In 1993, retired Air Force Colonel James G. Burton wrote a book called Pentagon Wars. It detailed how the Pentagon was squandering tens of billions during the research, development, and testing of new weapons.
Colonel Burton wrote “sadly, I have seen program managers lie to high-level review boards, generals lie to civilians, civilians lie to generals, and both lie to Congress and the American public. Seldom is anyone held accountable. On the contrary, many are rewarded for their behavior.”
Among other things, the book detailed the scandalous M-2 Bradley fighting vehicle program. While working for the Pentagon in the 80s, Burton wrote how he had to fight to even get live-fire tests done. He had argued that the aluminum armor on the original version would be easily defeated by hand-held Soviet anti-tank weapons.
Eventually, a live-fire test was conducted and the vehicle was a disaster. The Pentagon then classified Burton’s report on the test. New tests were conducted in which live ammunition inside the prototypes were replaced with water jugs. This way, the vehicles would not explode into flames, like the first one, when hit! Burton resigned from the military in disgust. However, he was able to get Congress to order legitimate live-fire tests under the supervision of the National Academy of Sciences.
Eventually, the vehicle was redesigned and new ones were made. The ordeal spanned fourteen years and cost a total of $17 Billion dollars. Burton was widely credited with saving the lives of countless US service members who used the vehicle in the Gulf War. The saga of the M-2 Bradley was so outrageous that HBO released a movie about it in 1998 called Pentagon Wars. It starred Kelsey Grammer.
Sadly, the story of massive waste does not end there. In 1999, the Pentagon called for the M-2 Bradley to be redesigned and updated. Work began in 2000 and was abandoned in 2009. A brand new effort was ordered in 2010 and abandoned in 2014. A final effort to make a working prototype was launched in 2018. Now, twenty years later, $23.9 Billion has been spent and they still do not have a working prototype.
The Pentagon has now thrown in the towel. Recently, it was announced that “the M-2 [Bradley] is near the end of its useful life and can no longer accommodate the types of upgrades needed for it to be effective on the modern battlefield.”