Wednesday, April 20, 2016

FY17 Budget Markup

The House Armed Services Committee and its subcommittees offered its markup on the FY17 proposed budget and it was a mixed bag for the Navy.  Here’s some specifics.

  • Increases the Navy’s shipbuilding budget to $20.6B
  • Adds a destroyer, amphibious ship, and LCS
  • Denies the Navy’s request to idle 7 additional Aegis cruisers while they await “modernization” and prohibits the Navy from inactivating the cruisers.  Modernization funding is withheld until the contracts are signed.
  • Denies the Navy’s request to disestablish a carrier air wing
  • Transfers funding into the National Sea-Based Deterrent Fund (SSBN funding outside regular Navy shipbuilding accounts)
  • Calls for building carriers every four years instead of the current five+
  • Calls for the Navy to increase submarine construction rates
  • Doubles Tomahawk production
  • Prohibits further retirement of Avenger class MCM vessels

As I said, this is a mixed bag. 

On the plus side, I like that Congress is asserting its oversight responsibility and, in many cases, ignoring the Navy’s ill-conceived wishes.  On the minus side, some of their changes are highly suspect.

An additional LCS is absurd and is just throwing good money after bad.  The LCS is a proven failure of near-epic proportion.  I have no idea what Congress is thinking.

Congress has clearly seen through the Navy’s ploy to early retire the Aegis cruisers.  Well done, Congress!

Congress is as concerned as I am about the Navy’s attempts to retire another carrier and air wing.  Again, well done.

Calling for increase submarine construction is well and good but I’m not certain that it’s physically possible in terms of yard capacity.  I’ve read reports suggesting that we can’t increase production very much.  I would also like to have seen Congress mandate that the Navy keep existing Los Angeles class subs for their full service life instead of retiring them early as they are currently doing.

Banning the Navy from retiring the Avenger MCM vessels is good but it would have been even better to mandate upgrades.  It will be years before the Navy fields an effective LCS MCM capability, if ever.

All in all, I’ll give Congress a, “Well done,” on this one.  Of course, this is only a markup by one committee.  Much could change before this budget becomes law.


(1)Defense News website, “House Seapower Markup Restores Ship, Aircraft Cuts”, Christopher Cavas, 19-Apr-2016,



18 comments:

  1. "Calling for increase submarine construction is well and good but I’m not certain that it’s physically possible in terms of yard capacity. I’ve read reports suggesting that we can’t increase production very much."

    Thats quite possible, but I suppose this way at least congress will have the subyard saying "we honestly cant", rather than the navy dishonestly saying, "they cant" and given there are two yards, who, nominally, compete, an extra sub order or two isnt pocket change if your yard bags both.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that given our other shortfalls in tactics and ability, increasing sub production is a must. Somehow.

    Weren't we building 4 LA class/year at one point? If the money is there I can't see why the yards wouldn't ramp up.

    Another option is this:

    http://thediplomat.com/2016/04/why-the-us-needs-conventional-submarines/

    This struck me:

    "while one Virginia-class submarine costs roughly $2.7 billion per unit, the same money could buy six to seven conventional submarines of the German Type 212 class."

    I know there are political and logistical arguments to overcome, but if Congress wants to give the money for more subs, adn we build 2 Virginias and buy 5 Type 212's for 3 years that helps fix the shortfall.

    If we did it for long enough we might be able to get the Germans to let us license build them.

    We'd have to see what could be done about the 8000 mile range but with the NATO standard weapons loadouts would be very useful in penetrating an A2/AD. You'd just have to take into account their slow speed in deployment.

    I'm increasingly of the opinion that with the issues our other platforms are having (unupgraded Aegis ships, 'phibs with issues, worn out hornets, and ??? F-35's) a viable submarine force is going to, realistically, be our bread and butter in the future; and we need to find ways of increasing our numbers there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting article about a conventional AIP sub concept. The propose range would be much greater than current diesel electric subs. The concept is from a French defense contractor DCNS.
      http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/is-this-jumbo-diesel-electric-submarine-a-true-nuclear-1652659060

      Delete
    2. I'm not saying jump right too it, but its at least worth a decent study in buying them if they are that much cheaper, and we don't have the industrial capacity to make more.

