Saturday, May 27, 2017

US Navy buying many more Super Hornets than previously this a result of the report on the F-35C vs SH????

Thanks to Colin for the link!

via Flightglobal.
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would add funding to buy up to 74 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets through 2022, or 60 more than planned in previous budget forecasts.

The Navy is requesting 14 Super Hornets in Fiscal 2018 to mitigate the service’s strike fighter shortfall, officials said this week. In addition, Trump’s budget proposal inserts new plans to procure 23 more F/A-18E/Fs in FY2019, 14 in FY2020, 14 in FY2021 and 15 in FY2022. The recent request not only includes funding for new Super Hornets, but also advanced procurement dollars to address advanced capabilities.

While Boeing celebrated the intended purchase of new F/A-18E/Fs as a sign that the Trump administration would commit to funding Super Hornets year after year, the status of the five-year funding plan is not settled. During a budget rollout briefing this week, Pentagon officials warned that procurement numbers beyond FY2018 would be subject to change following the outcome of a defence strategy review due this August. John Roth, the Pentagon's deputy comptroller, emphasised that the long-term budget was not informed by strategy or policy.

“We have focused on getting a budget ready for FY2017 and then we pivoted to get '18 done to meet this date as well, the secretary has not spent anytime looking beyond '18,” he says.
I've been beating on a drum shouting for a defense reporter to corner Mattis and ask about the report he had commissioned on the F-35C vs Super Hornet for the US Navy.

That report was suppose to be out no later than the end of March but we heard nothing.

Now we have this.  I think we have our answer on the study.

That does leave an interesting tidbit though.  I didn't highlight it above so I'll do it here...
 During a budget rollout briefing this week, Pentagon officials warned that procurement numbers beyond FY2018 would be subject to change following the outcome of a defence strategy review due this August.
A defense review?  Hmm.  That's beyond interesting.  I want to remind everyone of this article from way back in 2015. via CTMirror.
For years, the Pentagon was inflexible when talking about the number of F-35s it wants to buy — 2,443 — pushing back against any suggestions that it should trim that shopping list. But no more.
The high price tag of the F-35, a Lockheed Martin aircraft whose engine is made by Pratt & Whitney, has made some Pentagon officials consider whether the Defense Department can afford as many of the Joint Strike Fighters as they had once planned.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee this summer that the Pentagon is “presently taking the newest strategic foundation and analyzing whether 2,443 aircraft is the correct number.”
When asked by the same committee: “Do you believe the Navy can afford and needs to procure 310 more F-35Cs with a procurement cost of over $42 billion?”  Chief Naval Officer Adm. John Richardson said he would work to “re-validate the appropriate number of aircraft the Navy requires.”

Plans right now are for the Navy to purchase 340 F-35Cs, the version of the plane designed to operate from aircraft carriers. The Marines and Air Force would receive different versions of the fighter plane. Other versions of the Joint Strike Fighter are being sold to U.S. allies.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the head of Senate Armed Services Committee and a frequent critic of the F-35 program, said the numbers the Pentagon has been quoting are inflated.
“There’s just not going to be that many,” McCain said.
In an interview, McCain said the Pentagon has to look “realistically” at how many weapons systems it can afford.
“The question is, at the present cost, can we afford as many F-35s?” he asked.
McCain said he will press the Pentagon to determine how many planes the services need.
Knowing the F-35 fan club they'll immediately say that the price has decreased dramatically since 2015.  My response would be that they're all basically prototypes that will all need to be upgraded.  Check this out via National Interest.
 The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is voicing opposition to the Pentagon’s plan to manage the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s Block 4 upgrade as a continuation of the existing program. The planned upgrade—which is expected to cost more than $3 billion—is large enough to qualify a major defense acquisition program by itself.

“This modernization effort is like a new program with estimated costs of about $3 billion over the next six years,” Michael Sullivan, director of acquisition and sourcing management issues at GAO, told the House Armed Services Committee on March 23. “That price alone would qualify it as a major defense acquisition program in it own right and it should be managed as such.”
So my theory is that the Pentagon is laying out its "get out of jail free card" and is going to use the study to cut the number of F-35's it buys.

The biggest evidence is the Super Hornet purchase.  Every new Super is one less F-35C.

SIDENOTE!  This extra 3 billion dollars is "big enough for a separate program"?!?!?!  Another hidden cost that most aren't aware of!

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