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Page last updated at 19:24 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 20:24 UK

US Senate halts F-22 jet funding

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

The US Senate has voted to end funding for the F-22 fighter jet programme.

The vote was welcomed by US President Barack Obama, who had made cutting the programme the centrepiece of his defence budget.

The move was opposed by some lawmakers, who feared it would lead to job cuts. Our correspondent says it represents a small victory for the US president.

Mr Obama argued F-22 jets, designed in the 1980s for use against an enemy with an air force, were no longer useful.

"I'm grateful that the Senate just voted against an additional $1.75bn to buy F-22 fighter jets that military experts and members of both parties say we do not need," Mr Obama said after Tuesday's vote.

The $1.75bn (£1.1bn) would have funded the construction of seven extra F-22 fighters, in addition to the 187 jets already being built.

Veto threat

Both parties were split on the issue, with some Republicans - including Senator John McCain - siding with Mr Obama against the programme.

Mr McCain said the vote to cut funding for the jets was "probably the most impactful amendment that I have seen in this body on almost any issue".

Lawmakers reported an intense lobbying effort by the White House, which was keen to avoid an embarrassing defeat.

Mr Obama had threatened to use his presidential veto if the vote had gone against him.

"I've never seen the White House lobby like they've lobbied on this issue," said Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.

The president's advisers have expressed great exasperation that Congress has allowed billions of dollars to be spent on weapons systems that neither the White House nor the military actually want, says the BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington.

On Monday, Defence Secretary Robert Gates announced plans to add 22,000 extra troops to the US army for the next three years.



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