U.S. Military Transformation: Not Just More Spending, But Better Spending

"Whatever it takes, whatever it costs, this patient, this resolved nation will win the first war of the 21st century," U.S. President George W. Bush said in a speech to the Reserve Officers Association on Jan. 23, 2002.

U.S. President George W. Bush said he would ask Congress for a $48 billion increase in defense spending for fiscal year 2003 to cover pay raises, buy new high-tech weapons and prosecute America's war on terrorism — the largest funding boost for the Department of Defense in 20 years.

But the tragic events of Sept. 11, and the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan, also have raised fundamental questions about the shape and composition of future U.S. forces, forcing the Pentagon to think harder than ever about a new strategic vision aimed squarely at the threats of the 21st century. One of the primary goals established by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is 'transformation' of the forces to reflect the war fighting needs of tomorrow.

But much remains unresolved. And despite agreement on the need for deep and lasting changes to military strategy, doctrine, and force structure, the Pentagon's focus so far has been on acquiring new capabilities rather than on re-evaluating current priorities and programs. True transformation will not be accomplished simply by spending more — only by spending better.

The proposed $48 billion increase in the next defense budget represents a 12 percent real increase over this year, and comes to a dramatic 14 percent above the Cold War average — to fund a force structure that is one-third smaller than it was a decade ago. U.S. military spending is creeping toward $400 billion — and now exceeds the combined military spending of the 15 countries with the next biggest defense budgets.

In addition, the FY'03 defense package is being accompanied by billions in new funding for other aspects of the war on terrorism. In fact, the president's budget proposal marks the federal government's return to deficit spending for the first time in four years.

Surely, fiscal responsibility requires that the new spending be accompanied by a serious re-examination of what is really being bought. Unfortunately, in the case of the Defense Department, that includes weapon systems designed for another era — and programs that provide little real benefit to offer U.S. troops fighting on the battlefields of the future.

As the United States grapples with the implications of Sept. 11, now is the time to make hard decisions about how current programs can, or cannot, fulfill a new post-Cold War military strategy.

Listed below are 15 examples of Pentagon programs that could, and should, be either canceled or significantly re-shaped to allow the military to move more rapidly to a future force focused on the challenges of tomorrow. The recommendations below will save a minimum of $147 billion over the next 10 years (and more over the longer term), freeing funding and people-power for the war on terrorism and other potential military requirements of the 21st century.


F-22 Raptor

Reduce Purchase. When the program began in the early 1980s, the Air Force planned to purchase 750 air-superiority aircraft to replace its fleet of F-15s, at an estimated total program cost of $99.1 billion. Yet repeated delays and cost growth, together with the collapse of the Soviet Union, have caused a series of program restructurings and reductions in the proposed buy. Current Air Force plans call for the purchase of 305 aircraft at a total program cost of $68.9 billion, or $226 million per aircraft (DoD's "Selected Acquisition Report," Dec. 7, 2001). This represents a per unit cost increase of 24 percent in the last year alone — an enormous jump even by the standards of the program's own troubled history of cost growth.

The Defense Department approved Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of the F-22 in August 2001. Congress has already authorized the purchase of 31 F-22s (13 in FY'02, 10 in FY'01, 6 in FY'00, and 2 in FY'99).

Recommendation: Limit production of the F-22 fleet to a "silver-bullet" force of a maximum 120 aircraft. While there are substantial costs ($400 million-$600 million) involved in canceling existing contracts, immediate termination of the F-22 nonetheless would result in more savings than a partial buy. However, the money already spent on research and development, as well as the planned 31 aircraft (nearly $30 billion) would effectively be wasted, since the number of aircraft obtained would be insufficient to train pilots and provide a viable operational capability.

