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.
"Some will say I am too focused on the wars we are in and not enough on future threats," Gates said. "The allocation of dollars in this budget definitely belies that claim."
Gates also outlined additional funding relevant to the current fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as an additional $2 billion for unmanned aerial vehicles that gather intelligence and provide military surveillance as well as $500 million to recruit helicopter crews and maintenance staffs that will boost helicopter capacity in Afghanistan.
Gates will also accelerate the purchase of a new Navy ship designed to fight in coastal waters, known as the Littoral Combat Ship -- there are currently two of these ships. He also proposes increasing the number of special operations forces by 2,800 troops, a five percent increase to their numbers
But the changes proposed by Gates will ultimately have to be approved by Congress and so far Gates' recommendations have received a lukewarm reception from lawmakers.
Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee called Gates' announcement a "good faith effort ... however, the buck stops with Congress."
Some members of Congress were concerned that defense contractors will lose jobs.
"My hope is that, as we have tried to do here in this building, that the members of Congress will rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole," Gates said.