We need to move from ‘luxury-car’ platforms—with their built-in capabilities—toward dependable ‘trucks’ that can handle a changing payload selection.
Navy platforms, particularly ships and aircraft, are large capital investments frequently designed to last for 20 to 50 years. To ensure our Navy stays relevant, these platforms have to adapt to the changing fiscal, security, and technological conditions they will encounter over their long service lives. It is unaffordable, however, to adapt a platform by replacing either it or its integral systems each time a new mission or need arises. We will instead need to change the modular weapon, sensor, and unmanned vehicle “payloads” a platform carries or employs. In addition to being more affordable, this decoupling of payload development from platform development will take advantage of a set of emerging trends in precision weapons, stealth, ship and aircraft construction, economics, and warfare Iwill describe in this article.