WASHINGTON – The stunning growth of the Chinese fleet over the past decade has prompted the US Navy to plan a full-on buying spree of ship-killing missiles over the next five years, according to projections in the sea service's Fiscal Year 2021 budget documents.
The Navy's proposed 2021 budget calls for buying 850 missiles between the years 2020 and 2021 with the sole function of seeking and destroying enemy ships at range.
By comparison, the 2016 budget request contained just 88 sole-purpose anti-ship missiles to be procured across a five-year plan.
By requesting to boost its stealthy missile inventory by 48 weapons, the Navy's inventory will increase 50%, with plans to order 48 annually for the next four years, according to the service's Fiscal Year 2021 budget documents.
The service wants to start buying significant numbers of the Naval Strike Missile, which is the Kongsberg/Raytheon ship-launched over-the-horizon ship-killer.
Keltz, who said he had concussion symptoms for days, is among 109 soldiers diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries in the wake of last month's attack, a figure that has steadily risen as more troops report symptoms and get medical screening.
More than a week after the attack, on Jan. 16, Defense Secretary Mark Esper was made aware that soldiers had suffered brain injuries from the missiles, the Pentagon said.
The number is likely higher because the Pentagon only counts as one injury cases where a soldier suffers brain trauma in multiple incidents.
U.S. troops operating drone flights appeared to have suffered the most brain injuries during the attack on al-Asad, said Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Garland, who was on the base at the time.
The number of troops diagnosed with brain injury from last month's attack was expected to stabilize near the current count, one U.S. official said.