The Senate Armed Services Committee released a proposed defense policy bill that would increase defense spending by $45 billion in FY23, which would bring the Pentagon budget up to $817.3 billion for the year. According to lawmakers, the additional funding would both address higher-than-expected inflation rates and bolster spending in support of the military’s national defense strategy. The panel’s counterpart in the House recently approved a bill that would bolster spending by $37 billion.
The SASC’s bill recommends adding funding for multiple combat aircraft programs for the Air Force, including those where the service sought to end production early. For example, the legislation adds four EC-37B Compass Call aircraft and 10 HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters, reversing planned production stops for both platforms. The bill also adds seven F-35As, as well as $301 million to accelerate development of two prototype E-7 aircraft to begin replacing existing E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. Lawmakers also want to prohibit the retirement of F-22 Block 20 aircraft until the Air Force submits a plan to train F-22 aircrews “while avoiding any degradation in readiness or reduction in combat capability.”
The bill includes $2.7 billion for additional munitions production and to provide capacity for future production, a requirement driven by the DoD’s shifting of existing munitions to Ukraine. The legislation also authorizes $800 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
Lawmakers recommend adding funding for 22 Abrams tanks and $210 million for Paladin self-propelled howitzers for the Army. Another $75 million is added for Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular kits, while an extra $21 million is provided to accelerate development of the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).
The Navy’s FY23 request sought to decommission 24 ships in FY23, but the SASC’s proposal would cut that number in half, saving five Littoral Combat Ships, four dock landing ships, two expeditionary transfer docks, and one cruiser. The panel also wants to enshrine into law a requirement for the Navy and Marine Corps to maintain a fleet of at least 31 amphibious warships, compared to the FY23 request that would see the fleet drop to as low as 25 ships in the coming years. The committee also wants to save the Navy’s sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, which the service canceled in its FY23 request. The proposed bill adds $25 million for continued development of the program.
The bill would require the Pentagon to develop a strategy for addressing the threat posed by unmanned aerial system swarms, and it would add funding for the development of alternate navigation technology that could be utilized in GPS-degraded environments. Senators also want the Pentagon to assess the potential for improved integrated air and missile defense cooperation with Middle Eastern allies and partners in order to counter threats from Iran and its proxies.
Funding is increased for a range of advanced technology programs, including $200 million for 5G communications technology, $70 million for microelectronics research, and $50 million for low-cost attritable aircraft. Another $245 million is added for Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), which is the Pentagon’s broad effort to utilize battlefield networks to link various platforms together. Additional money is also provided for artificial intelligence and cyber capabilities across the DoD. The bill adds $315 million to increase SM-3 interceptor production, along with $292.5 million for the hypersonic glide-phase interceptor. The committee also allocates an additional $120 million for Assault Breaker II, a joint classified program aimed at developing the capability to halt an enemy attack.
A summary of the bill states that the legislation adds $1 billion for unfunded requirements identified by the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, as well as $85 million for Special Operations Command unfunded requirements.
Regarding inflation, the bill would require the DoD to provide additional details on the budgetary effects of inflation in the annual budget submissions. Lawmakers have generally been unsatisfied with recent details provided about how the Pentagon calculates the impact of inflation on annual outlays.
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