Politics

What the massive US military budget pays for

When President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, he approved what his administration calls the largest military budget in US history, $700 billion. That budget is packed with funding for new weapons as well as upgrades for older systems.

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Here are some of the highlights of what US taxpayers are getting for their $700 billion:

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

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The Pentagon asked for 70 of these stealth jets, for $10.8 billion, and Congress threw in $2.9 billion more to add 20 more to the order. Questions remain about the jets’ effectiveness; the Project on Government Oversight reports the 235 F-35s in service now are mission capable only 26% of the time.

F/A-18 Super Hornet

This twin-engine jet is the mainstay of Navy and Marine Corps aviation. The Pentagon wanted 14, for $1.3 billion. Congress added 10 more for $739 million.

MC2 James R. Evans/US Navy

AH-64 Apache helicopter

Boeing claims this is the most advanced multi-role helicopter in the world. Congress granted the Pentagon’s request for 63 of them (at a cost of $1.4 billion) and threw in $577 million to get 17 more.

Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter

These helicopters are the US Army’s primary platform for tactical transport and air assault. The Pentagon asked for 48 new ones, for $1.1 billion. Congress funded that request, added $108 million for eight additional ones and added $400 million for eight of the Navy’s version of it, the MH-60R Seahawk.

US Army

Ford-class aircraft carrier

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The budget provides $4.5 billion for construction of a Ford-class aircraft carrier, the most expensive and sophisticated warships in the world.

Littoral combat ship

Congress gave money for three of the $430 million shallow draft ships (the Pentagon had requested just two). The LCS is designed to operate close to shore and get into places bigger ships can’t.

US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer

The Navy asked for and received $4 billion for two guided-missile destroyers. In 2017, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers were involved in deadly collisions with cargo ships of Japan and Singapore, resulting in the deaths of 17 US sailors.

US Navy handout/AFP/Getty Images/File

SM-3 Block IB missile interceptors

Congress added $178 million to the Pentagon’s $454 million request for the interceptors, which are the sharp end of the Aegis missile defense system. The interceptors cost about $15 million each.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mathew Diendorf/US Navy

Virginia-class submarines

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The budget provides $5.5 billion for two of the nuclear-powered attack submarines, which can carry Tomahawk missiles to hit land targets and MK48 torpedoes for targets at sea.

KC-46A tankers

Congress is giving the Air Force money for 18 of the twin-engine jets (the service asked for 15), or about $3.6 billion.

John D. Parker/Boeing

A-10 Warthog

Congress allocated $103 million for upgraded wings for the veteran ground-attack aircraft, which have proved vital in fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq and have recently been deployed to Afghanistan.

US Air Force/FIle

P-8A Poseidon

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Congress saw fit to pony up $2.1 billion for 10 of the aircraft, three units and $501 million more than the Pentagon asked for. P-8As have been in the headlines several times in the past several years, being the targets of intercepts by both Chinese and Russian jets.