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The Obama administration's first major policy making defense budget was rolled out today by Secretary of Defense Gates this afternoon and live blogged here.

Further purchases of the F-22 fighter and C-17 long range transport have been discontinued and 250 old tactical fighters will be phased out.  Programs for a new Presidential helicopter, a next generation Air Force bomber program, a next generation search and rescue helicopter for the Air Force, and a new generation of eight Army vehicles that are part of the "Future Combat System" are all dead.  A program for a next generation navy cruiser is delayed, the aircraft carrier force will fall to ten ships, and missile defense will be scaled back, as will surface ship contruction.

The big winners are the F-35 fighter program, drone aircraft, the Littoral Combat Ship, and a next generation of nuclear missile submarines.

Major points (all references to 2010 are to the DOD fiscal year):

Ground Forces * 96,000 more Army/Marine troops in active duty ground forces. * More helicopter crew training and maintenance, but not more airframes. * The program to transition divisions to smaller self-sufficient Brigade Combat teams will be limited to 45 rather than a prior 48 Brigade combate teams.  About three are comparable to one old division. * VH-71 program killed. (i.e. a delay and do over of the Marine One Presidential helicopter.) * The vehicle component of the Army's Future Combat System is dead, as it doesn't benefit from the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan and is generally ill conceived.

Air Force and Aircraft * Predator armed drone production will be up.  So will other UAV production. * 30 F-35 purchases planned for 2010. The F-35 buy will be speeded up with 513 by end of "FYDP." * 31 F/A-18 buys planned for 2010. * End F-22 production at 187 planes. * 250 old tactical fighters will be retired by the Air Force * A next generation Air Force bomber program is cancelled. * An end to C-17 transport plane purchases. * Air Force CSAR-X program dead. * "Terminate TSAT. Instead purchase 2 VHF sats." * Next generation air tanker bids will be received this summer.

Navy * Force to be reduced to 10 aircraft carriers. * 3 Littoral Combat ships in 2010 with a goal of 55 overall. * More funding for ballistic missile defense (Star Wars) based upon existing naval Aegis conventional missile defense systems. * "Missile defense to focus on rogue states and regional threat. Continue funding research."  The MVK component of the missile defense program is cancelled. * A program to replace Ohio class nuclear missile submarines will be begun. * Slowed building of surface warships. * A delay in the CG-X cruiser program. * A delay in the Marine serving seabasing and amphibious ship building. * End Zumwalt DDG-1000 buy after the two currently under construction and restart building of DDG-51 destroyers.

In General * Programs that are over budget and behind schedule will be cut. * New programs will be less technologically ambitious than past ones.   * "Budget is 10 % irregular warfare, 40 % conventional capabilities and the balance strategic."

Overall, expensive, over ambitious and big war oriented programs will take the biggest hit.

Originally posted to ohwilleke on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 12:00 PM PDT.

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