ST. LOUIS — An old fighter jet being refurbished at a hangar in Missouri is the first of several planes being sent to the Boeing facility as the Pentagon spends the biggest budget in its history.

Boeing executives and U.S. Navy members will celebrate with an induction ceremony Thursday.

The first-arrived Super Hornet had been flown since 2004 by the Navy’s Gladiators Strike Fighter Squadron in Virginia Beach. It’s among four planes that will undergo upgrades at a cost of $73 million to keep them in the fleet for another dozen years.

Boeing has a contract to deliver 134 new F/A-18 Super Hornets over the next few years. Each costs more than $70 million.

At $700 billion, the U.S. defense budget is bigger than any other country. The biggest winners in the military buildup are the country’s largest defense contractors, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, which spend millions of dollars each year lobbying Congress.

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