The US Department of Defense has submitted to US Congress a fiscal year 2007 budget request for $439 billion and a new capabilities planning document called the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

Both documents seek to continue the status quo for all but a handful of major weapons programmes, but also start a shift of resources from traditional capabilities to systems that address new demands for irregular warfare, disaster response and homeland defence.

In the long term, the QDR calls on the US Air Force to nearly double unmanned aircraft coverage capacity by accelerating purchases of Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, and General Atomics R/MQ-1 and MQ-9 Predators. The air force also plans to increase long-range strike capabilities by 50%, with 45% of this future force to be unmanned. The penetrating component of the air force’s long-range strike fleet would be increased by a factor of five, says the QDR. The QDR also seeks to reduce the Boeing B-52 fleet to 56 aircraft, using the savings from retiring 38 aircraft to help fund modernisation programmes for B-52s, B-1s and B-2s.

The FY07 budget request would mark a 6.9% increase over this year’s enacted budget. Air force funding would rise 6.3% from $124 billion to $130 billion, although this includes classified, non-air force-specific funding accounts. The army’s budget would climb 12.7% to $112 billion and the navy’s funding would rise 4.1% to $111 billion.

Source: Flight International