Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Lescher on the FY 2017 Navy Budget Request in the Pentagon Press Briefing Room

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Admiral William Lescher


REAR ADMIRAL WILLIAM ADM. LESCHER:  All righty.  Well, good afternoon, and thanks for sticking through all this briefs, to include the one today.

 

So, as you know, the Department of the Navy, this morning, submitted and FY '17 base and OCO budget request to Congress of $165 billion, and in this brief, I will provide an overview of the content of that request. 

 

We'll start with a national-level mission guidance that defines the missions that the Navy and Marine Corps are going to execute in this budget.  We'll talk about the operational context of how that mission guidance has been executed over the course of a decade and a half of wartime op tempo now, and we'll also talk about the evolving nature of that operational context -- the dynamics that are driving changes in both the character of the environment and the nature of the competitors themselves.

 

These operational context elements are foundational to many of the investments that we'll talk about later in this brief, in the budget request, ranging from the generation of combat readiness to the modernization of capabilities. 

 

We'll also briefly highlight for you the fiscal context -- the bounds of the department's options in balancing capabilities, capacity and readiness requirements, and then we'll address the specifics -- we'll talk about some of the focused investments, the hard choices, and the innovation and reform elements that resource a global sea-based force. 

 

So let's start with the mission guidance.  This guidance spans the national security, defense and military strategies through the 2014 quadrennial defense review, the secretary of the Navy's guidance on people, platforms, power and partnerships, and the service chief guidance, including the newly released design for maintaining maritime superiority from CNO Richardson and Commandant Neller's update on (inaudible) guidance. 

 

This mission guidance directs the Navy and Marine Corps that executes the 10 QDR missions shown here, ranging from providing an effective nuclear deterrent and fighting terrorism in order to protect the homeland to providing a stabilizing presence across the globe in order to build security globally to protecting power and winning decisively when called upon.

 

This budget reflects the secretary of the Navy's, the chief of naval operations', and the commandant of the Marine Corps' implementation of this foundational mission guidance.

 

Today's execution of that guidance is the result of resources provided and hard choices made in prior years to resource today's Navy and Marine Corps.  In meeting the combatant commanders' requirements to execute the QDR mission set, the Navy and Marine Corps today provide forward-postured sea-based forces as shown.

 

These include 36,000 sailors and 5,000 marines deployed on 44 ships, three carrier strike groups and two amphibious ready groups.  There's an additional 33,000 sailors and 31,000 marines forward ashore, including 41,000 in the -- East Asia and the Pacific.

 

These are among the forces that, over the past year, provided immediate response options and assured allies, including the deployments of five carrier strike groups and five amphibious readiness groups to combatant commanders around the globe; the South China Sea operations of Lassen and Curtis Wilbur in challenging excessive sovereignty claims, demonstrating freedom of navigation as a matter of fundamental principle; and the Truman carrier strike groups' combat operations with the French carrier Charles de Gaulle in operations in the fight against ISIL.

 

So overall, today, the Navy and Marine Corps continue to remain deeply engaged, at high tempo, in harm's way, providing immediate options, assuring allies and deterring adversaries. 

 

Meeting those combatant commander requirements over the course of a decade and a half of wartime op tempo, concurrent with funding over fiscal years '13 through '16 that collectively provided $30 billion less than requested levels, has stressed the force in recent years.

 

This chart shows fleet size in gray, it shows annual deployments in blue, and it shows deployment lengths in green.  The chart shows that, even while the Navy has progressed from the early '90s -- they've progressed since the early '90s of deploying a quarter of the battle force each year to a third of the force in recent years, it continued to be over subscribed -- (inaudible) -- the combatant commanders' demand for naval forces. 

 

The operational employment summaries for calendar years '13 and '14 show this sustained consumption above the -- the planned deployment levels depicted by the red line.

 

This oversubscription of the service-generated readiness and constrained funding has resulted in deferred maintenance of ships, accelerated consumption of aircraft service lives and stressed aircraft readiness in order to meet the requested operational tempo. 

 

And it placed heavy demands on sailors and marines, as their average deployment lengths increased by a third, as shown in the upper left quadrant, in green.  Over this time, as well, the Marine Corps deployment-to-dwell ration continued at 1 to 2 against a sustained goal of 1 to 3. 

 

So, as you know, last year's budget made specific, targeted investments to attack these readiness issues, with investments in shipbuilding, in shipyard infrastructure and in shipyard and aviation depot hiring. 

 

Concurrent with those investments, the calendar year '15 operational execution, shown in the lower right quadrant, reflected implementation of the optimized fleet response plan and readiness consumption that closely matched planned deployment levels. 

