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May 13, 2004

Delay for DD(X) and LCS?

The House Armed Serices Committee has reported out H.R. 4200, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, with a unanimous 60-0 vote.  The committee authorized $422.2 billion for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. 

HR 4200 is expected to be considered on the House floor next week.

The committee recommends matching the Administration's request for procurement of three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. In addition, the committee recommends $100 million for the DDG-51 modernization program.

However, the committee has recommended delays on two programs widely viewed as transformational--the DD(X) and the LCS.

DD(X) is a multi-mission surface combatant ship tailored for land attack in support of a ground campaign and maritime dominance.  DD(X) will provide the technology and engineering baseline needed to meet future maritime requirements, and for development of a family of future ships, including the future cruiser CG(X) and the Littoral Combat Ship.

The committee says it "has strongly supported the DD(X) program since its inception," but is "concerned about the maturity of the advanced technology systems that will be a part of DD(X) and beginning construction of the ship before several of these systems complete land-based testing."

The committee believes that it would be prudent to delay beginning construction of the first ship until fiscal year 2006 and recommends a reduction of $221 million, the Administration's request for construction.  The committee does, however, recommend full funding for the DD(X) research and development.

The LCS will be a new class of Navy surface combatants and the smallest member in the DD(X) family of next generation surface combatant ships.  LCS will be fast, agile, stealthy, affordable, and tailored for specific missions such as anti-submarine, anti-surface, or mine warfare in heavily contested littoral waters, and will use interchangeable mission modules tailored for specific missions.

 Although the committee has in the past fully funded the Navy's budget requests for LCS, it says it "continues to have concerns about the lack of a rigorous analysis of alternatives, the justification for the number of ships sought by the Navy, and whether the program's acquisition strategy is necessary to meet an urgent operation need.  The committee is concerned about the Navy's ability to resolve the design, development, and evaluation of the mission modules before committing to the design for the LCS and beginning construction of the first ship." 

The committee recommends delaying beginning construction of the first LSC until fiscal year 2006.  The committee recommends $244.4 million ($107.7 million less than the Administration's request) to continue development of the LCS.

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