What’s Your Service’s Waste Measurement?

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Annual share of weapons-development funds spent on major Pentagon programs that were canceled without producing any, or "very few," operational units.

The Pentagon’s top weapons-buyer, Frank Kendall, has issued a study trying to measure the way the U.S. military buys its hardware, smartly and otherwise.

It was the above chart that caught our eye. It details, by service, how much money was invested in the development of weapons that never got off the drawing boards between 1995 and today.

“The Army has both the largest number of canceled programs and the largest percentage of sunk RDT&E [research, development, test and evaluation] costs,” the study reports. “The majority of the Army’s sunk funding problem through this period was due to the cancellation of the Future Combat System (FCS); however, every year from 1996 to 2010, the Army spent more than $1 billion annually on programs that ultimately were canceled.”


That’s $15 billion up in smoke.

Sure, some of the investment will be recouped in follow-on systems, but that’s an extraordinarily inefficient way to spend money.

On the bright side, it did help pay for cool mini-war movies like this: