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Navy Officials Hold a Press Briefing on President Biden's Fiscal 2024 Navy Budget

STAFF:  I'm Lieutenant Kassie Collins, the Public Affairs Officer for the Navy's F.Y. '24 president's budget request.

The Honorable Erik Raven, Under Secretary of the Navy, and Rear Admiral John Gumbleton will brief the Department of the Navy's submission for Fiscal Year 2024.  Following the overview, they will take questions for approximately 10 minutes.  Questions should focus specifically on the Department of the Navy's F.Y. '24 budget request.

On AUKUS, the Navy stands ready to support our allies and to bolster deterrence and stability in the Indo-Pacific.  Any questions related to AUKUS should be directed to OSD.

Please limit your questions to one with a follow-up.

Under Secretary Raven, Rear Admiral Gumbleton, over to you.

UNDER SECRETARY OF THE NAVY ERIK RAVEN:  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Erik Raven, I am the Under Secretary of the Navy.  I am here with Rear Admiral Gumbleton, our Budget Officer, and we are pleased to provide an overview of the department's F.Y. '24 president's budget request.

This request delivers the resources necessary to ensure America's Naval forces are ready, timely, flexible and forward-deployed across the full spectrum of challenges, from Naval diplomacy to strategic deterrence, to resource competition, to crisis and conflict.

The PB24 request reflects the nation's priorities as detailed in the U.S. Strategic Guidance.  At the top of this cascading hierarchy are the president's National Security Strategy, followed by the 2022 National Defense Strategy.

Our request builds upon the tenants of our national defense, which are integrated deterrence, campaigning and actions that build enduring advantage.

Secretary Del Toro's strategic guidance solidifies that we are one Navy and Marine Corps team and we remain fully nested within the National Defense Strategy.  He identifies three enduring priorities:  strength in maritime dominance, build a culture of warfighting excellence, and enhance strategic partnerships.

The chief of naval operations provides direction for maintaining the world's preeminent naval force as an investment in the security and prosperity of the United States, a security that has supported the global economy since World War II.  The commandant's force design directs that we continue to build the Marine Corps as our nation's expeditionary crisis response force.

Aligned with Secretary Austin's three priorities, as seen here in the green bars on this slide, our request demonstrates the department's commitment to providing a ready, modernized and capable naval force, a force that continues to be the nation's primary in a — instrument of sea control both now and into the future.

On the top half of the slide, PB-24 procures the second Columbia-class submarine, our nation's most survivable leg of the strategic triad, and keeps us on track for the delivery of the first vessel in F.Y. '28.  Our request funds both private- and public-sector ship maintenance to 100 percent, with a focus on increasing capacity and retaining highly-skilled labor at our public shipyards.  Our R&D increases by nearly $1 billion, investing in modernizing our warfighting capabilities across all domains.  We add nearly $2 billion to our weapons programs, investing in critical munitions and supporting multiyear procurement contracts.  We add $705 million to accelerate Marine Corps Force Design '23 priorities, and we increased both our MILCON and climate resiliency projects to make sure our structure ashore can support fleet operations.

To the bottom left, we know that it — building a culture of warfighting excellence starts with our most critical asset: our sailors, Marines, civilians and their families.  Our PB-24 request includes a substantial 5.2 percent pay raise for military and civilian personnel.  We expand access to mental healthcare and make significant investments to mote — to promote the prevention of sexual assault and harassment.

The Marine Corps increases investments in talent management reform, as well as training and education modernization.  These efforts ensure that we recruit and retain the best talent and provide career-level training and education.

To the bottom right, we continue to strengthen our alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, increasing our PDI funding by almost 50 percent.  Additionally, we deliver warfighter capability by strengthening the shipbuilding and weapons industrial bases.  The budget provides predictable build plans and invests in workforce development and supply chain, sending a clear signal to our industry partners.

And finally, the Marine Corps is transforming into a modernized force, ready to meet the demands of rapidly-evolving future operating environments.

As we look to our security and operational environment, the secretary's words resonate when he stated, "Author — authoritarian nations are once again challenging international norms and laws, while transnational threats present unprecedented challenges to our stability and security."  We know that our prosperity and security as a nation are dependent upon unfettered access to the sea.  We are at an inflection point, with critical choices to make to meet the pacing challenge posed by the People's Republic of China, the acute threat of Russia, as well as the persistent threats of Iran, North Korea and other malign actors.

