The Department of Defense on 7 May unveiled a Fiscal 2010 budget request that still preserves all of the most controversial budget decisions announced a month earlier.

Despite grumbles by opposing factions of lawmakers, the DOD still plans to execute a "reform budget" that would halt production on the Lockheed Martin F-22 and Boeing C-17, terminate the Lockheed/AgustaWestland VH-71 and combat search and rescue (CSAR-X) programmes and re-start the KC-X competition with a winner-takes-all strategy.

Spending in the base budget would rise to $533.8 billion, or 4% higher than FY09, but overall funding, including war costs, would remain essentially flat at $633.8 billion. The overall numbers remain unchanged from the top-level decisions announced on 6 April by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The new details of the budget request show plans to buy about 523 aircraft next year valued at $23.5 billion, excluding micro-level unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), such as the Aerovironment RQ-11 Raven.

DOD's inventory of tactical fighters may have taken the hardest hit among aviation programmes. Although the F-35 is being slightly accelerated after FY10, DOD is proposing to cap the F-22 fleet at 187, cut funding for Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and retire a combined 250 F-15s, F-16s and A-10s.

With the elimination of the C-17, the airlift category is now dominated by spending on both manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) alone stands to receive about $1.1 billion for 50 unmanned aerial vehicles, including 24 MQ-9 Reapers and 36 MQ-1C Sky Warriors.

The budget also proposes to add 18 aircraft identified as "STUASLO" for the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). It was not immediately clear if that programme is related to the US Navy/US Marine Crops small tactical UAS(STUAS)/Tier II competition.

Spending on rotorcraft would remain strong at about $7.3 billion despite the loss of VH-71 and the undecided CSAR-X programme. The BellBoeing V-22 Osprey accounts for about $2.8 billion of that total with 35 orders combined from the US Navy and US Air Force. The funding line for the EADS North America UH-72 Lakota also jumps to $326 million, buying 54 light utility helicopters.

In the maritime surveillance category, the budget would buy the next six Boeing P-8A Poseidons worth $1.8 billion. However, Northrop Grumman's campaign to add a third aircraft to the E-2D line item failed, as only two are funded in the overall spending proposal.

The spending proposal also would continue the DOD's four-year old campaign to kill the General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136 alternate engine for the F-35. Congress has restored funding for the F136 each year since passing the FY07 budget.

Source: Flight International