The fiscal year (FY) 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report released Nov. 8 strongly boosts Navy and Missile Defense spending over the Defense Department’s initial requests.
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) report summary highlights how it works to repair the military and restore readiness, which includes requiring the Secretary of the Navy to provide quarterly updates on the progress of the service’s Physiological Episode Team (PET) and how it is trying to solve the PE problem in F/A-18s, EA-18 Growlers, and T-45 Goshawk trainer aircraft.
The compromise bill also increases Navy ship and aircraft depot maintenance and afloat readiness while increasing operation and maintenance (O&M) accounts to fulfill unfunded requirements for needed maintenance and to increase training opportunities. The report increased Navy aviation spares and repair parts by $168 million, increasing the total account to $1.9 billion.
The conference report noted these investments were identified as critical requirements but left unfunded in the administration’s initial FY 2018 budget request.
On shipbuilding the NDAA authorizes $26.2 billion for 14 ships, $6.3 billion and five ships over the administration’s request.
This adds to the eight ships originally requested by the administration and “takes advantage of hot production lines to deliver the right capabilities at the lowest cost to the taxpayers,” the HASC summary said.
This includes $5.6 billion for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, $2 billion and one more ship over the administration’s request. This includes $250 million for multiyear economic order quantity procurement.
It also includes $5.9 billion for Virginia-class attack submarines, $698 million more than the administration’s original request for a third FY 20 Virginia submarine, multiyear economic order quantity procurement, or initiatives to expand the submarine industrial base.
The NDAA authorizes multiyear contract authority and advance procurement for up to 13 Virginia-class submarines and 15 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers
The HASC summary said this provides authority for the Navy to enter into five-year long-term contracts for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Virginia-class submarines, which is expected to save almost 15 percent in cost over typical annual procurement.
Other bill procurement additions over the administration’s request include $1.5 billion in Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), $900 million and two more ships than requested; $635 million for one Puller-class Expeditionary Support Base (ESB); $1.5 billion and incremental funding authority for the lead amphibious ship replacement (LX(R)) or the next San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD-30); $250 million for one cable ship, and $525 million for eight ship-to-shore connectors (SSCs), $312 million and five more units than requested.
Other Navy additions over the administration request includes authorizing $30 million for preliminary design of a smaller aircraft carrier
The bill also expands the Navy’s ability to procure additional equipment for the 12 Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), which will replace the Ohio-class nuclear-armed submarines.
The HASC said that “many of the components associated with these submarines are common across the undersea industrial base. The conferees believe that efficiencies can be obtained by procuring common equipment with other similar platforms such as the Virginia-class attack submarines and Ford-class aircraft carriers.”
This measure is meant to save “several hundred million dollars” with each carrier and submarine.
The NDAA also makes significant additions in Navy and Marine Corps aviation.
The bill authorizes $1.4 billion to procure 10 F-35C fighters, $800 million and six more aircraft than requested in the administration’s budget; $1.9 billion for 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets, which is $739 million and 10 units over the request; $1.8 billion for 10 P-8A Poseidons, $507 million and 3 more aircraft than requested; and $1.2 billion for 12 V-22 Osprey aircraft, $522 million and six more aircraft than the request.
The new NDAA also fully funds research, development, test, and evaluation of the carrier-based MQ-25A unmanned aerial tanker. It also authorizes multiyear procurement authorities for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft “to generate better cost savings for the taxpayer and provide needed capability to the Navy and Marine Corps,” the report said.
The NDAA also reduces funding on some programs that demand accountability on cost and are viewed as wasteful or underperforming.
This includes reducing Zumwalt-class destroyer funding by $50 million; clarifying the Secretary of Defense’s ability authority to waive the requirement to conduct full ship shock trials on the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) before its first deployment; establishing a $12.6 billion procurement cost limitation for carriers after the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79); extending a limitation on sole-source shipbuilding contracts for certain vessels; and requiring submission of periodic updates on Columbia-class cost, design, and construction goals.
Separately, the NDAA authorizes $12.3 billion for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), including expanding the capacity for Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Ground-Based Interceptors (GBIs), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors, and SM-3 Block IIA missiles as well as improving sensor network capabilities.
This is $4.4 billion over the administration’s request, specifically authorizes up to 28 more GBIs and requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to further increase that number to 104 interceptors.
The NDAA also requires the MDA develop a space-based sensor layer for ballistic missile defense.
This bill also authorizes $705 million for Israeli cooperative missile defense programs, a $558.5 million increase over the administration’s request.
This authorization includes $290 for procurement of multi-tiered missile defense systems and $268.5 million for RDT&E for these systems.
Within those funds, up to $120 million covers the David’s Sling Weapon System, up to $120 million for Arrow Upper Tier program, and up to $92 million for Israeli procurement of Tamir interceptors for the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system. The Tamir interceptors are co-produced in the U.S.