WASHINGTON - The Pentagon says it will have to cut $66.2 billion from modernization accounts between FY16 and FY19 if sequestration remains in place, according to a new report, 'Estimated Impacts of Sequestration-Level Funding', released earlier this week.
UH-60M Black Hawk
Source: U.S. Army
Overall, the DoD's FY15 budget plan exceeds sequestration limits by $115.2 billion between FY16 and FY19, almost two-thirds of which is located in modernization accounts. Another third is in the DoD's operations & maintenance budget. Every service will be hit if spending caps remain in place, which would reduce topline budgets by $26.4 billion for the Army, $34.6 billion for the Navy, $36.2 billion for the Air Force, and $18.0 billion for Defense-Wide agencies.
The $66.2 billion in modernization cuts includes $48.3 billion for procurement and $17.9 billion for RDT&E. Procurement accounts would fall by around $16.7 billion in FY16, $13.3 billion in FY17, $10.6 billion in FY18, and $7.7 billion in FY19. RDT&E would be reduced by $3.8 billion in FY16, $4.4 billion in FY17, $4.7 billion in FY18, and $5.0 billion in FY19.
If sequestration remains in place over the Future Years Defense Plan, the DoD says it will cut 15 F-35As and two F-35Cs, 61 UH-60 Black Hawks, 67 AH-64 Apache upgrades, 45 UH-72As that were added in FY16, seven CH-53Ks (delaying the start of procurement by one year), 11 H-1 upgrades, six P-8As, five KC-46As, 38 MQ-9s Reapers, and ten MC-130Js. The Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter would also lose $957 million through FY19. The Air Force has also said it would have to eliminate its KC-10 tanker fleet, divest the Global Hawk Block 40 fleet, and divest the Predator fleet beginning in FY16.
The Navy would cut three DDG 51 destroyers under sequestration, one each in FY17, FY18, and FY19. One Virginia class sub would also be cut in FY16. Some $977 billion would be cut for the Ford class aircraft carrier. The Navy says it would also consider transitioning its T-AO(X) oiler replacement program to a leasing arrangement, with $1.8 billion being cut from the program through FY19. The Navy also says it would cut seven operational surface combatants in FY19.
Continued sequestration would also result in the loss of 585 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles through FY19, as well as $518 million for the Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle. AIM-120D AMRAAM procurement would be slashed by 531 missiles and 17,095 Joint Direct Attack Munitions would be cut. The Air Force would also buy one fewer GPS III satellite in FY17, and $1.3 billion would be cut from the Adaptive Engine program.
Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall recently said it was likely that future DoD budgets would not adhere to sequestration levels, according to a report from InsideDefense.com. His comment suggests that the administration will continue to seek as much funding as it deems necessary to carry out the National Security Strategy. Congress has shown no signs of reversing sequestration, however, meaning that this tenuous budget battle over sequestration caps may become a new annual tradition.