13 August 2009
Pentagon Secret Budget Tops $35 Billion
By David Axe

The Defense Department will spend $35.8 billion on secret technologies in 2010, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. That represents the “second highest level of funding provided for classified acquisition programs since FY 1987,” CSBA claims. The post-Cold War peak, in 2007, was just 1 percent higher.

What does all this “black” cash buy? The funding is apparently split roughly evenly between research and weapons purchases. The vast majority of it — 80 percent, in fact — belongs to the Air Force. Indeed, black spending accounts for nearly half of the Air Force’s purchases. In past decades, secret Air Force spending produced the SR-71 recon plane, the F-117 stealth fighter and the B-2 stealth bomber. These days, communications gear and satellites probably gobble up the bulk of the black cash, CSBA contends.

“Restrictions placed on access to classified programs have meant that DoD and Congress typically exercise less oversight over classified programs than unclassified ones,” the report notes. That can result in big losses, when programs go awry.

Take the hush-hush Future Imagery Architecture program, meant to “develop the next generation of spy satellites for the National Reconnaissance Office.” “The electro-optical satellite component of the program was canceled in 2005 due to significant cost overruns and technical issues,” CSBA recalls, “resulting in what was reported as a $4 billion loss for the government.”

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