Report to Congress on U.S. Special Operations Forces

The following is the May 11, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress. From the report Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations and have been given greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has […]

The following is the May 11, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

Special Operations Forces (SOF) play a significant role in U.S. military operations and have been given greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has about 70,000 Active Duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense (DOD) civilians assigned to its headquarters, its four service component commands, and eight sub-unified commands.

In 2013, based on a request from USSOCOM (with the concurrence of Geographic and Functional Combatant Commanders and the Military Service Chiefs and Secretaries), the Secretary of Defense assigned command of the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs) to USSOCOM. USSOCOM has the responsibility to organize, train, and equip TSOCs. While USSOCOM is responsible for the organizing, training, and equipping of TSOCs, the Geographic Combatant Commands will have operational control over the TSOCs. Because the TSOCs are now classified as sub-unified commands, the services are responsible to provide non-SOF support to the TSOCs in the same manner in which they provide support to the Geographic Combatant Command headquarters.

The Unified Command Plan (UCP) stipulates USSOCOM responsibility for synchronizing planning for global operations to combat terrorist networks. In 2016, USSOCOM was assigned the leading role in coordinating DOD’s efforts to counter WMDs, a mission previously assigned to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). USSOCOM is also the DOD proponent for Security Force Assistance and recently was assigned the mission to field a Trans Regional Military Information Support Operations (MISO) capability.

USSOCOM’s FY2022 budget request was for $12.6 billion, representing a decrease of $495 million (4%) of the FY2021-enacted position of $13.1 billion.

A potential issue for Congress includes potential implications of the Ukraine Conflict for U.S. SOF.

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Report to Congress on Navy Shipboard Lasers

The following is from the May 9, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Shipboard Lasers: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report This report provides background information and issues for Congress on shipboard solid-state lasers (SSLs) that the Navy is developing for surface-ship self-defense. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests continued research and development […]

The following is from the May 9, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Shipboard Lasers: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

This report provides background information and issues for Congress on shipboard solid-state lasers (SSLs) that the Navy is developing for surface-ship self-defense. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests continued research and development funding for these efforts.

The Navy installed its first prototype SSL capable of countering surface craft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a Navy ship in 2014. The Navy since then has been developing and installing additional SSL prototypes with improved capability for countering surface craft and UAVs. Higher-power SSLs being developed by the Navy are to have a capability for countering anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). Current Navy efforts to develop SSLs include:

  • the Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) effort;
  • the Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy (ODIN);
  • the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (SNLWS) Increment 1, also known as the high-energy laser with integrated optical dazzler and surveillance (HELIOS); and
  • the High Energy Laser Counter-ASCM Program (HELCAP).

The first three SSL efforts listed above are included in what the Navy calls the Navy Laser Family of Systems (NFLoS).

The issue for Congress is whether to modify, reject, or approve the Navy’s acquisition strategies and funding requests for shipboard laser development programs. Decisions that Congress makes on this issue could affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the defense technology and industrial base.

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Report on Virginia-class Attack Submarine Program

The following is the April 28, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 36 have been procured through FY2022. Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have […]

The following is the April 28, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 36 have been procured through FY2022. Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have been procured at a rate of two per year. Virginia-class boats scheduled for procurement in FY2019-FY2023 are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract.

The Virginia-class design has been updated multiple times since FY1998. Most Virginia-class boats procured in FY2019 and subsequent years are to be built with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an additional, 84-foot-long, mid-body section equipped with four large-diameter, vertical launch tubes for storing and launching additional Tomahawk missiles or other payloads. When procured at a rate of two boats per year, VPM-equipped Virginia-class SSNs have an estimated procurement cost of about $3.6 billion per boat.

The Navy’s proposed budget requests the procurement of the 37th and 38th Virginia-class boats. The two boats have an estimated combined procurement cost of $7,250.6 million (i.e., about $7.3 billion). The two boats have received $1,938.3 million in prior-year “regular” advance procurement (AP) funding, and $778.1 million in Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding, which is an additional kind of AP funding that can occur under an MYP contract. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests the remaining $4,534.2 million needed to complete the two boats’ estimated combined procurement cost of $7,250.6 million. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget also requests $2,025.7 million in AP funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in one or more future years, bringing the total amount of FY023 procurement and AP funding requested for the procurement of Virginia-class boats in FY2023 and subsequent years to $6,559.8 million (i.e., about $6.6 billion). The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget additionally requests $304.5 million in cost-to-complete funding to cover cost growth on Virginia-class boats procured in prior years.

