THE THINGS THAT DIDN'T GET CUT...

Some posts to read on the Gates announcement:

Jason Sigger sees this as a compromise proposal, but one that supports Gates' vision of warfighting. Republicans are going nuts about the missile defense cuts -- the ghost of St. Reagan endures, apparently. Noah writes about the cuts to Future Combat Systems, and Spencer has a good overall roundup.

As the focus has largely been on the cuts, it's worth taking a short look at some systems that weren't touched:

  • Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: This is a much-troubled program that is supposed to result in an amphibious vehicle that can travel fast on both land and sea. It's suffered from severe cost overruns and serious reliability problems. It's also not clear where this capability fits into the new focus on irregular warfare, although it's not difficult to imagine some counterterrorism applications for such vehicles.
  • F-35 Lightning II: The F-35 prospective buy was actually increased. This should make the Navy, the Marine Corps, and a host of collaborator nations happy. I'm of two minds about the F-35; it's much more of a multirole attack aircraft than the F-22 but has suffered its own cost overruns and technical issues. It's possible that the F-35 plans represent a punt; on any buy this large, cuts can come much later if you want them.
  • Littoral Combat Ship: Gates maintained plans to buy a large number of littoral combat ships, which are fast, small, modular warships designed to operate near the shore. Galrahn has some questions about the applicability of these ships to irregular warfare, given their low endurance.
  • MV-22 Osprey: The Osprey, a tilt-rotor tactical transport aircraft, was not mentioned by Gates. Although its development has been deeply troubled, the Osprey has actually been deployed to Iraq, where reviews have generally been good. Questions about the program were renewed two weeks ago, however, when the entire fleet was grounded because of loose bolts.

As David Axe and others have noted, the Marines seem to be the main beneficiaries of the new budget proposal, as most of their favored systems have survived. The Air Force, not so much.

--Robert Farley

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