[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Fri Jun 25 09:50:33 PDT 2010

On Jun 25, 2010, at 8:39 AM, Reese wrote:
> After 1989 (or was it 1991?), it was a weapon in need of an enemy,
> there wasn't one.

So we should just keep on using a 1960s model? Combat aircraft are a staple of warfare, it is silly to imply that there is no use at all for them. The F-22 was designed to be used as a next generation platform for a variety of roles.

> Are you purposely failing to mention the JSF (F-35) program? The
> increased costs of an alternate engine, parts inventory, training,
> etc. etc. etc. and that whole boondoggle. Not to mention that as a
> new design for a jet engine, it has been an abject waste with a
> significantly higher testing failure rate than the industry standard
> for new engine designs (about 1 failure per 13 hours versus 300 hours
> IIRC)?

I wasn't the one enumerating wasteful programs. Why would I mention it?

As it happens, yes I think the JSF program is a boondoggle. At the end of the day it is a jack-of-all-trades export version of the F-22 with some of the advanced technology removed. They wrapped several unrelated requirements into a single platform.

>>> The Osprey program,
>> Ignoring that this was again a very tiny fraction of the DoD budget,
> You keep saying that. How about you document it with some numbers?

You made the assertion, not I. Since you are too lazy, the annualized cost of the program to date is ~$900M.  Not even a lousy billion dollars. 

> Great R&D, with a lot of technical problems that resulted in a lot of
> crashes and the loss of a lot more lives than were necessary, with
> inadequate reversions to the drawing board and sometimes proceeding
> with operational testing even after flaws resulted in crashes and the
> unnecessary loss of our lives.

The Precautionary Principle is alive and well I see. I suppose you would have argued against the Apollo program too.

> It seems like another costly solution in search of an insignificant
> problem. Another style of mouse trap where the existing and less
> expensive traps work just fine, thank you very much.

Yes, so many countries and companies have tried to solve this design problem because there was no value in it. Naturally. It has a number of very compelling advantages that allow it to operate under a set of parameters no other type of aircraft comes close to matching. 

>>> or the development, manufacture, and maintenance
>>> of both tactical and ballistic nuclear weapons?
>> Development and manufacture?  The US has been dismantling these for a long time and currently has considerably fewer than Russia. The US hasn't produced a new design in ages.
> Don't avoid the issue. How much has been spent, since the decision to
> build Little Boy?

A lot, a long time ago. What does this have to do with defense spending in the modern era? This is completely irrelevant.  Are we going to talk about the arms spending minutiae of the Spanish-American War next?  We probably still have those weapons in storage too.

> It is your claim that the bulk of DoD spending is on personnel. Do
> you think the overseas bases are staffed by and paid for out of the
> budget of the State Department? Even if you are correct about the
> latter, what sort of wacky economics shell game is that?

Overseas bases are a vehicle for foreign aid. You know this.  Yes, the DoD has to pay for it, but the DoD maintains bases in a lot of places the DoD doesn't care about.

> I was expecting something that would make nuclear weapons impotent
> and obsolete, just like Reagan said. What were you expecting, a few
> [b|tr]illion a year for the military-industrial complex?

The point of the program was to make long-range weapons non-viable. It forces the battlefield toward a vastly more expensive equilibrium.

>> There are two problems.  First, the programs you mentioned add up to a drop in the DoD budget bucket.
> Again, you keep claiming that. Prove it.

You made the assertion that they were a big part of the DoD budget. If you haven't figured out Teh Interwebs then I can't help you. It isn't as though the DoD budget is a secret.

> So, what are these "many" that were "a monumental waste..."?

There aren't that many that have a large absolute price tag.  The JSF was and is a giant boondoggle. Rumsfeld was able to kill a bunch of expensive weapon programs that were designed for a backward-looking "land war in Europe" scenario.

> You keep singling out R&D. I'm not. Here's another failed program:
> Seawulf class submarines.

I keep singling out R&D because the rest of the budget is largely operational expense and Veteran Administration, which you are studiously ignoring.

The engineering that is done for US military R&D is extremely bleeding edge. Unlike many other countries, the US can't just copy design elements from other people in most cases. This, along with Congressional monkeying with the projects every year for pork-related purposes, creates a certain amount of risk that exists anytime you try to do something that has never been done before.  Or worse, several things that have never been done before, all in the same system.

> I leave as an exercise for you, proving your claims.

I really can't help someone who militantly refuses to use Google for something so widely documented that it is unclear why you are arguing from a position of ignorance in the first place. 

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