Pentagon Cuts Research Budget by $500 Million

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The Defense Department’s proposed budget for fiscal 2015 would cut $500 million from science and technology accounts, the so-called seed corn of military superiority.

The Pentagon’s spending plan unveiled on March 4 requests $11.5 billion for the S&T program, a $500 million, or 4.2 percent, decline from this year.

“Although the FY 2015 request is slightly lower than the FY 2014 enacted amount of $12.0 billion, the Department’s S&T program remains strong and continues the focus on Anti-access/Area-denial, and the rebalance to the Asia Pacific region,” the budget overview states.

The funding level reflects just 2 percent of the Pentagon’s overall base, or non-war, budget of $496 billion. Broken down by program, the S&T request includes $5 billion for advanced technology development, $4.5 billion for applied research and $2 billion for basic research, according to the document.

Several specific missions were identified for funding, such as “project power despite anti-access/area-denial challenges,” at $2 billion; “counter weapons of mass destruction,” $1 billion; “operate effectively in cyberspace and space,” $900 million, “electronic warfare,” $500 million and “high-speed kinetic strike” vehicles, $300 million.

Broken down by institution, the research budget would include almost $3 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, about $2 billion apiece for the Army, Navy and Air Force, another $2 billion for basic research and additional funding for the National Advanced Manufacturing Initiative.

The DARPA funding is “to develop technologies for revolutionary, high-payoff military capabilities,” the document states. The agency’s work into computers and networks famously helped lead to hypertext and the Internet.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, has warned lawmakers that American military technological superiority isn’t assured amid an era of automatic federal spending reductions known as sequestration.

“This is not a future problem,” he said. “It’s a here-and-now problem.”

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Bernard

    They could have just canceled the F35 and kept their “seed corn.”

    • Nadnerbus

      And their A-10s, and their U2s, and their carrier battle group, and just about everything else.

      • William_C1

        And when the old F-16s the F-35 is supposed to replace fall apart? Then what? More F-16s? Will the Russians and Chinese kindly stop work on their new fighter designs while we keep producing F-16s for the next 30 years?

        • Sev

          How about some more F-22s! It is way more effective than the POS known as the F35

          • Praetorian

            The F-22 is a great aircraft, but it’s attack capability is limited.

          • blight_

            For now.

            I wonder how much cost LM could stick on us if they offered to re-open the 22 line. Hey…maybe Israel wants some F-22’s. They could pay to reopen the line.

        • KC-170

          Thank you.

        • Nadnerbus

          I would rather have continued procuring those legacy platforms and putting off the production of a replacement fighter until it was actually ready for production.

          Don’t get me wrong, I think we need the F-35, and probably, eventually, it will become a pretty good platform. But almost every air power egg of every service was put in that particular basket before it was even finished being woven. Now we are throwing out existing eggs to keep the new ones from falling through the holes in it.

          I may have stretched that metaphor way too far.

        • Lance

          Not really no new planes enter either Russian and or Chinese service. They are still flying MiG-29s and SU-27s (Russia) or MiG-21s and SU-27s (China).

          • Praetorian

            Russian new Aircraft as of Feb. 2014
            34 new Su-35’s with a total of 60 on order
            27 Su-30’s some M2’s some SM, with another 60 of the Su-30SM on order that will be completed in 2016. In 2013 Russia contracted with
            50 Su-30’s for the Russian Navy & 16 Su-30M2 for the Russian Air force
            24 Su-34’s with a total of 124 by 2020
            PAK-FA 5 prototypes

            China has 270 J-10A’s and is now producing the J-10B’s with AESA radar also since 1998 China has produced 175 J-11B’s, they are also in talks with Russia to procure 24 Su-35’s
            J-20 4 prototypes
            J-31 only seen 1 prototype

            And yes they are still flying Mig-29’s & Su-27’s ( Russia )

    • Lance

      Overall you right we don’t need the failed JSF but like I said this whole budget is full of military politics and cheating the NG for fulfill there pea brained wish list.

