15 of the most expensive projects scrapped by the US military

In the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programmes 'without any fielded systems to show for it'

Jeremy Bender
Friday 29 January 2016 18:50
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Soldiers salute during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a homecoming ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky
Soldiers salute during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a homecoming ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky

The US military is unquestionably the world's strongest force with the world's largest defense budget.

But throughout the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programmes “without any fielded systems to show for it,” according to a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

The abandoned projects are largely due to a lack of funding attributed to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

Sequestration, which is indiscriminate budget cuts across-the-board that affect every portion of the military equally, is the greatest threat to the US military currently, Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Business Insider.

Below are a series of military modernisation projects that were canceled partially due to a lack of funds.


Future Combat Systems

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Ground Combat Vehicle Program. This program was also ultimately canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


RAH-66 Comanche Armed Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $7.9 billion

Follow-On: The helicopter was superseded by the later canceled Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter project.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

Branch: Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Sunk-Costs: $5.8 billion

Follow-On: The program was replaced by the now-canceled Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). The DWSS is slated to be restarted as the Weather Satellite Follow-On.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Airborne Laser

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $5.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was canceled without an identified replacement.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


VH-71 Presidential Helicopter

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.7 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.3 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


XM2001 Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $2.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System which was also then canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


E-10 Multi-sensor Command and Control Aircraft

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.9 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Replacement Program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Space Based Infrared Systems - Low

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.5 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Advanced SEAL Delivery System

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.6 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the later canceled Joint Multi-Mission Submersible.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $0.5 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred following the Army's decision to field a mix of drones and AH-64Es instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Aerial Common Sensor

Branch: Army/Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.4 billion

Follow-On: The project deferred in favor of the Navy's P-8 program and upgrades to Army aircraft.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


CG(X) Next Generation Cruiser

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred, and the Navy purchased additional DDG 51 destroyers instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


CSAR-X Combat Rescue Helicopter

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately restarted as the Combat Rescue Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies


Next Generation Bomber

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the Long Range Strike-Bomber.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

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