Now, the Air Force is jumping on the bandwagon. Presumably, the F-35 debacle has scared them to the point of recognizing that the current acquisition process is not viable.
The U.S. Air Force is preparing to radically alter the acquisition strategy for its next generation of fighter jets, with a new plan that could require industry to design, develop and produce a new fighter in five years or less. (1)
Build a new aircraft in just five years?! Astoundingly, that’s exactly the time frame that ComNavOps put forth.
How will the Air Force accomplish this? Why, the same way that ComNavOps has repeatedly stated should be done – by building with only existing technology and building in small batches! To wit,
… the NGAD [Next Generation Air Dominance] program will adopt a rapid approach to developing small batches of fighters with multiple companies … (1)
Instead of maturing technologies over time to create an exquisite fighter, the Air Force’s goal would be to quickly build the best fighter that industry can muster over a couple years, integrating whatever emerging technology exists. The service would downselect, put a small number of aircraft under contract and then restart another round of competition among fighter manufacturers, which would revise their fighter designs and explore newer leaps in technology. (1)
… instead of trying to hone requirements to meet an unknown threat 25 years into the future, the Air Force would rapidly churn out aircraft with new technologies … (1)
This is exactly the process I’ve called for in both aircraft and ship acquisition. Stop designing mega-programs that try to future proof platforms (not possible and hideously expensive) and, instead, build for shorter lifespans (see, “Ship Service Life Reduction”) and smaller batches of specialized assets. The small batches and shorter lifespans allow future tech to be incorporated as it becomes available. There’s no need to future proof that new aircraft because you’ll be building a new batch in a few years anyway and you can incorporate the future tech then. This is just common sense on a cracker.
This approach also has the added and hugely important side benefit of keeping more industrial companies current and viable as opposed to the winner-take-all mega-project that ensures we wind up with just one or two companies.
I may have to sue the Air Force for plagiarism! They are almost literally copying my posts. Relax Air Force, it’s okay. I don’t mind if you copy and adopt my ideas. You should and you have my blessing!
Okay, Navy, the Air Force has seen the light of ComNavOps’ brilliance now what about you? Get on board! Let’s start building smaller, specialized ships with 15-20 year lifespans (you aren’t conducting maintenance so they won’t last long, anyway) and no need for future tech concurrency which has proven to be the downfall of the last several ship programs.
(1)Defense News website, “The US Air Force’s radical plan for a future fighter could field a jet in 5 years”, Valerie Insinna, 16-Sep-2019,https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/2019/09/16/the-us-air-forces-radical-plan-for-a-future-fighter-could-field-a-jet-in-5-years/