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US military spending continues to decline

Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC

US DEFENCE procurement expenditure will fall to its lowest level since 1950 in fiscal year 1996. Procurement should begin a slow rebound in 1997, however, if Congress passes the Clinton plan.

The Administration's request for $246 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) marks the eleventh consecutive year of real decline in the DoD budget. The figure is $6 billion below that of the current fiscal year. Planned spending for 1997 will slip by a further $3 billion, to $243 billion.

The spending request comes on top of a 1994 Pentagon move to slash $12 billion in weapons procurement and research and development. The Northrop Grumman AGM-137 Tri-Service Stand-off Attack Missile and production plans for the Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche are scrapped.

When adjusted for inflation, planned procurement funding of $39 billion in 1996 represents a decline of 71% from 1985 - the lowest level since 1950.

Procurement in 1996 of 60 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, worth $364 million, would end US Army procurement, unless Sikorsky is successful in lobbying the Pentagon for additional sales. The US Army seeks $200 million for Comanche research and development and $414 million for the Longbow Apache for 1996.

The US Air Force's budget share would be $73 billion. It is seeking nearly $1 billion for the Northrop Grumman B-2 stealth bomber and $2.6 billion for six McDonnell Douglas C-17 transports. It also plans to buy two E-8As in both 1996 and 1997. Development of the Lockheed F-22 advanced tactical fighter would cost $4 billion during 1996 and 1997. Non-development airlift-aircraft evaluations would cost $184 million, rising to $2.6 billion in 1997.

Three Joint Primary Aircraft Training System aircraft, worth $105 million, are funded, with 12, worth $192 million, to be bought in 1997. Joint Advanced Strike Technology research receives $332 million in FY1996, with $480 million for the next year.

The US Navy is seeking $811 million for the Bell Boeing V-22 tilt-rotor, to procure four aircraft in 1997. Twenty-four McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk trainers would be bought in 1996/7, worth about $700 million.

Four AV-8Bs would be rebuilt in 1996 and 12 in 1997. Purchase of three Northrop Grumman E-2Cs in 1996, and four in 1997, is planned. McDonnell Douglas F/A-18E/F 1996 research and development stands at $1 billion and $2.6 billion is requested for 1997, for purchase of the first 12 aircraft.

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