Pentagon Puts Money Behind Research in $750 Billion Budget Plan

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s $750 billion defense budget proposal calls for a shift into research and development and flat funding for procurement.

The Pentagon filled in details Tuesday on the funding for national security from the $4.7 trillion proposed budget for fiscal 2020 that the White House offered on Monday. It includes $104 billion for R&D, the most ever.

The president’s plan, expected to be spurned by Congress, would cut domestic programs while sidestepping limits on defense spending by pumping up a war-fighting fund that’s exempt from budget caps. The $165 billion request for the Overseas Contingency Operations fund is the biggest since the $187 billion requested in fiscal 2008, when the U.S. had 187,000 troops deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among past critics of using the war-fighting account as a “slush fund” are Mick Mulvaney, a former House member who’s now Trump’s acting chief of staff.

The Pentagon’s share of national security funding would be $718 billion, a figure representing 2.8 percent real growth over the budget enacted by Congress for the current year. Other funds go to purposes such as the nuclear weapons programs of the Energy Department.

The procurement request, including war spending, dips to $143.1 billion, from $144 billion that was requested for this year. The budget proposes $292.7 billion for operations and maintenance and $155 billion for military personnel.

Among the department-wide highlights:

  • $14.1 billion for space system investments;
  • $9.6 billion for enhanced offensive and defensive cyberspace operations and to improve resiliency of Defense Department systems;
  • $11.2 billion for purchases of 78 F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp., six fewer than planned for this year.
  • $3 billion for continued development of Northrop Grumman Corp.’s B-21 bomber, up from $2.2 billion approved by Congress for this year.
  • $2.6 billion in hypersonics research for Air Force prototypes and Navy and Army-launched “Conventional Prompt Strike” missiles.
  • $2.6 billion to begin construction of the third and fourth aircraft carriers in the Gerald R. Ford-class program put on contract as part of a two-carrier purchase estimated to save $4 billion.
  • $2 billion to continue purchases of Boeing Co’s F/A-E/F.
  • $1.7 billion for the Lockheed GPS-III constellation, including purchasing the first in a new order of 20 additional satellites Lockheed was awarded last year.
  • $1.6 billion to fund four competitive space launches likely to once again pit Elon Musk’s SpaceX against the United Launch Alliance owned by Boeing and Lockheed.
  • $1.5 billion to purchase six CH-53K heavy lift Marine Corps helicopters, three fewer than planned last year for a program experiencing major development difficulties.
  • $1.5 to purchase six P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance vessels from Boeing, three fewer than planned last year;
  • $1.3 billion to award the “detail design and construction” contract for the first new Navy frigate; the Navy next year is expected to announce a competition winner.
  • $1.1 billion in Air Force procurement funds to restart purchases stopped since 2001 of advanced F-15X fighters from Boeing, with the first eight of 80 sought next year.
  • $1.1 billion to buy 12 new Combat Rescue Helicopters, up from 10 approved by Congress this year, from Lockheed’s Sikorsky Aircraft unit.
  • $927 million to expand military use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • $386 million to restart Tomahawk missile purchases from Raytheon Co., with 90 for this year, after a hiatus of several years.

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