(Corrects data in paragraphs 2 and 10)
By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON March 16 Nearly half of President
Donald Trump's 2017 $30 billion supplemental defense budget
proposal would go to buy and modernize warplanes, warships and
missiles, a down payment on Trump's promises to boost military
Although Congress must approve the $13.5 bln request and is
likely to make changes, Boeing Co would be one of the
biggest beneficiaries of the administration's proposal, which
included $2.3 billion for 24 F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet jet
fighters. This is 10 more than the U.S. House of Representatives
approved on March 8 in its 2017 base spending bill.
The Navy will use the additional money to bolster its aging
fleet of fighters, Lieutenant General Anthony Ierardi, the
director of Force Structure, Resources and Assessment for the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters.
In a Dec. 22 tweet, before he was inaugurated, Trump had
suggested buying more Boeing F/A-18s, which he called
"comparable" to the Lockheed Martin F-35, despite the
fact that the F-35 is a stealth aircraft difficult for enemy
radar to detect. The 1990s-vintage F/A-18 is does not use
The Navy also proposed $920 million to buy six Boeing P-8
submarine-hunting aircraft. The Army requested $708 million for
20 Boeing Apache attack helicopters.
Lockheed Martin is also one of the big winners in the
Pentagon officials said the request for additional 2017
funds would help accelerate planned acquisitions of F-35 Joint
Strike Fighters. The Pentagon budgeted $596 million to buy five
of the stealthy jets, which cost between $95 million and $123
million each, depending on the model.
In the past, President Trump had complained about the
"tremendous cost and cost overruns" of the F-35 program, which
is the Pentagon's most expensive weapons program.
The Pentagon budgeted $151 million for Lockheed's THAAD
missile defense and $376 million for 17 Blackhawk helicopters
made by Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed subsidiary.
The proposal also requested $433 million to complete the
third version of the DDG-51 Navy destroyer being built by
General Dynamics Corp at Bath Iron Works in Maine. A
General Accounting Office report published on Aug. 4 said the
Navy "has not demonstrated sufficient acquisition and design
knowledge" to provide an accurate estimate of the vessel's cost.
The administration's supplemental request takes the base
Pentagon budget for fiscal 2017 to $541 billion, analyst Robert
Stallard of Vertical Research said in a report on Thursday.
Congress will likely consider the request before April 28,
when the current Defense Department funding expires.
(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by John Walcott and Dan