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Wittman Leads Letter in Support of Block Buy for Aircraft Carriers in FY19

Wittman Leads Letter in Support of Block Buy for Aircraft Carriers in FY19

WASHINGTON – Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Bradley Byrne (R-AL), and Joe Courtney (D-CT), were joined by 127 Representatives in sending a letter to Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis supporting a block buy of two Ford-class aircraft carriers in FY2019.

“A dual procurement allows the Navy to build to a fleet of 12 aircraft carriers more quickly as prescribed by the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act – which established that the Navy should maintain 355 ships, including 12 aircraft carriers,” Rep. Wittman said. “A dual buy would be beneficial to both the taxpayers and our maritime industrial base as it shows that Congress is committed to the thousands of workers who work each day to build and maintain aircraft carriers. As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee I fully back this provision, and I thank my colleagues for supporting this national security priority.”

“Dual procurement allows our Navy to have the capabilities it needs to protect and defend this nation’s national security. A dual buy would provide predictability and sustainability to the shipbuilding industry. A more reliable procurement process will bring great benefits to the Navy’s shipbuilding programs, and save taxpayers’ money,” Rep. Scott said.

“If we are going to build a 355 Ship Navy, then we need to be smart and innovative in how we procure new vessels,” Rep. Byrne said. “An obvious step in the right direction would be a block buy for the Ford-class aircraft carriers. I am pleased so many of our House colleagues joined us in making this strong recommendation to the Pentagon, and I look forward to continue working in a bipartisan fashion to build a strong and fully capable naval fleet.”

“I was proud to help author this year’s National Defense Authorization Act which made it a national policy to pursue a 355-ship Navy,” Rep. Courtney said. “However, this will be a challenging undertaking and we have to be smart about looking for ways to streamline acquisitions and provide predictability to the industrial base. Purchasing ships and submarines in block buys has done just that, while providing significant savings to the taxpayer. If a similar arrangement would provide significant savings as we continue to modernize our carrier fleet, I would strongly encourage DOD to request the appropriate authorities in 2019.”

In addition to Wittman, Scott, Byrne, and Courtney, the letter was signed by Reps. Michael J. Conaway, Morgan Griffith, Bob Gibbs, Derek Kilmer, Duncan Hunter, Mike Rogers, Hank Johnson, Donald McEachin, Steve Chabot, Don Norcross, David G. Valadao, Gerald E. Connolly, Scott Desjarlais, John Rutherford, Scott Peters, Mike Turner, Robert Brady, Walter Jones, Sanford D. Bishop, Scott Taylor, Peter King, Ann Wagner, Mike Gallagher, Marc Veasey, Seth Moulton, Luke Messer, Susan Davis, Elise Stefanik, Marcy Kaptur, Bob Goodlatte, Ruben Gallego, Mario Diaz-Balart, Sam Johnson, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Brad Wenstrup, Dave Brat, Ryan Costello, Jacky Rosen, Jim Langevin, John Culberson, Vicky Hartzler, Ed Royce, Rick Larsen, Al Lawson, Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Tom Cole , Jackie Walorski, John Larson, Gregory W. Meeks, Richard E. Neal, Colleen Hanabusa, Adam Smith, Denny Heck, Anthony Brown, Eric Swalwell, Martha Roby, David P. Joyce, Bill Flores, Ralph Abraham, Adam Kinzinger, Trent Kelly, Steve Knight, Richard Hudson, Rosa L. DeLauro, Joe Wilson, Clay Higgins, Marcia Fudge, Joyce Beatty, Gwen Moore, Dave Reichert, Tom Garrett, Tom O’Halleran, Daniel Lipinski, Stephanie Murphy, Elizabeth H. Esty, Brendan F. Boyle, Doug Lamborn, Pete Olson, Tim Ryan, Salud O. Carbajal, Mike Kelly, Bill Shuster, Jimmy Panetta, Keith J. Rothfus, Rick Crawford, Suzan DelBene, Dan Newhouse, Mike Coffman, Thomas R. Suozzi, David B. McKinley, P.E., John Carter, Lloyd Smucker, Austin Scott, Ed Perlmutter, Evan Jenkins, Brian Babin, Rob Woodall, Andy Harris, M.D., Dina Titus, Jim Himes, Juan Vargas, Barbara Comstock, Karen Handel, Kyrsten Sinema, Steve Stivers, Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Charlie Crist, Bennie Thompson, Earl L. "Buddy" Carter, Sean Patrick Maloney, Brian Fitzpatrick, Liz Cheney, Paul D. Tonko, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jim Banks, Frank LoBiondo, G. K. Butterfield, Garret Graves, Darrell E. Issa, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Pramila Jayapal, Ralph Norman, Tim Walz, Steven M. Palazzo, Gregg Harper, Pete Aguilar, and Lucille Roybal-Allard.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Secretary Mattis,

As you continue preparation of the fiscal year 2019 Budget Request for the Department of Defense, we are writing to express our interest in a dual procurement of Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers in the upcoming fiscal year.

Over the last several months, both the Department of the Navy and industry have conducted analysis to determine the feasibility of dual procurement of CVN 80 (the future USS Enterprise) and the yet to be named CVN 81. We understand that initial cost savings estimates of $2.5 billion could be attained from a dual ship procurement when compared to single ship procurement with no additional future funding required beyond current Navy plans. We applaud the Department's willingness to examine smarter and better acquisition approaches that serve the interests of both our warfighters and taxpayers. Accordingly, if the Department of Defense concludes that these savings are attainable, we encourage the Navy to seek appropriate authorities to execute this dual procurement approach in the fiscal year 2019 budget request.

In addition to the potential cost savings, a dual procurement of aircraft carriers would enable the Department of the Navy to reach and maintain a fleet of twelve aircraft carriers more quickly than current plans. Our nation's carrier fleet is deployed worldwide and is extremely busy, with three of eleven carriers deployed and as many as seven carriers underway in recent weeks. Dual procurement of aircraft carriers will enable the Navy to better meet future combatant commander requests for aircraft carrier presence worldwide.

Finally, a dual procurement of aircraft carriers would send a strong signal to the shipbuilding industrial base about our national resolve to reach a 350+ ship fleet. With the massive consolidation of the shipbuilding industrial base over the last 25 years, the approximately 3000 remaining aircraft carrier suppliers nationwide will benefit greatly from the predictability and stability of the workload. Furthermore, we expect this approach will enable shipbuilding suppliers to create efficiencies and invest in their own businesses and therefore benefit other Navy shipbuilding programs as well.

In closing, given the potential savings available to the taxpayer, the benefit to our Navy from additional aircraft carrier force structure, and the predictability and stability to the shipbuilding industrial base, we believe the dual procurement of Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers in fiscal year 2019 should be considered. Therefore, we urge the Department to conclude its analysis of potential savings and, if validated, request all applicable authorities in the upcoming budget request for dual aircraft carrier procurement. Thank you for your consideration and your service to our country.

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

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