The Pentagon’s process to develop and field new weapons was criticized recently by top defense officials and lawmakers who called the system lengthy, costly and inefficient.
At a budget hearing before the Defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, heads of major military divisions agreed with lawmakers that something has to be done to avoid prolonged and delayed development of weapons, such as the lengthy Joint Strike Fighter program.
“We have got to do something to get this procurement system to move more rapidly,” said Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash. “I am just concerned that we are wasting billions of dollars in development, years of effort go into [a project], then we realize it isn’t quite what we wanted.”
In response, Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, said “we’ve become enslaved to a process. In many areas we entered into extensive testing programs that take up time, tie up money.”
Marine Corps commandant Gen. James Amos described to the subcommittee his attempts to salvage the F-35B short-takeoff-or-vertical-landing (STOVL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter, which is on a two-year probation to fix its engineering development problems. “It’s my goal that the airplane comes off this two-year probation period sooner rather than later,” he said.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus stressed the need for a more efficient acquisition system that avoids prolonged development of weapons, such as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) that is now being canceled after several decades in development. Amos pledged to speed development of the EFV replacement, dubbed the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.
During the committee, lawmakers also questioned the Navy’s assessment of threats in the Middle East, including Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet has its headquarters and where anti-government protests have taken place.
“So far in Bahrain there is no restriction on the movement for Americans,” Mabus said. “Our school is operational in Bahrain. At this point, there have been absolutely no threats, no anti-U.S.-presence statements made by either side, either by the protestors or the government.”