There’s a big debate going on in Congress about how to fix the way the Pentagon buys weapons. However, many legislators don’t seem to know how much the nation actually spends on military gear. Less than it spends on beer and cigarettes, apparently. The defense department has requested about $178 billion for modernization in fiscal 2016, whereas consumers already are spending over $100 billion for brewed beverages and over $80 billion for cigarettes. But that shouldn’t come as a big surprise, because the U.S. economy will generate over $19 trillion in output in 2016, and the Pentagon hasn’t spent heavily on weapons since the Reagan years. Still, it would be useful if lawmakers pushing acquisition reform had a better idea of what things cost. Maybe $108 million is a lot for an Air Force version of the F-35 fighter, but Boeing’s 787 commercial jetliner lists for over twice that. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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