Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ummm, how to 313 again?

Tony Capaccio at Bloomberg has some friends I wish I had. If nothing else, he has some very blogable RUMINT.

First, let's start with the official line.
Navy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Sean Stackley told reporters last week the service remains committed to buying 55 littoral ships. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead told reporters Sept. 15 the service remains committed to a fleet that totals 313 vessels.
You always have to start with the Direction & Guidance from the top - and that ain't ADM Roughead.
The service’s proposal to trim planned spending from 2011 through 2015 to $666.3 billion from $698 billion reflects Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s guidance calling for modest growth with emphasis on improving the security of nuclear weapons and upgrading the capabilities to conduct irregular warfare and cyber defense.
The logical outflow from this are these goodies,
The Navy would trim about $25 billion through 2015 by deferring or canceling weapons programs, including a total of about $18 billion in its shipbuilding account, which includes the littoral ship.
The U.S. Navy has proposed a new five-year budget that cuts by almost half its purchases of a new warship that operates close to shore, ... The Navy would buy 15 of these ships through 2015, down from 29 in its plan of a year ago, and trim spending overall by 4.5 percent, according to an unreleased budget document. That’s the goal set by top Defense Department officials
...delay purchase of the EP-X replacement for its Lockheed Martin EP-3 Orion surveillance aircraft, according to the document. The program is in a stage of early development, and no contractor has been chosen.

Altogether, $3.4 billion would be cut from research and development, including $1.6 billion for the EP-X program. (editorial note: blame the ACS fiasco)
Further you find - just with ships (more weapon and aircraft numbers in the article), the Navy plan also would cut through 2015:

-- Six of seven planned amphibious warfare ships.

-- Two new ships intended to replace aging command ships such as the USS Mount Whitney.

-- Two of 11 of Jerry's planned JHSV.

-- One of 10 planned SSN.

In addition, the Navy would save as much as $825 million by retiring 20 ships one year ahead of schedule. So much for Byron's FFiG SLEP'n.

The truth changes .... and will change again. These numbers, even if you assume that they are correct, working-draft sourced, will change. From my seat though, this looks about right - and in full alignment with what we have been talking about here for awhile. The gravy train is always shorter then you want it to be - and it passes through before you get your fill. If you don't know that, then you have only yourself to blame.

Do not get mad at the SECDEF. Big Navy p155ed away a decade thinking that war was new, shipbuilding history can be ignored, everything was transformational, it is better to low-ball costs, and generally rely on PPT, happy talk, and the PCS cycle to work through the future fleet.

Tomorrow is yesterday. FY10 is a week away there Shipmate. Learn and adjust - and do your best to rebuild our credibility. A Fleet isn't built in a day - but it can be puttered away in a decade.

Hat tip Gal.

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