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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Pentagon war toys- but do they work?

"...report...asks whether the new arrangement will provide the "needed incentives" to the defense contractor "to correct an already substantial list of deficiencies in performance, a list that will only lengthen" as testing continues." - reports CNN

When toys don't work, we take them back and typically ask for a refund. Unfortunately, the Pentagon puts untold amounts of tax money into contracts to build sophisticated war machines, but without assurances about their quality. It's impossible to know who's in charge of authorizing oftentimes wasteful defense contracts, but the one consistent fact is this:  Americans pay the bills and we never get our money back if the products are defective.  
Are Americans are getting duped? None of the Pentagon's "war toys" have a certificate of warranty or a product guanrantee. Those of us who pay for the untold numbers of expensive weapons should be given at least some assurance about the quality of the Pentagon's high priced war products.
An oil painting of guided rounds from the Zumwalt's 155mm gun as part of promotional material at a Lockheed Martin space a few years ago. (Popular Science photo)
Are F-35s fit for combat? Pentagon doesn't know
By Ryan Browne, CNN

Moreover, how about the debate over the cost of battleships?
The Navy is building just three Zumwalts after the Pentagon determined the ships—at more than $3 billion a copy—were entirely too expensive.

USA: First Zumwalt Class Destroyer Launched | World Maritime News

Zumwalt class destroyer is certainly a cutting edge design but does it work?  (Quality of F-35's is also questioned.)
Washington (CNN)-  The military risks committing itself to buying billions of dollars of F-35 fighter jets before they've demonstrated they're fit for combat, a new Pentagon report warns.

The development of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35, a fifth-generation stealth jet, has been beset by spiraling costs and schedule delays. The program's price tag is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes -- almost twice the initial estimate.

To drive down costs and benefit from larger economies of scale, the Pentagon has sought to pool planned purchases through a "block buy" of hundreds of aircraft from the F-35's manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, according to the report by the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, J. Michael Gilmore.

RELATED: F-35 fails test
The report cautions that these efforts to curb costs have created a situation in which the U.S. could be committed "to procuring as many as 270 U.S. aircraft" before "operational testing is complete."

The report argues that such a strategy raises numerous concerns, pointing out that defense officials connected to the program have said that "essentially every aircraft bought to date requires modifications prior to use in combat."

The report also asks whether the new arrangement will provide the "needed incentives" to the defense contractor "to correct an already substantial list of deficiencies in performance, a list that will only lengthen" as testing continues.

News about the new classes of battleships are no more encouraging.  As the US Navy's newest ship puts to sea for the first time, old questions are resurrected.

Questions about the cost of Pentagon "war toys" - battleships and the F-35s being headlined- are very serious. 

Although hundreds of news sources report the variations in quality versus cost of the Pentagon war toy experiements, none of the answers I tried to decipher were satisfactory. Obvioiusly, I'm far from being any sort of Pentagon specialist. 

Nevertheless, as a tax payer, I'm well qualified to ask two question:
1.  Who's authorizing these extraordinary Pentagon purchases?
2.  What refund line do we stand in, when they don't work?

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