Unmanned Systems See Reductions From Past Years in 2014 Budget Request

The budget is $5 billion below the enacted budget for 2013

President Obama's fiscal 2014 budget request, sent to Congress on 10 April, includes $525 billion for the base Department of Defense budget, including $3.7 billion for "high priority" unmanned aircraft, although most of the planned purchases for the UAS are down considerably from previous years.

The budget is $5 billion below the enacted budget for 2013, part of earlier planned cuts expected to reach $486.9 billion over a decade. It doesn't include money for overseas contingency operations or ongoing wars. A separate request for that, one that will be 23 percent below this year's mark, will be sent to Congress "in coming weeks," according to the White House.

A budget summary notes that the $3.7 billion is for UAS "such as the Predator and Reaper, which provide critical and timely intelligence to our troops on the ground in Afghanistan and other operational areas."

The budget request includes $663 million for 15 MQ-1B Gray Eagle UAS for the U.S. Army as well as research and development money for the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command, which are modifying existing airframes and ground control stations. That's down from a total of $870 million in fiscal 2013, when 19 were bought, and also below 2012, when the Army bought 29 of them.

The Air Force seeks $507 million for a dozen MQ-9 Reapers, which, like the Gray Eagle, is built by General Atomics Aeronautical. That's roughly half the amount and number sought in 2013, which was half of the 48-aircraft buy in 2012.

The request seeks only two Northrop Grumman-built Global Hawk aircraft, both for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance program. The request includes money for Block 40 development and Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion work but no actual aircraft.

It also seeks $255 million for 25 RQ-21 Integrators, built by Insitu, along with system upgrades and support for Army and Marine Corps Shadow and Raven UAS. That's down from 2013's $278 million, which included a buy of 234 Army Ravens for $25.8 million.

Also funded is construction of four Littoral Combat Ships, for a total of $2.4 billion, roughly the same as last year's level.

The Navy has slipped its buy of the maritime version of Global Hawk, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) systems due to technical issues, including integrating its mission computer with Navy systems, said Rear Adm. Joseph Mulloy. The Navy kept $200 million in research and development money for that but removed $425 million for procurement.

The MQ-8 Fire Scout is also slowed, as the Navy currently has enough of the systems to support Special Operations Forces and the initial Littoral Combat Ship fleet.

The budget request includes $69.4 billion for research, development, test and evaluation, and would fund DARPA slightly above last year's level, allowing the country to "explore diverse scientific principles and technological applications, including biodefense, cybersecurity, information access, and cleaner and more efficient energy use, robotics and advanced computing," says a budget description.

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