Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Budget Highlights

Christopher Cavas, writing for the Navy Times website, has posted an article highlighting some budget impacts on individual weapons and platforms (1).  Here are the main points.

  • Shipbuilding will be almost unaffected.

  • JSF - Marine F-35B buys will remain unchanged, however, the Navy's F-35C will be cut from 49 to 20 in the 2015-2018 period.

  • P-8A - The Poseidon buy will drop from 56 to 49 in the 2015-2018 period.

  • MH-60R - The 2016 buy of 29 helicopters has been eliminated.

  • MQ-8C Fire Scout - Eliminated.

  • Tomahawk - The Tactical Tomahawk buy of 980 has been reduced to 100 in 2015 and none beyond that.

  • Hellfire - The Hellfire missile buy of 1519 has been reduced to zero.

  • JSOW - The missile buy has been reduced from 1799 to 400 in the 2015-2018 period.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, the Navy will do anything to protect new ship construction funding.


  1. I believe their thinking is that it's much easier to postpone weapon buys now and ramp them up later (in this tight fiscal market) than it would be to do the same with ship building projects.

    1. SpudmanWP, if it were that simple and limited, I'd agree with you. However, the larger trend is that for the last decade (or two) the Navy has been "robbing" manning, maintenance, spare parts, and early retiring ships all to pay for new construction. We now have brand new ships that are deemed "unsuitable" for their missions (LPD), have been accepted incomplete, have weapon and sensor systems that are degraded, and are insufficiently manned for combat and damage control. Most of this trend occured before budget/sequestration came to be. The actions highlighted in the post are merely the latest evidence of a long continuing trend. We have a hollow Navy.

  2. F35 C vs B I find quite interesting, Dependant on the ACTUAL value of an F35 vs hornet in various situations, this could but the USN at a disadvantage to USMC flat tops, right out to 2018 and likely beyond.
    Is it silly to presume there is \ will be a rerolling or a plan around this decision.
    Or is it simply that the F35C is technically THAT far behind the B in testing ?


    1. Beno, I think the "C" is that far behind the "B". I also think the Navy doesn't really want the "C" and is attempting to postpone significant procurement for as long as possible in anticipation/hope that either the program will implode or move along without the Navy or that circumstances will offer the Navy a way out. For example, if budgets require the Navy to cut another carrier (quite likely) and one or more airwings (also quite likely) then the Navy will have an excess of Hornets and can use that as a reason to opt out of the F-35 program.

      Just speculation on my part.

    2. I agree it feels like SOMETHING is going on with the C.
      But with no viable alternative and a very real threat of F18 becoming critically obsolete in a 10 year time frame, facing Russian or Chinese carrier and land based stealth jets and improved A2AD. I can’t believe they will just ignore F35C and pretend it’s not happening.
      We have yet to see the joys of DAS, AESA and sensor fusion “full on”, but low observability alone put F22 leagues ahead of its predecessor.
      For all its myriad “bad points” you can’t just keep upgrading F18 and expect it to be relevant in 2030.
      The USN will bite through their own tongues if they have to get the USMC to do jobs they no longer can from their flat tops in 10 year’s time. I just can’t imagine it?
      And to be fair there is just no money for the mega – super hornet 2 or F36 or whatever.

    3. Beno, you make a valid point about perpetually upgrading the Hornet. However, the only worse would be to commit the next 20 or 30 years of aviation to an F-35 that is going to be only adequate, at best, and will in all likelihood be overmatched through much of its career.

      A better approach might be to revisit the navalized F-22 for a quite capable, fairly well understood (notwithstanding the fact that the pilots keep passing out!) aircraft that would probably be cheaper to bring to production than the F-35 (tooling already largely exists). The F-35 just seems the worst of a bad set of choices.

  3. I have also heard that there are some serious problems with the F-35C's tail hook, and because of the design, it's not something that can be readily fixed. I have also heard that the Navy is interested in the Block III version of the Super Hornet as a replacement for the F-35C. There has been some talk of buying the Block III in lieu of the F-35C while bypassing the F-35 fiasco by developing a new 6th generation fighter. Problem is, you can only upgrade the F/A-18 so much and does anyone really think the Navy will be able to afford the development of a new 6th generation fighter given all of the budgetary problems the Navy is facing? The USN is in deep doo-doo, and nearly all of the problems are self-inflicted wounds.


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