No Warranty

Can weapons be guaranteed?

The Pentagon touted the sleek, speedy M-1 Abrams tank as a revolutionary superweapon when it was put into production in November 1981. There was only one problem: the tank's engine, built by the Avco Corp.'s Lycoming division, had a tendency to jam.

Such nightmares inspired North Dakota Republican Senator Mark Andrews to propose, and Congress to pass, a provision that contractors include written warranties on weapons systems. Argued Andrews: "If the public can expect—and get—warranties on its purchases, from TV sets to washing machines to air conditioners, why not when we buy machinery to protect our freedom?"

Defense Secretary Caspar...

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