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$716bn US defence budget sees investment in capability and industry

potus national defence authorisation act
US President Donald Trump has unveiled a $716 billion Defence Expenditure Bill at Fort Jackson, NY (Source White House Press)

Halfway into his controversial presidency, Donald Trump has secured $716 billion as part of the John S McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to rebuild the US military and defence industrial base. 

Halfway into his controversial presidency, Donald Trump has secured $716 billion as part of the John S McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to rebuild the US military and defence industrial base. 

The NDAA helps develop a more lethal and resilient force, and grows the size of the US Armed Forces by authorising an increase of 15,600 troops across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, including increases in end troop sizes: 

  • Army - 487,500;
  • Navy - 335,400;
  • Marine Corps - 186,100; and 
  • Air Force - 329,100. 

2018-19's NDAA also authorises billions to procure major weapons systems and capabilities, including: 

  • $7.6 billion to procure 77 F-35 fighter jets; 
  • $24.1 billion to fund the construction of 13 new naval vessels, including the next Gerald R Ford Class aircraft carrier and three additional Littoral Combat Ships; 
  • 135 new M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks; and
  • 60 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

President Trump said, "With this new authorisation, we will increase the size and strength of our military by adding thousands of new recruits to active duty, reserve, and National Guard units, including 4,000 new active-duty soldiers. And we will replace ageing tanks, ageing planes and ships with the most advanced and lethal technology ever developed." 

Additionally, the NDAA will fully fund the US Air Force's next-generation B-21 Raider bomber program, which is slated to replace the ageing B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit strategic bombers. Supporting this, the US nuclear arsenal will be modernised, while extensive upgrades will be conducted on America's missile defence capabilities across land, sea, air and space domains.  

Developing these new capabilities has also required extensive recapitalisation and support for the US defence industrial base to ensure that key capabilities are developed, maintained and enhanced in a cost effective and timely manner to ensure that American war fighters and the broader US economy, particularly prime contractors and a growing focus on ensuring SMEs benefit from the 'historic' US defence budget. 

This includes key industry development and support initiatives such as: 

  • Pilot programs to test machine-vision technologies to determine the authenticity and security of microelectronic parts in weapon systems – focused on develop key testing plans to determine the authenticity and security of microelectronic parts in weapons systems with specific focus on consulting with:
    • Manufacturers of semiconductors or electronics;
    • Industry associations relating to semiconductors or electronics; 
    • Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of products for the Department of Defense ; 
    • Federal laboratories; and 
    • Other elements of the Department of Defence that fall under the authority of the respective Under Secretary. 
  • Support for defence manufacturing communities to support the defence industrial base, with specific focus on the authorisation of the Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program, which empower the Secretary of Defense to:
    • Designate eligible consortiums as defence manufacturing communities through a competitive process, and in co-ordination with the defence manufacturing institutes;
    • Include members from academia, defence industry, commercial industry, and state and local government organisations;
    • Supporting efforts in geographical regions that have specialised capabilities in key technologies or industrial base supply chains that are determined critical to national security; and
    • Financial and technical assistance to support equipment or facility upgrades, workforce training, retraining, or recruitment and retention, business incubators, advanced research and commercialisation, supply chain development and small business assistance.
  • Department of Defense Small Business Strategy to support the development of a robust SME sector integrated within the US defence industry base:
    • The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that opportunities for small business concerns to contract with the Department of Defense are identified clearly; 
    • Small business concerns are able to be efficiently and effectively communicated with program managers, contracting officers, and other persons using the products or services to inform such persons of emerging and existing capabilities;
    • Enhanced outreach under procurement technical assistance program market provided by the secretary to enable and promote activities to provide co-ordinated outreach to small business concerns through any procurement technical assistance program. 
  • Prompt payments of small business contractors which ensure that small business contractors receive and accelerated payment date with a goal of 15 days after receipt of a proper invoice.  
  • Expansion of the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, which sees the Microloan Intermediary Lending Limit increased from $5 million to $6 million.
  • Amendments to small business innovation research programs and small business technology transfer program, which includes: 
    • Extension of the pilot programs from 2017 to 2022; and
    • Funding improvements that increase commonality across data systems, reduce redundancy, and improve data oversight and accuracy;
    • Accelerating the Department of Defense SBIR and STTR Awards.
  • Improvements to technical and business assistance.
  • Funding increases for procurement technical assistance program.
  • Commercialisation assistance pilot programs, which supplement the SBIR and STTR Awards. 
  • Advanced manufacturing activity support, including: 
    • Co-operative agreements and partnerships, which include public-private and public-public partnerships to facilitate the development of advanced manufacturing techniques in support of the defence industrial base;
    • National Security Innovation Activities to develop interaction between the Department of Defense and the commercial technology industry and academia with regard to emerging hardware products and technologies with national security applications.

Further information and a full breakdown of the NDAA is available here

$716bn US defence budget sees investment in capability and industry
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