Rep. Forbes: Navy may nix one aircraft carrier and delay another

Navy officials are considering removing one aircraft carrier from its plans as the Pentagon trims its budgets, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said Tuesday.

As the Defense Department and other national security agencies prepare to cut $400 billion over 10 years — and perhaps more — each military service will be asked to shrink its budgets. 

It remains unclear just how much the Navy will be directed to cut from its annual budget.

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During a House Armed Services Committee Readiness subcommittee hearing, Forbes said cuts of those sizes concern him. The potential ramifications on the sea service's fleet could be big, he said.

Forbes noted Navy officials are considering delaying buying the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) by two years, which was first reported by Defense News this month.

Then Forbes said he has heard the Navy also is considering stripping another future carrier from its long-term shipbuilding plan. That eyebrow-raising remark likely will send ripple waves across the Defense community

Lawmakers from districts and states that are home to U.S. carriers and their related industries are likely to make a lot of noise if such plans are included in the sea service's 2013 budget plan. 

Two senior admirals testifying at the session did not directly respond to Forbes's questions about either alleged change in aircraft carrier plans. 

The aircraft carrier JFK is expected to cost around $10.3 billion, according to a recent Congressional Research Service study. The following aircraft carrier, CVN-80, is slated for delivery in 2018 with a projected cost of around $13.5 billion, according to CRS.

While the services will do everything possible to spare hardware platforms, big-ticket items like aircraft carriers can produce big savings quickly. But, notably, ones that are planned could also be added back in down the road.