The United States Navy is trying to make up for severe readiness shortfalls in its aviation maintenance and readiness levels in the Presidents 2019 budget proposal.
“In aviation readiness, our aircraft depot maintenance is funded to max executable capacity, which, this year, increases to 92 percent of the requirement,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Brian E. Luther told reporters. “This request increases slightly from Fiscal Year 18, and our increased capacity is largely due to investing in people, yet we remain limited by space and older tooling, in which we continue to invest.”
Naval aviators will get the maximum amount of money that they can absorb. “The Flying Hours Program is funded to a maximum executable level of 95 percent of the requirement,” Luther said. “This request decreases slightly from Fiscal Year 18 as a result of lower cost per hour and the Navy's divestiture of legacy Hornets.”
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Aviation logistics will get a plus up. “This request continues to build on our 18 request, and adds additional funds to critical aviation logistics and maintenance accounts, such as aviation logistics, aviation support and aviation spares, which are funded in APN,” Luther said. “The aviation logistics account increased 11 percent, to a high of 98 percent of the requirement. The $173 million increase provides for maintenance costs associated with more F-35s, KC-130Js and MV-22 aircraft entering the fleet.”
The Navy is also investing to improve aircraft availability and solve a series of hypoxia-like incidents that has plagued the fleet. “Additionally, this request continues to invest in aviation support accounts to improve aircraft availability, and also includes an increase to support aircrew systems physiological episode mitigation efforts,” Luther said.
The Navy is also working to ensure depot throughput is as fast as it can be. “Program-related engineering and logistics is funded to 100 percent of the requirement,” Luther said. “This account also funds critical chain initiatives to improve depot throughput and increased hiring of planning, engineering and maintenance support manpower to align the workforce to the projected workload.”
Perhaps most importantly, the Navy is investing in acquiring a cache of spare parts to alleviate shortages. “Our aviation spare funding increases from 91 percent to 95 percent of the requirement,” Luther said. “Given that our aviation support or enabling accounts have all increased, it's important to note the true output metric is flying hours. Flying hours are flown daily, and are significantly impacted by CR levels of funding. On-time enacted budgets are critical to our readiness recovery.”
Hopefully, the new budget should put the Navy on a road to recovery.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.
Image: Creative Commons.