This year's budget battle over what kind of warplanes should be bought for the future has spread to the Marine Corps, with Commandant Robert H. Barrow leading the fight for the Grumman A6E all-weather attack plane.
"I am unequivocally opposed to any decision which would remove A6E aircraft from the Marine Corps inventory," Barrow wrote the chairmen of congressional military committees.
"This aircraft, with its fine all-weather capability, is the ground commander's most reliable attack vehicle at night and during periods of reduced visibility," Barrow contended.
Despite his plea, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and the Senate Armed Services Committee concluded that the Marines need not buy more A6Es and struck the $230 million earmarked for the plane in President Reagan's original fiscal 1983 defense budget.
The deletion is expected to save $30 million in actual spending in fiscal 1983.
The committee argued that it would be a waste of money to keep the production line open at Grumman to build only eight more A6Es, especially since the Navy has "an excess" of the planes.
The Marines, the committee added, can replace their A6Es with attack and fighter versions of the new McDonnell Douglas-Northrop F18.
Barrow's opposition to canceling further purchases of the blunt-nosed A6Es for the Marines, together with Grumman's lobbying for the plane, assures a fight when the Senate-passed procurement bill reaches a conference to settle differences with whatever bill the House passes.