Biden’s defense budget targets greater deterrence from China and nuclear funding

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden’s Defense Department’s $ 715 billion budget will shift funding for legacy systems to help modernize nuclear arsenal to deter China, while developing future warfare capabilities , said sources close to the budget.

US President Joe Biden takes off his sunglasses to speak to the media before his departure from Washington to travel to Cleveland, Ohio at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, United States, May 27, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

The defense spending request, which will be sent to Congress on Friday, is expected to contain investments in troop readiness, space, the Pacific Deterrent Initiative to counter China’s military build-up in the region, and technology nuclear weapons, people said.

The budget request would buy ships, jets, and pay for maintenance and salaries, but an additional $ 38 billion is earmarked for defense-related programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Energy. and other agencies bringing the national security budget to $ 753 billion, an increase of 1.7% from the 2021 figure.

There will also be money to further develop and test hypersonic weapons and other “next generation” weapon systems as the military aims to develop capabilities to counter Russia and China.

The president’s budget requests, including those for the military, are usually a starting point for negotiations with Congress, which ultimately decides how the funds are spent.

The Pacific Deterrence Initiative, created to counter China, focuses on competition in the Indo-Pacific and aims to bolster U.S. readiness in the region by funding radar, satellites, and missile systems. .

To pay for this, people familiar with the change said, the Pentagon is looking to divest some of its older equipment with higher maintenance costs, including four Littoral combat ships, several A-10 aircraft that provide close air support. ground troops, as well as the number of KC-10 and KC-135 aircraft in air-to-air refueling fleets.

Tensions with an increasingly assertive China are on the minds of American military planners. Bejing last week accused the United States of threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait after an American warship once again crossed the sensitive waterway.

The US military’s target for troops in budget has been reduced very slightly, people said.

“We need to modernize for the deterrence to endure and, if upheld, I would seek to increase the speed and scale of innovation within our force,” Kathleen Hicks said in her testimony in February before moving on. be confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Among the Pentagon’s competing priorities, the Biden administration will ask for 85 F-35 stealth fighter jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the people said. The 2021 and 2020 presidential budgets called for 79 and 78 jets, respectively, with Congress ultimately allowing additional fighters. Senators and governors have come to support the jet which has a huge industrial base.

The US Navy’s shipbuilding plan, released in the last few months of the Trump administration, had 12 new surface combatants for the 2022 budget. But Biden’s request only has eight new warships, have people said.

Despite the reduction in numbers for older systems, the Biden administration will continue to invest in modernizing America’s nuclear triad, a costly endeavor that will cost on average more than $ 60 billion a year over this decade and more. ‘a trillion dollars in total, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Funding will be used to improve nuclear command and control as well as delivery platforms such as the Columbia-class nuclear submarine manufactured by Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics and certification to carry nuclear bombs aboard jet fighters stealth F-35.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell



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