St. Louis Public Radio News
7:56 am
Mon April 6, 2009

Gates asks for fewer Super Hornet fighters

St. Louis – Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined a major reshaping of military spending priorities Monday.

Among other things, he proposed cutting the C-17 transport plane, parts of which are made at Boeing in St. Louis. Gates also wants to buy just 31 St. Louis-built F/A-18 Superhornets next year; that's down from this year's 45.

At the Boeing plant Monday, U.S. Senator Kit Bond criticized Gates' plan to boost funding for Lockeed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

While it's an older design, Bond says the Super Hornet is far less expensive and already battle-tested, and the JSF is still under development.

"Why is he picking up jobs at the 'Joint Strike Failure' production facility when they're so far over budget, they're so far behind schedule, and they haven't been proven?" Bond said.

According to Boeing, the Super Hornet program employs about 4,000 people in St. Louis.