Military gives Congress its $36 billion spending wish list; Lockheed, Bell on the list

Roxana Tiron (c) 2014, Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has sent Congress a $36 billion wish list for equipment and operations that aren’t in the Pentagon’s official budget for the coming fiscal year.

The list, compiled by the military services at the request of the House Armed Services Committee, was obtained Thursday by Bloomberg News. The Army sought $10.6 billion more than the Pentagon’s proposed budget for fiscal 2015, followed by the Navy’s $10 billion and the Air Force’s $8 billion.

The results may shape the next defense authorization measure, which the committee plans to start working on at the end of this month. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, the California Republican who heads the House committee, this year revived a practice that started in the mid-1990s by soliciting the “unfunded requirements” lists from the military branches.

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They had become a way for the military brass to lobby their favorite programs over the heads of their civilian superiors, until then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates all but banned them.

In submitting the new list requested by McKeon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “do not recommend funding any of these additional items” unless Congress provides more money than the total in President Barack Obama’s budget plus his request for added funds, which already has been rejected by Republican budget-writers.

The Marine Corps, which is part of the Department of the Navy, submitted an unfunded requirements list of about $2.5 billion, which includes five Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35C Joint Strike Fighters and one F-35 in the B variant to replace the combat loss of six Harrier aircraft.

The list also includes projects requested by the Special Operations Command, National Guard and other commands.

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In addition to the budget request for $496 billion, not counting war operations, Obama proposed a $56 billion “opportunity, growth and security initiative,” which in effect is a supplemental wish list for multiple departments, including $26 billion for the Pentagon.

Highlights of the Army’s list:

— $1.3 billion for facility upkeep and modernization;

— $1.5 billion for base support and readiness;

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— $1.4 billion for aviation assets including 23 Boeing Co. re-manufactured Apache helicopters, two Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 28 Sikorsky Black Hawk choppers. Sikorsky is a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Navy Highlights:

— Requests for aircraft spare parts;

— Increased activity at depot maintenance facilities;

— An additional 22 Boeing EA-18 G electronic attack; aircraft and three Boeing C-40 aircraft;

— $4 million to expand the service’s program using trained dolphins to detect mines;

— A request by the Navy and Marine Corps of $15 million to research and develop a midair refueling capability for V-22 aircraft built by Boeing and Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter unit.

Air Force Highlights:

— $153.8 million to improve its nuclear force program;

— $200 million for combat search and rescue helicopters;

— $372 million for 2 F-35s and 12 General Atomics MQ-9 drones.