The Navy's fiscal 2011 budget calls for the addition of four Growler squadrons. (NAVY)
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The Department of the Navy would build nine ships, buy 206 aircraft, postpone construction of the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and kill the advanced cruiser known as CG(X), according to the $179.1 billion spending plan it submitted Monday to Congress.
The budget proposal includes $160.6 billion in baseline funding compared with the $156 billion the Navy requested last year and $18.5 billion in funding for what the Pentagon calls "overseas contingency operations," better known as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Of that base budget, $45.1 billion would go to personnel costs; $46.2 billion would go for operations and maintenance; $46.6 billion would go to buying ships, aircraft and weapons; $17.7 billion would go for research and development; and $5 billion would go for infrastructure.
The Navy Department's top budget official, Rear Adm. Joseph Mulloy, briefed reporters about the fiscal 2011 submission Monday afternoon at the Pentagon.
His presentation included the Obama administration's first set of near-term spending goals, the Future Years Defense Program which the Navy did not submit last year but did not include the 30-year shipbuilding or aviation plans the service is required to submit along with its budget. Although the Navy also was required to submit those plans last year, it did not. Pentagon officials told Navy Times that DoD and the Navy were briefing Congress on this year's 30-year programs and that the plans would be made public soon.
With its shipbuilding dollars the Navy would buy two Virginia-class submarines; two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; two littoral combat ships; one America-class big-deck amphibious ship; the first in a new class of Mobile Landing Platform auxiliaries; and one Joint High Speed Vessel. The Navy would also extend the lives of four air-cushioned landing craft; buy one oceanographic ship; and pay for one new variety of "ship-to-shore connector," a potential replacement for the air-cushioned landing craft.
As for aircraft, in fiscal 2011 the Navy would buy 13 F-35B Lightning II fighters for the Marine Corps; seven F-35C fighters, which fly off Navy carriers; 22 F/A-18E and F Super Hornets; 12 EA-18G Growler electronic attack jets; four E-2D Hawkeye advanced airborne warning planes; and seven P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol planes.
For helicopters, the budget requests money for a mix of 28 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and UH-1Y Venom utility helos for the Marine Corps; 30 MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft; 24 MH-60R Seahawks for the Navy; and 18 MH-60S Seahawks. The budget submission also calls for three Fire Scout unmanned helicopters and 38 T-6 Texan II pilot trainer planes.
Mulloy said the Navy will expand its plans for electronic warfare by standing up four additional squadrons of EA-18G Growlers. Those aircraft will join the fleet in addition to the 10 carrier-based squadrons. The Navy's plan to buy 24 Growlers in fiscal year 2012 appears to resolve a longstanding dispute between the Navy and the Air Force about which service would provide land-based expeditionary electronic attack capabilities for joint missions.
The current budget does little to address the so-called fighter gap, the projected shortfall in fighter jets that will occur as older F/A-18 Hornets wear out faster than new F-35s will arrive to replace them. In an additional wrinkle, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the F-35's program manager Monday as he announced DoD's annual budget submission, saying someone had to be held accountable for the delays and cost overruns in the fighter's development.
The current Navy plan calls for a complete halt in purchases of F/A-18 Super Hornets in fiscal year 2014. Congress authorized the Navy to sign a new multi-year contract to buy more Super Hornets from Boeing, but Mulloy said "there is no money for a multi-year."
* http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/02/marine_budget_efv_020110w/">Marine Corps Times: Budget calls for more EFV tests in 2011