GAO Blasts Weapons Budget

Cost Overruns Hit $295 Billion
Government auditors issued a scathing review yesterday of dozens of the Pentagon’s biggest weapons systems, saying ships, aircraft and satellites are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

The Government Accountability Office found that 95 major systems have exceeded their original budgets by a total of $295 billion, bringing their total cost to $1.6 trillion, and are delivered almost two years late on average. In addition, none of the systems that the GAO looked at had met all of the standards for best management practices during their development stages.


The Navy expects the costs of its first two Littoral Combat Ships to exceed their combined budget of $472 million by more than 100 percent. (Lockheed Martin Via Associated Press)

Auditors said the Defense Department showed few signs of improvement since the GAO began issuing its annual assessments of selected weapons systems six years ago. “It’s not getting any better by any means,” said Michael Sullivan, director of the GAO’s acquisition and sourcing team. “It’s taking longer and costing more.”

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Space War: Satellite ‘Kill’ Would Prove U.S. Capability

080220-tech-spacewar-01.jpgThe looming U.S. Navy attempt to shoot down a dying satellite could demonstrate an anti-satellite capability for its missile defense system.

A successful kill would mark the first time the United States uses a tactical missile to destroy a spacecraft – assuming that the ship-based missile defense system can handle the high closing speed of more than 22,000 mph.

“Everything becomes much more stressful at these large closing speeds,” said Geoffrey Forden, MIT physicist and space expert. “But if they do hit it, that’d be very impressive, and that’d be proof that it has ASAT [anti-satellite] capability.”

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Pentagon: $520 Million for Space Weapons Research

We all know that the Pentagon has more space weapons technology in mind than just a single, satellite-shooting missile. But trying to pin down how much the Defense Department is spending on space combat research — and on what projects — is an absolute bitch. The programs are spread across at least a dozen different accounts; much of the technology involved is “dual use” — meaning, it could help with another military matters, too; and that’s before you get into the Defense Department’s “black,” classified budget.

Over the years, the gang at the Center for Defense Information has done a good a job as anyone at this thankless task. They’ve just released their survey of the Pentagon’s 2009 budget, highlighting research that could lead to arms in space. By the absolute most conservative estimate, we’re talking $520 million dollars in next year’s budget. The real number is likely several multiples of that.

The projects mostly involve ways to disable potentially hostile satellites; many have other uses, as well. They include a giant laser, to help spot targets in orbit (and to improve space imaging, in the meantime); micro satellites, that could disable another country’s orbiters (or repair our own); a series of jammers, to block enemy satellite signals; and missile interceptors, based in space.

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China speeds pace of military buildup

China is speeding up its military buildup and developing high-technology forces for waging wars beyond Taiwan, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power.“The pace and scope of China’s military transformation have increased in recent years, fueled by acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far-reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms of the armed forces,” the report states.

The report also warned that China’s expanding military forces “are changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China’s strategic capabilities have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region.”

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