Danger Room: Darpa’s “Sim Tank” Could Reboot Pentagon’s Arsenal


Categorie: David Axe, Industry, Vehicles |
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With the latest delays, it now seems likely the Joint Strike Fighter program will take 21 years from concept to combat-readiness. And that’s all-too-typical for a major U.S. weapon program; the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and the F-22 stealth jet took just as long. These decades-long developments aren’t just a waste of time, effort, and cash. They can be self-defeating. “When systems finally reach the users, the world has changed around them,” Bill Sweetman warns at Ares. If the military isn’t careful, it could pour hundreds of billions of dollars into weapons that are obsolete the day they enter service.

It’s for that reason that a small cadre of Air Force officers, including Lt. Col. Dan War, advocated a new, “fast, inexpensive, simple and tiny” approach to buying weapons, aiming to reduce 20-year development cycles to just three years by using mostly off-the-shelf components. The “FIST” concept saw its first big success with the MC-12W spy plane, which went from blueprint to combat in just 13 months.

Now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to do the same for Army ground vehicles. Darpa’s Adaptive Vehicle Make initiative means to replace old-school, metal-bending prototyping with new, speedy computer modeling taking a fraction of the time. “We look forward to tackling some very challenging fundamental problems that, once solved, offer the potential to truly revolutionize the way we make products in the defense industry and beyond,” AVM manager Paul Eremenko said.

Read the rest at Danger Room.


4 Responses to “Danger Room: Darpa’s “Sim Tank” Could Reboot Pentagon’s Arsenal”

  1. Marcase says:

    “replace old-school, metal-bending prototyping with new, speedy computer modeling taking a fraction of the time.”

    They tried that with the LPD-17, apparently didn’t worked out so well (understatement).

  2. Paralus says:

    Devolve the technology to that which can be employed by the lowest cadre in the force, decentralize the force and hire/train the absolute best soldiers that can be recruited. The collective talent and brain power of such a force would be far too resourceful, ingenious and devious for any foe to take lightly.

    The more impact weapon systems or vehicles have upon average soldiers ability to fight, the more dangerous that force would become.

    Ditch the gold-plaited junk coming out of the Soviet Design Bureaus of Boeing, Northrup, BAE, GD, etc. start designing and building things that keep the soldier mobile, invisible, informed, decentralized and lethal.

    No opposing force would be able to anticipate when, how many or from which direction influence could be directed upon it.

  3. Brian Black says:

    After years of complaints about the suitability of the UK’s too lightly protected snatch Landrovers, the Ocelot LPV -which is due to begin replacing them in Afghanistan next year- was designed, tested and production ready in under 18 months.

    The relatively short time between concept and production model has been largely put down to computer modeling, so it certainly has the potential to speed things up a bit. (The Ocelot is also being looked at by the US military for its own requirement for a light armoured vehicle).

    I think the secret for success is to get the equipment -whatever it is- designed and built before a politician or civil servant can start changing the goalposts.

  4. Brian Black says:

    I think that a little more financial realism is also necessary. My image of defence procurement is of drooling generals and admirals pointing at artists’ impressions of world war 3 equipment and deciding that they can’t do without it, without any consideration of cost.

    I’m sure that the Osprey is a lovely piece of kit, but I wonder if the cost versus benefit equation really justifies the money spent on it. I wonder too whether a little more smart thinking couldn’t have been applied to the F22. If the F22 had been developed with the joint service concept of the F35 in mind then maybe the resulting aircraft might have been something cheaper and more suitable than what has been the outcome of both programmes so far.

    There has to be some acceptance of in-built obsolescence though. If I buy a top-of-the-range new TV, then six months later it’s out of date. Developing a new weapons system is always going to take time; the people responsible for procurement maybe just need to set their sights a little lower when looking at the capabilities that they require from individual items of new kit.

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