Temporal Disconnect

The cycles of obtaining and fielding defense capabilities are out of sync, and this is one of the challenges in creating relevant and affordable new programs, according to Neal Kacena of Lockheed’s Skunkworks. In an industry panel discussion at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday, Kacena noted that Moore’s law predicts computer technology turnover every 18 months, while most acquisition programs average 18 years, and the resulting products are in service as much as 81 years—the now-planned life expectancy of the B-52. Meanwhile, national strategy has been changing every one to eight years, and the changes are accelerating. To get new aircraft, “it’s taking longer, they cost more and they’re lasting longer,” he said, resulting in fewer people in industry who have design experience and few in government with acquisition experience.