Statement By SASC Chairman John McCain on U.S. Navy Fleet Architecture Studies
(Source: US Senator John McCain; issued Feb 10, 2017)
WASHINGTON, D.C. ­-– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ new U.S. Navy fleet architecture studies.

The studies are available here, here, and here:

“Nearly two years ago, I called for studies of U.S. Navy future fleet platform architectures in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 for three primary reasons. First, 11 Navy combatant ship classes begin to retire in large numbers between 2020 and 2035.

“Second, other world powers are challenging our Navy’s ability to conduct sea control and project power.

“Third, as the Columbia-class submarine program proceeds, it is projected to consume the equivalent of one-third to one-half of the historical shipbuilding budget, which is already insufficient to meet the Navy’s desired force levels. Given the confluence of these three trends, now is the time for Navy leaders to consider a broad range of future fleet architecture options and set the Navy on the proper course for decades to come.

“Yesterday I received the three studies, which are an impressive body of work that Navy leaders must draw upon to increase the warfighting capability and capacity of the future fleet. Performed by a Navy team, the Mitre Corporation, and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), the studies were independent yet reached many similar conclusions, including the need for:
-- “a significantly larger fleet compared to today’s 275 ships;
-- “naval forces to operate in a more distributed manner;
-- “increased use of unmanned systems;
-- “smaller aircraft carriers;
-- “increased lethality of weapons systems; and
-- “adjustments to naval aviation, logistics, future surface combatants and amphibious forces.

“Furthermore, two of the studies call for transitioning from variants of the Littoral Combat Ship to a more capable Frigate as quickly as possible.

“I am particularly impressed with the comprehensiveness of the CSBA study, which should serve as the starting point for the new administration’s review of naval forces. The study clearly recognizes the great power competitions at hand and the imperative to deter great power conflict. It proposes necessary new strategic, operational, basing, and force structure recommendations that deserve immediate consideration by Navy leaders.

“My recent white paper ‘Restoring American Power’ has much in common with these studies and recommendations. The question now is what tangible steps Navy leaders will take to turn these recommendations into reality. I look forward to reviewing their proposals and working with them to build the future fleet.”


Navy Future Fleet Platform Architecture Study
(Source: The MITRE Corporation; dated July 01, 2016)
The FY16 National Defense Authorization Act Section 1067 directed the Secretary of Defense to perform three independent studies of alternative future fleet platform architectures for the Navy in the 2030 timeframe.

In response, the Chief of Naval Operations Director of Assessment Division, OPNAV N81, asked the MITRE Corporation's National Security Engineering Center (NSEC), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), to deliver one of the three studies. The due date to submit this study to the congressional defense committees was originally specified as 1 April, 2016, one month after MITRE's actual funded start date of 29 February.

MITRE was subsequently authorized a 90-day extension with a final report due date of 1 July, 2016. At the request of OPNAV N81, MITRE also submitted an interim report on 22 March, 2016.

The future international security environment continues to be complex and uncertain. The current Department of Defense (DoD) planning, programming and budgeting process is being redirected by the national security challenges posed by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and the Islamic State.

The U.S. and its allies have maintained a decisive technological advantage for more than 40 years, but this advantage is rapidly disappearing as the guided missile age reaches full maturity. Missile speeds, elusiveness, and precision – for example – all continue to increase. Coastal defense missile batteries can cover a radius of 700 or 800 miles today, compared to 70 or 80 miles just a few years ago. Supersonic anti-ship missiles that currently travel at Mach 2 will be supplanted by hypersonic missiles that will travel at speeds well in excess of Mach 5. As the costs of these weapons become increasingly inexpensive, they will continue to proliferate and adversary inventories will continue to increase.

Advances in sensor technology, including new passive and active methods, and its commercialization enable detection and targeting at extreme ranges. Weapons with extended ranges are not fully effective unless an adversary can also identify targets at these ranges. In the past, nations spent enormous resources to build sensing capabilities that are commercially available today. For example, BlackSky plans to launch a sixty satellite constellation by 2019 that will provide in excess of 40 re-visits per day in the equatorial region [1]. The Navy should continue to invest in capabilities to prevent adversary targeting, but cannot rely on ships remaining hidden for extended periods in a 2030 environment.

The Navy’s current force structure is essentially a scaled down version of the balanced force that exited World War II. This forces consists of attack submarines; aircraft carriers; large and small surface combatants; amphibious ships; and combat logistics. The only fundamentally new platform since World War II is the ballistic missile submarine, which is part of the nuclear triad.

Force structure decisions based on the post-Cold War peace dividend do not reflect the current national security environment. In 2014, OPNAV N81 completed a force structure assessment to determine 2030 fleet warfighting requirements. After reviewing the original 2012 N81 analyses and the 2014 update, MITRE assessed the force structure needed to defeat one and deter another near-peer adversary in a revised scenario, which is more representative of the current world situation.

Table 1 shows the expected FY30 force with the current 30-year shipbuilding plan, results of the OPNAV N81 force structure analysis in 2014, and the excursion performed by the study team using the N81 approach. Details of the excursion are contained in the classified annex. While this force structure level is not recommended, it does imply that the current Navy force structure and capabilities would not be sufficient to meet the DSG given the current world situation.

Navy’s budget is insufficient to fund required force levels. The Navy’s budget is insufficient to develop, procure, operate, and sustain all the forces need to meet the revised defeat / hold scenario force structure. In addition, budget instability forces the Navy to make acquisition decisions that undermine affordability initiatives.

By the end of 2016, the national debt will be $20 trillion dollars – more than triple what it was on 11 September 2011 – and for the last four years, the Navy has been operating under reduced top-lines and significant shortfalls. There will likely continue to be increasing pressure on the procurement accounts, which in turn threatens the near-term health of the defense industrial base.

Click here for the full report (76 PDF pages) released on the website of US Senator John McCain.


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