US defense spending will surge past $1 trillion per year and get surprisingly little

The US spends $890 billion on defense in 2019 [4-5% of GDP]. Continuing this rate of spending will mean the US Navy would shrink to 230 ships in 2047. Increasing costs for ships and planes and other military equipment cannot be contained. China is a rising power and is increasing its military size by spending about 2% of GDP and $200-300 billion per year. Russia spends about $50-60 billion but has aggressive use of its military.

The US has just been fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq and had taken their focus off of China and Russia. Now the US military planners are caring about China and Russia. They claim that the US has to boost the Navy by 75 ships and the Air Force by 940 planes or the military will not be able to match up with China and Russia in the future.

2019 US military budget

The US authorized $717 billion defense budget for 2019. There is a base defense budget of $639 billion and overseas contingency operations funding total of another $69 billion.

It does not include about $181.3 billion. The Department of Veterans Affairs ($83.1 billion), the State Department ($28.3 billion), Homeland Security ($46 billion), FBI and Cybersecurity in the Department of Justice ($8.8 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration in the Department of Energy ($21.9 billion).

It includes $40.8 billion to “overcome the crisis in military aviation” by purchasing more equipment, $17.7 billion to rehabilitate worn-out Army equipment and $23.5 billion to upgrade and repair “crumbling military buildings and other infrastructure.”

There is a 2.6 percent pay raise.

The US bought
77 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters,
15 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft
a fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier
three Littoral Combat Ships and
six polar icebreakers

Air Force is pushing for 386 air squadrons which is 940 more planes and adding $37 billion per year

The US Air Force wants to go from 312 operational squadrons to 386. The annual additional cost would be about $37 billion at a time when budget projections show no increase, and up to 94,000 additional personnel, active and reserve. The Air Force would require a total of about 940 more aircraft to fill the operational units as well as the associated training, maintenance, and test requirements.

This does not include the money for the hypersonic weapons development or new combat lasers.

The US Army wants big six modernization

The Army needs “an additional $2-3 billion per year,” above its already generous 2019 budget, to fund its Big Six modernization priorities in the 2020s, says a new strategy document submitted to Congress.

Bigger 355 ship Navy plan and its $38 billion per year added operating cost

The Navy wants to go to 355 ships up from about 280 now. This will boost procurement by about ten billion per year. Operating costs would go up by $38 billion per year.

CBO estimates that, over the next 30 years, meeting the 355-ship goal with new-ship construction alone would cost an average of $26.7 billion annually (in 2017 dollars). Combining that shipbuilding program with service life extension programs (commonly called SLEPs) for some existing ships to achieve a 355-ship fleet faster would cost an average of $27.5 billion annually. The costs for those SLEPs would be concentrated over the next 10 years. The smaller fleets would cost less: If the Navy was kept at its current size, shipbuilding costs would average $22.4 billion annually. By contrast, if funding for the fleet was kept at roughly historical levels, shipbuilding costs would average $16.8 billion per year.

CBO expects that the costs for operation and support for all of the alternatives—even a substantially smaller fleet—would be higher in 2047 in real (inflation-adjusted) terms than comparable costs for the existing fleet. By 2047, the annual cost (in 2017 dollars) of operating a 355-ship fleet would be about $38 billion (or 68 percent) more than the $56 billion the current fleet of 280 ships costs to operate. Overall, costs for the alternative that would include SLEPs would be higher in earlier years because some of the ships would be retired later than under the first alternative. A fleet that maintained the size and composition of the current fleet would cost $22 billion (or 39 percent) more in 2047. And the smallest fleet would still cost $12 billion (or 21 percent) more than the fleet costs to operate today.

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