Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to appear before you to discuss the Department of the Navy's plan for Tactical Naval Aviation. I would like to update you on initiatives to ensure that Naval Aviation continues to fully support our expeditionary force strategy contained in the White Paper "Forward...From The Sea." The value of the inherent mobility, flexibility and adaptability of Naval Aviation forces continues to grow as a cornerstone of our National military strategy during a time of diverse threats and uncertain scenarios.
SHIFTING WORLD ORDER
"Forward...From the Sea" sets forth the Department's vision of Naval expeditionary force strategy by addressing the unique contributions of our forces in peacetime operations, crises, and regional conflicts. This document clearly defines the role of the Navy and Marine Corps for the next several decades.
In this regard, Naval Aviation is exactly on the right track. Our current and future plans provide for the right mix of flexible forces tailored for an uncertain future. Our Carrier Battle Groups and Amphibious Readiness Groups constitute the main battery of Naval Expeditionary forces. They are at the very heart of our Navy and Marine Corps mission. These formidable Naval combat units possess a vast array of aviation capability providing strike, support, surveillance and intelligence gathering for the fleets all around the globe. Indeed, Naval Aviation's inherent power, flexibility and adaptability are the core characteristics at the center of our naval strategy. "Forward...From the Sea" is a concept that is turned into reality on a daily basis just as it is occurring today near the Taiwan Straits, in the Arabian Gulf and in the Mediterranean Sea. The demand by our National Command Authority and Unified Commanders-in-Chief (CINCs) for a wide spectrum of warfighting capabilities in a dangerous and uncertain world is met every time, in every way by Naval Aviation. The Unified CINCs continue to be Naval Aviation's most important customers and our most ardent supporters.
As you know, the Bottom-Up Review concluded that the United States Navy needs 12 aircraft carriers and 11 carrier air wings. For Naval Aviation, this means fixed and rotary wing aircraft and ships that are expeditionary in nature; i.e., those best suited for power projection and joint strike, battle space dominance, command and control, force sustainment and forward presence. I believe we bring all of those characteristics to the joint arena in ample measure and that our future plans continue to set out the right mix of Naval Aviation ships, aircraft, systems and weapons.
Supporting our long-range vision for Naval Aviation is a well conceived acquisition strategy. We have crafted a plan that strikes a very careful balance between maintaining today's readiness, modernizing systems and aircraft, and planning for tomorrow's readiness through force recapitalization. Although future funding is always a serious concern, we will continue to aggressively pursue acquisition of the right mix of Naval Aviation capabilities in a prudent and cost-effective way.
Naval Aviation has moved responsibly to restructure itself within the environment of Defense downsizing. In order to meet mandatory budget reductions and to provide funding for Naval Aviation modernization, the Department has taken decisive measures. We have reduced force structure and associated infrastructure without jeopardizing our core warfighting capabilities or incurring an unacceptable level of mission risk.
This restructuring or "rightsizing glide slope" is almost over, however. Now is the time to focus and build for the future with such important programs as the F/A-18E/F, MV-22, and CVN-77. Additional Naval Aviation funding priorities are the Helicopter Master Plan; continued procurement of precision strike weapons; improved Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I); and Joint Strike Fighter research and development. With clear political support for a balanced budget, the inherent flexibility and value of Naval Aviation will provide the maximum "Bang for the Buck." I am certain that the competition for future defense dollars will create an even greater need and appreciation for the tremendous return on investment that Naval Aviation forces provide to our Nation's security interests.
In view of Defense budget projections, we are continuing with the following major changes:
- Leveling the carrier force to 11 active aircraft carriers and 1 conventionally-powered reserve/training carrier that will also be available for periodic deployments.
- Leveling the carrier air wing force level to 10 active and 1 reserve air wings. The reserve air wing has been restructured to reflect a more dynamic and functional strike-fighter mix.
- Reducing, in the near term, the number of tactical aircraft planned for each of our carrier air wings. This is based on the ability to meet presence requirements with a more efficient mix of strike-fighter aircraft. Carrier air wings will transition during this decade from a desired combination of 60 single and multi-mission aircraft to 50 multi-mission strike-fighters. This 50 aircraft strike fighter air wing will consist of three F/A-18 squadrons with a total of 36 aircraft and a single F-14 squadron of 14 aircraft. It is important to note that our air wings still retain the flexibility of previous years. We will continue to exercise the option of tailoring the specific composition of deploying air wings to meet task-oriented and geographical requirements for the Unified CINCs.
