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22Aug/151

Dinosaurs and the Military Budget

Posted by Nate

Our country spends more on our military than the rest of the world combined. And what I wonder: is it necessary to spend so much to be a superpower? America is building bigger and more expensive stuff all the time and I think that approach makes us more vulnerable, not more secure.

While the trend is smaller, smarter, cheaper, America builds bigger, more expensive and less efficient clunkers. It is just like the aircraft carriers it builds – huge inertia and slow-to-change direction.

Wasteful spending and the end of the dinosaurs in military.

F-35. New F-35 Prices: A: $95M; B: $102M; C: $116M

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive, and possibly the most error-ridden, project in the history of the United States military. But DOD has sunk so much money into the F-35 — which is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over the 55-year life of the program — that the Pentagon deemed it "too big to fail" in 2010. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101883138

The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive today, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dog-fighting against a decades-old, much cheaper, legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.” https://gma.yahoo.com/military-don-t-worry-f-35-most-expensive-213045869--abc-news-topstories.html

But it is...a hugely expensive clunker

It is possible to build three cheaper and more effective fighters instead of one F-35. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp--2X2zaKs

The Scorpion is designed to be affordable, costing the US $3,000 per flight hour, with a unit cost expected to be below US $20 million. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textron_AirLand_Scorpion

Aircraft carriers

The Navy’s high-tech first Ford-class aircraft carrier, slated for delivery in March of next year, is widely known for cost overruns that brought the eventual cost of the platform to $12.8 billion. http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/03/20/navy-launches-new-aircraft-carrier-study-to-find-cost-savings.html

Anti-aircraft carrier missiles also cost a fraction of the cost of a carrier. 

Carriers are more survivable than land bases by a large margin but they are still vulnerable, especially in the dawning age of widely proliferating quiet submarine technology; the anti-ship ballistic missiles such as China's evolving DF-21D. Also, since the majority of America's carrier force is in port at any given time, they are more vulnerable to an attack, especially at super-bases such as Norfolk, Virginia where around half the force is located. http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/why-the-us-navy-should-build-smaller-aircraft-carriers-1600899834

Tanks

  1. About 6,000 M1A1 Abrams were produced from 1986–92 and featured the M256 120 mm (4.7 in) smooth-bore cannon developed by Rheinmetall, AG of Germany for the Leopard 2, improved armor and a CBRN protection system. Production of M1 and M1A1 tanks totaled some 9,000 tanks at a cost of approximately $4.3 million per unit. https://www.google.com/search?newwindow=1&q=cost+of+new+abrams+tank&oq=cost+of+new+abrams+tank&gs_l=serp.3..0i22i30.341432.351554.0.353936.9.9.0.0.0.0.124.797.7j2.9.0....0...1c.1.64.serp..6.3.285.ebiXyn6M-hA

But do you really need a tank to kill another tank?

An anti-tank missile costs a small fraction of the cost of a tank...about one hundredth. Also the concept of a “smart mine” that runs under the tank's tracks...a kamikaze drone programmed to intercept a moving tank.

The idea is to produce cheaper, smaller and faster systems that are armed with state-of-the-art weapons.

A minimum amount of bells and whistles.

What is wrong with anti-tank drones (smart mines) that run under the tracks? They are cheap and will stop a tank.

The bigger the machine, the easier to hit it. And no matter what defenses one uses, it is still vulnerable.

Now try to kill the bee swarm with the tank. Or with the fighter jet. Good luck with that.

One sunken aircraft carrier is thousands of lives, billions of dollars and about 10% of the whole US fleet.

What is the alternative? Who needs an aircraft carrier if any location on this planet can be reached with the MAC 20 plane within an hour?

I am not pretending that I know the answers. But I do know that F-35 or 78 ton Abrams is not the answer. There is a “big” mentality in this country. Bigger, heavier, thicker armor and so on.

(Doesn't that remind you of the way of the dinosaurs?)

The result has been a pattern of fielding exquisite platforms in diminishing numbers at great cost.”

“Dramatic improvements in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, biology and nano-materials are changing the cost/effectiveness calculation in favor of the “many and simple” against the “few and complex.” http://warontherocks.com/2014/07/the-future-of-warfare-small-many-smart-vs-few-exquisite/

A long time ago Stanislaw Lem wrote a novel called Invincible where microscopic robots are fighting the Earth's powerful spaceship. The problem for the spaceship is that it is just one against trillions and trillions self-replicating flying bug-sized drones. The ship was defeated.

Interesting that insects on our planet have a much better chance of survival than elephants for example.

So, in my opinion, our military budget can be cut if the money is spent wisely instead of producing dinosaurs.

   

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