For black-budget watchers, the FY2010 budget is a revolution. Spending on classified programs and activities is listed as such, by category. Goodbye, 0207424F Evaluation and Analysis Program. So long, 0207248F Special Evaluation Program. These long-running budget lines, with their ever-changing names, have disappeared, along with the chore of wading through the USAF's Operational Systems Development budget, counting what is there and calculating what is missing.
In the R-1 (research and development), P-1 (procurement) and O-1 (operations) budgets for 2010, just over $50 billion is listed for classified programs, the largest-ever sum. The Pentagon's "black" operations, including the intelligence budgets nested inside it, are roughly equal in magnitude to the entire defense budgets of the UK, France or Japan, and 10 per cent of the total.
Highlights include the US Air Force's classified research and development budget. Earlier estimates suggested that secret projects accounted for 36 per cent of USAF R&D spending, but the FY2010 budget shows that even this startling number is on the low side. The USAF plans to spend almost $12 billion on secret programs in 2010 - more than three Joint Strike Fighter development efforts - or just about 43 per cent of its R&D.
Black-world procurement remains dominated by the single line item that used to be called "Selected Activities", resident in the USAF's "other procurement" section. 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.
On the operations side, secret spending has risen 8 per cent over last year, to just over $15 billion - equivalent to more than a third of Air Force operating costs.
What does it all go for? In simple terms, we don't know. It is apparent that much if not all of the intelligence community is funded through the black budget: for example, an $850 million USAF line item is clearly linked to reconnaissance satellites. But eve so, the numbers are startling - and get more so year by year.