cluded Marine Corps variants of
the F- 35 Lightning II joint strike
fighter. The Pentagon wants to buy
16 of those jets next year, compared with the 14 it had originally
planned. The Navy plans to purchase four of its own F-35s next
year, matching existing plans for
The Air Force variant of the F- 35,
however, would take a hit, with the
Pentagon buying 43 jets, five fewer
than originally planned for next
year. Program officials stress that the
planes simply have been deferred to
future years, not cut altogether.
The Pentagon also wants to buy
two F/A-18E/F Super Hornets — a
perennial favorite on Capitol Hill
— in fiscal 2017 to replace losses.
What’s more, the Navy is planning
on buying 14 more of the jets for
2018 to help mitigate the department’s strike fighter shortfall as it
ramps up buys of the F- 35.
The request also includes $2.8 billion to fund the fifth year of construction costs on the Ford-class aircraft
carrier John F. Kennedy and long-lead
items for the next carrier, Enterprise.
Meanwhile, the budget requests
$3.5 billion for two DDG 51 Arleigh
Burke-class destroyers and $5.3 billion for two Virginia-class submarines. In addition, the Pentagon
wants $1.9 billion for the Ohio-class replacement program, including funding advance procurement
for long-lead items for the ballistic-missile submarine.
Carter has touted the proposal
for its investment in other advanced undersea technologies,
including a payloads module for
the Virginia class that triples each
submarine’s strike capacity from 12
Tomahawk cruise missiles to 40.
In terms of munitions, the budget requests nearly $300 million for
100 Tomahawk cruise missiles and
$1.2 billion for modifications to the
Trident II ballistic missile.
For the Marine Corps, the budg-
et would buy 16 MV- 22 Osprey
tiltrotor aircraft and two CH-53K
King Stallion helicopters, and
invest $338.4 million in research
and development for the next presi-
dential helicopter fleet. The much-
anticipated Amphibious Combat
Vehicle would receive $158.7 mil-
lion in research and development
In short, the request “invests in
the Navy’s lethality through im-
provements in surface capability,
tactical aircraft and investments in
advanced undersea capabilities,”
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said Feb. 9. “It maintains the
Marine Corps’ pre-eminent role as
the nation’s most capable expedi-
tionary response force.”
Now it will be up to lawmakers,
with their power of the purse, to
determine whether the department’s
priorities are in the right place.
MARAD Budget Squeezes
Maritime Security Program
The Maritime Administration
(MARAD) would get a boost in
funding under the fiscal 2017 budget proposal, but at least one key program would see a decrease compared to fiscal 2016 enacted levels.
The budget request for the
Department of Transportation
agency would give MARAD $428.1
million, including $194 million for
operating and training and $188
million for the Maritime Security
Program (MSP). This is up from
about $400 million for fiscal 2016.
The MSP, however, would be
funded at $3.1 million for each of the
60 ships expected to enroll in the
program under the proposal. The
2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill,
signed into law in December, included $210 million for the MSP, providing $3.5 million to each of 60 enrolled U.S.-flag merchant ships for 2016.
The MSP maintains a modern
U.S.-flag fleet providing military
access to vessels and vessel capaci-
ty, as well as a total global, inter-
modal transportation network.
Since 2009, MSP carriers have
moved more than 90 percent of the
ocean-borne cargo needed to sup-
port U.S. military operations and
rebuilding programs in the Middle
East, according to MARAD.
However, during congressional
hearings in 2015, MARAD Administrator Paul N. “Chip” Jaenichen noted there were significant challenges
facing the MSP, with the amount of
Department of Defense cargo declining due to the drawdown of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a
reduction in personnel and military
The MSP fleet provides employment for 2,400 Merchant Mariners
and 5,000 shore-side maritime professionals each year. Maritime officials have contended that the MSP
needs to be funded at $5 million
The MARAD budget request also
would alter the Food Assistance
Program by allowing flexibility —
25 percent of total budget — for
local and regional purchases, rather
than U.S.-grown commodities, to
reduce the cost of the program and
make it more efficient. MSP vessels
are among those used to transport
the food aid as a means of keeping
them active during times of peace.
As part of the initiative, $25 mil-
lion is included to provide funds to
preserve mariner employment on
commercial vessels of the United
States and identify other innova-
tive means to encourage retention
of mariners and vessels.
Within the MARAD request,
$99.9 million was earmarked for
the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy,
including $25.1 million for major
capital repairs and improvements to
the academy’s buildings and infra-
structure. The Kings Point, N.Y.,
school has been going through
extensive renovations since 2012.
The budget proposal also requests
$6 million to fund an independent
requirements and alternatives analy-