Gates Sharpens His Axe

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced sweeping cuts in defense programs today, the budget axe falling particularly hard on Air Force systems.

n F-22: End the buy at 187 aircraft.

n F-35: Accelerate the buy in 2010 to increase the number of test assets available; in the end there will be about a dozen fewer aircraft.

n Air Force Fighters: Retire 250 fighters in Fiscal 2010 (Air Force request).

n Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter: Terminated.

n New Tanker: The KC-X program will go forward; request for bids expected this summer; Gates is still adamant on not having a split buy.

n Transformational Satellite: Terminated; instead will purchase two additional Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellites.

n Airborne Laser: Terminate the second aircraft, relegate the existing asset to research only.

n C-17: End the line; the 205 now in service or on order are sufficient.

n 2018 Bomber: Postponed.