Defense Secretary Dick Cheney is calling for cuts in proposed Star Wars spending and a delay in the B-2 Stealth bomber to meet the $299.2 billion Pentagon budget the Bush administration and congressional leaders have agreed upon.
Cheney, in a television interview Sunday, also said President Bush has decided to move ahead with two kinds of mobile strategic missiles, keeping the MX and the Midgetman missiles in the nation's defense. The defense secretary is scheduled to appear before Congress on Tuesday to detail the cuts.Bush decided to cut spending on Star Wars, formally known as the Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI, to $4.6 billion for fiscal 1990, down from the $5.9 billion proposed by President Reagan. Over the next five years, Bush would spend $33 billion on SDI, compared to Reagan's proposed $40 billion.
Cheney said the president will shift the focus of SDI from deployment sometime in the 1990s to research on a more advanced system, known as "Brilliant Pebbles," consisting of thousands of orbiting satellites. "SDI is alive and well, but like everything else, it has to fit into a reduced budget," Cheney said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press."
Bush turned down Cheney's recommendation to move the nation's 50 MX missiles, with 10-warheads apiece, from silos to deployment on railroad cars rather than develop a single-warhead missile to be based on trucks. The single-warhead missile is backed by national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and the chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services committees, Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wis.
"What I recommended to the president was that we go forward with the rail-garrison system. Brent Scowcroft recommended we go forward with the small ICBM. The president basically said, `Try to do both,' " Cheney said.
"But instead of doing both simultaneously, we will try to sequence them. That is, we will do rail garrison first, try to put a little bit of money in the budget next year for the small ICBM," he said.
The small ICBM, known as the Midgetman, ultimately would cost $24 billion for 500 warheads, versus $5.4 billion for the same number of warheads aboard the rail-mobile MX, according to recent congressional estimates.