USA's "Project Cancelled"

Britain's project cancellations and failures are pretty widely known, but thinking back from the end of the Cold War to quite recently the US has had a litany of serious project cancellations, or others that saw production but had them cut short for various reasons.

For the Army I'm thinking the RAH66 helicopter, the M8 AGS, the Crusader SP howitzer. The Navy the A12 attack aircraft, Seawolf subs (3 built), Zumwalt destroyers (3 built), every attempt at a long range gun/guided shell. For the Marines the various advanced AAAT7 replacements. For the USAF the F22 cut short at 173 built, B2 cut short at 21 built.

I'm sure there are others I don't know about.

Which of these projects are most likely to be successful, which should have been aborted or replaced with something else early on, which should have never have started in the first place?
 
A-12: While it would have been a lot more likely to succeed without all the bureaucratic layers added to it, I'd say it was the wrong aircraft for the Navy. I think the USN tried way too hard to jump on the stealth bomber bandwagon to counter the USAF.
-->The big mistake was cancelling the A/F-X program that followed it. I'd argue the USAF and USN should have gone for it from the start. This was a state of the art interdictor/strike fighter supposed to replace the Hornet, A-6 and A-7 for the Navy and the F-111, F-15E and F-117 for the USAF. It seems that the program actually went well with good commonality achieved between the two service platforms, but budget constraints killed it. I think it could work if money is saved elsewhere, which I'm going to in a moment.

A-6F: Cancelled because the A-12 was expected to enter service soon enough. As we know, this wasn't the case. Go for A/F-X from the start and you can get the A-6F for the interim period. A really neat upgrade to the Intruder in terms of powerplant and avionics.

A-7F: Probably also viable and good in hindsight if you want payload down a long range for low cost.

F-14D Quickstrike/Block IV (not Super-Tomcat 21 although that could have worked): Provides an arguably better fighter and strike aircraft for much lower development costs than the Super Hornet which was fundamentaly a new plane. Saves development money to use on A/F-X. I think Cheney really dropped the ball when he cancelled F-14D conversions and production, but I'm afraid this was a deliberately mean-spirited move.

RAH-66: Probably was right to be cancelled, though a friend suggests that it shouldn't have got that much armor and thus extra weight.

Crusader: I think the US really dropped the ball cancelling this. It's a bit heavy yes, and not too practical for COIN but it's basically a better US PzH 2000 and that thing was SORELY needed to replace the obsolete M109. The fact that the US is still trying to upgrade the M109 but consistently failing to add the really useful stuff (autoloader) is really pathetic. Viable project. Killed in a typical Rumsfeldian move (seriously why do Neocons have to ruin everything so much?).

M8 AGS: Probably was right to be cancelled when it did. Too big and heavy for what it does as most 105 slingers are used for COIN anyway.

AAV-7 successors: Probably non-viable.

F-22 and B-2 being cut short: As far as I know it wouldn't have cost much more to finish the orders or at least get them further along so yeah I think it was viable to keep making both.

Zumwalts are freaking insane, and LCS shouldn't have been a multi-contractor program.

Sidenote regarding the Crusader: The LV-100-5 turbine in it was also intended to go on the Abrams MBT, and it's a damn shame it was cancelled along with the SPG. That thing was more compact, required smaller air cleaners, offered greater power and had much lower fuel consumption than that 1960's antique that is the AGT-1500, and it worked. Hell even approving the AGT-1500 modernizations or better yet the transversely mounted AGT-1500 (saves a lot of space for, namely, a proper internal APU).
 
