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Winners and Losers in Proposed Pentagon Budget

BY Admin  April 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST

Two F-22 Raptors; U.S. Air Force photo

Here are some of the biggest winners and losers in his proposed budget:


Next Generation fighters and bombers

Winner:
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

The
Air Force will buy 513 of these aircraft over the next five years and
ultimately 2,443 over the fighter’s lifespan. The F-35 represents a
cheaper, more flexible alternative to the F-22 Raptor.

Loser:
F-22 Raptor

The
F-22‘s production will end at 187 aircraft, including four produced in
fiscal year 2010. While the jet represents technical leaps in stealth and air
superiority, Gates told reporters, “The military advice that I got was
that there is no military requirement for numbers of F-22s beyond the
187.”

“First
of all, we have fulfilled the program,” Gates added. “I mean, it’s
not like we’re killing the F-22. We will have 187 of them, so we are completing
the F-22 program.”

Republican
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia
defended the F-22, which is assembled in Marietta
from parts and software made by workers in more than 40 states.

“The
F-22 has the ability to fly at stealth, at high altitudes, to take out radar
and then to launch missiles to attack the targets the military wants to
target,” Isakson said on NPR. “You cannot replace that – we’ve got to
have the F-22 in the 21st century.”

Gates
suggested that a military shift to using the F-35 would offset most potential
job losses, but Isakson said losing any job in this economy doesn’t make sense.

Loser:
The Next Big Bomber

There
won’t be a new strategic bomber “until we have a better understanding of
the need, the requirement and the technology,” Gates said. The Air Force
currently relies on the B-2 Spirit (often called the stealth bomber), the B-1
and an aging fleet of B-52s.

Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance

The Pentagon’s
overall budget for intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance
will grow by $2 billion, which will fund increased Special
Forces and drone aircraft capability.

Helicopters and Transport

Winner:
Helicopters for Afghanistan

Gates called for
adding $500 million to the Pentagon’s helicopter budget to support the war in Afghanistan.
“Today the primary limitation on helicopter capacity is not airframes but
shortages of maintenance crews and pilots, so our focus will be on recruiting
and training more Army helicopter crews,” he said.

Loser:
Presidential Helicopters

President Barack
Obama will not get to ride in a new fleet of helicopters this year. The new VF-71
program is six years behind schedule and, at $13 billion, costs twice as much
as originally projected. Gates said he’d kill the project and restart the
replacement effort in fiscal year 2011.

President
Obama had called this program “an example of the procurement process gone
amok.”

Loser: The Air
Force Combat Search and Rescue X Helicopter

The program will
be terminated. Gates questioned “whether this important mission can only
be accomplished by yet another single-service solution with a single-purpose
aircraft.”

Loser: C-17
Transport Planes

The Air Force
will cease production of the C-17 transport plane in fiscal year 2010.


Missile Defense

Winner:
Theater Missile Defense Systems

The Terminal
High Altitude Area Defense and Standard Missile 3 programs will receive an
additional $700 million in next year’s budget. The Navy will receive another
$200 million to convert six more Aegis ships to provide ballistic missile
defense.

Loser: Anti-ballistic Missile Systems

The Missile Defense Agency loses $1.4 billion in
funding. The proposed budget terminates the agency’s Multiple Kill Vehicle
program and cancels the second airborne laser prototype.

Sources: Department of Defense, Center for Arms Control and
Non-Proliferation, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, National
Public Radio, wire reports.