Reasons for sky-high procurement price in US military industry

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2024-05-12 17:43:19

By Hu Chengcheng

US Congressman Mike Waltz questions the US Department of Defense's act of spending USD 90,000 on a small bag of equipment parts at a hearing on the US military budget for fiscal year 2025 on April 17, local time. (Photo from Global Times)

Recently, during a budget hearing for the US fiscal year 2025 defense budget, a congressman angrily waved a bag of parts, stating that the US Department of Defense (DoD) spent USD 90,000 to purchase such a small bag of equipment parts from defense contractors. This raised questions about the DoD's extravagant spending of military funds. The video went viral on Western social media platforms, with many US citizens strongly criticizing the DoD, saying "taxpayers are being ripped off by the military-industrial complex, and it's insane."

The bag of parts questioned by the congressman was common mechanical components that would typically cost around USD 100. However, the DoD spent USD 90,000 for the same parts. So what kind of corruption and dark secrets lie behind such vast military expenditures of the US?

Military observer Zhou Weizheng believes that it can be seen that in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, many of US weapons and equipment are not as advanced as they are claimed, yet their cost is substantial. In addition to the small parts worth USD 90,000, the DoD has previously been exposed for purchasing items such as the coffee cup priced at USD 1,280 and the toilet lid priced at USD 10,000. A close examination of the US military's bills can disclose its bad record of exorbitant procurement. Zhou analyzes that the fundamental reason for these sky-high procurement prices is monopolization, with major weapons and equipment contracts in the US being essentially controlled by specific defense contractors.

Over the years, the military-industrial complex formed by the US military, arms dealers, and politicians has reaped enormous wealth from taxpayers. They not only rake in profits domestically, but also engage in "war profiteering." US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland previously claimed that the so-called "military aid" to Ukraine all flowed back to US defense contractors.

Zhou explains that the US begins peddling weapons when regional countries are in conflict. If they refuse to buy, the US will sell these weapons to their opponents. In the case of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US, under the guise of aiding Ukraine, did not provide aid to Ukraine but instead directed money straight to US defense contractors. At the same time, the US capitalizes on the Russia-Ukraine conflict to create tension in Europe and sell its weapons and equipment to countries like Germany and France.

Furthermore, the US influences regional situations through arms exports, forcing some countries to buy its weapons or collecting protection fees under the pretext of arms sales. The US also exports weapons at utterly different prices for countries in different regions. However, to obtain the so-called military protection from the US, those countries still have to pay for those weapons and equipment.

Much of the confrontations and conflicts instigated by the US around the world are largely attributed to the military-industrial complex. Zhou analyzes that only by starting wars can US defense contractors thrive. There are several ways in which the military-industrial complex can bind national policies:

The first is congressional lobbying. US defense contractors consistently allocate huge sums of money to organize professional public relations teams to lobby Congress to pass bills or budget items favorable to them.

The second is interest binding. US defense contractors tie their interests to the employment of the American people. For example, when the F-35 stealth fighter project severely exceeded its budget and Congress did not approve of it, Lockheed Martin argued that this project would involve tens of thousands of jobs in dozens of states across the US, and lobbied congressmen from those states to give the green light to the project in Congress.

The third is the "revolving door" phenomenon. High-level US government officials usually work for defense contractors when their term ends, and many retired generals from the DoD also work for defense contractors, while executives from defense contractors may also hold important government positions. Through this "revolving door," the relationship between the two sides becomes intricate, which is also one of the deep-rooted reasons for the emergence of sky-high procurement in the US military industry.

Editor's note: Originally published on, this article is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information and opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of

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