Defense Spending Glance
Highlights of a $459.6 billion Pentagon spending bill approved by the House on Sunday:
$3.5 billion less than requested by President Bush
$105 billion in personnel costs
$137.1 billion for operations and maintenance
$99.6 billion to procure weapons systems
$76.2 billion for research, development and testing
$2.2 billion to provide a 3.5 percent pay raise for military personnel
$6 billion for 7,000 additional Army soldiers and 5,000 marines
$23 billion for health care costs of the military and Pentagon employees
$8.5 billion for ballistic missile defense
$3.2 billion for the Army's next-generation Future Combat System
Luckily, most major US defense systems remained intact under the Democratic-controlled Congress. Sadly, several big ticket (and useless) items like the F-22 Raptor (at $200 million dolalrs each) and the Virginia-class submarins ($2 billion each) continue to be funded. Both of these weapons systems are an over-priced waste of taxpayers money. For example, since no one in the world can outperform US fighter pilots, the F-22 can easily be replaced by upgrade F-15s. F-22s are fighter interceptors, not bombers, and are horrifically overpriced (each F-15s costs $50 million, the F-22 an absurd $200 million each).
The Virginia-class submarines are not needed bcause the 50+ Los Angeles-class subs the United States currently owns are more than enough to patrol the worlds oceans. When the former Soviet Union fell apart in 1990 the need for these sorts of subs declined drastically, but their numbers have not. We don't need more of this type of submarine. Fortunately the Bush Administration has begun to start to think outside the box and funding for converting nuclear armed submarines (SSBNs) to conventionally armed weapons continues. Armed with over 150 Tomahawk missiles, these four submarines have the same firepower as an entire US Navy battlegroup.
Called "Tactical Tridents", these submarines continue to be refitted for service in the US Navy. Ohio (SSGN-726) completed its conversion and began sea trials in early 2006. Since that time, USS Michigan (SSGN-727) and USS Florida (SSGN-728) have rejoined the fleet in the new configuration with USS Georgia (SSGN-729) still undergoing conversion. Florida conducted the initial testing required to determine whether the SSGN project was in fact possible. This included the first launching of a Tomahawk missile from the SSBN platform. If the maximum of 154 Tomahawk missiles were loaded, one Ohio class SSGN would carry an entire Battle Group's equivalent of cruise missiles. In crisis and transition to war, when air dominance and surface superiority are not assured, an SSGN can serve as a stealthy strike platform that could operate independently in denied areas, no matter who dominates the air or surface battle space.
In the past, when trouble struck in a global hotspot, it has been said that one of the first questions an American President asks has been "Where are the carriers?" In future, that question may often change to "Where are the Tactical Tridents?" The ability to arrive unnoticed with up to 154 long-range land-attack missiles, launch Tomahawks, and then slip away silently beneath the waves, will make the new Tactical Trident SSGNs the US Navy's premier future strike platform next to its carrier fleet. The SOF/Strike mission flexibility and undetectability of the new SSGNs may even make them more important and useful in a number of future conflict scenarios. Indeed, if anti-shipping missile technologies and related systems continue to advance faster than defensive improvements, the SSGN fleet's survivability may vault them into the #1 position as America's primary strike platform near a number of key global choke points.
SSGNs would be based in Kings Bay, Georgia, and Bangor, Washington to take advantage of existing infrastructure support. The ships would use the Trident Refit Facility to continue the Trident maintenance concept - crucial to the planned 72% ship OPTEMPO - and would benefit from the existing Trident Training Facility and other submarine support capabilities. SSGNs would transit to the SEAL training areas at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, or Little Creek, Virginia, for combined exercises and predeployment training.
Conveting ballistic missiles from being nuclear-armed to conventional warheads is also a new program that the US Navy and Air Force continue to work on. At the end of the Cold War the United States found itself with almost 10,000 ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. Luckily, someone in the Defense Department began looking at alternate uses for these deadly missiles and a new field of conventionally-armed missiles came into existence. These missiles can strike anywhere on the planet in under 30 minutes so it was decided to put non-nuclear warheads on them and use them as surgical strike weapons. Their warheads can home in on an enemy to within 30 feet, delivering a devastating military strike in minutes after the decision comes from Washington, DC.
Arming US missiles under the command of the Air Force also continues. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are now being converted to non-nuclear strike missions. Other incredible weapons systems are also being funded by Congress, including the outstanding Airborne Laser (ABL). A converted 747 aircraft has been loaded with an enormous laser which is intended to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles as they rise from a foreign nation, making the debris from the missile and its' warhead fall back on the enemy territory. The ABL is an incredible program, with 6 aircraft intended to be built.
An unknown fact about most of the super-advanced weaponry coming out of the United States, including stealth technology, ion drives for space, plasma shield technology, new "photon torpedoes", advanced lasers like those being mounted on the ABL, and automated weapons come from one source: a UFO that crash landed in the New Mexico desert and is now held at Area 51. Reverse engineering equipment from the UFO has enabled the US military to create a vast fields of super weapons. New weapons coming online are shocking plasma weapons that disable troops, beam weapons that disperse crowds using microwaves, powered armor, robotic weapons that can "hear" and "see" and fire projectiles that are formed according to the target, and even a "subspace drive". Thank you Little Grey Men! :)