Thursday, October 8, 2009

Boys and their Toys

The DOD is looking for new weapons. Nothing new there, the DOD is always looking for newer and better. What they are really looking for is new stuff that is adaptable and AFORDABLE. This is according to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright (USMC).

Speaking at the annual Association of the U.S. Army, the General states that weapons systems must be adaptable enough to fight with across different fronts and cheap enough to be fielded in large numbers.

Some of the good examples he cited were the many and varied UAV's that are being used today in both Iraq and Afghanistan. From the hand launched versions to the long endurance Predator/Reaper, the UAV concept has shown that adaptability and a slate of affordability. The biggest problem is getting them in large enough quantity to cover total mission requirements. Part of this is getting manufacturers to pick up the pace in production, opening new production lines or licensing production to alternate manufacturers.

The Marine General complained about the escalating cost of fielding top-of-the-line weapons systems like new Fighters and Bomber aircraft. His examples were illustrative of the current trend upward in costs of weapons systems.

B-52 introduced in 1955 at a cost in 1998 dollars of $53 Million, we built more than 700

The BUFF, the U is for Ugly and they are proud of it too! (USAF Photo)

B-1 introduced in 1986 with a cost in 1998 dollars of $283 Million each, we built only 100

Sexiest Plane flying today. (USAF Phoo)

B-2 introduced in 1997 at a cost of $1.16 Billion each we could only afford 20 of them

The Sprit deployed to Guam. (USAF Photo)

The good General says something has to give because "I can't afford one [plane] on each coast, because that was all I could afford to buy." That is where we are headed if the trend continues to the next generation of manned bomber holds true.

This same trend exists in the Fighter world as well, given all the debate surrounding the F-22 no one criticizes its capabilities, just what each one costs. And again, we have curtailed production not at what we need to defend the country but at what we can currently afford to buy.

What is next?

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Buck said...

Yup, yet again. I'm reminded of that ol' hot rodders' cliche: "Speed costs. How fast do ya wanna go?"

JimmyT said...

Buck, I think most of this problem is on the contractor. They want to eat all of the budget when they get the contract, they do what is known in the business as "buying in" which is bidding very low and then nit picking the development. Thereby eating all of the budget and then some.

BT: Jimmy T sends.