The administration’s budget recommendations “favor a smaller and more capable force,” placing a premium on “rapidly deployable” troops and gear “that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries.”
High-tech is the key phrase in this budget. Drones have been integral to the Pentagon’s military campaigns. The difference in the future, however, is that the Defense Department no longer expects that the drones will operate in uncontested airspace, as they have in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And so the Air Force “will slow the growth of its arsenal of armed, unmanned systems that, while effective against insurgents and terrorists, cannot operate in the face of enemy aircraft and modern air defenses.”
At the same time, the Pentagon is retiring the 50-year-old U2 in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk. And the much-lauded, much-criticized, most-expensive-weapon-in-US-history, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is still a priority for the Pentagon, which will also be putting another $1 billion into “promising next-generation jet engine technology, which we expect to produce sizable cost savings through reduced fuel consumption and lower maintenance needs.”
This new funding – in a nod to lawmakers and their pork – will in turn “ensure a robust industrial base,” Hagel added, “itself a national strategic asset.”