Manned & unmanned aircraft procurement & modernization: FY 2018 DoD budget

WASHINGTON. Funding slated for major aircraft and related systems totals $49.9 billion under the Department of Defense (DoD) Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 acquisition funding request an increase of $4.6 billion from the FY 2017 request.

This funding request is detailed in the DoD’s “Program Acquisition Cost by Weapons System” booklet, which details programs that have been designated as Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs). Of the Trump Administration’s $208.6 billion FY 2018 budget request, $94.9 billion, or 46 percent is designated for key MDAP programs.

Aircraft and related systems funding includes procurement of 70 jets, 29 logistics support aircraft, 198 helicopters, and 50 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). In addition, the funding in this category 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

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter () consists of three variants: the F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL), the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (), and the F-35C Carrier variant (CV). FY 2018 Program: Continues development of the air system, F135 single engine propulsion system, and conducts systems engineering, development and operational testing, and supports Follow-on Modernization. Procures a total of 70 aircraft: 46 CTOL for the Air Force, 20 STOVL for the Marine Corps, and four CV for the Navy in FY 2018. FY 2018 funding requested is $10.837 billion down from $11.323 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The is a tilt-rotor, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft designed to meet the U.S. military’s amphibious/vertical assault needs. FY 2018 program calls for funding the first year of a follow-on seven-year multiyear procurement contract (FY 2018 to 2024), procuring six CMV-22 aircraft for the Navy. FY 2018 funding requested is $961.8 million down from $1.822 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The 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 2018 program funds the remanufacture of 48 AH-64D aircraft to the AH-64E configuration and 13 New Build AH-64Es in the second year of a five-year multiyear procurement (MYP) contract (FY 2017 – FY 2021) and continued development of upgrades to enhance operational capabilities. It also procures two AH-64E aircraft in the Overseas Contingency Operations request. FY 2018 funding requested is $1.441 billion down from $1.840 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The UH-60 is a twin engine, single-rotor, four bladed utility helicopter that is designed to carry a crew of 4 and a combat equipped squad of 11 or an external load as much as 9,000 lbs. The FY 2018 program calls for funding the procurement of 48 UH-60M aircraft in the second year of a follow-on five-year multiyear procurement (MYP) contract (FY 2017 – FY 2021). It also funds the continued development of upgrades to the UH-60L Digital, now designated as the UH-60V. FY 2018 funding requested is $1.059 billion down from $1.352 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The P–8A Poseidon is multi-mission platform designed to replace the P-3C Orion propeller driven aircraft. The FY 2018 program procures seven aircraft, support equipment, spares, and advance procurement for FY 2019 aircraft. It also continues research and development on the P-8A capabilities to meet the (ASW), (ASuW), and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance () objectives that will be delivered incrementally while full rate production continues for the baseline aircraft. FY 2018 funding requested is $1.609 billion down from $3.267 billion in the FY 2017 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 2018 program calls for procuring fourteen E/F model aircraft, which will lessen the shortfall in Naval combat aircraft. FY 2018 funding requested is $1.253 billion down from $2.504 billion in the FY 2017 request.

(LRS) is intended to counter post-2020 challenges to the DoD’s power projection capabilities. The FY 2018 program looks to continue engineering and manufacturing development of the next generation B-21 and upgrades to modernize legacy strategic bombers. FY 2018 funding requested is $2.945 billion up from $2.241 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The F-22 Raptor is a fifth generation air superiority aircraft fighter. The FY 2018 program continues planned modernization for F-22 aircraft via incremental capability upgrades and reliability and maintainability improvements. It also continues development and testing of advanced air superiority capabilities to include integration of AIM- 120D and AIM-9X, additional electronic protection, and improved geolocation. The program completes fielding of Increment 3.1, enhancing Global Strike capabilities such as Small Diameter Bomb I, (SAR) and geolocation. FY 2018 funding requested is $915.5 million up from $704.4 million in the FY 2017 request.

Unmanned platforms

The U.S. Air Force and the Army MQ-1C Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) are comprised of aircraft configured with a multi-spectral targeting systems (electro-optical, infra-red (IR), , and infrared illuminator) providing real-time , weapons, data links, and ground control stations with providing line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight control. The FY 2018 program calls for funding test and evaluation efforts associated with the MQ-1 Gray Eagle Extended Range engineering change proposal. The Army plans to procure 11 UAS in FY 2018, which is the last planned year of procurement for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle. FY 2018 funding requested is $174.4 million down from $308.1 million in the FY 2017 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), (), and SAR sensor payloads, , data links and weapons; a ground control segment consisting of a launch and recovery element, and a element with embedded line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications equipment. The FY 2018 program funds the continued development, transformation, and fielding of Reaper aircraft and ground stations. The base request includes the procurement of 10 dual ground control stations, and continues the modification of MQ-9s to the extended range configuration. The OCO request includes the procurement of 32 additional aircraft, updated multi-spectral sensors, and payload modifications. FY 2018 funding requested is $1.008 billion down from $1.053 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The U.S. Air Force RQ-4 , Navy MQ-4C Triton, and NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) UAS programs provide high altitude long endurance ISR capabilities. The FY 2018 program for RQ-4 funds 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. For MQ-4C it funds the procurement of three low rate initial production (LRIP) systems, and continues to fund development activities associated with software upgrades and the multi-intelligence effort. Total FY 2018 funding requested for these platforms is $1.282 billion up from $1.213 billion in the FY 2017 request.

The RQ-7 Shadow, RQ-11 Raven, RQ-20 Puma, and RQ-21 Blackjack UAS platforms provide organic reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition (RSTA) capabilities. The FY 2018 program calls for funding upgrades to system hardware and payloads for the RQ-7 Shadow. It also procures upgrades and provides training and contractor logistics support for the RQ-11 Raven. The program procures RQ-20 Puma systems for the Marine Corps and Special Operations Command. It procures a total of 4 systems and provides contractor logistics support for the RQ-21 Blackjack. Total FY 2018 funding requested for these platforms is $129.7 million down from $522.4 million in the FY 2017 request.