Conferees approve Defense appropriations bill

House and Senate conferees approved a $416.2 billion fiscal 2005 Defense appropriations bill last week and sent it to President Bush to sign.

The proposal is $1.6 billion lower than the $417.8 billion Bush requested and $25.4 billion over amounts in fiscal 2004.

Conferees voted unanimously to slash money from several key programs because of scheduling delays, including the Army's Future Combat Systems initiative, missile defense programs and the Air Force's Space-Based Radar program.

The budget also includes $25 billion in emergency funding to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Budget recommendations include:
  • $2.9 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems, a project to develop networked combat vehicles and weapons systems. The proposal would slash President Bush's request by $268 million.

  • $4.4 billion to the Navy and Air Force for development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a high-tech combat aircraft program that received $4.3 billion this year. The proposal represents a net decrease of $204 million from the budget request for 2005. The project, led by Lockheed Martin Corp., has experienced scheduling slips.

  • $10 billion for missile defense programs, a decrease of $183 million from the budget request.

  • $1.4 billion for the Navy's DD(X) networked warships program.

  • $457.1 million for the Navy's high-tech Littoral Combat Ship, an addition of $105 million over the request.

  • $75 million for the Space-Based Radar program, which cuts the president's request by $328 million.

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