Procurement: Weapons That Refuse to Die


July 3, 2006: For the last two years, the U.S. Department of Defense has been trying to cancel work on the JCM (Joint Common Missile). But the many companies who would benefit from the development and manufacture of this missile have bought friends in Congress, and each year, the project is kept alive with just enough money ($30-35 million) to keep development barely active.

Originally, JCM was to be a replacement for the Hellfire anti-tank missile. The 108 pound Hellfire , used by helicopters and UAVs, has been in service since 1985, and some 76,000 have been built. But the JCM design was becoming too expensive, and many officers believed that the existing Hellfire II and heavier (670 pound) Maverick and SDB (250 pound Small Diameter smart Bomb) covered all the missions the services need to handle. The case against JCM also reminded everyone of the importance of the guidance systems for missiles, and the ease with which missiles can be upgraded with more effective electronics. The basic design of these older missiles is not likely to change any time soon, and any of the main components (structure, rocket motor, controls, warhead, guidance system) can be gradually upgraded. While the idea of having a common air-to-surface anti-tank missile for all the services was attractive, it simply didn't add up in the end. The navy and air force fighters can use the larger Maverick missile, and the Hellfire has gotten a new lease on life via use on small UAVs. JCM, while nice in theory, didn't pan out in practice. That argument would convince a majority of those in Congress, but if you want to keep an unneeded project alive, you don't need a majority. All you need is the attention of a few keep Congresscritters, and their staffers. That can usually be obtained with some generous campaign contributions. The rest, as they say, is business-as-usual.


Article Archive

Procurement: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close