 

The F.Y. '17 budget request builds on those investments and these trends with additional critical investment in depot infrastructure and personnel, and aircraft readiness investments as we continue to recover stressed readiness and reduce ship and aircraft maintenance backlogs. 

 

At the same time, this budget also adapts the force to reflect key changes in the security environment.  As shown here, we're seeing increased reliance on the maritime system, with shipping traffic increasing, new Arctic trade routes opening and new technologies making undersea resources more accessible.

 

Overall, the maritime system is more heavily used, more stressed and more contested than ever before.  Concurrently, growth of the global information system is driving an accelerating rate of change, and the rate of technology adoption is surging, spanning new materials to artificial intelligence. 

 

Beyond those key trends, it's important to note that the competitors themselves are changing, as you've heard a number of times in the briefs today.  For the first time in 25 years, the United States is facing a return to great power competition, with both Russia and China advancing high-end military capabilities. 

 

Others exploit the key trends as well, to include North Korea's focus on nuclear weapons and missile programs, Iran's pursuit of advanced missiles and conventional capabilities and non-state actors exploiting the maritime and information systems to threaten security around the world. 

 

As Commandant Neller has stated, the character of warfare is dynamic:  those who adapt, succeed; those who don't, die.  This budget addresses that imperative by making investments to sustain our ability to fight with decisive capability over the full range of operations -- at sea, from the sea and from expeditionary bases across all domains.

 

The fiscal context for executing the department's missions in that dynamic environment remains challenging.  Navy and Marine Corps base budget funding is shown in 2016 dollars here -- constant dollars, in blue. 

 

It's $43 billion less over this FYDP than the green P.B. '14 level submitted with the QDR '14 strategy.  This includes a 3.9% reduction this year in base and OCO from the FY '17 funding levels of P.B. '16. 

 

This fiscal context drives tough choices and new thinking in order to provide the best balanced force as we continue current operations, reset our equipment, maintain war-fighting readiness and modernize. 

 

In this budget, the Navy Department leadership integrated that mission guidance, that operational context and the fiscal constraints across a spectrum of focused investments, hard choices and innovative and reform to provide the best balanced force.

 

The next section of slides I'll take you through will provide an overview of that balance by appropriation title, including focused investments that span people, initiatives, ships, aircraft, readiness and weapons; the hard choices required to achieve that balance, including trade-offs in force structure, military construction and facility sustainment; and the strong focus on innovation and reform that sustains our war-fighting advantage, including in unmanned systems, rapid prototyping and cradle-to-grave tracking of each appropriated dollar through auditability.

 

So let's start with military personnel.  Our ability to execute our mission depends completely on the Navy and Marine Corps team -- sailors or marines, active and reserve, Navy civilians and their families. 

 

Key initiatives such as the 21st Century Sailor Office, continue with this budget, leading efforts to improve the physical and mental health of our sailors, and a new sailor 2025 initiative will propose adjustments to improve how we attract, train, develop and inspire the best force in the world. 

 

In the military personnel accounts, both services align end strength with a force structure required by the mission guidance.  The budget funds a 1.6 percent pay raise in '17 versus 1.3 percent in last year's budget. 

 

Additions to Navy personnel include added billets for increased security in our installations, to improve depth of manning in our helicopter mine-hunting community and to adequately fund officer manning levels. 

 

In military personnel decreases, all of which will be achieved through natural attrition, the department will seek via legislative proposal to deactivate the 10th carrier air wing, Air Wing 14 in Lemoore, California.

 

This proposal will allow the Navy to match the number of air wings to the number of deployable aircraft carriers, and reflects the practice of having one carrier in refueling and complex overhaul, and one carrier in an extended maintenance availability at any time.

 

The proposal allows reallocation of aircraft to the remaining wings to improve readiness, and it improves air crew proficiency in combat readiness by reducing the dwell time between air wing deployments, which, currently, can be up to four years for those wings attached to carriers in extended maintenance phases.

 

Overall, this approach provides the best balance for supporting the long-term carrier force structure and the optimized fleet response plan. 

 

The Sailor 2025 Ready, Relevant Learning initiative is piloting a new approach for training sailors through mobile learning, new content and distributed infrastructure.  This is a phase training modernization and redesign concept that will decrease the number of sailors in classrooms over time.

 

On the right-hand side of the slide, the Navy's reserve component continues the P.B. '16 funded profile, which reflects increases in areas spanning cyber-warfare to ship maintenance personnel. 