    • SuperGuest

      The F-35 won’t be cancelled, it’s just not going to happen. That ship sailed a long time ago, it might have even a serious possibility in 2010 or 2011 but not now. Over a hundred have been built, training has started, IOC is next year, and export orders are coming in. For better or worse, it’s going to happen, so can we stop beating that dead horse?

  • Can’t believe the cuts will survive congress’s final budget. If for no other reason than the research being done is spread over a large number of congressional districts.

  • citanon

    With the situation in Russia this budget proposal will probably see some change on Capitol Hill.

    • Thunder350

      Especially being most representatives minds are still stuck in the cold war era like Putin’s.

  • Dfens

    Well, let’s see, what great things has military R&D spending given us over the last few decades? Hmm, the only game changer I see is stealth, and that R&D all started at the Lockheed Skunk Works. Then there are UAV’s — thanks General Atomics, and the .50 cal sniper rifle — thanks Barrett. Military R&D is more about the research for the sake of endless funding programs like rail guns, otherwise known as “corporate welfare”. The real shame is that the military doesn’t use their R&D funds to do basic research in their own labs anymore. That’s where we used to get things like the X-1 through the X-15 series of supersonic research vehicles. You know, stuff that actually mattered.

    • blight_

      This just in, the NIH and NCI stop funding extramural grants to universities. It is now replaced with RFP’s to “Cure Cancer” that Merck, Pfizer and Schering-Plough bid for. They will be paid cost-plus for pharma product on delivery and per-pill delivered.

      To compensate for the high costs of R&D the number of pills produced will drop, until only twenty cancer-curing pills are produced, at a cost of 90 million apiece.

    • Deuterium2H

      Dfens: “Well, let’s see, what great things has military R&D spending given us over the last few decades? Hmm, the only game changer I see is stealth…”

      Challenge Accepted!
      Okay, let’s see, just looking back through the past few decades…

      — AESA radar
      — Unmanned ISR and strike drones, including upcoming broadband stealth UCLASS systems
      — Precision attack munitions using multi-mode seekers (GPS, IR, etc.)
      — Kinetic hit-to-kill ABM interceptors
      — Advances in LO, reactor, and propulsion technology for nuclear submarines.
      — Mk 41 VLS launch system for AEGIS destroyers and cruisers, suitable hot launch of an array of USN missiles including for SM -1,-2, -3, and -6 Standard, Sea Sparrow and Tomahawk families of missiles. Advanced Mk 57 VLS system for DDG-1000 Zumwalt class
      — Advanced Solid-state, Fiber and Free-electron Lasers for Anti-Air, Anti-Ship and Anti-Missile capabilities, soon to be fielded and operational
      — Electromagnetic Rail Gun technology
      — Advanced mobile and portable detectors for identifying and discriminating Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare agents.
      — Advanced mobile and portable detectors for conventional chemical explosives
      — Successful proof-of-concept, development and test of a SCRAMJET hypersonic vehicle.
      — SBIRS Space tracking and surveillance system

      …JUST TO NAME A FEW OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD, ALL OF WHICH ARE “GAME CHANGERS”

      • KC-170

        That sounds spot on. I don’t know who didn’t do there homework. But it’s obvious you did. Good job. Now why aren’t you writing defense tech article.

        • Dfens

          Yeah, here’s a big kiss from me too. I can’t believe I forgot about all that crap. Oh wait, I did mention rail guns. Remember the part where I talked about “corporate welfare”? Not surprising that you’d miss that. Game changers my ass. If by game changing you mean they’re programs that spend us into the poor house so China can kick our ass, then ok, they’re game changing all right.

          • Deuterium2H

            Uh huh. Except…you did forget about “all that crap”. Every single one of the capabilities and technologies I listed, have either been adopted (*cough* stolen), in active, catch-up development…or on the “wish list” by China.

            However, it seems as though your anti-American and/or anti-Government bias is unwilling to accept the fact that each and every example I listed represents a game-changing technology, and many represent a complete REVOLUTION in military offensive/defensive capabilities.

