Committee wraps up defense spending

A House and Senate conference committee agreed on a $368.2 billion Defense Department appropriations bill for fiscal 2004 — a $3.8 billion increase over the previous year.

Committee members finished the bill last week. The largest increase in fiscal 2004 went to research and development, which saw funding jump to $65.2 billion, a $7 billion spike over fiscal 2003.

Key research and development appropriations include:

* $617 million for the DOD-based Space-Based Infrared System.

* $364 million for the Air Force's Maneuver Command and Control Constellation.

* $339 million for the DOD Advanced Wideband Satellite Laser Communications.

* $174 million for DOD space-based radar.

Procurement received the second-highest funding jump, $74.7 billion, which is an increase of $3.1 billion over fiscal 2003.

Key appropriations in procurement include:

* $724 million for the Navy and Air Force Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

* $355 million for 350 Navy Tactical Tomahawk Cruise Missiles.

* $85 million for 200 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles.

The bill also includes $1.4 billion for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a $225 million increase from 2003. DOD will purchase 16 Air Force and CIA Predator UAVs, eight Navy Firescout UAVs and four Air Force Global Hawk UAVs. The conferees also provided for $270 million for Navy and Air Force unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

Future Combat System, the Army's major transformation initiative, received $1.7 billion, the full amount requested.

The defense bill's details, particularly the parts pertaining to information technology, will be announced on the House and Senate floors later this week.

The House in July passed its version of the Defense spending bill with recommendations for deep cuts to information technology. The House approved reductions in IT spending at $320 million for all four services, with the Navy and the Air Force taking the largest hits.

The Senate was more generous to the defense IT community, looking to boost spending in both IT and research and development.

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