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Speaking to the $1 trillion in automatic defence cuts, defence Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress “I have never been more concerned about the ability of Congress to forge common-sense solutions to the nation’s pressing problems.”In a letter Panetta said the following programs would be the first to go.
Any conversation about bloated weapons projects must begin with the $382 billion Lockheed Martin F-35 jet, the most expensive military weapons project in US history.
With $1 trillion in cuts there is little chance the military could afford the 2,443 F-35s it plans to acquire for bolstering its ageing fighter fleet. At about $156 million apiece, the cost of the project has spiraled out of control from its original $89 billion projection.
The next to go would likely be programs within the Missile defence Agency. Originally the Strategic defence Initiative, or ‘Star Wars’ program of the 80s, the agency focuses on the expensive major space initiatives related to defence.
Silo based nuclear weapons would also be vulnerable. The US currently has about 5,113 nuclear warheads alert and activated in 450 underground silos. defence leaders say that to deactivate any of these nuclear deterrents would leave the country vulnerable. Though how vulnerable remains a source of debate.
The Navy’s new $7 billion contract to build two new littoral combat ships to get sailors close to coastlines for clearing mines and hunting subs will also be threatened. The Navy has ordered 10 of the ships at $538 million per vessel.
In addition, Bloomberg reports the US Navy may also have to mothball up to 60 ships if the automatic cuts go into effect.
All of this is assumes military pensions and payroll remain immune to the cuts, though that finality is far from certain.
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