One of the Stupidest Failures Ever
|August 19, 2005||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
One of the Stupidest Failures Ever
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare. The next time you go outside, look up. On a clear day, you might just get a chance to see your tax dollars going to waste.
For decades, the U.S. military has been spending billions on pie-in-the-sky space weapons that well likely never need or use. When the United States won the Cold War, it seemed like all this Star Wars folly would come to an end. After all, who needs space weapons when we are really the only nation that could launch a space-based attack?
But the Pentagon had other ideas. In 1994, the Air Force began work on the Space-Based Infrared System-High (SBIRS-High), a satellite-based missile defense system. SBIRS-High is supposed to consist of four satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit, two classified satellites in highly elliptical orbit, a mission control center, and ground-based relay stations to track missile launches. As you can imagine, the program costs a pretty penny experts say that SBIRS-High, when completed, will cost between $7.7 billion and $12 billion.
Eleven years later, not only is the program is nowhere near finished nothing has even been successfully completed. The program has been delayed by at least six years; it has suffered from massive cost overruns, and has been widely criticized. Many, including the Defense Science Board and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have expressed doubts that SBIRS-High will ever see the light of day much less orbit (space). Nonetheless, the military is moving full steam ahead. In fact, despite these failures, the DOD is asking taxpayers for $768 million for SBIRS-High in next years budget, as well as a total of $3.4 billion over the next six years.
Military contractors have been banking billions of dollars due to SBIRS-Highs numerous delays. In 1996, the Air Force gave Lockheed Martin a $2.1 billion contract to build SBIRS-High. Since then, the contract has ballooned to $6.3 billion, driven up by technical difficulties. Defense giant Northrop Grumman has also been the recipient of this largess for its work on SBIRS-Highs on-board sensors. According to one defense trade publication, executives of both companies admit that SBIRS-High has been the single biggest headache their companies have had to confront in recent years. At least they are well compensated.
American taxpayers also have reason wince in pain. The DOD has a long history of premature acquisition it moves ahead with projects before the technology is ready to perform and before a reasonable implementation plan has been developed. The Pentagon is already spending billions of dollars a year on a deeply flawed ground-based ballistic missile defense system, and is presumably planning to use SBIRS-High as nothing more than a back-up.
And at the end of the day, no current missile defense system will see much action in the War on Terror as September 11 demonstrated, our biggest threat is not a missile launched from afar, but an enemy acting within our own borders. The tens of billions of dollars now being handed over to defense contractors for space weapons and missile defense would be much better spent on more relevant activities, like securing loose nuclear materiel abroad and beefing up security at our borders.
The nation needs to just say no to the slick military contractors trying to sell us a useless bill of goods. The more we ignore their attempts to scam us, the better off well be.
For more information, visit Taxpayers for Common Sense at www.taxpayer.net
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