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Budget request could delay carrier refuelling to free money for other programmes

25 January 2019
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The USN's budget request may delay funding for the midlife overhaul of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75). Source: USN

The proposed US Navy (USN) fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget, expected to be released in February, will likely seek to delay an upcoming aircraft carrier refuelling and complex overhaul (RCOH) to free the money required for the costly project and shift those funds to more urgently needed equipment and systems, according to sources familiar with the carrier work and budget process.

A carrier's RCOH marks the ship's operational midlife nuclear reactor refuelling and extensive overhaul of major vessel systems. It takes several years to plan and execute and can cost about USD3 billion.

What the FY 2020 budget likely will propose, sources told Jane's , is that a carrier RCOH be delayed beyond the six-year period detailed in the Future Year Defense Program (FYDP). This would make some or all of that money available for other programmes during that time period.

In essence, one of the biggest-cost items in the USN budget could become a bill-payer for other programmes. For example, sources, told Jane's , the USN is looking at freeing up more money for unmanned systems.

The USN has declined to comment on any proposed budget issues, calling any information "pre-decisional" until the spending plan is released. All carrier RCOHs are done by Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) at its Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia, and HII officials also declined to comment.

It is unclear at what stage a carrier RCOH could be delayed and how much funding could be diverted.

RCOHs take place on a schedule, based on when they entered USN service, to retain the legally required number of carriers in the fleet.

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