Military projects are expensive and new technologies are always very difficult to achieve. Often times, the sheer complexity of the requirements causes the entire project to go massively over budget, significantly delayed, and then ultimately canceled. Sometimes it takes so long to develop that by the time it is ready it is already obsolete. It’s easy to copy someone else, but a country like America wants to be one step ahead. And it’s not easy at all, but rather super expensive and uncertain.
It seems America is the worst at canceling massively expensive projects. This is a bit unfair because America is also developing a lot more systems than its Western counterparts. And when it comes to countries like Russia and China, they’re much more secretive and less transparent. They also cancel a lot of expensive projects, but do it quietly. Here are some of the more expensive canceled US projects.
Zumwalt Class Destroyer – $ 22 billion
After spending around $ 22 billion on this ultra-advanced stealth destroyer, it was in the throes of its own ambition. As costs increased, orders were reduced from the original 32 ships to 3.
With such a high R&D cost to be split between just 3 Zumwalt class destroyers, these are now some of the more expensive ships. To make matters worse, their primary weapons don’t even work. They are equipped with the Advanced Gun System, which can only fire one type of ammunition. The Navy will not procure any ammunition for these guns because it is so expensive.
RAH-66 Comanche – $ 7 billion
The Comanche was to be a reconnaissance and stealth attack helicopter for the US military. Two of these advanced helicopters were built as prototypes before the entire project was canceled. Ten years ago, analysts predicted how the Comanches were the face of future war, but instead of changing the battlefield, they were suppressed.
Comanche, like other projects, has been the victim of soaring costs. Therefore, the military decided to look for other cheaper solutions for reconnaissance missions. Instead, the military decided to invest in the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for this role.
Future Combat Systems – $ 32 billion
This program aimed to develop a replacement for the aging M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. But after $ 32 billion was spent, the project was canceled with little result. It is not a small amount of money, it is more than the entire military budget of Australia or Canada for any given year and about half of the budget of Russia.
At the heart of the program were the Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicles. The program was canceled in 2009. Many variations of this system had been planned.
Ground combat vehicle – $? Billion
The ground combat vehicle was the successor to the ill-fated Future Combat Systems manned ground vehicles. This was a heavier version of the old system, and it too was soon canceled. It is not known how much they spent on this program, but it was probably several billion more.
The prototype was slated for 2015, and it was to be deployed by 2017. Instead, it was canceled in 2014. Today, the military is still looking for replacements for its Bradley and M1 Abrams, but has until ‘now had to settle for upgrading old vehicles.
XB-70 Valkyrie – $? Billion
It’s not just modern systems that are being canceled. It has always happened, and one of the Air Force’s most notable cancellations was the XB-70 Valkyrie. It was to be a nuclear-weapon, deep-penetrating strategic bomber.
But it was canceled in 1969 after the construction of two prototypes. It is a victim of the rapid development of missiles, to which it is increasingly perceived as vulnerable. Instead, the Air Force focused on its existing fleet and the development of ICBMs. President Eisenhower was confused by this project, thinking it was a dinosaur in the ICBM era.
Seawolf-class submarines – $ 3 billion each
The Seawolf class submarines were designed in the late stages of the Cold War and fell victim to the end of the Cold War. The Navy had planned for a fleet of 29 of these massive attack submarines, but by the end of the Cold War, purchases dropped to 12 and ultimately just 3.
In response to the order for only 3 boats, the Navy decided to get to work on the smaller Virginia class (which it plans to order a surprising number of 66 boats). The Seawolf submarines would now be the second most expensive submarines in history, after the French class Triomphant.
Hughes H-4 Hercules – $? Million
The Hughes H-4 Hercules was built during WWII and is a truly remarkable aircraft and one of the greatest in aviation history. It is a strategic airlift and is particularly notable for being constructed entirely of wood due to wartime resource constraints – primarily birch.
Only one was built and it flew only briefly in 1947. The only aircraft is now on display in Oregon. Even though the military didn’t spend that much on this plane, it deserves to be on this list, as the biggest wooden plane of the time!
F-22 Raptor $ 32.4 billion (R&D)
The United States bought about 187 of these powerful planes, so the program was not canceled, but drastically reduced. Orders were reduced, and so only a fraction of the plan was ever obtained.
This was due to the cost of the F-22 Raptor program and the perceived lack of need for such an advanced air superiority fighter. In their short lifespan, they have also proven to be expensive to maintain, and they age poorly, plus it is difficult to evolve them. Therefore, the Air Force announced that they would retire early.
In summary, there have been many military projects massively canceled or massively reduced in the United States military.
The F-35 is a worthy successor to its ancestors and on its own makes America’s power projection much more powerful.
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