Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.
“The U.S. Army doesn’t want it, but the Department of Defense is saying: Yes, you do. The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) would be scuttled if Army commanders had their way, saying the missile defense program is too costly to develop, with a price tag of $19 billion. However, Pentagon officials and others in the Obama administration want MEADS, which is being developed in partnership with Germany and Italy, because killing the program could upset relations with the two European allies.”
—Army vs. Lockheed Martin in Battle to Cancel Missile Defense System
“Future Combat Systems (FCS) was the United States Army’s principal modernization program from 2003 to early 2009. Formally launched in 2003, FCS was envisioned to create new brigades equipped with new manned and unmanned vehicles linked by an unprecedented fast and flexible battlefield network. In April and May 2009, Pentagon and Army officials announced that the FCS vehicle-development effort would be cancelled. The rest of the FCS effort would be swept into a new, pan-Army program called the Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization Program.”
“January 11, 2011: The U.S. Army has finally, after over a decade of development, and no orders, cancelled its SLAMRAAM antiaircraft missile system. The U.S. defense budget is being cut, and those items lower on the “must have” list are being eliminated. Some $3 billion has been spent on SLAMRAAM so far, and it would cost another $12 billion to put it into production.”
—SLAMRAAM Dies From Loneliness
“But the replacement program for the OH-58 was supposed to be the ARH-70, and it should have been generally a low risk program. Take the existing Bell 407 airframe, itself an evolution of the Bell 206 that gave us the Kiowa, and add sensors and weapons. Easy peasy. How that program fell to pieces is beyond me. I’m not an engineer or an aviator. I know there are always challenges, but the collapse of that program was a big surprise to me.”
Brad On why the Army is still flying Vietnam War-era choppers.
“found it surprising as well. From what I could determine the downfall of the program was the bane of so many programs in the military these days, refusing to freeze the specs. They allow a continuing larding of the program and change orders are expensive. Successful acquisition programs freeze the design and build more capability into the follow on models. The Army didn’t force a freeze, so costs ran away from them, and instead of getting a good first effort, they got nothing instead. Great, huh?”
Quartermaster nails it.
When defense contracts go beyond paper specs and RFP’s we’re talking about real money. And jobs. And promotions for those involved in the program. THAAD and the F-22 have parts made in almost all the 50 states. Military bases employ thousands all around the country. Of course Big Army and Congress also think about the men and women who’ll be fighting and fixing these systems. Of course.
The problem is that, like the Navy, Big Army wants cool and shiny. New computers? Sure why not. New radios and a new network? Okay. MEADS had three radars as opposed to the Patriot systems one. A maintenance headache that became a nightmare since the new radars have new parts. Add to the fact that our Warrant Officers and Soldiers under them would all have to be retrained. Adding to the costs of trying to field a new system.
The FCS tried too much at once. New network, new computers and sensors, new weapons AND new vehicles all under one roof. Almost all were canceled. After Iraq, the 50 ton FCS vehicles were dumped for the 70+ ton monsters. IED’s are a threat, but the infantry would ride in a vehicle with a weight approaching Hitler’s Maus. The only Ground the “Ground Combat Vehicle” may end up fighting on is a reinforced concrete runway.
SLAMRAAM died because the Army has to pay for the the
FCS GCV and other shooty projects. Short range air defense? Who needs it with the Air Force and it’s F-22’s and F-35’s running the skies. Um..wait a minute…
We need reform, but most of the “reform” the pundits have in mind is to cancel everything. The left wants to stick it’s fingers in it’s ears and pretend that our ships and air craft don’t age. That our enemies are getting smarter and more deadly. The deficit hawks on the right only care about defense cuts when they threaten jobs in their districts. Otherwise they’ll cut and cut in the name of “savings.”
When contracts are fixed, cutting the number of widgets built skyrockets the price. In the 80’s the Dod let the contracts write in the costs of items. Nowadays we have “single source”, “no bid” and fixed price contracts coupled with design specs that waste more money than they save.
We can do better. We need to do better.