Most cuts to Pentagon already were in the works
Budget deal largely eliminates programs the Defense Department had previously put on the chopping block.
While other portions of the federal government got the ax, lawmakers took a mere scalpel to the Defense Department's accounts for the remainder of the fiscal year. They eliminated individual programs the Pentagon already agreed to cut and scaled back troubled weapons systems to help boost funding in other areas.
The Pentagon's spending for fiscal 2011 would come to $670.8 billion, which is $18.1 billion below its request. But unlike most other government agencies, the Defense Department will receive a $5 billion increase when compared to funding levels for last year.
In total, the bill makes 759 reductions to defense programs, including $9 billion cut from operations and maintenance accounts and another $2.2 billion trimmed from civilian pay accounts to reflect the salary freeze now in place.
The bill also cuts $2.2 billion from Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter because of testing and production delays. Among the cuts to the multi-service F-35 program, lawmakers targeted the Marine Corps' troubled variant of the fifth-generation stealth fighter, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates earlier this year put on a two-year probation. The measure eliminates 10 of the Marine Corps' fighters planned for this year, transferring eight to the Air Force to boost their buys.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, opted to delete funding for the F-35's alternate engine program, which the Pentagon has long sought to end.
The bill also cuts $672 million requested for the organization set up to defeat improvised explosive devices because of "revised requirements," according to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Also targeted is the Army's manned ground combat vehicle, from which Congress agreed to trim $473 million due to a "pricing adjustment." Congress has long been skeptical of Army efforts to modernization of its ground force, and in 2009 agreed to Pentagon plans to end the sprawling Future Combat Systems program, which was the precursor to the manned ground combat vehicle effort.
Three industry teams-led by SAIC/Boeing, BAE Systems/Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics-are vying to build the Army's next ground combat vehicle, the highest-profile program in the service's plans. The price tag is estimated at $40 billion.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, cut $457 million from the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, which Army officials decided to cancel last spring because it was not cost effective. The missile launcher, which was developed by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, was one of the few pieces of FCS to survive the initial cut two years ago.
Lawmakers also eliminated all defense earmarks from the bill. Last year, congressional add-ons to the defense measure totaled $4.2 billion.
Some programs, however, saw a boost in spending. As has been the case for the last several years, the heavily deployed National Guard and Reserve received an additional $850 million to buy new equipment. The bill also includes $3.4 billion for the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, as well as additional money to develop a "double-v hull" for the Army's Stryker vehicle to give it better protection against roadside bombs.