Cheney Cutting Back on Attack Subs, Destroyers : Defense: Secretary seeks to save $7 billion over four years. No ruling yet on $42-billion Army helicopter purchase.

From Reuters

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney Monday cut the number of Seawolf attack submarines and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that the Navy will buy over the next four years to save $7 billion.

He announced that the Navy will buy only six of the $1-billion attack submarines over the four years beginning with the fiscal 1991 budget. That would be two boats less than originally planned for that period.

Cheney said he had also decided to cut the purchase of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to 16 over the four years instead of 25. That would save $5 billion, he said.

The 466-foot Burke-class ships cost about $700 million each.

The decision was announced by Cheney after a major review of the two ship programs and the Army's planned $42-billion program to buy new light attack helicopters. He announced no decision on the helicopter program.

The Navy's original plan called for the purchase of 10 Seawolf submarines every three years. But Cheney said he had put that schedule on hold until a decision is made on the total submarine force as current Los Angeles-class attack subs are retired.

The Seawolf is designed to dive deeper than older boats and to have a revolutionary 20-knot "acoustic speed," the pace at which a submarine can detect an enemy craft over its own engine noise.

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