Navy Shipbuilding Plan a Non-Starter
Navy acquisition chief John Young is pushing an acquisition model for Navy ships that is well suited to the needs of the moment, but does not match Congress' concept of the future Navy, according to a defense analyst.and
"What [John] Young wants will be less and less relevant to this because Congress has run out of patience," said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.
Young is proposing to take funds earmarked for FY '07 and FY '08 and give half to Northrop Grumman and half to General Dynamics so that both can build a ship. The contract award would then take place in FY '09.and
"There are so many uncertainties, so many variables," [defense analyst Bob Work] said. "It's staggering, it's a mess. You don't know who is in charge or who'll build the ship."
The Navy needs to begin designing warships that don't cost billions of dollars and are not so technologically cutting edge, Thompson said. Additionally, "the Navy doesn't appear to be able to stick with a plan from year to year."
Some in Congress have stressed that the Navy needs to refine the requirements it wants for DD(X). Adding all the cutting edge technologies is one factor that has led to driving up the cost of DD(X) to more than $3 billion, lawmakers have maintained.
The Navy needs to step back and agree on what it needs for DD(X), Taylor said. "It seems every couple of weeks [the Navy] is adding new requirements," Taylor said. "At some point the Navy has to say 'this is what [DD(X)] will look like.'"
DD(X) is a science project, and Congress thankfully doesn't appear in the mood to fund a $3.3b science project.
Update: A second article in Defense News expresses similar sentiments:
“[This program] is insane,” said one congressional source, whose sentiments were echoed by industry officials. “I do not see how that’s a solution to anything.”and finally the comment that most everyone actually in the fleet makes,
“Many of the [Navy’s cost] estimates are too optimistic,” said Bob Work, a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. “You can’t recapitalize the fleet with surface combatants that cost $3 to $4 billion,” the estimated cost of the first DD(X) destroyers.
“We went from an unaffordable 375-ship Navy — the plan two years ago — to an unaffordable 260- to 325-ship Navy,” said the congressional source. “They can cut the costs down, but they haven’t come close to approaching a plan that is going to be realistically affordable.”
The Navy also is pushing too hard for advanced technology when no nation comes close to matching today’s U.S. warships, Work said. “The Navy is programmed to get a better
ship that outclasses every potential opponent,” he said. “But when you’re sitting on a lead, this is kind of the NFL champions trading up to play a PeeWee league. Would you able to beat the PeeWee league without that? I think the answer is yes.”