THE PENTAGON – The Senate Armed Services Committee Fiscal Year 2022 authorization bill adds an additional destroyer, a Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport and five more F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters for the Navy, according to a summary of the markup issued on Thursday by the SASC.
The additions are part of a $740.3 billion authorization bill that’s $25 billion more than the Pentagon’s initial budget request from late May.
The bill from the Democrat-led SASC is a major break from the White House’s defense plan, which kept the Pentagon’s topline flat compared to the FY 2021 budget.
“I’m proud this year’s bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act increases the defense topline to the National Defense Strategy Commission’s recommendation of three to five percent real growth,” SASC ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Ok.) said in a press release.
Authorizers boosted the shipbuilding topline for the Navy by adding $1.7 billion for a second Arleigh Burke destroyer and $270 million for a Spearhead-class Expeditionary Fast Transport to the shipbuilding total.
The Navy’s initial $22.6 billion shipbuilding request funded one Burke; two SSN-774 Block V Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines; one-FFG 62 Constellation-class frigate; one T-AO-205 John Lewis-class fleet oiler; two T-ATS 6 Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ships; and one new-design T-AGOS(X) ocean surveillance ship.
The SASC bill also authorizes $125 million for long-lead items anticipating a third FY 2023 Burke, $418 million to accelerate the construction for the future LHA-9 big-deck amphibious warship and adds $130 million to industrial base expansion for the construction of Virginia-class attack boats and the Columbia-class (SSBN-826) nuclear ballistic missile submarine. The bill also pauses the proposed FY 2022 decommissioning of 15 ships a report from the Secretary of the Navy to Congress.
In aviation, the bill adds $535 million for five F-35Cs to the originally requested 20; $191 million for an additional E-2D Advanced Hawkeye to bring the total to six; $305.8 million for two C-130J aircraft; $191.9 million to purchase an additional KC-130J tanker aircraft for six total; and $250.0 million for two additional CH-53K helicopters for 11 total. The bill also resumes buying MQ-4C Tritons unmanned surveillance aircraft by adding two for $323 million and authorizes $304 million for the Marines to acquire eight G/ATOR radar systems.
The bill, approved by the SASC on Wednesday, will next head to the Senate for a full markup and then be conferenced with the House Armed Service Committee’s bill later this year.
The SASC bill follows last month’s House appropriations $706 billion defense spending package in line with the Biden administration’s proposed top line including an additional $11 billion in military construction.