Pentagon Won't Buy Expensive, Outdated Jets to Save Jobs

Defense Department to end F-22 jets, presidential chopper

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon will end the F-22 fighter jet and presidential helicopter programs run by Lockheed Martin Corp., Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Military analysts widely expected the radar-evading supersonic jet -- considered an outdated weapon system designed for the Cold War -- would not go beyond the 187 already planned. The planes cost $140 million each.

But Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, the nation's largest defense contractor, has said almost 95,000 jobs could be at stake if the Pentagon didn't buy more of the planes.

“We’re assessing the impact of the secretary of defense’s decisions on all affected programs," according to Lockheed Martin representative Jeffery Adams. "As we move forward with the budget process, Lockheed Martin will continue to support our customers and work to deliver affordable solutions that meet their strategic and operational needs.”

The new fleet of presidential helicopters -- with a price tag of $11.2 billion that was almost double the original budget -- also were considered at risk to be cut in the 2010 budget.

Gates announced a broad range of cuts to weapons spending Monday. The Army's modernization program would be scaled back, while a new satellite system and a search-and-rescue helicopter would be cut.

The budget will "profoundly reform" the way the Pentagon buys weapons and does business, Gates said.

To fight new threats from insurgents, Gates is proposing more funding for special forces and other tools.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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