Sunday :: Jun 17, 2007

Duncan Hunter's Personal Science Project

by Mary

Rep. Duncan Hunter found an experimental airplane that he thought might work and forced the Pentagon to spend millions on it over 20 years and long after the Pentagon said it would never work. (emphasis mine)

In 1990, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, issued a scathing report on the DP-2. DARPA found that the jet had poor stability and serious safety issues. Among other things, the jet's engines created dust storms that could erode visibility; its long-range fueling system was “unadvisable”; and its stealth capabilities – which Hunter cited as a major reason for supporting the project – made it only “marginally more survivable” than other aircraft.

As a result, DARPA decided to stop testing the aircraft, declining to use the $15 million that Congress had allocated at the time. But Hunter told The San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday that he disagreed with DARPA's rationale.

“If you look at DARPA in an objective way, it's for advanced research, and that means that it's looking at a whole bunch of projects that may not work,” Hunter said.

When the Pentagon balked, Hunter and Duke Cunningham wrote Dick Cheney, at that time, the Secretary of Defense, to get him to order the Pentagon to continue testing it, and he obliged.

Hunter's other partner in this shakedown was Christopher Cox, at that time a congressman and now the head of the SEC. Cox now says that once the Pentagon decided that the airplane couldn't work, the funding should have been halted. Now he tells us.

And who is it that thinks the Defense Department needs more money? How much coverage for armored trucks could have been funded if Hunter's little science project hadn't been squandering millions year after year after year?

Laura Rozen asks the right question: who doesn't think that DuPont, the defense contractor that was the beneficiary of Hunter's largess, didn't have other ways to compensate for Hunter's efforts?

Mary :: 1:05 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!