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US Defense Budget Request 2019 - “Get Ready – Get Balanced – Get Bigger and More Lethal”

16 February 2018 Jane's Editorial Staff

Guy Eastman, senior analyst, defense budgets, Jane’s by IHS Markit

US President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 (FY19) discretionary Department of Defense (DoD) budget request (PBR) for $686.1 billion represents a $74 billion increase over FY18 levels and approximately 10% in terms of real growth.

The DoD budget has totaled $9.95 Trillion since 9/11. Areas targeted for growth in FY19 reflect the administration’s stated strategy to “get ready, get balanced and get bigger and more lethal.”

DoD growth areas:

Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen: The PBR requests an increase of 24,900 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen for Active Duty and Reserve Component purposes as measured from FY18 levels to the FY19 PBR requested level. The request includes a 2.6% increase in military pay levels - the largest pay increase in nine years.

Aircraft: The Army is requesting funds to procure 135 Helicopters and 210 UAVs (or ‘drones’) in FY19; the Navy and Marine Corps team is requesting funds to procure 120 Aircraft (including three MQ-4C Triton (BAMS) UAS systems); and the Air Force is requesting funds to procure 88 Aircraft and 78 UAVs in FY19.

Missile defense: Through the DoD’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) process and FY18 Emergency Budget Amendments for Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancement responding to the missile threat, missile defense funding is expected to grow from $7.9 billion to a $9.9 billion request in FY19 to ensure a focus on layered defenses for the US and its Allies. If funded to this level, that would represent a 25.3% increase in missile defense funding.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) request of $9.9 billion would fund high priority Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) programs, which include the MDA/Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense program for Aegis cruisers and destroyers and SM-3 missiles, the MDA/Army Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) System for US and Allies, and the MDA/Army Ground Missile Defense Mid-course (GMD) program to intercept and destroy incoming Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) launched at the US.

Space: To ensure the space capabilities of resilience, reconstitution and continuity of operations, DoD is investing in satellites for communications, Positioning, Navigation & Timing (PNT), persistent overhead IR, missile warning and space launch programs supporting operations in a contested space environment.

Naval shipbuilding: Continued Shipbuilding & Conversion, Navy (SC,N) account increases over last three years and increased new construction shipbuilding over time have moved the Navy closer to its future ship target of 355 Battle Force ships by the early 2050s. The Navy has published its Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for Fiscal Year 2019 of February 2018 which identifies its long-term plan for achieving that target and is included in the ‘Navy the Nation Needs (NNN)’ construct.

Nuclear deterrence: Continued investment and ongoing development of nuclear deterrence programs (B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber, B61 Bomb Tailkit, Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), Long Range Standoff Missile (LRSO), Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), Trident II Missile Mods and Navy’s Ohio Replacement Program (ORP)/SSBN(X)) have initiated the nuclear triad modernization program for strategic defense of the nation. The DoD has initiated these programs aimed at modernizing its nuclear triad of programs over the next couple of decades.

Cyber operations:

Dennis Murphy, senior analyst, cyber operations market forecast, Jane’s by IHS Markit:

In his briefing on the FY19 DoD Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) Monday, 12 February 2018, Comptroller David L. Norquist indicated that $8.6 billion in cyber operations funding was requested in FY19. This represents a year-on-year increase of 7.5% over the FY18 request of $8 billion and a five-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.84% (FY14-19).

Of note are new start program elements for assessments and evaluations of cyber vulnerabilities for each of the services and DoD. These assessments were directed by the FY16 and FY17 National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAAs) which required ‘assessments of major weapon systems and critical infrastructure.’ (DoD Budget Overview). As an example, the Army has requested $88.3 million in FY19 under this program element.

Potential issues facing US defense landscape:

  • Raising discretionary caps by $296 billion over two years will add to annual budget deficits. The cap increases on the defense side are +$80 billion in FY18 and +$85 billion in FY19, whereas the cap increases on the non-defense side are +$63 billion in FY18 and +$68 billion in FY19, totaling $296 billion in discretionary cap increases over the FY18-19 2-year span.
  • The resulting new cap levels for defense are $629.1 billion in FY18 and $647 billion in FY19.
  • FY19 budget addresses readiness improvements prior to follow-on FY20 FYDP to grow, to innovate, to become more lethal and to increase capability for long-term security
  • Superiority advantage decreasing - the US has enjoyed air and aerospace superiority for decades dating back to innovation in aircraft, stealth, sensors and links, and satellite systems along with the necessary training of military operators to make the systems work. Over time this advantage has eroded due to technology advances by adversaries and theft of US intellectual property.

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