In case you haven't heard, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dropped some news that sent the beltwar press buzzing yesterday when he said that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may have to be cancelled outright if the Congressional Super Committee charged with trimming billions of dollars from defense coffers fails to do so.
The Super Committee is trying to shave billions more on top of the $450 billion in savings that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined earlier this year. The committee has until November, 23 to come up with a plan to reduce the United States' deficit by cutting about $1.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade. If it fails to do so, the Pentagon will face an automatic cuts -- under a process officially called sequestration -- of about $500 billion spread out over the next decade.
Such massive cuts would likely kill programs such as the JSF, the Littoral Combat Ship, major space efforts, Army chopper modernization plans, ICBMs, ground combat vehicle modernization, and see the next generation bomber cancelled and possibly restarted sometime in the 2020s, according to a pair of letters (below) that Panetta sent to Sens. John McCain (R-Az) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) yesterday.
These $500 billion in cuts -- about $100 billion a year starting in fiscal year 2013 -- would shrink the Army to the smallest it's been since before World War II, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in the service's history, reads a Nov. 14 letter from Panetta to Sen. John McCain (R-Az.).
"We would also be forced to terminate most large procurement programs in order to accommodate modernization reductions that are likely to be required," reads the letter.
Click through the jump to read Panetta's letters to McCain and Graham: