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POGO Announces "Fighting with Failures Series" New Fact Sheets Shed Light on Pentagon Foibles in Weapons Buying

April 20, 2001 

 

Today the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) launched "Fighting with Failures," a series of fact sheets designed to document Pentagon shortcuts in weapons testing and the problems that result including billions of wasted taxpayer dollars, the deaths of military personnel, and the production of weapons that do not work.

At a panel discussion organized by POGO earlier this month, the Pentagon's former head of weapons- testing quantified some of these shortcuts: "In some recent years, 80 percent of Army systems did not achieve 50 percent of their required reliability in operational testing. In recent years, two-thirds of Air Force systems had to halt operational testing because they weren't ready." In contrast, the Navy improved its operational testing success from 58% in 1992 to 92% a few years later simply by not taking weapons into testing before they were ready.

"Our policymakers need to know that the Pentagon's rush to put weapons into production before they are demonstrated to work has serious consequences on the lives of servicemen and women as well as on the taxpayers," stated Danielle Brian, Executive Director of POGO.

POGO compiled its fact sheets based on information gathered from General Accounting Office reports, Defense Department documents, and other sources over several decades. Six weapon systems have been analyzed by POGO to date. The troubled programs cited include:

  • B-1 Bomber. Put into production before testing was completed, the B-1 bomber's problems are so serious that weapons testers say "The B-1B may be limited to a stand-off role or use only after the air defense threat is suppressed." During Fiscal Year 1998, the cannibalization rate for the B-1B was 99 percent -- virtually every aircraft that flew a mission had a part taken from another B-1B.
  • V-22 Osprey. A number of tests were waived in 1999 for the V-22 operational evaluation due to the aircraft's inability to meet specified requirements. Enormous pressures pushed the V-22 prematurely toward production in spite of its many dangerous flaws including an intense rotor downwash that, in the desert, can produce "brown-out" conditions making it extremely difficult to land at night; the infamous vortex ring state that causes the craft to spiral downward unexpectedly; and insufficient communication capabilities that would make the V-22 reliant on escorts to relay emergency and positioning information.
  • Crusader Howitzer. The Crusader howitzer weighs twice as much as the system it is to replace at a time when the Army is seeking a lighter, more mobile force but provides no technological advance. The Crusader and its fully loaded resupply vehicle have a combined weight of 110 tons, too much to lift even on the military's largest transport plane, the C-5B, without waiving flight rules.

Other "Fighting with Failures" fact sheets feature the B-2 bomber, the C-17 military airlifter and the Comanche helicopter. POGO plans to continue the "Fighting with Failures Series" to inform policymakers, concerned citizens and the media about problems with the Pentagon's weapons buying system. 


Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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