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Modernization a Top Priority in Fiscal 1997 Budget

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 1996 – Modernizing the force is a top priority in DoD's fiscal 1997 budget, senior defense officials said.

Procurement funds will increase by about 40 percent over the next four years, officials said. The fiscal 1997 budget dedicates $38.9 billion to modernization and procurement.

Under this budget, DoD will continue developing leapahead weapon systems, speed up equipment upgrades and expand DoD's ability to move troops and equipment to world trouble spots. The request would also improve battlefield intelligence and reconnaissance, and strengthen missile defense programs.

From fiscal 1990 to this year, officials said, procurement funds dropped 60 percent and DoD reduced the armed forces by about onethird. The services phased out older equipment, resulting in a drop in the average age of equipment. With the drawdown nearly over, officials said, it's time to modernize the force.

The procurement budget includes $7.4 billion for leapahead systems like the F22 advanced tactical fighter and $1.8 billion to upgrade current systems like the M1A2 Abrams tank and Bradley fighting vehicle.

Defense officials are placing major emphasis on expanding the nation's powerprojection capabilities. The fiscal 1997 budget includes $7.3 billion to improve airlift and sealift capability by developing and purchasing equipment like the C17 Globemaster III, the B2 Stealth bomber and Fast Sealift Ships.

Officials will enhance battlefield awareness through funds to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. About $3.2 billion is budgeted toward this effort. This includes such technology as the Global Broadcast System, the E8A Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Operations in Bosnia, including the deployment of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, have renewed emphasis on DoD's ability to provide realtime, accurate information in the field, an official said.

Strengthening theater missile defense programs is another modernization priority, they said. Theater commanders asked DoD to emphasize theater missile defense. About $2.8 billion is going to deploy defensive technology such as the Patriot III missile and to develop other systems such as Theater HighAltitude Area Defense. The administration also budgeted $2 billion for research on national missile defense through fiscal 2001.

The fiscal 1997 budget allocates $2 billion for the F22, the Air Force's "nextgeneration" air superiority fighter, officials said. The F22 will eventually replace the F15 fighter and is designed to penetrate enemy airspace and achieve firstlook, firstkill capability against multiple targets, they said. DoD plans to buy 40 for $11.1 billion during the next four years. The first F22 squadron will be operational in 2004, officials said.

Nearly $600 million is allocated for the Joint Strike Fighter program to develop an affordable nextgeneration strike fighter for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and U.S. allies. The fighter will replace the F16, the AV8B and F/A18 and supplement the Navy's F/A18E/F. Between fiscal 1998 and 2001, DoD projects $3.2 billion for the program.

DoD is buying 12 F/A18E/F Hornet aircraft in fiscal 1997 for $2.6 billion. The Navy and Marine Corps will deploy the twinengine, multimission, tactical aircraft to fighter and attack squadrons. It will have enhanced range, payload and survivability features compared to earlier models of the aircraft. The Hornet E/F will replace the C/D model and partially replace the A6E Intruder and the F14A Tomcat.

The new Hornet will perform strike, interdiction, close air support, fighter escort and fleet air defense missions. During the next four years, DoD plans to buy 150 of the aircraft for $14.3 billion.

DoD is buying four V22 Osprey aircraft for $1.1 billion in fiscal 1997. The tiltrotor, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft will perform airborne assault, vertical lift, combat search and rescue and special operations missions. Between fiscal 1998 and 2001, DoD plans to buy 31 Ospreys for $3.9 billion.

Funds are allocated to accelerate upgrading 120 M1A2 Abrams tanks at a cost of $300 million. Another $300 million will go to upgrade Bradleys. Apache Longbows, F14 fighters, AV8B Harriers and B1B Lancer bombers will be upgraded at a cost of $120 million.

Improving airlift and sealift capabilities includes purchasing eight C17 Globemasters in fiscal 1997, officials said. Between fiscal 1998 and 2001, DoD plans to buy another 52 C17s at a cost of $12.9 billion.

About $3.4 billion will go to buy four DDG51 Aegis destroyers. DoD plans to buy 11 Aegis destroyers between fiscal 1998 and 2001 at a cost of $11.8 billion. About $600 million is going to the B2 Stealth bomber program in fiscal 1997; another $1.4 billion will go to the Stealth bomber program between fiscal 1998 and 2001.

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