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The military faces a serious risk of a satellite gap in the coming years

Pentagon space programs have endured countless errors and inferior technology development which have led to increased cost overruns and delays that hurt the country's ability to create new satellite technology, a government-created panel has said.

The report openly criticized the Lockheed Martin communication satellite program and a Boeing-backed GPS system -- the estimated cost of both programs increased $10.9 billion for seven fiscal years.  Increased expenses that have been left unchecked have eliminated at least several satellite development programs hosted by Boeing and Lockheed.

"Programs focus on advocacy at the expense of realism and sound management," said Cristina Chaplain, Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.  "This year it is also becoming more apparent that space acquisition problems are leading to potential gaps in the delivery of critical capabilities."

Specifically, the Pentagon often underestimates the costs of projects, with companies using "unproven technologies" to try and meet the agency's strict requirements.  The Pentagon must better estimate program costs while government contractors need to use better tested equipment.

The several year delay may lead to the U.S. losing secure military communication satellites and missile warning systems that are used for national defense, the GAO report indicates.

Even though the Pentagon-led space department has faced hurdles, it also has made significant progress, Air Force officials indicated.  In the future, the Pentagon will continue to look to upgrade its satellite fleet to ensure both the civilian and military sectors are able to carry out activities supported today.

Until officials are able to rein in spending, it'll be interesting to see if other programs have to be eliminated before everything is back on track.  It's possible the government will borrow from other programs to try and ensure there isn't a large satellite and missile warning system satellite gap.





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