Earlier this year, President Barack Obama sent his Administration’s 2010 budget priorities to the Congress. What it revealed was shocking, even if it should not have been surprising, with trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, even before healthcare reform spending is counted. The only significant cuts were in future defense spending, even as American forces are fully engaged in fighting two wars and the world appears as dangerous as it ever was.
The White House’s budget submission called for ending production of the Air Force F-22 Raptor, a replacement for the 40-year old F-15 Eagle air-superiority fighter. Congressional calls for restoring F-22 funding were soon followed by President Obama’s first and only veto threat to date. The veto threat means the F-22 program is effectively cancelled, and the Air Force’s ability to suppress enemy air defenses and establish air supremacy over future battlefields has been degraded.
The Administration also proposed cutting production of the Navy’s top fighter aircraft, the F-18 Super Hornet, which will result in a shortfall of at least 200 aircraft – probably 300 – that are sorely needed to modernize the Navy’s carrier air wings.
Also applying the cutting knife to the Army, the White House is canceling the Future Combat System Manned Ground Vehicles, the high-tech replacements for M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Infantry fighting vehicles, designed in the 1970s.
Finally, Obama Administration has taken a pass on building the Air Force’s next-generation mid-air re-fueling tanker. With the oldest KC-135 aerial refueling tankers entering a sixth decade of service and the newest, the KC-10, in the air for 30 years, our ability to maintain global air dominance well into the future is at increased risk.