WASHINGTON — Aircraft top the U.S. Navy's 2018 unfunded priorities list sent to Congress this week, as the service seeks $2.7 billion to buy 24 more planes. The aircraft are part of an overall $4.8 billion, 48-item Navy list of needs left out of the $171.5 billion Navy fiscal 2018 budget sent to Congress on May 23.
The unfunded lists, requested of each service on an annual basis by Congress, include items for lawmakers to consider as they work through the budget requests. Congress frequently moves and swaps items inside the defense budget, or can add funds for specific programs.
The latest list was sent to Capitol Hill on May 30. While four of the top 10 items relate to buying aircraft, the list presents a smorgasbord of aircraft and weapons spare parts procurement, operations and maintenance needs, and research and development efforts.
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"This list predominantly accelerates the recovery of readiness and wholeness of today's fleet," Cmdr. Chris Servello, spokesman for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, said Thursday night.
The list, Servello added, "proposes critical enablers and capabilities including additional Super Hornets to replenish combat-worn aircraft and increase strike fighter inventories; F-35s and unmanned systems to accelerate advanced capabilities; as well as submarine and surface ship modernization to improve and sustain lethality and survivability. Investments in shore readiness are key to preventing further degradation of facilities, docks and airfields after years of underfunding.
"All items on the list are executable in fiscal year '18," Servello asserted.
The aircraft include 10 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet strike fighters, four F-35C carrier-variant Joint Strike Fighters, six P-8A Poseidon multimission maritime patrol aircraft, and four CMV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft for the carrier-onboard delivery role. The list includes $105 million in spares for the aircraft.
There are no ships in the latest unfunded list, including a littoral combat ship, even though the service is on record to support an additional LCS to the one ship in the original FY18 request. The list includes $312 million to buy five ship-to-shore connector air-cushioned landing craft.
But the unfunded list does include $31 million to develop an over-the-horizon, or OTH, capability for the LCS — an item left out of the original request — as well as $84 million in lethality and survivability upgrades for four LCSs and $110 million for the new LCS training facility at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The OTH item would provide eight missiles to support outfitting a second LCS with missiles to go along with the Independence-class LCS Coronado, already fitted with Harpoon missile launchers. The list does not specify which missile would be installed, although Navy leaders previously indicated the Raytheon-Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile would be fitted to a Freedom-class ship.
The list includes $74 million to buy more SRQ-6 Ships Signal Exploitation Equipment units for ships already in service and for two new guided-missile destroyers. SSEE, according to a Navy description, "incorporates counter-intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that improve situational awareness, enhance integrated fires and are key enablers for distributed maritime operations."
Maintenance for strategic sealift ships also made the list, which seeks $17 million to include service life extensions for two crane ships and an aviation support ship. The list also includes $22 million for maintenance of Military Sealift Command Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet oilers.
The list seeks a total of $494 million, including the LCS training facility at Mayport, and asks for $17 million on Overseas Contingency Operations funding, all for requirements of the Naval Special Warfare Command's counter-Islamic State group efforts.