The Pentagon keeps pissing away money on weapons programs and getting little in return

Pentagon Orders Entire F-35 Fleet Grounded

If the Pentagon had to take Consumer Math class in high school, they'd flunk.

The U.S. military—correction, the U.S. taxpayer—is spending more money to buy fewer weapons. The reason? Poor acquisition practices, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"DOD's 2018 portfolio of major weapon programs has grown in cost by $8 billion, but contains four fewer systems than last year," GAO found.

GAO blames this on several factors. "Portfolio-wide cost growth has occurred in an environment where awards are often made without full and open competition. Specifically, GAO found that DOD did not compete for 67 percent of 183 major contracts currently reported for its 82 major programs. GAO also observed that DOD awarded 47 percent of these 183 contracts to five corporations and entities connected with them."

United Technologies, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing and Lockheed Martin accounted for almost half of the contractors for these eighty-two programs, including the Army's Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the Navy's Ford-class aircraft carriers, and the Air Force's Combat Rescue Helicopter.

Another factor is the Pentagon adding new capabilities to existing programs rather than creating new programs, which means existing programs take longer to complete. "On average, programs in the current portfolio are about 4 months older than last year and nearly 3 years older than in 2012," GAO said.

GAO defines knowledge-based acquisition as government agencies taking steps to "gather knowledge that confirms their technologies are mature, their designs stable, and that their production processes are in control. Successful product developers ensure a high level of knowledge is achieved at key junctures in development. We characterize these junctures as knowledge points."

All of which sounds like sensible purchasing practices: make sure the product is fully developed and can be properly manufactured before you buy it. Unfortunately, the Pentagon thinks otherwise.

For example, prior to the critical design review stage, the Army's CH-47F Block II program "did not elect to developmentally test a fully configured, production representative prototype in its intended environment. Instead, the program plans to initiate this prototype testing in August 2019 (20 months after CDR)—an approach inconsistent with best practices. Until the program completes this testing, it cannot know whether its design is actually stable."

Then there is the F-35 stealth fighter, the poster child for controversial acquisition practices. "In October 2018, the program office updated its acquisition strategy, providing a general schedule for future technology development and integration. The program plans to field new capabilities starting in October 2019, but it has yet to complete its acquisition program baseline. As a result, the program is concurrently testing, producing, and modernizing aircraft, which increases the risk of future schedule and cost overruns."

For the Ford-class carriers, "the Navy accepted delivery of the lead ship, CVN 78 [USS Gerald R. Ford], in May 2017 despite challenges related to immature technologies and struggles to demonstrate the reliability of mature systems. The Navy reports that 10 of the Ford Class' 12 critical technologies are fully mature—the advanced arresting gear (AAG) and one of the ship's missile systems are not yet mature," GAO said.

"Shipboard testing is ongoing for several critical systems and could delay future operational testing. Those systems include the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), AAG, and dual band radar (DBR). Although the Navy is testing EMALS and AAG on the ship with aircraft, the reliability of those systems remains a concern. If these systems cannot function safely, CVN 78 will not demonstrate it can rapidly deploy aircraft—a key requirement for these carriers."

This article originally appeared on The National Interest.

More from the National Interest:

SEE ALSO: The Navy Won't Pay Damages To People Who Drank Camp Lejeune's Toxic Water, But It Is Throwing Money At Its Broke Aircraft Carrier

WATCH NEXT: The M2 Flamethrower In Action

Zachary Johnston (Photo via Doña Ana County Jail)

A former Fort Bliss solider stood bruised and badly injured in court Thursday as he pleaded guilty to cutting the throat of another soldier during a 2017 drug robbery.

Zachary Johnston, who appeared in court in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles around his ankles, pleaded guilty Thursday to a lesser count of murder as part of a plea agreement with state prosecutors.

He also appeared in court with two black eyes, bruises and cuts all over his face after he was involved in a jailhouse fight.

Johnston was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in connection with the brutal slaying of Tyler Kaden Croke, 23, on May 7, 2017, during a drug robbery at the Cantera Apartments in East El Paso. Croke, 23, was in the U.S. Army and served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Read More Show Less
Naval Air Station Pensacola (U.S. Navy photo)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Saudi ambassador to the United States visited a U.S. naval air station in Florida on Thursday to extend her condolences for a shooting attack by a Saudi Air Force officer that killed three people last week, the Saudi embassy said.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Thursday tested a conventionally configured ground-launched ballistic missile, a test that would have been prohibited under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 INF pact with Russia in August after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty, an accusation the Kremlin has denied.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Air Force airmen from the 405th Expeditionary Support Squadron work together to clear debris inside the passenger terminal the day after a Taliban-led attack at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 12, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Brandon Cribelar)

Blasts from Taliban car bombs outside of Bagram Airfield on Wednesday caused extensive damage to the base's passenger terminal, new pictures released by the 45th Expeditionary Wing show.

The pictures, which are part of a photo essay called "Bagram stands fast," were posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service's website on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
Retired Navy Seal Floyd McLendon. (Business Insider)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

A retired Navy SEAL running for Congress wore a U.S. Navy dress white uniform at a recent campaign event, Business Insider has learned.

Republican candidate Floyd McLendon of Texas spoke to an audience at his campaign kick-off event in November, wearing the Navy uniform adorned with numerous medals — including what appeared to be the Navy SEAL Trident, the insignia reserved for members of the elite community like McLendon.

The inaugural event in Dallas was held in the 30th congressional district, a different district than the one McLendon is running in. Political strategists in Texas described the venue's location as highly unusual for a House candidate.

Read More Show Less