Additional fighter jets, P-8A Poseidons, and Ospreys are at the top of the Navy’s $5.3 billion annual wish list of systems and funding it would like but could not afford to include in the fiscal year 2018 budget submission.
In a list delivered to Congress last week, the service noted $1 billion for six additional Boeing [BA] P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, $739 million for 10 more Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, $540 million for four more Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35C aircraft, and $392 million for four additional Textron [TXT] – Boeing CMV-22B tiltrotor Ospreys.
The Navy issues the unfunded priorities document annually to explain to lawmakers what gaps it has in procurement, operations and maintenance, research and development, personnel, and construction funding accounts.
In the list, the Navy claimed the extra P-8As, moving from seven to 13 procured, would in conjunction with projected future procurement fulfill the aircraft’s warfighting requirement of 117 aircraft.
The additional Super Hornets, 24 instead of the 14 in the budget request “will replenish combat-worn aircraft t reduce near-term Strike Fighter shortfalls, and address long term inventory deficits,” the Navy said in the document. It claimed this would address F-35C inventory management challenges caused by end-of-life planning for the F/A-18A-D legacy aircraft, requisite integration of F-35Cs, overutilization of current aircraft because of high operational tempo, and aviation depot maintenance backlogs.
Additionally, the Navy list raises the F-35C request from four to eight units to level the procurement ramp from FY ’17 to FY ’19 and continue to mitigate the fighter’s shortfalls as they transition to and integrate the F-35C.
The CMV-22B list moving from six to ten requested units “will ensure FY18 procurement meets the Economic Production Rate of 10 per year, independent of Foreign Military Sales,” the Navy said.
The Navy also asked for $312 million in five additional ship to shore connector craft, which would make the total FY ’17 and FY ’18 procurement 10 units. It said this would provide stability to the program, reduce price per craft, and allow vendors to order a more Economic Order Quantity for material procurement.
The Navy also asked for ship improvements like $84 million to backfit four Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) with upgraded electronic warfare systems, decoys, gun fire control systems, and radars “to increase lethality and survivability,” as well as $76 million for three additional submarine combat system upgrades to Virginia-class SSN submarines.
The list also noted $29 million and $81 million to fund phase two of the LCS training facility and LCS Support Facility at Naval Station Mayport, Fla, respectively.
Major facilities improvements on the list include $246 million in facilities restoration and modernization for repairs to airfields, dry docks, wharves, and ordnance magazines; $45 million to increase facilities sustainment from 78 to 100 percent of requirements; $60M in manpower, personnel, training, and education Management System IT Modernization; $120 million to fully fund aviation logistics programs; and $108 million to replace pier 8 in San Diego, Calif.
The list also includes several munitions increases: $48 million for 30 RAM Block II missiles to mitigate FY21 requirements and $31 million to procure five test and three inert operational Over-the-Horizon test missiles to support outfitting a second LCS with an extended range offensive cruise missile capability.
Notably, the list does not fund any additional ships, like the second LCS the administration said it supported a day after the budget request was released (Defense Daily, May 24). It does, however list $34 million in two additional Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicles used to tow mine-hunting equipment.
Congress is not obligated to fund any of the priorities on the list, but in past years it has been especially inclined to add extra Navy fighter jets to the budget.