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Feb 3, 7:39 PM EST

Defense secretary says plan focuses on high-end ships

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SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Pentagon's budget plan over the next five years will focus on investing in more high-end Naval ships and a newly modified defense missile able to also target ships at long range, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday.

Carter told sailors during a visit to Naval Base San Diego that the plan includes spending $2.9 billion for the modified SM-6 missile.

The new surface-to-air weapon known for its ability to stop incoming ballistic and cruise missiles proved in recent tests to be able to attack and destroy enemy ships at sea.

The plan also calls for $600 million to be invested in unmanned undersea vehicles. In addition, the Pentagon is budgeting for nine new Virginia-class submarines, 10 new warships, 13 more F-35 fighter jets, and 16 more F/A-18E/F fighters than initially planned, Carter said.

The Navy will buy 40 new Littoral Combat Ships instead of the original 52, which will free up $8 billion over the next 10 years to pay for the new strategy, Carter said. Overall the number of ships will go from about 280 to 308.

Carter said the budget would make the fleet larger and much more effective, potent and lethal.

The Pentagon's proposed 2017 spending plan will be unveiled next week as part of the federal budget proposal.

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