Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Pentagon Spends Billions on Scrapped Programs

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Pentagon Spends Billions on Scrapped Programs

Article excerpt

The Pentagon has canceled 22 programs in advanced development after spending a combined $58.3 billion on them since 2002, according to the Defense Department's latest assessment of its acquisition performance. Among the weapons scrapped were Boeing's ground-based vehicle network for the Army, a Northrop Grumman mini- submarine for Navy SEALs and a chopper from Textron's Bell Helicopter unit.

The tally published this week is the latest edition of a yearly report measuring the effectiveness of the process for spending billions of dollars annually to develop and build new weapons and outlining improvements. The updated list of canceled projects represents 17 percent of the 136 major weapons in advanced development for which the military had set cost, schedule and performance milestones from 1997 to 2015.

The individual cancellations all had been announced previously. The most recent was the Navy's decision this year to kill Lockheed Martin's underwater drone, which was supposed to hunt down mines for the service's Littoral Combat Ship. It was scrapped as unreliable even after the Navy spent $700 million, 44 percent more than its original development budget, according to the report.

Before that, the most recent cancellations were in 2012. The report directed by Frank Kendall, the Defense Department's undersecretary for acquisition, said that reflects improvements in crafting requirements for weapon systems up front, more realistic assessments of costs before an initial contract is awarded and tighter financial incentives to control costs.

Among the earlier cancellations was the Future Combat System developed jointly by Boeing and SAIC and canceled by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in April 2009. The FCS - a network of wireless, on-the-move communications, drones and sensors - accounted for 35 percent of the $58.3 billion. The RAH-66 Comanche helicopter, developed jointly by Boeing and Sikorsky and canceled by the Army in 2004, accounted for an additional 17 percent.

The research and development costs of the canceled programs represent about 3.4 percent of the $1.7 trillion budgeted in those years for developing the 136 programs and an additional 25 active programs in preliminary development, Mark Wright, Kendall's spokesman, said in an email. …

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