The Clinton Administration's $5.1 billion request for extra defence spending to support the air war in Yugoslavia could become only a down payment to the long term cost of the conflict.

The supplemental spending is needed for US air operations until 30 September since the air war is estimated to cost between $700 million and $1 billion per month.

About $3.3 billion of the total would cover Kosovo military operations, while $623 million is earmarked to replenish stocks of Boeing AGM-86C Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles (CALCMs) and Raytheon BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) depleted by the Kosovo air campaign and December's Operation Desert Fox in Iraq.

Raytheon chief executive Dan Burnham told analysts on 22 April that he estimated Tomahawk production would boost turnover by $400 million and that overall defence spending rises could add up to 3% growth a year for the next five years at Raytheon Systems, the company's largest business unit.

The cost could rise, however, since NATO's top military commander has asked the White House for 300 more aircraft for use in Operation Allied Force against Yugoslavia. US Army General Wesley Clark is also seeking more aircraft from NATO allies.

The buildup would probably include Fairchild A-10 attack aircraft, Lockheed Martin F-16CJair defence suppression aircraft, Grumman EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, plus military tankers and transports.

On 21 April, Boeing received a $41.3 million contract to speed conversion of 95 nuclear tipped AGM-86Bs to CALCMs with conventional 1,360kg (3,000lb) payloads. The missiles will also get a global positioning capability. The US Air Force seeks to modify 230 more weapons as less than 100 CALCMs remain in reserve. It is studying the possibility of restarting CALCM production.

The US Navy has about 2,200 TLAMs in reserve, but it is seeking $420 million to remanufacture 624 earlier generation BGM-109s to the Block 3C 454kg (1,000lb)unitary warhead configuration.

Source: Flight International