A limited buy will permit the Air Force to field one air wing (with training and attrition replacement). A force of this size would allow the Air Force to learn about producing such technically complex aircraft, permit the development of suitable operational tactics, and provide a sufficient force to perform any future missions that require the F-22s stealth characteristics and other improved performance capabilities. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that limiting the F-22 program to such a force while replacing the remaining proposed F-22s with new F-15s would save $10 billion over 10 years (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


C-17 Transport Aircraft

Halt Production. The C-17 is replacing the C-141 transport in the current fleet as a complement to the larger but less maneuverable C-5 aircraft. Originally the Air Force planned to acquire 210 C-17s. In 1990, however, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney reduced the program to 120 aircraft as part of DoD's Major Aircraft Review. Due to ongoing concerns with the C-17's growing cost and continued technical problems, then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin announced in December 1993 that the program would be stopped at 40 aircraft unless the contractor could demonstrate that program cost, schedule, and performance improvements warranted completing the 120-aircraft program. In addition, in March 1994, at congressional direction, the Pentagon initiated a program to acquire a transport aircraft using commercial practices as a possible alternative or supplement to the C-17. In November 1995, the Defense Acquisition Board decided to procure 120 C-17s and no commercial transports.

Current plans call for a total purchase of 134 C-17s, 120 for the Air Force, and an additional 14 for Special Operations. As of the current fiscal year, 112 C-17s have been authorized. Yet despite the aircraft's staggering cost — $44.86 billion for 134 aircraft, or a per unit cost of $334.8 million — the Air Force is interested in purchasing additional C-17s. In order to bring down the aircraft's cost, Boeing is looking at additional overseas sales of the aircraft. In addition, the Air Force is considering a plan to help fund a civilian version of Boeing's C-17 transport aircraft. Federal support would include upfront subsidies to Boeing for development of the civil aircraft, a guarantee of government transport business to private companies that purchase the C-17s, and a promise to buy back aircraft from commercial flyers that go bankrupt. In exchange, the commercial companies would promise to make the aircraft available to the Pentagon in case of war or other emergencies.

Recommendation: Cap Air Force C-17 Procurement at 120. While early reports about the C-17's performance in Afghanistan show the aircraft's operational suitability and effectiveness, given the enormous cost of the aircraft, the Air Force simply cannot afford to buy C-17s in perpetuity. Even with federal support, it is highly unlikely that the purchase price of the commercial C-17 would be low enough to be viable. Further, the Air Force has maintained that in order to insure operational flexibility, it needs a mix of transport aircraft with complimentary capabilities. The C-5 has a larger maximum payload, while the C-17 can operate off of shorter runways and under more austere conditions. The existing fleet of C-5s should be upgraded to reduce maintenance costs and improve current mission capable rates, and cheaper, military variants of commercial transports should be developed.


B-1B Lancer Bomber

Retire Some Aircraft. Since the first B-1s entered service with the Air Force in the mid-1980s, the program has been plagued with problems. Originally intended as a strategic bomber, it was designed to evade Soviet air defenses through a combination of sophisticated countermeasures and low-level supersonic flight. Yet two of the aircraft's critical subsystems — its terrain-following radar and electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite — have performed poorly and have required numerous costly upgrades. Throughout its career the B-1 has consistently failed to maintain its projected 75 percent mission capable rate.

The Air Force currently operates a fleet of 92 B-1s, which are capable of carrying conventional weapons payloads. In June 2001, the Bush administration announced its intention to retire 33 aircraft. In response, Congress moved to block the plan, and Air Force Secretary James Roche recommended delaying implementation of the plan by a year.

Recommendation: Retire at least 33 B-1s, as proposed by the administration. The remaining fleet of B-1s, B-2s and B-52s is, based on DoD assessments, sufficient to meet anticipated operational requirements. According to Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim, the move would save $165 million, which would be used to upgrade the remaining 60 B-1s, making them better able to fulfill their share of the long-range bomber fleet's mission. This step reflects the administration's stated intention to use Cold War programs to fund military transformation and modernization.


