A defense budget expert said last week the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2012 spending request, set for release Monday, will have to include a significant increase for long-range strike over last year’s proposed budget plan if the Defense Department is serious about getting on with the Air Force’s new bomber. “In the time horizon they are looking at, you would expect to see an increase of $1 [billion] to $2 billion” in the five-year plan accompanying the Fiscal 2012 budget request, said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow on defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington, D.C. He added, “That would be an indication that they are serious about the long-range bomber.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced in January that the Air Force’s new bomber should be a high priority for future defense investment. Last February, the Air Force programmed $1.7 billion in its five-year plan accompanying its Fiscal 2011 budget request towards new bomber development.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.