Spending on military construction in Washington would slow under the Defense Department’s 2014 budget request released Wednesday, but it would continue to steer hundreds of millions of dollars toward projects around the Puget Sound.
The proposed budget sets aside $324 million for new work at military bases in the region, down from $581 million last year.
For Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the request includes $144 million for airfield improvements that would benefit an Army helicopter brigade. That’s less than half the amount of new spending secured by Lewis-McChord for each of the last two years.
Another $85 million in 2014 would help the Navy prepare to move 28 Boeing-made submarine-hunting jets to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The budget also continues funding for two multi-billion-dollar Boeing programs in the Puget Sound area: the Air Force refueling tanker known as the KC-46A and the Whidbey Island-bound Navy P-8 Poseidon.
The tanker, to be manufactured in Everett, would receive about $1.6 billion next year, down from $1.8 billion this year.
Boeing is expected to make four prototypes of the jet, according to the budget request. In 2010, it won a $35 billion contract to develop and manufacture the tanker.
The Poseidon is in line for a big year with $3.7 billion in projected spending, up from $3.2 billion in 2013. It’s a variation of Boeing’s 737 equipped with gear to identify and disrupt enemy submarines.
Over time, the Navy plans to buy 117 of them. It’s built in Kansas and in Renton.
Navy spokesman Mike Welding said the Navy intends to station 28 Poseidons at Whidbey, replacing the same number of decades-old P3 long-range turboprops. The Poseidons are scheduled to start arriving in 2016, he said.
At Lewis-McChord, the Army spent some $1.7 billion on improvements in the decade after the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
In 2012, the Army approved $331 million worth of contracts at the base south of Tacoma. Another $289 million followed for this year, including $91 million to improve the base’s sewage treatment facility.
Those projects are still moving forward despite recent Defense Department budget cuts.
The investments in hardware and in military bases are continuing as the military seeks to rein in spending.
The defense budget request seeks a round of base closures in 2015 to reduce long-term costs. Lawmakers last year rejected a similar request to launch a Base Closure and Realignment Commission to consider where the military could reduce its footprint.
The overall defense request calls for $526.6 billion in spending in 2014, slightly less than the 2013 Pentagon budget. It restores $41 billion the Pentagon lost this year to the federal cuts known as sequestration.
Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646