Members of Congress are fighting a rear-guard action to save a Marine Corps amphibious tank from cancellation, foreshadowing a protracted fight in Washington over defense-spending priorities.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced the termination of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program Thursday, saying the price tag for the 80,000-pound armored vehicle used to storm beaches was too high.
"The EFV, originally conceived during the Reagan administration, has already consumed more than $3 billion to develop, and will cost another $12 billion to build, all for a fleet with the capacity to put 4,000 troops abroad ashore," Mr. Gates said in unveiling a revamp of the Pentagon budget. "To fully execute the EFV…would essentially swallow the entire Marine vehicle budget, and most of its total procurement budget for the foreseeable future," Mr. Gates said.
In military-procurement jargon, Mr. Gates is attempting a "clean kill," the outright cancellation of a project. But proponents of the system are hoping Pentagon leadership can be persuaded to buy a smaller fleet of around 200 vehicles, rather than an earlier plan to buy 573.
Opposition to the move is particularly strong in Ohio, where manufacturer General Dynamics Corp., of Falls Church, Va., has production facilities. Three Ohio lawmakers—Democrats Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, and Republican Rep. Jim Jordan—sent a letter Thursday to President Barack Obama urging him to stop cancellation of the program.
"Without the EFV, these facilities will be severely downgraded, hurting the local economies and eliminating hundreds of high-paying, high-skilled manufacturing jobs," they wrote.