a reply to: Zaphod58
They need to take a page from the Tomcat book. They told Grumman what they wanted, and penalized them for everything that didn't meet what they
wanted. And it was incremental penalties.
The main problem the US has had is overtly ambitious programs that take too long to implement. Expensive, ambitious aircraft (F-35 for example, three
services, with three different variants) that take a long time to implement. Then the context around the program changes. The Cold War ended for
example (B-2, F-22) or conflict in the middle-east changed funding priorities (F-22 again
). The US needs to start developing aircraft with less
programmatic risk and less amenable to changes in the background context behind each aircraft.
You'll note that many or even most problems with the F-35 occurred due to the programmatic risk. That's the fault of the USG, not necessarily the
fault of the contractors. I don't think in the case of the F-35 a fixed-cost contract would have worked. I'm betting industry would have either:
i. Told DOD that the program was too risky. A good thing.
ii. The program would have completely
broke down when the original goals were obviously no longer achievable. A very bad thing.
Come to think of it, I'm betting single-role aircraft are much more amenable to contextual risk than multi-role aircraft - look at the B-2 or F-22 for
example. Compare with the F-35. On the other hand, the F-35 has three different variants, which also caused
a lot of risk. Perhaps somewhere in
the middle is needed.
(without this risk, three variants, STOVL, the program perhaps would not have gotten off the ground in the 1990s and early-2000s)
I like the idea of fixed-cost, in a sense that industry is probably going to be a lot more careful about what they offer, but it's also up to DOD to
be careful what they ask for. Both are needed.
US DOD seems to have learned a lesson, the B-21 seems, in my opinion, much less likely to encounter the issues of the B-2, F-22, and F-35. The need
for a new bomber is past the point of urgency, the need for the aircraft is probably only going to increase due to the rise of China, the aircraft is
probably going to be multirole, its fixed cost, apparently uses many new but established technologies proven on the F-35, and the development
timeframe planned to be a bit shorter than aircraft that came before it.
edit on 29/4/16 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)