Obama & Gates vs the US military-industrial complex
Battle of Porkbarrel Hill begins
F-35: Some risk of dead flyboys, not much of defeated ones.
The F-35 is widely hated in the military aerospace world, as much because it threatens to put most competing fighter designs out of business as for any other reason. However, its critics also fairly credibly suggest that pilots in F-35s might suffer casualties if opposed by late-model or possible future Russian air defences or combat jets.
That's extremely unlikely to happen, however: and one does note that the entire Russian combat jet fleet numbers fewer than 1,800 planes - most of which are either obsolete, unserviceable, flown by rubbish pilots or all of the above. A US fleet of 2,400 F-35s + 187 Raptors should be able to defeat this kind of enemy with a bit of effort, or smaller and more plausible opponents with ease. If the American fighter jockeys should take some losses doing so, well, the ground troops lose people all the time - not just in highly unlikely Tom Clancy scenarios.
So Gates' budget proposal is an almost unbelievably sensible one - almost a wish list for the USA's fighting service people.
It's tremendously bad news for the US military-industrial complex, however, and unfortunately it isn't Mr Gates who writes the final budget. Rather, the ultimate decisions are made by congresspeople and senators in Washington, many of them with the interests of the arms manufacturers very much at heart.
The backlash, in fact, has already begun. Here's a little YouTube contribution from Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, who considers that "President Obama is disarming America":
Inhofe is especially miffed at cuts to the networked-robot-legion Future Combat Systems plan, in particular the new NLOS-C howitzer - a classic Cold War self-propelled artillery piece, good for tackling Soviet tank armies under hostile skies in the Fulda Gap but pretty much irrelevant otherwise.
Unfortunately, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Inhofe gets nearly as much of a say in the Pentagon budget as Gates does. ®