RAH-66 was basically kept going so long to keep Sikorsky in business

The M8 had no real problems, just cancelled at the procurement stage to free up money for a Balkan intervention, useful in that the Army wants something like it now

Crusader, on the one hand it is a big improvement with little risk, on the other hand its autoloader design is suboptimal for guided/extended range shells so will likely require a Paladin level redesign around 2020. The advanced turbine is definitely useful

A-12 should have been killed earlier, may have gotten A/F-X far enough along to avoid an eventual merger with CALF into the JSF

Seawolf should have had at least two built, the first to gain experience with a new design so the next class is trouble free, the second to provide the hush-hush boat. #3 is a question, but needs to be built to keep the yards running and better than another 688, but building more is probably not cost effective

Zumwalt the GAO basically said that they should have just dropped Burke systems onto the Zumwalt hull rather than restart Burke production, it would be cheaper and future proof. That said they should have decoupled the higher risk systems from the hull from the beginning

The guided shells, they got useful data out of them that is starting to bear fruit with HVP, and the LRLAP just fell victim to EOS issues, if you keep the Zumwalt keep it

AA7 replacement, too ambitious, either something slower or smaller and shorter ranged would work, but trying to combine everything was too much

F-22 more should have been built given that F-35 was already having delays at that point

B-2 given this is primarily a strategic platform with limited use, cutting to 21 was probably justifiable, cutting it before then was probably not given no idea about a definitive end of the cold war

I will list others later
 
The project that the USA cancelled that I most regret: The Superconducting Supercollider. Not military, but neat!
 
F-14D Quickstrike/Block IV (not Super-Tomcat 21 although that could have worked): Provides an arguably better fighter and strike aircraft for much lower development costs than the Super Hornet which was fundamentaly a new plane. Saves development money to use on A/F-X. I think Cheney really dropped the ball when he cancelled F-14D conversions and production, but I'm afraid this was a deliberately mean-spirited move.
This right here, nothing beats the badass look of a Tomcat sure it may have been expensive and a bitch to maintain but it was a solid well performing aircraft. Cheney really was a dick for what he did to the Tomcat.
 
I think a few of these things were too gold plated, surely the RAH 66 didn't need to be so stealthy and if not then I'm sure a scout-attack helicopter using then start of the art would have been a beauty. Similarly the Marine amtrac, did it need to do 25kts on the water and have like 2600 hp when surely a less mental spec could have delivered an amtrac much better than the AAV7 when it was needed.

I think the A12 was ridiculous! Again, a less super-stealthy more conventional aircraft still with some stealth like the B1B or Super Hornet would have entered service and been better than either the cancelled A12 or the A6 derivatives. In lieu of that a better Bombcat would be good.

Can't do much about the Seawolf, the mission it was designed for vanished but surely a few more B1s and F22s could have been built.
 

RyoSaeba69

Banned
The P-7 - a massive upgrade of the P-3C Orion submarine hunter. Another victim of the end of Cold War. Aparently Lockheed made a huge mess of that program, and then it took 20 years to get a... submarine hunting Boeing 737, the P-8.

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The C-17 transport also had its share of issues and just like the F-22 while solved the final numbers were and still remain too low.

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A-7F, A-6F, F-14 : already mentionned above. Three fabulous flying machines.

I think the A12 was ridiculous!

Readily agree here. Northrop truly did a pig of a job, too. And stealth coating (at least back then, no idea for present dday F-35) doesn't like salt water and marine corrosion. So yes, the Flying Dorito (ROTFL worst nickname ever !) was a bridge too far. In turn, this leave wide open the difficult problem of a naval-stealth-strike aircraft. OTL solve by the F-35 in a rather not satisfying way.

The Navy problem was that they had three big requirements to fulfill
- F-14 successor
- A-6 successor
- Hornet upgrade and eventual replacement
Cold War ending decided not all three could be fulfilled. The USN made matter worse, first, screwing the F-14 replacement with a naval, swing-wing F-22 (facepalm) and then botching the A-6 replacement with the A-12.
And in the end, they got a Hornet upgrade (meh) followed by a downwashed "Stealth Hornet multirole platform also trying to replace the A-6 in the strike role" - the F-35.

