The Navy wants to spend $35.9 billion to buy ships, aircraft and weapons in fiscal 2016, a request that is about $5 billion more than it sought for the current fiscal year, a move in line with the White House’s effort to fund the government at levels higher than outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act.
The amount is part of the Department of the Navy’s $161 billion request unveiled Monday that includes the Marine Corps. For shipbuilding, the Navy is seeking $16.6 billion for shipbuilding, $2.2 billion more than in 2015. The department’s request of $16.1 billion for aviation is more than $3 billion above 2015, and the weapons request is about the same at $3.2 billion. The fiscal 2016 year begins Oct. 1.
One major highlight in the five-year buying plan released with the budget documents is an intent to buy 24 V-22 Ospreys as the replacement aircraft for conducting the carrier on-board (COD) delivery mission. The Navy recently decided to go with the V-22s, built by a partnership of Boeing [BA] and Bell Helicopter, a division of Textron [TXT], rather than a Northrop Grumman [NOC] proposal to modernize the C-2s currently doing the COD mission. Eight V-22s will be bought each year starting in fiscal 2018 as the Navy moves toward the requirement of 44 aircraft for COD.
The budget proposal makes some significant cuts to bombs, removing plans to buy 200 of Raytheon’s [RTN] Joint Standoff Weapon C in 2016. The five-year plan delays plans for purchases of the Small Diameter Bomb II–also built by Raytheon–by one year. Instead of buying 1,590 through fiscal 2019, nearly half of those now won’t be budgeted until 2020, according to the spending document.
The Navy is adding 100 Tomahawk ship-launched cruise missiles to 2016 after zeroing it out in last year’s plans, which should soften the blow for Raytheon from the other reductions.
On the ship side, the budget funds the midlife refueling and overhaul of the USS George Washington (CVN-73) aircraft carrier. The Navy warned last year that it may not be able to afford keeping the carrier and suggested it may have to go into early retirement. The work is to begin in mid-2017, Rear Adm. William Lescher, the Navy’s top budget officer, told reporters.
The Navy plans to begin funding for advance procurement for the ballistic missile submarines that will replace the Ohio-class in fiscal 2017, Lescher said. The first of the boomers is to get under construction in 2021, he said.
The Navy plans fund nine new ships in fiscal 2016: Two Virginia-class (SSN-774) attack subs, two Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) destroyers, one San Antonio-class (LPD-17) amphibious transport dock ship, one oiler (TAO(X)), and three Littoral Combat Ships.
The Navy will start buying the follow-on to the LCS, which will be called a frigate, starting in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, Lescher said. The frigate version will be based on the same hulls but will feature greater firepower and more armor to increase lethality and survivability.
The budget proposal restores 29 MH-60R helicopters to the 2016 plans after they had been removed last year in line with the possibility of retiring the George Washington. They are built by Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Sikorsky, a division of United Technologies [UTX].
It deletes one Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye from last year’s plan, adds a Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to 2016 for a total of 16.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter held steady through the five-year plan, with 38 of the carrier variant F-35Cs and 83 of the Marine Corps’ F-35B short-takeoff and vertical- landing version. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor of the F-35s.
The proposal establishes the beginning of low-rate initial production this year of the unmanned MQ-4C Triton, the Navy’s version of the Air Force’s Global Hawk that is built by Northrop Grumman. However, it will start off with fewer than originally planned, with three of the aircraft in fiscal 2016 and 2017 before climbing back up to four in 2018.
Seven RQ-21A Blackjack small UAVs will be bought, three for special operations command and four the Marine Corps, Lescher said. The proposal calls for buying two Fire Scout MQ-8Cs each year through fiscal 2020. They had been removed from the plans last year as the Navy reviewed the Littoral Combat Ship program.
The budget outlined Monday assumes that full sequestration won’t return on Oct. 1, when a congressional deal to lift most of it, expires. The Navy said another round of sequestration would slash its baseline budget by $13 billion to $148.1 billion.