President Donald Trump’s fiscal budget request for 2019 includes $US686 billion for defence spending.
While Trump has pushed for a larger military since he was campaigning for president, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said more recently that the “real growth” in the military buildup begins with the now-unveiled fiscal 2019 budget.
With this behemoth amount, the military is setting up contracts that will help the US fight the next war against near peer threats. This includes vehicles, aircraft, ships, and hundreds of thousands of munitions, much of which was used up in the fight against ISIS.
Here are a couple purchases that stand out:
77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
The military seems set on rolling out the new fifth-generation stealth jet. The fighter has recently gotten some good news for future international sales, as tensions in Asia and the Middle East rise.
The purchase of 77 F-35s is expected to cost $US10.7 billion.
B-21 Raider Long Range Strike Bomber
The B-21 Raider is a long range stealth bomber that is intended to replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit. Details of the B-21 are scarce, as even Congress doesn’t know much about it.
$US2.3 billion will be spent on further development of the aircraft, which is expected to be an important part of the future nuclear triad.
15 KC-46 tankers
Aerial refuelling plays a massive role in operations against ISIS and the Taliban. The KC-46 Pegasus can carry 212,299 pounds of fuel, and has a maximum transfer load of 207,672 pounds. It is intended to replace the KC-135 Stratotanker.
The price tag for 15 new tankers is $US3 billion.
29 MQ-9 Reapers
The MQ-1 Predator will be retired as soon as March and the Air Force is expected to purchase more MQ-9 Reapers.
The Reapers can fly longer, faster, and carry everything from Hellfire missiles to Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
25 AH-1Z Vipers
The AH-1Z Viper is a replacement/modernisation of the Marine Corps’ AH-1 Cobra.
The Corps plans to buy two more Vipers this year than last year, and wants to have 342 in total.
60 AH-64E Apaches
Known as the Guardian, the AH-64E is another improved version of the AH-64 Apache. Additional new avionics and technology allow the gunship to fly faster, operate easier, and even control UAVs.
The AH-64Es are part of a $US4.9 billion request from the Army for its aircraft.
6 VH-92 Presidential Helicopters
Sikorsky’s S-92 has been selected to replace the Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King as the president’s official helicopter. Initial fielding is planned for 2020, and the helicopters will have the iconic white and green paint scheme that is unique to presidential helicopters.
The price for the six new helicopters is expected to be $US900 million.
5,113 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles
The Department of Defence wants to fully replace the Humvee, which has been the workhorse of the US military since the mid-1980s. DoD has selected Oshkosh’s L-ATV line as the primary vehicle for its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program.
The Pentagon has allocated $US2 billion for the purchases.
Two Virginia Class submarines
The Virginia-class submarine is currently the Navy’s newest type of submarine. It is a nuclear-powered attack sub, and has the latest stealth technology. Virginia-class submarines are replacing older Los Angeles-class submarines, and are expected to be in service up to 2070.
The cost of two new subs will be $US7.4 billion.
Three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers
Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers are the backbone of the current Navy fleet. The Navy currently has 64 of the destroyers in service, and want to add three more. The plans to buy more Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers may be an admission that the plans for the Zumwalt-class are not going well.
The three new ships will cost $US6 billion.
43,594 Joint Direct Attack Munitions
JDAMs are unguided “dumb” bombs that have gotten equipment that turn them into “smart” bombs, meaning they can be guided to their targets. The war against ISIS has caused a bomb shortage, so it should come as no surprise that the military is ordering so many new ones.
The cost for the 40,000+ bombs will be $US1.2 billion.
4,338 Hellfire missiles
Hellfire missiles have proven to be absolutely essential for precision strikes against terrorists from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Syria and Somalia. They are anti-tank missiles that can be loaded on helicopter gunships like the AH-64 Apache, or drones like the MQ-9 Reaper.
148,287 155mm artillery rounds
Despite the fact that precision guided strikes have become the dominant method of destroying enemy targets, good old fashioned artillery is still a vital part. In fact, Marines in Syria recently set a new record for artillery barrages that have been intact since the Vietnam War.
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