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Bush to seek $515 billion for Pentagon in 2009

(Adds details)

WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush will seek $515.4 billion for the Pentagon for fiscal 2009, up 7.5 percent from the funds Congress approved for this year, according to Pentagon documents obtained by Reuters on Friday.

In his final budget request on Monday, Bush also will ask Congress for $70 billion in "emergency" funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the documents show.

The budget request will include $183.8 billion to modernize the military and $20.5 billion to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps -- the two services most strained by Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, much of the fiscal 2009 budget request aims to address that problem by retraining personnel and fixing or replacing equipment.

According to the budget documents, the Pentagon will seek to spend $158.3 billion to sustain critical combat and support operations. That would be 10.4 percent above the amount Congress approved for fiscal 2008.

It will include $68 billion to maintain troops' combat readiness, $11.8 billion for equipment maintenance and repair, and $10.7 billion to recruit, retain and train troops with skills considered critical to defense requirements.

The budget request will also include funds for big-ticket weapons systems and equipment, including the Army's Future Combat Systems modernization program and maritime assets for the Navy, the documents show.

For the Navy, Bush will request funds for two littoral combat ships -- shore-hugging ships that suffered significant cost overruns this year. They are being built by General Dynamics Corp.


and Lockheed Martin Corp



Bush also will request $45.6 billion for aircraft, including Boeing Co's


F/A 18 Hornet, Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and unmanned aerial vehicles, among others.

The budget request includes another $10.5 billion for the continued development of a missile shield to defend against ballistic missiles from countries such as North Korea and Iran that could be tipped with chemical, germ or nuclear warheads. (Reporting by Kristin Roberts, Editing by Patricia Wilson)