 

Collectively, across the active and reserve components, the highlighted adjustments provide the best alignment of military personnel to mission requirements.

 

The Marine Corps has come down from a peak end strength of 202,000 in FY '09 to a sustained level of $182,000.

 

It reaches that level in FY '16, a year earlier than planned, given fiscal constraints.

 

This end-strength provides overall dwell ratios of one-to-two for the active force, against a sustained goal of one-to-three and one-to-four for the reserves.

 

At this force level, the commandant has testified that the Marine Corps major combat operations in one theater would entail risk in deter and deny operations elsewhere, with the force structure insufficient to support the other commitments, including theater security cooperation.

 

In civilian personnel, this budget funds the workforce required to support the program force structure.  It sustains efforts in critical areas such as nuclear surety and it continues our focus on recovering stressed readiness.  To accomplish this, the department's full-time equivalent, or FTE, profile increases slightly in FY '17, but decreases by over 2,700 through FY '21. 

 

Ship maintenance backlogs are targeted with additional manning at regional maintenance centers, and public shipyard personnel grow to 33,500 in FY '17, to increase nuclear ship maintenance capacity.  While overall Navy working capital fund FTE declined from FY '16 to '17, this budget grows FTE in naval aviation depots to address aviation maintenance backlogs. 

 

The budget also funds an additional 750 Navy and Marine Corps civilian guard FTE under the same initiative highlighted earlier to increase military security personnel.

 

The department continues reductions at our major headquarters activities from the 20 percent reduction in FY '14, which reduced FTE by over 2,000.  This budget cuts an additional five percent of funding, primarily for headquarters contracting support.  Overall, the civilian personnel numbers highlighted here reflect the vital role our civilian personnel continue to play in making force capability come alive. 

 

The department's readiness accounts are tightly focused on supporting through the optimized fleet response plan the operational tempo requested by the combatant commanders in executing their mission guidance; on properly sustaining ships, aircraft and ground equipment to reach their expected service lives; and on properly training our people and preparing them to deploy forward.

 

FY '17 base and OCO readiness metrics are funded to the historic levels shown here.  In ship readiness, as with the FY '16 request, the budget funds ship operations in base and OCO at 58 days underway per quarter when deployed, and 24 days underway per quarter when not deployed.

 

Ship depot maintenance is funded to 100 percent in base and OCO.  This includes funding of the initiatives highlighted earlier to improve ship depot maintenance throughput, as well as additional FY '17 shipyard infrastructure investment of $150 million.

 

In aviation readiness, the budget funds Navy and Marine Corps base and OCO flat hours to deploy all units at a 2.0T- rating.  Flat-hour funding increases from the FY '16 level, but it continues to reflect the reduced availability of Legacy Hornets due to depot maintenance backlogs and reduced numbers of ready basic aircraft in a number of other type model series. 

 

‘Aviational’ depot maintenance is funded to capacity at the fleet readiness centers; 85 percent of the total requirement in base and OCO.  And that's an increase from the 83 percent level funded in FY '16.  This funding specifically targets the depot maintenance and ready basic aircraft issues through critical chain initiatives, increased hiring of civilian engineers and artisans, and with program-related engineering and program logistics investment.

 

The Marine Corps O&M budget provides a ready and capable Marine Corps across the range of military operations.  However, the FY '17 O&M budget is leaner than in FY '15, the last full year executed, stretching the Marine Corps to maintain current readiness, while modernizing to keep pace with evolving adversaries. 

 

The budget prioritizes the readiness of deployed and next-to-deploy units to meet today's operational requirements.  Non-deployed units will not have the resources and time to maintain their readiness required to deploy immediately. 

 

In Marine Corps ground equipment readiness, 70 percent of the equipment has been re-set and 50 percent returned to operating forces.  This budget funds 79 percent of the remaining baseline active force requirements in base and OCO.

 

Ships are the foundation of the Navy and essential to both the geographic and functional combatant commanders.  Key shipbuilding efforts that I'll highlight for you today include the Ohio replacement program, with advanced procurement starting in FY '17, leading to procurement of the first boat in FY '21.  The Ohio replacement program is fully funded in this FYDP at $13.2 billion in SCN and R&D, with FY '21 proposed to be the first of three years of incremental full funding for the initial boat.

 

Funding continues in FY '17 for the USS John F. Kennedy, CVN 79, which delivers in FY '22, and for the second year of advanced procurement for the USS Enterprise, CVN 80.  Both of these ships are on track to deliver with their respective cost caps.

