Thursday, August 30, 2007

why weapons cost so much

Writing in The American Interest, Edward Luttwak takes a run at the question of why modern weapons are so expensive. The problem, he suggests, is that the generals want essentially the same airplanes and tanks that they had in the 1940s, only equipped with the latest bells and whistles. Rather than adjust the iconic designs to the new technology, "we are shoving, cramming and molding such technology to fit into the nooks and crannies of 1945-era platforms," he writes. "Moreover, those traditional platforms mostly retain their 1945 character as autonomously operating units, even though in war they would always operate in groups of near-identical platforms and, increasingly likely, in joint configurations with other kinds of platforms."

Luttvak would, for example, build bulkier and more awkward aircraft to accommodate airborne radar. Instead, the military insists on miniaturizing the radar at great expense to fit in the traditional silhouette of a fighter plane.

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