Why modern weapons takes forever to be in service?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by vashstampede, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Back in WWII, both sides roll out newer and better weapons very quickly. During the course of a few years back then, many weapons rose and fell because of better weapons on the other side was designed to counter them. It didn't take long for something to counter something else.

    Now, each newer version of tanks, jets, helicopters, etc. take forever in the testing stage. Sometimes it take a decade or two before something can be finally in production.

    Once something is in the service, they also stay there for 3~4 decades before being phased out.

    Is the much slower pace of development of newer weapons a result of no hurry in peace time? Or is it because the modern weapon systems are too complex to be rushed? Or was it because the WWII weapons had to be rushed out for emergency before all the problems are fixed?
  2. skyblue

    skyblue Active Member

    I think it's because the people have no will to support the development of new weapons for defense of our nation. The majority falsely believes that new technology just happens, by whim or accident. This is similar to the notion that products in the market just appear when ever there is demand. It is a total denial of reality, in my opinion. When the powers that be deem to fund a new weapon, the emphasis is on safety and graft, not effectiveness. We live in an era of downsizing and decommissioning of stocks. We are leaving ourselves open to attack with such policies.
  3. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    It was just in the news yesterday. F-35 program has been delayed again and again due to many unsolved problems during the testing. It has been a decade? With over $300 billion down the toilet in the development cost. The initial contract with Lock Martin was to have them start delivering F-35 at $68? million per unit. Now the unit cost has been more than doubled, and they can still not deliver more than a few dozens beta testing units. It was said that the mass production was delayed from 2012 to 2020.

    If any WWII weapons were delayed like that, the war couldn't possibility continue.
  4. cyberrunner

    cyberrunner New Member

    I agree with you. A perfect example to depict this case would be the technological advances which took place during the Pacific War. In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US planes ; namely the Wildcats proved to be no match to the superior and faster Japanese Zeros. The war had a life span of around 4 years and it was during this small time period that the US was able to design and mass produce a better plane; the Hellcat to take on the Jap zeros.

    Several factors also come into play here. The US was under eminent threat at that time because they had only one Aircraft Carrier, The USS Enterprise at their disposal to counter the advancing Imperial Navy. Hence, I believe that with the threat of an impending Japanese assault on the US mainland, they outperformed themselves and they delivered the goods.

    Now, today we have a joint private - public sector partnership in weapons development and I believe that if they provide new equipment at the pace they used to during the ww2 it would just not be profitable.

    But, Can they produce something on the go at a short notice ? Absolutely. During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980, the US launched operation Credible Sport where they retrofitted and redesigned a C-130 within weeks such that it could take off and land on a soccer stadium.
  5. skyblue

    skyblue Active Member

    That is the graft I was talking about, this mixture of government and business is crony capitalism of the worse kind. Projects without end and with unlimited tax payer funded budgets, delayed or not, have destroyed our ability to produce and soured public opinion on defense spending in general. Could it change? I hope so, but I'm not betting on it. Meanwhile, defense cuts are the only budget cuts I have seen proposed in government spending so far this year.
  6. Vercingetorix

    Vercingetorix Member

    While many of the points raised in this thread are valid, we must also consider that it makes sense, from an economic standpoint, to devote a greater share of resources to the military during a war than during peace-time. Don't think there wasn't waste during the war - war IS waste. Especially with the "cost-plus" system of reimbursing contractors, which was used extensively during WWII, there was very little incentive to keep costs down. The focus was on rushing everything into production and producing the most units possible, and to hell with the costs. I think the military today is rightly concerned with safety at the expense of innovation. Why rush some piece of equipment into production, at the cost of perhaps 100 or 200 lives when there is no pressing need for it? During WWII, 100 or 200 lives was small potatoes when a failure to develop the necessary weapons would have resulted in many more deaths than that.

    I would like to make an analogy. Suppose there was an outbreak of a terrible, highly contagious disease today. Millions of people in the United States are at risk of infection. It can be treated pretty successfully, but those who are untreated have a mortality rate of 50%. The United States would probably shift immense resources into preventing and treating this disease. New vaccines and treatments would be tried very quickly and medicines would be produced and delivered to the people who are affected. In many cases, the medicines would be overproduced, or sent to people who had already been treated, or sent to people who were not at risk at all. This kind of waste is the price that has to be paid when you just absolutely have to get something done. Now, after the epidemic is over, the country would naturally scale back its spending on health and treatment, and pharmaceutical products would be approved for use in a more deliberate and leisurely schedule.
  7. blindwarrior

    blindwarrior Member

    The main reason is that the military spending budget is smaller in peace time. You can't justify spending 70-80% of your GDP on arms development when there is no clear reason to do so. Also the weapons in use today are what WWII weapons were to sticks and stones, building something so complex needs time. Finally, the U.S. up until know didn't have a competitor since the fall of the Soviet Union, now with China entering the game, things could change.
  8. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    What percentage of GDP of the U.S. were used for military during WWII?

    Current military spending is getting out of hand already in my opinion. It is over $600 billion per year while not even including all the money spent on hundreds oversea bases, nor including the money spent on wars, nor including the money for some classified projects.

    I don't think the budget is a problem.

    China never entered the game. They want nothing more than secure their own interest at home and around the border. Ex: They claim some islands in dispute, which are all right at their doorstep. They have no ambition beyond that.
    The way I see it is that the U.S. government always need a foe to justify the military spending.
    The truth is, China needs the U.S. market to fuel their economy growth.
  9. Adlai

    Adlai New Member

    In addition to everything that has been said here:

    Any new technologies need to be fully accepted by a military before they're put into use. Doctrines need to be developed, personnel need to be trained in operating and maintaining the new equipment, and existing units need to be restructured to account for new or different equipment. Armies are large organizations and notoriously slow to change, so even if a new development has clear advantages over its predecessors, it takes years to reach widespread adoption.

    A good example of this is the Tavor Assault Rifle. Its design was completed in 2001, yet more than a decade later, many IDF infantry units still use the M-16, not to mention all the reserve units still using older rifles.
  10. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    War speeds up development of technology. Peace slows it down. It is as simple as that. Because of the political situation in the late 1930's the RAF placed orders for the Supermarine Spitfire straight from the drawing board, no long winded "development" programme, no long term evaluation of prototypes, just build it now and build it fast.
    Thank god it performed as per the brochure.
  11. The main cause of this is that most of the populace does not think there is any threat to our way of life since the end of the Cold War; even terrorism is not seen as a real threat anymore. Never mind that Russia is still making weapons on par with anything we have and is an unstable as ever, or that China, North Korea, and Russia are selling weapons to the Middle East, or that much of Europe hates our guts and wants us out of world affairs. The average American is extremely ignorant of world affairs, more worried about the Kardashians and latest movie than our own government policies.
  12. groundhugger

    groundhugger Member

    At the start of WW2 they were still using biplanes little better than those used 20 years before , but in a space of 5 years technology was fast forwarded so that jet aircraft , intercontinental ballistic weapons and nuclear bombs were in the armoury of Nations , the impetus of fear driving nations to out do each others inventions rendering them obsolete before they leave the drawing board , as soon as peace arrives that momentum declines to a 'tickover' to keep the Industrial military complex alive . once 'fear' is removed from the equation then theres no impetus for change .

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