Too Good to Be True

Procurement funding increased by 97 percent in real terms from Fiscal 2000 to Fiscal 2010 and research, development, test, and evaluation funding increased by 66 percent over the same time period, according to a new policy paper from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. However, the Defense Department failed to complete several programs, such as the VH-71 presidential helicopter, and delayed others, like the KC-46 tanker and development of the Next Generation Bomber, into the next decade. The weapon systems it did procure may not be of much use in the next war. For example, the Air Force bought a number of remotely piloted aircraft, predominately the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. While those aircraft have been very successful in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are “limited to environments where the US already enjoys air superiority,” states the paper. It continues, “These aircraft are not able to evade radar in contested air space and are virtually defenseless against surface-to-air or air-to-air missiles.” This may mean the “large quantity” in today’s inventory may not “be useful in the future, unless the US fights another war like Iraq or Afghanistan.”