China is expanding its naval capabilities, while conducting aggressive maritime activities in the South China Sea.  These actions seek to undermine our system of international law, including freedom of the seas, a foundational U.S. interest.  Yet our Navy and Marine Corps are meeting the challenge on the sea, under the sea and in the air every single day.  With over 90 percent of global commerce and 95 percent of the world's communications cable spanning the seas, the presence of forward naval forces protects our economy, our national security and our way of life.

The 2023 NDAA updated the language of the Navy's mission statement and charges us to be organized, trained and equipped for the peacetime promotion of the national security interests and prosperity of the United States.  Today's naval force is far more powerful, integrated, connected and more distributed than ever before.  Alongside our allies and partners, we uphold international norms, keep sea lanes open and provide access to valuable strategic maritime positions.  As of today, the 13th of March, your Navy and Marine Corps provide forward-postured, maritime-based forces, including over 49,000 sailors and 32,000 Marines currently deployed or underway.  Your Navy and Marine Corps team supports joint force readiness, and will face any adversary with our distributed forces across multiple vectors, both physically and virtually, in all domains from seabed to space.

Now, I'd like to turn it over to Admiral Gumbleton.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN GUMBLETON:  Thank you, Under Secretary Raven.

Transitioning to the fiscal slides, the F.Y. '24 president's budget request is $255.8 billion.  This is an $11 billion, or 4.5 percent increase above our recently-enacted F.Y. '23 budget.

On the top, you'll see a graph showing recent increases to our DON topline.  The department thanks Congress for continuing to prioritize investments in our naval forces so that we may deliver the Navy the nation needs.  It is only with stable and predictable funding that we can innovate and modernize, sustain gains in readiness to send a strong signal to our industrial base.

Beginning in the lower left, our Navy budget increases by almost five percent and shows increased funding in all appropriations groups, particularly our procurement and operations and maintenance accounts.

On the lower right, our Marine Corps budget increases by almost three percent, with growth in procurement and research and development.  Within the Marine Corps funding, you'll note what looks like a 27 percent reduction to military construction.  This is an artifact of how generous Congress was during the '23 enactment.

The slides in this next section demonstrate how we prioritized Navy and Marine Corps resources to support readiness, develop warfighting capabilities and procure platforms to generate integrated all-domain naval power.

For ship construction, the department request to procure an additional nine (battle force ?) ships, key to supporting the National Defense Strategy through integrated deterrence at sea.  The details of our submarine investments include the Columbia-class program request of $5.8 billion, and that includes the first of two increments of funding for the second submarine to be awarded in F.Y. '24.  The Virginia-class submarine budget requests $10.3 billion, or 32 percent of this appropriation funding, to submarines and the advanced procurement of four additional boats.

Within our surface ship portfolio, the Forward-class program requests $1.9 billion and funds the seventh increment of CVN-80 and the sixth increment of CVN-81.  Our request funds two destroyers at $4.5 billion, which were a part of the '23 through '27 multiyear procurement contract, and two frigates at $2.2 billion for the fifth and sixth ship of the class.

Reviewing our amphibious platforms, this request of $1.8 billion reflects the final increment and full funding of LHA-9 and our medium — medium landing ship, formerly the LHA, currently remains in R&D with a lead ship beginning F.Y. '25.

Turning to logistics, a replenishment oiler is requested at 815 million and our Next Generation Log Ship currently remains in RD with lead ship in F.Y. '26.

Additionally, the lead ship in our new submarine tender replacement program has been accelerated into 24 for 1.7 billion.  And completing our battle force ship construction summary, our ocean surveillance lead ship authorized in F.Y. '22 will award this year to place the aging fleet of SURTASS vessels.

Not depicted on this slide, our '24 request includes one additional LCAC SLEP, two additional LCU 1700 class vessels, two (additional used ?) sealift vessels.  And to the lower right, our completion of prior shipbuilding requests is 1.6 billion and accounts for the significant rise in the cost of commodities and labor in our shipyards.

The department's budget includes a reduction of 11 ships.  Eight of which are listed here in our before their end-of-service-life.  For the cruisers and LSDs, the decision to request this divestment was based on material condition, life remaining, cost and then time to upgrade.  And then, of course, the (resultant network ?) warfighting value.

