There should be no major surprises in the 2011 defense budget, which the Obama administration and the Pentagon will unveil today, unlike a year ago when some big programs got hit by the budget ax.
Big defense programs that generate thousands of jobs in Tarrant County and surrounding areas are likely to be continued with ample funding, according to the tenor of press leaks and reports by analysts with ties to the Pentagon and the defense industry.
The first defense budget developed by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whose details were not released until April last year, whacked some big-dollar programs, including Lockheed Martin's F-22 Raptor fighter jet. Also scrapped was the new presidential helicopter, in which Bell Helicopter of Fort Worth had a big role, although few local jobs were affected.
That's not expected to happen to Lockheed's F-35 joint strike fighter, even though it has come under intense scrutiny in recent months because of continuing development delays and rising costs.
As reported in the Star-Telegram last month, the Pentagon is expected to propose shifting upward of $2 billion over the next couple of years from buying planes to paying Lockheed to get the much-delayed F-35 testing and development work done.
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