Biden seeks $813 billion for defense amid Ukraine crisis

As Russian aggression in Ukraine fuels demands for increased military expenditure, President Joe Biden’s record peacetime national defence budget request of $813 billion includes a 4.6 percent pay raise for troops and the highest research and development budget in history.

Biden’s plan for $773 billion for the Pentagon dwarfs former President Donald Trump’s budget requests. Defense-related programmes at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Energy, and other agencies will receive an additional $40 billion, increasing the national security budget to $813 billion, up from $778 billion last year.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has fueled recent demand for increased defence expenditure among Democrats and Republicans who see Russian President Vladimir Putin as a major national security and foreign policy danger. The budget allocates $360 million more to the Pentagon’s European Deterrence Initiative, bringing the total to $4.2 billion.

Simultaneously, the budget freezes the Pentagon’s purchase of the stealthy F-35 fighter jet, the Pentagon’s largest weapons programme, after Air Force chiefs complained that technological advances to the jet’s hardware were moving too slowly.

Early on, defence insiders say, budget talks between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the White House crystallised around the $773 billion figure.

Shipbuilding, improving space capabilities, missile warning, and modernising the nuclear “triad” of ballistic missile submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles are among the budget’s main goals.

The Pentagon has requested only 61 Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter fighters, down from 85 last year, though experts expect Congress will increase that number through the budget process.

Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N), Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), and General Dynamics Corp would all gain from the budget (GD.N).

The Pentagon’s largest research and development budget ever is included in the fiscal year 2023 budget, which begins on Oct. 1, with $130 billion set aside to create new weaponry such as hypersonic missiles to combat any future wars with China and Russia.

Some of this investment comes from retiring expensive weapons like Littoral Combat Ships and older planes like A-10 Warthogs, which have become less necessary since the US pullout from Afghanistan last year because they are vulnerable to more sophisticated adversaries.

During Trump’s final year in office, he requested $752.9 billion for the national military budget. After that, Congress upped the amount by $25 billion, bringing the total to $778 billion for fiscal 2022.

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