President Reagan intends to build two more nuclear aircraft carriers with some of the $257.7 billion he will ask Congress to approve for fiscal 1983, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday in closed session.
The defense secretary also said the Reagan blueprint for rearming America also calls for increasing the fleet to 600 ships by 1990, although he apparently will count some support and supply vessels the Navy usually leaves out when figuring how many warships it has on duty.
In the same 1982 to 1990 period, Weinberger said the president wants to increase the number of Air Force wings from 36 to 44 as part of his buildup.
The defense secretary, according to informed sources, rejected pleas for taking some of the sting out of domestic cuts by reducing the new Pentagon budget. Weinberger argued that domestic and defense needs are not comparable, that the United States dare not stint on defense in the face of the Soviet threat.
Committee Chairman Melvin R. Price (D-Ill.) expressed concern about the Pentagon's decision to reject the winning design in the CX cargo plane competition and build a new fleet of Lockheed C5 planes instead. The winning design was submitted by McDonnell Douglas of St. Louis, Price's home area.
The $257.7 billion in budget authority for fiscal 1983 represents an increase of 16 percent over the 1982 authority of about $222 billion. Weinberger reportedly said spending will be $215.9 billion in fiscal 1983, 18.5 percent above this year's expected total of $182 billion.