This $86M Surveillance Plane Was Over Budget, Never Flown

Image: advanced surveillance plane that cost 86 million
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that the drug surveillance airplane remains inoperable. Department of Justice

The federal government has spent more than $86 million on a drug surveillance airplane that is four times over budget and has yet to fly, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Justice Department's inspector general.

The plane was intended to be ready three years ago, at a projected cost of $22 million, specially equipped to conduct counter-drug operations in the skies over the combat environment of Afghanistan.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Defense Department are jointly responsible for the plane in their Global Discovery Program.

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"We found that more than seven years after the aircraft was purchased for the program, it remains inoperable, resting on jacks in Delaware," said Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

DEA now plans to use the plane, once it's ready to fly, for operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

In a response to the report, DEA says it relied on the Defense Department to manage and oversee the project, as it had done in the past.

"Based on that previous experience, DEA had no indication that the Global Discovery modification would encounter the significant delays and problems that ultimately occurred," said Michael Stanfill of the agency's office of inspections.