much protection as we could possibly provide. That was one of the margins of error that we gave ourselves while we had it available, and it was empty and available to perform that role. We felt it prudent to provide that for all of our aircraft.
Mr. SISISKY. Well, I will ask the question later.
I yield back my time.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Sisisky. Mr. Ryun.
Mr. RYUN. Thank you very much.
I want to follow up a little bit more on this fatigue thing that the pilots are involved in. While they have power naps, that is wonderful, and yet one of my concerns is will there beis there a possibility, and maybe this goes into the next sessionof some sort of forward deployment moving some of those bases over into, let's say, Europe for the B2s?
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General ESMOND. We think that is part of the answer, Congressman Ryun, to not only forward deploy, to help the fatigue factor, but to also help us with the sortie generation capability to get more utility out of that flat form.
Mr. RYUN. Do you see that in the near future?
General ESMOND. We are trying to get that done in the near future. That requires some shelter support which this committee has been kind enough to provide for us, and we are solving that issue. But again, we don't want to prematurely put it at risk in forward locations at this point if we don't have to.
Mr. RYUN. One further question. I know you have been very happy with the success of the B2 and we are as well, and we congratulate you on what you have accomplished. But would the Air Force like to see more B2s?
General ESMOND. I can answer that. I think we would take B2s if we were issued those, of course. We think the balance of bomber ISR support aircraft and fighter aircraft with our lift and tanker capability ratio-wise is about right.
Now, there is an additive quotient that goes with force structure when you put it in the total inventory, so with our budget we think we have it about right at this point. We continue to modernize and take advantage of the platform, but capabilities really, that is the term we try to take advantage of, not specific platforms, but what capabilities we need.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. RYUN. Okay. I yield back my time.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. My good friend, Norm Dicks, was reminding us that air warfare is much like a choreographed ballet, that the first thing you do is to take out the air defenses, which can be done by the air launch cruise missiles and the B2 bombers, which are stealth; and then later, after that is done, after the environment is much safer, the choreography allows your B52s and your B1s to come in and do further damage. And I think we should keep that in mind, that this is not a willy-nilly air campaign, but it is done with skill and with the right amount of choreography as to what comes first and what doesn't.
General Barnidge, in open session, if you can, I have two questions. One is, what is the greatest positive surprise you had out of this entire effort; and second, what is the major challenge that you see regarding this air campaign and the use of the B2 stealth bomber?
General BARNIDGE. Yes. I think the positive surprise ispeople often ask about lessons learned and they generally are looking for negativesand I appreciate, sir, the way you posture your question, because the lessons learned were vastly under the positive category.
In terms of aircraft durability, robustness, absolutely. In terms ofyou asked for one, sir, may I give you four? In terms of the accuracies that we were able to achieve with the munition and the inherent targeting system on board the airplane which is unique to the B2 and is not on other airplanes, the accuracies that resulted from that were quite, quite good, surprisingly good.
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The crews, and we talk about fatigue, the crews and our management of and our preparation of them and our ability for them to manage the fatigue was very good.
In terms of the future, sir, I think getting our full compliment of aircraft is foremost in our minds, and then maturing the system is foremost in our minds.
Mr. SKELTON. Do you have trouble recruiting B2 pilots from the pool of bomber and fighter pilots in the Air Force?
General BARNIDGE. No, sir. All of our crew members who fly America's B2 are hand-picked, and we do go through a rather extensive interview and candidacy, application-type process. I interview everyone as a final quality cut, if you will, and the line is always longer than the number that we select out of that line. So no, sir, we have no problem.
Mr. SKELTON. Will you be kind enough to tell the committee what training is involved before you turn a B2 pilot loose to go on a bombing mission, from the very beginning until he goes on the mission?
General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir. It is quite complex and extensive. Interestingly, unlike what most people think, we do not train a pilot to be a pilot in the B2, because his pilot skills have to be taken as a given before we will even take him into the program and begin his training to fly America's B2. What we are training them to operate is the highly complex, sophisticated systems on board the airplane, and it takes us about 6 months. Our program is about 6 months long, slightly shorter for the pilot versus the mission commander, but on average, 6 months before they complete that, and then they go through a mission qualification process which certifies in the end state that they are indeed capable and ready to go to Kosovo or wherever we are asked to go.
