In an abrupt move, the White House has reportedly stepped in to include an extra Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to the US Navy’s 2018 budget, one day after the budget was released.
“They pulled that ship out of their asses,” said Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, in a CNN report.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sen. John McCain also said.
Navy officials were also taken aback, delivering contradictory statements while justifying their budget request.
Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley asserted their need for one LCS on Wednesday morning; however, by afternoon, a Navy acquisition official testified at a House panel that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget “endorsed” another LCS, according to CNN’s report.
“It was just an unorthodox process,” one source familiar with the situation told CNN. “Ultimately the decision to include two ships was made after the budget went to print so it had to be announced outside the normal budget document.”
Nearly a month before the budget’s debut, Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, implied that discussions for an additional LCS had ended: “The Navy doesn’t want them,” Mulvaney said in an interview.
The additional LCS would mean that the Navy would have to reconfigure its budget to account for its $US500 million cost. The Pentagon currently has plans to build a fleet of as many as 30 LCSs.
Produced by Lockheed Martin, the LCS’ smaller footprint makes it more manoeuvrable and is designed to be used near the coastline. It also comes in two variants and has the ability to detect submarines and employ countermeasures for mines.
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