Arms and Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Alliances in the Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry

By James Hasik | Go to book overview

8
The Two Towers
Concluding Advice to Small Firms, Large Firms,
and Governments

I often hear the words “future” and “strategic.” And when someone comes forward and
says, “This is a strategic deal,” I immediately say, “No.” Often, the word “strategic” can
be replaced with “not making money.” You have to throw people out of your office if
they didn't think things through.1

One of the long-standing difficulties with the arms industry is the intermittent nature of realistic feedback on one's efforts. Lately, however, some of the more innovative systems in the Western arsenal have been getting some intensive product testing. The 2003 campaign in Iraq and the insurgency that followed have provided an excellent lesson in how many categories of systems performed and interacted:

Precision-guided weapons (PGWs). These were used in huge numbers.
Launched from ground, sea, and air platforms, PGWs provided real-time,
adverse-weather lethality with consistency. The variety of PGWs available
demonstrated that the trade-offs among competing means of precision engage-
ment had sharpened. Older aircraft had become quite capable when equipped
with PGWs, particular those like the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM),
which required relatively well-defined and inexpensive integrations with the
launch aircraft. Indeed, the war in Iraq was fought with only one fighter or
bomber aircraft that was not available in 1991—the F-18E/F Super Hornet,
which is to some extent a derivative of its smaller cousin, the F-18C, which
fought in the first campaign. No F-22 Raptors or F-35 Joint Strike Fighters were
needed to defeat the Ba'athists. Commando forces demonstrated the leverage
that they provide the PGM carriers. As the late Art Cebrowski put it, the war
demonstrated a “new air-land dynamic: the discovery of a new 'sweet spot' in
the relationship between land and air warfare and a tighter integration of the
two.”2

Unmanned aircraft. While still somewhat experimental, their operational ef-
fectiveness was confirmed. The huge bandwidth requirements for their video
links helped push demand for communications satellite time to an order

-136-

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