The proposed Fiscal Year 2017 spending bill from the House Appropriations defense subcommittee (HAC-D) calls for increases in the Navy’s aviation and shipbuilding spends over the service’s initial budget request.
The spending bill, released by the subcommittee on Tuesday, seeks to increase the Navy’s shipbuilding account by $3.3 billion to $21.6 billion over the Navy’s request for $18.3 billion issued to Congress in February.
The increase includes $1.44 billion for three Littoral Combat Ships, over the Navy’s original request for two. The funding of the three ships aligns with the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) bill that sought to give LCS builders Lockheed Martin and Austal USA the opportunity to build two more ships each before the Navy picked a single hull to be the basis for a follow-on frigate design.
In December, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter directed the Navy to trim the projected total of 52 Littoral Combat Ship and the planned class of follow-on frigates to 40. But HASC staffers told USNI News last month it was constructing its budget around a total of 52 LCS and frigates. The composition of the HAC-D bill suggests the appropriators are following the same logic.
Also, like the HASC, the HAC-D is ignoring the Navy’s request to sideline seven Ticonderoga-class cruisers while awaiting upgrades and maintenance. Like the HASC bill, the HAC-D directs the Navy to correspond to a 2/4/6 scheme that would require two cruisers a year to go into a four-year maintenance program, with no more than six in maintenance at any given time.
The bill continues to fund Virginia-class submarines (SSN-774) at the rate of two a year at $3.18 billion with an additional $1.74 billion for advanced procurement funding for the attack boats. The bill also pays for two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-51), $2.5 billion in funding for the Gerald R. Ford carrier program(CVN-78) and $1.94 billion for a refueling and complex nuclear carrier overhauls.
In aviation, the HAC-D also included $15.9 billion for aviation programs– $1.8 billion boost in aviation over the Navy’s request for $14.1 billion. The bulk of the increase will be for 16 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Navy included a request for 14 new Super Hornets in its FY 2017 unfunded requirements list to Congress as well as two Super Hornets to replace lost aircraft included in the base budget. The bill also includes $1.8 billion for 11 more Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.