These six vessels did not pass that ROI analysis.  In addition to the time and money saved with this divestment, we will also free up over 1,500 sailors to support higher-priority efforts.

For the LCS, there's clearly life remaining.  The decision here was based on resetting the Mine Countermeasures requirements at 15 vessels.   And as always, the Navy's committed to working with Congress for these investments.

You'll see here our Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, or SIOP, the once-in-a-century modernization and maintenance facilities needed to sustain our future fleet.  Our request of $2.7 billion is required to sustain our Virginia (and forward-class ?) vessels at four Naval shipyards, with construction efforts to recap aging drydocks at three of the four locations, comprising the bulk of this request.

Our OPN request funds the recap of industrial plant equipment at the shipyards and our O&M portion of this request supports the facility planning, environmental compliance and restoration modernization projects.

Shifting to Marine Corps Force design efforts, PB24 accelerates force design investments and includes additional resources for key warfighting capabilities.  Now in the fourth year of this 10-year comprehensive transformation effort, the Marine Corps continues to focus on three key force design priorities.  Equipment modernization, talent management and training and education.  These investments provide unique capabilities the Marine Corps requires to enable joint force access, to sense and make sense of the battlefield, to close kill chains and apply lethal fires when required to deter or defeat adversaries.

Investments also resource modernizing manpower systems and training and education programs.  Particularly, those supporting service-level training in a live virtual constructive training environment.

Through these combined efforts, the Marine Corps remains postured as the nation's Expeditionary Crisis Response Force.

Under aviation procurement, the department's request of $17.3 billion support procurement of 88 aircraft.  Also, aircraft modernizations, spares and support equipment.  This request completes aircraft procurement of KC-130J, the MQ-4 Charlie and the MP-9 Alpha.  In this budget, our aviation investments include the production of the F-35 B and C Lightning IIs, where we're requesting 35 in this budget.  And request 26 multi-engine training system or multi-engine trainer.  And procures two KC-130J supertankers, which completes the fixed-wing procurement of that line at 63 aircraft.

Moving to rotary wing, we are requesting 15 heavy lift CH-53 King Stallions.

And lastly, we continue to invest in unmanned aviation.

The Marine Corps will procure five additional MQ-9A Reaper, which is the final year of procurement and the Navy will procure two MQ-4 Tritons and three MQ-25 Stingrays.

Looking now at weapons procurement, in this year's request the Department has made significant investment, over 2 billion from last year's enactment and munitions to get after inventory shortfalls.

We will pursue four multi-year procurement contracts for the ERAM Standard Missile 6 and jointly with Air Force for the JASSM and LRASM weapons systems.

The Marine Corps is purchasing Tomahawk weapons while the Navy increases the quantity for the Maritime Strike Tomahawk and recertifies existing Tomahawks and NAVCOM upgrades. There are also notable increases in the Mark 48 torpedoes.

And finally, this year is the first year for production of the conventional prompt strike weapon that will be integrated on to the Zumalt-class destroyer.

Looking at capabilities, this year's R&D request just $900 million above the '23 enacted and continues the Department's investment to provide sailors and Marines, improve war fighting capabilities across all domains.

We fund the next generation platforms with next gen fighter topping at $1.5 billion followed by the SSNX and DDGX. We've sustained significant investments across our information warfare portfolio and the areas of cybersecurity and operational maneuver, as well as continue to invest in the project over match.

In aviation we sustain efforts with JSF continuous capability development and software enhancements for the E2 Delta and CH-53. For our — for our unmanned portfolio, we continue development across all domains. While the Marine Corps invest in upgrades to software for the ground, air task oriented radar, design and development for the amphibious combat vehicle and integration and testing of the Marine air defense integrated system to accelerate these forces ion capabilities.

Our total ship maintenance account increases by 16% or 1.8 billion above the 23 enacted position. This increase resources 37,000 strong shipyard workers in our public shipyards and in the private sector this request covers increased port loading rates and funds 75 total availabilities of which 29 are funded in our OPN pilot.

Also funded in OPN is funding for the USS Boise's engineering overhaul. We have invested considerably in other requirements essential to the material condition of the fleet, completing maintenance for our Virginia class submarines and returning them to the fleet on time is a critical war fighting priority.

