cut the Navy that will be called on
to execute this strategy.
“I am also concerned by the
announced delays to the Ohio-
class replacement program,” Akin
said. “Our nuclear missile sub-
marines are a vital piece of our
nuclear deterrence, and I am con-
cerned that this delay will put our
ability to deter at risk.”
A yet unspecified number of
combat logistics and fleet support
ships would be cut under the pro-
posal. These ships are operated by
the Military Sealift Command.
Panetta said the Defense Department would protect the ongoing
procurement of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and its
participation in the Phased Adaptive
Approach to BMD for Europe.
Special operations forces and sea-based intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance capabilities, such as
those of the Fire Scout unmanned
aerial system (UAS), would be protected from cuts. Although the Air
Panetta did not address naval aviation programs for
the most part, the exceptions being the F- 35 Lightning II
All three versions of the F- 35 would be continued,
but procurement “would be slowed to complete more
testing and make developmental changes to minimize
concurrency issues before buying in significant quantities,” Panetta said.
He took the Marine Corps’ F-35B short-takeoff/
vertical-landing version off “probation” last month.
The Joint Air-Ground Missile, currently under competition between Lockheed Martin and a Raytheon-Boeing
team as a replacement for the Hellfire, Maverick and
Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missiles,
will be substantially reduced, with “limited funding sustained to enable lower-cost alternatives such as Hellfire,”
the defense budget document said.
The active-duty Marine Corps would be reduced
from 202,000 to 182,100, a somewhat smaller force
than the 186,800 recommended by the service’s force
structure review conducted in late 2010. Marine
Reserve forces would be protected from cuts.
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, right, and Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter, com-
mander of Carrier Strike Group 12, watch flight operations aboard the aircraft car-
rier USS Enterprise Jan. 21 in the Atlantic Ocean. In outlining the defense budget
priorities and spending cut considerations for the next five years, Panetta said the
current force level of 11 carriers and 10 carrier air wings will be sustained.
No details of how the Virginia SSN would be modified were given, but it could include additional hull
sections featuring the new Virginia Payload Tube
designed for the Block III version of the SSN.
Panetta did not say whether the slide of two LCSs and
eight JHSVs was a delay or a cut in the procurement goal.
The Navy has procured, or has under contract, a total of
24 LCSs of a planned buy of 55 ships. Ten planned JHSVs
are under construction or contract options.
The largest cut in terms of existing ships involves
seven Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers — six
of which lack a ballistic missile defense (BMD) capability — that will be retired early. The seventh possess-es BMD capability but is in need of costly hull repairs.
The retirements will leave the Navy with 15 cruisers
and set back its efforts to achieve a 313-ship fleet and
sustain a surface warfare cruiser and destroyer force.
“I am deeply concerned by the cuts announced by the
secretary of Defense,” Rep. Todd Akin, chairman of the
House Armed Services seapower and projection forces
subcommittee, said in a Jan. 26 release. “Only a few
weeks ago, the president announced a ‘pivot’ to Asia,
with a focus on Navy and Air Force power. However,
today the secretary announced that he is cutting at least
12 new Navy ships over the next five years and retiring
at least nine ships earlier than planned. It is stunning
that the president would announce a strategy and then