Pentagon Seeks Largest Defense Budget In History

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The Pentagon is expected to request $835 billion from Congress in the fiscal year 2024 defense budget, which, if approved, could be the largest non-inflation-adjusted request in history, according to Bloomberg.

It will also be one of the largest peacetime budgets, with up to $170 billion set aside for weapons procurement and $145 billion for research and development, Bloomberg reported, citing officials who declined to be identified before the final proposal is presented to Congress. In total, the expected Pentagon request is the highest ever in “nominal” terms, not adjusted for modern inflation rates, but still falls below some historical budgets in real dollars, one senior administration official told the outlet.

With such a large amount of funding set aside for research and development, the request “reflects a budget that is still focused primarily on developing weapons for future wars rather than procuring weapons for near-term wars,” Mark Cancian, an expert at the Center For Strategic and International Studies and former defense analyst at OMB, told Bloomberg.

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The request includes $13.5 billion for the modern F-35 fighter jet alone, according to Bloomberg, as the Air Force seeks to accelerate the retirement of older A-10 “Warthogs” with F-35s for missions that require close air support, according to Business Insider.

The Pentagon will request 83 new F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, compared to 61 included in the fiscal year 2023 budget request, Bloomberg reported. Congress upped the total number of authorized fighter jet purchases to 80.

However, the $170 billion expected for procurement is roughly $8 billion larger than Congress eventually approved for 2023, Bloomberg reported. Of that funding, a significant amount is allocated for long-range munitions for the Navy and Air Force that officials told the outlet are requested with a future conflict with China in mind.

The White House’s annual budget request will come down as the U.S. largest adversary recently vowed to supersize its defense budget, according to The Associated Press. China announced a 7.2% increase in defense spending for 2024, up slightly from 7.1% sought the year prior, which was equivalent to $224 billion.

The research and development budget would be the most ever requested, Cancian told Bloomberg.

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