In his book "Digital Soldiers" James Dunnigan reveals that throughout history, peacetime military spending is directed to make money for insiders. This tradition continues inside the powerful U.S. Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex, which President Eisenhower warned about 40 years ago. Past Presidents have promised reform, cutting fat, rightsizing, trimming infrastructure, and now, "leap ahead programs", but all bold attempts at change have been defeated. The Pentagon is now facing a crisis because the military services plan to purchase aircraft and equipment that cost three times more than current gear. The Generals and Admirals argue that new weaponry is much better and GIs deserve only the best, but they show no interest in cutting their forces to offset the cost. The Clinton administration ignored tough choices, so billions of dollars were wasted developing unneeded weapons. The burden now falls on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who must cancel some programs despite strong opposition from political mobsters. Rumsfeld's best option is simple; cancel all major military programs.
The air war over Iraq and Yugoslavia did not reveal the need for new fighters, but current plans devote most funding for new fighter-attack aircraft. The Navy F/A-18E/F fighter/attack aircraft has been in full production for two years, so its not a candidate for cancellation. However, the F/A-18E/F should be fitted with thrust vector canards. These were successfully tested on F/A-18Cs, so its bewildering they were not added to the F/A-18Es. The only explanation is that Boeing didn't want to make the F/A-18E as maneuverable as the F-22 Raptor, because it plans to charge twice as much for each obsolete F-22. The F-22s should be cancelled and its role filled at half the price by new F-15Gs, with the advanced engines and thrust vector canards planned for the F-22.
The Joint Strike Fighter has become three programs which use similar systems: a Navy catapult version to fly off carriers, a Marine Corps vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) version, and an Air Force version to operate from permanent airbases. Generals argued that no one aircraft could meet the needs of all three services, ignoring the success of the F-4 Phantom. The VTOL version offers the only needed capability as the Marine Corps' problem plagued Harriers need to be retired, and the only version with a firm allied commitment; Britain plans to buy hundreds. The Navy could use a VTOL squadron for each carrier air wing to provide the flexibility to operate from any ship. The Air Force could use some VTOL squadrons to operate in regions where large airfields are limited, or even fly from Navy ships.
Most Air Force fighter-attack squadrons can be filled by the F-16E, (now called F-16C Block 60). The F-16 is cheap, proven, and the best fighter in the world. The A-10 remains the best attack aircraft in the world and should be overhauled for another 20 years of service. Investments to improve air dominance should be allocated to long-range air-to-air missiles, modern guns, and new airborne phased-array radar to replace the ageing AWACS. In addition, all services agree that more electronic warfare jamming aircraft are urgently needed, but refuse to budget for any. The USA has thousands of attack aircraft, but only 123 old EA-6B electronic jamming aircraft. The obvious solution is hundreds of new EA-18G "Growlers", which is a proposed two-seat Navy F/A-18F modified for EA-6B systems.
Cutting back the numerous fighter-attack programs will free funds for mobility. The basic guidance provided by President Bush last May was: "I'm committed to building a future force that is defined less by size and more by mobility and swiftness". However, only two of the Pentagon's major programs are devoted to mobility. The MV-22 Osprey has failed, so the Marines should buy the Navy MH-60S and expand and upgrade its fleet of large helicopters to the CH-53F. The U.S. Army admits that it desperately needs more mobility, so it should buy 1000 new CH-53F heavy-lift helicopters instead of 1000 expensive Comanche reconnaissance helicopters. The C-17 air transport is undersized and overpriced, a military C-747 would be better. This could be combined with the urgent need for new tankers, bombers, and airborne aircraft carriers as part of a Boeing CX program to buy 800 747X at half price. A B-747 bomber with 100 cruise missiles is far more mobile and far less costly than the proposal to convert two Trident submarines. Finally, if the U.S. military wants to rapidly deploy anywhere, it needs CL-130 seaplanes.
The tremendous shortfall in sealift will remain in 2002 when the medium roll-on/roll-off ship construction program ends. The Army needs another 50 ships to rapidly deploy a heavy division from each coast. The Army should also reactivate some LST ships, overhaul them, load them for heavy combat, and position them overseas with soldiers on board. This will allow the U.S. Army to rapidly deploy real combat power and abandon the awful idea idea of buying thousands of light armor vehicles to deploy by air. The Army also needs to fund two LHD helicopter carriers so it can rapidly deploy helicopters from each coast. The Army must shift some manpower funding to the Navy to crew these ships, which is possible by deactivating excess heavy Corps support units, like two armored cavalry regiments and three artillery brigades. The Army could also save billions of dollars by closing excess bases in Germany and Korea.
