F-35 to LCS at Risk Says Panetta

In case you haven’t heard, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dropped some news that sent the beltwar press buzzing yesterday when he said that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may have to be cancelled outright if the Congressional Super Committee charged with trimming billions of dollars from defense coffers fails to do so.

The Super Committee is trying to shave billions more on top of the $450 billion in savings that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined earlier this year. The committee has until November, 23 to come up with a plan to reduce the United States’ deficit by cutting about $1.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade. If it fails to do so, the Pentagon will face an automatic cuts — under a process officially called sequestration — of about $500 billion spread out over the next decade.

Such massive cuts would likely kill programs such as the JSF, the Littoral Combat Ship, major space efforts, Army chopper modernization plans, ICBMs,  ground combat vehicle modernization, and see the next generation bomber cancelled and possibly restarted sometime in the 2020s, according to a pair of letters (below) that Panetta sent to Sens. John McCain (R-Az) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) yesterday.

These $500 billion in cuts — about $100 billion a year starting in fiscal year 2013 —  would shrink the Army to the smallest  it’s been since before World War II, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in the service’s history, reads a Nov. 14 letter from Panetta to Sen. John McCain (R-Az.).

“We would also be forced to terminate most large procurement programs in order to accommodate modernization reductions that are likely to be required,” reads the letter.

Click through the jump to read Panetta’s letters to McCain and Graham:

Panetta McCain Graham Ltr

  • The F-35 program should of started as only an AF variant. Then, once that is all designed and ready to go, move on to the other variants, hence spreading cost over time. Or it would of been a nice FFP (Firm, Fixed, Price) contract, instead of cost plus. I bet there wouldn’t been so many delays and cost overruns. Hope it gets to stay though, we are too far down the rabbit hole now…

  • mpower6428

    its decision time folks…. do we want to continue to spend on our military 10X’s what the rest of the world spends, combined…?

    dramatic cuts mean the end of dramatic programs.

    the cold war is/has been over, proxy war costs to damn much, total war is national suicide. the hyper war with china has begun.

    personnally i think cutting our military bugdet by half is a step in the right direction. no pre-war “new and shiney gadget” has survived the first 6 months of any war in the 20th century. BUT…..

    dont you worry, not a dime of military spending will slashed, the members of the super commitee rely on “campaign finance” to maintain control of their respective districts.

  • Mastro

    I’m no LCS fan- but the FFG’s are getting old- they need something to be the low end.

    Certainly kill the ICBM- or keep only 20 or so as “fast flyers”- no need for a 100+ – just a program for the AF.

    We can certainly cut back on armor- just put the M1’s in storage if we need them.

  • Exan

    lol, we’re all sitting here on internet blogs, playing armchair general with our favorite toys, talking about cuts

    but this is only a breeze before a hurricane, the US is about to go the way of the USSR. in a year’s time it’ll be lucky to rival the Russian military

    and like the US broke Russia’s economic back when it was down, so will China make its move. prepare for WW3, or start learning Chinese, Pax Americana is about to die

  • Jeremy

    Cuts like this would be disastrous…..

  • Tee

    Why do you think the Air Force agreed to upgrade the F-15’s & F-16’s, and the Marines have bought the 74 British Harriers. The Pentagon has known this was coming since the Super Committee was first announced. The Sad part is cutting the JSF (382 Billion) is only around 35% of the total 1.2 Trillion. I’m no fan of the JSF and think it should be canceled because of many other reasons,but what really worries me is the other 65% of the cuts. We as a Nation can’t afford to Gut Our Military like this.

  • juan

    Sucks having a socialist traitor like Obama as President.

  • Steve

    “Sucks having a socialist traitor like Obama as President.”

    Jeez, what took you ?, you were post 9 for Christ’s sake !. I expected the Obama bashing to start sooner.

    Juan, do you have anything useful to contribute to the issue of a humongous debit crisis other then “it’s Obamas fault ?. We need to cut everywhere. Do you really think if McCain were President the cuts wouldn’t be any deeper ?. We are finishing one war and hoping to wind down a 2nd CAUSE WE CAN’T AFFORD THEM !. The current costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is around 3.6 trillion. Is it impossible to not understand that some of that money might have been spent a bit more wisely, and might now be available for some nice toys for the USAF, USN and USMC.

    Quite frankly I hope they do cut the F35. A stupid amount of money wasted already on a plane that doesn’t do the job and I’m certain it’s possible to find equally cost in-effective programs all around.

