Pentagon Makes Lockheed Sell Its MULE


Maybe this debt crisis isn't such a bad thing after all. It's finally bringing some sanity to the Pentagon.

Three years ago, defense procurers criticized Lockheed Martin (NYS: LMT) for cost and weight overruns on its new 7,000-pound robotic MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment Vehicle) -- a four-wheeled robot designed to carry supplies for troops in the field. The MULE was originally designed to weigh 5,000 pounds and be air-liftable into combat, but was failing the test. At the time, I warned that if Lockheed wasn't able to shave a ton off the tank's fighting weight, it might well lose the contract.

Well, it just lost it. Staring down the barrel of defense spending budget cuts, and seeing little progress at Lockheed, the Pentagon put the program out to pasture. All work on the program will cease on Sept. 30.

Foolish takeaway
It's about dang time. We've known for three years that this project was bunk. We've known even longer that there were cheaper alternatives, such as the superfast, superlight "Ripsaw" tank (built by two guys in a garage in Maine for $200,000), or even ... actual mules. Yet according to Defense News, the Pentagon has spent the past seven years spending billions of dollars funding weapons projects like MULE that eventually ended in cancellation. With the U.S. government $14.3 trillion in debt, that's waste we cannot afford.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Smithdoes not own shares of Lockheed Martin, but the Motley Fool does. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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