Gates Calls for Cuts to High-Tech Weapons Programs

Discussion in 'SitRep' started by ToughOmbre, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Defense Secretary Robert Gates announces a broad range of cuts to weapons spending, saying he plans to slash programs ranging from a new helicopter for the president to production of the $140 billion F-22 fighter jet.

    FOXNews.com

    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday recommended a broad range of budgetary cuts to high-tech weapons programs, including production of the F-22 fighter jet.

    In a move that won mixed reviews from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Gates said his $534 billion budget proposal represents a "fundamental overhaul" in defense acquisition and reflects a shift in priorities from fighting conventional wars to the newer threats U.S. forces face from insurgents in places such as Afghanistan.

    He called for production of the F-22 jet to stop at 187 jets. The U.S. military has 183 jets in service now, so just four more would be funded as part of the fiscal 2009 supplemental budget if President Obama approves the recommendations. The planes cost $140 million each.

    Lockheed Martin has already warned that ending this production would result in the loss of more than 90,000 jobs.

    Plans to build a new helicopter for the president and a helicopter to rescue downed pilots would also be canceled. A new communications satellite would be scrapped and the program for a new Air Force transport plane would be ended.

    Some of the Pentagon's most expensive programs would also be scaled back. The Army's $160 billion Future Combat Systems modernization program would lose its armored vehicles. Plans to build a shield to defend against missile attacks by rogue states would also be scaled back.

    To fight new threats from insurgents, Gates is proposing more funding for special forces and other tools.

    "In many ways, my recommendations represent a cumulative outcome of a lifetime spent in the national security arena -- but above all, questions asked, experience gained and lessons learned from over two years of leading this department, and in particular, from our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan," Gates said.

    He said his recommendations would "profoundly reform" the way the Defense Department does business.

    "We must re-balance this department's programs in order to institutionalize and finance our capabilities to fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies," he said.

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, said in a written statement that Gates' plan was a "major step in the right direction."

    "It has long been necessary to shift spending away from weapon systems plagued by scheduling and cost overruns to ones that strike the correct balance between the needs of our deployed forces and the requirements for meeting the emerging threats of tomorrow," he said.

    But Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., in YouTube video posted on his Senate Web site, said he was "very disappointed" Obama was preparing to cut back the military budget in a time of war, while he's increasing spending everywhere else.

    "I can't believe what we heard today," he said. "Right now we have our men and women in uniform, in harm's way, and we hear an announcement we're gutting ... our military."

    Inhofe and five other senators sent a letter to Obama opposing what they called "deep cuts in U.S. missile defense programs that are critically important to protecting our homeland and our allies against the growing threat of ballistic missiles."

    The promised emphasis on budget paring is a reversal from the Bush years, which included a doubling of the Pentagon's spending since 2001.

    Yet some programs would grow. Gates proposed speeding up production of the F-35 fighter jet, which could end up costing $1 trillion to manufacture and maintain 2,443 planes. The military would buy more speedy ships that can operate close in to land. And more money would be spent outfitting special forces troops that can hunt down insurgents.

    The Government Accountability Office reported last week that 96 of the Pentagon's biggest weapons contracts were over budget by a "staggering" figure of $296 billion.

    A bill in Congress would require the Pentagon to do a better job of making sure proposed weapons are affordable and perform the way they should before the military spends big sums on them. The Defense Department has already adjusted its acquisitions policy to achieve some of those goals.

    TO
     
  2. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Scary stuff. I know that no one can afford everything but some of this seems very short sighted.
    The no new helicopter for the Presidential flight would save little as the contracts have been signed and I thought that delivery had started. The no new helicopter comment for ASR of downed pilots would I think mean extending the CH46 which must be coming to the end of their lives. This would put pilots lives at risk and the mundane but vital supply roles that these aircraft undertake. I don't know of any US helicopter that could fill the role of the CH46, so unless the USA design and build one pronto (and we can all guess what that would cost) they could be in trouble.

    The F22/F35 decision I can understand, I don't like it but there is at least some logic to it as a vast proportion of the missions unertaken don't need the F22.

    As for cutting projects that have overshot then that I do have some sympathy but it should be remembered that in the examples of government projects that I have worked on, normlly it hasn't been the contracter who is always to blame. I have no doubt that the US ones do not differ in this way.
     
  3. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Doesnt anybody in Capitol Hill realize that China is going to be our next enemy??? Short-mindedness is going to ruin this country....
     
  4. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Friggin civilians. We were caught with our pants around our ankles on Dec7 1941, and again on Sept 11 2001....what's the next date gonna be?
     
