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05 February 2017


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True national defense requires equipment that can be mass produced if needed. Our only real threat of losing our sovereignty is from another major economic power. Maybe a heavy industrial army is not needed for our adventures abroad against totally outmatched opponents, at least when it comes to technology, but its needed for true national defense. Point is, our military needs to be scalable in relative short order if needed. But its hard to imagine mass producing F35s.



We are in the process of mass producing f-35s. Look at the numbers. pl


Oh, Ok, I have not kept up. Hopefully the costs will come down with mass production.


For those with experience in this field, is it the decision process that is flawed? With the F35's, it seems they are asking too much from it and thus increasing the complexity. I have spent decades in the construction industry and while engineers and architects are wonderful people, they will never come up with a simple solution for anything.

From what I understand, the popularity of the AK-47 is that it is uncomplicated and thus very reliable. If the Army needs a reliable vehicle, I would recommend the Hyundai Santa Fe. I have had one for 8 years and it is the cheapest and best car I have ever owned going back to 1965. I am sure a military model could be produced and just be used to move people from point A to point B.



I keep coming back here to be reminded that it is what they do that is important not what they say.

The USA will always have to have a military to defend North America and will supply it. It will have to include nuclear forces to assure MAD, naval forces to keep sea lanes open and refugees off the beaches and border guards/militia. Being the world hegemon is too expensive. The USA cannot conduct a conventional war with Russia or China and survive. After the next financial crisis, the US Army will likely be withdrawn to England and the Homeland. What to do about Mexico, as you indicated in your earlier post, will determine the future shape of the US Army. If North America continues to be run for the benefit of the wealthy instead of the people; it will inevitably split along ethnic lines and will settle back near the 1846 borders with Northern States, English Canada, Mexico, No Man’s Land, Cascadia, Texas and Quebec dotted with city states (San Francisco) for the top ten percent:

The only way to stay united is to secure all of the coasts and share the wealth within for everyone. If North America starts to split apart, it is guaranteed that outsiders will meddle in its affairs. The New Democrats allege this has already started.


Heinlein's "Friday" makes some interesting predictions along these lines. I guess we shall see.




Around 4000 for its life is not exactly mass produced. Especially not with two lines. It also assumes that no Israeli F35 will be shot down this year. If Syria does shoot one down than all bets are off



what would be "mass production" for you at these prices? pl


Government by it's nature (political, bureaucratic, unaccountable) is unable to succeed at anything beyond the simplest task - unless it has (given itself) infinite money and gazillions of man years.
Obamacare, the VA, wide-open (and repeatedly hacked) computer systems.
F-35, Navy LCS and "Zumwalt", the Army spending endless money and time to buy a HANDGUN.
They can't even secure a border - certainly no great technology challenge.
Which is why I'm not worried about all the "chicken little" wailing about the government reading emails and listening to phone calls.
They can't get their act together for more than 2 consecutive days.
And NOBODY ever loses their job.


The complexity is due to the Did insistence on a single platform that gives VSTOL and CAS to the Marines, carrier capability to the Navy, and range and load capacity to the AF. it would have been simpler and less expensive to have three completely different airframes.

Balint Somkuti, PhD

Even in 4GW a balanced and modern army is needed as a deterrent against conventional threats. Along with a navy and an air force.


I find reports of to-date production of 4500 units for the F16 and 1500 units for the Boeing 747, so an eventual 4000 units for the F-35 would be quite respectable.


Why Sheridan as a caption photo? Sorry about the caps lock. Still trying to get the hang of the table using these fat fingers.



a master of mobile conventional war. pl



we had much the same phenomenon in the time of McNamara and his whiz kids for the F111. pl


Will the DoD learn from this? You could have several types of Army vehicles with interchangeable components in areas like the drive train, but configured for more specialized missions. After watching the Lady Gaga drone swarm last evening, could you have a fleet of vehicles acting in concert guided by robotic software? Software is relatively easy compared to complex mechanics.


I wonder how much of the motivation for the FCS was to secure a chunk of the DOD pie for the future against other services that garner more funds for expensive weapon systems. Turning the Infantry into a system requiring a long logistical tail of technicians and contracts. Stealth aircraft and V22 require a lot more maintenance and down time than prior aircraft likewise FCS would increase ancillary costs for infantry. The refurbishment of our nuclear force, F35, new ships, and the new long range bomber are all competing for future budgets.


