The Navy’s top unfunded priorities for FY ‘22 are $1.66 billion for a second Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 Flight III destroyer and $53.9 million for the Naval Tactical Grid, according to documents obtained by Defense Daily.
The service’s original request released last Friday included $22.6 billion for eight new ships, but that included only one new destroyer for $2 billion, one less than planned. Previously, the Navy’s FY ‘21 budget request plan expected to procure two destroyers in the FY ‘22 budget at a cost of $3.7 billion (Defense Daily, May 28).
The total value of the Navy’s unfunded priorities list sent to Congress stands at $5.56 billion.
This unfunded second destroyer would be the 10th vessel in an FY 2018 to 2022 multiyear procurement contract that aims to split work between shipbuilders General Dynamics’ [GD] Bath Iron Works and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ [HII] Ingalls Shipbuilding.
Last month, the Maine congressional delegation wrote to President Biden in opposition of reports the budget would only fund the single destroyer, underscoring the importance of predictability and stability of building two ships per year for the industrial base (Defense Daily, May 19).
In 2018, the Navy originally awarded HII a $5.1 billion contract for six Flight III DDG-51s and GD $3.9 billion for four destroyers (Defense Daily, Sept. 28, 2018).
Last week, during a press conference upon the release of the budget, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. John Gumbleton said budgetary constraints forced the Navy to prioritize requirements, realigning billions of dollars toward higher priority programs.
Gumbleton said “this was absolutely an affordability question where the goal of the department was to balance the first priority, which is investment in Columbia recapitalization.” The next priorities are focusing on readiness to deliver a credible combat force today, investment in future capabilities, modernization, and growing the warfighting capacity at a rate supported by budget controls.
“When you ask the question with respect to the second DDG, this was clearly a hard choice with respect to what we could afford as we build the Navy for the ’22 budget,” he added.
If the Navy only procures a single destroyer in FY ’22 it will be faced with a $33 million multi-year penalty in the contract for not maintaining the plan of procuring two destroyers per year.
“The hard choice being that the Navy chose to invest the cost of the destroyer in a blended mix of readiness, modernization, and capability for the future,” Gumbleton said.
Last year, the Navy’s top unfunded priority was a second Virginia-class attack submarine, which Congress ultimately added to the final FY ‘21 appropriations bill.
According to the unfunded list, the second priority, at $53.9 million, is to accelerate the Naval Tactical Grid development “for enhancement of Navy Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).”
JADC2 is being led by the Air Force as an ability for both the Navy and Air Force to jointly share targeting quality information across platforms. It requires bringing in multiple sensors, weapons and platforms together under one standard.
The Naval Tactical Grid is often talked about in connection to using more unmanned systems.
Last September, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities, N9 Vice Adm. James Kilby said this is “the ability to network and control C2, all those unmanned vehicles is significant and important. Think about the aggregation of that demand on the network and understanding that and making sure we field a network that’s robust enough to handle all our vehicles in many different types of environments” (Defense Daily, Sept. 9, 2020).
Further down the list are $87 million in resilient communications and position, navigation and timing equipment for the Combat Logistics Fleet; $109 million in additional Dual Band Radar spares for the three Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) destroyers and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78); $25 million in Ford and Zumwalt radar work in signal data processor tech refresh and obsolete component redesign; $54 million in additional sonobuoys; and $50 million in MK-48 heavyweight torpedoes.
The eighth and ninth priorities are $222 million in various aircraft depot maintenance events and $207 million in various ship maintenance availabilities.