DoD fighter, bomber, UAS, helicopter budget procurement highlights

WASHINGTON. Funding slated for major aircraft and related systems totals $55.2 billion under the Department of Defense (DoD) Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 acquisition funding request an increase of about $6 billion from the FY 2018 request. Included below are updates on programs such as the F-35, B-21 Bomber, F-15, V-22 Osprey, the AH-64E Apache, and more.

This funding request is covered in the DoD’s “Program Acquisition Cost by Weapons System” booklet, which lists funding for programs that have been designated as Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs). Of the Trump Administration’s $236.7 billion FY 2018 budget request, $92.3 billion is designated for key MDAP programs.

Aircraft and related systems funding includes procurement of 77 F-35, 24 F/A18E/F jets, 39 logistics and support aircraft, 191 rotary wing aircraft, and 66 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). In addition, this category's funding provides for the development of aircraft related technology, the procurement of aerospace
equipment and systems, various modifications to existing aircraft, and the procurement of initial spares.. Program highlights are below. To read the entire booklet, click here.

MANNED PLATFORMS: Fixed-wing programs

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) consists of three variants: the F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL), the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL), and the F-35C Carrier variant (CV). FY 2019 Program: Continues systems engineering, development and operational testing, and supports Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2) to provide incremental warfighting capability improvements to maintain joint air dominance against evolving threats. Procures 77 aircraft in FY 2019: 48 CTOL for the Air Force, 20 STOVL for the Marine Corps, and 9 CV for the Navy. FY 2019 funding requested is $10.693 billion down only slightly from $10.838 billion in the FY 2018 request.

The F-15 program consists of the F-15C/D, a twin engine (F-15C single seat; F-15D dual seat), supersonic, all-weather, day/night, air superiority fighter and The F-15E, a twin engine, two seat,supersonic dual-role, day/night, all-weather, deep interdiction fighter with multi-role air-to-air capabilities. The FY 2019 program continues funding for the F-15E Radar Modernization Program (RMP), which replaces the legacy radar using existing technology from other aviation platforms and solves parts obsolescence problems to provide improved reliability and performance (increased synthetic aperture radar range and resolution), including air-to-air and air-to-ground modes. It also continues the F-15 C/D radar upgrade program, which replaces the mechanically-scanned antenna on F-15C/D aircraft with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) and technology maturation efforts for the aircraft's Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) which is intended to improve F-15E survivability by enhancing the ability to detect, deny, or defeat air and ground threats. The FY 2019 program also provides for the development of an Infrared Search and Track System intended to provide an air-to-air targeting capability in a radar denied environment. FY 2019 funding requested is $1.067 billion up from $963 million in the FY 2018 request.

The P–8A Poseidon is multi-mission platform designed to replace the P-3C Orion propeller driven aircraft. The FY 2019 program calls for procurement of ten P-8A aircraft, support equipment, spares, and advance procurement for FY 2020 aircraft. Continues research and development on the P-8A capabilities to meet the ASW, ASuW, and ISR objectives that will be delivered incrementally while full rate production continues for the baseline aircraft. FY 2019 funding requested is $2.219 billion up from $1.609 billion in the FY 2018 request.

The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet is a carrier-based multi-role tactical fighter and attack aircraft. Two versions are being produced: the single-seat E model and the two-seat F model. The FY 2019 program procures 24 E/F model aircraft and advance procurement for future aircraft as part of multiyear procurement contract (FY 2019 - FY 2021). FY 2019 funding requested is $1.996 billion up from $1.253 billion in the FY 2018 request.

B-21 Raider, formerly known as the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program, is is a new, high-tech long range bomber that will eventually replace a portion of the Air Force’s bomber fleet. The B-21 will be a key component of the joint portfolio of conventional and nuclear capable deep-strike capabilities.. The Air Force plans to procure a minimum of 100 aircraft. The FY 2019 program looks to continue engineering and manufacturing development of the B-21. FY 2019 funding requested is $2.314 billion up from $2.004 billion spent in FY 2018.

The F-22 Raptor is a fifth generation air superiority aircraft fighter. The FY 2019 program continues critical planned modernization for F-22 aircraft via incremental capability upgrades and key reliability and maintainability improvements; continues the evolutionary modernization effort through incremental development phases that enhance the F-22 anti-access/area denial, air superiority and global strike capabilities; continues Increment 3.2B modernization, to include integration of AIM-120D and AIM-9X, additional electronic protection, and improved geolocation; and begins the Sensor Enhancement new start program to upgrade various F-22 sensors to meet advanced threats in 2025 and beyond. FY 2019 funding requested is $867 million down from $015.1 million in the FY 2017 request.