 

Two Virginia Class submarines are funded per year over FY '17 to '20, and one in FY '21 when the first Ohio replacement boat is introduced.  The second FY '19 Virginia and all subsequent boats are funded through the Virginia payload module variants, which provide an increase in payload capacity from 12 to 40 Tomahawks.

 

Continued funding is provided each year for two destroyers across the FYDP.  The second FY '16 destroyer, projected to be the first flight three variant incorporating the advanced missile defense radar required to simultaneously conduct anti-air and -ballistic missile defense operations.

 

Two Littoral combat ships are funded in FY '17 and one in FY '18.  The frigate version is introduced with one ship in FY '19, one in '20 and two ships in FY '21.  Through the FYDP, we procure a total of 33 LCS and frigates, with seven more frigates forecast outside the FYDP, for a total of 40 ships.

 

We continue to procure LCS mission packages through the FYDP.  Changes to align the mission package requirements with the revised mix of LCS and frigates occur beyond FY '21. 

 

In amphibs, LHA-8 is funded in FY '17 and the first LXR replacement for the LSD class is funded in FY '20.  With a delivery of LPD-27 Portland in FY '17 and LHA-7 Tripoli in FY '19, the Navy's amphibious ship total grows to 33 ships by FY '19.

 

The first TAO(X) replacement oiler was funded in FY '16.  Follow-on procurement of one oiler per year takes place over FY '18 to '21.  Total procurement is forecast to be 17 oilers.  This budget includes advanced procurement in '17 for a block buy for the next five ships, an acquisition strategy expected to yield savings of $45 million per ship, which is reflected in the budget.

 

The department appreciates the strong support of Congress in the FY '16 Navy shipbuilding appropriation.  Changes in this budget from the P.B. '16 plan reflect that FY '16 congressional action.  It also reflects the reduction of seven small surface combatants over the FYDP, and they reflect the phasing of a T-AGO ship from FY '21 to later while those ships' service lives are studied.

 

Overall, 38 ships are funded over FY '17 to '21.  In FY '17, 13 ships are delivered, six retired, bringing the FY '17 battle force count to 287.  Over the FYDP, this plan grows the battle force to 308 ships by 2021.

 

In cruiser modernization, we currently have two cruisers inducted into modernization availabilities -- the Gettysburg and the Cowpens.  In FY '16, we induct two more, the Vicksburg and the Chosin.  The balance between current and future capability that fits within our budget compels the Navy in this request to propose to Congress inducting the remaining seven newest cruisers into phased modernization in FY '17. 

 

This is an approach that leverages savings of $3 billion over the FYDP in operating costs to provide the best overall force balance.  It maintains air defense commander-capable platforms in the force into the 2040s and allows us to reallocate personnel elsewhere in the fleet.

 

This is the best way to update our cruisers relative to the evolving threat within the resources we have available.  We're choosing to retain a more capable future cruiser fleet longer into the future over a lesser capacity today.

 

The department has committed more than $500 million in this FYDP to ensure the return of these cruisers to the fleet to meet our future air defense commander requirements.  Aircraft procurement reflects the department's strong emphasis on fielding forces that fight decisively over the full spectrum of combat.  Ninety-four aircraft are procured in FY '17 including two OCO F-18 combat loss replacements and 20 F-35s.

 

F-35 FYDP production increases by 13 aircraft from the PB '16 acquisition plan, accelerating the fifth generation fighter transition.  In combination with the five additional F-18s in FY '16, two in '17, and 14 proposed in F.Y. '18, these investments help to mitigate the department's strike fighter shortage.

 

The P-8 Poseidon profile reflects our plan to accelerate procurement of one additional P-8 in FY '16, and maintains the production plan to complete the buy in FY '19.

 

On the rotary wing side, FY '17 reflects small decreases in AH-1Z and MB-22B aircraft for fiscal balancing.  The CH-53K replacement for the 53 Echo helicopter completed its first flight this year in 2015.  Low-rate initial production of two aircraft begins in '17, leading to an initial operational capability or IOC in FY '20.

 

Over FY '18 to '21, the request funds the first 24 or 48 Navy V-22s to replace the C-2.  Forecast IOC for the Navy variance is FY '21.  And finally, the procurement quantities for MQ-4 Triton and MQ-8 Fire Scout reflect accelerated buys in FY '16.

 

In weapons procurement, FY '17 provides a net increase of 63 weapons, while FYDP quantities are reduced from the PB '16 level by 900 in order to meet fiscal constraints.  The Navy begins procurement in FY '17 of two new missiles, the joint air-to-ground missile or JAGM, and the long-range anti-ship missile, or LORASM.  JAGM is a multi-service air-launched missile initially to be used on the AH-1Z, with an IOC of FY '19.  LORASM procurement responds to an urgent operational need for an offensive anti-surface weapon and is on track for an early operational capability on Super Hornets in FY '19.