Nuclear Warheads

Cut Numbers. The Bush administration has proposed reductions in U.S. nuclear forces, reducing the number of deployed warheads from the current level of roughly 6,500 warheads (the number agreed to under the START I treaty) to between 1,700 and 2,200. The proposed reductions would take place over the next decade. The Russian government has announced similar reductions, and likely cannot afford to support Moscow's current arsenal.

The United States ratified the START II treaty, which limits the U.S. and Russia to 3,500 deployed nuclear warheads each, in 1996. Russia ratified in 2000, but specific provisions adopted by both countries during the ratification process have kept it from entering into effect.

Recommendation: Move immediately to reduce to START II levels. Given U.S. approval in principle to the treaty, and the Bush administration's stated intent to implement deeper reductions, the Defense Department should immediately begin reductions of deployed nuclear warheads. According to CBO, U.S. compliance with START II limits will save $1 billion over 10 years, due mainly to the retirement of the current inventory of 50 Peacekeeper land-based missiles, which are banned under the treaty.


Trident Ballistic Missile Submarines

Downsize the Fleet. The Navy currently operates a fleet of 18 Trident ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) Originally, 10 were configured to carry the D-5 Trident II missile, while eight were equipped with the older C-4 missile. The Navy had planned to upgrade all eight remaining boats to carry the D-5, but last year the Navy proposed, and Congress has approved and begun to fund, a plan to convert the last four C-4 boats to "Tactical Tridents" (SSGNs) equipped with conventionally-armed Tomahawk cruise missiles. Trident II submarines are capable of carrying 24 D-5 missiles each equipped with as many as eight warheads. Thus, the fleet of Trident's carrying nuclear missiles would be reduced to 14 boats.

This year's defense authorization legislation removed existing restrictions barring the Defense Department from reducing the current number of deployed nuclear warheads below START I levels (roughly 6,500 warheads). This action reflects the Bush administration's announced intention to reduce the number of deployed warheads in the U.S. arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 over the next 10 years.

Recommendation: Cut the number of Trident submarines to 10, and possibly to six. With their current configuration, a fleet of 14 Trident submarines equipped with 24 D-5 missiles carrying eight warheads gives a total of 3,136 warheads, or roughly 90 percent of the total allowed under START II, and well in excess of the numbers planned by the Bush administration. A fleet of 10 boats would allow for 1,920 deployed warheads, or, if they are "down-loaded" to carry only 5 warheads per missile as in some arms control proposals, a total of 1,200. Combined with the current planned START II arsenal of 500 land-based warheads deployed singly on Minuteman III missiles, this would meet the 1,700 proposed warhead total.

Further reductions in the Trident fleet should also be considered if the Bush administration moves ahead with its proposals to "de-alert" the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Under certain "de-alerting" scenarios, missiles would actually be removed from the submarine fleet, and would have to be reloaded in times of crisis. In this situation, the submarines' ability to operate undetected for long periods under water would be negated (they would have to return to port to re-arm), and the need to maintain a large fleet in order to have a minimum number of boats at sea would become unnecessary. CBO estimates that each boat retired results in an annual operational savings of $150 million (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


D-5 Missile

Halt Production: The Trident II D-5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and the only nuclear weapon delivery system being purchased by the Defense Department. The D-5 has improved accuracy and greater range than the older C-4 missile, which it was designed to replace. Currently, the Navy plans to purchase 453 D-5 missiles, at a total cost of $27.2 billion, or $60 million apiece.

As of this year, 397 D-5 missiles have been authorized. Equipping the currently planned 14 boat Trident II fleet would require 336 missiles, leaving 61 additional missiles for testing. Any further reductions in the Trident II fleet as a result of current or future arms control initiatives would provide additional test missiles.

Recommendation: End Production at 397 missiles. The planned purchase of 397 D-5 missiles is more than sufficient to equip the existing fleet of Trident submarines and allow for continued testing. Further, the Bush administration's plans to drastically reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons will likely result in either the retirement of some of the current fleet, or their conversion to conventional weapons platforms or Special Operations vessels, thus reducing the requirement for D-5 missiles. At the current production cost of $45 million per missile, ending production would result in a total savings of $2.5 billion (Navy contract N00030-00-C-0100, Oct. 10, 2000, $521.8 million for production of 12 missiles).


