US Navy requests 148 aircraft in FY2020 budget

UNITED STATES

THE US Department of the Navy’s FY2020 budget roll-out on March 12, 2019, has the department requesting procurement of 148 aircraft, an increase over the 134 funded in 2019.

E-2D Hawkeye BuNo 168595/601 assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121 (VAW-121) ‘Bluetails’ launches from the flight deck of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) during the carrier’s composite training unit exercise with Carrier Strike Group 12.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst/US Navy
Upgraded HC-144B 2301 Ocean Sentry at Corpus Christi, Texas on February 20, 2019.
Lt Jessica Wright/US Coast Guard

The 148 aircraft requested for the Navy and Marine Corps will be funded by $18.6 billion in 2020. The Department of Navy’s overall aircraft inventory is scheduled to drop to 3,912 in 2020, down from 4,094 in 2019.

The fixed-wing aircraft requested include ten F-35B and ten F-35C Lightning IIs for the Marine Corps and ten F-35Cs for the Navy; 24 Block III F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters (more fighters than the Air Force gets this time around); four E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft; six P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft; three KC-130J Super Hercules for the Marine Corps; and a one-time procurement of 22 Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs for Navy and Marine Corps adversary training aircraft.

Whereas Super Hornet procurement was slated to cease a few years ago, the aircraft is planned for procurement at least through 2024, for a total of 84 over the five years.

The six P-8A Poseidons in the budget are supposed to be the last for the US Navy, for a total of 117 production aircraft over the programme, but the Navy would prefer to procure a total in excess of 130. In any case, the production line will be open for a few more years to meet the demand of foreign military sales.

The 22 F-5 adversary aircraft requested — 11 each for the Navy and Marine Corps — will be former Schweizer Luftwaffe aircraft and used to recapitalize older F-5s. The new F-5s will be operated by Fighter Composite Squadron 13 (VFC-13) ‘Saints’ based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada and Marine Fighter Training squadron 401 (VMFT-401) ‘Snipers’ based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

Two of the three KC-130Js are slated for Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

Rotary-wing and tiltrotor aircraft requested in the budget include six CH-53K King Stallion heavylift helicopters and six VH-92A presidential transport helicopters for the Marine Corps; 38 new helicopters of a design to be selected in 2019 to replace TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters; and ten CMV-22B Osprey carrieronboard- delivery aircraft for the Navy. Deliveries of more MV-22B Ospreys for the Marine Corps is gapped for 2020.

Large unmanned aircraft requested include two MQ-4C Tritons for the Navy and three MQ-9 Reaper medium-range unmanned air vehicles, the first of the type for the Marine Corps. With three more Reapers planned, the Corps plans to operate six Reapers in preparation for a more advanced unmanned aerial vehicle.

The Navy’s aircraft carrier fleet will be reduced to ten by 2025 as the USS Harry Truman (CVN 75) will be withdrawn from service rather than being overhauled for an additional two decades of service, as had been planned. Of the ten remaining carriers, only eight or fewer will be available for operational deployments. Withdrawing the Truman will make funding available for two new-build carriers. Addressing the situation when speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 14, Shanahan said it was a very difficult decision.

Upgraded HC-144B

The US Coast Guard has received an upgraded HC-144 mediumrange surveillance aircraft at Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas according to a statement made by the Coast Guard’s 8th District on February 20, 2019.

The HC-144B upgrade improves the aircraft’s extensive sensor capability, aiding the Coast Guard in maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue missions. The Coast Guard is upgrading its HC-144A aircraft to improve mission effectiveness and situational awareness. Modified aircraft feature an updated cockpit control and display unit, navigation and equipment monitoring systems.

The Coast Guard is also integrating the US Navy’s Minotaur mission system architecture across its fixed-wing aircraft fleet comprising HC-27As, HC-130Js and HC-144Bs. Fitted with Minotaur, a sophisticated command and control system, the aircraft incorporates surveillance and reconnaissance equipment to allow aircrews to gather and process surveillance information that can be transmitted to other platforms and units during flight.