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Mr. SKELTON. My last question deals with a matter of personnel that we have been wrestling with, I think successfully, on this subcommittee and the full committee. We are concerned not only with recruitment, but retention across the board, and especially the retention of Air Force and Navy pilots. Can you tell us about the morale and the retention rate at Whiteman Air Force Base?
General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir. I am blessed in some ways far greater than some of my other colleague wing commanders. We don't have some of the retention problems that other bases are encountering. We are far above the Air Force average in terms of retention rates and that sort of thing, and I think the reason is because the people are applying and trying to get into our program; therefore, they are there by their own choice, for sure. And the other reason is that they are exceedingly proud of what they are involved in, once they do get there. It is kind of a situation that permeates throughout the base. This is not reflective of many of the other installations around.
Mr. SKELTON. Thank you so much.
General BARNIDGE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Skelton.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to join my colleagues in welcoming our guests here today. General Esmond, it is nice to see you again. General Esmond commanded Nellis Air Force Base in the Second District of Nevada for awhile, a great gentleman. I am very proud of both of your efforts in this Kosovo action. I think we all learn from our experiences, and we look forward to your observations here today.
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I want to ask a very basic question of why we did not deploy the B2 in this effort, in the Kosovo effort?
General BARNIDGE. Sir, it is a rather popular question, even in the media circles. The best way that I could characterize it in my mind is when you talk about deploying a weapons system, you look at the various ingredients that go into determining whether you should or whether you should not.
First and foremost, is what is the sortie rate that you are being asked towhat is your tasking, how many airplanes across the target, at what frequency? Second, is how many airplanes do you have to satisfy that tasking; and third, what is the infrastructure that is available either at the deployed location or at the home plate, or other alternative deployed locations to satisfy that tasking?
Then you put those ingredients together, along with a few other lesser important considerations. And, in this case, given the tasking that we had, the number of sorties that we had to put across the target, given our ability to generate those sorties from Whiteman Air Force Base, and given our crews' ability, of course, to be able to comfortably fly that mission and the infrastructure, the wonderful infrastructure that we do have at Whiteman, that was the right answer for today.
Sir, if the tasking increased, for example, and we wanted a lot more sorties across the target because of whatever reasons; and also, sir, we have to remember that as General Esmond pointed out, this is not just one airplane doing a total strike package. There are a variety of air frames with a variety of unique contributions, and the B2's contribution is a small part of that larger piece. That contribution is an ability to get into the more lethal areas and the harder-to-get-at targets. Not all targets required that; hence, the sortie rate was what it was for our tasking.
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Put that together, and the right answer for today was to fly from Whiteman. Tomorrow, any number, any one of those factors could change and then we would go tomorrow. We can carry this airplane, as I have done twice since I have been at Whiteman, carried it to Guam and flown. In fact, during one of our sessions we had two jets on alert, loaded and on alert on that excursion.
The third jet that was there at that time, this was last September, was used as a trainer. We flew it regularly and routinely and kept the other two in what we call pristine condition.
Sir, it is important to note there is only one hangar on Guam. That meant that a lot of maintenance was done outside and it rains a lot in Guam and does a lot of other unenvironmental-friendly things, and yet it worked well.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you. I am sure that that tasking is going to change with the enlightenment that we all now have about the success of the B2.
How do you integrate the B2 overall into the air campaign? Where do you put the B2 in there?
General ESMOND. I can answer that question, Congressman Gibbons. I think, as Congressman Skelton correctly said, this is a ballet, and its role in the ballet is to provide that long-range strike capability in all weather, at night, to continue that 24-hour pressure that we needed to put on the Yugoslavian Government as part of that ballet, with all the assets with which you are so intimately familiar that bring to bear the total package of air power that kept that pressure on.
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The B2, because of its reach and its stealthiness could do some things at night that we felt provided the strongest capability to keep that pressure on. We had other platforms available that might perform that role; but again, taking advantage of the strength of the B2 to provide that capability at night was where we thought its role ought to be and how we integrated it in this particular campaign.
Mr. GIBBONS. Very briefly, General Esmond, in addition to the EA6B and the AWACS, what other assets did we need to have alongside of the B2 to employee it?
