Pentagon Budget Faces Increased Pressure After Elections

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

Rep. Adam Smith has balked at developing a low-yield nuclear warhead, which would be mounted on a Trident missile. Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ronald Gutridge

The Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following Tuesday’s midterm elections, setting the stage for what could be a prolonged battle over defense spending and policy.  The Pentagon’s topline was already facing cuts recently announced by the Trump administration, but the change in power in the House will give Democrats momentum as they push for increased domestic spending.

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Trump Opens the Door to Defense Spending Cuts as Sequestration Looms

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

An F-35 Flies Alongside an F-16. Source: U.S. Air Force

President Donald Trump has called on department secretaries to deliver 5 percent cuts for their upcoming FY20 budget requests, opening the door for a potential decline in defense spending.  At the same time, Trump said the defense budget would “probably” total $700 billion in FY20.  Initially, it was unclear if this $700 billion figure applied only to the Pentagon, or to the total national security budget, which also includes programs and agencies outside of the U.S. Department of Defense, such as nuclear programs within the Department of Energy.  Continue reading

Aircraft Procurement Soars in FY19 Defense Bill

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

Three F-35As and an F-35C fly over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Source: Lockheed Martin

Aircraft programs won big in the FY19 defense appropriations bill, which was released by Congress in September.  Lawmakers bolstered the major service aircraft accounts by a combined $2.5 billion in the bill, which includes an additional $1.2 billion for the Navy, $841.8 million for the Air Force, and $500.6 million for the Army.  Most of the major changes made to the aircraft coffers stemmed from the House Appropriations Committee markup, which originally called for an additional $2.4 billion in aircraft funding.  The Senate markup added $1.7 billion for aircraft, but the Army would have actually lost nearly half a billion dollars under the Senate bill.

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Congress Pushes Development of Space-Based and Boost Phase Missile Defense Capabilities

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

North Korea Missile Launch. Source: Korean News Agency via Reuters

The U.S. Congress continues to push the Department of Defense to develop new missile defense technologies, but it remains to be seen if some of these efforts will come to fruition.  In particular, the FY19 defense authorization bill recently signed into law calls for developing a new space-based missile defense layer and a boost phase intercept capability.  Last year’s FY18 defense authorization bill also included provisions for space-based and boost phase missile defense, if consistent with the Ballistic Missile Defense Review.  The new FY19 authorization bill essentially reworks those original provisions, and calls for the development of these technologies subject to the availability of appropriations.  Continue reading

Congress Releases FY19 Defense Policy Bill

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conduct strike group operations.
Source: U.S. Navy

U.S. House and Senate lawmakers completed the conference markup of the FY19 defense authorization bill on July 23.  The defense policy bill adheres to the spending levels agreed upon in the bipartisan budget act, providing a defense base budget of $639.1 billion.  That figure comprises $616.9 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Defense, $21.9 billion for nuclear programs in the Department of Energy, and around $300 million for defense-related activities outside the DoD.  Another $69 billion is provided for Overseas Contingency Operations, for a total of $708.1 billion in discretionary defense spending.  When including $8.9 billion in mandatory spending, the FY19 topline authorized in the legislation totals $717 billion.  The separate congressional appropriations process will finalize how much money the military actually has available to spend in FY19.

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NASA Finally Sets a Direction Under President Trump, But Will Its Plans Make It Through Congress?

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

This artist rendering shows an aerial view of the liftoff of the 70-metric-ton (77-ton) lift capacity configuration SLS from the launchpad. Funding for the SLS will continue. Source: NASA

America’s preeminent space agency is proposing a major change in focus for FY19. Along with the rest of the federal government, NASA released its fiscal year 2019 budget request on February 13. While NASA’s budget faced few changes in President Donald Trump’s FY18 budget request, for FY19 NASA is looking to shift its priorities and thereby change how its funding is spent. Continue reading

JSTARS Replacement Program Canceled Yet Again

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Recapitalization (JSTARS Recap) program funding dropped in FY19.

It’s official.  The U.S. Air Force has taken formal steps to implement its stated intention to abandon the JSTARS Recap program. In the Department of Defense’s recently released forecast year 2019 budget documents, all requests for funding related to JSTARS Recap research, development, testing, and evaluation were dropped, with FY18’s budget of $417.2 million reduced to nothing. Continue reading