Republican Congressman and Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter is well-known for bloviating endlessly about "supporting" the troops. It turns out that one way he supports the troops is by coercing the Pentagon to spend millions on a plane that doesn't fly and that they don't want as reported by the San Diego Union Tribune:
Four months after Randy "Duke" Cunningham entered Congress in 1991, he joined with Rep. Duncan Hunter to urge the Pentagon to buy an aircraft that became the focus of a congressional investigation this week.
The DP-2 Vectored Thrust Aircraft, developed by duPont Aerospace in La Jolla, received $63 million in congressional funding despite repeated Pentagon studies that criticized the vehicle as being unsafe and unworkable. After 20 years of testing, the aircraft has never flown and has never received a positive review from the military, prompting an investigation by the House Science and Technology Committee.
DARPA slammed the project:
In 1990, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, issued a scathing report on the DP-2. DARPA found that the jet had poor stability and serious safety issues. Among other things, the jet's engines created dust storms that could erode visibility; its long-range fueling system was "unadvisable"; and its stealth capabilities - which Hunter cited as a major reason for supporting the project - made it only "marginally more survivable" than other aircraft.
But Duncan Hunter, believe it or not, is smarter than the folks at DARPA:
As a result, DARPA decided to stop testing the aircraft, declining to use the $15 million that Congress had allocated at the time. But Hunter told The San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday that he disagreed with DARPA's rationale. "If you look at DARPA in an objective way, it's for advanced research, and that means that it's looking at a whole bunch of projects that may not work," Hunter said.
Hunter then tried to pressure then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to force the military to spend the funds allocated to the project over the objections of DARPA. Not surprisingly, the owner of duPont Aerospace contributed $36,000 to Hunter in 1988. And now, Hunter is proposing to squander another $6 million on this plane in spite of the evidence:
The DP-2 relies on the concept of "vectored thrust" whereby downward engine thrust permits the aircraft to hover. But it's never hovered successfully and has suffered four mishaps in its attempts to do so. In two videos shown at Tuesday's hearing the aircraft collapsed awkwardly back into its moorings as soon as it attempted to elevate.
Hopefully, the Democrats in Congress will put an end to this ridiculous farce and divert this money to places where it's really needed, such as improving the armor of military vehicles in use in Iraq.
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