By Roxana Tiron - 02/17/10 07:11 PM EST
The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Ashton Carter, indicated on Wednesday that
defense officials aren’t planning another slew of high-profile contract cancellations
over the next five years.
Instead, Carter said that he works on a daily basis to protect the programs
that are performing well, because even for a successful weapons contract there
is “no shortage of people that are out to get it.” Carter called his fight to
protect the healthy programs his “Hippocratic Oath.”
The “poorest performers” were eliminated in the fiscal 2010 defense budget, according to Carter, and the Pentagon identified more cancellations in its 2011 request.
Among the banner cancellations of the 2010 defense budget were the F-22 fighter jet (the Pentagon wanted to cap the fleet at 187 planes), the VH-71 presidential helicopter, the Transformational Satellite, the Air Force’s new combat search and rescue helicopter and the Army’s new ground combat vehicles. The canceled projects were part of the service’s largest modernization program, the Future Combat Systems (FCS).
FCS is now effectively disbanded. The remaining technology development efforts from the FCS era are now referred to as Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization.
For fiscal 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would fight to end the production of Boeing’s C-17 cargo aircraft and the General Electric-Rolls Royce alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Congress has strongly backed both programs, but Gates vowed earlier this month that he would recommend that President Barack Obama veto any defense bills that contain funding for either program.
"I hope that after a certain amount of trimming of the underbrush,” further weapons cuts over the next five years “won’t be necessary,” Carter told a conference sponsored by Aviation Week.
Carter also said that defense spending is still expected to grow on a yearly basis, but certainly not at the double-digit pace of the years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.