US Navy: expensive weapons systems a threat to Navy's future


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The US Navy is spending money like a drunken sailor on costly weapons systems that are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.

Take, for example, the F-35 Lightning II. The F-35, a product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) 5th-generation fighter program, was supposed to save the Pentagon money by providing a common airframe for the Air Force, Navy and Marines to use for different roles. Instead, the program has been plagued by design problems, mismanagement and massive cost overruns. The F-35 is already a decade behind schedule and the program will cost more than Australia's annual GDP.

Then there's the Zumwalt class "stealth" destroyer program. The Navy originally planned to buy 32 of these "21st Century Destroyers" to replace its Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Now it will buy three. The boats — which would feature next-generation technology like lasers and railguns and have a much lower radar profile — are just too expensive. Most of the critical technologies envisioned for them are not even ready yet. The three Zumwalt destroyers will cost US taxpayers about $7 billion each, counting the cost of development. A Chinese admiral has said he could sink them with fishing boats.

An alternative to this madness is the so-called Streetfighter idea, which would replace many of the Navy's larger, expensive boats with squadrons of smaller ships at a fraction of the cost.
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