Continuing our list of changes and initiatives, we are:
- Removing A-6 aircraft from the active inventory by the end of FY 1997.
- Updating our most critical weapon systems such as the F/A-18, F-14, AV-8, E-2, and EA-6B, as well as incorporating safety and survivability upgrades to all aircraft.
- Recognizing the virtues and flexibility of carrier based air forces, we are integrating four Marine F/A-18 strike fighter squadrons and a Marine EA-6B Prowler squadron into Navy carrier air wings. In turn, we will provide Navy aircraft to support Marine commitments where necessary. That we can even contemplate doing this is strong testimony to the adaptability and professionalism of our Marine Naval Aviators and maintenance personnel.
- Supporting a variety of options for basing Navy and Marine Corps EA-6B squadrons in carrying out their critical emergent tasking as our Nation's tactical electronic warfare force.
- Emphasizing Joint Systems Development to support multi-mission aircraft and deploy weapon systems such as the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) Program, Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS), Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), and the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM).
- Expanding the roles and responsibilities of the H-60 helicopter series aircraft and moving toward a common SH-60 series.
- Reducing the Maritime Patrol forces to a level of 12 active and 8 reserve squadrons. This recognizes the reduced ASW threat, and allows us to retire older P-3B aircraft in our Reserve force and replace them with P-3Cs in order to avoid significant operating and maintenance costs.
- Adjusting pilot training rates to account for force structure reductions while reducing aircrew training pools.
- Making aggressive, yet sound, infrastructure reductions, including single-siting all tactical aviation Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) with the exception of the F/A-18 community which will remain at three FRSs.
- Continued active use of the reserve force which was recently tasked to provide a USNR EA-6B aircraft and crews aboard aircraft carriers off-shore Bosnia.
AIRCRAFT PROCUREMENT PLAN
Aircraft Procurement, Navy (APN) provides aircraft, spares, modifications, and support equipment for the diverse missions of Naval Aviation. Aircraft force structure and modernization have focused on multi-mission aircraft to meet Major Regional Conflicts (MRCs). All F/A-18 Series, F-14, H-60 series, E-2C, MV-22, P-3, S-3, ES-3, EA-6B and AV-8B have been, and remain high priority platforms. Of concern, the average age of all Naval aircraft continues to increase, achieving 17.4 years by FY 2000. Our APN account addresses the force level requirements of 10 active and 1 reserve carrier air wings, 12 active and 8 reserve MPA squadrons, 3 active and 1 reserve USMC aircraft wings, and all Naval Aviation supporting aircraft. Our APN modifications account also will cover the USAF EF-111A EW replacement requirements with USN/USMC EA-6Bs. Funding for Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) mission replacement helicopters is programmed late in the FYDP. We will also begin studies to determine a common follow-on airframe called the Common Support Aircraft, or CSA, to replace the S-3, ES-3, E-2, and C-2 aircraft.
The Navy Department's aircraft procurement budget submission for FY 1997 is $5.88 billion and is based on realistic defense spending projections. Of this amount, the budget provides $3.4 billion for procurement of 40 aircraft in FY 1997 which includes the remanufacture of 10 AV-8Bs as well as modifications and upgrades to other aircraft. The Navy budget rationale for aircraft procurement is based on our continued strategy to "neck-down" to two primary tactical strike aircraft, the F/A-18E/F Series and the F-14, and our long-term strategy to achieve an air wing composition of F/A-18E/Fs and the JAST derived Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
NAVAL AVIATION STRIKE FORCE PLAN
Clearly, the programming challenge for Naval Aviation is to restructure our forces for the 21st century in an era of scarce defense resources, to balance force structure with modernization, re-capitalization and readiness requirements and, most importantly, to avoid a hollow force structure. Past budget cuts and downsizing plans for the Department of the Navy, coupled with the redefinition of the Navy's air power role as described in "Forward...from the Sea" forced us to review the structure of our carrier-based strike force.
