When one invests, they don't put all their cash into one company's future. It is risky and foolish to bet on one company becoming the next Amazon or Apple. That same concept works for government. Government should not invest in a shaky system that may or may not work as advertised.
Incoming President Joe Biden is vowing that his administration will include a wide range of leaders. CNN reports that: ''The President-elect noted the group of nominees he has named so far constitutes 'the most diverse Cabinet anyone in American history has ever announced.'''
Diversity of thought is not what CNN is talking about and the diversity of strategies is an important aspect of diversity.
If diversity is a goal of the Biden administration, it should focus on military systems as well. The United States is putting too much faith in one weapon, and needs diversity. The way to get that is to invest in other platforms, too.
So far, the program that is getting all the financial support is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The JSF was rolled out decades ago and was supposed to be a one-size-fits-all weapon. It would work for the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps. It would be a stealth jet, able to attack over long distances and still land on a moving aircraft carrier.
Instead of saving money, though, the JSF has always overcharged and underdelivered.
It's the most expensive weapon system in world history, and the price just keeps going up.
The concern these days isn't simply getting the jets, although they are expensive. Another problem is finding ways to keep them in the air. In 2014, a government report noted that ''the F-35 fleet would have operating costs 79 percent higher than the aircraft it was to replace.''
Those costs just keep climbing as the system keeps breaking down and requiring expensive retrofits. This year, the House Oversight and Reform Committee wrote that the Pentagon will face ''excess costs'' as it ''must divert personnel to troubleshoot these issues and use extensive workarounds to keep F-35 planes flying.''
Further, the government's own auditors report that the ''F-35 program test officials had identified over 3,200 deficiencies.'' Those include ''specific instances where the weapon system either does not meet requirements or where the safety, suitability, or effectiveness of the weapon system could be affected.''
Luckily, military leaders finally see the risks. They are already developing a better approach.
The Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, approved by the Pentagon, would provide diversity in the Air Force's fighter jet production to combat emerging threats. ''Instead of building one sixth-generation fighter to serve for 25 years, NGAD is being pursued as part of Roper's Digital Century Series concept aimed at pumping out fighters with new capabilities every five years or so,'' writes Theresa Hitchens at the trade publication Breaking Defense:
''According to Roper, the Air Force could build a series of aircraft with each optimized for a slightly different piece of the air dominance mission — i.e. one aircraft with a cutting-edge weapon system; one with a super-long range targeting system, etc.''
This makes sense.
Having a number of weapons in development would allow the military to tailor its systems to developing threats, and would prevent it from being tied to one weapon that, like the F-35, may not work well.
It's impossible to say what the future of warfare will look like, but there's no doubt that a country will need multiple systems to fight effectively. The NGAD is a big step in the right direction.
The F-35 is, by military standards, an old weapon. Enemies have been studying it for decades, and have figured out ways to defeat its main advantage: stealth technology. In fact, the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile battery was specifically designed to defend against F-35 stealth fighters.
The Biden administration has a unique opportunity to save money and improve national defense. It's time to spend less on the F-35 and embrace the NGAD as the next step in U.S. air defense. The NGAD delivers diversity, and represents the best way to move forward for our military.
Diversity is a great concept when it comes to investing and the same applies to government contracting.
It is important for the federal government not to get locked into an investment that may fail and hurt the taxpayer.
If you would not pile all your money into one investment opportunity, it makes sense that the federal government also should not pile one contract on one weapons system that already has proven to be a risky investment.
Dan Perkins is an author of both thrillers and children's books. He appears on over 1,100 radio stations. Mr. Perkins appears regularly on international TV talk shows, serves as current events commentator for seven blogs, and is a philanthropist with his foundation for American veterans, Songs and Stories for Soldiers, Inc. More information about him, his writings, and other works are available on his website, DanPerkins.guru. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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