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Covid-19: Pentagon anticipating three-month slowdown in major acquisition programmes

The Pentagon is expecting a three-month slowdown in major acquisition programmes execution, specifically with aviation and shipyards, as the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) impacts the industrial base.

Ellen Lord, under secretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment (A&S), told reporters on 20 April that she is expecting schedule delays and contract inefficiencies. As a result, the Pentagon is asking for “billions and billions” of US dollars from Congress in a next stimulus round called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 2.

A F-35B assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marine Medium Tiltrotor (VMM) 265 (Reinforced), lands on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) on 19 April 2020. The Pentagon is expecting a three-month slowdown in major acquisition programmes due to Covid-19. The F-35 programme is a major acquisition programme. (US Navy)

A F-35B assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marine Medium Tiltrotor (VMM) 265 (Reinforced), lands on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) on 19 April 2020. The Pentagon is expecting a three-month slowdown in major acquisition programmes due to Covid-19. The F-35 programme is a major acquisition programme. (US Navy)

Wes Halllman, National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) senior vice president for strategy and policy, told Jane’s on 20 April that inefficiencies include reduced or barred access to facilities and delayed or cancelled shipments of supplies or components needed to manufacture and deliver systems.

Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank in Washington, DC, told Jane’s on 20 April that the problem is two-fold: suppliers cannot supply and workers either cannot show up to work, or will not show up to work in significant numbers, due to fear of Covid-19 contraction or actually being sick from the virus. This means programme schedule slips and eventual disruption for the Pentagon.

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