The below article written by my two good friends Winslow Wheeler and Pierre Sprey is one of the very best case studies describing how the incredible corruption of critical thinking that prevails in the day to day life of the Military – Industrial – Congressional Complex (MICC) produces techno trash.
With programs like the F-35 populating the Pentagon’s modernization plan, there can be no question of why the defense budget is now at a post World War II high, yet is powering the Defense Department into a Death Spiral, where forces continue to shrink (the AF is now contemplating yet another reduction of its fighter structure by 2 more tactical fighter wings), weapons continue to get older, and there is continual pressure to cut readiness, even though we are fighting two wars. Add in the fact that the Pentagon’s planning and budgeting system can not pass a simple audit that identifies and verifies the links between money appropriated by Congress to the money expended by the Pentagon, which is required by the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, not to mention the Accountability and Appropriations Clauses of the same Constitution every member of the federal government has sworn to protect and uphold … and you have a prescription for ever increasing disasters at ever higher costs.
by Winslow T. Wheeler and Pierre M. Sprey
23 December 2009
Setting aside the not-so-proud history of the P-38, the Lightning II moniker is a poor fit for the F-35. Despite the F-35’s whopping (and still growing) $122 million per copy price tag, the Air Force and other advocates pretend it is the low-priced, affordable spread in fighter-bombers. Though horrendously overburdened with every high tech weight and drag inducing goodie the aviation bureaucracy in the Pentagon can cram in, the Lightning II is hardly a pioneer, being little more than a pastiche of pre-existing air-to-air and air-to-ground technology – albeit with vastly more complexified computer programs. The P-38 Lightning of the twenty-first century it is surely not, especially for those who hold the P-38 in undeserved high regard.
In the interests of giving credit where credit is due, a more historically fitting moniker for the F-35 would be “Aardvark II.” Aardvark — literally ground pig in Afrikaans — was the nickname pilots (and ultimately the Air Force) gave to the F-111–and for good reasons. The F-111 was the tri-Service, tri-mission fighter-bomber of the 60s, and also a legendary disaster. The F-35 is rapidly earning its place as the Aardvark’s true heir.
There are astonishing parallels between the two programs.
Click A Tale of Two Pigs to read entire story. other references below the fold.
Phi Beta Iota: Nothing has changed substantially since the 1980’s. As Pierre Sprey discovered it was no longer possible to build an honest airplane. Today Navy seniors tell me that it is no longer possible to order a Navy ship–yet during WWII, Andrew Jackson Higgins could design, test, and build a landing craft prototype in 24 hours, and turn out one Liberty Ship a day in a New Orleans assembly line manned by citizens who had never before been ship-builders. This tale of two pigs captures the ongoing loss of integrity across all of our major governance and industry components.
Selected reviews on defense acquisition: