Defense Business Brief: Budget Day preview; LaPlante’s confirmation; rockets delivered; and more.
We’re quickly approaching that time of year when budget wonks rejoice. On Monday, the Biden administration is expected to release its fiscal 2023 budget proposal. The Pentagon’s slice of the White House spending plan is reportedly $773 billion, up from the $743.2 billion Congress recently approved for 2022.
This week, a group of 40 Republican lawmakers called on the Biden administration to increase defense spending by at least 5 percent above inflation. For what it’s worth, $770 is about $4 percent above the enacted 2022 spending level, not counting inflation. We’ll see what the top line ends up being.
Some budget stuff we already know:
- $276 billion of the $773 billion will go to procurement and research-and-development efforts, Inside Defense reports.
- It will buy 61 F-35s, 33 fewer than planned last year, Bloomberg reports.
- The Air Force will launch two new drone programs, Politico reports.
- The Navy wants to retire 10 Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships, Politico reports.
Make sure you visit Defense One throughout the day on Monday for budget updates.
On Capitol Hill, Bill LaPlante, the Biden administration's nominee to be defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, finally had his Senate confirmation hearing. Among the highlights, he said the U.S. needs more weapons-making factories. The U.S. has been raiding its arsenals to arm the Ukrainian military battling Russia.
LaPlante, a former Air Force acquisition chief who is now the CEO of the non-profit Draper Labs, continued a common theme we’ve heard from acquisition officials in recent years: the Pentagon needs more competition to sustain its weapons. “We have too many places in the system where the [original equipment manufacturer] has vendor lock,” he said during the Tuesday hearing. “And we're tied into that OEM decades later, when we could bring in competition if we had the intellectual property on the part.”
Here are LaPlante’s prepared opening statement and written answers to senators’ initial policy questions.
Rocket startup Ursa Major delivered its first engines to Phantom Space and Stratolaunch, the company announced this week. Phantom Space intends to use the “Hadley” rocket engine for satellite launches while Stratolaunch intends to use it for a “hypersonic testbed vehicle.” Some background on Ursa Major is here.
From Defense One
State of Defense 2022 // Defense One Staff
Our annual service-by-service look at where the U.S. military is, and where it's going.
US Needs More Arms Factories, Says Chief Weapons-Buyer Nominee // Marcus Weisgerber
Bill LaPlante also said he wants to speed up deliveries of weapons and equipment to Ukraine.
Work Urgently, Lockheed's New Space Chief Tells His Team // Marcus Weisgerber
Robert Lightfoot wants to meet the Pentagon's desire to move quickly.
It's Time for a Protected Humanitarian Airlift into Lviv // Philip Breedlove and Barry Pavel
Russia has no right to dictate who may fly into and out of Ukrainian airspace.
US Mulls Larger Permanent Force in Europe, Sends More Missiles to Ukraine // Tara Copp
U.S., NATO will take "hard look" at European security footprint no matter how the Ukrainian fight goes, U.S. official says.
NATO Ignores Zelenskyy's Plea For 1% of Its Tanks, Jets // Jacqueline Feldscher
Alliance announces four new battlegroups as GOP calls for more direct aid to Ukraine.
The US Needs a Center to Counter Foreign Malign Influence at Home // Brian Murphy
National security entities coordinate their fight against disinformation abroad. They need a way to do so within our borders.
What We Learned from Russia's Assaults on Nuclear Plants // Ernest J. Moniz and Richard A. Meserve
Governments, international organizations, and nuclear plant operators have a lot of work to do.