FY 2022 PBR Highlights
The FY 2022 defense budget request represents a modest increase of 1.6% from the FY 2021 enacted. The budget divests from a number of legacy systems and increases investment in research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E). Each service branch is undertaking procurement shake-ups. Language being used by DoD and the administration points to a clear tradeoff of procurement and legacy systems for research and investment into future capabilities needed in the era of great power competition.
In what is unsurprising news to some, the Army has arguably been the hardest-hit service in the FY 22 President’s Budget Request (PBR), losing $3.6 billion in funding compared to last year. Procurement spending is down 12% against the FY 21 enacted budget, driven by 7 eliminated programs and 37 delayed or reduced programs. Vertical lift also took a procurement hit as Chinook, Black Hawk, and Apache helicopter orders were reduced. The Army has made these spending sacrifices to protect what it considers its six key modernization priorities: 1) long-range precision fires ($1.55 billion), 2) next-generation vehicles ($1.46 billion), 3) future vertical lift ($1.57 billion), 4) the network ($2.65 billion), 5) air and missile defense ($1.73 billion) and 6) soldier lethality ($367 million). Together, these six programs represent 76% of the science and technology research money in the Army’s budget. The Army also emphasized Project Convergence, a learning campaign for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning enabled battlefield management system.
While the Navy has seen an overall increase in its topline budget in the FY 2022 request, the service is set to experience significant procurement cuts. The Navy budget allows $22.6 billion for the construction of eight new ships, notably only one Arleigh Burke-Class destroyer, a request which Rear Admiral John Gumbleton described as coming down to affordability. The budget request keeps the ship count at 296 and leaves the service well off-track to meet a past Trump administration goal of 316 ships by 2026. Aviation procurement is down 15.6%, as the purchases for several high-end systems come to an end. The Navy plans to cut legacy FA-18 aircraft down from 150 to 50 aircraft, leveraging the new F-35s and existing newer aircraft to compensate. Investment in the Columbia-Class strategic ballistic missile submarine was described by Rear Adm. Gumbleton as the number one priority.
The 2022 budget request increases the Marine Corps’ procurement budget while cutting end strength (much of which is tied to legacy systems currently being phased out). Under this PBR the Marine Corps is set to purchase 613 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs), 92 Amphibious Combat Vehicles, 8 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) systems, and 17 F-35Bs, seven more than FY 21. Anne McAndrew, performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/CFO, noted that the “Marine Corps is continuing their progression towards their Force Design 2030.”
The FY 22 PBR increases the Air Force topline budget by around 3.3% from the FY 21 enacted level. Interestingly, the budget calls for 12 fewer F-35A joint strike fighters (48) than were enacted the previous year. The proposal increases spending on developing new systems and improving existing ones, while divesting from older aircraft. To “invest in technologies and field systems that are both lethal and survivable against a peer threat,” the Air Force will divest 42 A-10s (saving $343.9 million), 48 F-15 C/Ds (saving $248.9 million) and 47 F-16 C/Ds (saving $30.9 million). The B-21 Raider budget now sits at $3.3 billion as the classified aircraft enters manufacturing. The aged B-52 fleet has been allotted to receive $200 million for modernization efforts on its engines, communications, and radars. The replacement for Minuteman III, the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) remains fully funded at $1.1 billion. As well, the service is procuring 14 more KC-46 Pegasus aerial refuelers.
Within the Air Force’s budget request, the FY 22 Space Force budget ($17.5 billion) represents a 13.1% increase from the enacted 2021 budget. Much of that increase has come from transfers from other services and classified accounts. The FY 22 PBR focuses on RDT&E (which is a whopping $11.3 billion of the Space Force FY 22 budget) and replacing vulnerable space command-and-control systems, which have been described by DoD documents as “insufficient for us to prevail in future conflict.” $2.8 billion will be used for the procurement of new space vehicles, ground control, and other related systems. The Space Force’s top priority is to develop aJoint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept that compliments the other services’ integration plans.