To that end we added 541 million in OMN in OPN for Virginia class material and spares to build depth and breadth in our on-hand inventory to help ensure that the necessary parts are available during your scheduled maintenance windows.

Our ship ops account, the budget resources the fuel, parts and other costs needed to execute the planned deployments in training, along with the increase spare parts and consumable materials required.

In addition, this resource is the maintenance and steaming days for our USNS teammates on our supply and support ships. Looking at fleet forces operation — I'm sorry. Looking at fleet Marine force's operations, our request of $4.2 billion sustains efforts listed around the bottom right pie chart. Our F.Y. '24 request supports readiness priorities for the three Marine littoral regiments, five traditional inventory regiments and 15 Marine expeditionary units with a focus on supporting exercises and engagement efforts in the Indo-Pacific region.

At bottom-left, depot maintenance is funded to the full requirement, and we increased field logistics by $209 million in this request.

Looking at aircraft depot maintenance at the top of this chart, we continue to sustain and improve our readiness rates and decrease long-term downed aircraft.  In our 24 requests, there's only modest changes to the number of engines and aircrafts for depot over home.

On the bottom half under aero operations, you'll note a decrease in the flight hour finding in '24, which is an artifact of the $552 million and supplemental funding for Ukraine as well as increased fuel cost in our '23 enactment.

The '24 request provides the operation, maintenance and training for the nine active Navy carrier air wings.  And we are requesting fewer flying hours this year but match to our planned deployment and training.

Marine Corps flight hour requirements slightly reduced from '23 to '24 as well, and this aligns with the services transition strategy of sun downing legacy aircraft and investing in new capabilities.

Finally in our training pipeline, this request resources the hours needed for our planned student production goals along with our fleet replacement squadrons.  Overall, this request aligns with a broader push in naval aviation to increase lethality and readiness while continuing process improvement efforts at all levels of the organization.

As we look at our shore infrastructure, the department appreciates Congress' continued support of our shore infrastructure through the '23 enactment.  In this request, the Navy is funded at historically-high levels for shore infrastructure, and the Marine Corps is in the second year of testing their facilities investment optimization strategy.

In support of climate resiliency, the department's budget request adds over a half a billion dollars, funding projects that improve power resilience and replace electric substations at critical locations.

At the top left of the slide, you'll see the Navy's installation support graph.  When you back out the one-time disaster recovery funding, the Navy's total shore infrastructure funding increases almost 8 percent over '23 enacting.  Within FSRM, the Navy increases by 10 percent and is funded to 87 percent of the OSD model.

The base operating support request increases by 6 percent and addresses inflationary increases and utilities observed these last two years.

At the top right, the Marine Corps installation support infrastructure funding increases over 6 percent from '23 enacted.  You'll note a decrease in the Marine Corps (FSR and portfolio ?) to $1.3 billion in '24 with sustainment funded at 54 percent, which is in line with the readiness maximization tooled pilot currently underway.

Moving in MILCON at the bottom, we appreciate the strong congressional support as Congress added $1.8 billion in MILCON fundings.  The department request of $6.1 billion funds 35 total projects, including 19 for the Navy and 16 projects for the Marine Corps.  This request directly supports the national defense strategy lines of effort to build a more lethal force while continuing to recap naval shipyards.

Key projects include the construction of three child development centers and the Marine Corps new base, Camp Blaz in Guam.

In this section, you'll see that the people are manned the bedrock of the department.  We seek the best and the brightest but acknowledge that young men and women have more career choices now than ever before.

To ensure that the department remains competition, we are targeting recruiting and retention goals with increases in enlistment bonuses, getting back to career fairs, and utilizing both traditional and new advertising through targeted social media.

For the Navy, the department is committed to accelerating our war fighting advantage by unleashing our people.  And in the CNO's Get Real, Get Better call to action, we empower our war fighters to find and fix problems and to innovate at every level.  This chart shows the active duty Navy president's budget request will increase by 5,300 sailors over our projected '23 end-strength.

The end-strength budgeted represents a balance between the fore structure requirement and the current recruiting environment.

Moving to the Reserve Navy at the bottom, we are continuing our efforts to assess and retain experienced sailors in our Reserve force, and our Navy Reserve end-strength increases by 200 sailors as we reallocate expeditionary resources and invest in adaptive mobilization capability.

