U.S. lawmakers want the Navy to address a standing requirement for additional P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The service included six P-8As in its FY20 budget request, which would complete the planned buy of 117 aircraft. The Navy actually has a warfighting requirement for 138 P-8As, but the 21 aircraft needed to meet that requirement are currently not a part of the formal acquisition plan. However, the Navy did include two aircraft in its FY20 unfunded priorities list in support of a larger fleet. The unfunded priorities lists are used to outline requirements that were unable to make it into the budget request. Lawmakers reference these lists as they complete their budget markups.
The 21 P-8As needed to meet the Navy’s warfighting requirement include a dozen aircraft to recapitalize two Marine Patrol and Reconnaissance squadrons in the Navy Reserve, which are still flying the P-3C Orion. Those units will be decommissioned by 2023 unless they receive new aircraft.
The House Appropriations Committee went a step beyond the Navy’s FY20 wish list by adding three P-8As in its markup of the FY20 defense spending bill, released earlier this month. The committee also directs the Navy to submit a report to Congress within 90 days of the legislation being signed into law that outlines a plan to recapitalize the two Navy Reserve squadrons with P-8A aircraft by 2023, the date at which the Reserve P-3Cs will reach the end of their service lives.