When Pigs Sail


The Navy's tricked-out, ultra-fast catamaran has just arrived for duty in San Diego, where it'll be used to chase down drug runners at 50 knots.catamaran.jpgIt's a pretty impressive feat, considering the blueprints for this "Sea Fighter," or "X-Craft" were only drawn up two years ago. Thank a little slab of ol' fashioned pork for getting the job done, Murdoc says.

By finding funds outside the normal defense appropriations process, and by ignoring special interests such as traditional ship builders and Navy officials who "want to keep building big slow ships," Hunter said he, Issa and Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido, [yeah, the same guy who got caught in bed with local defense contractors -- ed.] helped military and private industry visionaries "conspire to beat the bureaucracy..."Hunter said the money for the project ---- about $79 million ---- came from congressional "add-ons," which are often referred to as "pork."In 2003 the Navy's Office of Naval Research awarded San Diego-based Titan Corp. an exclusive contract to develop the vessel. The Sea Fighter was built in only two years ---- an unprecedented feat in the world of naval acquisitions."I knew if we got this thing in the water we could sell it to the Navy," Hunter said.
The Sea Fighter is the latest example of how the Pentagon's old rules for buying gear aren't keeping up with the defense technology's Lance Armstrong. Jammers to stop roadside bombs are essentially rotting on the vine, waiting for Defense Department bureaucrats. Companies like General Atomics, maker of the Predator drone, are self-financing their research, because they can't wait for the endless Washington decision loop to close.Maybe that works for companies with big bankrolls and Congressional pals. But it leaves out tens of thousands of others who might be able to give American troops a hand.
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