US Defence Secretary Gates scores big wins on weapons cuts
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Last Updated: Saturday, July 25, 2009, 21:19
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 recently.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, July 25, 2009, 21:19

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