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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Updating Your Army, Navy, and Air Force Weapons Once Every 100 Years is not Wasteful Spending:

The New York Times today is complaining that Republicans want to build new carriers, even though we already have ten carriers that work 'perfectly fine.'  What they leave out is that our goal is not to increase our carrier fleet to twenty carriers, our goal is simply to replace our aging, antique carriers with state of the art 21st century carriers that take advantage of a century of technological progress since the last time we went shipbuilding.

What we are building are Gerald Ford class carriers.  What we are replacing are Nimitz class carriers.  The first Nimitz carrier was built in 1975.  Assuming a similar lifespan to the Gerald Ford class carrier line, if we finish building a Ford carrier this year as planned, we won't have any new carriers, other than Ford types, until 2055.  Which means, over the course of 80 years, the US Navy asked for just one upgrade of its armaments.  And this is considered wasteful spending by the Democrats?  Even in the medieval era there were enough improvements of smithing, armor, crossbows and longbows to warrant updating your troops' weapons more than once a century.  The introduction of pikes, for instance.  Or the crank crossbow.  Any number of new artillery mortars were built from the 1300's on.  If the King of France had said he wanted to save money by not rolling out any new artillery for a century, his court would have called him 'Mad King Louis.'

The same is true of the US main battle tank.  The M1 tank was first built in 1979.  There are currently no plans for any tank to be built other than more M1's.  So we're 36 years into the lifespan of this same tank with no end in sight.  This does not sound like the US Army is greedy for more 'toys' than it needs to stay abreast of technological progress.

The F-15 started in 1972.  It still hasn't been replaced by anything.  Likewise, the F-16 began in 1974 with no end in sight.  At first we hoped to replace the F-16 in 2025 with the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35), but that hasn't panned out as the F-35 has had tons of delays.  Instead, the F-16 is expected to fly well past that 2025 figure until God knows when.  the F-15 is also expected to stay in service well past 2025.  So we're looking at no new generation of fighter planes for at least 50 years, but more like 75 years.  The F-22 is a specialized air combat fighter, of which we only have a handful, and can't possibly replace the entire F-15, F-16, and F-18 fleet the US currently wields.  If the Joint Strike Fighter isn't built, like some Democrats want to cancel the program due to its cost overruns and delays of schedule, then we'll literally have nothing left to replace 100 year old fighter jets still plying the skies like freaking wooden ships with masts patrolling the sea. 

The F-35 is slowly but surely being tested and bug-fixed until the day it can truly be deployed, the current estimate of the F-35's 'full production run' is 2018.  After all the delays it's had so far, you can't count on that estimate either.  Imagine scrapping this plane now, after decades of planning and testing, and starting all over again to satisfy critics of its 'runaway costs.'  It would be another twenty years until we saw our first new plane in the sky.  The F-35 is all we've got.  We have to have this plane, our first new plane in half a century, with an expected life-cycle of 65 years.  IE, this is going to be our only new plane for an entire century.  Asking for one new plane in our armed forces per century is not corruption, it's not a military-industrial complex, and it's not pork.

In an age when computers are updated every few years, when smartphones and tablets are updated yearly, when TV's keep improving every couple years, you're telling me that military hardware should refrain from upgrading itself even once a century?  That it's wasteful to not just keep plugging away with WW II bombers (Yes, the B-52, which we're still using today) until Jesus returns to Earth and brings about Armageddon?

There are ways to cut military spending, without cutting military research and development.  We should be shrinking the quantity of our military, not its quality.  The USA should always arm its troops with the absolute best the world can provide.  We should go into every battle with absolute firepower superiority.  We should engage in every fight with the expectation that the casualty ratio should be 100-to-1, or 1000-to-1, or infinity-to-1.  It's the least we can do for our troops, who have a hard enough time living abroad in the wilderness doing the dirty jobs we ask of them for virtually no pay.

If we give our troops good enough weaponry, we won't need nearly as many of them to actually be deployed in battle.  And with fewer troops deployed, we need less supplies feeding them, which helps our entire logistical chain save billions.  Fight smarter, not harder.  One of the advantages of the Gerald Ford carriers is that they require far fewer crew members to operate, even while being able to sortie more fighters per hour than the Nimitz could.  This is a beautiful, elegant new ship that belongs in the 21st century.  We need to be doing the same thing across the board.  If you want to make cuts in the military, cut the size of the military.  Do not cut our new procurement programs.  One new weapon per century is not one too many. 

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