General ESMOND. Obviously, we had targeting support to provide the overhead looks and the real-time reconnaissance effort that gave us the information with which to target the B2 and its JDAM weapons. That included U2, Predator and other platforms. We needed to have the seed capability to eliminate as best we could the environment, the lethal environment that the B2 would operate in, which was to take down the IADS as best we could.
We also had the JSTARS platform in the theater again to monitor movement, not necessarily in direct support of the B2, but to tell us or alert us to the fact that things may be changing.
So, again, much of that was not necessarily in direct support of the B2, but more a part of the ballet we call the air campaign.
Mr. GIBBONS. I notice my time is up. I want you to maybe talk a little bit about modernization plans for the bomber fleet, now that we have our experience behind us with this event. What is the Air Force going to do to make the system even better and more capable, if you can address that?
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General ESMOND. Probably the specifics of that I would save to the closed portion, but suffice it to say we do have plans to improve the capability; as you correctly assessed, to take advantage of its capability in an even greater way in future events of this kind.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you.
Mr. HUNTER. With the indulgence of the committee, Mr. Pitts needs to be on the floor a few minutes ago. We are going to let him go out of order.
Mr. PITTS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, for your testimony. As a veteran of 116 combat missions in B52s, I am very interested in what you have had to say and the success of the B2 bomber.
I will save some of my questions for the closed briefing, but maybe you can answer this. If the B2 is to be the heart of our bombing fleet, how essential are radar jamming support assets to the success of the B2? The EA6B was mentioned. Are our forces adequately prepared in terms of jamming support to protect B2s or do we need more? What challenges exist?
General ESMOND. Thank you for the question, sir. I think we can always cloud, not cloud, but bound the issue or request with the environment in which we are going to put the platform. But depending on the threat environment we find ourselves in, we think it is prudent to provide as much buffer and coverage in an Electronic Countermeasures Environment, ECM, for that asset as we can. That is not to say that it could not, with the right risk factor, go in alone. We would prefer, obviously, to afford all of our young men and women who go in harm's way as much protection as we possibly can.
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So as we find ourselves stretched very thin in some parts of the world, do we need more? The answer would be absolutely. The EA6B story is one that you will hear in full committee, I think, that was stretched very thin. We made a decision a few years back, as you will recall, to consolidate to the EA6B as our electronic jamming platform, and we found while conducting operations in Southern Watch and Northern Watch in Iraq, while keeping one arm up against the Korean scenario, and at the same time being so tremendously involved in Kosovo, that that particular asset was stretched thin.
So an excellent observation, I think, and a great question. We do need more.
Mr. PITTS. During the whole war, were there mobile radars that you picked up even at the end? Were there still capabilities that you were aware of, or did we entirely destroy their radar system?
General ESMOND. No, Congressman, there were still assets that we were aware of, and I will not get too specific because of the nature of the classification. But again, it had to do with the tactic that was pursued by the opposition, which was to husband much of the resource. I will get deeper into that. That lesson is being learned around the world, we believe. Part of that is caused by the reputation of air power; that if you bring it out, there is a strong possibility that you will lose it.
So, to take that chance early on, we found he was hesitant to do that; and at the end, therefore, there were some remaining that we kept our eye on. But in many ways, by virtue of him husbanding those resources, we in effect took it out of play. So while we monitored and watched closely, had the decision been different, it could have been, again, a very real threat toward the end of the war that we would have had to then take appropriate action with.
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Mr. PITTS. I think I will save the other questions for the closed briefing. Thank you very much.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Pitts. We appreciate and respect the experience that you bring to this committee.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentleman, I was curious if you have had a chance for your different contractors on both the platforms, on the electronic, on the engines, if they have gotten back to you with some cost estimates of what it is going to cost to get them to where they were prior to the situation in Kosovo?
General BARNIDGE. I heard about that.
Mr. TAYLOR. You obviously put a lot of hours on the engines, you have put a lot of flying hours on the platforms, you have used the electronics in some tough situations. My hunch is the contractors have been in touch with you, saying you need to do this, you need to do that. Do you have any cost estimates of what that is going to be?
General BARNIDGE. The maintenance costs, for example?
Mr. TAYLOR. This is obviously above just normal maintenance.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General BARNIDGE. Right. Right. One of the things that we have learned, and it is back to Mr. Skelton's comment about positive surprises, a number of things we have found are far more durable than originally anticipated; thereforeand I will use a classic example of phase inspections, where it is a major aircraft inspection that has to recur periodically. When the airframe was first delivered, we were supposed to be doing these major phase inspections every 200 hours. That was then up to 400. It is now currently at 600, because we are finding that the airplane does not require the level of maintenance originally envisioned.
