Reply to post: Re: @bri

Dodgy software will bork America's F-35 fighters until at least 2019

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: @bri

I don't think anyone could have predicted the current state of technology and security challenges.

Maybe that's because you weren't around at the time? I worked on operational support systems for Tornadoes at the end of the Cold War. Recall that by 1993 we'd already had the battle of Mogadishu, Gulf War 1, and the Soviets had been kicked out of Afghanistan by irregular forces. It was readily apparent that (a) the Soviet Union was going away and not coming back any time soon, that (b) the Middle East and Southern Central Asia were politically and militarily unstable points of conflict.

So, absent the global supervillain of the USSR, there was never a need for even the F22, never mind the F35. Even Typhoon's raison d'etre (detente: air cover to get Tornado tactical nukes airborne) had gone, and the sensible answer for Europe would have been to scrap the expensive Typhoon project. Any residual air defence need could have been met by committing to buying a few Grypen or F18s.

Given that it was forseeable thirty years ago that today's air combat need was international force projection, and interdiction against third rate powers or irregular forces, all of the big money sink projects should have been canned. I can see that assault choppers would still be a cheap and reasonable acquisition, and there might have been a case for a new role-dedicated strike aircraft to replace the A10s and Tornado GR1 of the day. With twenty years development, that could have been in service by 2002, and been cheaper and more effective than the Typhoon FGR4 will ever be, although an F18 or Gripen would probably do the job adequately, particularly given the (equally forseeable) development of UAV capabilities.

But, we are where we are. What is a logical plan now? For starters, the Anglophone world should stop looking for, joining or starting wars wherever they are to be had. This removes the urgency for doing anything. All new Typhoon development should be halted other than safety and reliability stuff. The F35 programme should cancel the B variant (and let the UK government sort out their own S/VTOL needs), and simplify all of the systems that are not working, even if that compromises the original specification. The Pentagon have bet the ship on F35, give it to them because there's too much money already sunk, and no alternative plan. But then stop throwing money at military research and development projects. Railguns, death lasers, EMPs,..... the world doesn't need them. The $4bn budgeted just for scoping the B2 replacement, there's more good money going after bad, with an expected purchase (not even programme) cost of at least $20bn.

I suppose most of this money is being spent by the Yanks, and it is their choice. But is the threat of a few smelly beardoes on the other side of the world really a justification for spending over half a trillion dollars a year, particularly when the "investment" to date has actually made that situation far, far worse?

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