Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the
Pentagon's top weapons priorities that he said will orient the U.S.
military toward winning unconventional conflicts like the one in
Afghanistan rather than focusing on war with major powers like China
the choices as tradeoffs that will help the Pentagon's support for its
military personnel, Mr. Gates said that his plans match "virtue with
necessity" and reflect "an opportunity to truly reform the way we do
The ambitious shake-up, a combination of defense contract cutbacks
and policy changes, will stoke a smoldering debate in Congress about
the importance of weapons manufacturing jobs and may mark an inflection
point after the industry's record run during the Bush administration.
"There's no doubt a lot of these decisions will be controversial," said
Mr. Gates, hoping that lawmakers rise above "parochial interests."
Politics plaid no part in his decisions, he said.
Among the major changes he is proposing in the Defense Department's 2010 budget are ending production of Lockheed Martin
Corp.'s F-22 Raptor at 187 jets, effectively shutting the door on the
Air Force's desire for more of the advanced jets. Mr. Gates said
funding for another Lockheed program, the F-35 Lightning, or Joint
Strike Fighter, will be increased in 2010 to $11.2 billion, which will
now buy 30 jets, up from 14.
Another Air Force program, a $15 billion effort to replace search and rescue helicopters, is to be cancelled, he said.
Even the White House's own plans to replace the president's fleet of
Marine One helicopters with a new model built by Lockheed should be
terminated, according to Mr. Gates, for being too expensive and six
The Army's $200 billion Future Combat Systems program led by Boeing Co. and SAIC Inc. is being shaken up as Mr. Gates calls for canceling the ground vehicle components.
By curtailing some of the most expensive and complex weapons
systems, Mr. Gates is making lasting changes that he believes are
needed given the dual imperative of near-term fights against insurgent
groups and increasing economic pressure.
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