So the additional support that is going to come as a result of this is actually quite small. I haven't seen anything significant because of our use, our heavy-duty use, if you will, of the airframe, if that is what you are trying to get at.
Mr. TAYLOR. It is not just the airframe, it is the engine shells, the electronics. All of these things all have a life. Every time the engine spins, it is taking a little bit of that life away from it.
General ESMOND. If I may, Congressman Taylor, I would like to take a crack at that. This is a fleet-wide, Air Force-wide issue of the platforms that we put into combat. We accelerated, as you correctly are assuming, the pace at which we have to do maintenance and we should do maintenance, the cycles on the engines, the number of spare parts that we caused to fail because of, again, exceeding wear and tear that combat puts on airframes.
Have we had the contractors in to assess that totally? The answer is no, we have not. We must do that, and we recognize that fact, and we understand that there will be a reconstitution period that we will have to go through here to get ourselves back up on the plane at which we began the Kosovo operation.
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But the extent of that and the number, I cannot give you at this point.
Mr. TAYLOR. General, when will you have that? As you are aware, one of the controversies that may not have had to occur occurred in this committee as to how we go about getting the President to request a supplemental. We have agreed on getting the President to request a supplemental. That should occur before the end of this fiscal year.
This does not give us a great deal of time. If you were to let us know those costsI am curious, when do you anticipate presenting that bill to this committee?
General ESMOND. We are working as hard as we can to get that number and those numbers and understand the full impact of what we have just been through as an Air Force. We hope to get that number to you within the next month.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Taylor. You raised an excellent question, and I think this is a question that the committee as a whole has a great interest in, and that is the portion of life expectancy of all major Air Force platforms that was expended in Kosovo, for a couple of reasons. One, we have a NATO formula that does provide for some payback to U.S. forces when we use our forces out of proportion to the other NATO participants, which obviously we did in the air campaign. I think 80 percent of the aircraft were U.S. aircraft.
I would ask you this, General. For the subcommittee and the full committee, could you prepare for us, and it would not have to be a complicated document, but a list of the assets utilized in the Kosovo campaign, the projected life expectancy which we have for each asset which the Air Force has a record of, and the portion of that life expectancy of that asset that was utilized in the air campaign, and, lastly, the cost of that asset broken into two components: capital cost, that is, how much it costs to buy the aircraft; and, second, the operational cost.
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Mr. HUNTER. I think a number of us are concerned about it, trying at some point to get a reconfiguration of the NATO formula for reimbursement.
Thank you very much, General. I appreciate that.
Mr. BRADY. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I just have a comment to my good friend, Congressman Dicks, that I heard about that pilot that flew the mission for 30 hours and came home and took a nap and had to mow the lawn. You could tell him I would mow his lawn anytime.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Spratt.
Mr. SPRATT. Thank you both for your testimony. I am sorry I didn't hear it. I look forward to the closed session. General Barnidge, congratulations. You did a marvelous job. Just one question.
There is a cap, a programmatic cap of $44.6 billion on the program, set some time ago when we reached this whole compromise about how many B2s will be built. In this session can you tell us whether or not you can live within the cap, given the conversion work you have to do and the other developmental problems in the plane that still are being worked on and need to be resolved?
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General ESMOND. Our intention is to do that, sir. But at this point it would be premature for me to make a judgment along those lines. I cannot assess that based on the information that we don't have available to us.
Mr. SPRATT. Thank you very much.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, John.
General, let me ask both of you a question that relates directly to the committee's action. We added for B2 related components $187 million from this subcommittee and full committee, and that is now in the House's mark, $35 million for in-flight planner, $152 million for R&D, including Link 16 mission display and stealth enhancement. Have you examined those adds on the House side?
General ESMOND. Yes, sir, we have.
Mr. HUNTER. Are they necessary to the development, continued development and enhancement of the B2 program? How important are they?
General ESMOND. They are important to the Air Force institution and incorporation, sir. I will let Leroy answer that as a wing commander.
