Navy Submits $5B Fiscal Year 2017 Unfunded Priorities List Topped by Super Hornets, F-35s, Destroyer Funds

March 3, 2016 4:22 PM
A F/A-18E Super Hornet over the Gulf of Oman near the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). US Navy Photo
A F/A-18E Super Hornet over the Gulf of Oman near the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). US Navy Photo

The Navy submitted a Fiscal Year 2017 unfunded requirements list to Congress this week that mirrors last year’s priorities but requests about twice as much money for items that couldn’t be squeezed into the official Fiscal Year 2017 President’s Budget request.

Topping the list is $1.5 billion for 14 Boeing Super Hornets, a platform that was not included in the formal budget request but would fill a critical need for the Navy – which has seen its legacy Hornets backlogged in depot maintenance and its Super Hornets working overtime to compensate. It also requests two Lockheed Martin F-35C Lighting Joint Strike Fighters to accelerate the program, according to a copy of the list obtained by USNI News.

The Navy also requests $433 million to buy the remainder of an incrementally funded DDG-51 guided missile destroyer from the FY 2016 budget, as well as buying the material for another DDG combat system modernization. USNI News understands it would pay for the modernization of USS Shoup (DDG-86).

The service also followed up last year’s call for additional electronic attack upgrades in the form of $23 million for an additional SEWIP Block III and $81 million for 99 additional Counter Electronic Attack (CEA) Block II Kits.

The list includes an ask for $43 million for an Over the Horizon missile capability for two Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships – USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) and USS Milwaukee (LCS-5).

On the munitions front, the Navy also asked for $58 million in additional Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) components, $33 million for 75 AIM-9X Block II anti-air missiles and $16 million for 23 Mk-54 torpedoes.

The list also asks for $22 million for a new Landing Craft Utility 1700 and $165 million for three Ship to Shore Connector hovercraft.

The Navy’s FY 2016 unfunded list – mandated by Congress to allow the services to express needs they’d fill with more funds – was largely paid for by Congress.

Receipt of the list drew at least one positive comment from Capitol Hill.

“I am pleased that the services are sending Congress their lists of unfunded requirements. Congress needs to know what we need to defend the nation, not just what’s in the President’s budget,” House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee chair Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said in a Thursday statement.
“These lists give Congress a sense of what the administration left on the cutting room floor, and guide us as we try to build our national security back up.”

Absent from the list is any additional money for the procurement of additional Littoral Combat Ships/Frigate hulls. As part of the current budget submission – under the direction of Secretary of Defense Ash Cater — the Navy cut the planned LCS ship count from 52 to 40 to pay for higher end war systems.

Services in the past – particularly the U.S. Air Force – have used the unfunded list as an end run around big Pentagon blessed budget requests to send demand signals directly to Congress.

While the Navy is publicly complying with Carter’s mandate — a forthcoming force structure assessment could call for more small surface combatants in the fleet and could reignite a debate on how many frigate-sized ships the Navy needs.

Megan Eckstein

Megan Eckstein

Megan Eckstein is the former deputy editor for USNI News.

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