Sunday, November 20, 2011

Budgets and Bird-like Aircraft

Very timely and interesting article

I think this article goes well with what our class talked about this past week and for tomorrow as well. For those unfamiliar with the V-22 Osprey, it is a hybrid helicopter/airplane that is able to take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane. Over the past twenty-five years it has had quite a rocky history. Numerous testing accidents and crashes while in service have left the Osprey with a bad reputation. Various defense secretaries have tried to axe the program, including Dick Cheney. A vigorous lobbying campaign by the Marine Corps, along with its manufacturers Textron and Boeing, helped to keep the project alive.

I bring up this article and this issue because it is the perfect example of how hard it is to cut a defense budget. It also shows the nature of the relationship between the executive branch, legislators, and the military-industrial complex. With the budget negotiations near the point of failure, many military and industrial officers are growing concerned about the future of defense cuts. Despite what the article says, Defense Secretary Panetta was escorted to NY in an Osprey because the Marine Corps wanted him to take a ride in one. The fact that it was efficient transportation was irrelevant.

The U.S. military didn't get to be the world's most expensive by sitting on their hands and letting programs get cut. They picked their battles and lobbied hard for programs and developments seen as operationally and financially. The Osprey is the perfect example. It has cost billions of dollars, over 30 lives in testing and mission accidents, and valuable manpower. This program is unlikely to get cut since $36 of the $54 billion allocated for it has already been spent. However, I believe that lawmakers are going to look back at the Osprey as a prime example of wasteful defense spending and an unfortunate result of the military-industrial-bureaucratic process.

1 comment:

P said...

I checked the blog to see if anyone else had mentioned the Osprey article. I don't know how I missed M1 Abrams' post, which was posted several hours before mine. Apologies for the redundancy.