  • Guest

    He also states that unmanned ISR programs could be cancelled.

    Let’s get real people, this is a warning to the SuperCommittee to get it’s act together, not a wish list.

  • “Hi. My name is Great Britain, and I’m an imperialist. I had an empire for longer than I can care to remember, and like many world powers, I thought that I could handle it. It took me a long time to realise how self destructive I was… always throwing my weight around, getting into fights. I slowly lost my friends and then my money… that was what forced me to come to terms with my problem, I was broke, just couldn’t afford the lifestyle anymore. Anyway, I’ve taken the twelve steps and I’ve been clean of empire since 1997. Do we have any new visitors to Fallen Empires Anonymous here today?”

  • JE McKellar

    Can Lockheed-Martin survive the cuts? We might as well nationalize the defense industry now, keep their profits in the Federal coffers, and keep the talent base employed. It’s not like the free market was doing a great job bringing projects in on-time and on-budget, anyway.

  • blight

    SecDef should’ve just threatened to consolidate military bases in areas controlled by certain politicos who need to get their act together. Nothing like pulling out a military gravy train to bring the pols begging to keep that wonderful base in town. Stuff like Knox, Benning, Yakima and Andrews aren’t going anywhere, but BRAC keeps putting off real pain and this would be a great way to save money and stick it to politicians who won’t play nice.

  • joe

    start with cutting generals and admirals that do nothing but hold meetings for other generals and admirals.

    Then eliminate their VIP planes.

    Reduce the marine corps to one expeditionary force.

    6 carriers and 3 amphibious warfare battle groups

    Abandon the divisional structure for the army. reinstitute regiments each with its own airpower including reaper drones.

    All bases to be joint facilities

    Give me some time and I will come up with some other stuff

    • Rob

      Use military properties for farming, solar & geothermal power.

      Recycle anything that if of no use sitting in old military storage & old facilities.

      Make a MilitaryLand(Disneyland) where people can take rides in tanks, aircraft & sea vessels.

      Put advertisements in foreign countries for paid tours of U.S. military facilities.

      Plug nuclear submarines into the power grid on coastal states. Give power back to the people!

  • The Super Committee is super bought and paid for by lobbyists foreign and domestic.

  • paperpushermj

    It seems everything above light infantry is out the door.
    But is this not the ultimate wet dream of the Democrat Party.

  • nonito cabato

    okay cut everything, then tell the son of a bitches in congress and lay all the card in the table TELL THEM THAT WE CAN ONLY DEFEND THE MAINLAND UNITED STATES AND NOT THE WORLD!

    new plane is better than the old ones, F-15 F-16 F18 & others are too maintenance intensive and its falling apart! all you need is F-22 & F-35 just buy 600 plus F-22 block 35 for the airforce and bomber 300 eliminate everything! in the usaf arsenal


    There’s more than enough money to fund programs like the F-35 and LCS as the US should withdraw all US troops from Europe, South Korea and Japan. The US spends $Billions to protect Europe, South Korea and Japan; but it should stop as these countries are major financial superpowers who should be spending their own tax-dollars defending themselves. Sell them all of the equipment necessary and step back as one of the things about having 12 aircraft carriers is that we don’t need land bases.

  • trevor

    all that i have to say is why cancel a program that we have already spent money on. then that money is wasted.

  • Skeletor

    There is just not enough money to do it all, at least not what we are willing to allocate…
    Japan, South Korea and Europe should have at least double the military capabilities they do now to deter and defend themselves… we should at least halve our deployed troops as they grow their militaries over the next few years… about a snowball’s chance in hell it will ever happen (along with a lot of other reforms) but it is a start… a slightly smaller bur far more modern military with a lower permanent forward deployed footprint is the future…

  • Billy

    Uhhhhmmmmm……Lockheed Martin….we want our mothaf*ckn money back. In other words, we want a refund.

  • Nick

    I was so thinking this earlier today actually. Remeber when we had a small Army and when we needed a bigger one for a war we got the people to serve (for worthy causes not doomed by polotics) and we won the day? I believe in battles fought for survival, and a small military, ready to train the people. Tick tock, military economy. This is the tock.

  • jamesb

    He, he, he…..
    I’m laughing at all the above comments….
    If you guys think this Congress is gonna let Leon cut the F-35 for the Air Force, Navy, Marines and ALL the other coutries out there standing in line you’re on crack!

    This is politics guys….
    Toughen up!…..

  • Rob

    I am all for the cancellations and cutbacks. It’s a shame but truth is economy has been bad for most of our lives. We were just in denial. That same denial created the great and fragile economy we have.

