The military services have sent Congress their annual "unfunded requirements" lists
The services say restoring readiness is their highest priority
The military has a wish list for Congress – and it’s more than $31 billion long.
The military services have sent Congress their annual “unfunded requirements” lists, known as the military “wish lists” around Capitol Hill. The lists, obtained by CNN, ask for additional planes, ships, tanks and money for training and manpower that they could not include in their budget request but still would like Congress to fund if money wasn’t an object.
President Donald Trump’s defense budget, unveiled last month, is seeking a 9.8% increase over the Fiscal Year 2017 request, the wish lists ask for increased spending on top of that.
In recent years, congressional Republicans have used the wish lists as blueprints for what to add to the defense budget.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served under both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, tried to put a stop to the wish lists, arguing the services used them to circumvent the Defense Department’s budgetary wishes.
But the lists came back under Gates’ successors and have been issued every year since.
This year, they include big requests: The Army is seeking another $12.7 billion, the Air Force is asking for $10.7 billion, the Navy wants an extra $4.8 billion and the Marine Corps $3.2 billion.
The unfunded requests are sure to fuel calls from defense hawks – who complained that Trump’s budget failed to strengthen the military as much as they would like – to boost the defense budget above the $603 billion request and up to the $640 billion that Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry are seeking.
Here’s a look at what’s included in the military’s wish lists:
Readiness and training
The services say restoring readiness is their highest priority.
The military has warned that it has slashed training and readiness programs in recent years in order to grapple with budget constraints, cutting training for units that aren’t immediately deploying and deferring maintenance for ships, planes and more.
The Navy’s list includes maintenance for a host of items, while the Air Force says training is its top unfunded requirement. The Air Force list includes $79 million for battlefield airmen training, and $83 million for additional F-35 maintenance training instructors.
The Army, meanwhile, says it’s asking for an additional $590 million in training dollars.
Additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
The Air Force: $1.7 billion for 14 F-35s
The Marines: $616 million for four F-35Bs jets and another $260 million for two of the Navy’s F-35C models.
The Navy: $540 million for four additional F-35 fighters.
The fighter jet has been in development for nearly 15 years and is touted as the most advanced weapons system of the modern era, combining stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology.
It comes in three variants. The A version is flown by the US Air Force, the B version by the Marines, and the C version will become part of the US Navy’s fleet.
All three services are anxious to integrate the F-35 into the fleet despite the fact the jet is still in development.
Another 17,000 Army soldiers
The Army is asking for $3.1 billion in order to pay for an additional 17,000 soldiers.
The $3.1 billion for “increased capacity,” as the Army puts it, would pay for 10,000 additional active soldiers, 4,000 more in the Army National Guard, and 3,000 in the Army Reserve.
Munitions and helicopters
The Army is seeking an assortment of new equipment, including additional missiles, ammunition and helicopters.
The Army wish list seeks $2.3 billion for munitions, including $1.3 billion for Patriot surface-to-air missiles and an additional $800 million for ammunition.
The service’s modernization wish list nearly tops $4.9 billion. The request asks for an additional nine AH-64E Apache helicopters, three UH-60V Black Hawk helicopters and nine CH-47F Chinooks.
The Army is also seeking funds for 33 more Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 29 Abrams Tanks and 35 Hercules Recovery Vehicles.
10 F/A-18 Super Hornets: $739 million
As it waits for the F-35 to become operational, the Navy hopes it can add more F/A-18 Super Hornets to help update its aging air fleet.
The Navy already included funding for 14 Super Hornets in its initial FY18 budget but is asking for 10 additional aircraft.
Boeing has continuously updated the Super Hornet with new electronics, bigger fuel tanks and new stealth features.
The Navy estimates a portion of their current F/A-18 fleet will remain in use through 2030.
Six P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft: $1 billion
The P-8A Poseidon is the Navy’s newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft – capable of conducting anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare missions as well as performing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.
45 CMV-22B Ospreys: $392 million
The CV-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft, according to the Air Force. It specializes in long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces.
Air Force aircraft
A-10 Thunderbolt II: $83 million in funding to give new wings to four A-10s
Retirement rumors have swirled around the US military’s venerable close-air support aircraft for years, but the battle-tested airplane, known as the Warthog, will live to fight for at least the foreseeable future, according to the Air Force.
The Air Force hopes this upgrade will help extend the life of the 1970s-era aircraft.
Three KC-46A tankers: $600 million
The KC-46A Pegasus is designed to carry passengers, cargo and injured military personal and can “detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, which will enable it to operate safely in medium-threat environments,” according to Boeing.
Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 aircraft for the US Air Force.
12 MC-130J refueling aircraft: $1.2 billion
Marine Corps aircraft
In addition to more F-35s, the Marines want more aircraft and helicopters.
The Marine wish list includes:
Four KC-130J aircraft: $356 million
Two CH-53K King Stallion helicopters: $288 million
Two MV-22 Ospreys: $181 million
The Marines are also asking for $221 million for seven AH-1Z attack helicopters, $312 million for another five ship-to-shore connectors and $228 million for two C-40A transport planes.
Littoral Combat Ship upgrades
Upgrades to four littoral combat ships: $84 million
Meet the littoral combat ship
The Navy is asking for upgraded radars, decoys and electronic warfare systems on four of its littoral combat ships.
Upgrades to three Virginia-class submarines: $76 million
The Navy is asking to upgrade the combat systems of three of its Virginia-class attack submarines.
Along with the ability to attack onshore targets with Tomahawk cruise missile, Virginia-class attack submarines conduct long-term surveillance of land areas and are used in anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare along with minefield mapping capabilities.