Obama to Cut Tomahawk Missiles 10 Years Before Replacement Ready

Image: Obama to Cut Tomahawk Missiles 10 Years Before Replacement Ready

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 12:22 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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President Barack Obama is proposing drastically cutting, and then eliminating, two missile programs pivotal to U.S. security, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

The Tomahawk and Hellfire missiles are on the chopping block, according to Obama's budget proposal, which will cut by $128 million the Tactical Tomahawk in 2015 and eliminate it completely after that.

Tomahawks were a key part of U.S. military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the Balkans.

It's a major turnabout from last year, when the Navy planned to buy 980 Tactical Tomahawks, the primary cruise missile in use throughout the fleet, according to Defense News. In 2015, the Navy would buy just 100 Tomahawks, the last the branch would purchase. The United States used some 220 Tomahawks in the fight with Libya, according to the Free Beacon.

The Pentagon currently does not have a replacement missile for the Tomahawk and with the United States using approximately 100 Tomahawks annually, the supply will be empty by around 2018, the Free Beacon reports.

The announcement of the missiles' proposed elimination was met with criticism and concern from lawmakers and military experts.

"It doesn't make sense," Seth Cropsey, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for American Seapower, told the Free Beacon.

He characterized the cuts as "breathtaking" and are "like running a white flag up on a very tall flagpole and saying, 'We are ready to be walked on,'" he said.

Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a Republican who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said the proposal "dramatically under-resources our investments in munitions and leaves the Defense Department with dangerous gaps in key areas."

Hellfire air-to-surface missiles will be nixed in 2015, according to Obama's proposal.
The Free Beacon reported that the Tomahawk cuts are shifting money from acquiring the missiles and instead investing in "an experimental missile program that experts say will not be battle-ready for at least 10 years."

The proposal is risky considering all the turmoil around the world, according to Mackenzie Eaglen, a military readiness analyst.

"It is definitely short-sighted given the value of the Tomahawk as a workhorse," Eaglen told the Free Beacon.

According to experts, North Korea has successfully tested multistage rockets and other ballistic missiles, indicating that the Navy will require strong "defensive capabilities" in the Pacific Ocean.

Cutting the missiles makes the U.S. military vulnerable when it comes to being battle-ready, a precarious position considering "advanced militaries from North Korea to the Middle East," the Free Beacon said.

"We run a huge risk because so much of our national policy for immediate response is contingent on our national security team threatening with Tomahawk missiles," said retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, an Oklahoma Republican running for the congressional seat being vacated by the retirement of James Lankford. "There was a finite number [of Tomahawks] made and they're not being replenished."

The Navy is couching the cuts as a "shifting investment to a new next-generation land attack weapon," according to spokeswoman Lt. Caroline Hutcheson, who told Defense News the current inventory of Tactical Tomahawks exceeds combat requirements.


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