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US defense budget request – deep dive analysis

19 March 2018 Jane's Editorial Staff

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

The total US DoD FY19 budget request is $716 billion, comprised of $617.1 billion for the base budget, $69.0 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) ('warfighting') budget plus another $29.9 billion for other parts of budget function 050, including the national defense portion of the Department of Energy (DoE) budget and DoD mandatory spending (e.g., pension funds). The President's Budget Request (PBR) now goes to the Congress for review and adjustment prior to sending to the president to sign into law for budget execution beginning on 1 October 2018.

Key growth areas

  • The budget includes a request to increase military end strength by 25,900 troops (change from FY18 to FY19 over the total force, including active duty and reserve components). This would result in a total force of 2,155,800 active duty plus reserves. The FY19 budget includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the military, the highest percent pay raise in nine years.
  • The US nuclear deterrent force (Triad) modernization continues to gain traction with ample funding in the FY19 PBR for the following programs: 1) Air Force B-21 Raider Long-Range Strategic Bomber, 2) Air Force Ground-based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), 3) Air Force Long Range Stand-Off Missile, 4) B-61 Bomb, and 5) the Navy's Columbia-class Nuclear-powered Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine, and 6) Navy's Trident II D5 Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Mods. Funding for these programs plus some additional supporting programs equals about 5 percent of the DoD investment profile.
  • The Navy's shipbuilding budget for FY19 is $22.1 billion and $120.0 billion over the five-year Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). The shipbuilding plan includes ten new construction ships in FY19 and 54 new construction ships in the FYDP. The increase from FY18 to FY19 is a 6.0 percent increase, while the 5-year CAGR percent is 7.7 percent - a larger commitment to the shipbuilding plan than in the past.
  • The Science and Technology (S&T) Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) portion of the budget equals $13.7 billion, which is 14.8 percent of the total RDT&E budget of $92.4 billion. Specific technology areas quoted by DoD are: hypersonics, autonomy, cyber, space, directed energy, electronic warfare and artificial intelligence (AI).

Technology focus - hypersonic weapons

Dan Wasserbly, Americas editor, Jane's Defence Weekly

Development of hypersonic weapons, and defenses against those weapons, are given new life in the US DoD's FY19 budget amid concerns that peers such as Russia and China are advancing hypersonic technologies. China's DF-ZF (also designated the WU-14) and Russia's hypersonic 3M22 Zircon missiles - both still in development - are often raised as growing concerns.

The hypersonic weapon concept could have a non-ballistic flight over the majority of its journey (so it would not be confused with a nuclear-armed ballistic missile), positive control from launch to impact, and enough manoeuvrability to avoid restricted airspace or missile defenses. It could be nuclear-armed but would more likely be used for so-called prompt global strike missions or as a precision anti-ship missile.

Michael Griffin, the Pentagon's new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, on 6 March said his first technological priority is to develop hypersonic weapons and defenses against those weapons. Griffin suggested that funding for this priority could reside within the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Missile Defense Agency, or elsewhere, and some new budget lines could emerge in the FY20 budget.

Among other examples, in FY 2019 the Pentagon is requesting $263.414 million for its Conventional Prompt Global Strike project, a now-secretive effort that seeks to develop hypersonic weapons.

For its part, the Missile Defense Agency requested $120.4 million in FY19 for hypersonic defenses. This is for early stage work - it includes determining engineering needs and requirements, modifying existing sensor and command-and-control systems to account for hypersonic threats, and more.

Learn more about Jane's Defence Budgets or get in touch for more information.

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