Military Industrial Complex Run Amock

As a nation we do not venerate our elders.  Oh we go through the motions, any number of liberals and conservatives pay daily homage to the founders, but in reality they could care less as long as their political careers flourish.  But nowhere is it more evident of our failure to heed the advice of our elders is the failure of the United States as a nation we pay attention to Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about the military-industrial complex.

If we want to see the fulfillment of his fears we have to look no further than the F35 fighter.  This link will take you to an article that will absolutely cause you to wonder what the hell is going on.  The author’s conclusion is the United States cannot afford the F35!

On top of it all there are a number of in the F35:

  • Unlike recent fighters the F35 does not have a bubble canopy the result is the pilot cannot turn around and see his six o’clock position.  See picture.
  • There are serious design problems with the location of the arrestor hook for the F35C naval model.
  • The F35C is seriously overweight.
  • The software is not working as intended.
  • There are serious structural flaws in the F35B VTOL version.
  • While sharing a common exterior; the aircraft because of design modification are essentially three different airplanes.  Under Robert McNamara we tried this in the flawed Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX), which ultimately became the F111.
  • The Pentagon agreed to allow testing and development to proceed simultaneously with production.  This has resulted in huge cost overruns and failed design promises.

This airplane is going ahead because the fighter mafia sees a bright and shiny object, despite the fact that this airplane only marginally increases the national security of the nation and undermines our fiscal security.  But we are proceeding because it is the newest and sexists thing alive.  This airplane has not received the scrutiny it deserves in part because it came into being during the immediate aftermath of 9-11 which each of the services has used to find plenty of gold plated boon doogles.

Do we need a new fighter; absolutely the most important replacement needed is a VTOL fighter for the USMC, followed by the Navy and USAF.  But we need a fighter that we can afford.  One of the reasons the F16 has been so successful is it cheap.

But let anyone think I am after the USAF—I am not; the Army more so than any other service has proven that it cannot field a major new weapons system since the big five (Apache, Blackhawk, Patriot, Abrams, and Bradley—actually should have been the Big 6 the Sergeant York proved it was unable to distinguish between a latrine fan and airplane!).  Since then the Crusader, the Comanche, the Armored Gun System, FCS have all bit the dust after billions being spent.  On the horizon the Army has the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) which according to some reports will weight upwards of eighty tons making it heavier than the Abrams.

I wish I had an answer to the situation we find ourselves in.  But I do know we need to heed Eisenhower’s and our elders words.


  1. Maj W says:

    cant seem to get the link to the F35 article to work.

  2. DaveO says:

    The trough of dollars provided by Defense dollars is too crack, too meth to give up.

    Back in 2001, SecDef Rumsefeld canceled Crusader early one morning. He cited rather twisted facts, like the system's weight, the cannon's lack of range, and the already $18bn pricetage ($8bn invested by US Army, $10bn by United Defense) as justification. About 3 hours later, Rummie inked a new deal with United Defense for a new howitzer. The new deal reimbursed UD for its initial investment in Crusader, and gave them big $$. Shortly thereafter, a handy Congresscritter added "Non-line of sight, Cannon" (NLOS-C) (what artillerists call a "howitzer") to the Defense bill and Crusader (without the turret covering) was created.

    Crusader: an acquisition created under Clinton and championed by Shinseki was bad. The EXACT same technology, now 'created' under Bush-43 was good. Then, in 2008, with the engineered partial collapse of our economy and expected win by the Democrats, NLOS-C was cancelled.

    Lesson learned: none by those with power and money. For me it was 'don't let the material solution enriching Congresscritters force changes in tactics.'

    By twisted facts, I point to the weight issue. The Crusader was rated at 48 short-tons. And the masses wailed at the weight. But the Crusader was 2 vehicles (howitzer + ammo vehicle) – both fully loaded, crewed, then it would reach 48 short-tons.

  3. Mike Burke says:

    You can add the Navy's DD(X) and littoral combat ship, as well as maybe the LHD-17; toss in the Coast Gaurd's failed "deep water" procurement. When you start adding it all up, you soon realize that this condition of wasting zillions of dollars on crap that doesn't work is either congenital–the system is somehow born this way–or it's simply normal–the cost of doing business. The Abrams, for example, grew out of some failed designs and procurement in the 60s and early 70s and ended up a pretty good tank (at least from my 1991 Gulf War experience in 1AD). Same for the Bradley, which also had a lot of fits and expensive starts along the way. I'm glad I never had to work in the procurement or development side of the Army–it's very hard work, and almost impossible to get right for all the reasons suggested. Luckily, the B-52 is still flying–at least the future Major Kongs of the world will have a way to get around!