Rotary-wing platforms

The V-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft designed to meet the U.S. military’s amphibious/vertical assault needs. The FY 2019 program funds the second year of a follow-on seven-year multiyear procurement contract (FY 2018 to 2024), procuring seven CMV-22 aircraft for the Navy. FY 2019 funding requested is $1,280.1 billion up from $961.8 million in the FY 2018 request.

The AH-64E Apache program is a parallel new build and remanufacture effort, which integrates a mast-mounted fire control radar into an upgraded and enhanced AH–64 airframe. FY 2019 program provides funding for the remanufacture of 48 AH-64D aircraft to the AH-64E configuration and 12 New Build AH-64Es in the third year of a five-year multiyear procurement contract (FY 2017 – FY 2021) and continued development of upgrades to enhance operational capabilities. FY 2019 funding requested is $1.271 billion down from $1.442 billion in the FY 2018 request.

The UH-60 Black Hawk is a twin engine, single-rotor, four bladed utility helicopter that is designed to carry a crew of four and a combat equipped squad of 11 or an external load as much as 9,000 pounds. The FY 2019 program funds procurement of 49 UH-60M aircraft in Base and 1 combat loss in OCO, in the third year of a follow-on five-year multiyear procurement contract (FY 2017-FY 2021). Also funds procurement of 18 upgrades of UH-60A helicopters to UH-60V. Total FY 2019 funding requested is $1.420 billion up from $1.059 billion in the FY 2018 request.


The U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator and the Army MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) are comprised of aircraft configured with a multi-spectral targeting systems (electro-optical, infra-red (IR), laser designator, and infrared illuminator) providing real-time full motion video, weapons, data links, and ground control stations with communications equipment providing line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight control. The FY 2019 program calls for funding continued development of advanced MQ-1 Payload sensors; procures four Gray Eagle UAS in FY 2019 base funding and six Gray Eagle UAS in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to replace three combat losses and three UAS in anticipation of future losses. FY 2019 funding requested is $114.7 million down from $174.4 million in the FY 2018 request.

The U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper UAS program is comprised of an aircraft segment consisting of aircraft configured with an array of sensors to include day/night full-motion video (FMV), signals intelligence (SIGINT), and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor payloads, avionics, data links and weapons; a ground control segment consisting of a launch and recovery element, and a mission control element with embedded line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications equipment. The FY 2019 program funds the continued development, transformation, and fielding of Reaper aircraft and ground stations. The base request includes the procurement of eight UAS, nine dual ground control stations, and continues the modification of MQ-9s to the extended range configuration. The OCO request includes the procurement of 21 additional aircraft, updated multi-spectral sensors, and payload modifications to replace eight combat losses and 13 anticipated losses. The total FY 2019 funding requested is $911.7 billion down from $1.009.9 billion spent in FY 2018.

The U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk, Navy MQ-4C Triton, and NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) UAS programs provide high altitude long endurance ISR capabilities. The FY 2019 program for MQ-4C funds the procurement of three systems, and continues to fund development activities associated with software upgrades and the multi-intelligence effort. Funding RQ-4 provides for the development and modification efforts for the Block 30, Block 40, Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) Increment II, various sensor enhancements; and the U.S. contribution to the NATO AGS. Total FY 2019 funding requested for these platforms is $1.161.6 billion up from $1.225.3 billion spent in the FY 2018.

The The U.S. Navy MQ-25 Stingray Unmanned Carrier Aviation (UCA) program is rapidly developing an unmanned capability to embark as part of the Carrier AirWing (CVW) to conduct aerial refueling and provide Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability. The MQ-25 will extend CVW mission effectiveness range and partially mitigate the current Carrier Strike Group (CSG) organic ISR shortfall. As the first carrier-based Group 5 Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), the MQ-25 will pioneer the integration of manned and unmanned operations, demonstrate complex sea-based UAS technologies and pave the way for future multi-mission UAS to pace emerging threats. The MQ-25 was previously funded under the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program. The program is expected to enter into Engineering and Manufacturing Development(EMD) in the fourth quarter of FY 2018. The President’s Budget request accelerates Initial Operating Capability (IOC) two years to FY 2026. The FY 2019 program begins to ramp-up efforts on the airframe, propulsion, avionics, and payload. Efforts include design, development, integration, fabrication, and testing. It also starts longlead procurement of hardware for four flying and two structural test air vehicles, and increases system engineering on the air vehicle. Total FY 2019 funding requested for these platforms is $684 million up from $222.2 million in the FY 2018 request.