The Wall Street Journal has an excellent critique of the dismal state of U.S. military contracting by John Lehman, secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.
Here’s a taste:
The situation is worse in the Air Force. In 1983, I was in the Pentagon meeting that launched the F-22 Raptor. The plan was to buy 648 jets beginning in 1996 for $60 million each (in 1983 dollars). Now they cost $350 million apiece and the Obama budget caps the program at 187 jets.
At least they are safe from cyberattack since no one in China knows how to program the ‘83 vintage IBM software that runs them.
There are other problems. Navy shipbuilding fiascoes like the staggering overruns on new surface combatants, the near total failure of the Army’s Future Combat System that was meant to re-equip the entire army, the 400% cost overrun of the new Air Force weather satellite — to name but a few — all prove that we are currently unable to design, develop and deliver major weapons systems in anything approaching a cost-effective and timely manner.
The Government Accountability Office recently reported that the cost overruns for the top 75% procurement programs were over $295 billion. We are rapidly disarming ourselves, even as defense spending grows.
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