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Defense budget holds few surprises for Texas contractors

Pentagon officials unveiled details Thursday of the proposed 2010 defense budget, a $663.8 billion spending plan that appeared to contain no big surprises for North Texas defense contractors.

The first defense budget prepared by the Obama administration calls for spending $533.8 billion on regular expenses and procurement of weapons and equipment, plus $130 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale called the spending plan "a reform budget," echoing a phrase used earlier by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The pace of spending increases, roughly 4 percent a year after inflation in recent years, will drop. The base budget request is $20.5 billion more than the $513.3 billion appropriated for 2009, a 4 percent increase but only 2.1 percent after adjusting for inflation.

"The spigot is starting to close," Hale said in a Pentagon briefing broadcast online.

Gates' budget, as he warned a month ago, contains no money for additional F-22 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin or for Boeing C-17 cargo planes. About 1,800 workers at Lockheed's Fort Worth plant work on the F-22, and about 1,000 jobs at Vought Aircraft Industries in Dallas are tied to the C-17.

The budget fully funds Lockheed Martin's F-35 joint strike fighter, the area's biggest defense contract. Lockheed Martin said in a statement that it "looks forward to working with the nation's civilian and military leaders as the budget process unfolds."

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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