 

In other aircraft weapons, the advanced anti-radiation guided missile extended range, or ARGM-ER, requirements have been refined, driving the addition of a technology maturation and risk reduction phase.  This missile is now expected to enter development in FY '17 and complete operational testing in early FY '24.

 

In shipboard weapons, the Navy added 100 Tomahawk missiles in FY '17 to sustain the industrial base until the FY '19 recertification line funding starts.  Block one evolved Sea Sparrow procurement completes in '17 in order to commence transition to the block two missile, with that procurement starting in FY '18.  And the Navy's initial buy of Longbow Hellfire begins in FY '17 for use with the LCS surface-to-surface missile module.

 

Overall, while weapons procurement decreases over the FYDP, this budget invests $1.5 billion over that same timeframe to develop new weapons that place adversaries at risk, including the next generation land attack weapon, the offensive anti-surface weapons increment two, standard missile two improvements, Tomahawk upgrades, and enhanced lightweight torpedo capabilities.

 

The FY '17 budget request also provides substantial investments in modernized currently fielded systems in order to continue to overmatch adversaries.  In the electronic warfare domains, it consolidated afloat network and enterprise services program, or (CANES), and the surface electronic warfare improvement program or SEWIP advanced to outpace the threat.

 

(CANES) replaces and provides critical improvements to all afloat information networks including in cybersecurity.  (CANES) has been installed on 25 ships to date; 12 installations are in progress.  This budget funds an additional 10 installations. 

 

SEWIP provides upgrades to our surface ship SLQ-32 electronic warfare systems, which provide detection and protection from anti-ship missiles. This advanced capability is integral to our electromagnetic maneuver warfare dominance.  And FY17 budget provides $275 million for procurement, and $76 million in research and development.

 

The Marine Corps continues to balance ground equipment procurement and future development to ensure marines are supported in the current fight while modernizing to dominate future fights. 

 

The FY17 procurement Marine Corps budget of 1.4 billion funds major programs including the Ground Air Task-Oriented Radar, and the Joint Light Tac Vehicle. 

 

FY ‘17 procurement of ammunition Navy-Marine Corps funding of $730 million buys vital ammunition for the war-fighter, including $66 million of (OCO) funding that replenishes weapons used in ongoing contingency operations.

 

In the research and development appropriation, science and technology funding remains steady at 1.3 percent of the total budget across the FYDP. 

 

At the other end of the R&D funding spectrum, we have several programs transitioning out of major R&D investment into procurement, including the LRASM and JAGM missiles, the advanced missile-defense radar, and the CH-53K helicopter.

 

In the areas of shipbuilding, aviation, and unmanned systems, major R&D efforts include the Navy's top programmatic priority Ohio replacement program with FYDP R&D investment of 3.9 billion, supports development leading to the first boat construction of FY21.

 

Virginia Payload Module investment supports design work leading to the first VPM boat construction FY ‘19.

 

In aviation, the F-35 is funded to maintain the F-35 Charlie IOC of 2018.  And the CH-53K is on-track for a milestone Charlie production decision in FY19. 

 

In unmanned systems, the Unmanned Carrier-launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike Review Class Program will be restructured in FY ‘17 to bring high-demand fixed-wing capabilities to the carrier air wing in the mid-'20s, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting limited strike and tanking.

 

This program increases air wing capability by freeing strike aircraft in a combat mission via its refueling missions, preserving strike fighter fatigue life while enhancing the long endurance (ISRNT) capability of the air wing.

 

The analysis of capability growth options for the system will continue in future budget cycles.

 

The FY ‘17 request also includes $150 million for technology maturation and unmanned undersea vehicles leading to increased endurance, payload hosting, and payload delivery capability.

 

The Marine Corps' major R&D initiative continues to be the amphibious combat vehicle.  Engineering, manufacturing, and development contracts, two vendors were awarded in the first quarter of FY ‘16.

 

The department continues to prioritize funding of cyber capabilities, including continued emphasis on cyberspace operations, training and equipping cyber mission forces, investments in cyber science and technology, and information assurance activities that strengthen defense of our networks.

 

The Navy stood up in 2015 a Navy cyber security division to provide a strategic approach to the cyber security and oversee the cyber resiliency investments.  This budget includes an increase of $370 million over the FYDP across the spectrum of cyber programs leading to significant improvements in the department's cyber posture.

