Thursday, January 28, 2016

Costs for upgrading weapons will put further pressure on US forces

The Pentagon faces a 23 percent increase in costs for its major weapons in the next six years, adding pressure to its ability to fund other needs, defense analysts warned Wednesday.
Spending will peak at roughly the same time in the 2020s for dozens of major weapons programs, including the Air Force’s new Long Range Strike Bomber, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Ohio-class ballistic nuclear submarine replacement program and the replacement of the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, said Todd Harrison, director of budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit policy group in Washington, D.C. The fiscal bottleneck could force the next president into some tough budget choices, said Harrison, who was one of three defense experts at the center to speak Wednesday about the Pentagon’s future spending needs.
“When the next administration takes office in January 2017, it will need to make many difficult choices to rationalize long-term defense modernization plans with the resources available,” he said.
The large cost – estimated to average more than $90 billion each year by 2022 for just the Defense Department’s top acquisition programs – is a result of a decade of deferred modernization spending in order to afford the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Harrison said.