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Happy birthday, Marine Corps! A draft document issued by the two chairmen of the White House commission on reducing the federal deficit recommends scrapping the F-35B short-take-off, vertical landing (STOVL) fighter outright, along with the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, and curtailing production of the MV-22 Osprey as part of a 15 per cent DoD procurement cut. The proposals, contained in a supplement to a $3.8 trillion plan unveiled today, are not final and do not have any legislative force but represent another setback for the STOVL fighter.The F-35B is not the only Joint Strike Fighter version to be hit. The chairmen calls for production of the USAF F-35A and Navy F-35C to be cut in half in the years up to FY2015, with the cancelled buys to be replaced by F-16s and F/A-18s. The chairmen also recommend scrapping the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and Joint Tactical Radio System, and sends the Army back to square one in its search for a new armored vehicle by scrapping the Ground Combat Vehicle, the ill-defined follow-on to the armored segment of the Future Combat Systems project. In the case of the F-35B, the commission notes that it is the most trouble-prone F-35 variant and that its demise could speed the development of the F-35A and F-35C. However, the dual footnotes DTI's reporting of potential changes to Marine tactics and operations that could eliminate plans to use the F-35B's unique characteristics in austere land bases. (More discussion here.)The chairmen would cap the V-22 at 288 aircraft and re-equip remaining Marine units with MH-60 helicopters, saving $1.1 billion. Less surprising is the recommendation to terminate the gremlin-infested, late and hugely over-budget EFV. The JLTV cancellation is influenced by the fact that a major potential user, the U.S. Army, has reported to Congress that it has all the wheeled vehicles that it needs through 2017.
ar99, tacair, jsf
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