A series of short videos released on YouTube recently showed the U.S. Army's vision of the military to come with infantrymen maneuvering robots, electronics and guided missiles that moved at lightning speed with James Bond coolness.
Called the Future Combat System, the short videos show the many moving parts of the modern military using state-of-the-art equipment to fight a common foe. But despite the cheers at the end of each presentation, the FCS program may not have a happy ending.
While the stimulus bill President Obama signed into law on Tuesday includes $10 billion to upgrade military barracks, hospitals, clinics and child-care centers, it doesn't add a single dollar for weapons development. And some observers think that's a mistake.
A stimulus in defense spending, they say, would be a victory not only for American servicemen and women -- but for the nation's economy, as well.
The Lockheed Corporation, linking defense spending to immediate economic stimulus, says 95,000 Americans' jobs across the country depend on the Defense Department buying more of its F-22 Raptors.
"This is shovel-ready," said Larry Lawson, executive vice president and general manager of the F/A-22 Raptor program. "Our point is, this preserves jobs, and it is immediate. You don't have to develop anything."
But a new administration means new priorities, and the Defense Department is now reviewing future purchases.
The F-22 has Mach speed capabilities, but speed comes at a price. Each F-22 costs $350 million -- a sum that could make the fighter jet a target for budget-cutters.
"It does not make sense to cut defense procurement and eliminate high-paying, middle-class union jobs, in order to fund other government programs to create jobs. That's just plain stupid," said James Carafano, military affairs expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
"We really haven't significantly increased the core defense budget," Carafano added. "Most additional money has gone for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, the military still has not fully recovered from the 'procurement holiday' of the Clinton years... and we've used up a lot of equipment since then."
"The world becomes a more, not a less troubled place, in tough economic times," said Carafano. "It is not a good time to cut the defense budget."