The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Emerge as the Navy Sets New Priorities
The U.S. Navy has killed some programs and accelerated others as it restructures its budget priorities. Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy, gave the West 2011 Wednesday luncheon audience a bluntly candid assessment of which systems worked, which didn't and were canceled, and which are on probation. One of the key systems killed was the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. While it had a troubled history, it was going well recently, but the Navy-acting on a recommendation from the commandant-killed the program because it was going to eat up too much of the Corps' budget in the future. Work reported that it would have consumed 50 percent of all Marine Corps procurement funds-100 percent of Marine Corps historical vehicle expenditures-between 2018 and 2025. Work was much harsher in his explanation of why the Navy canceled the ALQ-99 jamming pod for the EA-18G Growler aircraft. "The Growler is a good aircraft, but the ALQ-99 is a piece of crap-the polite thing to say is that it's reaching the end of its service life," Work declared to an attentive audience. "Instead, we'll have something better for the Growler." The F-35B short takeoff vertical landing aircraft program is having problems, and it has been put off two years so that its problems can be fixed. Work expressed confidence in that decision, saying, "We are absolutely convinced that we will fix the problems in the F-35B." But Work waxed eloquent about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which is proceeding with two vastly different production designs. Calling it "one of the most misunderstood ships in the Navy," he nonetheless praised both its capabilities and its program structure. Having two companies concurrently producing LCS ships at the current schedule has saved the taxpayer $2.9 billion, Work stated. Three missions that used to require different classes of ships have been combined into one, and he is confident it will work well. And, if one particular LCS design proves to be faulty or insufficient, the Navy can redirect its acquisitions to the other shipbuilder.