The Navy’s current force-level goal, which was released in December 2016, calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 manned ships, including 66 SSNs. The Navy and the Office of the Secretary Defense have been working since 2019 to develop a successor Navy force-level goal to replace the 355-goal of 2016. Studies of this emerging force-level goal that have been released by the Navy in summary form suggest that the new force-level goal could call for achieving and maintaining a force of 66 to 72 SSNs.

The Navy’s FY2023 five-year (FY2023-FY2027) shipbuilding plan includes a total of 10 Virginia-class boats, to be procured at a rate of two per year. The Navy’s FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan, released on April 20, 2022, includes three alternative 30-year shipbuilding profiles for the period FY2028-FY2052. Under these profiles, SSNs would be procured during FY2028-FY2052 at a rate of 1.76 to 2.24 boats per year. Based on the three alternative shipbuilding profiles, the FY2023 30-year shipbuilding plan projects that the SSN force will reach a minimum of 46 boats in FY2028, return to 50 boats in FY2032, and grow to 60 to 69 SSNs by FY2052.

Potential oversight issues for Congress regarding the Virginia-class program include the SSN force-level goal and procurement rate, the industrial-base challenges of building both Virginia-class SSNs and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) at the same time, and cost and schedule risk in building the latest (i.e., Block V) version of the Virginia-class design.

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Report to Congress on Navy Force Structure

The following is the April 20, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the […]

The following is the April 20, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the U.S. shipbuilding industry to execute the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years.

In December 2016, the Navy released a force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. The 355-ship goal was made U.S. policy by Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017). The 355-ship goal predates the Trump and Biden Administrations’ national defense strategies and does not reflect the new fleet architecture (i.e., new mix of ships) that the Navy wants to shift toward in coming years. This new fleet architecture is to feature a smaller proportion of larger ships, a larger proportion of smaller ships, and a new third element of large unmanned vehicles (UVs). The Navy and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been working since 2019 to develop a successor for the 355-ship force-level goal that would reflect current national defense strategy and the new fleet architecture.

The Navy’s FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan, released on April 20, 2022, presents the results of three studies on possibilities for the Navy’s successor force-level goal. These studies call for a future Navy with 321 to 404 manned ships and 45 to 204 large UVs. A long-range Navy shipbuilding document that the Navy released on June 17, 2021, and which reflects some of these studies, outlined a future Navy that would include 321 to 372 manned ships and 77 to 140 large UVs. A September 2021 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimated that such a fleet would cost an average of between $25.3 billion and $32.7 billion per year in constant FY2021 dollars in shipbuilding funds to procure.

The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget requests $27.9 billion in shipbuilding funding for, among other things, the procurement of eight new ships, including two Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyers, one Constellation (FFG-62) class frigate, one LPD-17 Flight II class amphibious ship, one John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler, and one Navajo (TATS-6) class towing, salvage, and rescue ship. The Navy’s FY2023 budget submission shows a ninth ship—the amphibious assault ship LHA-9—as also being requested for procurement in FY2023. Consistent with both prior-year congressional authorization and appropriation action and Section 126 of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 6395/P.L. 116-283 of January 1, 2021), CRS reports on Navy shipbuilding programs, including this report, treat LHA-9 as a ship that Congress procured (i.e., authorized and provided procurement—not advance procurement [AP]—funding for) in FY2021. Navy officials have described the listing of LHA-9 in the Navy’s FY2023 budget submission as a ship being requested for procurement in FY2023 as an oversight. The Navy’s proposed FY2023 budget also proposes retiring 24 ships, including 9 relatively young Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs).

The FY2023 30-year (FY2023-FY2052) shipbuilding plan released on April 20, 2022, includes three potential 30-year shipbuilding profiles and resulting 30-year force-level projections, referred to as Alternatives 1, 2, and 3. Alternatives 1 and 2 assume no real (i.e., above-inflation) growth in shipbuilding funding beyond the level to be attained over the five-year period FY2023-FY2027, while Alternative 3 assumes some amount of real growth in shipbuilding funds after FY2027. Under Alternative 1, the Navy would reach 300 manned ships in FY2035 and grow to 316 manned ships by FY2052. Under Alternative 2, the Navy would reach 300 manned ships in FY2035 and grow to 327 manned ships by FY2052. Under Alternative 3, the Navy would reach 300 manned ships in FY2033 and grow to 367 manned ships by FY2052.

