Home » Aviation » HASC’s 2019 Bill Boosts Navy Spending, With Focus on Readiness and Pacific Operations

HASC’s 2019 Bill Boosts Navy Spending, With Focus on Readiness and Pacific Operations

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group cruises in formation with the Indian navy Talwar-class frigate INS Tarkash (F50) on March 25, 2018. Theodore Roosevelt is underway for a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. US Navy photo.

The House Armed Services Committee’s Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act today focuses on building readiness – especially in aviation – and on optimizing for operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

The bill, which will be marked up on Wednesday, adds $1.85 billion in shipbuilding over the Navy’s request, creating a $23.7-billion shipbuilding and conversion account that would buy 13 ships and pay for advance procurement activities on two Virginia-class attack submarines – one in FY 2022 and one in 2023 – that are not in the Navy’s current plans.

The bill takes away $310 million in Navy aircraft procurement – some due to program cost growth; some due to expected efficiencies that will come from the multiyear contracts the bill authorizes; and some due to the FY 2018 spending bill, which was finalized after the Pentagon made its 2019 request, covering a $206-million bill for the C-40A medium airlift program.

And the bill boosts Navy operations and maintenance by $143.3 million overall, though a significant amount of money is moved from the O&M budget into a separate National Defense Sealift Fund.

In total, the FY 2019 NDAA authorizes $717 billion on defense: $639 billion in the base budget, $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending and $8.9 billion in mandatory spending.

“Restoring readiness while also increasing the capability and capacity of our Armed Forces is a key focus of this year’s defense policy bill,” HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement today.
“Continuing to reform the Pentagon to help speed decision-making and get the right tools in the hands of our warfighters faster is also a major priority. Together, these improvements support and strengthen our most valuable asset, which is America’s troops.”

Aviation readiness is a key focus of the bill, according to statements by both the committee Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans’ summary notes that $39.4 billion is dedicated to “overcome the crisis in military aviation by getting more aircraft in the air,” with the services’ flight hour funding increased by $24.2 million and other training operations funding increased by $83 million compared to the services’ request.

“In 2017, nearly four times as many members of the military died in training accidents as were killed in combat. In all, 21 Servicemembers died in combat while 80 died as a result of noncombat training-related accidents,” according to the summary.
“This spring alone, 25 were killed in military aviation mishaps. This tragic statistic is the latest in a chain of evidence that has led Chairman Thornberry and many members of the Armed Services Committee to believe that America’s Military is ‘at a crisis point.’”

Navy and Marine Corps leaders have pushed back against the notion that there’s a crisis, but they do acknowledge the need for more funding for spare parts, depot maintenance and other enablers to keep their aircraft ready for pilots to train in them.

However, HASC Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) felt so strongly about the topic that he announced today an amendment he would submit during the markup that would establish an independent National Commission on Military Aviation Safety.

“The commission would review military aviation mishaps between FY 2013 and 2018 compared to historic averages; assess the causes contributing to mishaps; and make recommendations on safety, training, maintenance, personnel, or other policies related to military aviation safety,” according to a committee news release.

“It is time to establish an independent National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, so that we can understand exactly what causes are contributing to military aviation accidents, how current rates compare to historic averages, and what steps we can take to improve military aviation safety,” Smith said in the release.
“It is essential for our aviators and their families—as well as for our military’s ability to recruit, retain, and perform its mission—that Congress have an authoritative, objective, apolitical look at the causes of this problem so that we can figure out what is going wrong and what actions need to be taken.”

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson visit the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., Feb. 19, 2016. Neller and Richardson toured the depot to observe the FA-18 maintenance repair process. US Marine Corps photo.

For the Navy specifically, $37.4 million was added to the aircraft depot maintenance account beyond the Navy’s request for “readiness restoration,” along with $6.4 million added for aviation logistics and $40 million added for F-35B Joint Strike Fighter spare parts for the Marine Corps. As another readiness restoration effort, $116.6 million was added for ship depot maintenance.

