Back in 1991, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney abruptly canceled the Navy’s plans to buy 858 A-12 stealth attack aircraft after the cost of the program had spiraled to $5 billion from original estimates of just under $2 billion.
The A-12 manufacturers - McDonnell Douglas (now owned by Boeing) and General Dynamics – took the matter to court, including a trip to the Supremes, and lost, with a judgment requiring them to fork over $1 billion to the Navy.
This tale – rather quaint in 2013, when the Pentagon plans to spend $397 billion on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – will soon come to an end if the Senate passes the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act this week.
The legislation provides the Navy with $198 million in credits from General Dynamics to install a deckhouse, hangar, and aft missile launching system on the second Zumwalt class destroyer and $198 million credit from Boeing for three EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.
This may be one of the longest waits for a refund on a bum gadget in history.