Pentagon drops plan to cut one carrier

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The Pentagon has dropped a plan to retired one of its aircraft carriers in its budget submission next month, after the White House intervened, the Wall Street Journal reports

After the Pentagon proposed cutting a carrier in light of defense budget cuts, bipartisan senators wrote Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a letter to protest the move. 

Wishing to avert a fight during an election year, the White House told defense officials they would provide extra money to allow the Navy to extend the life of the USS George Washington, a move most likely backed by lawmakers, according to the Journal

The Navy had 15 carriers during the Reagan administration, but currently has 10. Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of think tanks recommended cutting several carriers to meet current defense budget constraints. 

Operating an older Nimitz-class aircraft carrier costs $402 million a year, not including its air wing or escort ships, the Journal said. 

Lawmakers from Virginia, where the ships are built, strongly oppose reducing the number of carriers.  

“The aircraft carrier remains the centerpiece of American sea power and is fundamental to a national security policy based on forward deployed presence and power,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) told the Journal

“A decision to go from an 11 to 10 carrier Navy would be seen by our allies and potential opponents around the globe as a kind of retrenchment that would not be helpful.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) added.