In addition to readiness issues, the bill focuses on the Indo-Pacific region and goes so far as to rename U.S. Pacific Command as the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, in a nod to the National Defense Strategy’s emphasis on that larger region. The bill would also rename the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative, extend the authority of that program through the end of FY 2023, and add India as a covered country in the program.

In support of technologies the military believes will be relevant in future Pacific operations, the bill also adds an additional $20 million for development of hypersonic weapons, an additional $40 million for electromagnetic railgun development, $100 million for directed energy prototyping and $30 million for undersea and unmanned aerial warfare research, “which represents an additional investment in maritime robotics, autonomous systems, and energy storage technology,” according to the Democrats’ bill summary. The Republican summary also highlights artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantum computing as technology areas of interest.

  • us spend billions of dollars for their defence system and navy is a part of it.

  • proudrino

    HASC Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) feels strongly about aircraft production in his Congressional district. It’s typical Democrat “patriotism” which has nothing to do with national security or military readiness. He and all of his party are part of the problem. Not that I’m all that thrilled with the Republicans pushing these mega spending bills either but at least I think they are working from a position of honesty where as Democrats are not.

    • Duane

      Honesty from current Republicans in Congress? You’re joking right? The same GOP that enacted a massive multi-trillion tax cut last December that gave most of its benefits to big business and the wealthy, while giving the average taxpayer back less than the cost of a cup of coffee per paycheck, while perversely slashing tax revenues by trillions and thus making it impossible to fund defense in the next decade at anywhere near current FY-2018/2019 levels.

      That’s your “honest GOP” for you.

      • muzzleloader

        Tax cuts for the wealthy and average taxpayers can’t buy a cup of coffee. Blah blah blah.
        You said that last week. Predicable much?

      • Ctrot

        And figures today revealed that April 2018 showed a record tax revenue ($500+ billion) while spending less than $300b, netting a surplus of almost $200b. Yeah, those tax cuts are just killin’ us.

    • PolicyWonk

      Hogwash. Pork is a bipartisan problem. And “patriotism” is not a mantle held solely by the GOP, who’s caused this nation vastly more damage than good over the past 17 years, by grossly mismanaging the cluster-EFF’s in Afghanistan (nation building) and Iraq, costing this nation a whopping defeat in the GWOT to Al Qaida, destroying the economic foundation of this nation through negligence, and causing the worst string of foreign policy and national security disasters in history.

      With “friends” or “patriots” like these, the USA doesn’t need enemies.

      I love how you dump on Shiff, while ignoring the GOP’s multitudes of sins in the same regard. For aircraft, for example, was old Newt, requiring the Chair Force to purchase over 100 extra C-130’s, merely because they were built in his district.

      Moral of story: before you throw stones, its much smarter to remember that the glass house you live in is vulnerable.

      • D. Jones

        Agree completely that pork knows no party lines, however one can place plenty of blame on economic policies such as the “Great Society”, funds sent all over the world for various “assistance programs” and rampant corruption in government which has sapped the nation’s strength. Equally, Wall Street’s relentless thirst for quarterly profits which encouraged outsourcing everything and gutting our industrial base, deserves its due.

        It’s quite a mess, and only a few shining stars of hope, like the LCS, keep America moving forward.

        • publius_maximus_III

          Ah yes, the Navy’s Blooper Nova.

          • D. Jones

            Those three magic letters elicit a zen-like state of tranquility.

            I’m surprised none of the automakers have borrowed the moniker. Maybe Chevy, they had the LT1, L88, LS, LT , LTZ…

      • proudrino

        I made it clear that “pork” is bipartisan. Nevertheless when faux the “patriots” of the left scream about the need for aviation readiness when they really mean more money for the Boeing plant in their district, I call a foul. Ditto the Democrats supporting more LCS production in the name of maritime superiority.

        I can’t name a single Democrat who is truly a legitimate voice of reasonable national security policy. Can you? It certainly isn’t traitors like Adam Shiff or Nancy Pelosi. Both of whom have put partisanship well above national security issues. But I’m open to changing my mind if you know of any Democrats who are legitimate defenders of our freedoms.

        • PolicyWonk

          Gad, but you are full of yourself aren’t you, and what maketh the grass grow green to boot!