F/A-18E/F Fighter

Terminate the Program. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a larger, more powerful version of the Navy's current F/A-18 multi-role fighter. The updated version carries a larger weapons load, and is touted to be as maneuverable as the current C/D versions. Originally the Navy planned to buy 1,000 aircraft at a total program cost of $81 billion, or an average cost of $81 million per aircraft. However, the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) reduced procurement to between 548 and 785, depending on the progress of the Joint Strike Fighter. Current Navy plans call for the production of 548 Super Hornets at a total cost of $46.8 billion, or $85 million per aircraft (DoD's "Selected Acquisition Report," Dec. 7, 2001).

A 1999 report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) stated that testing of the Super Hornet showed that the aircraft would not meet key performance goals that were used to justify its development as a replacement for the original F/A-18. In particular, the F/A-18E/F did not achieve the increased range goals specified in the design contract. The Navy's own reports show that the Super Hornet's flight performance was only marginally (15 percent) better than its predecessor in several categories, and was actually inferior in several others. Nonetheless, in 2000, Boeing was awarded a multi-year contract for the production of 222 Super Hornets. When the contract expires in FY'04, the Navy will have purchased a total of 284 aircraft.

Recommendation: Kill F/A-18E/F production at the end of the current contract. Given the Super Hornet's incremental performance improvement over the current version and its considerable cost, the Super Hornet should be terminated. A minimal annual production run of the original F/A-18 should be continued in order to replace aging aircraft, and efforts should be made to move forward/accelerate the 2010 target date of the Joint Strike Fighter's entry in to the fleet. $22 billion has been spent on the Super Hornet program to date, and an estimated additional $6.4 billion will be spent before the current contract expires. Halting procurement of the Super Hornet at the end of the contract will save an estimated $18 billion through fiscal year 2010 (the expected date for the purchase of the 548th aircraft).


V-22 Osprey Tiltrotor Aircraft

Delay Production (Option 1) or Terminate the Program (Option 2)
Option 1 (RADM Stephen H. Baker): The V-22 Osprey is a multi-mission tiltrotor aircraft with vertical/short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) capability which is being developed to fill multi-service combat operational requirements. The MV-22 will replace the current Marine Corps assault helicopters in the medium lift category (CH-46E and CH-53D). The Air Force variant, the CV-22, will replace the MH-53J and MH-60G and augment the MC-130 fleet in the USSOCOM Special Operations mission. The Air Force requires the CV-22 to provide a long-range vertical take off and landing insertion and extraction capability. The tiltrotor design combines the vertical flight capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a turboprop airplane and permits aerial refueling and world-wide self deployment.

Since entry into Full System Development in 1986, the V-22 Test & Evaluation program has concentrated principally on engineering and integration testing by the contractors. The first V-22 prototype flew in 1989, but faced with concerns about the program's growing costs, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney tried to cancel the program. Congress continued to fund the V-22 over the Pentagon's objections, and in 1992 the Clinton administration revived the program.

In 1986, the cost of a single V-22 was estimated at $24 million, with 923 aircraft planned to be built. Current plans call for building 458 Ospreys for $37.3 billion, or more than $80 million apiece, with the Marines receiving 360 Ospreys, the Navy 48 and the Air Force 50. Four test aircraft have crashed: no one was killed in the 1991 crash, an accident in 1992 killed seven men, the third in April 2000 killed 19 Marines. In December 2000, four Marines were killed including the most senior Osprey test pilot in the program. The aircraft has been grounded since the last crash. The last Operational Test report by the secretary of defense, in December 2000, stated that the Osprey "is not operationally suitable," primarily because of reliability, maintainability, availability, and human factors. The V-22 joint program office is planning to return the aircraft to flight status in April.

