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The source said some in the Navy have taken to calling the multipurpose LCS the “little crappy ship” because of performance shortfalls and cost overruns.

“They are buying as many ‘crappy little ships’ as big capital ships,” the source said. “The fleet of the future.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, last July asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate.

“Throughout the history of this program, the Navy has been over cost and has failed to meet its own deadlines,” Mr. Hunter said in a letter to the GAO.

Norman Polmar, an author on books about the Navy fleet, said the littoral combat ship “is a program we should stop tomorrow until we figure it out. We are building a 3,000-ton ship with one small-caliber gun as their only armament.”

On building the new Ford-class nuclear-powered carrier, he said: “There’s a big question as to whether we can keep building $12 billion to $16 billion carriers.”

But Mr. Polmar said the Navy should increase purchases of the Navy-Army joint high-speed vessel, a transport ship that has shown it can achieve its mission.

That ship, however, is treading budget water. Of the 16 new ships cut from the budget, eight are joint high-speed vessels.

The Army is eliminating at least eight of its 45 Brigade Combat Teams to reach a 72,000-soldier reduction, to a 490,000 active force.

The Marine Corps, meanwhile, is disbanding five battalions and four tactical air squadrons, among other units, to cut 20,000 troops, to 182,000.

The Corps also is losing 24 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft it had planned to buy over the next five years, saving nearly $900 million.

The Air Force is retiring 303 aircraft, including 102 A-10 Thunderbolt tank killers and 21 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets. Its fighter/attack aircraft inventory has shrunk by 25 percent since 2011, to about 2,000.

The Pentagon also is slowing its largest weapon system, the $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It will buy 179 fewer planes from 2013 to 2017.

For all four branches and reserves, the total force drops in five years by 5.5 percent, from 2,269,700 to 2,145,800. The active force shrinks from 1,422,600 to 1,320,200.

“I believe this budget, which is more that $50 billion above what we spent on average in the Cold War, is the start of a medium-term trend of actual reduction in what [the Pentagon] spends each year,” said Winslow Wheeler of the reform-minded Center for Defense Information.

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