 

To address the imperative to increase agility, the department proposes in this budget a single streamlined department-wide approach to innovation in a rapid prototyping and demonstration program that will field urgent technological advances to the fleet within 24 months.

 

We intend to work closely with the Congress on a framework of governance and congressional oversight that ensures effective and efficient use of the rapid prototyping funds.  The budget provides $55 million in FY ‘17 for the rapid prototyping initiative. 

 

Finally, the Navy continues strong R&D investment in energy initiatives, to provide a more energy-efficient and operationally effective Navy and Marine Corps with investments spanning high-energy laser technologies to alternative fuels.

 

FY ‘17 base budget request funds facility sustainment at 70 percent Navy, and 74 percent Marine Corps, taking risk in shore infrastructure in order to meet the fiscal constraints.

 

Down from 85 percent Navy, and 84 percent Marine Corps in FY ‘16, this sustainment funding will be prioritized to preserve the service life of our mission-critical facilities, and key facility components across the services. 

 

In depot investment, the FY ‘17 budget exceeds the 6 percent legislative requirement, 7.1 percent is provided across the shipyards, the fleet readiness centers, and Marine Corps depots.

 

Finally, FY-17 MILCON program reflects a 35 percent reduction compared FY ‘16 funding levels.  The department continues to pressurize military construction in order to meet fiscal constraints, limiting projects to the department's most critical needs.

 

FY ‘17 request funds 36 projects, including 33 baseline and three OCO.  These include key quality of life initiatives such as the barracks and reconditioning center at Parris Island, and unaccompanied housing at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

 

The request also funds projects supporting new weapon systems such as the Triton UAS Mission Control Facility at NAS Whidbey Island, and an F-35 maintenance hangar at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

 

New electrical transmission lines in Guam are funded to support long-term facility build plan there.  Over three FY ‘17 Guam products are deferred to later in the FYDP due to physical balancing.  The IOC of the Marine forces in Guam remains unchanged in FY22.

 

Six energy resilience projects are funded the FY ‘17, upgrading utilities infrastructure to increase the resiliency of key installations. 

 

In family housing, the budget supports operations, maintenance, and leasing of 73,000 units worldwide. 

 

So wrapping up the overview, overall, this budget provides the investment required for the Navy-Marine Corps to execute the department's mission guidance in a challenging physical context that reflects the best balance of investments across people, presence, readiness, and capability.

 

Across the full scope of the request, we emphasized innovation and reform to sustain advantage, accelerate learning, and strengthen our team.  In making the hard choices in allocating risk, the request fields a larger fleet, and more sustainable deployed in Navy-Marine Corps presence, and improved capability.

 

This completes my overview.  And we look forward to your questions.

 

STAFF:  We have about 10 minutes for questions.  Please wait.  As I call on you, state your name and outlet. 

 

Megan? 

 

Q:  Hi, Megan (inaudible) with U.S. Naval Institute News. 

 

I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the cruiser modernization plan, whether those ships would be kept in the plan until they were needed as a one-for-one replacement or whether you get them out of maintenance sooner.

 

And then also kind of how that decision fits in with this overall effort to both achieve more ships and more lethal ships in the fleet. 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  Sure.  So addressing the latter part first, it clearly is one of our hard choices that reflects the fiscal pressure that I talked about in the budget year in particular.  But it has a number of compelling elements to it which drive our consideration of resubmitting this to the Congress.

 

The 246 Plan, which was the prior plan that was being executed, would have brought in two more cruisers into FY ‘17.  This plan basically brings in those two, plus an additional five. 

 

It provides -- by doing that it provides some flexibility to your question on when within that period, that phased modernization period, they would actually be inducted into availability.

 

And that's advantageous because it helps us (inaudible) the industrial base and address -- (inaudible) -- peaks in value, peaks and dips in the repair industrial base that these ships can be essentially adjusted to come into that period.

 

The long-term plan in effect would have them continue to have as a one-for-one replacement as the oldest 11 cruisers were retired.  One of these phase modernization cruisers would then come out. 

 

The department leadership, you know, has spoken very clearly about the commitment to bringing these cruisers back into the fleet because we have this important requirement for air defense commander-capable platforms, one per carrier strike group into the 2040s.

 

So the evidence of that commitment is the $500 million that are invested in this budget to make the FY ‘17 plan work, and as part of the legislative proposal as well.  The department is proposing essentially increased congressional oversight that would be applicable for any changes to the status of these cruisers in terms of inactivation.

