WASHINGTON — When it comes to naval spending items, the talk in Washington is often about multibillion dollar programs involving aircraft carriers, submarines or jet fighters. Rarely do programs getting less than nine figures get much attention.
But in some instances, a little bit of funding can go a long way.
For a total of about $60 million, Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., added in several underwater technology items to House version of the 2016 defense authorization bill, now working its way through Congress.
“The undersea domain has been an area of historical US advantage, from World War II to the Cold War,” Forbes said last month. “To ensure our dominance in the years ahead, we must begin investing in technologies that hold the potential to sustain American undersea power. As our potential competitors make significant investments in the undersea realm, the US must continue researching and developing the undersea technologies of the future.”
Such a relatively low level of funding can have a major impact, said Bryan Clark, a former submariner who’s a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
“These investments are pretty small — you don’t need to put a lot of money into them to get some good technical insight,” Clark said on May 8. “A lot of times these are universities, research institutes” getting the funding.
Science and technology (S&T) projects are also largely spared the expense of more elaborate acquisition programs, Clark pointed out.