The newly completed fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 1625) contains $233.5 billion for the Department of Defense to develop and buy weapon systems, an increase of more than $41 billion from FY 2017.
The omnibus includes a total of $700 billion for defense, an $80 billion increase from FY 2017, which is consistent with the budget outline that President Trump signed into law last month (Defense Daily, Feb. 9).
“This bill makes historic investments in our military – including the largest year-to-year increase in funding in 15 years, since the beginning of the War on Terror,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
House and Senate negotiators unveiled the 12-bill, $1.3 trillion omnibus late March 21. The House passed it March 22 by a 256-167 vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration. The Trump administration released a statement expressing support for the legislation.
The bulk of the defense money, $654.6 billion, is included in the FY 2018 defense appropriations bill. The rest is spread among several other measures, including those funding military construction, Energy Department nuclear weapons activities and State Department security assistance.
The defense bill includes $44 billion for aircraft procurement, including $10.2 billion for 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, $2.9 billion for 18 Air Force KC-46A tankers, $2.4 billion for 25 C/HC/KC/MC-130J planes, $1.8 billion for 24 Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and $1.7 billion for 10 Navy P-8A Poseidons.
Other aircraft purchases include $1.6 billion for 30 new-build and 50 remanufactured AH-64 Apache helicopters, $1.3 billion for 14 V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, $1.1 billion for 56 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, $225 million for 20 MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft and $103 million to replace wings on the A-10 close-air-support plane.
The bill contains $23.8 billion to buy 14 Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier, two DDG-51 guided-missile destroyers, two Virginia-class submarines, three Littoral Combat Ships, an Expeditionary Sea Base, an Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, an LX(R) amphibious ship, a TAO fleet oiler, a T-AGS oceanographic survey ship and a Towing, Salvage and Rescue ship.
The Missile Defense Agency will get $9.5 billion, bringing its FY 2018 total to about $11.5 billion when combined with a previously enacted supplemental appropriations bill. The omnibus includes $706 million for U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs, $558 million above the Trump administration’s request; $632 million for additional Standard Missile-3 Block 1B interceptors; $617 million for additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors; and $393 million to speed up the fielding of 20 additional, modernized Ground Based Interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska.
Other procurement items include $16.2 billion for various missiles and ammunition, $1.4 billion for three Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, $600 million for the 11th and 12th Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites and $1.1 billion to upgrade 85 Abrams tanks.
Major R&D items include the Air Force’s B-21 bomber, the Navy’s Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, the Army-led Future Vertical Lift program and the Air Force’s next-generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) missile-warning program. The omnibus calls for the Air Force to give Congress an acquisition plan for the new OPIR program within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.
The omnibus directs the Air Force to continue pursuing a replacement for the E-8C JSTARS ground-surveillance aircraft while Congress evaluates the service’s proposal to cancel the recapitalization program and develop a sensor-fusion system instead (Defense Daily, March 6). The bill provides $405.5 million for the JSTARS recap.
To ease readiness problems, the bill includes $12 billion to repair ships and $11.5 billion to repair or upgrade aircraft.
The bill “turns the corner in fixing our planes and ships and readiness,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “And it also sends a very strong message to allies and adversaries alike that the United States is going to stand up and defend ourselves.”
Since FY 2018 began Oct. 1, the federal government has been funded by a series of stopgap measures, the latest of which expires March 23.