Wasteful Weapons: The F-35 and More | FCNL

In 2012, we spent $993,832 billion, nearly a trillion dollars, on the Pentagon. In 2013, under sequestration, the Department of Defense (DoD) will see $37 billion cut. The Pentagon has suggested that these cuts would be “catastrophic.” But even after 10 years of sequestration cuts, Pentagon spending would still be at FY2007 levels—a time when the U.S. was waging two wars.

The way the Pentagon is cutting its budget wreaks maximum havoc on people while leaving hardware untouched. Besides closing bases, the Pentagon wants to cut end-strength and reduce other personnel costs – including the cost of civilian employees. While some personnel reductions are needed as a war winds down and as the Pentagon looks for smarter strategies going forward, now is not a good time to take most of the budget reductions out of employment. Now more than ever, cutting acquisitions should be a top priority of Pentagon officials and policy makers.

I have long been concerned over troubled defense acquisition programs that cost the taxpayer billions of dollars more than what the department and Congress initially signed up for.

– Sen. Durbin (IL), chair of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations

Here are some of the most questionable investments in weapons systems:

V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft

The Osprey has been plagued with crashes,fatalities, and major cost overruns. The Osprey could be replaced with existing model helicopters that cost only ¼ of the Osprey’s price tag and are capable of the same mission.

F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

The F-35 has encountered a variety of performance problems since work on it began in 2001. The program is now seven years behind schedule, as full-rate production was delayed from 2012 to 2019. With the final cost to develop, build, fly and maintain the planes predicted to be $1.5 trillion, the F-35 is almost four times more expensive than any other weapons program the Pentagon is developing and the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history.

Littoral Combat Ships

At $350 million per ship, stopping procurement on these systems could mean billions in savings. As a March 2013 GAO report outlines in a review of the LCS, “However, the Navy continues to buy systems that are still in development, demonstrating significant performance issues, and not meeting all requirements —a practice that we have previously shown increases costs.”

Global Hawk Block 30 Drone

The US Air Force wishes to retire the Global Hawk Block 30 drone. Despite this, Congress refuses to let it retire and The House Armed Services Committee’s National Defense Authorization Act for FY2013 provided $260 million in funding for the drone.

With the DoD 2012 weapons portfolio estimated at over a trillion dollars, U.S. weapons systems are among the costliest in the world. Yet some of the most expensive weapons systems are among the most inefficient. The Pentagon should prepare realistically for reductions in spending and Congress should set smart policies for the Pentagon that reflect current spending realities.

Get more information and sources in the Wasteful Weapons fact sheet

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