            Are these revolutionary capabilities cheap? Hell No. Are there major problems with graft, mis-management, profiteering and gross incompetence within DOD contracts and programs. Absolutely.

            However, “corporate welfare”, as you call it, is not responsible for the ridiculous Federal deficit. The unfettered expansion of Social programs, the 2008 financial crisis AND the stupendously expensive prosecution of two wars, along with pipe-dream aspirations of nation building (and resulting infusion of capitol) is what has caused the current deficit situation.

            By comparison, the sum total of ALL costs associated with the military R&D and procurement of the capabilities I listed are a relative drop in the bucket.

          • Dfens

            It was stolen from defense contractors by China, and now conveniently those contractors need more R&D funds from the government to generate more information for the China to steal? Are you f’ing kidding me? What kind of idiot funds a system like that? Oh yeah, the US taxpayer. And if $500 million is a drop in the bucket, then those jerks can learn to live without it, can’t they?

    • tiger

      How many new toys do we need to kill people?

      • Dfens

        If these “research projects” ever got that far it would be a helluva big step forward from what happens now. Now they are nothing but welfare for the rich. They funnel money to defense contractors who drag these projects out for as long as humanly possible just to skim their 10% off the top. Hell, we’d be better off to dump the money in a toilet than we are to give it to a defense contractor. At least if it were dumped into a toilet, it none of it could be used to pay a Washington DC lobbyist.

        • reality

          so what exactly do you want them to do, short of becoming the neutral Swiss or hiding in a hole? if we invest in legacy stuff, I’m sure the rant will be “we are paying the contractors to make stuff we don’t need”. You related to Putin or a Chinese military person, because I cannot understand what your end game is save for just cutting off all defense spending. The US is this close to being able to get the lasers going, followed by railguns. That alone would be a massive step to neutralize the AAD tactics of China.

        • Talgat

          The very internet you are using to express your opinion here is a 100% result of Pentagon R&D.

  • EW3

    R&D money only advances our technological advantage.
    Much better to buy votes with ObamaPhones.

    • Kurt Montandon

      You mean Reaganphones? Or maybe even Bushphones, given that the Lifeline Program was expanded to include cellphones in 2005?

      Wait, sorry, I keep forgetting that Obama invented welfare.

    • blight_

      http://www.fcc.gov/lifeline

      Since 1985, the Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services. In 2005, Lifeline discounts were made available to qualifying low-income consumers on pre-paid wireless service plans in addition to traditional landline service. Lifeline is part of the Universal Service Fund.

      The Lifeline program is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, territory, commonwealth, and on Tribal lands. Consumers with proper proof of eligibility may be qualified to enroll. To participate in the program, consumers must have an income that is at or below 135% of the federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in a qualifying state, federal or Tribal assistance program.
      […]
      The Lifeline program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC is responsible for data collection and maintenance, support calculation, and disbursement for the low-income program. USAC’s website provides information regarding administrative aspects of the low-income program, as well as program requirements.

      On January 31, 2012, the Commission adopted comprehensive reform and modernization of the Lifeline program. As a universal service program that fulfills Congress’s mandate to ensure the availability of communications to all Americans, Lifeline for the past 25 years has helped tens of millions of low-income Americans afford basic phone service. Access to telephone service is essential for finding a job, connecting with family, or getting help in an emergency, and the percentage of low-income households with phone service has increased from 80% in 1985, when Lifeline began, to nearly 92% last year.

      USAC is a non-profit. I wonder if they are a moneysink.

    • dr horrible

      So instead of responding to Kurt and Blight’s sober rebuttals in a critical fashion, you chose to imply that users of the program have underdeveloped speaking abilities and thought processes? Can you tell us why you did that?

      • blight_

        It’s hibeam.

      • hibeam

        If you have a few stray cats in your back yard the solution is to put out plates of tuna each morning. At first it will seem like it aggravates the problem. Try adding saucers of milk.

        • blight_

          True, but euthanizing poor people is unlikely to be popular.

          • Dfens

            We never get tired of “welfare for the rich” though, because that’s exactly what our defense program has become.

