Kirk introduces bill to speed electronic warfare weaponry

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois celebrates at an election night rally in Wheeling, Illinois in this file photo taken November 2, 2010. Kirk announced on Tuesday that he supports gay marriage, suggesting a brush with death had helped shift his attitude as he became the second Republican to join dozens of Democratic senators who back homosexuals' right to wed. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY)

SAN DIEGO – Senator Mark Kirk on Wednesday introduced legislation that would give the Pentagon more flexibility in funding electronic warfare programs and speed often sluggish acquisition times.

Current acquisition rules make it tough for the U.S. military to quickly procure and field electronic warfare weapons systems before they are overtaken by developments around the world.

Kirk, an Illinois Republican and retired naval intelligence officer, said the bill would help the U.S. military accelerate work on electronic warfare weapons and stay ahead of other countries that are rapidly developing their own capabilities.

“It is critical our military dominate the offensive and defensive ends of electronic warfare,” Kirk said in a statement. “The need for enhanced electronic capabilities is even more pronounced on today’s battlefield.”

Senator Kristen Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, is co-sponsoring the bill.

The bill would amend the fiscal 2016 defense policy bill to include electronic warfare, or EW, under the Pentagon’s Rapid Acquisition Authority (RAA) program. That program lets program managers waive some acquisition rules to more quickly field technology.

It would also allow the department to use different contract types, including those used for commercial items, when it buys EW weapons.

The bill also includes directives for the Pentagon’s new joint Electronic Warfare Executive Committee, which is headed by Air Force General Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a Kirk aide.

The bill directs the committee to provide a strategic plan for the services to work together on electronic warfare systems, and tackle acquisition and budget processes, bolster training, fill capability gaps and advance offensive capabilities.

Kirk is expected to discuss the legislation during a visit to a Northrop Grumman Corp facility in Rolling Meadows on Friday, the aide said.


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