Richard R. Burgess, SEAPOWER
7 March 2016
ARLINGTON, Va. – Strike fighters dominate the Navy’s fiscal 2017 unfunded priorities list, but close behind are electronic warfare systems and shipboard sensors.
The Navy would like Congress to fund 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighters (for $1.54 billion) in 2017 to alleviate the shortage in the Navy and Marine Corps in addition to the two requested in the Overseas Contingency Operations supplemental. Combined with the 14 Super Hornets planned for 2018’s budget, the total of 30 aircraft would go a long way toward bridging the shortage until the F-35C Lightning II arrives in substantial numbers. The Navy also would like to add two more F-35Cs (for $270 million) to the four requested in the base 2017 budget.
High on the electronic warfare systems list are radio-frequency kill-chain enhancements in the form of 99 Counter-Electronic Attack Block II kits, a classified program probably for Super Hornets ($81 million), one Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program Block III system ($23 million), and $43 million for three SSQ-137 Ship Signal Exploitation Equipment Increment [Inc] F – an afloat indications and warning sensor that provides commanders with threat search and identification information and electronic attack options – and three Paragon/Graywing systems.
“Paragon is a classified Navy tactical signals intelligence frequency extension capability that will be integrated into Ship's Signal Exploitation Equipment (SSEE) Inc E and F programs,” according to budget justification documents. “This capability provides simultaneous detection, collection, processing, Electronic Warfare and display of communication intelligence data from hostile, high threat and adversary platforms in select frequency ranges that are not prosecuted or encountered today. Graywing is an electronic sensing and attack capability that shares the Paragon topside exploitation
assets and will be integrated into SSEE Inc E and F systems.”
Further down on the list are four TB-29X and four TB-34X submarine towed arrays ($22 million) and the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System ($49 million).
Weapons on the wish list include 75 AIM-9X Block II air-to-air missiles ($33 million) in addition to 152 in the budget and 16 Mk54 Mod 0 torpedoes in addition to 144 in the budget. Over-the-Horizon missiles ($43 million) for the littoral combat ships USS Fort Worth and USS Coronado also are desired.
For ships, the Navy would like full funding to complete procurement of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer ($433 million) and to fund the lead ship of a new class of salvage tug ($75 million). Also desired are three LCAC 100-class ship-to-shore connectors ($165 million) in addition to the two in the budget, and one LCU 1700-class landing craft ($22 million), which would start production a year earlier. The Navy also would like to fund combat system modernizations for a destroyer ($65 million), for two submarines ($49 million), and installation of Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services on an amphibious platform dock ship and a destroyer.
Another aircraft type on the list is the C-40A Clipper II ($207 million), two of which are desired to augment the 15 Navy C-40As ordered and to replace last two C-9B Skytrain IIs, which remain in Marine Corps service.