Wednesday, February 10, 2016

After Drawdown, Marines Propose Investments in Aircraft, Training

Drawdown days are officially over for the Marine Corps. The service's fiscal 2017 budget request would keep the active-duty force at a steady state of 182,000 troops, a number projected to remain constant until fiscal 2021.
The Marines' base budget request of $23.4 billion represents a $169 million increase over the previous year, with an additional $1.6 billion in overseas contingency operations funding earmarked for operations and maintenance, personnel and procurement.
The spending plan calls for a significant investment in Marine Corps aircraft.
The service plans to buy its first two CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift replacement helicopters at a cost of $437 million as it continues to invest heavily in development for the airframe. The aircraft, which will replace the Marines' workhorse CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, is expected to reach initial operational capability by fiscal 2019. By 2021, the Corps plans to purchase 40 of the choppers.
The Marines will complete a five-year procurement contract for MV-22B Ospreys next year, with plans to buy another 16 of the tiltrotor aircraft. The service also wants to purchase 16 more F-35B Joint Strike Fighters as it prepares to deploy a first squadron of the fifth-generation fighters to Japan in early 2017. The budget includes funding for 24 new AH-1Z Venom helicopters, which replace AH-1W Super Cobras first introduced in 1986.
Ground vehicle procurement will also get a boost.
As part of a joint program with the Army, the Corps plans to buy 192 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles at a total cost of $113 million, up from 118 of the Humvee replacements in 2016. As development of the Marines' amphibious combat vehicle continues, the service plans to spend about $159 million to manufacture and deliver 32 test vehicles for the future armored personnel carrier. more