(Source: Foreign Policy Blogs)
Pentagon Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work wants funding to include money for X-Plane, in case trillion dollar F-35 disappoints

The Obama Administration produced a $534B USD 2016 defense budget, which was $36 billion higher than a Congressional cap, as the government wants to spend more on technology.  But Pentagon Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, the second highest-ranking official in the department, isn't satisfied with that record level of spending.  He argues it's time the U.S. taxpayers pony up even more funding, as he claims the US military is losing its technological edge. 

Weapons development in coordination with political allies is one of the reasons why the Pentagon’s 2016 fiscal year budget plan is so high, and would end five years of US military sequestration.

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work
Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work [Image Source: AP]

Part of the budget would be destined for early research and development of the X-plane, a next-generation aircraft that is seen as the eventual successor to the expensive, problem-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

US military officials are unsure if the X-plane would be a manned or unmanned aircraft, however, critics are skeptical of investing large sums into research after the F-35 project was so badly bungled.

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in military history, and was given an additional $10.6B USD in funding for the fiscal year that ends on October 1, 2015.  The funds would reportedly help provide 57 new F-35 aircraft.

F-35 fighter jet
The F-35 has been criticized as a bottomless spending pit, which has yet to produce a superior fighter.
[Image Source: Lockheed Martin]

Lockheed’s F-35 project has been described as "too big to fail," and will cost an additional $1T USD during the next 50 years.

Late last month, Work said the US and its NATO allies must invest in next-generation military technology to stay ahead of China and Russia.  As part of the "Defense Innovation Initiative," Work hopes to see NATO continue developments while avoiding duplication as technology, concepts, experimentation, and wargaming increase.

Specifically, the US military has shown more interest in funding for high-speed strike weapons (i.e. rail guns), unmanned vehicles for water-based operations, new jet engine research, and high-energy lasers.

Money tanks
[Image Source: Borgen Magazine (L); Rasmussen Reports (R)]

Not surprisingly, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and other major US defense contractors want the Pentagon to invest more in research and development – especially with robotics, autonomous reconnaissance and attack platforms, and select other technologies becoming more prevalent.

Billions of dollars will be invested in accelerating military technology, and there will likely be large sums wasted and misappropriated as per typical Pentagon policy.  For tech fans the upside of all this political discourse is the new generations of aircraft, drones, and other high tech military hardware that waits in the wings.  While politicians may debate the exact dollar figure to spend, one thing's for sure -- it's going to be a lot of money.

Sources: Associated Press, White House [interactive budget]

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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