The Pentagon wants to spend just over $50 billion on classified programs next year, newly-released Defense Department budget documents reveal. “That’s the largest-ever sum,” according to Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman, a longtime black-budget seer – a three percent increase over last year’s total.
It makes the Pentagon’s secret operations, including the intelligence budgets nested inside, “roughly equal in magnitude to the entire defense budgets of the UK, France or Japan,” Sweetman adds. All in all, about seven and a half percent of the Defense Department’s total spending is now classified.
Black-world weapons-buying “remains dominated by the single line item,” according to Sweetman. (You can find it under the Air Force’s “other procurement” section, on page F-21 here.) “This year’s number stands just above $16 billion. In inflation-adjusted terms, that’s 240 per cent more than it was ten years ago.”
Many of the secret budgets still remain clandestine, however. In the research budget, the line item for a “Special Program”of the super-secret National Security Agency is a string of zeros. Same goes for an NSA “Cyber Security Initiative” kitty. And don’t even ask about NSA’s “Intelligence Support to Information Operations” account. That’s a blank slate, too.
Some other fun facts, buried in the Pentagon’s just-released budget docs:
- Money for “Directed Energy Technology” – real-life ray gun research – jumps from $62.7 million last year to $105.7 million in 2010.
- Cash for “Prompt Global Strike Capability Development” – weapons that can hit anywhere on the planet, in just a few hours – jumps from $74.1 million to $166.9 million.
- The high-flying Global Hawk drones get an an extra $486.8 million.
- The Office of the Secretary of Defense is pushing $75 million in new alt-fuel and alt-power projects – from “Landfill Gas Energy Capture” to a “Tactical, Deployable Micro-Grid.”
- The Maui Space Surveillance System gets a major downgrade, from $36.3 million to a mere $5.8 million. Aloha, space-watchers!
UPDATE:CQ’s Tim Starks reports that “the budget would also allocate an unspecified amount to the new ‘Imagery Satellite Way Ahead‘ program, a joint effort between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense designed to revamp the nation’s constellation of spy satellites.”
The mostly classified plan would include new, redesigned “electro-optical” satellites, which collect data from across the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as the expanded use of commercial satellite imagery. Although the cost is secret, most estimates place it in the multibillion-dollar range.
By Noah Shachtman
May 7, 2009