  • ibsteve2u

    “high-speed kinetic strike” vehicles, $300 million…would that it were more. Need to ramp up anti-missile capabilities…they’re entirely too cheap to build especially if you’ve been given the requisite technology and its means of mass and rapid manufacture and further can manipulate your currency exchange rates at will.

    • afret1991

      That would buy a lot of high speed ammunition, would it not?

  • 009

    And Putin will begin to march his military beginning in Europe!

  • hibeam

    We have reset buttons now. Do we really even need a Pentagon research budget? Wouldn’t that just antagonize all our bestest new friends who love us and respect us now?

    • Dfens

      Not at the rate we do “research”. Hell, the only thing that takes longer than developing a fighter jet is “research”. Those programs can go on for half a century and still be half a century away from a “viable product”.

  • Fordownr

    Cutting the R&D budget is cutting the future. There are MANY lifesaving innovations that have been and continue to be developed by the military research centers, Among them TARDEC.

    • Dfens

      Sure, imagine all of the defense contractors that would go without any free money if that corporate welfare program were cut. Oh the horror…

    • hibeam

      EW3 had it right. We don’t teach our children anymore especially in our totally dysfunctional inner city public schools. Those kids are gonna need free phones. For their job offers.

      • blight_

        Parents see schools as glorified daycare. Once your expectations have dropped that low the schools are toast.

        • Dfens

          I think the parents care, but in a society where both parents have to work to make ends meet, parenting by cell (or Obama) phone is just not working. You’ve got to be there, and there is just no substitute for being there.

          • blight_

            Nuclear families are an artifact of the single-breadwinner ’50s. In a twin-job-zero-parent household nuclear can be detrimental to the child.

          • Dfens

            We’ve already been told “it takes a village” and apparently an out-of-control federal bureaucracy, everything but a strong father who has a job that his family can live on and a stay-at-home mother that can nurture her children. Hell, its no wonder we can’t put a man on the moon anymore. We were stupid enough to buy into the destruction of our families, it’s no wonder we don’t mind signing a defense contractor up to a contract that guarantees them $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend.

  • Lance

    I see too much politics in this budget bill. Its underhanded and corrupt like Army kills AAS so now the Gen. Ordenaro buffoon machine will get ride of all NG Apaches to replace a scout the Apache is not a scout and drones are a poor replacement. This is all politics this is bullcrap. Hope congress tears Haggle’s ideas up!!!

  • bobbymike

    So FY2015 base defense budget of $495 billion out of a $3.9 Trillion federal budget – 12.7% – the lowest percentage since before WWII and 2.9% of GDP lowest since before 9/11.

    Are the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ runs the world or the “Defense Dept. is causing deficits” arguments DEAD YET!!

    Decline is a choice.

  • The Highlander

    I am very sorry to see that DOD is cutting back on R&D to the extent that we will no longer be the strongest, hardest and smartest military in the world. We have prevented many things from coming about by being the meanest SOB in the valley. Now, with a President that has a yellow streak up his back that is as wide as his wife’s backside and is pushing his 3rd World Country BS, we have to live by what this guy wants and says he will have (or not have). We have been the best and need to continue to be the best military in the world. Now is not the time to cut back as far as it sounds like we will. It is easier to stay out front than to lay back and play “Obama”.

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  • afret1991

    Not to worry, we have the amazing do everything, all encompassing, wonder weapon that will save our nation in time of peril. The weapon of the century, the greatest thing since the use of brass ammo. The all purpose Schmoo, the F35, savior of America.

  • Mike

    500 million is a drop in the bucket. These cuts are nothing more than a smoke screen. With a Defense Budget of $612,500,000,000.00 only drops it to a budget of 612,000,000,000.00. This doesn’t include Black Budget money and there is no tell how much is spent that we are never told about nor does Congress know the real number.

  • Interesting Read

  • Joe finn

    They used money to train 5 Islamist Fighters..
    The $100million U.S. trained Terrorist
    What could my neighbors have done with that money?