Recommendation: Limit production and funding to the absolute minimum until flight-testing proves the Osprey to be a safe aircraft to fly and that it can meet the requirements for acceptable operational effectiveness and suitability. The Vortex Ring State testing that was started at Patuxent River must be continued. Changes to the V-22's flight control software and redesign of the engine nacelles are major fixes that will require a substantial amount of time and testing. Currently there is no knowledge of how the V-22 is going to operate with other V-22s on amphibious ships. Similarly the V-22 is supposed to be able to operate on and off amphibious ships in mixed fleets of aircraft with other helicopters and other aircraft, and that also has never been tried in operational testing. Still, the military is making definite progress with tiltrotor technology and that technology is what the Marine Corps needs. If the fixes necessary to make the Osprey safe to fly and ensure acceptable effectiveness requirements are met become cost prohibitive, however, then Option 2 should be pursued.

Option 2 (Christopher Hellman): In 1992, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the V-22 Osprey "a program I don't need," and cited it as one example of how Congress "forces me to spend money on weapons that don't fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements." Since the time Cheney tried to terminate the V-22 as too expensive, the per-unit cost of the Osprey has almost tripled, from about $30 million to more than $80 million per aircraft.

Cheney felt that an upgraded fleet of the current CH-46 and Ch-53 helicopters would provide the Marines with the necessary capabilities. He also included in his budget funds to begin development of a conventional helicopter alternative.

Recommendation: Kill the V-22 and use existing aircraft to test the technology. Tiltrotor technology may be viable. But not all tiltrotors are necessarily Ospreys. The program should be terminated, and alternatives explored. The aircraft the Pentagon already is committed to purchasing should be thoroughly tested to determine if tiltrotors can be operated safely and maintained in a realistic combat environment. This option would save an estimated $6.6 billion over 10 years (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


Virginia-class Attack Submarine

Terminate the Program. In 1993, the Pentagon terminated the Seawolf attack submarine program after contracting for the construction of three boats, and began development of what was intended to be a significantly lower-cost alternative, the New Attack Submarine (NSSN). The 1997 QDR called for reducing the fleet of nuclear attack submarines to 50. To meet this goal, while developing and producing the NSSN, now known as the Virginia-class (SSN-774), the Navy plans to retire Los Angeles-class (SSN-688) boats, some before the end of their expected 30 year service life. Current plans call for the production of 30 Virginia-class submarines at a total program cost of $65.7 billion, or $2.2 billion per boat (DoD's "Selected Acquisition Report," Dec. 7, 2001).

General Dynamic's Electric Boat division is the lead yard on the Virginia-class, and is teamed with Newport News Shipbuilding to design and construct the first four boats in the class, two at each of the yards. It is intended that the two contractors will then bid on future submarine construction. Yet while the Virginia-class was intended to provide a lower-cost alternative to the Seawolf, a 1997 GAO report found that the NSSN program was unlikely to meet that objective. According to the GAO, based on the Navy's estimates of a 30 boat, single shipbuilder fleet, the Seawolf's average acquisition cost was roughly $1.9 billion, compared to the Virginia's $1.5 billion price tag. Further, based on a two-shipbuilder program, the Navy's estimated acquisition cost rose from $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion.

In contrast to the QDR's stated requirement for 50 attack submarines, a 1999 study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended a force of 55 to 68 submarines to meet the requirements of the commanders in chief (CINCs) of the U.S. unified commands. They argue that this force level cannot be achieved and maintained without proceeding with the Virginia-class. However, the Navy has acknowledged that this requirement reflects peacetime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, and not wartime tasks. Yet, for security reasons, the Navy's analysis has not been made public, so it is impossible to determine what peacetime ISR missions necessitate the unique capabilities of a nuclear attack submarine that cannot be fulfilled by other intelligence gathering systems.

