Washington: Lists can be fun and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments issued a doozie today, listing the dozen big programs killed by the Pentagon and their value at time of death.

“Over the past decade at least a dozen major programs were terminated without any
operational systems being fielded. The sunk cost of the terminated programs shown in
the table below, for example, totals some $46 billion in then-year dollars,” says the report by CSBA’s budget guru Todd Harrison.

That’s right. We put $46 billion essentially down the hole, although some programs certainly helped generate new technology (T-Sat, NPOESS and ASDS) and maintained key skills in the industrial base.

Drum roll please!

  1. Army’s Future Combat Systems $18.1 billion
  2. Army’s Comanche helicopter $7.9 billion
  3. Air Force’s NPOESS weather satellite $5.8 billion
  4. Secret Services’s VH-71 Presidential Helicopter $3.7 billion
  5. Marine’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) $3.3 billion
  6. Air Force’s Transformational SATCOM communications satellite (T-Sat) $3.2 billion
  7. Army’s Crusader artillery system $2.2 billion
  8. Navy’s Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS) $600 million
  9. Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter $500 million
  10. Army’s Aerial Common Sensor aircraft $400 million
  11. Navy’s CG(X) Next Generation Cruiser $200 million
  12. Air Force’s CSAR-X helicopter $200 million

In Harrison’s gentle words, “… the aggregate effect is that a significant portion of DoD’s investment in modernization over the past decade did not result in force modernization.” And that means the Pentagon missed an historic opportunity, one that “it may not have again for another decade or longer given the fiscal constraints the nation now faces,” Harrison argues. Those who might want to be spiteful during the coming budget Armageddons might note that the Army stands alone in having blown more money — $29.1 billion — than the other services combined.

The other fun fact that CSBA unveils (they unveil this part every year) is the size of the black, or classified, budget. (To be fair, there is black spending that is supposed to be truly black and is folded into unclassified programs, so that it’s very hard to tell it even exists.)

Black money comprises some $59.3 billion of the administration’s 2012 budget
request. Harrison estimates that classified programs “account for about 18 percent of the acquisition funding and 7.7 percent of the O&M funding” in the main defense budget. That’s $17.2 billion for procurement, $19.7 billion in research and development, and $15.8 billion in operations and maintenance funding. The special request for war-related funding — known as OCO — adds another $3.2 billion in procurement, $200 million in R and D, and $3.1 billion in operations and maintenance funding.

Want to know how much of classified funding has been poured down the budget hole? If we told you that, we’d have to kill you. One hint — the Future Imagery Architecture classified satellite program ate up at least $4 billion — and probably closer to $5 billion when you take cancellation costs into account — before it was killed. But things have to be getting better in the black and the white worlds of acquisition in this tighter budget environment, right. Don’t they?