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Guest Vern Edwards
See the following link http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting...-back-on-course

What are your thoughts on this issue? What can be done to improve efficiency and lower cost? I thought fly before buy makes sense but is the counterargument just as valid?


My only thought is that the F-35 is typical of the military aircraft development programs of the late 20th century, which include the A-12 and F-22. The underlying sources of the problems have been the same for decades. See The Weapons Acquisition Process, by Peck and Scherer (Harvard, 1960). The recent problems are worse because of the complexity of the systems and the development state of the most troublesome technology. We have not done a good job of planning and managing such systems for a very long time. We are not likely to get better at it any time soon. Mr. Gates' frustration over the F-35 reminds me of Secretary Cheney's frustration over the A-12, which was more than 20 years ago.

There is nothing to say about this that hasn't already been said many, many times. Volumes have been written. There is nothing to suggest that hasn't already been suggested. The issue is not method. The issue is will and ability. Our institutions are moribund.

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The "fly before you buy" concept seems to be out the window if the push is on the latest technology.

From the article:

The main problem, some analysts say, is that even with recent improvements in acquisition practices, the military persists in buying new weapons systems before all the kinks are worked out.

At the Pentagon?s behest, Lockheed Martin has already started building production models of the F-35, even though only 2 percent of the flight test program has been completed. ?Unless they convert the program to a fly-before-you-buy approach, they will continue to have pain,? said Winslow T. Wheeler, an analyst for the Center for Defense Information in Washington.

But Pentagon officials said that given the rapid changes in technology, they could not afford to take such a gradual approach without systems becoming outdated before they rolled off the line

Having the latest technology sounds like a good idea until you realize how many years these aircraft are successfully used with relatively old technology.

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The latest technology might be expensive, but is being the best less expensive than a posture that suggests that an adversary might win in a fight? I personally think that this is politically motivated more so than simply being frugal. Having the best technology has costs in both time and money, but it is an investment in the US that we should think long and hard before we walk away from it.

Being the best, having the best weapons, means that an adversary will avoid a war. He knows he will lose or at least suffer so badly that other opponents will then take advantage of his weakness. That adversary may not love us, but he will respect us. If we lose that edge, and the enemy has no respect for us due to that mediocrity, then war of some kind is virtually certain. Would the war be more expensive than maintaining the technological edge? I tend to doubt it, particularly in terms of lives.

Technology is not the end all of military superiority, the Germans learned that lesson in WWII, but it sure goes a long way towards that goal. I for one am willing to pay for that through my taxes more so than dumping money into commercial businesses that have failed to manage themselves properly in the marketplace.

And if we in the Government cannot even run a solicitation for new aerial tankers properly, how can we expect a contractor to build new and exotic aircraft without problems? Building stealth fighters is far more complex than a solicitation for a gas station with wings!

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I don't think that this country can afford to keep pouring countless billions into developing past the state of the art warplanes. And if we can't, who else can? Reagan ran the USSR into the ground with the 1980's arms race.

What's really crazy about us leading the state of the art development is that we spend billions that we don't have, then one or more potential adversaries simply steal the technology. Or it is has been virtually given away by certain politicians, government or civilian traitor employees or the companies that possess it.

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