Had the USN been smarter they would have gone with F-14 upgrades for fleet defense, and given top priority to the A-6 replacement. Perhaps a mixed fleet of A-6F and a downrated A-12 ?
And screw the "Hornet intermediate aircraft" category once and for all to avoid what they got OTL - a Hornet big upgrade and a stealth Hornet.

The huge problem for the USN was that both Tomcat and A-6 successor(s) needed
a) two engines
and
b) stealth
- and the end result, either for strike or fleet defense, were botched monsters with insane costs. A-12 and NATF were monstrosities. And trying to fold these two into a single airframe would result into some kind of "stealth F-111B" - the horror, the horror.

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The A-7F was fascinating in many ways. These birds would not even be newly manufactured airframes, but heavily reworked A-7D and perhaps A-7E. Yet the modifications were substantials: not only engine change, but afterburner and supersonic flight ! Out of a subsonic, revamped airframe. In aviation history, engine swaps are common (Mirage > Kfir). But this ? is completely unique, AFAIK. I'm not aware of such massive changes for any recent jet aircraft.

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Another area: KC-135 replacement. Those were left to rot way too long, and the KC-10 was only a palliative. Procure much more KC-10s, really. Sounds obvious, 100 or 200 at least. Alas, the C-5B and C-17 horrendous costs screwed such idea.
 
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Mind you, had A/F-X been pursued (and that boy didn't specifically require stealth), then there would never have been the merger with CALF that gave the JSF: less things for the F-35 to do, so less risks!
 
to quite recently the US has had a litany of serious project cancellations, or others that saw production but had them cut short for various reasons.

Which of these projects are most likely to be successful, which should have been aborted or replaced with something else early on, which should have never have started in the first place?
Now I got a copy of Bugos, GE (1996) Engineering the F-4 Phantom II: Parts into Systems. Naval Institute Press. Which for the life of me looks like a… …low impact doctoral thesis by an engineering stream US navy officer… but wikipedia doesn't show significant post 1996 publications. Though the text is widely respected as a kind of… how not to do it. Which is an excellent compliment from what I understand of Navies. One author who actually says, "This is what was done, and this is not how it should be done, because…" is worthwhile. Especially to navies where elan failed aroung 1815, replaced by engineering.

My copy, incidentally, was stockpiled outside a History of Science / Sociology of Science and Technology academic's office in their retirement pile.

So to the text. The F-4 Phantom II probably shouldn't have been built. It was a developmental bungle. A clusterfuck. Overpriced. Underspecced. Contractors failed down the line. The new "systems integration" ideology was manifestly deficient, and the manifest deficiency comes out despite the author's approval of the specification, design, integration, manufacture, conformance, adoption and employment process. Shit was fucked.

Most people agree F-4 Phantom II was one of the most efficient cost effective weapons systems in its role.

And it was a fucking cluster fuck.


I have a signficant interest in imperialist powers (Yes, including the Soviets) being militarily ineffective. But maybe we ought to consider, after reading works like Bugos (1996), the fallibility of large bureaucratic systems. And the *essential nature* of large bureaucratic systems for supplying carrier and later land borne aircraft capable of killing children from the air. We should be more generous with the failures, because almost *every* military project has been a failure as a project.

If anyone is desperate for Bugos (1996) and would pay by some return system a satchel post, I'm willing to send it to you. (Expect 3-6 month turn around including arse end of the world by air to you during pandemic). I don't think I chucked it. It was an ideosyncratic thesis that was book published.

It is clean as any lightly read academic copy is. It is *horribly repetitious* but I suspect the source material in procurement is too. It is addicted to the "Systems integration" ideology it studies like a first generation historian fanboi. But it gives you an impression of a successful weapon system failing in design and implementation. And a "small" one compared to NORAD or the like. Oh can we count MULTICS as a massive US failure? ;)

yours,
using an OS based on UNIX response to multix, transferred by many of the same,
Sam.
 
