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Gates Claims He'll Propose $100 Billion Cuts in Military

By Reuters

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce as early as Thursday about $100 billion in savings for the Pentagon and cuts to some weapons programs, sources said on Monday.

The announcement will detail a plan that military services have been hammering out for months. The Pentagon is under increasing pressure to cut its budget given huge federal deficits and a drawdown of troops in Iraq.

One weapons program expected to end is the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a 40-ton amphibious landing craft being developed for the Marine Corps by General Dynamics Corp, said two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

Gates is also likely to cancel a medium air-to-air missile being developed by Raytheon Co, said defense analyst Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan declined comment on whether Gates would make the announcement this week, saying only that Gates would announce his decisions on efficiencies at an appropriate time.

The Pentagon's largest weapons program, the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is facing another restructuring that could extend the program's development phase by up to two years, said a third source familiar with the plans.

The program was restructured last year, adding 13 months to the development phase.

Lockheed said it would be premature to comment on any change in the F-35 program, but said it had made progress over the past year and that the 10th F-35 entered flight test on December 30.

The White House has said it would release its proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 during the week of February 14.

Marine Corps General James Cartwright told investors in December that the U.S. defense budget would likely decline in coming years.

Defense News, a trade publication reported in December that the White House Office of Management and Budget had ordered the Pentagon to cut its budget by $90 billion over the next five years, beginning with a $12 billion cut in fiscal 2012.

The Pentagons fiscal 2011 budget plan had called for spending of $549 billion in 2011, growing to $566 billion in 2012, excluding war spending.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa and Phil Stewart; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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$90bn over five years is little compared to the total budget. So is the $100bn cut Gates is talking about for one year, or over a span of years?

$100bn in one year would be a fair start.

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