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