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Draft GAO Report Rips Into Army Weapons Platform

In my piece yesterday I mention several big-ticket defense platforms beloved by the military services that have featured chronic cost-overruns. One of them is a sprawling Army modernization program called Future Combat Systems, which is a bunch of tech-heavy weapons and vehicle upgrades. (It’s kind of hard to come up with a shorthand description for FCS — click through here and see why.) The fiscal-2010 budget review is causing the Army anxiety over the future of the way-over-budget program.

So this won’t help: Inside the Army (subscription-only, grr) reports that the Government Accountability Office is preparing a grim assessment about FCS’s financial soundness. [Update: Hey, now the piece is outside the firewall!]

Advocates of restructuring or cutting back on FCS will find ammunition in the draft report. In it, GAO asserts that FCS is “unlikely to be executed” for the $159 billion the Army says it will cost, a source said, citing the draft.

Moreover, and perhaps more relevant to the current decision-making within the Pentagon, GAO states that the Army has already spent 60 percent of its FCS development funds even though “the most expensive activities remain to be done before the production decision” in 2013.

GAO contends that the funding situation will deteriorate for FCS as the program’s costs will likely grow at the same time as competition for federal funds tightens, a source said.

The report also cites what it calls “actual immaturity” in the program, according to sources. Calling the network performance “largely unproven,” GAO says the Army has failed to convincingly demonstrate that FCS designs will meet their requirements, a source told ITA.

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