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15 of the most expensive projects abandoned by the US military

The US military is unquestionably the world's strongest force with the world's largest defense budget.


But throughout the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programs "without any fielded systems to show for it," according to a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

The abandoned projects are largely the result of a lack of funding attributed to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

Sequestration, indiscriminate budget cuts across the board that affect every portion of the military equally, is currently the greatest threat to the US military, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Business Insider.

Below are a series of the military's modernization projects that were canceled partially because of a lack of funds:

Future Combat Systems

U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Ground Combat Vehicle program, which was also ultimately canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

RAH-66 Comanche Armed Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter

U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $7.9 billion

Follow-On: The helicopter was superseded by the later canceled Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter project.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

An artist's concept drawing. | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Branch: Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Sunk-Costs: $5.8 billion

Follow-On: The program was replaced by the now canceled Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). The DWSS is slated to be restarted as the Weather Satellite Follow-on.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Airborne Laser

U.S. Missile Defense Agency

The Airborne Laser in flight with the mirror unstowed.

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $5.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was canceled without an identified replacement.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

VH-71 Presidential Helicopter

A conceptual drawing.

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.7 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

US Marine Corps

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.3 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

XM2001 Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer

U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $2.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, which was also canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

E-10 Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft

An E-8, which was intended to be replaced by the E-10. | U.S. Air Force photo

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.9 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Joint Surveillance Target and Attack Radar System program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Space Based Infrared Systems-Low

An artist's rendition. | U.S. Air Force

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.5 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Advanced SEAL Delivery System

An SDV is docked into place by Navy SEALs. | U.S. Navy Photo

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.6 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the later canceled Joint Multi-Mission Submersible.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter

U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $0.5 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred following the US Army's decision to field a mix of drones and AH-64Es instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Aerial Common Sensor

U.S. Navy

The Aerial Common Sensor was replaced with the P-8 (above).

Branch: Army and Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.4 billion

Follow-On: The project deferred in favor of the US Navy's P-8 program and upgrades to Army aircraft.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

CG(X) Next Generation Cruiser

A DDG 51 destroyer, which was bought instead of the CG(X). | U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Patrick Reilly

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred, and the Navy bought additional DDG 51 destroyers instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

CSAR-X Combat Rescue Helicopter

The HH60 Pave Hawk, produced as part of the Critical Rescue Helicopter program. | Airwolfhound/Flickr

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately restarted as the Combat Rescue Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Next-Generation Bomber

The B-2 Spirit, the project that replaced the Next Generation Bomber. | Photo by U.S. Air Force

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $0.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the Long Range Strike Bomber.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

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