SeJoWa From United States of America, joined May 2006, 352 posts, RR: 0 Posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 2782 times:
I'd like to start a discussion that stokes the imagination a bit.
A simple premise: given the dirth of successful new programs, the indispensable link between acquisitions and reality seems to have broken down. When I read about an Air Force General talking about revolutionary, "game changing" technologies that we don't even know about yet (!) in conjunction with the next gen bomber, I know that the string of utter development failures may still not come to an end.
[ As an aside, I hope very much that the Defense budget gets cut further, because that's the only way I see a possibility to re-instil discipline and real decision making at the Pentagon. We would still be spending vast amounts of money, and might actually be able to buy all the useful weapons necessary, as opposed to not being able to buy the non-exstant results of terminated dollar sinks. ]
OK, let's try this then: based on current platforms [ or the experimental UCAVS ], what combinations of the following would prove useful:
- platform evolution along Super Hornet lines
- [ manufacturing? ]
My thinking is that by un-bundling, we'd narrow requirements and evolve more mature components, re-use proven systems, and get much more feedback from the greater variety of applications.
I'll provide some examples to seed the discussion.
- Terrestrial observation and combat [ a kind of high-intel fighting node ]:
P8 Poseidon base / SDB bombs / the new, small anti-armor bomblets
- Resilient "eyeballs on target" ground support:
A10 Warthog / new engines with more thrust and enhanced generating power / anti-manpad lasers
- B2 modified to team up with UCAVS
- Next manned air superiority fighter
F22 upgraded with newer materials from the F35 program [ for stealth maintenance benefits ], useful electronics and software upgrades, new engines that increase the range
connies4ever From Canada, joined Feb 2006, 4066 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2669 times:
Quoting SeJoWa (Thread starter): [ As an aside, I hope very much that the Defense budget gets cut further, because that's the only way I see a possibility to re-instil discipline and real decision making at the Pentagon. We would still be spending vast amounts of money, and might actually be able to buy all the useful weapons necessary, as opposed to not being able to buy the non-exstant results of terminated dollar sinks. ]
For the above, I am four square behind it. Give the uni's a fixed amount of money, then tell them to fit a program into that budget. No budget creep. If it doesn't work, you're out of work, i.e., retired, reassigned, or resigned. As in the real world. I have to wonder how F-35 would fare in that context. Not to mention DDG-1000,etc.
There will always be an R&D budget, but that too has its' limits. Especially when the US is outspending the rest of the world combined. In my business (nuclear power) there is a gap between what we would like to do regarding fuel performance, and what our funding levels permit us to do. That's the reality.
SeJoWa From United States of America, joined May 2006, 352 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 2639 times:
Quoting connies4ever (Reply 1): If it doesn't work, you're out of work, i.e., retired, reassigned, or resigned. As in the real world. I have to wonder how F-35 would fare in that context. Not to mention DDG-1000,etc.
The F-35 may turn out to be a useable plane, but at the cost of forfeiting the opportunity to maintain broadly competing industrial teams, as well as developing and building a range of cheaper platforms tailored to their respective missions.
It's the perfect example of why you wouldn't want to force decision-challenged bureaucracies to share one basket - they always come up with another egg, and will agree upon one thing only: enlarge the basket... where solid engineering is about intelligent compromise.
Conversely, it seems to me ( no expert ) that the DDG-1000 program is actually performing well now.
I recently read somewhere how well an AC-130 gunship upgraded w. modern weapons performed in Afghanistan. So go figure... the C-27 gets axed, a flexible platform that may also have provided the base for a mini-gunship of seemingly great value.
Being able to develop and buy good, cost-effective weapons builds experience, hones focus, and saves money to tackle the really ambitious stuff.
That's another problem with putting all your development eggs in very few baskets... the quality of the teams parforce declines even more steeply than clashing and conflicting priorities might indicate.
Here's another way to unbundle: think of UCAVs not as single aircraft, but as flexible swarms with heterogenous capabilities. Bounce the electromagnetic emitters around the swarm... employ pathfinders and decoys... this is how UCAVs are going to shine one day.