May 20, 2024

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s proposed $850 billion Pentagon budget for fiscal 2025 sends less-than-subtle strategic messages aimed at China: It would tap U.S. stockpiles to arm Taiwan and provide major funding increases for long-range, air-launched anti-ship missiles.

The Defense Department’s share of the $7.3 trillion budget proposed to Congress on Monday reflects only a 1% increase. The Pentagon is already in a tough spot because Congress has yet to pass a spending measure for this fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, and hasn’t approved a supplemental security spending bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Although the Biden administration is staying within budget caps imposed by Congress, that didn’t deter critics who demand more for defense.

“Our defense budget should be built with the goal of deterring the threats facing our nation,” House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers, an Alabama Republican, said in a statement. “Instead, we are forced to build a budget to meet an arbitrary number. I worry about the long-term impact this budget process will have on our national defense.”

The “first-time funding request” of $500 million to replenish weapons that would be provided to Taiwan would “address aggression in the region and ensure continued support to our allies” while enabling the Pentagon to replace its inventory of “munitions and equipment and maintain readiness,” the Defense Department said in budget documents released Monday.

Congress authorized the presidential drawdown authority in the latest defense policy bill, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told reporters at the Pentagon.

It would be similar to the more than 50 Presidential Drawdown Authority packages that the U.S. has used to replace weapons provided to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. Taiwan’s supporters in Congress have called for a comparable level of urgency in providing it arms to counter China’s increasing aggressiveness toward the self-governed island it claims as its own.

In addition, the Biden administration’s budget proposal for the State Department includes $100 million for what it calls a “historic” investment in Taiwan’s security, including a new bilateral Foreign Military Financing request “to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Along with the Taiwan funding, the Pentagon budget would seek to “deter attacks by the People’s Republic of China on the U.S., its forces” and allies by continued efforts to “enhance the capabilities and those systems that the PRC is most likely to target” and enhance readiness through combined exercises.

The budget calls for expanding anti-ship capabilities to “help us to neutralize the enemy’s strategy” to deny U.S. forces and ships access to the Pacific. The services are pursuing development of the ship-destroying Standard Missile-6, an anti-ship cruise missile built by Lockheed Martin Corp. and a Maritime Strike Tomahawk from RTX Corp. to fire from U.S. subs. The Navy bought the first 50 anti-ship Tomahawks this year and wants to buy 342 through fiscal 2028.

The Army is projecting to significantly boost last year’s request for military exercises in the Pacific region, Major General Mark Bennett, the Army’s budget director, told reporters. The service is planning to fund 11 exercises in fiscal 2025, two more than this fiscal year, and is requesting $461 million.

The budget request includes $9.9 billion in spending on the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, up $800 million from this year, to enhance U.S. forces and facilities in the region.

The push to counter China is also reflected in a proposal for increased purchases of extended-range anti-ship missiles.

Among other major provisions in the proposed Pentagon budget:

— $826 million for 285 anti-radar missiles from Northrop Grumman Corp. for launch from Air Force and Navy fighter jets.

— $697 million for 205 Lockheed Long-Range Anti-Ship missiles for the Air Force and Navy, up from 118 in this year’s request, most of which are a new longer-range version.

— $676 million to buy 230 Lockheed long-range Precision Strike Missiles, up from 110 this year, to field with Pacific units.

— $5.1 billion for Army and Navy ammunition procurement other than missiles, up from $4.9 billion proposed for last year, which includes US, Swedish and South Korean suppliers

— The Army is readjusting its strategy for one of its top artillery programs after prototypes fell short of expectations. The Extended Range Cannon Artillery program combined a 58-caliber gun tube mounted on the chassis of a Paladin Integrated Management howitzer made by BAE Systems Plc.

— Microsoft Corp.’s night vision goggles get a boost in the request. The Army is requesting $256 Million in procurement funds and about $98 million for research and development.

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