The Plane to Nowhere



This is the kind of story that puts a smile on the face of investigative journalists and throws congressmen into a tizzy.

Our friends over at the Center for Defense Information put together a compelling report on the kind of earmark program thatll make DT readers want to reach through their computer monitors and wring Capitol Hills neck.

The DP-2 aircraft: A jet-powered STOVL aircraft designed by DuPont Aerospace shoved down NASA and the Pentagons throat that one congressional committee says was first proposed by Tony duPont thirty-five years ago. Since then, every government review of the design of the DP-2 aircraft has found it technically flawed, Capitol Hill at its best!

The CDI report is appended below:

Straus Military Reform Project adviser Jason Vest discovered an aviation program for a plane called the DP-2, which after 20 years of American taxpayer funding still cant fly. This aviation program owes its birth and ongoing existence to almost 20 years of earmarks from current and former members of Congress, including Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and former Rep. Chris Cox (R-Calif.), who is now chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, among others.

Vest spent the better part of nine months investigating the history and current status of the DP-2 program, which is under the auspices of the Office of Naval Research/NASA. What he found was a fascinating history of how ideological visions over technological expertise, campaign contributions, lobbying fees and congressional bullying of the Pentagon have cost the American taxpayers nearly $100 million for an airplane the military doesn't want or need and either blows up or crashes every time it's tested.

As a result of Vests and others congressional investigations, the House Science and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a three-panel hearing on the DP-2 on June 12, 2007, to examine the testing mishaps and management of the aviation program. The subcommittee found that despite safety concerns over the aircraft, poor management of the program and the companys lack of adherence to safety protocols and procedures, the U.S. government is still funding the development.

In fact, the fiscal year 2008 federal budget has a $6 million earmark reserved for the DP-2, all for an aircraft that even the U.S. military the group its being developed for has rejected.

You can also read the ABC news story on the DP-2 debacle here

An additional $6 million is being proposed for the 2008 fiscal year, supported by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the former Armed Services Committee chairman who's now running for president.

Hunter's district is close by the duPont Aerospace Company in La Jolla, Calif., that's building the plane, and he and other Republicans have gotten tens of thousands in donations over the years from Anthony duPont, the company president.

-- Christian

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