    I have faith our current military can handle any current threats
    but I would suggest moving more land bases to the mexican border where it’s undermanned.

    If it makes Russia and China more aggressive, in any way, then it would be the time to revive the air/sea projects, among others. America rises to the call when needed. WWII proved that.

  • Jacob

    Instead of going all-in on stealth jets, shouldn’t we have gone for a high-low mix? Let the Raptors and JSFs do the air superiority and SEAD missions early on in a campaign, then once the environment becomes more permissive, let the F-15E’s take over for bomb truck missions.

    • chaos0xomega

      You echo the sentiments that myself and countless other armchair air generals have made. The High/low mix should be adapted to high/low stealth/non-stealth mix. In terms of a ration it would look something like (pulling numbers out of my ass for demonstration purposes)1:2:4:8 High Stealth:Low Stealth:High Non-Stealth:Low Non-Stealth or in other terms F-22:F-35:F-15:F-16. I don’t include strike/attack platforms such as the F-15E and A-10 as part of the mix because to me they never really seemed to be part of it, and in any case those platforms are (IMO) far more useful and shouldn’t be constrained to some ratio.

  • FtD

    everyone wants to drive a Ferrari but when your bank account does not agree with your thinking, GMC maybe the best compromise. A teen fighter only costs 1/3 of F35 so when your country doesn’t have much money then this maybe the best compromise for the time being.

  • One thing for sure, I cannot stand people who cry about wanting to cut the defense budget. I cannot stand the way the so called American public wants to cut defense. Have they asked the REST of us,you know the other 99% if WE want to cut defense spending?
    The answer to this is NO, they have not.Instead they sit their fat cans behind their desks investing in a broken monetary system called the stock market, crying about how much their friends in the stupid cheese wad bankers club, and how much of their money was stolen in fraudulent money scams cooked up to screw the remainder of us in the remaining 99% around.
    Sure,lets cut defense…lets cut out the ability to defend shipping lanes for oil…something the small 1% does not think about when they drive their large rich ans suv cars around the town buying drugs and helping kill our service men and women overseas….
    But hey,this is America….land of the stupid and land of the cowardice and land of the Chinese extension of their vision communism. All hail Obama and his posing behind the Chinese flag on American soil.
    In closing, I say this….cut the defense budget, and I will be the first to take up arms against this pathetic excuse for a government…because I believe in a strong and vibrant country ran by us in the 99% who value freedom…not by the 1% who protest for free rides…something that lately the pathetic, lazy American public has grown accustomed too.

  • Here is food for thought….
    Members of the Russians and the Chinese governments during the cold war held a meeting and foretold what would happen to the United States after the end of the so called cold war….And guess what, they were right. We lost the cold war….and every war in every country every where we have been involved in since 1992. Because we are week…pathetic….and lazy…and unwilling to risk what it takes to maintain our security.

  • john

    Budget is based on requirements. If the military is no longer required to act as the world police, there would be little impact on the abliity to execute the mission.

  • Uranium238

    Should’ve built more F-22s instead of F-35s. They cut that program for its price, yet it seems like the F-35 is exceeding the F-22 program now as far as money. One is flying and in service, the other technically is not still.

  • Michael

    So, if we cut the defense budget like this, will we increase our budget for cyber warfare?

  • itfunk

    It’s amazing how many narcissistic nut jobs the American taxpayer has to finance – the young fit men who would rather take the governments dime then find a job all the while raging about how special they are and how money should be taken from education, or the sick and old to pay for their lifestyle.

    It’s little wonder that the American taxpayer polls 3 to 1 for cutting military socialism.

  • Mark

    The Super Committee?

    What the BLEEP is that? – this U.S. STYLE POLITBURO is clearly unconstitutional.

    I wouldn’t trust these incompetent lawyer-politicians to run a bake sale.

  • chaos0xomega

    Perhaps a potential solution (one which I do not particularly enjoy btw, I’m just trying to think way outside the box), is to make the entirety of the US Army into a reserve organization, keeping the AF and Navy as our first line of defense, and our Marines as our primary line of offense. We can cut a lot of expenditures by eliminating personnel, but I’d rather not eliminate valuable, trained professional soldiers when we can cut a significant chunk of expenditure simply by making them part time “citizen soldiers”. Of course the downside to this is that we will have another 500k-600k people suddenly in need of full-time gainful employment.