Recommendation: Cancel the Virginia-class at four boats. The Virginia-class is expected to develop sophisticated design technologies, as well as a modular structure that will permit individual boats to be configured to meet specific operational requirements. These developments will prove valuable in future ship design. However, retaining the current fleet of Los Angeles-class submarines, along with the Seawolf fleet and four Virginia-class submarines will permit the Navy to meet, and even exceed, the QDR's 50-vessel requirement. The Navy can then incorporate lessons learned from development of the Virginia-class to design a vessel that will achieve the cost savings expected of the original program. This would save $55 billion in procurement funding, and roughly $32 billion over the next 10 years, based on the current planned procurement schedule.


DD-X Destroyer

Focus on Research. The Navy's original plan was to build 32 DD-21 class destroyers, beginning in 2004, to replace all the various destroyers, cruisers and frigates currently in the fleet, primarily for land-attack missions. They were to have a smaller-than-normal crew (under 100), and the goal was to keep the costs of each vessel at about $750 million. In November 2001, the program was canceled and changed to the DD-X, intended to produce a family of advanced technology surface combatants rather than a single ship class. Current plans are to develop the DD-X over the next four years and have it enter service in 2011. The program will pursue "spiral development" ? the ships will be continually improved and upgraded as they are developed, built and deployed. Industry teams will respond to the formal request for proposals in February 2002.

In December 2001, the Senate Appropriations Committee stated that there was "a lack of focus in the program." The committee cut $80 million out of the president's $644 million request for the ship program.

Recommendation: Establish a focused and dedicated research and development program that experiments with possible prototype options. If the Navy is to further advance its transformation of war-fighting capabilities, it must invest in technologies that offer the greatest agility, flexibility, precision and economy against a wide spectrum of potential threats. This should not be an incremental improvement on the earlier designs of DD-21, it should be an aggressive move into the future. The time to experiment with prototypes is now, something the Navy has been very short on over the past years. Certainly the R&D efforts made on DD-21should be exploited, but the "Street Fighter" concept, trimaran warship design, and electric drive technologies, to mention a few, all demand experimentation by the Navy. This should be done well before the critical decision is made regarding optimum designs for actual development and deployment. While it is currently impossible to estimate savings from such an approach, it is a well-known fact that money spent in early R&D translates to dollars saved in later stages of a defense program's development and production.


Aircraft Carriers

Cap the Fleet (Option 1) or Reduce the Fleet (Option 2)
Option 1 (RADM Stephen H. Baker): The Navy has consistently stated that it needs at least 15 carriers to fulfill its requirements around the globe. Operation Enduring Freedom and the role of carrier-based tactical aircraft is cited as an example of how carriers can give the United States an operational presence in the early phase of the war, while Washington negotiates for access to airfields and bases in the region. A key factor in the effectiveness of naval forces in Afghanistan was their ability to cooperate closely with Air Force and allied military units in pursuing shared objectives. This demonstrates the benefits of continued efforts to transform the military into a flexible, information-age force.

Currently, there are no U.S. air bases in the entire swathe of Asia between the Arabian and Korean peninsulas, and not many governments that appear willing to allow the United States to use their land to pursue the war on terrorism. The Navy feels strongly that unique capabilities of a carrier battle group will be required in most future conflicts for the foreseeable future.

Recommendation: Limit the fleet to the current 12 carriers. A 12-carrier fleet will be enough to meet future requirements, especially as the age of network-centric warfare matures. Further, European allies are developing a more robust carrier capability. For example, Britain plans two new mid-size carriers (with the Joint Strike Fighter as the primary platform), while France has one nuclear-powered carrier with an option on another, and Italy has a mid-size carrier under construction. The growing capability of allies will reduce the requirement of continually having a U.S. carrier battle group presence in the Mediterranean, and supports a strategy of acting multilaterally and reducing divergence of interests with close allies of the United States.

