Monday, April 6, 2009

Wire: Gates to Announce Deep Cuts in US Defense Later Today

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

A new philosophy? You fire, we retire....

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that in an unusual move for the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates Monday will announce his budget blueprint before shipping the formal recommendation to the White House's Office of Management and Budget, first announce in telephone calls to congressional leaders and then in an afternoon news conference.

The Associated Press reported the following news about the Pentagon's budget:
The Pentagon's $180 billion-a-year weapons acquisition plan is expected to be extensively pruned, affecting dozens of programs including warships, aircraft and combat vehicles, as well as missile defense systems and a new fleet of presidential helicopters.

[ . . . ]

Air Force F-22 Fighter

• James McAleese, a defense consultant in McLean, Va., and Loren Thompson, another consultant with ties to some of the biggest defense companies, both said they expect Gates to let the Air Force build 20 more F-22s next year. (The Air Force would like to buy those and at least 40 more over the next two years to bring its fleet of the planes to at least 243.)

• Other industry officials said they were not sure if Gates would continue to finance the advance fighter, which was designed in the Cold War and has not been used in combat. It has become a symbol of many of the cost overruns and delays that have plagued military programs.

Navy Shipbuilding Programs

• Those in the industry also expect Gates to end a Navy program to build a $3 billion stealth destroyer, though it is not clear how many of the three ships that have received some money will be built.

• Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat from Mississippi and chairman of a House sea-power subcommittee, said questions had emerged about whether a new system for catapulting planes off the next generation of carriers would work. If it does not, the Navy would have to return to a traditional system, delaying the new carriers by a year.

Army's Future Combat System

• Executives say they think Gates has decided to revamp the Army's Future Combat Systems, a $160 billion mix of robotic sensors and new combat vehicles, with the number of manned vehicles being scaled back to two or three, from eight.

• But they expect the Pentagon to push ahead on the network of sensors meant to protect soldiers by providing them with greater battlefield intelligence. Gates has prodded the Army to speed the development of some of the sensors and deploy them as quickly as possible.

Missile Defense Programs

• Defense experts say that Gates is likely to cut $1 billion to $2 billion from these programs.

• Obama and other officials have made comments indicating they are more interested in systems that protect soldiers from shorter-range missiles than still-unproven ones meant to destroy intercontinental missiles.

• Several industry officials said they thought Boeing's airborne laser system, which would equip a modified 747 jetliner with a laser to shoot down missiles shortly after they are launched, might be killed.

• Industry officials also said Boeing's ground-based midcourse defense system, also designed to destroy long-range missiles, might be scaled back.

Controversial Programs

• Other controversial programs, such as a new presidential helicopter that has been riddled with cost overruns, are expected to be killed or curtailed.
This is a developing story with more to follow.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Gates Plans A Pre-Emptive Strike With Early Release Of Defense Budget Plan

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