Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Paradigms in Fighter Planes?

One of the dangers of twitter is that one can end up pontificating about something which is outside of one's expertise.  Latest example: I was RT-ing a piece that was critical of the F-35 and got this reaction:
At first, I was flummoxed.  Isn't the F-35 a plane made of various materials, one that can be broken if one drops something sufficiently heavy on it?  Yes, but much of the special-ness of the plane is not the design of the structure of the plane but the code that is going into it, that will allow it to do special stuff.

Ah.  Well, I get that.  Of course, this raises all other kinds of problems, which I always remember when I get a new computer (woot!)--that the new computer has new and different software issues.  It is faster and better than my old machine but is still buggy.  Making a plane so heavily reliant on complex software makes me very nervous.  Again, I am not an expert, but defense contracting over the past twenty years does not fill me full of faith.  Will the promises be kept?  Will the adversaries figure out ways to mitigate the advantages?

Of course, the argument is that if the adversary comes up with ways to fight the F-35, the code can be written and improved without having to build new planes.  Maybe.

All I really know is that this plane is very expensive, that its procurement process is very flawed, and that providing the adversary with only one plane to figure out does not seem that "strategic" to me.

Perhaps the fact that we have two competing faiths here--those that resolutely believe in the plane and those that resolutely do not believe in the plane--is the real problem.  Defense procurement should not be a matter of faith, right?

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