Fears of Pentagon budget cuts next year are unfounded; the defense industry can breathe a sigh of relief

June 30, 2021
Spending request also is heartening news for technology development; proposes spending $112 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation.

THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY – The U.S. defense industry can breathe a collective sigh of relief after the first U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget request to Congress from the Biden Administration last month soothed fears of potential Pentagon budget cuts.

The Biden Administration is asking Congress to allocate $715 billion for the DOD budget in federal fiscal year 2022, which would be a modest increase of $9.6 billion over the 2021 request of $705.4 billion in the last year of the Trump Administration. Federal fiscal year 2022 begins next 1 Oct.

The military spending request also is heartening news for military technology development, and proposes spending $112 billion for defense research, development, test, and evaluation -- a 5.1 percent increase over 2021 -- which Biden Administration officials say would be the largest-ever Pentagon research budget.

In addition, DOD leaders say they plan to invest $874 million next year in artificial intelligence (AI)-related technologies to boost deterrence against potential adversaries like China, as well as to enhance efficiencies in computing, command and control, and logistics.

Related: Pentagon to spend $874 million on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies next year

Pentagon experts are asking Congress for AI funding in several projects. The Pentagon's AI efforts now number more than 600, which is up about 50 percent over current-year levels, DOD officials say.

In efforts to keep technological pace with China and other adversaries, DOD is leveraging technological advantages and investing in cutting-edge technologies like AI, hypersonic technology, cyber, and quantum computing, among others, according to DOD budget documents.

If this DOD budget request is any indication, then the nation's defense executives should have few worries over the course of Biden Administration's first term in office, which runs through 2024.

Some in the defense industry had feared that President Biden would give-in to pressure from some corners of the Democratic Party to move substantial chunks of money away from the Pentagon and reallocate it for domestic infrastructure and social programs.

Related: 2022 DOD budget proposes record spending next year for U.S. military research and technology development

The 2022 DOD budget request includes $20.4 billion for missile defense, which represents a slight reduction over the $20.9 billion enacted in 2021.

The budget proposes spending $6.9 billion for two new Virginia-class (SSN 774) fast-attack submarines in 2022, which would be a slight decrease from 2021's $7.2 billion. It also would spend $5 billion next year for developing the future Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, which is down from 2021's $4.5 billion.

In research and development, Pentagon experts are asking Congress for $111.96 billion, which would be a 4.2 percent increase from the $107.45 billion that Congress allocated in 2021.

One of the largest Air Force research programs is the future Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (NG OPIR) strategic missile warning system to blend mature resiliency features to increase survivability in a contested environment, for which Air Force experts want to spend $2.45 billion for advanced component development and prototypes.

Related: Naval aviation asks industry for research in artificial intelligence (AI), cyber, and hypersonic technologies

The U.S. Navy would spend $22.64 billion next year on technology research, up from $20.14 billion this year. The Navy wants to spend $134.3 million in operational systems development to upgrade and modernize the RQ-4 Global Hawk long-range surveillance unmanned aircraft; $133.5 million on anti-radar missile improvement; $132.2 million to upgrade the Tomahawk cruise missile and Tomahawk Mission Planning Center (TMPC); $176.5 million to improve the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system; $177.1 for strategic submarine weapons systems; and $114.5 million to improve the MK 48 advanced capability torpedo.

The U.S. Army wants to spend $12.8 billion on research next year, which is down from $14.14 billion this year. Included is $233.5 million for Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 - Block 1; $213.3 million for 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzer cannon improvements; and $211.5 million for combat vehicle improvement programs.

Army officials also want to spend $188.5 million for the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM); $111.5 million for hypersonic weapons development; $63.9 million for the Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS); $57.7 million for the AN/TPQ-53 counter-fire target acquisition radar system; $8.9 million for anti-tamper technology; $5.7 million for electronic warfare system development; and $1.2 million for a family of biometric systems.

Defense agencies within the Pentagon have asked Congress for $25.86 billion in 2022, which is down from current-year levels of $26 billion. The largest spender would be the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which has asked for $7.16 billion, which is down from $7.86 billion this year. Next is the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which has asked for $5.23 billion. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has asked for $3.53 billion, while the Space Development Agency has asked for $808.8 million; the Special Operations Command for $695.6 million; the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for $634.9 million; the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for $377.8 million; and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for $251.9 million.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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