Good times continue for the U.S. defense industry, as Pentagon money continues to roll-in

April 2, 2019

Remember last year when we considered the 2019 U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget request to be one of the biggest of all time? Well fast-forward a year, and the 2020 military budget request is even bigger.

Last spring when top Pentagon leaders were asking Congress for $686.1 billion, many of us thought it would be the largest DOD budget we might ever see. At the time, it was a breath of fresh air, after what seemed like years of sequestration, and congressional continuing resolutions, things were finally were looking up.

Now comes the 2020 DOD budget request, and the news for the nation’s defense industry just keeps looking better. The Pentagon is asking for $718.3 billion next year, which is up 4.7 percent over the 2019 request — promising another record year for U.S. defense spending.

The 2020 budget focuses on technologies like unmanned vehicles and automation; artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning; hypersonic weapons; and directed-energy weapons.

Roughly 40 percent of the entire DOD budget goes for military electronics and related technologies, such as computers, sensors, communications, integrated circuits, electronic warfare (EW), surveillance and reconnaissance, and power electronics. That translates to about $288 billion for the defense electronics industry next year.

The electronics-heavy Pentagon budget for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) in 2020 is on the upswing, as well. DOD officials are asking Congress for $104.29 billion for RDT&E projects next year. That’s up 8.7 percent from the $95.96 billion DOD researchers received this year. Federal fiscal year 2020 begins next Oct. 1.

Enjoy the moment, Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist told the defense industry last fall.

So where’s all this money going? Here are some examples: cyber security and trusted computing would receive $9.6 billion next year, highlighted by $3.7 billion for offensive and defense cyberspace operations; $5.4 billion for cyber security; and $61.9 million to modernize the DOD general-purpose cloud computing environment.

Unmanned and autonomous projects would receive $3.7 billion; artificial intelligence and machine learning would receive $927 million; hypersonic weapons development would receive $2.6 billion; and directed-energy technologies like laser weapons would receive $235 million, according to DOD.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), one of the Pentagon’s premiere research organizations, would receive a 3.8 percent increase in 2020, up from $3.43 billion to $3.56 billion.

DARPA is asking for $512.4 million for network-centric warfare technologies — an 18.1 percent increase; $232.1 million for command, control, and communications systems — a 24.8 percent increase; $163.9 million for sensor technologies — an 11.7 percent reduction; and $128.6 million for advanced electronics technologies — a 15.8 percent increase.

U.S. Special Operations Command is asking for $245.8 million for aviation systems — a 39.8 percent increase; $167.6 million for operational enhancements — a 62.8 percent increase; $72.6 million for maritime systems — a 71 percent increase; $68.3 million for warrior systems — a 9.1 percent reduction; $42.4 million for unmanned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) — a 6.1 percent reduction; and $20.7 million for the MQ-9 Reaper surveillance and attack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) — a 12.5 percent increase.

Missile defense next year would receive $13.6 billion, including $1.7 billion for 37 SM-3 Aegis ballistic missile defense weapons; $1.5 billion for missile-defense studies; $1.7 billion for ground-based midcourse defense; $800 million for 37 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles; and $700 million for 147 Patriot advanced capability (PAC-3) missile enhancements.

There’s much more in the 2020 DOD budget. The defense industry can be grateful at least for another year.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor

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.

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