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Report to Congress on Navy Force Structure

The following is the April 1, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the […]

The following is the April 1, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the U.S. shipbuilding industry to execute the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years.

In December 2016, the Navy released a force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. The 355-ship goal was made U.S. policy by Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017). The Navy and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been working since 2019 to develop a successor for the 355-ship force-level goal. The new goal is expected to introduce a new, more distributed fleet architecture featuring a smaller proportion of larger ships, a larger proportion of smaller ships, and a new third tier of large unmanned vehicles (UVs).

On June 17, 2021, the Navy released a long-range Navy shipbuilding document that presents the Biden Administration’s emerging successor to the 355-ship force-level goal. The document calls for a Navy with a more distributed fleet architecture, including 321 to 372 manned ships and 77 to 140 large UVs. A September 2021 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that the fleet envisioned in the document would cost an average of between $25.3 billion and $32.7 billion per year in constant FY2021 dollars to procure. These figures, the report states, are 10% to 43% higher the $22.9 billion in constant FY2021 dollars that Congress has appropriated, on average, for all Navy shipbuilding activities over the past five years.

The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requested the procurement of eight new ships, including two Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs); one Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyer; one Constellation (FFG-62) class frigate; one John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler; two TATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships; and one TAGOS(X) ocean surveillance ship. The total of eight new ships requested for FY2022 is one more than the total of seven new ships that were projected for FY2022 under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, about two less than steady-state replacement rate for a 355-ship Navy (which is about 10 ships per year), and four less than the 12 new ships shown in a long-range shipbuilding document that Trump Administration submitted on December 9, 2020.

The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requested $18.1 billion for construction of new ships within its shipbuilding budget (the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy, or SCN, appropriation account), compared with $17.8 billion for construction of new ships within the SCN account projected for FY2022 under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, $22.8 billion in FY2022 for construction of new ships within the SCN account in the December 9, 2020, document, and an enacted FY2021 total of $20.1 billion for the construction of new ships within the SCN account.

The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s force-level goal, its proposed FY2022 shipbuilding program, and its longer-term shipbuilding plans. Key questions for Congress include the following: Is the Navy’s emerging force-level goal appropriate for supporting U.S. national security strategy and U.S. national defense strategy? Is the more distributed fleet architecture envisioned by the Navy the most cost effective fleet architecture for meeting future mission needs? Is the Navy’s proposed FY2022 shipbuilding program consistent with the Navy’s emerging force-level goal? Given finite defense resources and competing demands for defense funds, what is the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans? Does the U.S. shipbuilding industry, including both shipyards and supplier firms, have adequate capacity for executing the Navy’s shipbuilding plans?

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Report to Congress on Coast Guard Cutter Procurement

The following is the April 1, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR), which dates to 2004, calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements […]

The following is the April 1, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR), which dates to 2004, calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, medium-endurance cutters, and patrol craft. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requested a total of $695.0 million in procurement funding for the NSC, OPC, and FRC programs, including $597 million for the OPC program.

NSCs are the Coast Guard’s largest and most capable general-purpose cutters; they are replacing the Coast Guard’s 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. NSCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $670 million per ship. Although the Coast Guard’s POR calls for procuring 8 NSCs to replace the 12 Hamilton-class cutters, Congress through FY2021 has fully funded 11 NSCs, including the 10th and 11th in FY2018. In FY2020, Congress provided $100.5 million for procurement of long lead time materials (LLTM) for a 12th NSC, so as to preserve the option of procuring a 12th NSC while the Coast Guard evaluates its future needs. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requested $78.0 million in procurement funding for activities within the NSC program; this request does not include further funding for a 12th NSC. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget also proposes rescinding $65.0 million of the $100.5 million in FY2020 funding for LLTM for a 12th NSC, “allowing the Coast Guard to focus investments on building, homeporting, and crewing Polar Security Cutters and Offshore Patrol Cutters.” The remaining $35.5 million appropriated in FY2020 for LLTM would be used to pay NSC program costs other than procuring LLTM for a 12th NSC. Nine NSCs have entered service; the ninth was commissioned into service on March 19, 2021.

