By Emelie Rutherford

President Barack Obama’s budget request to Congress for the Marine Corps calls for keeping alive yet delaying the once-troubled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) effort, which was scrutinized for potential cancellation at the Pentagon.

The fiscal year 2011 Pentagon budget unveiled yesterday overall includes $7 billion for the Marine Corps, out of a total request for the Navy and Marine Corps combined of $18.5 billion.

The EFV, a long-delayed amphibious vehicle development effort led by General Dynamics [GD], under the budget proposal would see its procurement funding kick in in FY ’12, a year later than previously planned.

For the EFV, the budget request includes $243 million in research and development (R&D) monies in FY ’11, down from $292 million in FY ’10. R&D funding from FY ’11 to FY ’15 for the EFV totals $593 million in the spending request. Under the plan, procurement funding from FY ’12 to FY ’15 would total $1.75 billion.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway consistently fights for the tracked amphibious troop transporter, which he argues is vital for retaining his amphibious service’s forcible-entry capability. The EFV was scrutinized during the Quadrennial Defense Review, which was unveiled yesterday.

Rear Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters at the Pentagon yesterday that in "this budget we’ve elected to maintain the R&D and slide procurement one year" for the EFV.

"That is based upon the commandant’s desire," Mulloy said. "He wants to carefully assess the program through a series of experiments. He feels it’s the right capability, but he is not ready to move forward to full-rate production at this time. But he’s committed to getting it right."

Mulloy said the Marine Corps multi-vehicle ground equipment effort is "truly a program in transition."

For another significant Marine Corps vehicle effort, the spending plan proposes $32 million in R&D funding from the service for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), down from $58 million in FY ’10. Over the next five years, for the JLTV the Marine Corps budget request seeks $303 million in R&D monies and $1.26 billion in procurement funds.

Three companies are under contract to build competing prototypes of the JLTV, a Humvee-replacement for the Marine Corps and Army: BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin [LMT], and a General Dynamics-AM General joint venture called General Tactical Vehicles.

The $548.9 billion base Pentagon budget request the Obama administration unveiled yesterday also calls for buying 13 F-35Bs, the Marine Corps’s short-takeoff, vertical-landing (STOVL) variant of the multi-service F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Marine Corps is slated to receive the first squadron of the F-35 from Lockheed Martin. The proposal calls for buying 98 F-35Bs from FY ’11 through FY ’15.

For the developmental CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopter program, under contract with Sikorsky [UTX], the budget request seeks $577 million in R&D monies, up from $522 million in FY ’10.