Bryan McGrath on the end of Tomahawk procurement:

One year ago–in the FY14 Budget submission–these planners believed we needed 980 more TLAMS over the course of the FYDP. One year later, they had to choose differently. In order to create the funding necessary to design, compete and build a follow-on land attack weapon, the Navy must cease production years early of one of its most important, useful, flexible, and responsive offensive weapons. In doing so, funds are “created” that can then be applied to the research and development of the follow on. A hard decision made by smart people when presented with no good options. The decision is made somewhat less ugly by the fact that there is an inventory of these weapons built up after years of production (and expenditure). That number is of course, classified, as it should be. But starting in 2016 through 2024, that inventory will diminish each time a missile is fired. This is risk.

Needless risk, I might add, given how broken our procurement system is — and how unlikely we are to field a new (and affordable) cruise missile in time to replace our dwindling (on purpose!) Tomahawk stocks.

And other than defense contractors, has anyone established a certifiable need for a cruise missile significantly more advanced than the Tomahawk? If so, is that need great enough to justify what is sure to be a significant added expense? And if even that is so, is the need great enough to justify the risks of what will certainly be a smaller inventory of Tomahawks in the medium term, and what will almost certainly be a smaller inventory of new missiles?

The next time we get caught with our pants down, it’s going to make Pearl Harbor look like Midway.