In the difficult years since the 9-11 attacks, the U.S. Army has become proficient at quickly fielding equipment needed by troops at war. From improved night-vision devices to digital radios to up-armored vehicles, the Army’s acquisition community has proven it can be responsive when soldiers’ lives are on the line.

But a very different story has been unfolding elsewhere in the service’s acquisition system. First the Army canceled big-ticket programs deemed to have been overtaken by a new style of warfare, most notably the Crusader self-propelled howitzer in 2002 and the Comanche reconnaissance helicopter in 2004. Two years after the Comanchekill, the service terminated a program called the Aerial Common Sensor that was supposed to replace its aging fleet of planes used to identify and target hostile emitters in wartime. Keep reading →