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Of 4%, Stimulus, and F-22s February 12, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Analysis.
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120px-the_pentagon_us_department_of_defense_buildingIn a recent newsletter, the Heritage Foundation examined Iran and economic policy vis-a-vis defense spending:

Today a conference committee in Congress is haggling over how to spend over $1 trillion in borrowed money for a supposed economic stimulus. Virtually none of it will go to protecting Americans. And it shouldn’t. Our national defense deserves a sustained 4% of GDP, not politically tinged stimulus bailouts. But the priorities portrayed by the Obama Administration and Congress in the stimulus package are worrying, as is their record on other defense issues so far.

They are looking to terminate the F-22, the only plane that can guarantee penetration of Iranian air defenses. And the Obama Administration said nothing when Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), declared, “We are going to cut weapons systems” and singled out the missile-defense program.

The most recent version of the stimulus plan calls for $11.3 billion in defense spending centered on O&M and military construction. These are monies which can quickly be expended in comparatively short-term projects and enacted in the coming year.

Current defense spending for FY2009 is $515 billion (including military construction), constituting 3.6% of America’s GDP of $14.3 trillion. With supplementals, the first tranche of which was over $60 billion and the second likely to be the same or higher, FY2009 defense spending will probably add up to 4.5% of GDP for the fiscal year.

The 184 F-22s currently budgeted have a production lead in time of approximately three years and minimal ground attack capabilities (2x 1000 lb GBU-32 JDAMs) – there has been talk of an FB-22 “Regional Bomber” with both longer range and enhanced bomb capacity, but such a platform is unlikely to be flown or procured in the near to mid-term as it is only in the conceptual phase. These stealthy aircraft also are of limited range while the 20 B-2 bombers in US inventories are both stealthy, long range, and carry a significant bomb payload.

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