Option 2 (Christopher Hellman): The size of the carrier fleet is driven in large part by the Pentagon's requirement to keep a carrier permanently on station in certain regions. Needless to say, one carrier alone can not fulfill this requirement. Personnel have to be relieved, ships have to undergo routine maintenance and resupply, and crews have to train. So, several carriers are required in order for a carrier to be continuously deployed to a region. For example, according to the Navy, in order to keep a carrier deployed in the Mediterranean, six carriers are needed. Such deployment schedules are a result of equating commitment with actual physical presence.

Further, as older carriers are retired, they are being replaced with new carriers, all of which are nuclear powered. Yet there are some regions of the world where the presence of nuclear vessels is resented. An all-nuclear carrier fleet could find its access, and thus its flexibility, limited. The current 12-carrier fleet has three conventionally powered vessels. By 2008, it will have only one.

Finally, the current new carrier design, the Nimitz class, may not necessarily be best suited for all carrier missions. For example during Operation Enduring Freedom, the carrier USS Kitty Hawk (one of the remaining conventionally powered vessels) was deployed without its full air wing in order to accommodate Special Forces units. A more cost-effective alternative, similar to the Marine Corps assault carriers, could be a better alternative.

Recommendation: Cut the carrier fleet to 10 vessels and explore a range of designs. Changes in deployment schedules — made possible by the end of the Cold War and growing European capabilities — would permit a reduction in the total number of carriers. A mixed fleet of both conventionally and nuclear powered vessels, with different capabilities will provide greater flexibility and achieve cost savings. Reducing the number of carriers to 10 and eliminating their associated air wings will save $15 billion over the next 10 years (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


Crusader Artillery Vehicle

Terminate the Program. The Crusader Self-Propelled Artillery system is being developed for the U.S. Army to replace the M109A6 "Paladin" 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer. Formerly known as the Advanced Field Artillery System (AFAS), the Crusader system consists of two vehicles, the M2001 Self-Propelled Howitzer (SPH) and the M2002 Armored Resupply Vehicle (RSV). Each vehicle carries a crew of three and both are tracked. Like the Paladin, the Crusader is equipped with a 155mm gun. Unlike the Paladin, the Crusader will be a completely automated system, from fire control to resupply.

While originally designed for use against massed armies in a traditional "force on force" confrontation, the Army argues that the Crusader is vital to its plans for transforming to a lighter, more mobile force. Yet one of the major questions plaguing the program is the system's weight and how this will affect its ability to be airlifted into combat. As originally configured, both the SPH and the RSV have travel weights of 50 to 55 tons. Thus, while both of the two largest military cargo transports in operation — the C-5 "Galaxy" and the C-17 "Globemaster" — are capable of carrying either of the Crusader's components, neither can carry a complete system. The Army now states that the program's contractor has been able to reduce the weight of the system by roughly 25 percent. The current plan is to purchase 480 Crusader systems, at a total program cost of $11.1 billion, or $23 million per two-vehicle unit.

Recommendation: Kill the Crusader and purchase a suitable alternative. The GAO has identified the German-made Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 self-propelled howitzer as a viable alternative to the Crusader. While its maximum rate of fire is slightly below that of the Crusader, its cross-country speed, sustained rate of fire, range and rearming time all meet the requirements for the Crusader. Further, according to CBO, purchasing 550 PzH 2000 and accompanying resupply vehicle will save $6.7 billion over 10 years (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


Comanche Helicopter

Terminate the Program. The Comanche is intended to replace the Army's aging fleet of Vietnam-era helicopters, including the AH-1 "Cobra," the OH-58 "Kiowa" and the OH-6 "Cayuse," as a reconnaissance and light attack aircraft. It will also have an air-to-air combat capability. In all, 1,213 Comanches are to be purchased, replacing 3,100 existing aircraft. The Comanche's main advantages over current aircraft are its sophisticated avionics and stealth characteristics. However, according to the Pentagon's Inspector General, the Defense Department has not reexamined the Comanche's proposed mission since the end of the Cold War.