Looking now at the active duty Marine Corps, the commandant's planning guidance emphasizes that everything starts and ends with the individual marine.  The Marine Corps has programmed and budgeted for what is realistically achievable while still working towards the force design enduring level of 174,600 Marines.  The '24 request supports an active force of 1,723 Marines, which is a modest increase over our current '23 projected strength.

This request invests in bonus in the senate programs to continue meeting our retention goals, targeting maturation of small unit leaders, and retaining technically-skilled personnel.

To the bottom our request supports 33,600 ready — relevant, ready and responsive force capable of seamlessly operating as part of the total force to fulfill combatant command, service rotational, and emergent requirements.  This is a modest increase of 600 Marines from the '23 request.

Turning to taking care of our — turning to our taking care of people initiative, the SecDef's strategic guidance highlights that people are the foundational strength of this department.  Although, not an exhaustive list of the many initiatives supporting this guidance, some of our key efforts are listed here.

On the top of this slide, we invest in significantly improving quality of life at our industrial shipyards, ensuring that our sailors and Marines have access to better housing, better parking, and access to recreation facilities. We also continue investments in our enlisted bachelor housing.

With respect to pay and compensation, this request fully funds the 5.3 percent pay increase matching the employee cost index for our Navy, Marine and civilian teammates.

On the bottom of the slide, as we continue to destigmatize mental health treatment, we are working to ensure every member has access to the full continuum of mental healthcare.  This request adds $29 million and expands programs like sailor assistance and intercept for life, the command individual risk and resiliency assessment system, and adds two additional warrior toughness teams.

The department will relentlessly pursue a force where no one ever feels unsafe.  In our consecutive request for increased funding and integrated primary prevention through our SAPR programs is proof of that.

Our request of $334 million is a 34 percent increase over F.Y. '23.  Notably, we add an additional 208 professionals to the prevention workforce and sexual harassment response efforts.

Finally, we know that readiness starts with a family, and access to high-quality child care is critical to supporting our war fighters.  This request increases by $60 million and adds capacity with three new child development centers and significantly expands full day pre-K at all DODEA overseas locations.

SecNav's third priority of enhancing strategic partnerships is achieved through teaming with our industrial base, working with our allies and partners, and through a commitment to education and leveraging academia.

This is the second consecutive year we are requesting funds to bolster and stabilize our industrial base, surpassing $1 billion when including defense-wide funding this year.  We invest heavily in our submarine industrial base, with ads that target shipbuilder infrastructure, supplier and workforce development, technology advancements, and strategic outsourcing.  Additionally, the funds requested for our weapons portfolio includes approximately $380 million to enhance our weapons industrial base capacity.

With respect to our allies and partners, our Pacific Deterrence Initiative funding increases primarily with MILCON programs to set the theater and resources, exercises for naval forces in both the INDOPACOM and EUCOM areas of responsibility.

Leveraging education to the full potential of our sailors and Marines, the department continues to ensure we fully fund the education programs at our flagship institutions.  Moreover, this budget continues the expansion of our Naval Community College while also fully funding tuition assistance programs.

Together, these investments create a continuum of learning to develop leaders at every level.

MR. RAVEN:  Thank you, Admiral Gumbleton, for presenting that overview of the department's support of the Secretary's enduring priorities through this budget request.

In summary, our budget prioritizes investment in warfighting capabilities, takes care of our people, and accelerates force design.  It prepares our naval forces for the pacing challenge by investing in critical munitions, resourcing readiness, and maturing our next generation platforms.

The department's budget request is strategy-based, analytically-driven, and reform-minded to maximize the value of every dollar entrusted to us.  We are making the investments now, guided by the Navy Navigation Plan and Marine Corps Force Design 2030, to ensure we remain the most lethal, capable, and globally postured force on this planet for decades to come.

Admiral Gumbleton and I thank you again for joining us here today and we look forward to your questions.

STAFF:  All right, we will begin the Q&A portion.  Associated Press?  Not here.  All right, we'll start with Megan Eckstein, Defense News.

Q:  Hey, thank you.  One of your slides denotes a significant investment in Virginia submarine — oh, thank you . One of the slides notes a significant investment in Virginia class submarine spare parts, and I just wondered if you could shed a little bit of light on whether that's targeted at any specific spares and kind of how big of a dent that would make in the challenge the Navy has, you know, with cannibalization and — and just sort of spare part readiness?

