Senators Kaine and Warner call for block buy of future aircraft carriers, could save U.S. billions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a bi-partisan showing, both Republican and Democratic Senators came together Thursday to sign a letter to the Defense Department in support of military spending that could save the U.S. billions of dollars long-term, according to a budget report for the 2017 Fiscal Year.

Virginia U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D) were among 15 Senators (7 Democrats and 8 Republicans) that are in support of block buying two aircraft carriers.

The support from these Senators was sent via a letter to Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis, expressing the full support in the Pentagon’s initiative to block buy two Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers in the 2019 fiscal year.

“Committing to a block-buy for the newest generation of aircraft carriers would save us both time and money while offering much needed stability to our shipbuilders in Hampton Roads and suppliers across the Commonwealth as they build the ships to meet our nation’s national security needs,” Kaine said. “It is critical that we ensure tomorrow’s Navy has the next-generation of warships necessary to meet challenges around the world, and this procurement strategy will ensure that our flexible force continues to be ready and agile.”

The block buying is being supported on Capitol Hill because some government officials think money could be saved by buying in bulk. Block buying could save the U.S. government anywhere between $1 billion to $2 billion dollars officials believe, according to the letter sent to Secretary Mattis and the Defense Department.

The amount saved would depend on how soon ships are purchased.

According to the letter to Secretary Mattis and the Defense Department, savings could be closer to $2 billion if procurement intervals between the ships are additionally shortened from five-year centers to three- or four-year centers, which would be consistent with the Navy’s goal of achieving and maintaining the 12-carrier force called for in the Navy’s 355-ship requirement.

This means that the buying of ships now and not waiting longer to do so, could save the U.S. a large chunk of change in the long run. Plus, meeting the required ship count is also important to Senators, which was expressed by Mississippi’s Republican Senator Roger Wicker.

“It is the official policy of the United States government – and in the interest of our national security – to meet the Navy’s requirement for 355 ships,” said Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS). “That requirement includes having a total of 12 aircraft carriers, which are the centerpieces of American power on the seas.  Attaining this goal is going to require better procurement strategies and use of taxpayer dollars. Secretary Mattis has my full support to move forward with a block buy for the next two Ford-class carriers.”

In the joint signed letter, members of the Senate brought up the fact that more ships may need to be required because of the growing demand of the U.S. Navy. Even bringing up that issues in the Pacific could be lessened with the creation of more ships.

“As recent events in the Pacific have shown, our nation’s carrier fleet is under considerable demand, with 3 of 11 deployed and 7 of 11 carriers underway in recent weeks.  A block-buy of Ford-class will help the Navy achieve its objective of 12 carriers that better meets combatant commander requirements and readiness goals to sustain worldwide operations,” read the letter to Secretary Mattis and the Defense Department.

In the letters ending, Senator’s stated that this would be a wise investment with precious military dollars as we, “look to the next 50 years.”

In a proposed budget by the Office of Management and Budget in 2016,  government officials suggested a discretionary spending budget of $608 billion to be spent on the U.S. military.

The same suggested spending report shows a decrease to $591 billion in 2019. This report was also under former President Obama’s administration, and not President Trump’s. It was also not a set budget and was a proposal.

Click here to read the full report for the 2017 Fiscal Year.