Trump’s Pentagon budget bolsters nuclear weapons, weapons research

Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

WASHINGTON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's $740.5 billion defense budget request sent to Congress on Monday includes more money for nuclear weapons and a big boost to research and development spending to prepare for future warfare.

By Mike Stone


The defense spending request contains the Pentagon’s largest research and development budget in 70 years, a senior defense official said, as the military aims to build next generation capabilities to counter the growing strength of China and Russia.

Within the Pentagon’s competing priorities, the request for nuclear weapons modernization funds rose 18% compared to last year or $29 billion extra dollars, a second senior defense official said. Fully modernizing the U.S. nuclear triad will cost more than a trillion dollars over 30 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The funding will go to better nuclear command and control as well as delivery platforms like the Columbia Class nuclear submarine made by Huntington Ingalls Industries and General Dynamics and the certification to carry nuclear bombs aboard the stealthy F-35 jet fighter made by Lockheed Martin Co.

The Pentagon’s budget request includes $69 billion to fund ongoing wars and other Pentagon needs. Earmarking funds in this way helps the Defense Department avoid budget caps passed by Congress.

The U.S. Navy budget decreased by 1%, or $1.9 billion, to $207 billion and the Air Force had a slightly higher budget as the Trump administration increased the number of orders for KC-46 refueling tankers to 15, from 12. The Boeing Co program has been troubled by cost overruns and problems with the construction process.

Trump’s proposal calls for 79 F-35 jets, one more than requested last year. But Congress last year increased the F-35 purchase number to 98 from 78 in the budget they passed.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), charged with the mission to develop, test and field a ballistic missile defense system, is examining an additional layer of homeland defenses. Their budget of $9.1 billion includes funds to develop a prototype THAAD interceptor missile for defending the lower 48 states.

The MDA budget would also help fund the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, a network of radars, anti-ballistic missiles and other equipment designed to protect the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles. (Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Andrea Ricci)


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.