Congressional Budget Office estimates cost of naval aviation fleet replacement

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has announced the purchase of new aircraft to maintain the aviation fleet of the Navy and Marine Corps at its current size is estimated at USD 380 billion (in 2018 dollars) from 2020 to 2050, the office said.

Annual costs would range from USD 7 billion to USD 17 billion.

The Department of the Navy´s current aviation fleet consists of about 4,000 aircraft. Approximately 1,400 are fixed-wing fighter/attack aircraft, another 1,350 are helicopters or tiltrotor aircraft, and 750 are training aircraft. The remainder are surveillance, communication, cargo, or utility aircraft. In this report, CBO projects the costs that the Department of the Navy–which comprises the Navy and the Marine Corps–would incur to maintain the size and composition of that force through 2050.

The projections are based on the assumption that the department will implement its currently planned aircraft procurement programs and replace aircraft for which it has not yet specified plans at the end of their typical service life. The projections do not take into account the costs of development, operation and maintenance, modifications, or personnel associated with aircraft.

CBO´s projections of procurement schedules and costs are based on documents from the Department of Defense (DoD), such as Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) submitted to the Congress or other publicly articulated plans. When such information was not available (for example, for programs far into the future), CBO based its projections of procurement schedules and costs on the estimated retirement ages and costs of the aircraft being replaced. Some of those estimates are based on the costs of aircraft procured by other military services or on commercial aircraft costs. When a replacement aircraft is expected to have increased capability, CBO´s estimates reflect the cost of that increase.