US Defence Secretary Gates scores big wins on weapons cuts
Washington: The politically savvy US Defence Secretary Robert Gates scored big legislative wins when the Senate voted convincingly to end production of the high-priced F-22 jet fighter and killed an aircraft engine project that he says is not needed.
Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush
administration, is on a campaign to change the way the
Pentagon does business. In his sights are unnecessary or
financially troubled weapons that siphon money away from the
troops and gear required for he irregular wars now being
fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Yet getting Congress to go along with further deep
cuts to costly programmes remains a huge challenge as
lawmakers fight to protect the jobs these projects create in
their states and districts. Others have serious disagreements
with the Obama administration`s strategic choices.
Case in point: House lawmakers want to spend
hundreds of millions of dollars for equipment Gates doesn`t
want, including more than USD 400 million for the VH-71
presidential helicopter that the Pentagon wants cancelled for
being behind schedule and vastly over budget.
"It`s the rarest occasion when a mature weapons
system, with all the contracts and subcontracts, is terminated
by the Congress of the United States," Republican Senator John
McCain, who voted in favour of killing the F-22, said
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