OPCs are to be less expensive and in some respects less capable than NSCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 29 aged medium-endurance cutters. Coast Guard officials describe the OPC and PSC programs as the service’s highest acquisition priorities. OPCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $411 million per ship. The first OPC was funded in FY2018. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requested $597.0 million in procurement funding for the fourth OPC, LLTM for the fifth, and other program costs. On October 11, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), of which the Coast Guard is a part, announced that DHS had granted extraordinary contractual relief to Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) of Panama City, FL, the builder of the first four OPCs, under P.L. 85-804 as amended (50 U.S.C. 1431-1435), a law that authorizes certain federal agencies to provide certain types of extraordinary relief to contractors who are encountering difficulties in the performance of federal contracts or subcontracts relating to national defense. The Coast Guard is holding a full and open competition for a new contract to build OPCs 5 through 15. On January 29, 2021, the Coast Guard released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this Stage 2 contract, as it is called. Responses to the RFP were due by May 28, 2021. The Coast Guard plans to award the Stage 2 contract in the second quarter of FY2022.

FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs; they are intended to replace the Coast Guard’s 49 aging Island-class patrol boats. FRCs have an estimated average procurement cost of about $65 million per boat. A total of 64 have been funded through FY2021, including four in FY2021. Six of the 64 are to be used by the Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf and are not counted against the 58-ship POR quantity for the program, which relates to domestic operations. As of April 1, 2022, 46 of the 64 have been commissioned into service. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2022 budget requested $20.0 million in procurement funding for the FRC program; this request does not include funding for any additional FRCs.

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Report to Congress on Chinese Naval Modernization

The following is the March 8, 2021, Congressional Research Service Report, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress. From the report In an era of renewed great power competition, China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has become the top focus of U.S. defense planning and budgeting. China’s […]

The following is the March 8, 2021, Congressional Research Service Report, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

In an era of renewed great power competition, China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has become the top focus of U.S. defense planning and budgeting. China’s navy, which China has been steadily modernizing for more than 25 years, since the early to mid-1990s, has become a formidable military force within China’s near-seas region, and it is conducting a growing number of operations in more-distant waters, including the broader waters of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and waters around Europe.

China’s navy is viewed as posing a major challenge to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain wartime control of blue-water ocean areas in the Western Pacific—the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War. China’s navy forms a key element of a Chinese challenge to the long-standing status of the United States as the leading military power in the Western Pacific. Some U.S. observers are expressing concern or alarm regarding the pace of China’s naval shipbuilding effort and resulting trend lines regarding the relative sizes and capabilities of China’s navy and the U.S. Navy.

China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a wide array of ship, aircraft, and weapon acquisition programs, as well as improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises. China’s navy has currently has certain limitations and weaknesses, and is working to overcome them.

China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is assessed as being aimed at developing capabilities for addressing the situation with Taiwan militarily, if need be; for achieving a greater degree of control or domination over China’s near-seas region, particularly the South China Sea; for enforcing China’s view that it has the right to regulate foreign military activities in its 200-mile maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ); for defending China’s commercial sea lines of communication (SLOCs), particularly those linking China to the Persian Gulf; for displacing U.S. influence in the Western Pacific; and for asserting China’s status as the leading regional power and a major world power.

Consistent with these goals, observers believe China wants its navy to be capable of acting as part of a Chinese anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) force—a force that can deter U.S. intervention in a conflict in China’s near-seas region over Taiwan or some other issue, or failing that, delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of intervening U.S. forces. Additional missions for China’s navy include conducting maritime security (including antipiracy) operations, evacuating Chinese nationals from foreign countries when necessary, and conducting humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) operations.

The U.S. Navy in recent years has taken a number of actions to counter China’s naval modernization effort. Among other things, the U.S. Navy has shifted a greater percentage of its fleet to the Pacific; assigned its most-capable new ships and aircraft and its best personnel to the Pacific; maintained or increased general presence operations, training and developmental exercises, and engagement and cooperation with allied and other navies in the Indo-Pacific; increased the planned future size of the Navy; initiated, increased, or accelerated numerous programs for developing new military technologies and acquiring new ships, aircraft, unmanned vehicles, and weapons; begun development of new operational concepts (i.e., new ways to employ Navy and Marine Corps forces) for countering Chinese maritime A2/AD forces; and signaled that the Navy in coming years will shift to a more-distributed fleet architecture that will feature a smaller portion of larger ships, a larger portion of smaller ships, and a substantially greater use of unmanned vehicles. The issue for Congress is whether the U.S. Navy is responding appropriately to China’s naval modernization effort.

