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03 October 2011

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Hear, hear.

And not only is there Moore's Law viz the decades-to-be-calcified stealth form factors and fairly small materials-derived RCS reducing factors, but signal processing in general is also proceeding apace. Stealthiness in aircraft is bound to become, or has become already, analogous to the value of the submarine; merely being under the surface is very advantageous and discrete for the majority case when an adversary is not at high alert, but the technology to find outpaces the technology to hide and so the risk window for adversary-on-high-alert operations will become larger with time until we get the cloaking device ready for airframes (http://www.gizmag.com/invisibility-cloak-mirages/20048/).

Even the most concerted and high fidelity systems engineering efforts, like all forms of planning and modeling, will not erase the inevitable learn-as-you-go and assumptions-reality mismatch but it is, when seriously embarked upon, worth the effort. Concurrency is fine for smart phone apps and low cost consumer electronics but our low production volume weapons systems programs do not succeed absent a sound upfront SE. E.g. was X-35 the JSF tech dev prototype or was Block III? Block IV plus all of the ECPs so far might be an EMD phase. Well, anything goes when there's no plan B...

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  • James Hasik is a senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, and an associate professor of the practice of industrial studies at the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, a college of the National Defense University in Washington DC. Since September 2001, he has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them. His opinions are not necessarily those of the NDU, the Defense Department, or the US federal government at all.

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