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McCain Pitches $430 Billion Boost in 5-Year Defense Budget

An influential senator on a key defense panel has proposed spending $430 billion more on defense over the next five years.

Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, included the figure in a white paper he released on Tuesday.

"The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year," the document states. "Just stemming the bleeding caused by recent budget cuts will take most of the next five years, to say nothing of the sustained increases in funding required thereafter."

The white paper reads looks like a budgetary blueprint for President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming administration.

Trump himself has proposed a massive military buildup including more troops and equipment, but has also criticized the cost of major defense acquisition programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the new Air Force One presidential aircraft.

Under McCain's proposal, the higher top-line would go toward acquiring a better mix of weaponry.

"Our military's capabilities are ... out of balance," the document states. "On the lower end of the spectrum, we need greater numbers of more affordable, less advanced systems to fight terrorist enemies in permissive environments. On the higher end of the spectrum, as nation-state rivals can increasingly counter our military's ability to project power, we need longer-range, more survivable platforms and munitions, more autonomous systems, greater cyber and space capabilities, among newer technologies."

Specifically, the proposal calls for a $640 billion base budget in fiscal 2018 -- $54 billion more than the amount currently planned for.

The additional funding over five years would go toward increasing the Navy's fleet from 274 ships to 355 ships (though limiting the number of the new Littoral Combat Ships); boosting the size of the Marine Corps to about 200,000 Marines; buying the Air Force "as many F-35As as possible" (though possibly curtailing the overall planned buy in the long-term) as well as acquiring "new penetrating counter-air and electronic attack capabilities" and new "light attack fighters"; and adding 8,000 soldiers a year while developing for the Army a new "adaptable ground combat vehicle," as well as new unmanned vehicles and munitions.

Read the full report here.

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