More Military Waste

Military spending has taken on a life of its own.  Military spending essentially now exists to enrich contractors with endlessly inflated cost overruns and padded budgets.  All sense of economy has been lost.  Politicians like it because it pleased contractors, and provides government welfare to districts.  What it does not do is help the nation.  We need simpler, more robust weapons.  This search for the ultimate in complexity only guarantees bloat, fragility, enormous costs (both to build and maintain) and a barely unaffordable usable product.  Here is one example from Mish Shedlock.

“Flying Piano” Costs Pentagon $1.5 Trillion

The Pentagon is about to waste $1.5 trillion, 38% of entire defense budget for a “virtual flying piano“. That may sound preposterous, and it is. Unfortunately, it is also true.

Foreign Policy Magazine discusses the sad saga of The Jet That Ate the Pentagon.

This month, we learned that the Pentagon has increased the price tag for the F-35 by another $289 million — just the latest in a long string of cost increases — and that the program is expected to account for a whopping 38 percent of Pentagon procurement for defense programs, assuming its cost will grow no more.

How bad is it? A review of the F-35’s cost, schedule, and performance — three essential measures of any Pentagon program — shows the problems are fundamental and still growing.

Although the plane was originally billed as a low-cost solution, major cost increases have plagued the program throughout the last decade. Last year, Pentagon leadership told Congress the acquisition price had increased another 16 percent, from $328.3 billion to $379.4 billion for the 2,457 aircraft to be bought. Not to worry, however — they pledged to finally reverse the growth.

The result? This February, the price increased another 4 percent to $395.7 billion and then even further in April. Don’t expect the cost overruns to end there: The test program is only 20 percent complete, the Government Accountability Office has reported, and the toughest tests are yet to come. Overall, the program’s cost has grown 75 percent from its original 2001 estimate of $226.5 billion — and that was for a larger buy of 2,866 aircraft.

The total program unit cost for each individual F-35, now at $161 million, is only a temporary plateau. Expect yet another increase in early 2013, when a new round of budget restrictions is sure to hit the Pentagon, and the F-35 will take more hits in the form of reducing the numbers to be bought, thereby increasing the unit cost of each plane.

A final note on expense: The F-35 will actually cost multiples of the $395.7 billion cited above. That is the current estimate only to acquire it, not the full life-cycle cost to operate it. The current appraisal for operations and support is $1.1 trillion — making for a grand total of $1.5 trillion, or more than the annual GDP of Spain. And that estimate is wildly optimistic: It assumes the F-35 will only be 42 percent more expensive to operate than an F-16, but the F-35 is much more complex.

The F-35 isn’t only expensive — it’s way behind schedule. The first plan was to have an initial batch of F-35s available for combat in 2010. Then first deployment was to be 2012. More recently, the military services have said the deployment date is “to be determined.” A new target date of 2019 has been informally suggested in testimony — almost 10 years late…

The Dustbin Awaits

Foreign Policy Magazine arrives at a rational conclusion: “There is only one thing to do with the F-35: Junk it. America’s air forces deserve a much better aircraft, and the taxpayers deserve a much cheaper one. The dustbin awaits.”…

Greed, Graft, Public Unions

In general, states where defense contractors are located, states that will house or train the pilots want the jobs support the F-35. Those states, and politicians in those states do not give a rat’s ass about how inept or costly the program is.

And this from POGO

Apr 23, 2012

Failed Equipment, Flawed Designs Plague Lockheed Littoral Combat Ship

Lcs_slide_final

By DANA LIEBELSON

POGO sent a letter today to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees recommending that an expensive and severely flawed variant of the Littoral Combat Ship program be eliminated. The letter comes on the heels of POGO’s release of Navy documents revealing serious cracking and corrosion problems with the ship–along with evidence of dangerous equipment failures.

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is a surface vessel commissioned to operate close to shore. It’s supposed to be the jaguar of Navy ships: fast and agile, with the flexibility to both engage in surface combat with modern-day pirates, and also take down submarines and mines. There are two variants of the LCS: one built by a team led by General Dynamics, which will cost $345.8 million per ship; and the other built by a team led by Lockheed Martin, which will cost $357.5 million per ship.

As we’ve reported, The General Dynamics LCS has some problems with corrosion. But the Lockheed Martin version can hardly even make it out of the harbor. As we wrote in our letter, POGO has obtained a number of documents showing that Lockheed Martin’s USS Freedom has been “plagued by flawed designs and failed equipment since being commissioned, has at least 17 known cracks, and has repeatedly been beset by engine-related failures.”

These are serious problems. “What the documents show is grounds for questioning this LCS variant’s viability,” says POGO National Security Investigator Ben Freeman. A source close to the program, who blamed the Navy’s Quality Assurance for accepting such a flawed ship, told POGO that this ship is “not fit for combat and should only be used for training [at most].”

In the letter, POGO pointed out that “from the time the Navy accepted LCS from Lockheed Martin on September 18, 2008, until the ship went into dry dock in the summer of 2011—not even 1,000 days later—there were 640 chargeable equipment failures on the ship. On average then, something on the ship failed on two out of every three days.”

According to the documents POGO obtained, in one particularly dangerous example, the ship was involved in counter-drug trafficking operations—which included detaining suspected drug smugglers—when the electricity on the entire ship went out, leaving it temporarily adrift. If this had occurred during combat, this mishap could very well have been fatal.

Imagine if you had to fly on a commercial jet that had equipment failures (like power outages!) most of the time. Not only would you be rightfully concerned for your safety—but how on earth would you get anywhere on time?

Well, the reality is that USS Freedom doesn’t—after more than six months in port, the ship has only been out to sea twice this year, and during both trips the engines and other key equipment failed. This is a far cry from what the Navy has been telling taxpayers: it’s claimed to Congress that both variants of the LCS are performing well.

It’s time for the Navy to fess up that this ship is nothing but a busted, leaky boat with a history of design and equipment failures. With the LCS program expected to cost taxpayers $120 billion, it simply doesn’t make sense to keep this unnecessary vessel.

Read POGO’s letter to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees about the Littoral Combat Ship program.

Dana Liebelson is POGO’s Beth Daley Impact Fellow.

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