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Pentagon looks at ways to cut budget

Pentagon looks at ways to cut budget
Family members of 9/11 victims and guests gather at the Pentagon Memorial to mark the 9th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, in Arlington, Virginia on September 11 2010. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department is considering options across all military branches to reduce spending, officials said.

The Army is considering ending some targeting and communications systems and trimming combat brigades. The Navy might delay ship construction and cut back on the number of sailors, among other things, The Washington Times reported Monday.

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Purchase of the $380 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapon system ever, could be scaled back from a planned 2,443 jets, Pentagon officials said.

"The process inside the [Pentagon] is quite chaotic because there are so many potential outcomes and nobody really knows what level to budget for," said Loren Thompson, director of the pro-business think tank Lexington Institute.

The debt-reduction agreement reached by the White House and Congress calls for $350 billion in national security reductions. If the so-called congressional supercommittee fails to come up with additional savings, automatic cuts would be triggered. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said his department could see another $600 billion in reductions if that scenario becomes reality.

The Pentagon had been planning on a $570 billion budget, less war costs, for fiscal year 2013, which begins October 2012.

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Thompson said the White House budget office wants cuts that could reduce the defense budget to $477 billion for FY 2013.

"Looking at the scale of cuts that are currently being contemplated, it is easy to imagine the entire next generation of weapon systems will be wiped out," he said.

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