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Pentagon Launches Charm Offensive: The Pentagon is belatedly knocking on doors on Capitol Hill, trying to convince lawmakers not to gut several high-priority modernization programs in the FY 2006 budget. The Senate is angling to take $270 million from development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, arguing that the program’s future is uncertain. (Flight testing on the aircraft is scheduled for early 2006.) The political newspaper The Hill maintains that members of Congress are growing antsy about cost overruns and delays in several large programs. DOD officials are trying to anesthetize the politicians by calling for $8 billion in cuts next year, but the tactic might not succeed.