 

Was that helpful, or --

 

Q:  This was funded through the SMOSF funding that you got in the past, or is there -- (inaudible) -- line for this? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  It's a combination.  So it continues to use the SMOSF funding that has been enacted before, but in this budget over the FDYP to execute this plan, it funds additional money outside the SMOSF, across modernization and sustainment.

 

STAFF:  (inaudible).

 

Q:  (inaudible) -- with Bloomberg. 

 

Last week the secretary announced $40 billion across the FYDP, including 8 billion in '17 to beef underwater capabilities.  Can you point to anything that actually benefited from that increase that wasn't already part of plan, because if you look at what he said, those are already embedded in your plan?

 

ADM. LESCHER:  So things that were not embedded in the plan would be the Ohio replacement funding.  You know, so there was additional Ohio replacement funding provided the department FY21. 

 

Virginia Payload Module as well.  So, you know, as you look at those numbers compared to the prior year, you'll see that that is incrementally above as well. 

 

Unmanned underwater vehicles, so I talked about the $150 million in the budget year but across the FYDP as well, so substantial investment to really build on the operational employment that we had last year of a submarine operating unmanned underwater vehicles there.

 

So those would be a number of the elements of -- that reflect increased emphasis in this budget. 

 

Q:  You also announced $2 billion to buy 4,000 Tomahawks.  I followed 100 across the FYDP that you just showed.  What happened there? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  Yes, I can't speak to the factoid that you describe. 

 

Q:  (inaudible) -- $2 billion?

 

ADM. LESCHER:  I'm sorry, so this is what is in our budget.  So I can talk to you about what's in our budget. 

 

STAFF:  (inaudible).

 

Q:  To follow-up on VPM and also the CBARS, if I remember the term correctly, there is more money VPMs, how many more Virginia class subs over the history of time actually end up getting VPMs, or does it just shift the profile to the left, and if so, how much?

 

And CBARS, did you mention that that would actually have a strike capability, because I hadn't heard that before? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  Okay.  So the Virginia Payload Module profile is the second FY19 boat, and then every boat thereafter.  So that's the change there in the profile in the prior year. 

 

Q:  (inaudible) -- was --

 

ADM. LESCHER:  I believe it was one in...

 

Yes, so it's an increase from one in the prior FYDP. 

 

And your question on CBARS was on whether it had limited strike.  Exactly right.  So the real value of this restructure is that it incrementally gets at the manned/unmanned interface and operation on the carrier deck in the air wing by the mid-'20s. 

 

And it brings these highly required capabilities.  Yes, limited strike, (ISRNT ?), and mission tanking.  It's a smart acquisition approach to incrementally burn down that risk and then, as I mentioned, we'll continue to look at developing additional capability.

 

Q:  How different is that from (U-class ) was envisioned for -- (inaudible) -- Navy requirements -- (inaudible)?

 

ADM. LESCHER:  So - U-class.  I would cite as the main difference was penetrating strike, non-permissive ISR.  So it was a much more aggressive increment of capability just to get that platform at the same time as that was going to be the platform to develop the learning of how to operate unmanned off-the-carrier big deck. 

 

So this is a quicker, mid-20s IOC and get experience while we build the capability as well. 

 

STAFF:  Chris (inaudible)

 

Q:  Hi.  To follow on Sidney C-BARS, it's -- you have a designation here, RAQ-25.

 

ADM. LESCHER:  Right. 

 

Q:  Could you explain that?  It's a -- it's a Q-25.  Q is an unmanned aircraft, A is attack, R is reconnaissance, but it's called a C-BARS, it's the carrier-based aerial refueling system. 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  Right. 

 

Q:  So this seems to have a certain identity crisis, and I'd like it is to say what is the primary mission of the first iteration of this aircraft?  And also, can you explain -- I mean, you -- the R&D funding drops to about a fifth of the previous year's rate, 435 million down to 89 million. 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  So RAQ-25, interestingly enough, is actually the same designation the U-class had. So there's no change there.  It essentially has picked up at least in the current iteration as this moves forward with the same designation.  Absolutely the budget documentation for the carrier-based aerial refueling system, I would cite all of those requirements, all of those capabilities that it brings is critical and not emphasize one over the other.

 

The mission tanking is going to be critical to make the air wing more effective and -- in delivering -- projecting power forward.  With the ISR-T long endurance, this is going to be critical as well, and a limited strike is a -- is a function that has value.  So it's the total package of those integration of required capabilities that essentially is being sought with this.

 

The funding profile simply reflects the change in the restructure from where U-class was in last year's FYDP to how this program is going to be executed going forward. 

