"A strategy must have the resources for its implementation," Defense Secretary
Proposed weapon spending calls for the retirement of aging Cold War weapon systems, such as the entire fleet of the Air Force's A-10 Warthog ground attack jets and U-2 spy planes.
Funding instead would continue to flow to newer, big-ticket programs such as
Still, military contractors recognize there is a long road before the budget becomes law.
"This is just the beginning of a long budget process," said Meghan McCormick, spokeswoman for aerospace giant
The call for raising spending on the military — even as the Defense Department shifts from a wartime to a peacetime footing after more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan — comes the same week as a flare-up of tensions in Ukraine over Russia's decision to send troops into the Crimean Peninsula.
"I think it'll be an uphill battle to try to get Congress to go along with appropriating more for defense" after this year, said Todd Harrison, a military budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington policy analysis organization.
The administration's five-year plan calls for increasing the Pentagon budget $115 billion over the mandated budget levels, along with a separate $26-billion hike in 2015.
Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), chairman of the
"While we cut nearly one-fifth of our defense resources, Russia and China are arming at an alarming rate. Russia's military spending is up roughly 30%, and China's has more than doubled in recent years," he said.
Along with the budget, the Pentagon released a strategy document, called the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review. Though written before Russia's military moves in Crimea, it says the U.S. will "continue to work to achieve a Europe that is peaceful and prosperous" and "will engage Russia constructively in support of that objective."
The Pentagon outlined the cutbacks it will have to make in future years if the automatic cuts remain in effect. The Navy said it would have to mothball one of its 10 aircraft carriers after the Ford enters service next year.
Unless the cuts are reversed,
The Air Force said it would have to get rid of 80 additional airplanes, including all of its Boeing KC-135 refueling tankers and its Global Hawk surveillance drones made by Northrop. Instead of 343 of the radar-evading F-35 fighters made by Lockheed, it could afford only 326, Pentagon officials said.
The Navy would be able to buy only 36 ships, instead of the 44 it had planned, officials said.
If required to make such cutbacks, senior Pentagon officials said Monday, they would have to scale down radically the U.S. military commitments and missions at home and abroad.
The Pentagon made similar warnings last year when military spending was slashed by $45 billion.
Lockheed spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company is reviewing the president's budget and will continue to assess it as Congress begins the appropriations process
"Over the next few weeks, we will review the budget in detail to understand the specific impacts to our business," he said.