The decision to use the LPD-17 design as the baseline for the LX(R) has opened up a major discussion on the future size and composition of the U.S. Navy amphibious warfare fleet. This decision resulted from the Navy’s determination that the Ingalls Shipbuilding production line for LPD-17s is now working so efficiently that another ship could be ordered to bridge the gap between LPD-17 construction and the start of the LX(R) program. As a result, lawmakers provided $1.8 billion for LPD-29, the 13th ship in the class, in the fiscal year 2017 spending plan.
The U.S. Navy came out as the clear winner in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the FY16 defense authorization bill, receiving funding for additional aircraft, ships, and weapons. The results were more mixed for the Air Force and Army. The legislation, approved by the SASC on May 14 by a vote of 22 to four, supports the president’s budget request level of $612 billion for the Department of Defense and security programs in the Department of Energy. That level exceeds current defense budget caps, so the committee provides an additional $38 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which is not subject to spending limits. This move mirrors the GOP budget resolution, as well as the House’s version of the FY16 defense policy bill.