          Patriots don’t waste national treasures like our armed forces – but this is exactly what was done by the administration of George W Bush. It was GWB’s administration that created the LCS – and it was the USN that insisted that was what it needed (Obama, to his credit, stayed out of naval affairs).

          The ultra patriotic administration of GWB, when it thankfully left office, left in its wake:
          – the worst string of national security and foreign policy disasters in history
          – the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, 6M jobs lost, and 800k/job per month being lost by the time Obama took office
          – a military at its lowest state of readiness since Vietnam
          – a crushing defeat to Al Qaida in the GWOT
          – a staggering debt load and deficit (after inheriting a balanced budget, the smallest government since the Kennedy administration, and the national debt being paid down)

          This was after 8 years of GOP incompetence: with “friends” like these – does the USA need enemies?

          Yet you have the gall to claim all the problems of the world are because of Pelosi and Schiff?

          You are less than intelligent. Go shovel the fertilizer you’re trying to sell at InfoWars, where the brain-dead congregate.

          • proudrino

            Personal attacks like yours demonstrate a paucity of facts to actually debate. In other words, you don’t have the intellectual capital to make a point. Bless your heart. Have a nice day.

          • PolicyWonk

            Well bless your lack of intelligence, and for failing to address the cold, hard facts as they were listed. And my posting directly referenced the fertilizer you were attempting to spread, as if your obviously worthless/baseless opinion shouldn’t be questioned.

            What I listed happen to be the conclusions of the 2008 US National Intelligence Estimate.

            You’re not even part of the conversation, if you lack the willingness, ability, or capacity to address them.

            Have a lovely day.

          • muzzleloader

            Eight years of GOP incompetence? Are you going to tell us that the Iran debacle that Obama signed and Trump disenged is from was competent? Are you going to tell us that the Benghazi disaster was competent?
            Don’t tell me that all the manure is in our corner, pal.

  • johnbull

    For all the talk about a block buy of CVNs 80 and 81 recently, I didn’t see any mention of that.

  • DaSaint

    What you’ve stated makes too much sense. It’s always easier for Congress to authorize a tangible item, whether submarine, carrier, aircraft, or combatant. They see and know what that is, and how it impacts their districts.

    Amorphous funding for repair and operations? Not so much.

  • publius_maximus_III

    “And the bill boosts Navy operations and maintenance by $143.3 million overall…”

    Need to get that USMC KC-130T propeller problem fixed pronto, if indeed it turns out to be what caused that crash in Mississippi last summer. The plane separated into two pieces at cruising altitude just forward of the wings, in-line with the propellers. All on board were killed. The crash investigation report still has not been issued, almost a year later. The same older tanker/transport version of Lockheed’s C-130 is also used by the USN. The entire fleet has been grounded since the crash.

    • Graeme Rymill

      New 8 bladed NP-2000 propellers are on their way.

  • D. Jones

    Did we cover this?

    Ford loses main propulsion thrust bearing. (GE Lynn Massachusetts made)

    Repairs now pushed out a year.

    bloomberg com/news/articles/2018-05-08/carrier-suffers-new-failure-at-sea-as-u-s-navy-seeks-more-funds

    Between that and the EMALFS, Congress should have authorized a couple three new Nimitz carriers.

    • proudrino

      I think we’re still in the blame game stage between HI and GE. It’s probably to be expected- first of the class is always a dog of a platform.

      • D. Jones

        Understood, but how could an out of spec critical part(s) like that get into the build? Repairing thrust bearings on regular ships is a job. On a carrier with uber-power? They’ve got to be huge and buried deep inside the ship. Is this a repair-in-place or cut a really big hole in the ship and replace?

        Hope USNI does a piece on this. There are teething problems and there are major disaster problems. This is gonna cost a mountain of money & time, and as I understand it, there was no manufacturers warranty.

  • Duane

    The funding in this NDAA is still well above what the Navy and DOD requested, and it is up to the Navy to spend it wisely.

    Cutting SSNs would be dumb. They are by far our most survivable warships, and we are already unable to avoid a large dip in sub forces in the 2030s, due to retiring 688s, even with buying what is in this NDAA markup.