The Army must stop wasting money the Bradley armored "things" and buy armored vehicles which can be carried inside heavy lift helicopters, like the German Wiesel. The Army should scrap 6000 of its 8000 M1 series tanks (which eat up half its operational budget) and use the saving to upgrade the remaining 2000 heavy tanks to an M1A3 model with a fuel-efficient diesel engine. The eight Army National Guard divisions need to shed most of their armored vehicles and reorganize for urban infantry operations. Both the Army and Marine Corps must stop throwing money at the failed lightweight 155mm towed howitzer program and buy 155mm mortars instead, which can also replace the 105mm towed howitzers and 120mm mortars to simplify logistics. Spending billions of dollars for the Army Crusader 155mm self-propelled howitzer system is unnecessary, especially since the big problem is ammo resupply. The current Paladin works great, and would be far more effective if more FAASVs supply vehicles were purchased to allow two per gun, and CH-53Fs were available to move ammo.
The Marine Corps also needs small armored vehicles for heliborne landings and to provide better direct fire support than the HMMWV weapons platforms. The Corps also need the M1A3 tank upgrades and modern body armor, rather than 1000 unreliable, gas-guzzling Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles, which will cost $12 million each. The biggest warfighting shortfall for both the Army and Marine Corps is command and control, which is why each ground combat division needs a squadron of E-2C Hawkeyes. Finally, if the Army, Navy, and Marines truly want precision firepower, they need to deploy E-FOG missiles and ground-based Hellfire missile systems.
The U.S. Navy is captive to the political clout of shipyards and the tradition of buying the same things. There is no need to spend billions of dollars to build new aircraft carrier hulls or new Virginia class submarine hulls, and then spend billions of dollars to scrap older ones and their contaminated nuclear reactors. The Navy should just send the nuclear carriers and Los Angeles class submarines through a multi-decade overhaul/upgrade program. The DD-21 advanced destroyer program promises to slash manpower, but no realistic designs have appeared. The Navy should look at ways to trim manpower from the current DDG-51 design, and fit the ship on trimaran hulls to make them almost unsinkable. All cruisers and destroyers should be refitted with MK-71 8-inch naval guns to double their shore attack firepower. The Navy also needs smaller ships for smaller missions, so it should buy some frigates. Finally, the Navy must avoid another Pearl Harbor and build secure ports facilities, especially at overseas bases.
National Missile Defense is not a military program, but a jobs program with big profits for the aerospace industry. The most promising advance in space remains unfunded, the Discoverer program, which seeks to track aircraft and vehicles by satellite. One of the biggest barriers to space remains the high cost of rockets to launch satellites, which generate high profits for the rocketeers. Using large commercial aircraft to launch rockets with satellites at 40,000 feet can cut costs in half, which has already been proven by Orbital Sciences. An even cheaper method is to launch satellites with huge guns, as Dr. Gerald Bull proved in the 1970s when his team fired workable satellites into space from long-barreled 16-inch guns.
The U.S. military cannot afford the weapons it needs unless Donald Rumsfeld cancels the weapons it does not need, which is all of the major weapons under development. Many new technologies can allow the U.S. military to leap ahead, and several unglamorous transport programs are essential for worldwide power projection. The USA can double its military power without increasing its defense budget if the necessary programs are funded. However, nothing is affordable unless Rumsfeld cancels Cold War weapons programs run by Washington mobsters and supported by citizens who think the U.S. military is a jobs program.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
July 2001 Articles
have been returned to the Members Library
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
Airborne Aircraft Carriers - F-16s can conduct global strike missions from KC-10s
Hawkeye - ground troops need command from the air
Trimaran Warships - a leap ahead
Thrust Vector Canards - revolutionary fighter technology ignored
Ground Hellfires - the ultimate light anti-tank system
V-22 Osprey Lies - keeping a failed program funded
Previous G2mil - June 2001 issue
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All material in G2mil Copyright 2001 G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to the index page (www.G2mil.com) are encouraged, other page names change often.