Budget deficits hit US air force

The Pentagon has plans to cut back on the US air force's budget for its new F/A-22 fighter jet in a move budget analysts say is intended to offset mounting deficits.

    US fighters, such as the F-15C, have started to show their age

    Leading industry analyst Loren Thompson said on Wednesday that the programme could be ended after producing only 160 of the 277 planned aircraft.

     

    He said the proposed cuts reflected "the convergence of severe budgetary pressures imposed by the Iraq war with some long-standing preferences among senior policymakers for less emphasis on conventional weapons programmes".

     

    The US air force estimated the total of 277 planes would run to about $72 billion, making it the most expensive fighter jet in history.

     

    The aircraft, known as the Raptor, is due to enter service in December 2005.

       

    Keeping quiet

     

    But Dennis Boxx, a spokesman for the plane's manufacturer and the nation's largest military contractor, Lockheed Martin, said the company had not been notified of any changes.

     

    And defence department spokesman Eric Ruff declined to discuss any specific decisions on the Raptor programme to journalists, but said Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had spoken with lawmakers in recent days "to discuss long-term

    modifications to the tactical fighter programmes".

       

    Ruff added that the Pentagon's proposals ensured that the F/A-22 and another aviation priority, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, "would remain healthy".

     

    A Pentagon decision to cut back - which Congress must still approve - comes as the Bush administration is pressing all agencies to scale back spending requests for the fiscal year 2006 budget. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.