To remain within budget limits while maintaining the best possible fighting force on our forward deployed carriers and to maintain the unique power projection capability from the sea that separates us from other services, we are eliminating an entire type/model/series aircraft - the A-6E. To partially offset this loss of key warfighting capability until the arrival of the Navy's next generation strike aircraft, the F/A-18E/F and JSF, we are continuing modest strike upgrades as well as safety and survivability modifications to the F-14 aircraft. The proposed combat lethality and survivability modifications will enable a safe and effective, day/night smart weapon strike capability, fulfilling the Tomcat's potential as a self-escorting, multi-mission aircraft. F-14 precision strike upgrades will incorporate a FLIR/laser guided bomb capability which has already proved to be a force multiplier in the Bosnia peacekeeping efforts. These changes will result in a multi-mission carrier strike force of F-14s and USN/USMC F/A-18s and which expands the flexibility of our air wings and greatly enhance combat capabilities. Now I will briefly discuss our strike aircraft recapitalization for the 21st century.
CARRIER BASED AIR (F/A-18E/F & JAST)
An indispensable part of this recapitalization is the development and fielding of two platforms - the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the JSF. Together, these two aircraft will provide future Battle Group and Joint Force Commanders the flexibility to deal with any crisis in an uncertain threat environment.
The F/A-18E/F is our highest warfighting priority in Naval Aviation. It is a significant improvement to the demonstrated, combat proven excellence of the current F/A-18C/Ds being flown by our Navy and Marine Corps aircrews. Despite its proven combat capability, the C/D is approaching some limitations in the future battle space that the E/F will correct. These include: limited mission radius & endurance, insufficient carrier recovery payload, vulnerability in high threat scenarios and, most importantly, extremely limited potential for growth and flexibility - the key to exploiting full combat effectiveness from our future precision air launched weapons.
The F-18E/F will greatly expand on the proven capabilities of the C/D model as well as provide 90 percent commonality with C/D avionics, software, and weapon carriage. Mission radius will increase by 35 percent, endurance by 50 percent, and weapons carriage by 22 percent. The F/A-18E/F will carry an additional 3600 pounds of internal fuel, increasing target coverage by 52 percent. It will increase carrier recovery payload to 9000 pounds, a significant improvement in payload flexibility and bring back. The Super Hornet has enhanced self-protection capabilities through a balanced investment in signature reduction and self defense systems, increasing survivability by one order of magnitude. The E/F is optimized for high intensity power projection operations from both carriers and expeditionary airfields. In addition, an aerial refueling buddy store capability is included for added strike package flexibility. The FA-18E/F program is on schedule, on cost and is executable within the Congressionally imposed RDT&E cap of $4.88 billion. The first flight was flown in November, 1995 and the F/A-18E/F Program Team recently received the very first DOD Acquisition Excellence Award from Dr. Kaminski.
The JAST development is a joint Navy, Marine, and Air Force effort initiated to serve as DOD's focal point for defining future strike systems. The JAST program will identify, promote, and demonstrate key leveraging technologies for the reduction of life cycle costs for each services' next generation strike-fighter aircraft. The JAST derived Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will complement the F/A-18 E/F and will allow the Navy to transition to two tactical aircraft types. The JAST program Concept Demonstration Phase will commence in early FY 1997 with competitive award of two contracts for ground and flight demonstrations. The Navy is firmly committed to JAST as the key to fulfilling both the Navy's requirement for a "first day survivable, stand-alone, strike-fighter" and the Marine Corps' requirement to replace both their AV-8s and F/A-18s with a highly capable ASTOVL aircraft.
Together, the Super Hornet and JSF will optimize tactical Naval Aviation for the new direction envisioned in "Forward...From the Sea." They provide a flexible and dominant capability for any contingency. The cooperative interaction of these multi-role aircraft in the AAW role will ensure battle space dominance. Power projection is optimized by their unprecedented sortie generation rate and strike firepower in concert with other joint forces. Force sustainment is enhanced by the high reliability and survivability of both the E/F and the JSF. The F/A-18E/F and JSF are precisely the type of aircraft required to execute our Navy and Marine Corps strategy well into the 21st century.
As the Marine Corps' top aviation priority, the MV-22 is an integral component of our recapitalization plans. In order to conduct Operational Maneuver From The Sea (OMFTS), amphibious forces must be able to project forces inland at great distances from the shore, and continue to maneuver flexibly once over land. The MV-22 provides the precise solution to the problem of an aging H-46 fleet and meets the Marine Corps' requirement for Medium Lift. It represents significant improvement in comparison to current rotary wing technology and will provide the battlefield commander with increased tactical mobility, range, speed, and survivability. It will replace both the CH-46E and CH-53D, providing increased passenger and payload capacity, as well as increased growth potential for emerging missions.
TACTICAL AIRCRAFT MODERNIZATION
A centerpiece of Naval Aviation is a robust modernization program which enables us to maintain our warfighting edge. In addition to combat capability improvements, modernization allows us to incorporate new technology in our older platforms which increases their safety, reliability, effectiveness, and maintainability. Our primary modernization efforts are focused on the following platforms: the F-14, AV-8B, E-2C, P-3C, and EA-6B.
As discussed earlier, the F-14 aircraft will continue to be upgraded to partially compensate for the loss of the A-6 strike capability and to bridge the gap to an FA-18E/F and JSF carrier air wing. All necessary safety, structural, survivability, and interoperability improvements will be made simultaneously with the "precision strike" capability upgrade. This day/night precision strike capability (FLIR/laser) will significantly increase the number of true multi-mission aircraft available to the force commander and will add great flexibility to air wing operations.
To increase our Marines' expeditionary capabilities, the Department has embarked on a limited AV-8B remanufacture program that will provide 72 upgraded aircraft. This will enhance USMC night fighting/close air support capability, as well as provide inherent improvements in safety, reliability, and maintainability. The first aircraft was delivered in January of this year.
The E-2C aircraft continues to be a carrier battle group command and control mainstay and force multiplier. The E-2C Group II modernization program will enable the Navy to meet AEW mission requirement to 2015 and beyond, and will upgrade radar range and processing, connectivity, as well as incorporate GPS and structural and avionics improvements. Further improvements, including the addition of TMD Enabling Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and Mission Computer Upgrades, will increase the overall mission capability of the aircraft.
In recognition of an ever present foreign submarine threat and in working to improve our capability to meet Unified CINCs' requirements, the Navy Department has developed a modernization plan for our Maritime Patrol force. Our plan sustains operational capability, reduces multiple configurations, and provides system upgrades. A key element of the program is the Sustained Readiness Program (SRP) which will extend the projected operational airframe life of the P-3C an average of eight years. We are investigating additional options to safely and effectively extend the service life of the aircraft to 48 years. We also continue the conversion of the P-3C aircraft to one common fleet configuration, Update III. To ensure that the P-3C will remain highly effective in joint littoral and battle group operations, the Department also plans to modify a part of the force with an enhanced Antisurface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP), consisting of command, control and surveillance capabilities.
Our Nation's tactical jamming asset, the EA-6B, is an aircraft that remains the premier tactical electronic warfare platform in the world. Projected to be in the inventory until 2015, ICAP II (Block 89A) will require an upgrade planned to begin in 1998. Based on the Lower Cost Alternative to ADVCAP Study, planned modifications will address aircraft structure and supportability, as well as enhanced warfighting capabilities, including a receiver upgrade. Beginning this year, the EA-6B will assume the role of standoff jammer for the Air Force, as well as for the Navy and Marine Corps, totally replacing the EF-111A by the end of FY 1998. A Tri-Service Memorandum of Understanding covering this transition is due for signature by the Service Chiefs this month.
These key modernization programs, in conjunction with our new procurement plans, will result in a tremendous amount of capability for our forward deployed forces. They will ensure that Naval Aviation maintains its robust spectrum of crisis and warfighting capabilities in support of the Unified CINCs.
