While its passage in Congress is far from guaranteed, the Pentagon's budget request for fiscal 2015 has some clear winners and losers on the weapons-acquisition front.
The Defense Department on March 4 will request its spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The base budget, excluding war funding, will total $496 billion, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a press conference Monday afternoon at the Pentagon.
Hagel spent a portion of the hour-long briefing discussing the department's modernization plans.
* The service-wide Joint Strike Fighter F-35 Lightning II fighter jet made by Lockheed Martin Corp. The Pentagon is expected to request funding to buy 34 of the aircraft -- down from 42 planes it previously budgeted for, but up from the 29 aircraft it’s buying this year.
* The Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. The service intends to use the high-altitude drone to replace the Cold War-era U-2 spy plane.
* The Air Force's MQ-9 Reaper drone made by General Atomics. The medium-altitude remotely piloted aircraft, known as the hunter-killer for its surveillance and strike abilities, is slowly replacing the fleet of MQ-1 Predators made by the same company.
* The Navy's SSN-774 attack submarines and DDG-51 destroyers developed by General Dynamics Corp. and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. Multi-purpose vessels will be needed for the department's shift in strategic emphasis to the Asia-Pacific region.
* The Army's Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) being developed by General Dynamics and BAE Systems Plc. The one-time replacement for the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle was estimated to cost as much as $17 million per vehicle -- too pricey for the current budget environment.
* The Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane initially developed by Fairchild Republic and later upgraded by Boeing Co. The venerable Warthog is still great at shredding tanks and other ground targets, but service plans to replace it with more advanced aircraft such as the F-35.
* The Air Force's U-2 spy plane made by Lockheed. Expensive to fly and maintain, the aircraft will be replaced by Global Hawk drones for high-flying surveillance missions.
* The Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) developed by Lockheed and Austal. Leery of committing so much of an investment to a single type of ship, Hagel sliced the department's planned purchase to 32 ships from 52 ships and ordered the service to review potential alternatives.
* The Navy's Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers made by General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls. Half the fleet, or 11 ships, will be "laid up," or removed from operations, until upgrades take place.