AH-56 Cheyenne - have it receive 2 engines (similar like the AH-1W was born) and a meaningful armor protection; electronics suite as available on tech of the day. Result is a <400 km/h attack chopper, while shoving the way towards 400 km/h transport choppers with better mileage.
 
Most people agree F-4 Phantom II was one of the most efficient cost effective weapons systems in its role.

And it was a fucking cluster fuck.

The Ault Report showed that while the Phantom wasn't shit per se it was misused and struggled to get kills in it's primary role. It took a lot of changes across the board to get it up to scratch.
 
According to my copy of World Combat Aircraft Directory by Normal Polmar published in 1975 five Tomcat variants were proposed or flying.
  • F-14A - 12 research and development aircraft, plus production aircraft. First flight 21st December 1970 and squadron delivery early in 1973.
  • F-14B - Similar to F-14A with P&W F401-PW-400 turbofan engine. First flight 12th September 1973. According to Wikipaedia this was cancelled in April 1974.
  • F-14C - Proposed development of F-14B with improved avionics.
  • F-14D - Proposed stripped down-aircraft for carrier operation. [Why it needed to be stripped-down is a mystery to me as it was already a carrier capable aricraft.]
  • F-14X - Proposed full-capability aircraft except for deletion of the Phoenix AAM weapon system.
Through Fiscal Year 1975 the US Navy had ordered 234 aircraft and 80 were on order for Iran. As at 1975 the US Government planned to procure another 156 Tomcats through 1981. This would bring the total to 390 aircraft that would equip 14 USN and 4 USMC squadrons with the remaining 10 carrier fighter squadrons to initially retain the Phantom.

IIRC from reading other books production of the F-14A was to have been limited to 66 or 67 aircraft in favour of the F-14B with F401 engines. I'm not sure if the 66 or 67 aircraft included the R&D aircraft.

Confusingly, the F-14B and F-14D designations were re-used for versions fitted with the GE F110-GE-400 engine.

According to its Wikipaedia entry the 478 F-14A Tomcats were delivered to the USN.

Would 67 F-14As with the TF-30 engine and 411 F-14Bs with the P&W F401 engine have been an improvement?
 
The Ault Report showed that while the Phantom wasn't shit per se it was misused and struggled to get kills in it's primary role. It took a lot of changes across the board to get it up to scratch.
And the text suggests that, and I got that, but "features into systems" analysis doesn't suggest that. It was a dogged project, against implicit and explicit aims. It was *awesome* is perhaps even a summary of the text I read, but its awesome didn't come across; leading to airforce analysis as deficiency.

So the greatest thing I got out of the text was the provocative position: in favour of interwar US development.
 
According to my copy of World Combat Aircraft Directory by Normal Polmar published in 1975 five Tomcat variants were proposed or flying.
  • F-14A - 12 research and development aircraft, plus production aircraft. First flight 21st December 1970 and squadron delivery early in 1973.
  • F-14B - Similar to F-14A with P&W F401-PW-400 turbofan engine. First flight 12th September 1973. According to Wikipaedia this was cancelled in April 1974.
  • F-14C - Proposed development of F-14B with improved avionics.
  • F-14D - Proposed stripped down-aircraft for carrier operation. [Why it needed to be stripped-down is a mystery to me as it was already a carrier capable aricraft.]
  • F-14X - Proposed full-capability aircraft except for deletion of the Phoenix AAM weapon system.
Through Fiscal Year 1975 the US Navy had ordered 234 aircraft and 80 were on order for Iran. As at 1975 the US Government planned to procure another 156 Tomcats through 1981. This would bring the total to 390 aircraft that would equip 14 USN and 4 USMC squadrons with the remaining 10 carrier fighter squadrons to initially retain the Phantom.

IIRC from reading other books production of the F-14A was to have been limited to 66 or 67 aircraft in favour of the F-14B with F401 engines. I'm not sure if the 66 or 67 aircraft included the R&D aircraft.

