Unmanned long-strike capabilities might get budget boost

$100 billion infusion would help with several key weapons modernizations

Manned and unmanned global strike programs are among the Defense Department weapons programs that might benefit from a $100 billion infusion of funds over a five-year period, reports Vago Muradian at Defense News.

The Obama administration wants to add $100 billion to DOD’s 2011 to 2015 base budget plan to cover the rising cost of personnel and urgent modernization needs, officials told the publication. If approved, the additional funds would allow U.S. defense spending to rise by about 1 percent beyond projected inflation, analysts said.

The additional funds would also likely go toward Army brigade combat team modernization, a Navy attack submarine, and the Navy’s new Carrier Long-Range Strike system, the article states.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has lobbied vigorously for additional funding. He has reviewed a draft of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which is due to Congress in February, and will meet with top military officials this week to discuss their spending plans. The review is expected to include recommendations for a new Air Force family of manned and unmanned long-range strike systems.

In April, Gates delayed funding for a new Air Force long-range bomber and removed any funding for it from the fiscal 2010 budget. Meanwhile, DOD continues to make incremental upgrades to existing long-range strike capabilities, Defense Systems reports.

The Air Force’s long-range strike capability is one of about 10 important themes in the QDR, wrote Greg Grant in an article published in DOD Buzz earlier this year. Should the QDR fail to push for a manned bomber, then unmanned systems will likely cover that need in future decades.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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