General BARNIDGE. Absolutely, sir. The Collection Operations Management (COM), connectivity, and that is the data link you are referring to, is going to give us a remarkable increase in our capability to flex while airborne. We are going to talk about target flexing in the next session, sir. I have a slide or two on that matter.
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But that is very important to us. The improvements, enhancements to the stealth, those relate to, as I understand it, to the maintainability of the Low-Observable (LO) platform. Again, that will give us a great increase in our ability to regenerate sorties, even for those that took a little longer than those that were the quick turns.
So obviously they will be very good for us.
Mr. HUNTER. Is there anything else that we could do or should be doing to enhance the program right now?
General ESMOND. Mr. Chairman, I would say there probably is, but it would be premature for me to give you an answer to that question at this point. I think once we have hadagain, back to the question of Congressman Taylorin the short-term, in hopefully about a month, we will have some long-sought-after answers as a result of the tests we have just been through that will provide some clarity into that question.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you very much. Batting clean-up here, I want to once again welcome our good friend from the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Mr. Dicks.
Mr. DICKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I sit back and think about the GAO reports that came out, and I must say in all fairness, and I try to be fair in everything I do, they had some criticisms. But isn't it true, General, that on the criticisms, that this is what happens with the maturation of a weapons system? You come in and you are going to have some problems. Let's think about them. One was the question about flying in bad weather; two was the mission planning; three was the Low-Observable maintainability.
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Just take those three, for example. In every situation we have had a curve that has come down, and those things have all gotten better; isn't that correct?
General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir.
Mr. DICKS. Can you tell us a little bit about that this session?
General BARNIDGE. Sure. The mission planning system, we actually seamlessly moved from the system that we started the Kosovo conflict with into an improved enhanced version, and yet I will tell you that the system that we started it with clearly would have gotten us through it, no sweat. If just took a little longer in terms of mission planning in the 12- to 16-hour range versus now we have even shorter times with our current hardware-software package mission planning-wise.
In terms of Low-Observable maintenance, the improvements, the primary improvements in terms of maintainability are yet to come, and they are funded and are coming, thanks to you gentleman again. This will give us a great leap in our ability to turn airplanes from one sortie to the next, because it gives us easy access in the panels without incurring any Low-Observable damage, for example, or minor things we have to clean up.
So, sir, you are absolutely right. This was a brand new, highly complex platform, state-of-the-art technology. It is getting better with every day that passes, and the items that you and the Chairman have listed out, as well as the other members, that are coming down the pike for us are going to clearly make our capability better.
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Mr. DICKS. I say this to the press. Sometimes the press overblows and overstates these GAO reports. We wouldn't have a single major weapons system if the GAO and the press had anything to say about it, with all due respect, because it is kind of a synergistic relationship, one amongst the other, and we overstate these problems, and nobody puts it in the perspective of this is what happens when you have a new weapons system.
I just put that point out there so everyone will think it in the future. I love the press, I love the GAO, but together they are dangerous.
General ESMOND. Congressman Dicks, if I could add to that and recognize there is a maturation process with any platform, but the key I think for the B2, one of the keys is that we have had the opportunity now, early on in its life, to see it in combat at a fairly high rigor, and out of that will come, I think, more progress and more accurate information that will allow us to increase the capability.
Mr. DICKS. Finally, Mr. Chairman, the last thing: deployable shelters. This is for Mr. Sisisky, who worries about the strain on the pilots, so I must tell you, in the simulator they have flown this thing for much longer than the 31 hours. These pilots are tough and good and competent, and they love flying this airplane. But deployable shelters I think would be a smart investment. Don't you agree with that, General?
General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir.
Mr. DICKS. That way you could take these shelters, you load them up on the C17, you fly them to Guam if you are going to Asia, you fly them to Europe. And it would be better, of course, if we had enough B2s so you could have 20 going to Asia and 20 going to Europe, if you had two major regional contingencies and enough shelters so you could deploy your people for low observe built in Asia and Europe, in terms of being able to work on the planes when they come back. You could get the sortie rates up higher, you could then have less time to fly in and out, and it would be a much more effective use of the system. Isn't that correct, General?
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General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir. There are environments around the world that if we were deployed to today, we could do all the maintenance outside, just like normal. With anything, it is easier to work indoors than out. That helps our sortie turn rate. We have been on Guam where it has been raining and done some things outside. But certainly the shelters would help the cycle time in deployment.
