Jan. 2, 2005 -- The Pentagon is preparing to ax nearly $30 billion from its spending plans over the next six years and deal significant blows to nearly its entire roster of major weapon programs.
These cuts to big-ticket aircraft, ship and missile defense programs are accompanied by a $25 billion increase in spending for the Army over the same period, according to budget documents and sources.
Defense analysts said these cuts -- significantly lower than the $10 billion a year reported earlier this week -- could mark the end of the military build-up that began in the 1990s. They reflect pressures that ongoing operations in Iraq are exerting on modernization plans.
Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, approved the spending changes Dec. 23 in Program Budget Decision No. 753, a copy of which was obtained by InsideDefense.com.
The 26-page document marks one of the final steps in a year-long process to construct the Pentagon's 2006 spending proposal. Barring any persuasive last-minute appeal by a service chief or secretary, the decisions likely will be included in the Defense Department's 2006 spending request when it is forwarded to Congress in early February, according to a former Pentagon official familiar with the budget process.
The document directs significant changes to a number of major programs between 2006 and 2011, including:
* Terminating C-130J cargo aircraft procurement for the Air Force and completing the remaining buy of KC-130Js for the Marine Corps in 2006. Cut: $5 billion.
* Shrinking the size of the Air Force F/A-22 program from 277 aircraft to 180 aircraft and completing the buy in 2008. Cut: $10.5 billion.
* Restructuring missile defense programs. Cut: $5 billion.
* Trimming two ships from the Navy's next-generation destroyer program. Cut: $2.5 billion.
* Eliminating the procurement of the San Antonio-class amphibious ship LPD-17 in 2008. Cut: $952 million.
* Reducing Virginia Class submarine procurement to one ship per year. Cut: $5.3 billion.
* Terminating the Joint Common Missile Program. Cut: $2.3 billion.
* Delaying by two years initial operating capability for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. Cut: $1.5 billion.
* Reducing the procurement ramp for the V-22 Osprey program. Cut: $1.2 billion.
* Terminating the Joint Warfare Simulation program. Cut: $50 million
* Terminating the Air Force's Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser Extended Range program. Cut: $403 million.
* Restructuring the Air Force's E-10A aircraft program. Cut: $600 million.
* Restructuring the Transformational Satellite program. Cut: $400 million
* Restructuring the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance program. Cut: $476 million
* Retiring in 2006 the aircraft carrier Kennedy, trimming today's fleet of 12 aircraft carriers by one. Cut: $1.2 billion.
* Restructuring the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems program. Cut: $1 billion.
These actions followed guidance issued earlier in December by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which called on the Pentagon to reduce the size of the 2006 budget request. But for months, defense budget experts have been warning that mounting health care costs, rising expenses from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and increased personnel outlays were adding up to expensive bills that could shake up the Pentagon's weapons modernization plans.
"We're likely seeing the beginning of the end of the military build-up that began at the end of the last decade," said Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The Army, which in the last few years has watched its top two modernization priorities -- the Crusader artillery system and its Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter program -- terminated, sees a major windfall. The budget documents direct the addition of $5 billion a year between 2007 and 2011 to assist the service in reorganizing into brigade-size units.
The Air Force's Space Based Radar gets a major boost -- $592 million -- in the Dec. 23 budget decision, with the Pentagon planning for a first launch in 2015. Also, the service's Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program gets a $825 million increase to support a first launch in 2008. This is accompanied by a delay, from 2006 to 2008, of the procurement of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle.
The Navy gets a $600 million increase across the six-year budget period to design an "undersea superiority system" to deliver capabilities lost by the reduced purchases of Virginia-class submarines. These funds may not be used by the Navy for submarine programs, according to the budget document.
Untouched in the budget adjustment is the Joint Strike Fighter program.
The size of the cut to 2006 spending proposal is $5.9 billion, lower than earlier reports of $10 billion. These will be followed by cuts of $1.1 billion in 2007, $3.3 billion in 2008, $8.3 billion in 2009, $7.3 billion in 2010 and $3.8 billion in 2011, the PBD states. -- Jason Sherman