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US Navy develops options and ranges for future shipbuilding needs

The US Navy plans to build a hybrid fleet with additional unmanned platforms like Sea Hawk (foreground) and Sea Hunter. (US Navy)

Hoping to navigate between the need to develop a hybrid manned-unmanned fleet and the uncertainty of future threats, funding, and industrial-base limits, the US Navy (USN) has developed a trio of options for its proposed 30-year shipbuilding plan, which the service released on 20 April.

“No one can predict maritime security environment perfectly nor the industrial base or fleet to address it,” Jay Stefany, who is the acting assistant navy secretary for Research, Development, and Acquisition, told the media during a roundtable to detail the plan.

The proposed plan, officially called the ‘Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023', represents the “best thinking, given what we know about current funding levels in the FYDP (Future Years Defense Program)” that can sustain the industrial base, Stefany said.

The plan highlights “a couple of different looks of what 30-year outlook might be” that is fiscally constrained, he noted.

The shipbuilding plan includes procurement of nine manned ships in FY 2023 and 51 manned battle force ships within the FYDP.

“Based on the corresponding projected funding levels in the FYDP, the battle force inventory will be 280 manned ships by FY 2027,” the navy notes in the plan. “Without real budget growth, the two low-range options achieve 305–307 manned ships in FY 2035, and ultimately 318–322 manned ships in FY 2045.”

The higher range achieves 326 manned ships in the mid-2030s, and ultimately 363 manned ships in FY 2045. In addition, unmanned platforms will achieve 89–149 platforms in FY 2045 without real budget growth.

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