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Five Weapons that Bilk the Taxpayers:

by Eric Miller And Beth Daley

Today Congress will be presented with $48 billion in defense spending increases. Rather than rewarding the bloated and inefficient Defense Department and its greedy defense contractors with such an excessive increase, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) urges Congress to implement the follow cutbacks:

–Eliminate the Marine’s V-22 Osprey: $26 Billion. Grounded after a series of crashes that killed 30 Marines, the V-22’s woes are widely known. Even the Pentagon’s head cheerleader for weapons-buying, Acquisitions Chief Edward “Pete” Aldridge, has expressed serious doubts about the V-22 and considered cutting the program, some say. “I personally still have some doubts,” he said at a recent briefing. “… There’s lots of questions we don’t have answers to yet.” –Significantly cut or eliminate the Air Force’s F-22: $42 Billion Carrying a price tag of $200 million per aircraft, the F-22 would be the most expensive fighter ever built with little increase in capacity over F-15’s and F-16’s. F-22 spending is out of control. Three years ago Congress attempted to reign in this problem with a spending cap, but the program racked up $9 billion in cost overruns anyway. The taxpayers do not need both the $200 billion Joint Strike Fighter, recently awarded to Lockheed, and the F-22 ? either fighter can accomplish the same mission.

–Dump the Army’s Crusader Howitzer: $9 Billion. Last year, a Pentagon advisory panel placed the Crusader in the lowest category of defense priorities, suggesting that billions could be saved if it were cancelled. The Crusader is nearly twice the weight of the system that it replaces ? too much for the military’s largest transport plane to lift without waiving flight rules ? but military battlefield strategy calls for lighter more mobile weapons.

–Cancel the Army’s Comanche helicopter: $48 Billion. The Comanche, now in its sixth program restructuring, has become one of the General Accounting Office’s poster children for bad weapons development. When first launched in 1988, the Army estimated the Comanche’s development would take 8 years and cost $3.6 billion. Recent estimates are that it will now take 18 years at a price tag of $8.3 billion. Among its many problems is that the Comanche is too heavy to exit hostile battle environments.

–Retire one-third of the Air Force’s B-1 bomber fleet: $130 million. The B-1 is so plagued with spare parts shortages that much of the fleet is grounded anyway. Last year, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attempted to take 33 B-1s out of service ? a third of the bomber’s fleet. He was overruled by Congress. “It’s a 20-year-old system,” Rumsfeld said. “…It’s designed for the cold war. It’s been headed towards expensive obsolescence.”

During fiscal year 2002, the Pentagon will spend $7.7 billion in development, acquisition, and upgrade cost on the above programs alone. POGO estimates that eliminating these weapons systems alone could save the taxpayers $125 billion between now and 2026. Those savings don’t include operation and maintenance costs for the weapons and aircraft once they are deployed. Other savings could be found by forcing the Department of Defense (DOD) to improve its financial oversight. According to the DOD’s Inspector General the Department could not account for $1.1 trillion, or 25%, of financial transactions in its most recently audited financial year.

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