ADM. GUMBLETON:  Yeah, thank you, Megan.  So $541 million total and funded across the FYDP as well, (not — not shown ?).  This is a — a dramatic increase — it — to that — we've never done before.  And we do have some challenges in our shipyards.  So this is to get after both the shipyards but also our operational fleet, to make sure we have those spares on — on contract.

And we're not waiting to the '24 budget request.  We intend to use, through our Navy Working Capital Fund, obligating authority to purchase anywhere between $2 and $350 million — we're still working out the details now — so they're waiting on the shelf in '24 and we can buy them off with these requested appropriations funds.

Q:  Thank you, sir.  And a related follow-up on the industrial base investments, you note the $380 million for the weapons industrial base.  You also have $400 million in shipbuilder supplier development.  And again, could you just shed some light on, you know, what exactly that's targeted at, if there are any specific problems you're trying to address within the weapons and the shipbuilding industries?

ADM. GUMBLETON:  Well, let — let me focus on the shipbuilder industry.  So five lines of effort.  So supply chain development and workforce development are key among them.  And in the defense-wide account, the IBAS funding goes specifically — (partners with us ?) and gets after the workforce development.

There's also strategic outsourcing to bring on new companies to do work in the shipyards.  And then there's the shipyards themselves need some investment in — not material but I think robotics and the kit they need to be more efficient.

And so those are — in a broad brush, each one of those is a line of effort beginning in '23 that has funding that's actually already obligating and executing, and we're continuing that effort with this '24 request.

Q:  Thank you.

STAFF:  All right, Mallory Shelbourne, USNI?

Q:  Hi, thanks so — hi, thanks so much.  Your five year budget outlook shows you ramping up investments starting next year in the landing ship medium for the Marine Corps' Force Design while halting the San Antonio class.  You've said that that's so you can pause and study amphibious ship capabilities and what you need, what the requirements are.

How are we supposed to understand and read that?  It looks like you've, you know, decided to invest in landing ship medium instead of San Antonio class?  What does that mean and what should we make of it?

MR. RAVEN:  Let me first say that — that amphibious capabilities are central to what the Navy and Marine Corps team offers, especially as driven by the strategy in the Indo-Pacific, where campaigning is a critical element of our national power.

What we are making sure that we are doing as we move forward with our budget plans is making sure that we have the right capabilities at the right price, aligned to not only meeting military requirements but working with industry.

So as you see in this, we remain committed to landing ship medium, and for LPD, we're taking a look at the — the acquisition strategy moving forward, again, to make sure that we would have the right capabilities at the right price, and working with industry partners to put — put together that plan moving forward.

Q:  And a quick follow-up — who directed the strategic pause in this capabilities-based assessment that you're performing?

MR. RAVEN:  We received a direction from OSD but this will be a — a integrated team moving forward for that assessment.

Q:  Thank you.

ADM. GUMBLETON:  And if I could add to that, the directed study — and we'll certainly partner not only internal to the DON but also with CAPE and OSD, of course, with the intent that we would normally buy LPD or whatever that may take place on two year centers.  So the intent here is not a either/or between a LPD or a medium landing ship, it's a both, so it's an end game, and we have time to get this right.

I think the direct question is — I believe the services are fundamentally aligned on this requirement.  Both service chiefs like 31 as a requirement, both service chiefs like multi-year procurements, both service chiefs want to buy in a predictable future.

And so if we can do a study and actually lower the cost of this, that's all to the good of the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Q:  Thank you.

STAFF:  All right, Justin Katz, Breaking Defense?

Q:  Thank you.  Hi, sirs.  Two quick clarifying questions.

One of your slides said $705 million increased investments in Force Design 2030.  Can you just explain the context behind that number?  Is that relative to F.Y. '23 enacted?  Is that relative to some other projected number?  What's the context?

And the second question is you said that this budget would fund the USS Boise's availability.  That ship, as you know, has been on Congress' radar for some time due to how long it's been in port.  I — I was just wondering if you had the timeline on when you think it'll be operational, assuming you can fund it as you wish in this budget?  Thanks.

MR. RAVEN:  Yes, thank you.  The context is from '23 enacted.  Force design 2030 was always about 2030.  Looking at (the decaded ?) concern, the Marine Corps investment more money to bring these capabilities to the left to accelerate that piece.  So, that's the intent there.  So, compared to '23 enacted.