Despite all the post-cold war changes to our National and Naval Strategy, one element of our national security policy that has not changed is our continued reliance upon aircraft carriers. Each one of them represents "four and one half acres of American sovereignty," able to range over 70 percent of the earth's surface and to rapidly respond to regional crises. Our aircraft carriers with their embarked air wings are, and will continue to be, the centerpiece of the United States Navy. Since last year, we have again witnessed the utility of the aircraft carrier in our enforcement of the UN no-fly zones over the Adriatic Sea and the Balkans. Their participation in NATO air strikes in Bosnia was central to bringing the warring factions to the peace table. Most recently, our nation's response to increasing tensions in the Taiwan Straits was the stabilizing effect of immediately sending an aircraft carrier battle group with another on the way. In order to continue to meet National tasking with a carrier force level of 12 (11 active and 1 reserve/training), it is essential that follow-on planning for the next carrier begin now. Presently, a study of alternative aircraft carrier concepts for the 21st century is being planned to develop and assess a range of affordable technologies for future design aircraft carriers. In support of near and long term plans, the Future Carrier Project will define, develop and evaluate the key technologies for incorporation in future aircraft carrier platform design concepts (CVX) that will support deploying tactical Naval aviation in the future. Our ability to continue to provide the National Command Authority with a wide range of tailored response options in future crises rests on maintaining a modern and highly capable aircraft carrier fleet. They are the key to sovereign combat operations and crisis response throughout the oceans and seas of the world.
The same focused strategy that applies to aircraft procurement also pertains to our procurement of future weapons. Of specific note, nearly all future weapons will be jointly procured. Currently under development are two new families of precision guided weapons: the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW). These two programs are designed to significantly increase capability with precision accuracy and survivability with standoff, as well as to reduce the types of weapons in the Navy's inventory.
With the cancellation of Tri Service Standoff Attack Missile (TSSAM), we are also rapidly proceeding with a retrofit program to provide significant survivability and performance improvements. We are using the existing inventory of the Navy's only long-range, man-in-the-loop, air-launched standoff missile. The Standoff Land Attack Missile - Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) will provide precision strike against fixed, high value land targets and ships in port. Development of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) will also provide a Standoff Outside Area Defense (SOAD) weapon that can attack heavily defended, high value, time sensitive targets.
Additionally, we continue to integrate our precision strike weapons development efforts with our Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and C4I plans. This information integration will help to achieve synergism amongst all of the elements which comprise the Sensor-to-Shooter architecture developed by the Services and Joint Staff and which was recently approved by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC).
RESERVE FORCE INTEGRATION
With downsizing of the active forces, it has become even more necessary and critical to increase the contribution of our Naval Reserve forces to Naval Aviation. Our goal has been to expand the reserve mission from a mobilization force to one that is actively contributing to the daily operation of fleet missions. As a result, today Naval Air Reserve forces are more closely integrated with their active counterparts and providing more daily fleet support than at any time in fleet history.
Undoubtedly, the changes caused by reducing and reorganizing our forces cause turmoil and a certain amount of consternation among our fine Naval Aviation people. I want to emphasize that these people are clearly our most important asset. They make the machines of technology work, and work very well. We are not making reductions and changes to force structure without carefully considering the impact on our people. Every possible consideration has been given to transitioning personnel from those aviation communities most affected by force structure reductions to other aircraft communities. We have, for the most part, been very successful in doing this. Naval Aviation is the better for integrating fresh perspectives and ideas across aircraft community lines into traditional ways of doing business. We are absolutely committed to retaining, training and promoting our best and brightest. We remain committed to avoiding involuntary reductions in forces as we finish what has been the greatest changes in Naval Aviation in over 40 years.
In consonance with our commitment to our people, we are also committed to preserving a quality training program. Underscored by our continued success in recent operations, highly trained and motivated professionals remain the linchpin of a responsive, viable, and lethal force. As our force structure changes, we will continue to balance our program with the proper mix of classroom, simulation, and operational training. Technology and jointness offer efficiencies in these areas, and we intend to take full advantage of them. In the evolutionary process of maintaining a quality training program for aviation professionals, we allow our best and brightest men and women to achieve their full potential. We have accepted the challenges inherent in a much more technologically advanced force, and our training programs emphasize innovative computer technologies required by combat in the information age.
In summary, we are committed to maintaining robust Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary forces fully capable of operating "Forward...From the Sea." By capturing the savings realized by program reductions and selecting high priority investments, we will continue our procurement and modernization strategies. Through these efforts, we will ensure that Naval Aviation will always be a force in readiness, a forward force, able to respond with flexibility and lethal precision. By careful investment in emerging technology, we will take advantage of the ongoing revolution in military affairs - a revolution that we recognize is as much about people as it is about machines.
Naval Aviation has made extraordinary contributions to our national security in the past, and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In partnership with out sister Services and with the sustained support of Congress, we will continue to ensure that our Navy/Marine aviation forces lead the way, flexibly, affordably and, most importantly, successfully.