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The Air Force’s fiscal 2023 budget request includes further funding for hypersonic weapons development, replenishing guided munitions supplies, purchasing ship-killing missiles and air-launched cruise missiles, and further developing a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile.

The budget request, issued by the Biden administration on Monday, wants to raise spending on hypersonic prototyping from almost $509 million approved by legislators in fiscal 2022 to $577 million in fiscal 2023.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones stated that the request for more hypersonic research, development, testing, and evaluation funds demonstrates that the service is “committed” to the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, and Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile, or HACM, programs.

However, the Air Force does not intend to purchase any ARRWs, the service’s major hypersonic weapon program, in 2023. Maj. Gen. James Peccia, deputy assistant secretary for budget, told reporters on Monday that the initiative is financed through 2023 and that the military will examine it in subsequent years. Peccia also stated that a “sliver” of ARRW’s leftover procurement cash this year will most likely be redirected to research and development.

The 2022 omnibus funding measure enacted by Congress earlier this month cut almost $161 million from the Pentagon’s original request for ARRW procurement and shifted half of that money to RDT&E. Lawmakers cited testing problems and delays as reasons for the program’s postponement.

Congress stated that the decision was taken in conjunction with the Air Force. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has consistently stated in recent months that the service has to confront tough questions about the role hypersonics should play in the Air Force’s arsenal and if they are cost-effective for the targets the US may wish to hit.

“ARRW still needs to establish itself,” Kendall said at a March 9 meeting in Washington.

The Air Force also wants to spend an additional $128 million to purchase 4,200 joint direct attack munitions, or JDAMs, up from the service’s previous request of 1,919 JDAMs. This would raise the total procurement funding for JDAM to $252 million.

In a March 25 press conference, Peccia stated that the Air Force is currently “catching up” on JDAM manufacturing following decreased production rates in 2021 and 2022.

The budget also includes $119 million for the purchase of 28 Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles, or LRASMs, which were not included in the Air Force’s 2022 budget.

It would also give $785 million, a $74 million increase above the budget for 2022, to purchase 550 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range cruise missiles. This would be an increase from the 525 JASSM-ERs in the 2022 budget, and the additional funds would support JASSM-ER at full manufacturing capacity, according to Peccia.

The Long-Range Standoff Weapon program would also see funding more than doubled, from $599 million in the 2022 omnibus spending plan to $929 million in the 2023 budget proposal.


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