      How much would it cost? How much would the infrastructure cost? What is the opportunity cost. Its all worth looking at because I think the sub shortfall may represent our most crippling shortfall of the future.

      Delete
  3. "An additional LCS is absurd and is just throwing good money after bad. The LCS is a proven failure of near-epic proportion. I have no idea what Congress is thinking."

    They're thinking Reid Ribble and Bradley Byrne must have some sweet horsetrading power to keep their pet projects going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its just election year posturing. Much the same 'dream big' projects for USAF, such as restarting F22 production. Isnt going to happen for most of these things.

      remember that the LA class were 62 built in a 20 year period, so long term average is 3 per year. The actual numbers commissioned each year varied a lot even in middle of production due to major production problems.
      http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/ssn-688.htm
      The current tempo is working well, adding an extra one every election year does not solve anything

      Delete
  4. """"Calls for building carriers every four years instead of the current five+"""

    I do wonder about this, we can't fill up the decks with aircraft of the CVN we have now, why increase production rate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And, the Navy is trying to disestablish an air wing. Truly baffling!

      Delete
    2. Are we even sure the first Ford carrier is going to work properly?

      Why not give a year or two to have the results back from the first carrier operations and implement the results/improvements on the second carrier?

      Doesn't this almost guarantee that we haven't learned anything from the first carrier and the mistakes will be carried over to the second one, maybe even the third one?!?!?

      Delete
    3. Over the years CVW have been disestablished when carriers arent available for extended periods.
      I think it would be more important to beef up the CVWR.

      Delete
    4. Actually, ordering two carriers every eight years, or better yet, two every seven, is a much needed economic measure over the long run. It not only increased the production rate to an effective levels, but allows you to cut the most expensive part from the carriers lives cycle, the last five years.

      As for reducing the number of air wings. is truly sad but we really won't have enough aircraft for severally year to equipped all the wings we need. But it would be better to deploy fully equipped airwings that can fight effectively than to spread the few fighters you have over non-effective ones.

      Personally I suggest that Congress order the navy to start work on the utility support aircraft that can act a fast tanker, manned COD, and ASW/ASuW patrol bomber, to round out airwings. Yee, they can continue with the unmanned aircraft for these role, but have to manned version available if that development fails.

      Delete
    5. "But it would be better to deploy fully equipped airwings that can fight effectively than to spread the few fighters you have over non-effective ones."

      Couldn't agree more!

      Delete
  5. Is the Avenger class the only MCM vessel the USN has?

    If so, that's quite worrying. Even Australia has 6 MCM vessels (Huon class). How can the USN have only 11 active ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avenger-class_mine_countermeasures_ship )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The USN has long ago downgraded its minesweeping efforts. They have the LCS but its minesweeping modules are still not ready for use

      It does have around 50 CH-53 helicopters set up for minesweeping with towed sleds.

      Part of the problem is the normal bureaucratic situation that if you don’t have someone with the rank to represent your program then when budget cuts happen your organization loses. I don’t think there is any senior or even junior admiral in charge of minesweeping so they get the short end of the stick.

      Admiral Rosendahl pointed out a similar thing in a book he wrote, after WW2 the airship force was reduced in strength but the program carried on with a small number of new airships and equipment, but once the commander for airships was reduced from Admiral to Captain the program was quickly shut down. With only a Captain in charge they had no one to sit at the big table when budget was being sliced

      Delete
    2. "Is the Avenger class the only MCM vessel the USN has? "

      Yes, the Avenger is the only MCM vessel in the Navy.

      Delete
    3. "It does have around 50 CH-53 helicopters set up for minesweeping with towed sleds."

      According to NavAir, there are only 28 MH-53E Sea Dragons in the inventory and those have been used hard and poorly maintained. Likely not all of them are mission capable.

      Delete
  6. Interesting article entitled..............
    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/dont-blame-weaker-military-money-15867

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you find interesting about it? Offer a bit of analysis.

      Delete