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GAO Report on Littoral Combat Ship Program

The following is the Government Accountability Office report, Littoral Combat Ship: Actions Needed to Address Significant Operational Challenges and Implement Planned Sustainment Approach on Feb. 24, 2022. From the report What GAO Found The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fleet has not demonstrated the operational capabilities it needs to perform its mission. Operational testing has found […]

The following is the Government Accountability Office report, Littoral Combat Ship: Actions Needed to Address Significant Operational Challenges and Implement Planned Sustainment Approach on Feb. 24, 2022.

From the report

What GAO Found

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fleet has not demonstrated the operational capabilities it needs to perform its mission. Operational testing has found several significant challenges, including the ship’s ability to defend itself if attacked and failure rates of mission-essential equipment. The Navy is also behind schedule in developing the various mission modules—different configurations of key systems for different missions, such as mine countermeasures—for the LCS. In addition, GAO found that the LCS has frequently encountered challenges during deployments. The Navy has begun to take steps to address some of these issues, but it does not have a comprehensive plan to address the various deficiencies identified during testing and deployments. Without a comprehensive plan to address deficiencies, perform adequate testing of the mission modules, and implement lessons learned from completed deployments, the LCS will remain at risk of being unable to operate in its intended environment. Further, gaps between desired and demonstrated capabilities have substantial implications for the Navy’s ability to deploy the LCS as intended. Until the Navy makes future operational deployments contingent on progress in addressing gaps between desired and demonstrated capabilities, the LCS will continue to be dependent in combat and require protection by multi-mission combatants.

The Navy has implemented eight of the 10 recommendations from its 2016 Review of the LCS program. Among other things, it has implemented new approaches for assigning and training sailors for the LCS crew. However, the Navy is facing challenges in implementing a revised maintenance approach, under which Navy personnel will perform some maintenance currently being conducted by contractors. Until the Navy determines the specific tasks Navy personnel will perform, it risks not being able to meet the maintenance needs of the LCS, thus hindering the ships’ ability to carry out their intended missions.

The Navy’s operating and support (O&S) cost estimates for the LCS do not account for the cost implications of its revised maintenance approach. Specifically, the Navy has not assessed the cost implications of its revised maintenance approach, and thus lacks a clear picture of its impact on O&S costs. Some of the Navy’s O&S actual cost data are also incomplete and inaccurate. For example, the Navy reported on each O&S cost element for the seaframes in its Visibility and Management of Operating and Support Costs database, but it reported only on the maintenance cost element for the mission modules. Further, the Navy does not report maintenance costs separately for each mission module, but instead totals those costs for all mission modules and divides by the number of seaframes in the fleet. Without complete and accurate cost data, the Navy is at risk of failing to anticipate O&S cost increases that could create challenges in funding LCS as intended or delivering capabilities when expected.

Finally, the Navy has not updated its O&S cost estimates to reflect its revised operational and sustainment concepts and has not incorporated actual cost data into some of its estimates. Without complete information on the cost of implementing the revised operational and sustainment concepts, and the use of actual cost data, the Navy will not be able to analyze the differences between estimates and actual costs—important elements for identifying and mitigating critical risks to the LCS.

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Report on Virginia-class Attack Submarine Program

The following is the Feb. 17, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress. From the report The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 34 have been procured through FY2021. Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have […]

The following is the Feb. 17, 2022, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

The Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 34 have been procured through FY2021. Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have been procured at a rate of two per year. Virginia-class boats scheduled for procurement in FY2019-FY2023 are being procured under a multiyear procurement (MYP) contract.

Most Virginia-class boats procured in FY2019 and subsequent years are to be built with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), an additional, 84-foot-long, mid-body section equipped with four large-diameter, vertical launch tubes for storing and launching additional Tomahawk missiles or other payloads. When procured at a rate of two boats per year, VPM-equipped Virginia-class SSNs have an estimated procurement cost of about $3.45 billion per boat.

