Budget plan gets overhaul with creation of two-year cycle

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is proposing to raise total spending by 7% next year to $402 billion and is forecasting a 21% growth in defence spending by fiscal year 2009, approaching the half-trillion dollar mark.

The FY2005 budget was written under unusual circumstances. In shaping spending priorities, budget planners faced the task of balancing the rush of lessons flowing back from the war in Iraq and its aftermath against the Pentagon's transformation roadmap.

The DoD also reworked its budget planning process, creating a two-year budgeting cycle that establishes even years as "baselines" and is intended to limit major funding shifts during the odd years.

Although details of the Bush administration's FY2005 request, which boosts total military spending by $26.4 billion, were not disclosed at press time, a number of changes have surfaced as the proposal was pieced together.

For fighters, the next budget must anticipate a successful full-rate production decision for the Lockheed Martin/Boeing F/A-22 Raptor in FY2005. At the same time, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's development costs are expected to rise by $5 billion over the life of an extended system development and demonstration phase.

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is expected to request funds for 10 ground-based interceptors, up to 20 sea-based interceptors, warning sensors and command and control upgrades.

The MDA is due to field a limited ballistic missile shield capability against North Korean and Middle East threats by 1 October, or the first day of FY2005.

The air force's $17 billion plan to lease 20 and buy 80 Boeing 767 tankers is absent from the FY2005 budget request. The Pentagon considers setting aside funds to be a moot point until an inspector general investigation into the affair is completed.

The Pentagon has delayed signing a development contract for the Northrop Grumman E-10A Multi-sensor Command and Control Aircraft by a year to June 2005.

The FY2005 budget allows the air force to fully withdraw from the Raytheon Joint Stand-off Weapon programme, leaving the US Navy to continue buying the Raytheon AGM-154A cluster munition and AGM-154C unitary variants alone. The air force is shifting focus to the Lockheed Martin CBU-105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser.

Source: Flight International