    In other words I’m advocating a “Weimar Republic” solution to limits being imposed on the size of the military (by financial issues rather than political/legal issues). There was once a saying that “The German Army is an army of 100,000 officers”. Most of the staff was there to lay the groundwork for a VERY rapid mobilization and enlargement of the military into an effective fighting force on short notice, as well as to continue developing doctrine, tactics, strategy, policy, and general continuity.

    We have to be realistic here, the Air Force and Navy have been at the forefront of ensuring national security for the past 50+ years. The Russians were never afraid of US infantry and armored forces pouring through the Fulda Gap, they were worried about American aircraft and missiles laying waste to their country. Of course, the country needs to retain the ability to mobilize ground forces on short notice both at home and abroad, and the Marine Corps can and will fulfill that role rather nicely (and they are the better choice given the fact that the alternative would be to disband them, something that most people don’t seem to be willing to agree to).

    • chaos0xomega

      Note: The Marine Corps would be used as the stop-gap expeditionary force that they are while the Army would stand up for full-scale deployment.

    • Marine corps? If we have Seals, the airborne, aircraft carriers, why do we need a second land army and a fourth airforce?

      When was the last time we as a nation conducted a necessary amphibious assault?

      Why do the marines need their own airforce? Why does the navy need its own land force aka seals,? Why do the marines and navy need seperate helicopter programs to duplicate the same effort? Back in the 80’s they said the M-1 did not suit their mission was too heavy etc. What tank does the corps use now?

      One word: Politics.

      The marines have a strong lobby and good PR.

  • Brianvii

    I hate to break your doomsday bubble, but the cuts will never happen. Anyone that follows politics and has a brain knows it’s going to get voted out if the committee doesn’t make a deal. The republicans will refuse to allow that to happen. The democrats will force the republicans to vote out the automatic cuts to medicare in return so there you have it. Nothing is going to happen so why do you people insist on playing this idiotic lie. The subcommittee itself is a giant lie.

  • Grenadier

    We seem to have money for Solyndra and countless other “good investments.” Foreign aid/gifts to assorted dung heaps around the world seem impervious to budget cuts. Sounds like we’ll help bail Europe out its current current crisis. Government continues to grow even as we discuss cutting the military including size, pay and retirement. It seems to me we should stop borrowing from the Chinese to spend on on programs and bounciness which are not proven absolutely essential. Of course essential is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t worry, be happy!

  • Grenadier

    Bounus payments – not bouncines. Sorry.

  • Phil

    Why do we jsf when we have the f-22

  • VietVet70

    Well don’t we have a great bunch of Republican “wanna be president” morons. Glad this is the end of the road for McCain as he is a disgrace to all Vietnam veterans. Make those cuts for veterans. Reduce the forces to allow more Reserve Outfits to fight the next stupid war in Iran. Let a foreign nation “water board” one of our own and all hell will break loose. I will not and cannot recommend the US armed forces as a career anymore. Reduce benefits for Congressmen and Senators who haven’t spent one day serving their country. No way have they received insider information to make themselves filthy rich before they leave their positions in Washington-B___ S___!

  • rt964050292

    China is just sitting back and laughfing Building up there military with our money ,just waiting to be the last Super Power standing.

  • Col G. Marston (ret)

    The F-35 has been a money blackhole from it’s start. In the beginning it was supposed to cost just $35 mill – even though a new F-15 cost more. Since that bogus initial estimate the price of the F-35 has risen steadily, with R & D adding up and the latest guess is that the F-35 will settle to around the $165 mill AN AIRCRAFT range. Do we need stealth for all our aircraft? It is an incredible cost and can be beat as the F-117 shot down in Kosovo showed. When you can build 4 new F-15G for the same price as a F-35 we really have to question whether it is worth it.

  • MasterCobra65

    IMPEACH obama


    In 10 years time, the Russians and Chinese AF will be flying their T-50 and J-20 stealth fighters as well as the enemy air forces to the US; I guess US pilots can pray that their 60-year old F-15 Eagles will still be up to the task of taking on the T-50 and J-20.

    • chaos0xomega

      In 10 years time, USAF pilots flying new production F-15 Eagles would outnumber the Russkies and Chicoms flying T-50s and J-20s by a 3 to 1 margin at least, and probably have at least twice as many flying hours each. Plus, at that point, with new manufacturing technology coming into use almost daily, the cost of a new production F-22 would be significantly less than it is now, and the production time significantly shorter as well. This does, of course, imagine that the F-22 line wasn’t completely shut down but instead maintained in a “mothball” state.