Gates Budget Briefing Highlights

The “envelope, please”:…

The winners:

4. To better protect our forces and those of our allies in theater from ballistic missile attack, we will add $700 million to field more of our most capable theater missile defense systems, specifically the terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) System and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) programs.

5. We will also add $200 million to fund conversion of six additional Aegis ships to provide ballistic missile defense capabilities.

The runner-ups:

8. With regard to our nuclear and strategic forces:

* In FY10, we will begin the replacement program for the Ohio class ballistic missile submarine program.

* We will not pursue a development program for a follow-on Air Force bomber until we have a better understanding of the need, the requirement, and the technology.

* We will examine all of our strategic requirements during the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Nuclear Posture Review, and in light of Post-START arms control negotiations.

And the losers:

Fourth, in the area of missile defense:

* We will restructure the program to focus on the rogue state and theater missile threat.

* We will not increase the number of current ground-based interceptors in Alaska as had been planned. But we will continue to robustly fund continued research and development to improve the capability we already have to defend against long-range rogue missile threats – a threat North Korea’s missile launch this past weekend reminds us is real.

* We will cancel the second airborne laser (ABL) prototype aircraft. We will keep the existing aircraft and shift the program to an R&D effort. The ABL program has significant affordability and technology problems and the program’s proposed operational role is highly questionable.

* We will terminate the Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) program because of its significant technical challenges and the need to take a fresh look at the requirement.

* Overall, the Missile Defense Agency program will be reduced by $1.4 billion.

This seems to be the Democratic pattern; the Clinton administration also boosted theater missile defense at the expense of national missile defense.

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