Pentagon Boosts Next Generation Submarines and Bombers

Next generation bomber and submarine programs for the Air Force and Navy turned out to be the winners out of the Pentagon’s roll out of its fiscal 2016 budget proposal.

Both programs, designed to offer the U.S. the ability to evade advanced air defenses or underwater detection capabilities, received high levels of funding that don’t include what’s sure to be a significant chunk of funding in the classified budget. In fact, the Navy’s effort to replace its Ohio-class nuclear submarines received a fund designed by Congress that separates a portion of the program’s funding from the overall Navy budget.

The Pentagon requested an overall defense budget of $585 billion, including a $534 base budget and a $51 billion war budget. That’s an increase of about $25 billion, or 4 percent, in funding from this year.

The Navy received the biggest boost over last year out of all the services requesting $10 billion more compared the amount the Navy received last year. Out of the Navy’s $160 billion budget request, the service wants to buy two more Virginia-class submarines to go along with the $1.4 billion it plans to spend on the Ohio Replace program.

The Navy also requested $67.4 million for directed energy weapons and $242 million for a next-generation radar technology called Air and Missile Defense Radar, or AMDR.

Navy leaders also requested $2.5 billion for the Navy’s new Ford-class aircraft carriers, $3.2 billion for two new DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-Class destroyers, $1.4 billion for three Littoral Combat Ships and one new amphibious transport dock or LPD 17.

Air Force

Meanwhile, the Air Force asked for $1.24 billion for its Long Range Strike program as the service plans to increase its level of funding over the next four years.

The Long-Range Strike Bomber program, or LRS-B, plans to have new planes in the fleet by the mid-2020s. The Air Force ultimately plans to acquire as many as 80 to 100 new bombers for a price of roughly $550 million per plane. The new aircraft will be designed to have global reach, in part by incorporating a large arsenal of long-range weapons. The LRS-B is being engineered to carry existing weapons as well as emerging and future weapons.

Northrop Grumman and a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing are competing for the contract to build the plane. In fact, Northrop aired a commercial hinting at its developed bomber during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Air Force generals plan to request $2.2 billion in fiscal 2017, $2.8 billion in 2018, $3.6 billion in 2019 and $3.7 billion in 2020. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has called the Long Range Strike Bomber one of the Air Force’s top priorities.

While the Air Force plans to increase its funding on the next generation bomber, the service maintained its stance on retiring the A-10. The A-10 is a popular close-air-support, ground attack aircraft that has received support from prominent lawmakers to include Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee

Thus far, Congress has flatly denied the Air Force’s previous attempts to retire the A-10 fleet that Air Force leaders have said is necessary in order to free up funding and manning for the introduction of the F-35A.

However, Air Force leaders have listened to lawmakers’ rejection of its proposal to retire theU-2 Dragon Lady spy plane. The service will push back the proposed retirement to 2019 and has instead requested funding for upgrades to the aircraft. The Air Force had planned to retire the U-2 in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk system.

Supporters for the U-2 have said the Global Hawk is not ready to take over for the Dragon Lady’s spy mission. The proposed budget includes funding for the U-2 and the Global Hawk Block 30 and 40 drones.

Finally, the Pentagon plans to increase its investment in the F-35. The Defense Department is proposing to spend $11 billion to buy 57 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters next year, up from $8.6 billion that was spent to purchase 38 of the fifth-generation stealth fighters, made by Lockheed Martin this year.