Software is one of the factors contributing to ballooning costs in the FCS and F35. Multi tools are neat but not robust or affordable compared to specific tools for specific tasks.

The Twisted Genius

I witnessed up close one R&D/procurement success story in the military. While he was 10th Group Commander, Dick Potter got DOD approval to develop a new cold weather clothing and equipment system. A group of seasoned NCOs were given the task to establish requirements, oversea design and work with labs and manufacturers. The gear was tested by Group. The result was the polypropylene and Gortex clothing now used by the military. New skis, bindings, rucksacks and other gears also emerged. This was being done right around the time of the Falklands War. Potter, because of his connections with the SAS, gave a batch of this equipment to the Brits. After the war, the Brits said that clothing saved a lot of lives. I wonder if our DOD will ever use experienced NCOs to work with developers on heavier equipment design and procurement in a similar manner.

The Russians have developed a fairly impressive family of combat vehicles that can be airdropped and air transported with some impressive capabilities. That includes self-propelled armored artillery and mortars. They don't have the armor protection we demand in our vehicles, but they're still impressive. They've been using a 30mm gun on many of these vehicles since the 80s. The newest gun system uses a 30mm auto-cannon, a 100mm rifled gun and a machine gun in the same turret. It's the same Batchka-U turret used on a number of vehicles. I'm surprised we're only now moving to a similar 30mm gun on the Strykers.


I was thinking more in terms of navigation in essentially a 2D environment. That should not be all that hard to do. Maybe they need to check with Elon Musk?



"Turning the Infantry into a system requiring a long logistical tail ..."

When has infantry not required a long logistical tail?


There has always been a conflict between specialized equipment (and units) and general ones. It is cheaper to buy fighter-bombers rather than pay for specialized fighters and specialized bombers. However the fighter-bomber can not do either mission as well as the specialized system.

The same is true of armored vehicle chassis for IFVs, SP Arty and Tanks. One size does NOT fit all, at least not without performance trade offs. For similar reasons a line infantry battalion is not the same as a mech infantry battalion, is not the same as a ranger battalion. Also consider that most units organize on a Modified Table of Organization and equipment (MTO&E) based largely upon where in the world they expect to operate.

One designs to function. The more functions you throw into the design basket the less performance you get an any single requirement.

When performance problems are identified, the private contractors look to make even higher profits. When the military program managers ask "can this be fixed" the contractor gives an engineers answer - YES! However, they leave out how long it will take and at what cost.

A more recent "problem" has been that the need for new equipment is no longer based on a requirements (do we need it, does it fix a problem) More often today it is based on a technological justification (hypothetical assessment of how advanced technology will perform).

Now instead of just paying for equipment development, the tax payer is being charged for the front end technology development (R&D) along with the equipment development on the back end. This is EXPENSIVE! It is also risky, not all R&D efforts pan out.

Congress does not care as long as their district gets some money off these projects.

This acquisition system is unsustainable.



With FCS & JTRS the Army thought they had finally found the scale of tech-rich programs (to add to Patriot, THAAD, MLRS & all those rotorcraft) that would be as significant (budget + capability) as those in the USN & USAF.

My little company at the time participated in those programs as a "spiral development" play, so I got to watch 'em up close for a number of years - briefed the JTRS executive steering committee when it was stood-up, in a small ivy-covered WWI era red brick building at Belvoir... quaint... discussing digitizing SINGCARS waveforms... & Link 16... & every other signal known to the DoD since Vietnam. The Big Players looked upon it, drooling w/ anticipation of Big Programs for Many Years. I felt for the Army/USMC PMs & smes who sat in the crossfire. FCS was much the same (but Bigger! since there was metal-bending in the offing).

When asked what role advanced technology / small biz might play, I suggested that it was safest to await the inevitable re-org / re-set of the Program, or simply position oneself to be acquired and get outta the game while the going was good.



Yes, of course they should check with Elon Musk. Now, if they can persuade Congress and uniformed ad non-uniformed bureaucrats to delegate all R&D and acquisition power to one man ... pl

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