Mr. DICKS. Finally, there are things to improve stealthiness on the B2 that we could do; is that right?
General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir. I think the track you gentleman have gotten us on, at least from the wing's perspective, on focusing on maintainability first is key in this discussion, becausewell, we will talk in the other session, but the survivability is an important issue.
Mr. DICKS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Dicks. Finally, Generaland then we are going to be moving to the classified session here shortlybut to sum up, the B2 hit all of its targets; is that an accurate statement?
General BARNIDGE. Oh, yes, sir, we hit everything we aimed at.
Mr. HUNTER. Second, the percentage of sorties that you folks engaged in with B2 as against the entire strike package was what percent? What percent of all the strike sorties were accomplished by B2? A fairly low percentage, wasn't it?
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General ESMOND. About 1 percent.
Mr. HUNTER. About 1 percent. And you destroyed what percent of the targets?
General BARNIDGE. It was over 11 percent, is what I have been told, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. You destroyed 11 percent of the targets with 1 percent of the sorties.
Let me ask you, General, as a guy who is deeply enmeshed in the operational portion of this B2 program, looking at the two MRC requirements we have, the requirement that we be able to project long-range air power into two major regional conflicts simultaneously, do we have enough B2s?
General BARNIDGE. I had all the B2s I needed to do Kosovo with, sir. As General Esmond said, and has been pointed out by a number of you gentlemen, there is a balance and an orchestration to any air campaign, and clearly there is a finite lump number to any number of resources that we have. But I had what I needed to do to do the tasking I have got today.
Mr. SISISKY. Will the gentleman yield?
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. As soon as I follow up my question. You pointed out at the beginning of your testimony that you had a low sortie requirement.
General BARNIDGE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUNTER. That is one reason you were able to operate from the continental U.S. If you were required to do a high-sortie requirement in a regional conflict, maybe instead of 1 percent of the sorties, maybe 30, 40 or 50 percent of the sorties, could you handle that with the B2 force that you have today?
General BARNIDGE. We would have to do the math, sir. Forward deployment would certainly play in that discussion. You could clearly run me out of airplanes at some point. It depends on the specifics of how many sorties. The number that we will have will be 21. I can produce a lot of sorties over the target, but I can run out. I just don't know the math of that.
Mr. HUNTER. Personal opinion: Would you like to have more B2s?
General BARNIDGE. Sir, I am quite satisfied with what we have right now, with the caveat that the airplane, as was handed to me, was intended to focus on lethal environments with hard-to-get-at targets. I would not think that we would be using the airplane as an everyday truck, because we have a number of assets that have unique capabilities.
I leave it to you gentleman and the leadership of the military to decide what the exact right number will be.
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Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, General.
Mr. SISISKY. If the gentleman will yield for a moment.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Sisisky wants to have redirect examination here.
Mr. SISISKY. No, I just want to clear up, you only have been using 6 airplanes; is that correct?
General ESMOND. That is correct.
Mr. SISISKY. Out of 21.
Mr. HUNTER. Norm, I am glad to see you have gone from your position that the B2 is inadequate to the position that it is so superior, you only need 6.
Mr. MALONEY. No questions.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. I want to thank all my colleagues. If anybody else has any follow-up questions, you are certainly welcome to them.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to remind the committee also that we had the Commandant of the Marine Corps with us yesterday, his last time in full uniform, and this committee gave him an award that is the start of a tradition. It was a Chesty Puller award. It was a bronze bust of Chesty Puller, the greatest Marine of all time, the winner of 5 Iron Crosses. He was known as the greatest Marine of all time and probably the worst politician of all the services, a guy who said a lot of things at the wrong time from a political perspective, and was ushered out of the service about as quickly as Washington could move him out.
The guy who did that great bust of Chesty Puller that was taken from a picture of Chesty around the time of the Chosin Reservoir campaign, who did that bronze is Mark Markensen, a great artist from California, who is here today with his wife Carrie. Could Mark and Carrie stand up? They gave us this bronze bust that we gave to Chesty Puller. Thank you.
With that, this open portion of the hearing is concluded, now we will move to 2212 for the classified portion.
[Whereupon, at 11:25 a.m., the subcommittee proceeded in closed session, in Room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building.]
A P P E N D I X
June 30, 1999
[This information is pending.]
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