Rumsfeld, Pork, and 63 million lines of code

This article describes “Future Combat Systems …. a vast computerized network, FCS would link soldiers and commanders to a galaxy of sensors, satellites, robots, drones, and armored vehicles, both manned and unmanned.” The project requires 63 million lines of code and the price tag has already more than doubled since 2003.

The government has already abandoned its FBI software overhaul. Imagine how buggy this would be. Microsoft has had 20 years since Windows 95 was released. Vista has 50 million lines of code.

According to a 1988 presentation by Nance Goldstein, the Air Force claimed that software problems were responsible for 7 of 10 weapon systems in trouble in 1983; see USAF. 1983. Report of the USAF Advisory Board Ad Hoc Committee on the High Cost of
Mission-Critical Software.

A blue screen of death on a FCS system might not be a metaphor. The military already has a poor record of targeting.

Also, this system has another interesting feature. The lead contractor, Boeing, has designed the vehicles to be to heavy to fly on the intended Lockheed C-130 planes. Only the Boing C-17’s are capable of carrying the load. What follows are notes from Business Week and the GAO.  The GAO information also appeared in Business Week.

Holmes, Stanley. 2007. High-Tech Weapons: A Loss Of Control?” Business Week (25 June): pp. 34-6.

34: “The projected bill for FCS through 2030 has already more than doubled (since 2003), to $230 billion.”

Government Accountability Office. 2007. “Defense Acquisitions: Role of Lead Systems Integrator on Future Combat Systems Program Poses Oversight Challenges GAO-07-380 (6 June).

8: “Current estimates put the amount of software needed at 63 million lines — the most ever for a weapon system-much of which will be needed for the information network that is the heart of FCS.”

9: “DOD estimates put the decline of its civilian workforce at 38 percent — much of it in acquisitions — from 1989 through 2002.”

13: “… the Army and LSI recently collaborated on the feasibility of the manned ground vehicle weight requirement. As a result of this collaboration, the Army decided to trade off the original air transport requirement that FCS manned ground vehicles weigh no more than 24 tons because they did not have enough armor to meet the survivability requirement. The Army and LSI again collaborated with the Army ultimately deciding that the requirement for vehicle weight be allowed to grow to as much as 29 tons to provide the needed armor. This change was significant, because the FCS vehicles will now have to be transported by a larger aircraft, the C-17, rather than by the (Lockheed-Martin) C-130 transporter.”

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