Procurement: June 23, 2002


: The recent cancellation of the Crusader artillery system was due as much to cost as to the perception that  the gun was not needed. The current top ten weapons procurement systems will cost nearly half a trillion dollars. The Department of Defense decided that the money spent on the Crusader could be better spent on other items that don't even show up on the Top Ten (like smart bombs and recruiting and training more Special Forces.) These are the current top ten weapons programs in terms of total program cost. One that is left out is the missile defense program, whose eventual cost is unknown. 

1-F-35 (JSF) Navy-Air Force-Marine Joint Strike Fighter, 3,128 aircraft at a total cost of $200 billion ($64 million each). Stealthy light bomber with a combat radius of over a thousand kilometers and a bomb load of up to eight tons. 

2-Virginia Class Attack Submarine, $65.7 billion for 30 boats ($2.2 billion each). Cheaper than the Seawolf, that was going to replace the huge SSN-688 class.

3-F-22 fighter, $61.2 billion for 341 ($180 million each). A true stealth fighter that can defeat any other fighter on the planet (or still on paper.)

4-F/A-18 E/F, $46.8 billion for 548 aircraft ($86 million each). Technically, this is an upgrade of the F-18. In reality, it's a new aircraft. How do we know? Look at the unit price.

5-C-17 Cargo plane, $44.9 billion for 134 aircraft ($335 million each). Replacement for 1970s era transports.

6-Trident II Missiles, $27.2 billion for 453 missiles ($60 million each). Improved version of late 1970s Trident I missile. 

7-Crusader Mobile Howitzer, $11.2 billion for 480 howitzers ($23.4 million each). Self propelled 155mm howitzer that can fire faster, farther and more accurately than existing guns.

8-LPD 17, $10.7 billion for 12 ships ($892 million each). Amphibious ships for marines.

9-LHD 1, $10.3 billion, for 8 ships ($1.3 billion). These are 40,000 ton amphibious ships that also have a carrier deck for helicopters and short take off jets. 

10-Longbow Apache, $8.8 billion for 850 helicopters ($10.4 million each). Very effective all-weather, radar equipped attack helicopters.

June 22, 2002The Yugoslav weapons producer "Krusik" ( ) is desperately seeking an investor ready to help to revive and transform the company from Cold War-style weaponry to domestic goods and higher-tech weaponry. Once the country's main manufacturer of 60-120 mm caliber ammunition and rockets, Army orders have dwindled and the rocket line halted. Exports were slashed tenfold from the $100 million in orders a decade ago. In the 1980s, Yugoslavia's arms exports averaged over $400 million a year. "Jugoimport SDPR" military trading firm figures indicate that the industry earned $12 billion between 1981 to 1990. Yugoslavia exported $2 billion worth of weapons to Iraq during its 1980s war with Iran and made huge sales to Libya. Zimbabwe was one of the last major customers, up until about 1997.

The firm is unable to collect over $1 billion owed for past deliveries and with a lack of demand at home, "Krusik" marketing manager Milan Popovic told Reuters that "our production is almost at a standstill". Popovic sees further conversion to civilian production as the only way out for the idle sector but they need partners to invest in their projects, since they lack the cash to do it alone.

Yugoslavia was also known for multiple rocket launchers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, fighter bombers, gunboats and submarines. Disinvestment and U.N. sanctions imposed during Slobodan Milosevic reign ruined an industry that had 10,000 employees in the 1990's and now only has 3,500 workers. Located in the western Serbia of Valjevo, "Krusik" once made the M84 tank (which was the crown jewel of its production until the break-up of the old Yugoslav federation in the 1990s). The "Krusik" collective of 12 firms now focuses on infantry weapons and ammunition, as well as suspension components, batteries, tools, faucets and other commercial goods. Military production still accounts for 70 percent of their business. 

NATO air raids in 1999 dealt a final blow to the battered sector, destroying large parts of its facilities and bombing some plants which would never be replaced. According to official estimates, the raids inflicted $947 million of damage. The Krusik facility was hammered pretty hard during the US/NATO "Allied Force" air campaign. See for damage inflicted and a 'before' photo at 

NATO targeted the "Krusik" industrial facilities from 15 April to 30 May 1999. Popovic said that those NATO bombs destroyed 95 percent of Krusik's capacity. The Lucani plant near Kosovo (which made explosives and propellants) was worst hit. To date, only half of the facilities have been rebuilt. 

If the status quo is maintained, the West is not interested in buying and those countries who are willing are politically undesirable. The arms producers think that Yugoslavia's future membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace could aid a revival of the crippled sector. Some skeptics think that the situation may well be reversed, where western arms makers dictate sales to the newcomer and the industry subsequently withers away. - Adam Geibel




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