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Senior Army officials seriously considered killing the program last summer. But they insist that however unlikely the prospect of a major armored war, they wouldn't want to fight one with outmoded howitzers. So they've put the Crusader on a diet and cut the original buy of 1,138 systems down to 480, for $11 billion. Army generals boast they have turned the program around "nearly on a dime" and that the gun will be ideal for everything "from small-scale contingencies to full combat." But it will still require huge cargo planes to get to war quickly. They may be able to fly a little farther with the lighter Crusader. Perhaps the perfect plane for the Crusader would be one capable of flying it back to the era from which it came.