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Navy: End strength to hold steady in fiscal '15

Mar. 4, 2014 - 07:48PM   |  
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) departs Changi Naval Base in June for a patrol in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The Navy requested $38.4 billion for shipbuilding, which includes three new littoral combat ships.
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) departs Changi Naval Base in June for a patrol in the Indo-Asia Pacific region. The Navy requested $38.4 billion for shipbuilding, which includes three new littoral combat ships. (MCS2 Class Toni Burton / Navy)
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Sailors will be spared the budget ax facing the other services in fiscal 2015.

Navy end strength will hold steady over the next year at 323,600. Sailors will avoid the drawdowns facing the Army and the Air Force, which will shed 20,000 and 17,000 billets respectively in fiscal 2015.

The serviceís $148 billion budget request, released Tuesday afternoon, calls for buying seven warships and 103 aircraft. It will also keep all 11 aircraft carriers, but will temporarily lay-up 14 ships until each receives its mid-life overhaul.

The Navy requested $38.4 billion for shipbuilding, which will pay for seven new ships and life extensions for four landing craft air cushions. The new ships include two new Virginia-class attack submarines, two new destroyers and three new littoral combat ships.

The service also plans to buy 103 new aircraft in fiscal 2015, down from the 162 it asked for in 2014, which began Oct. 1. Overall, the Navy pared back its procurement request from $43.5 billion in 2014, to $38.4 billion in 2015. Much of the reductions are to aircraft procurement, down nearly $5 billion from 2014.

The service also cut military construction funding, which is down more than $500 million from 2014 levels.

The Navy plans to leave 20 percent of needed ship and aircraft depot-level repairs unfunded, a result of a larger drop in the operations and maintenance account.

The service can expect more cash from overseas contingency operations funding, but Navy officials say that request hasnít been made yet.

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