Thursday, February 13, 2014

Today's "A-12 Avenger Program..."

I think I may have seen this last month, but it passed by without much fanfare-

Boeing, General Dynamics reach $400 million A-12 settlement with U.S. Navy





The Reuters story goes on to say that Boeing and GD will each pay the Navy $200 Million in aircraft and services to settle the last lawsuit remaining after the cancellation of the A-12 program back in 1991.  Yeah, that kind of surprised me- usually we take it in the shorts when it comes to these lawsuits, at least to me.

The aircraft had a unique triangular design, which some equated to a Dorito tortilla chip.  


That shape reminds me of a similar design for an alternate use for the S-3 Viking platform



In case you weren't paying attention or were too young to remember it, the A-12 was supposed to be the replacement for the Navy's A-6 Intruder, providing our country with a stealth attack capability.  However, like other highly technologically advanced concepts, the program was fraught with problems and delays.

The contract was let in 1988 with the first flight scheduled for 1990.  But in early 1990, McDonnell Douglas (later becoming Boeing) and GD fessed up to significant delays and cost overruns.  The aircraft weight had grown to 30% over spec and radar development problems caused costs to skyrocket- up to 70% of the Navy's aircraft budget.  In December of '90, SECDEF Cheney directed a justification of the program, but the Navy, GD, and McDonnell Douglass were unable to convince him not to cancel the aircraft.  

Of course the contractors tried to keep the $1.3 Billion they had been paid for developing the A-12 after the Navy ordered them to pay it back, hence the lawsuits.  They claimed that the Government had wrongfully terminated the contract.  However, on Jan 24th 2014, as part of the Defense Authorization Bill, the Justice Department announced the settlement which included zero, none, nada taxpayer dollars for the companies' claims.  They get to pay us.

Sure, $400M is a drop in the bucket when compared to $1.3 Billion, but at least we're getting something.  I would hazard to guess that the court fees and man hours spent over the past 23 years are probably close to 400M, but I digress.  By the way, we're getting 3 Growlers and a credit towards our GD bill for the DDG-1000 Destroyer

Here's what SECDEF Cheney said back then:
"The A-12 I did terminate. It was not an easy decision to make because it's an important requirement that we're trying to fulfill. But no one could tell me how much the program was going to cost, even just through the full scale development phase, or when it would be available. And data that had been presented at one point a few months ago turned out to be invalid and inaccurate."
So, we had a company promise us a wonderful program that would cost the Navy a certain amount of money, our tax dollars, but was actually going cost far more than expected and would ruin the Navy's budget. It was 18 months behind schedule, had undergone several delays and embarrassing setbacks, and no one could tell Cheney when the aircraft would be ready to fly, despite lying promising that the program was healthy just 9 months earlier.

That took some significant courage on the part of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.  Despite the significant loss in capability and tax dollars, the inefficiencies with the program and the problems in developing such an advanced concept, probably before it was time, Cheney made the right decision and canceled the program. It was not too big to fail, and the Navy would recover.

Now what I'd like to see is that above quote read just a little differently, and from the SECDEF's boss.  Swap out "A-12" with "ACA" and I'd be happy. 

The Affordable Care Act I did terminate. It was not an easy decision to make because it's an important requirement that we're trying to fulfill. But no one could tell me how much the program was going to cost, even just through the full scale development phase, or when it would be available. And data that had been presented at one point a few months ago turned out to be invalid and inaccurate."

ACA is going to bankrupt us.  It was built on a crumbling foundation of a bad, inefficient, fraudulent, and ineffective insurance system.  It requires far too much from the taxpayer, was passed based on lies (If you like your healthplan...), massively expands the size and reach of the government (IRS), has a weak mandate to sufficiently fund the program, has already experienced massive and potentially catastrophic delays (now the employer mandate is to be unenforced) and insurance companies are possibly discouraging the ill from signing up- one of the key tenants of the law.

I certainly agree with the desire to provide healthcare to those who have none- life and health is an intrinsic right in my opinion, however, you can't break a system in order to institute another, especially if it the new one isn't sustainable without the old one.
A good friend of mine who owns his own small construction business just had his premium quadruple to a point that it's basically un-affordable.  However, despite the name of the bill- it will remain un-affordable for him, because his salary is too high to receive a subsidy.  Essentially, the ACA has made him lose his healthcare- the exact opposite of what it was intended to do.

"If the administration doesn't believe employers can manage the burden of the law, how can struggling families be expected to?"

When the A-12 was cut, the Navy purchased the F/A-18 E/F. Probably a good decision at the time as it was not as technically advanced, but more realistic for us due to the state of technology at the time and our budget.  Not meeting the stealth requirement, we have to wait for the JSF for that spec.  Time for the Government to realize that the ACA is too expensive and too challenging to put in place for now.  We need to cancel it and go with a less stealth version- one that can be put into place after we try and fix why health care is un-affordable- our deeply flawed insurance system (and poor health due to lack of good diet and exercise). 

Time to buy the F/A-18E/F Healthcare Plan vice the gold-plated A-12 Avenger Un-affordable Affordable Care Act.  Nobody asked, but that's just what I think.

4 comments:

  1. I am the Old AF Sarge, and I approve this message.

    Seriously, excellent post Tuna!

    I like the way you compared the (U)ACA with the A-12 program. Some good points. It will be interesting to hear the Commentariat's take on this.

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  2. I saw the termination settlement a few weeks ago in the Air Force Association's Daily Report. And it was amazed, I was.

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  3. Yep, and don't forget, it wasn't JUST the A-12, ALL Navy acft procurement was cancelled. This caused us to lose the P-7 replacement for the P-3 too! And it set the SH-60 program back five years or more in getting the Romeo actually fielded... It was supposed to field in 1998...

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  4. Thanks Old 'fo, I didn't know that about how extensive the cancellation really was.

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