Confusingly, the F-14B and F-14D designations were re-used for versions fitted with the GE F110-GE-400 engine.

According to its Wikipaedia entry the 478 F-14A Tomcats were delivered to the USN.

Would 67 F-14As with the TF-30 engine and 411 F-14Bs with the P&W F401 engine have been an improvement?
Yes, because the F-14B provided a lot of extra thrust over the TF-30 and would have been more reliable. The F-14B also included various maintainability and reliability improvements which were never added to F-14A, so it would have been nowhere near as expensive to maintain it was IRL.

F-14C was kinda a 70's Bombcat equivalent.
 
Yes, because the F-14B provided a lot of extra thrust over the TF-30 and would have been more reliable. The F-14B also included various maintainability and reliability improvements which were never added to F-14A, so it would have been nowhere near as expensive to maintain it was IRL.

F-14C was kinda a 70's Bombcat equivalent.
If that is the case would the change to the General Electric engine have been necessary? And if the engine change wasn't necessary, would that have made the TTL equivalents to the OTL F-14B and F-14D significantly cheaper? That is there would be an F-14E that keep the P&W F401 but received the OTL F-14B's avionics and an F-14F that retained the P&W F401 but received the OTL F-14Ds avionics.

According to the Tomcat's Wikipaedia entry 48 F-14As were rebuilt to F-14B standard and another 18 F-14As were rebuilt to F-14D standard in additional to the 38 new F-14Bs and 37 news F-14D. My guess is that it would be possible to rebuild hundreds of F-14Bs with the F401 engine to F-14E and F standard with the money spent on the OTL versions of F-14B and F-14D. Or is that wishful thinking?
 
The Sergeant York disaster, an utter clusterfuck of a program, that has left the US army as the only modern army without proper battlefield air defence, having to rely on some Stingers strapped to a humvee...
 
If that is the case would the change to the General Electric engine have been necessary? And if the engine change wasn't necessary, would that have made the TTL equivalents to the OTL F-14B and F-14D significantly cheaper? That is there would be an F-14E that keep the P&W F401 but received the OTL F-14B's avionics and an F-14F that retained the P&W F401 but received the OTL F-14Ds avionics.

According to the Tomcat's Wikipaedia entry 48 F-14As were rebuilt to F-14B standard and another 18 F-14As were rebuilt to F-14D standard in additional to the 38 new F-14Bs and 37 news F-14D. My guess is that it would be possible to rebuild hundreds of F-14Bs with the F401 engine to F-14E and F standard with the money spent on the OTL versions of F-14B and F-14D. Or is that wishful thinking?
Fundamentally the F401 was a similar state-of-the-art design as the F100. Both were too ambitious and like the F100 the F401 would probably have suffered some reliability problems forcing it to be derated, reducing the thrust advantage it had over the TF-30 (still significant however). Eventually it would likely have got its F110 equivalent. Therefore the F-14 wouldn't have needed a change to the GE engine. Focus of future variants would have been avionics improvements and some fine tuning of the engine, but no serious structural changes so yes they would be somewhat cheaper, especially as they could come earlier so would suffer less from inflation.

So yes I think it's absolutely viable to pay for the avionics upgrades.

The F401 was similar to the F100 but was specced with IIRC greater loiter time but worse high speed performance. However I'd say that the Navy would have prefered the former option.
 
The AV-16 Advanced Harrier seems to be an aircraft that wasn't begun in the first place rather than an aircraft that was cancelled.

Would it have been better than the AV-8B? Some of the extra R&D money required would be made available by not developing the Rockwell XFV-12.

The dimensions for AV-16 in Polmar are nearly the same as the dimensions of the AV-8B in my copy of the Observer's Book of Aircraft, 1981 Edition. However, the engine for the AV-16 was intended to produce 24,500lbs of thrust and the AV-8B's engine (in 1981) produced 21,500lbs of thrust.
 
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