Bloomberg News

Bunker-Buster Funding Increase Sought by House Chairman

March 14, 2012

The Republican chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said he will seek increased funding for bunker-buster bombs that could be used in a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The panel “must allocate resources for contingencies like Iran,” Representative Howard P.“Buck” McKeon of California said today in a speech at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

“We’ll be looking to place emphasis on vital weapons, should the Iranians determine that a peaceful, nuclear-free existence is not in their best interest,” McKeon said.

McKeon also said his panel will “try to hold back cuts to the Navy’s cruiser force, finding the money for our cruisers to undergo proper upgrades, instead of mothballing vital ships needed to sustain the shift to Asia.”

The U.S. Navy plans to eliminate seven Ticonderoga-class cruisers over the next five years, according to Defense Department budget documents. Both General Dynamics Corp. (GD) and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. built those cruisers, which were deployed in 1983, according to a Navy fact sheet.

Biggest Bomb

As McKeon’s panel starts writing the 2013 defense authorization bill, which sets spending targets and military policy, he said he will seek “appropriate resourcing for things like powerful bunker-buster munitions, countermeasures for mines, and appropriate sensor and intelligence platforms.”

McKeon didn’t say how much funding his panel would allocate for the weapons or which version of the bunker-buster bombs would get more money.

The biggest, the 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, is among weapons that could be used in an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, U.S. Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle said March 8.

The Pentagon won congressional approval in February to shift $81.6 million in funds to improve the bomb, the military’s largest conventional weapon, which is made by Chicago-based Boeing Co. (BA)

The Obama administration has proposed $525.4 billion in military spending for fiscal 2013, $45 billion less than projected a year ago. With $88.5 billion in war spending added in, the Pentagon total would come to $613.9 billion, down $31.8 billion from the amount enacted by Congress for this year.

Lawmakers have deadlocked so far on efforts to avert an additional $500 billion in automatic defense cuts over the next decade because a congressional supercommittee failed to meet deficit-reduction goals.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net


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