Obama: end of the world no time for a snack



PHOENIX - US President Barack Obama, taking aim at costly military programs of debatable value, said Monday he really did not need a new presidential helicopter with an Armageddon-proof kitchen.
"It would let me cook a meal while under nuclear attack," he mused.
"Now, let me tell you something: If the United States of America is under nuclear attack, the last thing on my mind will be whipping up a snack."



Obama: end of the world no time for a snack
Obama's comments came as he pledged to put up "a fight" against "exotic projects that are years behind schedule and billions over budget" in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars service organization.
"This is pretty straightforward: Cut the waste. Save taxpayer dollars. Support the troops," he told the group at its annual convention.
"If a project doesn't support our troops, if it does not make America safer, we will not fund it. If a system doesn't perform, we will terminate it. And if Congress sends me a defense bill loaded with a bunch of pork, I will veto it," he pledged.
Obama has taken aim at plans for a new fleet of "Marine One" helicopters before, notably at a White House "Fiscal Responsibility" summit in February, and the White House has threatened to veto legislation funding the program.
But the US House of Representatives included money for the helicopters -- military spending provides much-coveted jobs in some lawmakers' home districts -- when it approved a 636-billion-dollar military spending bill in late July.
The US Senate will take up its version of the legislation in September.
The US Navy charged Lockheed Martin to build a new fleet of 28 helicopters to serve as Marine One in 2005. The project originally was meant to cost around six billion dollars but has skyrocketed up to 11.2 billion dollars.
Each aircraft would now cost about 400 million dollars -- more than the cost of the two adapted Boeing 747 aircraft now serving as Air Force One.
The new helicopter was to be based on Lockheed's EH-101 aircraft, currently produced by a British-Italian partner.
The new generation of iconic green-and-white helicopters are said to offer the president greater protection and a higher range than current Sikorsky models -- some of which are up to 40 years old.
The decision in 2005 to award the contract culminated an intense competition between Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp's all-American entry, the S-92.
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Tuesday, August 18th 2009
AFP
           


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