Many military and aerospace (mil/aero) industry pundits are expressing concern over the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2015 as it relates to defense spending. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, whose recommendations the President followed in the FY 2015 budget sent to Congress this month, also points out that the new plan is not without its risks.
The last installment discussed Secretary Hagel and President Obama’s recommendations for the Air Force; now this mil/aero geek presents changes planned for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. (Stay tuned for news on the Army, expected to suffer the largest cuts in personnel.)
Under the President’s budget plan, the Navy will reduce acquisitions costs and maximize resources available to buy and build new ships in an effort to grow its ship inventory over the next five years.
Eleven ships, half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet, will be “laid up” and placed in reduced operating status while they are modernized, and eventually returned to service with greater capability and a longer lifespan.
The plan preserves Navy fleet modernization programs and increases ship inventory over the next five years. To that end, the Navy will buy two destroyers and two attack submarines per year, as well as one additional Afloat Staging Base.
No new contract negotiations beyond 32 Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) ships will go forward under the plan.
The Navy will aim to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate, affirms Hagel, who has directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs, and a modified LCS.
Again, however, if sequestration spending levels return in 2016 and beyond, tougher decisions on the Navy surface fleet will need to be made, such as having six additional ships laid up, halting procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter carrier variant for two years, and slowing the rate of destroyer acquisitions, resulting in 10 fewer large surface combatant ships in the Navy’s operational inventory by 2023.
The Marine Corps will lose 8,000 personnel, in a reduction from 190,000 to 182,000. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016 and beyond, the Marines would shrink to 175,000.