Marines FY 2018 $3.2B Unfunded List Prioritizes Aircraft Buys

June 5, 2017 10:09 PM
U.S. Marine Corps pilots maneuver a CH-53K King Stallion as it delivers a 12,000-pound external load after completing an 110 nautical mile mission during the two-week initial operational test (OT-B1) conducted at Sikorsky. Sikorsky Photo

New fighters, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles topped the $3.18 billion unfunded wish list of the Marine Corps to Congress, according to a copy of the document obtained by USNI News on Monday.

The service’s Fiscal Year 2018 unfunded priorities list was topped by $2.36 billion in new aircraft and aviation systems.

Occupying the top of the list is two Sikorsky CH-53K Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters for $287.7 million, followed by four Lockheed KC-130J transport planes for $355.5 million and 876.6 million for six Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The Marines also looked for two more Bell-Boeing MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft for $180.5 million and $220 million for seven Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.

The inclusion of two Marine F-35Cs in the unfunded list appear to restore two that were cut from the larger Department of the Navy budget to buttress readiness and logistics accounts.

Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) during the Lightning Carrier Proof of Concept Demonstration on Nov. 20, 2016. US Navy Photo

“We had to make hard choices. We maintained the readiness accounts and we had to balance somewhere,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Brian Luther said last month.
“We tried to hold the line the best we could in our procurement accounts… but reducing two F-35s allowed us to maintain the IOC in ’18 for the F-35C.”
Specialty aircraft, radar upgrades and new electronic warfare systems rounded out the aviation component.

The Marines have a much more modest $482.7 million ground forces list that puts a long-range small UAV for Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) at the top of the priority list for $16.6 million and $42.5 million for 155m artillery, 60mm and 81mm mortars training rounds for slots two through four.

Marine Corps radar technicians with the Early Warning Control Crew install the arms of the Ground/Air Task Oriental Radar during a Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course exercise in 2015. US Marine Corps Photo

The largest ask in the ground line, but lower down the priority list, is a $122.4 million line item to accelerate the Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) for aviation command and control.

Last year the Marines reduced their buy of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) to route money to G/ATOR.

In addition to the aviation and ground items for the Marine Corps, the list included three items that would come from the Navy’s budget.

Those included five Ship-to-Shore Connectors for $312 million, $3 million for research and development to link the Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) to the service’s Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) and one Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle for $17 million.

The Navy’s own unfunded list calls for the same number of Ship-to-Shore Connectors and two MCM USVs.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Follow @samlagrone

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