And then with respect to Boise, she's still in the yard down in Norfolk.  I don't have an updated timeline on when I believe she will deliver.

STAFF:  Yes, sir?

Q:  Hi, Brian Everstine with Aviation Week.  The documents say that the Navy's buying two more MQ-4C to complete the buy of '22.  The program of record, I think, is 65 or 68.  Can you talk about the big shift in the planning there?

ADM. GUMBLETON:  I think what we looked at the MQ-4C, we're looking at is current capability and then balance strategy-based budget on what we need in future unmanned capability.  And simply took a turn with respect to MQ-4C.  So, we hope to finish that buy here.  And you'll notice that there's increasing investments for MQ-25 as we go forward.

STAFF:  All right, yes, sir?

Q:  Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg.  You're buying eight conventional strike — you're buying — you're requesting the money to buy eight conventional Prompt Strike weapons this fiscal year.  The thing hasn't passed the test yet and they aborted one last week for some unrelated missile reason — missile — unrelated to the missile.

Why are you going ahead with eight of them when you haven't had a successful test yet?  And for Admiral, the prior year cost to complete the $1.6 billion, do you — has any of your (material late ?) and how much of that is cost overruns?  Last year you had request for two Virginia-class cost overrun issues that Erik's old committee criticized you about.  So, can you break down the 1.6?  How much in overruns?  And why eight when you haven't passed the test?

ADM. GUMBLETON:  So, on CPS, I think what you're seeing here is a — is an endorsement of the capability, again, very central to matching the pacing challenges in the Asia-Pacific.  The point of testing is to learn things.  But we have confidence that we're going to be able to field the system as required and we'll work with our industrial partners to make sure we stay on track for that — for that production.

MR. RAVEN:  With respect to cost-complete, as we observe, you know, when the ships are — they year they're supposed to deliver, we have that last year of funding, so we're simply going to observe as put several Virginia classes on contract in years prior there's going to be a residual cost-to-complete bill that comes with Virginia-class and we're completely transparent with the committees on what those costs are.  And so, we can get back to you on specifics with respect to Virginia class.  There's also costs to complete.  You know, modestly, there were some inflation requests through EQP clauses and so we serviced some of those with the actual help of Congress in '23 enactment, they provided, I think, $1.2 billion or $1.1 billion for procurement accounts to get after.  That actually decreased a bit of this request because we were able to use that appropriation to get after that.

And so, across the portfolio, you — we simply have is in this inflationary era, costs that increase because of materials and schedule delays.

Q:  Last year, that’s different than cost overruns. There are separate categories that the Navy has to absorb a certain portion.

ADM. GUMBLETON:  Most of these are on share lines.

Q:  Right.

ADM. GUMBLETON:  And so, we're sharing this cost with our industry partners.  And if I could pivot, Tony, is, you know, the massive investments in our shipyard industrial base, so I feel like in this budget request, two consecutive years of consistent ship funding, two consecutive years of industrial base funding, we're giving industry what they've asked for, right?  Invest in them, give them headlights, and we're doing that.  And so now, we're — we're going to watch for that return on investment.

Q:  Thanks.

STAFF:  Thank you.  We have time for one more question.  Nick Wilson, Inside Defense.

Q:  Thank you.  So looking at your ship building plan this year and the sort of forecast over the next five years, this budget has the Navy's overall battle force fleet size hovering at just under 300 ships.  Is that sort of the — what the Navy sees as the optimal fleet size going forward, or are there plans to scale the fleet size up looking out further than the five-year window?

MR. RAVEN:  Yeah, thanks for that question.  So what you see reflected in this budget is a strategy-driven approach to how we acquire capabilities, and CNO has very well laid out in its navigation plan that readiness, modernization and — and capacity, in that order, are the priorities that — that drive this budget.  We are constantly working with the — our industrial partners to make sure that we are not only funding, but taking delivery of ships on time and in an efficient manner.  And looking towards the future, you'll see continued investments in unmanned capabilities, including USBs, which can be a great force multiplier, especially in the Indo-Pacific.

STAFF:  Thank you so much for coming.  That's all the time we have for today.  Any additional questions, please direct to myself, Lieutenant Kassie Collins in the CHINFO News Desk.  Thank you very much for coming.