Multifunctional Utility/Logistics and Equipment Transport Vehicle (gasp)
As Boeing continues to push for a possible rebid of the Air Force tanker project, claiming its plane is more cost-effective than the tanker of contract winner Northrop/EADS-Airbus (Boeing now says the AF stacked the deck), the Lazy B is being criticized for its own defense costs and development performance of the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program - a possible factor in the Pentagon decision to bypass Boeing's tanker bid.
The FCS, as planned, is to include development of eight new combat vehicles (such as the one above), unmanned air and ground vehicles and launch system operated by special combat teams all linked by a state-of-the-art electronic network, with costs hard to pin down: anywhere from $164 billion to more than $230 billion (the network is still more concept than reality). New defense platforms are always complicated and exceed projected costs, but the Government Accountability Office this month wondered if Boeing and partner Science Applications International Corporation could ever actually build the multi-system war platforms. The project is “well short of a program halfway through its development schedule and its budget," promising cost increases and delays, says the GAO.
But, in today’s world of fewer big defense contractors and "planned overruns," Boeing can brag that at least it isn’t gouging taxpayers as rival Lockheed Martin is with its stunning increases for the Pentagon’s new Joint Strike Fighter (a project Boeing lost out on). Originally pegged at somewhere around $235 billion to make 2,458 jets, that cost has risen close to $300 billion. And now projected operational costs have almost doubled, to $650 billion, pushing the total project close to $1 trillion, says the GAO. The delivery date is also being pushed ahead two years and fewer planes likely will be made. A “major program restructure seems inevitable," adds the GAO. But, damn the taxpayer cost, by God they’ll build it!