Trump Pentagon Budget Adds Ship, No Planes, to Obama Plan, Officials Say (excerpt)
The proposal sticks with President Barack Obama’s plan to request 70 of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35’s and 14 of Boeing Co.’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, said the officials, who discussed the budget proposal due to be sent to Congress on May 23. The officials asked not to be identified discussing the defense budget before it’s made public and cautioned that some details may still change.
While the Obama administration had anticipated buying eight ships in the coming year, Trump’s budget would ask Congress to pay for nine, adding one DDG-51 Flight III destroyer built by General Dynamics Corp. and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. It also would buy enough Tomahawk cruise missiles made by Raytheon Corp. to keep the company’s Tucson, Arizona, plant in operation.
The fiscal 2018 proposal is something of a placeholder until the Pentagon completes a new National Defense Strategy that Defense Secretary James Mattis commissioned on February 1. It also doesn’t reflect results of a pending review that Mattis requested in January -- in response to a Twitter posting by Trump -- to evaluate the cost and operational advantages of buying improved F/A-18E/F jets over the F-35C model designed for use on aircraft carriers, the officials said.
The decisions from those reviews will be reflected in a five-year plan for fiscal 2019-2023.
The proposed fiscal 2018 budget is about $18.5 billion, or 3.2 percent, larger than the comparable plan left by the Obama administration for fiscal 2018, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
“With just $18 billion in new spending penciled in,” the Trump administration “is going to be pitching a paper buildup to the Congress,” Katherine Blakeley, budget analyst for the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said in an email.
Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized an earlier outline of the defense budget plan as insufficient and vowed to push for more. (end of excerpt)
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