The Navy’s proposed budget requests the procurement of the 35th and 36th Virginia-class boats. The two boats have an estimated combined procurement cost of $6,915.8 million (i.e., about $6.9 billion). The two boats have received $1,888.3 million in prior-year “regular” advance procurement (AP) funding, and $778.2 million in Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) funding, which is an additional kind of AP funding that can occur under an MYP contract. The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests the remaining $4,249.2 million needed to complete the two boats’ estimated combined procurement cost of $6,915.8 million. The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget also requests $2,120.4 million in AP funding for Virginia-class boats to be procured in one or more future fiscal years, bringing the total amount of procurement and AP funding requested for the Virginia-class program to $6,369.6 million (i.e., about $6.4 billion).

The Navy’s current force-level goal, which was released in December 2016, calls for achieving a maintaining a fleet of 355 manned ships, including 66 SSNs. On June 17, 2021, the Navy released a long-range Navy shipbuilding document that calls for a Navy with 321 to 372 manned ships, including 66 to 72 SSNs, plus additional large surface and underwater unmanned vehicles (UVs).

Under the Navy’s FY2020 30-year (FY2020-FY2049) shipbuilding plan, SSNs would be procured at a steady rate of two per year. The June 17, 2021, document suggests that the SSN procurement would eventually be increased to something more than two boats per year.

Potential oversight issues for Congress regarding the Virginia-class program include the SSN force-level goal and procurement rate, the industrial-base challenges of building both Virginia-class SSNs and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) at the same time, the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on submarine construction, and cost and schedule risk in building the latest (i.e., Block V) version of the Virginia-class design.

Download the document here.

Report to Congress on Navy Force Structure

The following is the Feb. 9, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress. From report The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the U.S. […]

The following is the Feb. 9, 2022 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress.

From report

The current and planned size and composition of the Navy, the annual rate of Navy ship procurement, the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, and the capacity of the U.S. shipbuilding industry to execute the Navy’s shipbuilding plans have been oversight matters for the congressional defense committees for many years.

In December 2016, the Navy released a force-structure goal that calls for achieving and maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. The 355-ship goal was made U.S. policy by Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of December 12, 2017). The Navy and the Department of Defense (DOD) have been working since 2019 to develop a successor for the 355-ship force-level goal. The new goal is expected to introduce a new, more distributed fleet architecture featuring a smaller proportion of larger ships, a larger proportion of smaller ships, and a new third tier of large unmanned vehicles (UVs).

On June 17, 2021, the Navy released a long-range Navy shipbuilding document that presents the Biden Administration’s emerging successor to the 355-ship force-level goal. The document calls for a Navy with a more distributed fleet architecture, including 321 to 372 manned ships and 77 to 140 large UVs. A September 2021 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that the fleet envisioned in the document would cost an average of between $25.3 billion and $32.7 billion per year in constant FY2021 dollars to procure. These figures, the report states, are 10% to 43% higher the $22.9 billion in constant FY2021 dollars that Congress has appropriated, on average, for all Navy shipbuilding activities over the past five years.

The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests the procurement of eight new ships, including two Virginia-class attack submarines (SSNs); one Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) class destroyer; one Constellation (FFG-62) class frigate; one John Lewis (TAO-205) class oiler; two TATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships; and one TAGOS(X) ocean surveillance ship. The total of eight new ships requested for FY2022 is one more than the total of seven new ships that were projected for FY2022 under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, about two less than steady-state replacement rate for a 355-ship Navy (which is about 10 ships per year), and four less than the 12 new ships shown in a long-range shipbuilding document that Trump Administration submitted on December 9, 2020.

The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $18.1 billion for construction of new ships within its shipbuilding budget (the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy, or SCN, appropriation account), compared with $17.8 billion for construction of new ships within the SCN account projected for FY2022 under the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission, $22.8 billion in FY2022 for construction of new ships within the SCN account in the December 9, 2020, document, and an enacted FY2021 total of $20.1 billion for the construction of new ships within the SCN account.

The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s force-level goal, its proposed FY2022 shipbuilding program, and its longer-term shipbuilding plans. Key questions for Congress include the following: Is the Navy’s emerging force-level goal appropriate for supporting U.S. national security strategy and U.S. national defense strategy? Is the more distributed fleet architecture envisioned by the Navy the most cost effective fleet architecture for meeting future mission needs? Is the Navy’s proposed FY2022 shipbuilding program consistent with the Navy’s emerging force-level goal? Given finite defense resources and competing demands for defense funds, what is the prospective affordability of the Navy’s shipbuilding plans? Does the U.S. shipbuilding industry, including both shipyards and supplier firms, have adequate capacity for executing the Navy’s shipbuilding plans?

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