Editor's Page

Shipbuilding isn’t the only area in which spiraling costs threaten to derail future projects. The problem can be found at several levels, from technology development to weapons procurement.

Adam Jay Harrison sounds the alarm to the Department of Defense that it needs to embrace innovation partnerships in technology with the denizens of Silicon Valley, even sharing in the high cost of research and development with those businesses. Some in the DOD already realize this, with recent overtures made by the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and current Secretary Ashton Carter. But those innovative corporations still need to be convinced that the military as a partner would be a good thing. After all, writes Harrison, “through World War II, the United States relied on civilian industry to underwrite weapon system development.” But that’s not now the case. “By 2006, many of the largest defense contractors by revenue in World War II had exited the military market altogether.” And Harrison knows why.

Scott O’Neil, executive director for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, makes the case that tactical weapon systems have become too complex and too expensive. The high price tags of current systems result in lower inventories, higher maintenance costs, and inadequate training—all of which are detrimental to the services. “We routinely overstate the requirements for a new weapon system, understate the readiness of the technology to be employed, and are overly optimistic regarding the cost and time to develop and deploy these new systems.” Simpler, cheaper systems that interoperate would improve efficiency and save money, he contends.   

Paul Merzlak, Editor-in-Chief



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