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DOD Weapons Buyer Talks Budget, Targets F-35 Alternate Engine and C-17

The Obama administration Department of Defense made a splash last year by either cutting or heavily restructuring several big ticket items such as the F-22 and Army Future Combat Systems program, but head weapons buyer Ashton Carter urged a defense industry crowd on Wednesday not to expect such prominent cuts for at least five years.  Carter, Department of Defense Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD AT&L), explained “that after a certain amount of trimming of the underbrush, [new major cuts] won’t be necessary.”  Indeed, he added that he expects the overall annual Defense budget to increase for the foreseeable future.

The FY 2011 budget proposal does, however, target two controversial programs for cancellation: the F-35 alternate engine program and the C-17 transport plane.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has reportedly advised the President to veto any bill that includes funding for the alternate engine, but it remains a popular program on the Hill.  However, Department officials are anxious to keep costs down on the overall F-35 program.  At $300B, it is the Department’s most expensive (and perhaps most important) weapons system, and Secretary Gates recently announced a for the program.  It is also surprisingly high profile; a recent New York Times editorial concluded that “the F-35 program is too necessary and budget dollars too scarce to permit further waste or delay.”  The C-17 also enjoys widespread support in Congress, and was successfully funded last year despite a veto threat from the President.  President Obama has publicly declared that the C-17 is “waste, pure and simple.”

Battle lines are drawn.  After last year’s historic program cuts, can the President respond this year by cutting two perennial congressional favorites?  To read more, please go to The Wall Street Journal.


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