  5. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    With all respect Rabid, a huge defence budget and 1000 F-22s wouldn't have helped at all on Sept 11th. What caught the US out was a partial failure to apprehend the scale and urgency of the Al-Qaeda threat, and the enemy's decison to use an utterly unprecedented tactic which had not (and IMHO cpuld not have been) effectively predicted. A similar conclusion could be drawn about Pearl Harbour as well, although it might be argued that the tactics used and origin of the threat were rather more predictable on that occasion.

    I think the cuts acknowledge the practicalities of the current warfighting needs of the US - but as many have already said, this is somewhat short sighted. On the other hand, this budget signals a potential move away from the very large armed forces with extremely expensive and high-tech equipment which served the US through the Cold War, to a smaller force with systems more suited to smaller, shorter wars, which are not necessarily as costly. I'm not sure that is the right thing to do, but is does seem to be a decisive step in finally shedding the Cold War mindset which, IMHO, has somewhat hampered the War on Terror to date.
     
  6. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Agreed. But there were more cuts than just airplanes and pilots.
     
  7. fly boy

    fly boy Member

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    best guess three weeks
     
  8. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Absolutely, but the F-22 really seems to symbolise the hugely advanced and costly weapon systems of the Cold War era. F-22s, Abrams and Arleigh Burkes are weapon systems designed, IMHO, to fight the last war. What the US and NATO really seem to need now are the weapons to fight this war, and the next one...
     
  9. mkloby

    mkloby Active Member

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    There is definitely a need for those weapons, no doubt. Not in the numbers the Air Force originally wanted, but there's still a need. Tanks are still valuable tools, and bring a lot to the combined arms team, even if they are not presently duking it out w/ enemy armor.
     
  10. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I'm not suggesting that these weapons are obsolete, or have no place on the battlefield, but in the present environment all of them can be taken out by weapons costing a fraction of their own unit cost, operated by guys with next to no training - the Abrams by an RPG, the F-22 by a guy with a Stinger, the AEGIS destroyer by a RIB packed with HE. The way forward seems to be fewer of these high-value assets working in greater co-operation with relatively lower-tech, lower-cost units (like the infantry!) to leverage their mutual strengths while covering their mutual weaknesses. I think the round of cuts under discussion reflect a move in that direction.
     
  11. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Explain this if you could. Please.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    And what is the next one????
     
  13. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    There's always a weapon that can take out the next weapon. Nothing is invulnerable...what we need is a happy medium between them all. The way I read the original article, he wanted to do away with them entirely. I agree with the scaled-back approach, as long as those funds are put elsewhere. Trim a bit here and put it over there, just don't trim and leave the rest hanging...ie, cut the number of F22's in half, and use those funds to beef up the Special Forces groups. Don't take those funds and pour them into wetland birds or some rare weed in Alaska.
     
  14. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    That is for the Pentagon to determine - right now my money is on a large-scale conventional row with either China or Iran. But essentially the role of any DoD or equivalent is to predict threat as accurately as possible and provide weapons and strategy accordingly. That is why the RN was procuring 4 dreadnoughts and one or two battlecruisers a year right through from 1908 to 1918 - because the threat was perceived to be a naval challenge from Germany. It's also why the RAF spent a lot on bombers prior to WWII - it was thought that a future European war would be won by fleets of bombers pounding enemy cities out of existence. It's also why the US built huge CVNs and lots of MBTs to take on the Soviets during the Cold War. If China is perceived to be the threat, we may well see a return to Cold War style building programs - if the Pentagon thinks the War on Terror is going to drag on much longer, programs like the ones prioritised in the latest budget are likely to become more commonplace...
     
  15. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    How about being ready for them all. Instead of cutting back weapons that take us into the 21st century, we cut back on older obselete weapons in the meantime. Maybe like about 5,000 nukes or any other old piece of relic.
     
  16. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    There is certainly an argument to be made for downsizing the nuclear arsenal in favour of conventional weapons. The success of your suggestion rides on being able to design and deploy a weapon system that works both in a large scale conventional war and in more COIN-orientated actions like those seen in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. I am personally not sure how do-able that is, but I guess if anyone can make it work it will be the US...
     
  17. mkloby

    mkloby Active Member

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    As far as the RPG and "guy with a stinger" taking out an M1 or an F-22, it's not nearly that simple. It's all about tactical employment... some of which you mentioned. If there is a high anti-tank or anti-air threat - there are tactics to counter that. It's all about combined arms.

    That is exactly the reason that advanced weapons systems such as these are needed; only problem is we cannot fund everything at this moment!
     
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