US Navy plans for $81.4 billion to buy 38 warships over the next 5 years

The U.S. Navy will seek $81.4 billion to buy 38 warships, submarines and support vessels in the next five years, according to new budget figures from the service.

The plan calls for spending about $14.7 billion on seven vessels next year, $16.8 billion on eight in fiscal 2018, $16.2 billion on seven in 2019, $16.9 billion on eight in 2020 and $16.8 billion on eight vessels in 2021.

The first new Gerald Ford aircraft carrier will be commissioned this year and the second should be commissioned in 2020. The third new carrier is scheduled for a 2025 commissioning.

The new Navy plan proposes bankrolling one new frigate each in fiscal 2019 and 2020 and two in 2021, for a total of $3 billion. These are the first of as many as eight better-armored and more survivable versions of the Littoral Combat Ship that Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his predecessor Chuck Hagel directed to be built.

The Navy plans to hold a competition for the frigate program, selecting between Lockheed and Austal, which both currently build versions of the Littoral Combat Ship.

The five-year plan also updates funds earmarked to start work on replacing the Ohio-class nuclear missile submarine. The service plans to spend $9.25 billion through fiscal 2021, up from the $5.7 billion it planned to spend through 2020 in last year’s plan. The boost comes from $3.6 billion earmarked in 2021 to begin construction. The Navy last week announced that General Dynamics will be the prime contractor, with Huntington Ingalls the subcontractor.

The Littoral Combat Ship will be optimized for lethality and survivability.

The program is transition to a multimission frigate. The 40-knot sprint speed requirement will go away to allow for more armor, more weapons, an over-the-horizon missile and full-time anti-torpedo protection