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FY 2010 Defense Bill Wrap-Up January 21, 2010

Posted by Stephen Abott in Analysis.
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Source: DOD

About this time last year, Budget Insight examined the critical FY 2010 defense budget issues facing Congress and the newly-elected administration.  With the last of the FY 2010 appropriations bills passing last month, what happened?

Budget Insight predicted that Secretary Gates and the Administration would likely attempt to curtail some “low hanging fruit” procurement programs instead of tackling some of the structural budget problems endemic to the DOD. Overall, we were correct. Base pay increases, medical costs, and other expanding parts of the defense budget were not tackled as the DOD and Congress focused on modifying or canceling troubled procurement programs.

Below is a short rundown of programs cut or curtailed in the FY2010 budget and their outcomes.

Overall: The DOD’s budget increased modestly, with major additions to military pay.  While much of the war funding was included in the FY 2010 budget, additional funding for troop increases in Afghanistan is expected. In total, Congress provided $636.3 billion for the defense budget, including $128.2 billion in war funding.  The defense bill increased by nearly 2 percent over the FY 2009’s $625.3 billion.  As the President promised, the defense budget request did include war funding.  However, Obama’s recent announcement of deploying 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan has not been included in FY2010 funding, necessitating a FY 2010 supplemental appropriations bill.   Moreover, Congress increased military pay well above inflation, expanding it by 3.4 percent; this is 0.5 percent more than the administration’s request. Overall the FY 2010 budget had more transparency and slightly higher funding levels than previous years; however, emergency supplemental appropriations are needed to pay for additional war efforts.

F-22 Raptor: Program was ended after some extension of production. The FY 2010 budget limited production of the F-22 Raptor, after efforts by proponents in both chambers to extend the government’s purchase. Secretary Gates, in his April 6th speech, began the effort to end the F-22 program. Despite his attempt, the F-22 Raptor production line was expanded by 4 aircraft in the second FY2009 supplemental budget. After nearly three decades of R&D and production, the Congress ended the F-22 program.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Program was accelerated, but production and R&D delays led to the procurement of some unexpected replacements. Secretary Gates proposed an accelerated F-35 procurement schedule to offset the ending of the F-22 Raptor and his decision to retire some of the DOD’s oldest fighter aircraft. The final bill included funding for more F-18 fighter variants than the administration proposed, intended in-part to make up for F-35 production delays. The Congress also succeeded in thwarting administration efforts to end the second F-35 engine development program. The long-troubled F-35 program gained new importance in 2009, but its troubles led the Pentagon to buy planes that will plug the holes the JSF made.

Future Combat Systems (FCS): Cancelled, but technological offshoots will continue. Concurring with Secretary Gates’ request, Congress ended the FCS system. Some of FCS’ most promising technologies are still being developed in a reconstituted and smaller FCS-like land warfare program. FCS-related technologies saw their funding decrease by $1.1 billion compared to FY2009. The nearly decade-old program was disassembled with many of its parts being reconstituted to drive Army technological development forward.

DDG-1000 Zumwalt Destroyer and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS): DDG-1000 was ended while the LCS is continuing with some program changes. Congress approved funding to complete the last DDG-1000 Destroyer, cutting the program from seven ships to three. Because of the DDG-1000’s cost, Congress restarted funding for the still venerable DDG-51 Ticonderoga class of destroyers. Despite massive cost overruns, Congress funded the procurement of two of the small and comparatively inexpensive LCS. This is one less than the administration’s proposal and includes major R&D funding to help right the program. The DDG-1000 proved too expensive a platform, the Navy will revert to the DDG-51 for the time being. The LCS program is still moving forward but continues to experience R&D and production problems.

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