Defense Secretary Robert Gates has announced sweeping changes to Pentagon weapons spending that he says will "profoundly reform" the way the Defense Department operates.
The changes in military weapons spending will be in line with the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than preparing for conflict with major powers like China and Russia.
Gates outlined a long list of weapons programs that he hopes will be eliminated and proposed new spending to reflect the military's ability to fight insurgencies.
Among the higher profile spending cuts is the proposed elimination of the VH-71 presidential helicopter and the F-22 fighter.
Intended to replace the current fleet of Marine One presidential helicopters, the VH-71 costs double its initial $6.5 billion price tag and is more expensive than the Boeing 747 aircraft that serves as the president's Air Force One.
Despite the end of the program, Gates said the Pentagon would soon begin looking at new options for a replacement helicopter because there is still a need to replace the aging fleet of presidential helicopters.
Cuts in the F-22 program had been expected, though some military analysts speculated the Air Force might still get some additional aircrafts beyond the 187 already under contract.
Instead, there will be no additional planes ordered. The radar-evading fighter costs $140 million each and has not seen combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Gates said any job cuts from ending the F-22 production line would be offset by the jobs needed for the proposed ramp-up in production of the F-35 fighter jet, a program that could eventually number 2,443 planes and cost $1 trillion. Known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the plane is designed to be used by the Air Force, Marines, and Navy as well as key American allies.
Gates said his budget recommendations represented an "opportunity, one of those rare chances to match virtue to necessity, to critically and ruthlessly separate appetites from real requirements."
He also said that neither politics nor the current economic downturn played a factor in his decisionmaking as he focused on national strategic interests.
Also on the chopping block: the armored vehicle portion of the Army's Future Combat System, an Air Force combat search and rescue helicopter and the Navy's next generation of destroyers and cruisers.
He said the cancellation of the armored vehicle portion of the Army's nearly $200 billion Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, which costs an estimated $87 billion, was brought about because it did "not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The FCS vehicles were designed to have less armor and be more fuel-efficient, but did not match well with the large bulky Mine Resistant Armored Protection vehicles known as MRAP's that Gates pushed for and have provided greater protection to troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A cut in missile defense spending was less than anticipated as Gates said the program would shift toward the threat posed by countries with rogue programs, such as North Korea.
The Airborne Laser program would be scaled back and there will be no funding for additional interceptor missiles based in Alaska.