How much will President Obama spend on defense technology?

By Joseph Normandin

Posted by John McHale

The inauguration of Barack Obama is exciting as he is our nation's first black president. It makes me proud to be an American. However, practical questions remain about where he will spend money on defense .

A colleague of mine said he heard that defense spending under the Bush administration increased by about 73 percent. That trend is unlikely to continue under Obama.

In his inaugural address the new president said he will push to turn Iraq over to its own government in about 16 months, while renewing efforts in Afghanistan. However, even with a build-up in Afghanistan it is unlikely defense spending will increase or even continue at current levels.

What does this mean for defense electronics industry? Will less money spent on boots and bullets mean more dollars for research and development?

Will fewer troops on the ground favor funding for embedded electronics in reconnaissance and surveillance applications such as unmanned systems?

Many suppliers I talk to are cautiously optimistic based on their projected backlogs for 2009 and solid funding in the last budget of the Bush Administration. Come January 2010 will things be as positive? Will President Obama make deep cuts in his first defense budget, even canceling large programs such as Future Combat Systems? Or will he just cut back on procurement?

One of my conference advisory board members says he believes that it is republican administrations that cut programs, while democrats just cut back. That they are loathe to eliminate large programs as it could mean eliminating thousands of jobs.

While today was definitely a historic day for change, many defense industry players are nervous about how they will navigate potential changes to their market.

At an Army Aviation press conference I attended in October, one official was asked what funding will be like under Obama or his opponent at the time, John McCain.

He responded "your guess is as good as mine."

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12
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