Obama eyes cuts in expensive weapons systems

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Mr. Gates has lamented what he sees as the development by the military branches of costly, complex systems for the next generation at the expense of items that help the troops now.

“I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called next-war-itis - the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict,” Mr. Gates said in May.

The secretary is now working on Mr. Obama’s first defense budget.

“We’ve just started the process of discussing the ‘10 budget with the transition team,” Mr. Gates said at a Dec. 2 news conference. “And so we’ve provided them with briefings, but so far there hasn’t really been any reaction.”

The second defense company executive said there is talk within the Obama transition of cutting other programs in addition to the Future Combat System.

Among the programs that might be targeted are littoral combat ships, the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter and certain missile defense systems.

The defense budget has grown tremendously under President Bush to fund the overall war on terror, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and next-generation systems such as the F-22 and FCS.

President Clinton’s last defense budget submission in 2001 totaled $305 billion. In October, Mr. Bush signed a $512 billion fiscal 2009 Pentagon budget.

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