The Marine Corps is set to request $14 billion for modernization efforts in its fiscal year 2020 budget request, a senior official said Wednesday, with leadership emphasizing a need to improve the capabilities on its amphibious warships.

Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, told attendees at the Surface Navy Association conference the Marine Corps is focused on upgrades for its command and control suites and air defense capabilities aboard its growing fleet of amphibious ships while prioritizing new investments in tools to better conduct information operations.

Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations

“To ensure readiness we must, and I want to emphasize we must, increase our amphibious warship capacity,” Beaudreault said. “I’m not talking about an unplanned acceleration of the 38 amphibious warships overnight. I’m talking about doing much better with what’s currently commissioned. And in no way doing more with less.”

Beaudreault said the Marine Corps remains set on its goal for a fleet of 38 amphibious warships by 2033.

The $14 billion towards modernization would account for 31 percent of the upcoming FY20 budget request, according to Beaudreault.

“To increase the lethality and readiness of our amphibious fleet, the Naval force must upgrade the C2 suites, introducing vertical launch systems and organic air defense. We need to manage our electronic signatures better,” Beaudreault said. “We need to modernize the surface connector fleet in combination with our aerial connectors to enable the surface force to establish sensors to set decoys and sustain locations.”

Beaudreault named several of the modernization programs to be included in the budget request, such as improvements to information environment operations, enhancing long-range precision fires, F-35 procurement, the MAGTF Unmanned Expeditionary drone project, procuring swarming technologies for unmanned systems, medium-range air defense systems and protected mobility for the new Amphibious Combat Vehicles.

“We need to continue to explore opportunities to deploy and employ alternative platforms to compensate for the shortfalls of amphibious warships and meet our [Global Force Management] requirements in the most resource-appropriate manner,” Beaudreault said.

The Marine Corps’ additional modernization priorities include logistics to support close combat lethality, and procuring modular handguns and squad-level UAS.

“The future threat is evolving quickly. It’s imperative that the United States Navy and Marine Corps remain ready for a fight tonight. And that we work together with a sense of urgency to deepen our integration, embrace technological innovation, increase readiness and ensure we maintain the most forward-enabled force in the world that’s equipped and ready to engage in 21st century combat against a peer adversary,” Beaudreault said.