President Donald Trump’s fiscal budget request for 2019 makes good on one his more popular campaign promises. Trump pledged to rebuild the U.S. military, and if this budget passes he may get his wish. The plan calls for $686 billion in defense spending. And his plan starts with the basics.
The budget calls for an additional 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. These stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin are the cutting edge of stealth technology. But they don’t come cheap. 77 F-35s will cost $10.7 billion.
Northrop Grumman Corp’s B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber could replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit. “$2.3 billion will be spent on further development of the aircraft, which is expected to be an important part of the future nuclear triad,” Business Insider writes.
Our air superiority depends on aerial refueling. One KC-46 Pegasus can carry 212,299 pounds of fuel. The Pegasus is slated to replace the aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers. 15 new KC-46 tankers will run $3 billion.
Most agree that the future of air combat belongs to unmanned aircraft.The budget calls for MQ-9 Reapers, 29 of them, to replace the MQ-1 Predators that are in service now.
There is still a need for more traditional aircraft, too. As such, the budget calls for 25 AH-1Z Vipers. These Bell helicopters are designed to replace the Marine Corps’ AH-1 Cobras.
The budget also calls for 60 AH-64E Apaches. The design is the latest version of a proven workhorse. The request is part of the Army’s $4.9 billion request for aircraft.
The President is thinking ahead, too, and requesting 6 new VH-92 Presidential Helicopters. The Sikorsky S-92 will take over the role in 2020. The total price for the 6 S-92s, including their green and white paint, will run $900 million.
Troops on the ground will be happy to see the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicles from Oshkosh. 5,113 of them are slated to phase out use of the Humvee. They don’t come cheap: $2 billion for the lot.
The Navy will have some new acquisitions, too. They may get two new Virginia class subs. These nuclear-powered attack subs will cost $3.7 billion each, but they should stay in service until 2070.
On the surface, the Navy will sail three new Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers to add to their existing fleet of 64. The three new ships will cost around $6 billion.
There are some expenses for traditional munitions, too. 43,594 Joint Direct Attack Munitions: $1.2 billion. Our continuing war on terror has depleted the stock piles. Trump has asked for 148,287 155mm artillery rounds, too.
There is an immediate need for 4,338 Hellfire missiles, too. When we look away from terrorism, to more conventional threats, the need becomes even more transparent.
It remains to be seen how much of this request will be granted. The need, though, seems inescapable.