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Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10:48

Pentagon nominee for defense boost

By Reuters

 Pentagon nominee for defense boost
Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s choice to be defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee as the panel considers his nomination to replace Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief, Feb 4, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON - Ashton Carter, US President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Pentagon, on Wednesday underscored his determination to boost the US defense budget, drive down the cost of new weapons and make sure new technologies are delivered to troops more quickly.

Carter, who served as the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer and the No. 2 official before leaving for a stint in the private sector, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there was no "silver bullet" to fix the way the Pentagon buys weapons.

But he said he had canceled programs in the past and would keep close watch on current efforts. This includes a new aircraft carrier being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries , growth of which he said had not been dealt with satisfactorily.

Carter, who restructured Lockheed Martin Corp's US$400 billion F-35 fighter jet program while he was the chief arms buyer, said he also remained concerned about the longer-term cost to operate and maintain the new stealthy warplanes.

He said he supported the US Navy's efforts to buy more ships and submarines and expand the size of its fleet. And he backed continued spending on US missile defense systems, given threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran.

Carter also urged lawmakers to reverse congressional budget caps on military spending known as sequestration, warning that the cuts were endangering the US military's ability to execute the president's national security strategy.

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