CAVASSHIPS Podcast [Mar 17, ’23] Ep:87 Bryan Clark on Budget, AUKUS & MQ-9 Mishap


Welcome to the CavasShips Podcast with Christopher P. Cavas and Chris Servello…a weekly podcast looking at naval and maritime events and issues of the day – in the US, across the seas and around the world. This week…It was budget week for the Pentagon, the week that an AUKUS submarine deal was announced between Australia, Britain and the United States, and a week that saw Russian fighter jets bring down a large US unmanned aircraft over the Black Sea. We bore into all that and look for deeper meaning with the always-perceptive naval analyst Bryan Clark.

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This Week’s Naval Round Up:

The Pentagon released its fiscal 2024 defense budget request on March 13, asking for more than $824 billion dollars, of which nearly $256 billion is for the Department of the Navy. Inside that Navy budget is a request for nine ships – including three submarines – and 88 aircraft, including 35 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 15 CH-53 Kilo helicopters and 10 large unmanned aerial vehicles. Stand by for more details in the discussion portion of this podcast.

Also on March 13, the heads of state of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States met in San Diego to announce the initial results of the AUKUS Australia-UK-US partnership. The major aspects of the deal will see the US selling three Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in the early 2030s. The AUKUS announcement received generally positive reviews in Australia, United Kingdom and the US but drew deep condemnation from the Chinese and Russian governments. Again, we’ll dive deeper into AUKUS in just a few minutes.

China, Russia and Iran on March 15 began a series of joint maritime exercises in the Gulf of Oman, all three countries announced. The exercises, dubbed Security Bond 2023, follow similar exercises held in 2022 and in 2019. Chinese and Russian warships were also recently in South Africa for exercises with that country’s military and naval forces. Meanwhile, the Middle East region’s largest maritime exercise, the U.S.-led International Maritime Exercises, wrapped up March 16 in Oman.

The 3-year-long Western Pacific deployment of two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned long-range surveillance aircraft was concluded in March, the US Navy announced March 16. Two Tritons in a baseline configuration known as Integrated Functional Capability 3, or IFC-3, were operated by Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 from Guam and Japan. The squadron will return later this year months with more MQ-4Cs upgraded to the IFC-4 configuration to carry out Initial Operational Capability assessment

Servello Squawk:

Given that this week was the intersection of the budget rollout and St Patrick’s Day I decided to take a different approach with my squawk.

Because I can’t buy each of you a green beer or a shot of Jameson,  I thought a Limerick might be a good way to humorously end the week…while still pointedly capturing my concerns with the budget.

Some will find this too cute or maybe even a bit irreverent…that’s ok…poetry isn’t for everyone.

So here goes…

“This year’s budget from DoD,

Doesn’t grow short term capacity,

More ships go away,

With few weapons for today,

Im still worried about China’s Navy’

Happy St Paddy ‘s Day and Slainte.”

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