A tightly held audit report by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General says that the Air Force did not properly justify the planned acquisition of 401 so-called Reaper drones costing an estimated $76.8 billion.
"As a result, the Air Force risks spending approximately $8.8 billion to purchase, operate, and maintain 46 MQ-9 aircraft it may not need."
The vehicles, popular among military brass for killing insurgents in the Middle East and elsewhere, are produced by San Diego–based General Atomics, run by Linden Blue and his brother James Neal Blue, big campaign cash givers to federal politicians of both parties.
In addition to his role in lobbying for bigger military budgets, Republican Linden Blue is a staunch foe of legalized marijuana, advocating compulsory hair tests for high schoolers.
"If kids know there is about a 99 percent chance they will lose, they won’t take the risk — especially on things that are important to them like a driver’s license or getting a job.
"We need to make this work for our kids and for Latin Americans, where the U.S.’s drug appetite has stimulated international cartels and contributed to thousands of deaths."
Blue has also been generous to San Diego politicos, and has been a key friend of San Diego GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer. Each Blue brother gave $5000 to committees backing Faulconer. On April 30, the brothers gave $550 each to Chris Cate, a downtown lobbyist and Faulconer ally running for a seat on the city council.
Designated "For Official Use Only," the full text of the September 30 audit was not released, but a summary says the report is highly critical of Air Force drone purchasing procedures.
In addition to their failure to "conduct and maintain consistent, complete, and verifiable analyses for determining the necessary aircraft quantity," the summary says, Air Force officials did not obtain approval from the "Joint Requirements Oversight Council" before formulating their drone order from General Atomics.
"We recommend the Director of Plans, Programs, and Requirements, Headquarters Air Combat Command…perform comprehensive analyses to determine the necessary quantity of MQ-9 aircraft for mission, training, test, Air National Guard, backup, and attrition reserve," the report said.
"In addition, we recommend the Chairman of the Air Force Requirements Oversight Council validate the necessary quantity and cost in the updated MQ-9 production document prior to providing the updated production document to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council for revalidation."