DD (x), SSN (x) or NGAD, the US Navy will not be able to finance all 3 simultaneously

Despite having a single budget equal to that of Germany, France and the United Kingdom, the US Navy today faces a most complex planning situation. Indeed, after 30 years of budget errors and programs that are too ambitious and eminently costly for small operational applications, such as LCS corvettes, the Zumwalt destroyers or the nuclear attack submarines Seawolf, the United States Navy finds itself having to face many imperative programs to be financed to renew and modernize its equipment, and a federal budget already in high limit, not offering only low growth margins in the future. It is against this background that Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker wrote on 4 June a memo indicating that with the current budgetary forecasts for the 2023 budget, the US Navy could not simultaneously finance the three major ongoing R&D programs, namely the DD (x) program intended to replace the Arleigh Burke destroyers generation and Ticonderoga cruisers, the SSN (x) program intended to strengthen the US offensive submarine fleet, and the Next Generation Air Dominance or NGAD program, which bears the same name as the US Air Force's program without be attached to it, and who must design the replacement for the Super Hornet on board US Navy aircraft carriers.

In fact, the choice facing Pentagon strategists, the Biden administration, and Congress has already been partly cleaned up, since the SSBN (x) Columbia nuclear submarine-launcher program is sanctuary, as it is now necessary to replace the Ohio-class submarines dating from the 80s to maintain an effective deterrent posture. In addition, the US Navy will continue the ramp-up of the FFG (x) program of the Constellation-class frigates, which will strengthen the American surface battle corps, while the Ford-class nuclear aircraft carriers, carry them. -America-class helicopters, Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines and Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyers will continue to be produced, and that F35C stealth fighters, E-2D Hawkeye detection aircraft, aircraft P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol and MQ-25 Stingray air-to-air refueling drones will continue to be acquired. The US Navy will therefore be far from destitute, since from many points of view, each of these items of equipment represents the pinnacle of current technology, and is among the best existing military equipment.

On June 4, the first in-flight refueling of an F / A 18 F Super Hornet took place by an MQ-25 Stingray drone, marking a world first and opening the way for the imminent arrival of Boeing's drone within the US Navy

However, like the US Army and its BIG 6 program, and the US Air Force with NGAD, the US Navy is now spurred on by the tremendous progress made by the Chinese and Russian defense industries, both having filled in many areas their technological backwardness vis-à-vis the West in just a few years, and having been structured to offer significant productivity. In fact, if the Arleigh Burke Flight III, Virginia and other Super Hornets and F35Cs will still be able to hold out against Chinese and / or Russian forces in the years to come, it seems very likely that by 2030 or 2035 , these will be surpassed by the new generation equipment which will enter service in Beijing or Moscow. This is precisely where the Gordian knot lies for the United States Navy, which effectively needs these 3 programs by 2035, and which does not have fully satisfactory alternatives to date.


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