posted on Feb, 16 2016 @ 01:24 PM
I've been mulling this over for a bit now. Industrial policy is one of the epic failures of the Pentagon, IMO. While there was NO WAY we could
support the number of defense contractors we had at the end of the cold war, we have put our eggs to so few baskets now, we're in danger of going the
route the Europeans have: single large defense contractor that does, well, everything.
Or are we? Could we 'fix' the situation between now and, say, 2030?
Or am I overreacting a bit?
For manned fighters, we have three contracts: Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop.
Lockheed has the F-35 contract and that will last at least through the 2030s. They're now looking at the F-35D, which will extend the contract at
least to around 2040. So, as far as Lockheed is concerned, I think its taken care of. There's some danger it will end up in the situation Boeing is
in now, but, if they go for a replacement for the F-35, it might be doable to keep them going. Smaller contracts, like a U-2 replacement and
hypersonic work would be good bones to throw here.
Northrop is in the second best position. They just got the LRS-B. It'd be tempting to throw them the T-X since its a new build and would help shore
them up. They are very heavily invested in the Sixth Generation Fighter development and based on noises the navy is making for their FA-XX, Northrop
is really aligned with their requirements with their efforts. I could see them winning one of the two birds here.
Boeing is in a pickle right now. Yes, they are getting some Rhino orders and even a bit of Eagles as well. However, the question becomes, what's
next? And they have a VERY cloudy future in 5 years. The only thing I can think of is throwing them some bones for the CBARS and maybe a Sixth Gen.
However, everything I've seen and read of theirs (and rumors) makes it sound more navy friendly that air force. Perhaps a second gen arsenal plane
might be an idea.
A lot also hinges on when the UCAVs start being ordered on large scale. However, that has another player (General Atomics) too.