Begun in 1983, the program has experienced a series of delays and cost overruns. The program was restructured five times between 1988 and 1998, and the development schedule has been extended from 1996 to 2006. Delivery of the first pre-production aircraft, originally scheduled for April 2002 was delayed until January 2004, with low-rate initial production scheduled to begin in June 2005 and full-rate production in December 2006. In a report released in 2001, the GAO found that since its last review of the program in 1999, projected costs for development and production of the Comanche have grown by $4.8 billion, from $43.3 billion to $48.1 billion.

Recommendation: Kill the Comanche and purchase new versions of existing aircraft. A combination of AH-64 "Apache" attack helicopters, updated OH-58 scout helicopters, supplemented by surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which will be entering service over the next decade will fulfill the requirements for Comanche. According to CBO, purchasing 519 OH-58 over the next decade will save $6.3 billion (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


M1 Abrams Tank

Limit Upgrades. The production of large numbers of tanks during the 1980s, in conjunction with reductions in the overall force structure, have left the Army with sufficient numbers of its latest tanks, the M1 Abrams, to equip its forces for the foreseeable future. As a result, the Army estimates that it will not buy additional tanks for at least the next 15 years. Instead, it has embarked on a program to upgrade early models of the Abrams to the latest configuration, the M1A2.

Current plans call for upgrades to 1,155 M1 tanks (the first model of the Abrams) at a total program cost of $9.976 billion, or $8.6 million per tank. To date, 798 upgrades have been authorized.

Recommendation: Terminate upgrades of M1 Tanks at the 798 now authorized. Given the Army's plans to transform to a lighter, more mobile force, it is unclear what role heavy, current generation tanks will have. It is also likely that future, lighter units will not require the total current inventory of roughly 7,900 Abrams, and that some of the oldest models will be retired. Savings could be used to develop the next generation of armored vehicles that are more suited to the future force. CBO estimates that ending the upgrade program could save $2 billion over the next ten years (CBO's "Budget Options for National Defense," March 2000).


Missile Defense

Limit Development. Since President Ronald Reagan's famous 1983 "Star Wars" speech, the United States has spent roughly $100 billion on ballistic missile defenses, including more than $45 billion specifically for the development of a national missile defense (NMD) system. While the Bush administration has not as yet revealed its plans for NMD, it is clear from statements by the president and administration officials that the Bush team plans to aggressively pursue a robust system with multiple ground sites and a considerable space-based component.

For FY'02, the Defense Department requested $8.3 billion for missile defense, 57 percent more than the previous year. Congress approved $7.9 billion of the request. In addition, the Pentagon reorganized the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, now called the Missile Defense Agency, dividing funding among competing capabilities and technologies, rather than the traditional approach of funding specific programs. The Bush administration also announced its intention to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia.

Recommendation: Focus program on development of theater missile defense (TMD) systems. Limit NMD to research and development program that adheres to the constraints of the ABM treaty. As demonstrated by the 1991 Persian Gulf War, deployed U.S. forces and allies face a real threat from short-range ballistic missiles. TMD systems, should, therefore, receive funding priorities. The current NMD program should be reduced to research and development only in order to reduce costs and avoid deploying a system before critical technologies are sufficiently mature.

Further, according to many experts, including the Pentagon's former head of weapons testing, Philip E. Coyle, NMD research and development can continue for a decade without necessarily violating the ABM treaty. Therefore, the NMD program should be limited in scope to maintain U.S. compliance with the treaty. With no technological requirement for breaching the treaty, continued compliance will avoid the domestic and international political repercussions that will inevitably result from its violation. Prior to FY'02, total funding for ballistic missile defense was roughly $4 billion annually. Assuming that funding was continued at that level, and that the Bush administration will continue to fund missile defense at least the FY'02 level, this option would save a minimum of $40 billion over the next 10 years.

Winslow Wheeler, Director, Straus Military Reform Project, Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight

By: Winslow Wheeler, Director (2002-2014), Straus Military Reform Project, CDI at POGO

At the time of publication Mr. Wheeler's was the director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center For Defense Information at POGO.