Comparison of the FY2020 and FY2021 Precision-Guided Munitions Procurement Requests

Precision-guided munitions (PGMs) have become an important capability for the Department of Defense (DOD). Recent operations, including counter-insurgency and counterterrorism missions, have demonstrated a high demand for all types of PGMs, which DOD defines as a "guided weapon intended to destroy a point target and minimize collateral damage." Some analysts argue a high-intensity conflict would require large stockpiles of such weapons, in addition to the demand from operations in the Middle East. Then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that PGMs are required to help rebuild readiness. (For a detailed overview of PGM procurement trends, see CRS Report R45996, Precision-Guided Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress, by John R. Hoehn.)

The Trump Administration has proposed significantly reducing funding for PGMs and associated programs in its FY2021 budget request, compared to its FY2020 budget request. As part of its FY2021 budget proposal to Congress, DOD requested approximately $4.1 billion for 41,337 munitions across 15 programs. The Administration, in its FY2020 request, anticipated it would spend approximately $4.4 billion for 34,454 munitions in FY2021. This represents a $381 million, or 8.5%, decrease from expected levels, however an increase of 6,800 weapons or a 20% increase in quantities. In particular, the FY2021 request reduces the number of long-range missiles while increasing the number of shorter-range guided bombs. The FY2021 request also reduces weapons procurement for 2021 and shifts procurement into later years of the future year defense program (FYDP).

Figure 1 depicts the changes in projected munitions quantities for FY2021 from the FY2020 request to those requested in FY2021. The largest increases from programmed to requested forces can be attributed to the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) procurement and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). DOD appears to have requested an additional 10,129 tail kits ($172 million) and 103 missiles ($88 million), respectively. These changes, however, are offset by decreases in Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), reducing procurement by $221 million or 2,867 rockets, and cuts in the Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) of $96 million or 1,420 bombs. Figure 2 provides historical context for the current request.

Figure 1. Comparison of FY2021 PGM Procurement Quantities

FY2020 Projected Procurement Quantities for FY2021 versus FY2021 Requested Quantities

Source: CRS analysis of FY2020 and FY2021 procurement materials.

Figure 2. Historical Quantities and Future Projections of PGMs Procured

FY1998 through FY2025

Source: CRS analysis of Department of Defense Budget FY2000-2021 P-1 Procurement budget requests, at; Air Force FY2021 missile procurement budget justifications; Army FY2021 missile procurement budget justifications; Navy FY2021 weapons procurement budget justifications.

Notes: The dashed segments represent the current request and projections in the future years defense program. * denotes the Administration's request, ** denotes programmed funding and quantities.

Comparing the FYDPs from FY2020 and FY2021 indicate that DOD has decided to shift procurement into later years. Figure 3 depicts the changes in the FYDPs between the FY2020 request and the FY2021 request. The Administration proposed $20.6 billion in PGM procurement across the FDYP in FY2020; the FY2021 request proposes $18.9 billion in procurement across the FYDP, a $1.7 billion decrease. Of the four comparable years (FY2021 through FY2024) of the FYDPs, FY2021 showed the largest decrease, reducing funding for munitions by $381 million. Looking at future years, the Administration planned to program additional funds for each subsequent year. The Administration planned to program an additional $58 million in FY2022, an additional $138 million in FY2023, and an additional $509 million in FY2024.

Figure 3. Comparison of FY2020 FYDP with FY2021 FYDP Funding

Source: CRS analysis of FY2020 and FY2021 procurement materials.

Note: PGM refers to Precision-Guided Munitions; FYDP refers to Future Years Defense Program.

Figure 4 depicts the differences in programmed quantities of munitions. FY2021 shows a slight increase in total quantities of munitions compared to what had been programmed, with many of the out years indicating decreases in total procurement. The FY2021 increase can be attributed to the shift in JDAM procurement. In FY2020, DOD appropriated funding for approximately 28,000 tail kits, less than the 40,000 kits it had requested; it appears DOD shifted procurement into FY2021 to mitigate this change in quantity. When comparing the two FYDPs in general, DOD is requesting more money for fewer munitions; this difference may be explained by the shift in procurement toward more expensive advanced cruise missiles like the JASSM and Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM.)

Figure 4. Comparison of FY2020 FYDP with FY2021 FYDP Quantities

Source: CRS analysis of FY2020 and FY2021 procurement materials.

Note: FYDP refers to future years defense program.

Potential Questions for Congress

  • Does the FY2021 budget request for PGMs align with the National Defense Strategy of countering revisionist powers, rogue states, and terrorist organizations?
  • Is the balance of munitions procurement adequate to support the need to counter peer adversaries and the need to support current operations?
  • Do the current budgeted and programmed munitions quantities provide a sufficient stockpile for DOD?
  • Why is there a decrease in missile procurement quantities when comparing the FY2020 and FY2021 requests? In particular, why is there a relative decrease in procurement of shorter-range and/or older programs?
  • Why was there an increase in bomb procurement quantities between what was programmed in FY2020 and what was requested in FY2021?
  • What caused the Administration's shift in procurement of PGMs to later years?
  • Are there project management issues related to new advanced systems, such as LRASM, the Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile, Naval Strike Missile, or SDB II?