President Donald Trump unveiled his $639.1 billion fiscal year 2018 defence budget request this week, one that underwhelmed Washington and may not survive Congress.

Trump’s budget proposes $52 billion above congressionally mandated budget caps and his overall budget would gut social safety programmes. On Capitol Hill, members of Congress are already calling the proposed budget dead on arrival. Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the budget inadequate and criticized the $603 billion request as a three percent increase from President Obama’s budget projection.

John Roth, deputy comptroller for the Office of the under secretary of defence, countered that Trump’s budget represented a significant increase and expressed optimism over its chances in Congress.

“I’m fairly sanguine,” Roth told reporters 23 May, adding that some members of Congress questioned why the Pentagon didn’t request more funding. “We asked in 2017 for what we thought was politically palatable. We didn’t get everything, but we got a healthy increase so in a similar we’re asking for a healthy increase.”

Still, after a pugnacious show on the campaign trail, Trump’s defence budget request left many of Washington’s defence experts unimpressed.

“It’s not a big departure from the Obama budget overall,” says Todd Harrison, a defence budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s only $19 billion more than Obama was already planning in FY18.”

What’s interesting is that research, development and technology funding received a substantial boost, while procurement did not, Harrison says. Trump’s proposed research funding in the base budget is 10% higher than Obama’s forecasted budget, while procurement is down slightly, by about $300 million, he says.

Procurement increased by a slim margin, from $23.9 billion in FY17 to $24.7 billion in FY18, while RDT&E jumped from $20.2 billion in FY17 to $25.4 billion in FY18. The US Air Force is also projecting a bump in technology transitions, from $349 million to $841 million, and will focus on the adaptive engine engine transition programme.

The presidential aircraft recapitalisation programme, a favorite target of Trump’s, would receive $430 million in research and development funding, up from $351 million in FY17. But air force officials maintain there is no change in content for the PAR programme and the request reflects the new requirements baseline informed by Boeing’s risk reduction activity.

The service’s next generation air dominance effort, also known as Penetrating Counterair, also saw a significant increase from $21 million to $294 million in FY18. That effort focuses on the USAF’s next standoff aircraft to address air superiority gaps. The service recently wrapped up its 2030 air superiority study in April and will move onto an analysis of alternatives this year. The additional research funding will allow the air force to analyze future threats, informed by the 2030 study, says USAF Maj Gen James Martin, deputy assistant secretary for budget.

“This allows us to go out and think of new ways of doing business,” Martin says. “We need to invest in technology.”

Funding for the USAF and Northrop Grumman’s B-21 bomber programme shot up from $1.3 million in FY17 to $2 million in the FY18 request. The funding dollars represent purely R&D funding and the air force does not begin procuring the aircraft until the 2020s. The air force’s long range standoff weapon also saw a $355 million increase in research funding from $96 million in last year’s budget.

Trump has also continued to fund research on directed energy weapons, including the air force’s self-protect high energy laser demonstrator, and high speed strike weapons from the USAF and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The request leaves another vestigial agency from the previous White House with continued support for the Defense Innovation Unit-Experiment (DIUx), a Silicon Valley-influenced effort spearheaded by the Obama administration.