The Defense Department is requesting $705.4 billion in fiscal year 2021, a 1 percent decrease over last year’s enacted budget of $712.6 billion, according to department budget documents released Feb. 10.
That includes $636.4 billion in base budget dollars and $69 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. No emergency funding was requested, down from $8 billion in 2020.
All in all, the FY 21 defense budget adheres to the limit set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2020 of $740.5 billion when the Department of Energy’s defense-related request of $35.1 billion is added to the Defense Department’s request. The $705 billion request includes a $0.8 billion increase over the FY 2020 enacted appropriation for Base and OCO funding.
The department’s request for service-wide procurement decreased by nearly $7 billion compared to the fiscal year 2020 enacted budget, with $136.9 billion in 2021 compared to $143.7 billion in 2020. However, research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funding was boosted by $2 billion, from about $104.4 billion allocated in 2020 to $106.5 billion in 2021. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said in a Monday briefing that the FY ‘20 RDT&E budget was the largest in over 70 years, and the FY ‘21 request was even larger.
Defense officials said this fiscal year’s budget is meant to enhance the services’ pivot toward joint all-domain operations by strengthening military readiness, focusing on technologies that can serve as joint enablers across each domain, prioritizing nuclear deterrence recapitalization and strengthening homeland missile defense while investing in new emerging capabilities.
The FY 2021 budget request also marks the true start of the U.S. Space Force, which was formally established in December 2020 as a new service within the department of the Air Force. The FY ’21 presidential budget request separates out the Space Force budget from the Air Force and marks specific programs that will transfer over to the Space Force’s responsibility.
The Pentagon requested $18 billion for space-related efforts, including funds for “expeditiously building the U.S. Space Force,” and programs such as the GPS Follow-On program, the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) program and three National Security Space Launches (NSSLs), down from four in 2020.
Air-related capabilities would be funded at $56.9 billion, encompassing 115 new fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft, 15 new KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelers, 52 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, 739 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and 400 Joint Air-Surface Standoff Missile -Extended Range (JASSM-ER). The budget request also provides for five new Special Operations Forces Armed Overwatch aircraft.
Maritime capabilities would be funded at $32.3 billion, including one SSN-74 Virginia-class submarine, two DDG-51 Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers, one FFG(X) frigate, 1 SSBN Columbia-class submarine, and $18.9 billion dedicated to growing the battle force fleet from 292 ships in FY ‘19 to 306 by FY ’25.
The Navy and Marine Corps also want two large unmanned surface vessels, 53 Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), and 203 new tactical Tomahawk missiles, including some with maritime strike capabilities, per budget documents.
About $13 billion has been requested for land forces, with over 5,400 combat and tactical motorized vehicles desired, including over 4,200 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) and 72 amphibious combat vehicles (ACVs).
Missile defense is funded at $20.3 billion which includes new interceptors and missile procurement and the development of a Next-Generation Interceptor for the Army’s Ground-Based Interceptor program.
About $17.7 billion is devoted to the service-wide nuclear enterprise, with the majority in research-and-development funding for the Air Force’s B-21 Raider next-generation bomber program and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program to replace aging intercontinental ballistic missiles. About $4.2 billion has been requested for nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) capabilities.
The FY ‘21 budget also includes $3.2 billion in hypersonic investments, $1.5 billion in microelectronics/5G funding, and $1.7 billion for autonomy technologies and $0.8 billion for artificial-intelligence-related efforts including the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and Project Maven. Nearly $10 billion was included across the services for cyber-related activities, including $3.8 billion for both offensive and defensive cyber programs and $0.6 billion for cyber-related R&D programs.
The budget increases total military end strength by over 5,600 over currently projected FY 2020 levels and supports a 3 percent military pay raise.