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Page last updated at 19:02 GMT, Monday, 6 April 2009 20:02 UK

Gates unveils US defence budget

Two US Air Force F-22 Raptors (file picture)
The F-22 fighters were originally designed in the 1980s

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has proposed an overall increase to the US defence budget for 2010, although some major weapons programmes will be cut.

Under Mr Gates's plans, production of the $140m (£95m) F-22 fighter jet would cease, as would construction of the new generation of presidential helicopters.

Nearly $11bn would go to fund proposed increases in military personnel.

Spending goals would be shifted to "wars we are in today and scenarios for the years ahead", Mr Gates said.

Cold War programme

Lockheed Martin, the company that makes the F-22 fighter jet, also known as the Raptor, has said that 95,000 jobs could be under threat if the US Defence Department does not buy more of the planes.

Under Mr Gates's proposal, the Pentagon would buy only the 187 F-22 currently budgeted for, and instead increase spending on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The F-22 was originally developed in the 1980s, during the Cold War, as a counterbalance to aircraft being designed at that time by the Soviet Union.

Lockheed Martin is also responsible for manufacturing the fleet of VH-71 presidential helicopters, a programme that Mr Gates said had "fallen six years behind schedule, and runs the risk of not delivering the requested capability".

"I recommend that we terminate the VH-71 presidential helicopter," he said.

Mr Gates's $534bn budget also includes increased healthcare funding for military personnel and investments in the Pentagon's civilian staffing budget, in an attempt to reduce the department's reliance on private contractors.



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