Analysts Predict Huge Weapon Program Cuts in Next Presidential Administration

The Defense Department should brace for a second “Bloody Monday” during the next presidential administration, said a panel of experts, referring to the day when former Defense Secretary Robert Gates eliminated several high-profile weapon programs.

Monday, April 6, 2009, was when Gates announced a budget proposal that shifted money away from costly, and sometimes troubled programs. Production or development of several programs — including the F-22 fighter, the presidential VH-71 helicopter and the Army’s Future Combat Systems — eventually came to an end as funding was shifted to more near-term needs.

“Looking at the modernization bow wave in the 2020s, we are embarking on a number of programs that, regardless of what we see with the [Budget Control Act] … I just don’t see how we are going to cram all of those major programs into the budget at the same time,” Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said March 16. 

The “bow wave” refers to weapon system modernization programs that are progressing at the same time, creating a budget crunch.