 

Q:  You don't need any more money?  I mean, what's your -- what's your anticipation for next year's level?  Back up to 400 million? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  So I won't project or speculate on what next year's budget might be, but I think it's entirely fair to say, as this now accelerates, this restructure and additional insights generated, that there will be a higher fidelity FYDP profile based on that work. 

 

STAFF:  Sandra? 

 

Q:  Thank you very much.  Sandra Erwin, National Defense.  I wanted to ask you an LCS.  When the secretary of the Navy negotiated with the shipyards in 2010 to do a dual-source program, there were some significant savings that he worked out.  So as you get ready to down-select to single source, what are some of the potential cost implications?  Have you looked into that, or what -- do you have some thoughts on that. 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  So I think that's work to be done, but it's a -- it's a great question.  It certainly underpins the long-term Navy strategy of injecting competition and getting savings to the government through competition in shipbuilding.  I think the competition, it's fair to say, for the downselecting of -- particularly if you do a block-buy for the first frigate ships -- is going to drive some significant savings to the department as well.  

 

In terms of how -- after that initial block-buy of frigates how that plays out in terms of pricing, I won't speculate, but just to say that as you know, the Navy's approach to acquisition puts a premium on competition and has created tremendous value for the taxpayer. 

 

Q:  Does single source automatically mean higher cost? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  I -- say the question again? 

 

Q:  Having a single source instead of a dual source, wouldn't that potentially increase the cost? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  I think there are so many factors that I wouldn't just make a blanket statement like that.  I would just -- I would just say that, again, our acquisition approach -- and if you look at shipbuilding overall, if you look at the margin of shipbuilding, for example, compared to other defense industries, you'll see the value of the way the Navy buys ships, with -- through a competitive approach. 

 

STAFF:  We have two minutes left for questions.  Justin? 

 

Q:  Hey.  Justin Doubleday with Inside the Navy.  In that much-discussed LCS memo a couple of  months ago, Secretary Carter direct the Navy to either maintain or increase key munitions production, but as you said, if there's a modest increase in '17 and then a pretty big drop-off across the FYDP.  So how did you prioritize within that portfolio and how did it ultimately become a bill-payer? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  So if you look at the details of munitions -- and we'll take that - we'll take you through some of the details perhaps after this session -- you'll see there is focusing increases in specific munitions, some of the aviation missiles and tactical tomahawk.  And you also see not in the (inaudible) but in the R&D what I alluded to, strong investment in future munitions, (inaudible), OASW increment II, SAM II, the standard missile six as well you'll see has a strong commitment in this profile, the RASM has a strong commitment in this profile.  So that's a sense of the prioritization, but it clearly reflected some of the hard choices and the fiscal pressure as we allocated risk to get the best overall balance.

 

STAFF:  Steven, final question. 

 

Q:  Admiral, the Navy was headed to 330,000 end strength, it's now looking 322 and it seems to be going down from there. What drove the change in direction, and what do -- I guess what do sailors need to know about their jobs in the future? 

 

ADM. LESCHER:  That's a great question.  Thanks for asking that.  Sailors need to know that at the deck plate level on the hanger deck of the -- our squadrons that we sustain, as I talked about here and as -- on the slide -- the 92 percent fit, the 95 fill.  So at the deck plate level, we have a strong commitment to sustaining the same good manning we have now.  And I also mentioned the fact that the officer manning increases as well. 

 

The reductions -- the main drivers of the end strength reductions that you saw, number one, would be the deactivation of Carrier Wing 14.  That's going to be done through natural attrition.  Those sailors and those officers will have -- be strongly focused on making that an ease-of-transition as they move elsewhere to other squadrons.

 

The other main driver of the end strength reduction was this innovative approach to ready relevant learning, and so it's important to note that that's not billets and units, those are savings in what's known as the individual's account.  So individuals that are in transit in school houses through this very focused approach on mobile learning, distribute learning, and it's not -- you know, it's not the old computer-based training, it's not clicking through a PowerPoint, it's new content, it's gaming technology, it's use of avatars, it's a way to accelerate getting our sailors to the chief, to getting them to the fleet and to the chief properly trained.  And through that innovative approach pilot program right now, we'll continue to incrementally learn, we're able to reduce the end strength in this individuals account. 

 

So again, the bottom line, at the deck plate level, equal or improved posture in terms of manning and through efficiencies and responsible decisions, the proper and best use resources, we harvested the other end strength reductions. 

 

STAFF:  That's all the time we have for today.  Thank you, and please -- (inaudible) -- if you have further questions.

 

ADM. LESCHER:  All right.  Thank you.