Surge Summary: As the U.S. government is spending money hand-over-fist, our military and political leaders need reconsider billions to be poured into production of the over expensive. CH-53K helicopter. Our forces need dependable weapon platforms and the government needs affordable ones – of which the CH-53K is neither.

by David O’Connell

With a nearly $24 trillion national debt, American cannot afford to continue on the breakneck spending spree. Now is not the time for the Department of defense to spend on programs with unproven results.  CNN reports, Senate Republicans are preparing to roll out another economic stimulus package that is expected to be north of $1 trillion in new spending. The House already passed its version that is estimated to cost $3 trillion. Our nation can’t afford for this new spending without finding ways to eliminate needless spending, otherwise inflation will continue to increase and our economic growth will stagnate.

When war breaks out, speed is of the essence. The United States cannot ask our enemies to wait while our weapon systems are prepared. It is essential that the United States military platforms prepared to deploy from as soon as a need arises.

The CH-53K King Stallion helicopter isn’t ready and may never be.

Because the CH-53K one of the most expensive weapons our military has ever tried to deploy, its production delay demonstrates a serious lapse in our military’s preparedness. Popular Mechanics calls it “more expensive than the F-35,” the joint strike fighter that is often cited as the “most expensive weapon ever built.”

The CH-53K is designed to carry Marines and their heavy weapons into combat. Everything from troops, to tanks, to Humvees. However, the CH-53K is significantly behind schedule and over budget.

The CH-53K was originally scheduled to come into service by early 2019. Current estimates have delayed deployment to mid-2021 at the earliest before the helicopter might be ready. The delays are a bit of a surprise, because the Sikorsky has been manufacturing military helicopters for decades. In fact, the CH-53K simply updates a model that has been in service since the Vietnam era.

But those updates are proving to be expensive. As Popular Mechanics writes, “The original CH-53E helicopter cost $14.7 million each in 1977. Adjusted for inflation, those same helicopters would cost $61 million in 2017. Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the CH-53K has more than doubled in 14 years, from $56 million in 2003 (adjusted for inflation) each to $138.5 million.”

One problem is what economists call “sunk costs.” The military has already spent billions on this program. Whenever the cost increases, lawmakers are supposed to hold their noses and approve the increase. “In for a dime, in for a dollar,” as the gamblers say. But that, of course, is how casinos convince people to keep wagering even when they are losing. They keep pushing more chips in, until they go broke. Overall, this program will cost more than $30 billion before completion. We should expect that number to go even higher, unless lawmakers intervene

Even if this program functioned perfectly, it is still far too expensive. Unfortunately, it may never work at all.

A Pentagon report from 2018 found a host of problems. “These include: airspeed indication anomalies, low reliability of main rotor gearbox, hot gas impingement on aircraft structures, tail boom and tail rotor structural problems, overheating of main rotor dampers, fuel system anomalies, high temperatures in the [number] 2 engine bay, and hot gas ingestion by the [number] 2 engine, which could reduce available power.” These may be fixable, but they certainly aren’t affordable.

With the United States is now engaged in a war with an invisible virus, lawmakers have deployed trillions to boost the economy and save off from economic collapse. It may be money well spent, but it means there will be less available for boondoggles such as the CH-53K.

American leaders should question every expenditure and determine whether it is necessary. Luckily, this is already underway. Senator James Inhofe asked last year that the military look into using other helicopters alongside or in place of the CH-53K, a step that could save money and improve readiness. The Pentagon will carry out “an assessment of alternatives for other platforms that might meet the mission,” former CAPE director Robert Daigle told Bloomberg News.

That assessment will indicate that the CH-53K is simply too expensive. The military needs dependable weapon platforms and the government needs weapon platforms it can afford. The CH-53K is neither. We can deliver troops and equipment to battle without this wasteful program. Time to cut our losses and shut it down.

The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.

Originally posted here.

Image: By Cpl. Hailey Clay – dvidshub.net, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69246872

David O’Connell is a Republican political strategist living in Dallas, Texas. He has overseen more than a dozen republican campaigns for congress. In 2014, he managed Rep. Greg Walden (OR-14) successful re-election.

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