Trump on Friday ordered the U.S. Air Force to cancel all planned F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and F-22 fighter jets, parts of a multiyear effort to improve readiness to counter Russian aggression and cyberattacks.
Trump, who last week ordered the Navy to cancel the F-18 fleet’s carrier strike group, also ordered the Marine Corps to stop using the jet to carry out the U-2 spy aircraft and to replace it with a different plane.
He also ordered an overhaul of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter fleet.
The moves come after Trump ordered the Army to cancel plans to buy a new Apache helicopter and the Air Force scrapped plans to spend $200 million to buy another F-117 stealth fighter.
“As we work together, we will make it possible for our people to continue to fight in the fight, to continue the great tradition of America,” Trump said at a White House news conference, noting the changes would save taxpayers billions of dollars and lead to more jobs.
“This is a historic moment for our country and for our military, and we have a lot of work ahead,” he added.
The orders come after months of wrangling between Trump and Congress over the defense budget, which has been tied to congressional approval of major defense bills.
The White House has insisted that it will be able to keep the Pentagon’s spending at or below sequestration levels as long as Congress acts to protect U.N. funding for U.K. forces in Syria.
But some Democrats have said they are concerned the changes will make the U ineffectual.
“If this budget is passed, then we’re going to be in a real situation where there’s going to have to be a change in the force,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday.
McGovern said he believes the changes are necessary because the Pentagon has lost the trust of Congress, but added that he does not believe Congress should have to make these changes.
“I think this is a very good idea,” he said.
“I don’t think the American people want this.”
Trump said he will be meeting with military leaders on Monday to discuss the changes.