THE PRECIOUS FEW
February 28, 2007
Look at the plans for the DDG 1000, the Navy's newest guided-missile destroyer, and you'll see the makings of a sea warrior's dream, says the National Journal.
The 600-foot-long, next-generation warship is a technological marvel, with state-of-the-art multiphased radar, advanced gunnery and missile systems, electric propulsion, and an integrated power-generation package that will pave the way for future use of laser or electromagnetic guns.
Although far more advanced than any of its predecessors, the vessel -- formerly known as the DD(X) -- is, it also poses some problems, says the Journal:
- Depending on the estimates, it now costs between $2.5 billion and $3.8 billion a copy -- about four times the original projection and almost triple the price tag for the DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers now in service.
- A wary Congress has cut orders for the DDG 1000 to only two ships in fiscal 2007 and seems unlikely to approve more than five beyond that -- far fewer than the 16 to 24 ships the Navy had wanted.
- And some analysts worry that the ballooning cost of the destroyers will leave the Navy without enough money to replace other classes of aging warships and to maintain its planned 313-ship fleet of destroyers, cruisers, aircraft carriers, and submarines.
The DDG 1000 isn't the military's only budget buster. In a report issued last April, the Government Accountability Office pointed to dozens of other high-tech weapons programs that are so costly that they are obliging Pentagon buyers to cut orders to a trickle, to avoid squeezing other needs.
Cindy Williams, a military analyst formerly with the Congressional Budget Office and currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points to such programs as prime examples of the inherent conflicts stemming from growing demands for costly high-technology weaponry, increased pressures on military procurement budgets in the face of wartime spending, and competition from domestic programs.
Source: Art Pine, "Military cutting orders for costly high-tech weapons," National Journal, February 5, 2007.
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