The VH-71 helicopter project, which has already gone more than $6bn over budget, has been called a waste of money by Gates.

He has also said that the US military a;ready has enough C-17 cargo aeroplanes, while the Obama administration has questioned whether a new engine for the F-35 is necessary.

F-22 production cut

John Murtha, a Democrat who led the authoring of the defence spending bill, had sought $369m so that efforts could begin towards the building of twelve new F-22s.

Murtha scrapped those plans after US President Barack Obama threatened to veto the measure and senate voted against the continued production of the aircraft.

The bill that passed through the House instead contains the provision of $139m for spare engines for the F-22 and the C-17 cargo aircraft.

Most of those serving in the lower house are Democrats, but a great deal of those are representatives of states where defence companies have a presence.

Legislators serving in those regions are thus fearful that cutting defence projects will lead to severe job losses at contractors and subcontractors.

The package also contains $128bn for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If that full amount is spent it will take the cost of efforts for those wars and efforts aimed at countering terrorism to more than $1 trillion.

But the bill does not contain $100m that Obama had sought to fund the closing of the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba.