Retired Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzreim, director of research at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, hosts John D. Corley, ordnance sciences core technical competencies lead, Air Force Research Laboratory and the Mitchell Institute’s dean, retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, and director of future concepts and capability assessments, retired Col. Mark Gunzinger. Watch the video or read the transcript below. This transcript is made possible through the sponsorship of JobsOhio.
Retired Maj. Gen. Larry Stutzreim: I’m Larry Stutzreim, retired major general, Air Force, and I’m director of research at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. And today we’re going to talk about the munitions of tomorrow. We’ll be discussing the need for a cost-effective mix of precision-guided munitions to meet the work time demands of near-peer conflict. I have to echo the words of Air Combat Command commander, [Gen.] Mark Kelly. He said something from last September—that we’re not going to be a fifth-generation Air Force until its fifth-generation fighters have picked fifth-generation weapons and fifth-generation sensing.
Well, the same holds true for our bombers. And while we made a lot of headway and aircraft types like the F-35, and the B-21, we need to arm them for success.
On top of this, we lack a deep bench of stores for them to be successful when it comes to key weapons. We’ve also sized the munitions industrial complex to lack ability to surge production in time of need, especially in some of the more exquisite systems that we’ll need in large numbers when the shooting starts.
This all adds up to the conclusion that it’s time to have a concerted focus on munitions. So we will, so let me introduce our panel.
First, I’d like to welcome Lieutenant General Dave Deptula, also from the Air Force, retired. He’s our dean at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. I’ve worked for him for the last 20 years on and off and those of us who have worked for him refer to him as the avenging angel of airpower. And he is.
And we also have with us from Mitchell Institute my friend here, Mark “Gonzo” Gunzinger. He’s the bombastic Big Bopper of the bomber, flying the B-52. But later in his career, both in the military and as a civil servant, he became deeply involved in policy and planning. He was a deputy assistant [unintelligible] for force planning.
And then we have to my far left here we have Dr. John Corley. He’s lead for ordnance science at AFRL Munitions Directorate. And you might refer to him as Mr. Peabody and Sherman of things that go boom, there we go. Yeah, okay. And a piece of history that’s interesting about him is back in Desert Storm, he’s the man that brought GBU 28 across the finish line.
John D. Corley: One of many.
Stutzreim: That was the, for you youngsters, that was the bunker buster that brought Saddam Hussein to his knees. So we’ve got a distinguished panel. And of course, Gonzo Gunzinger has done recently a report about the need to have the right cost-effective mix of precision-guided munitions to meet the future demands of conflict. And Gonzo, I’m going to ask you to give a short summary of your findings of that report and then I’d like to offer general deputy and Dr. Corley, make some opening comment.
Retired Col. Mark Gunzinger: Hey, thanks for coming. I really appreciate you showing up on this critically important topic. I’ve been engaged in examinations requirements for whole probably 20 years in the Air Force, and then the office of the Secretary of Defense where I had oversight of that portfolio for Secretary [Robert] Gates. So in talking about future requirements, it’s always important to ground them in our strategy, our national defense strategy. Our strategy requires the services. First slide.
To size your forces to defeat a pear adversary’s invasion of an area that they seek to dominate, much as we’re seeing right now in Ukraine, now that’s going to require our forces to go on the offensive within hours—not wait weeks—to build up a force structure in theater before kicking off a campaign.
Of course, by then China or Russia will have achieved their objectives. And that means that aerospace power will be the predominant means to rapidly respond from inside and outside of theater to strike those thousands of targets in hundreds of hours. They’re needed to blunt an invasion.
Next slide. That said, it’s well known that our PGM inventory has been sized in the past for lesser regional conflicts. And DoD has chronically underfunded its weapons programs. And undersized PGM inventory means our forces may not have the weapons they need for a high-intensity conflict, especially one that is not short, sharp. Now this example shows our Air Force could quickly expand it’s in theater JASSMs and LRASMs on the residence in an operation to blunt invasion of Taiwan. But the real question is, if you looked at the chart, what kind of weapons would they have to use after day 12 or 13? Have that kind of campaign as using non-stealth, non-survivable weapons would decrease the effectiveness of our strikes. And going back to relying on direct attack weapons like we’ve used in Iraq or Syria and Afghanistan the past 20 years, we increase risk to our air forces operating in highly contested environments.
Next slide. So in addition to capacity, DoD’s current PGM-mix is unbalanced, which is why we’re hearing so much about the need for a different mix of weapons in the future. The preponderance of the Air Force’s PGMs are direct-attack weapons, which are best suited for strikes in permissive environments, like I said, plus a much smaller number of those longer range standoff weapons.
Now, that made sense in the past, where our aircraft were not threatened by advance IADs. Strikes with short-range, direct-attack weapons will not be the norm in a fight with China. And as the slide says, very long range weapons tend to be larger, which reduces the number that can be carried per sortie and more constantly, which reduces the number that our military can afford to buy.
So an unbalanced PGMs can reduce the number of targets that we can attack with acceptable risk. And that’s why we need a family of next generation mid-range weapons. So as you see on the chart, weapons that are sized to fit internally in our fifth and sixth generation aircraft to maximize their lethality and bring to the flight what no other service can and as the penetrating strike capacity, they’ll be decisive.
Next slide. So, our force planners must also consider the characteristics of future target sets as they develop weapons requirements. Now to cite Secretary Kendall, our target set in a war a China would be very different in the target set that China is preparing to attack—which is why simply replicating the kinds of weapons that China’s investment doesn’t make sense for us.
So I actually … adapted this chart for one use 12 years ago, to illustrate the need for a new penetrating bomber. [It] shows some of the advantages and disadvantages of penetrating and standoff weapons. Many of which are related to their attributes such as their warheads sizes, their flight times and so forth. China, as is Russia, as is North Korea and Iran, [are] using mobility hardening deeply buried facilities camouflage and other means to degrade our strike effectiveness. Our best long range standoff weapons simply can’t carry warheads that are large enough to penetrate very hard people vary targets and their longer flight times can reduce your effectiveness on mobile targets which is what you see on the slide.
The point is, it’s those kinds of assessments that are needed to define the right mix of weapons in our future inventory. Next slide. So also touch on survivability, which John I think you’re going to get into, but by that I mean the ability of individual weapons to survive to reach their aim points. Now this [is] based on simple math. It shows it as enemy defenses become more capable of tracking and interdicting our weapons, individual PGMs, the number of weapons and sorties needed to strike a given target set increases. It’s logical. The point is, simply throwing more sorties and legacy weapons at this problem isn’t feasible. Our Air Force, the [unintelligible] is about half the size of the force was on the ramp during Desert Storm. We simply can’t generate those kinds of sorties needed to overcome these weapons losses. A better choice is to acquire a new generation of PGMs that are low observable, can maneuver, fly at higher speeds and so forth, otherwise designed to survive. Next slide. For wrap up, it’s also important to seek the right balance between the range, the size, the survivability, and the cost of our future PGMs. Now as Secretary Kendall has said, cost effectiveness is a major consideration for our weapons investments, especially for weapons are going to be used in peer fights, where we may have to expend tens and tens of thousands of them. So as this chart shows, weapon unit costs tend to increase with their range and their [unintelligible]. And that’s why in our report, we recommended investing in a family of those mid-range weapons range between 50 to 250 nautical miles after release, that a unit costs somewhere in the range of $300,000 or maybe even less. And that’s what the little table on the chart shows: how many of those weapons can we buy for $5 billion, which is really pretty reasonable for a munitions program. And how many days a combat could they support if launch at a reasonable rate of 500 per day?
And finally, next slide. While DoD should certainly field some hypersonic weapons, their high cost could constrain how many you can afford to buy, especially if you’re looking at very expensive boost glide weapons on the order of the long range hypersonic weapon the Army is investing in, which could cost somewhere between $40 [million] and $50 million per shot or per target, if you will. So that’s back to you for questions. Again, thanks for coming.
Stutzreim: General Deptula, response?
Retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula: Well, greetings everyone. As you might expect, I fully support the work of Col. Gunzinger, more affectionately known as Gonzo. His paper, for those of you who haven’t read it, I’d certainly committed to you as it provides a foundation for I think the Air Force ought to be planning. After decades of deferred and canceled modernization programs, the Air Force’s lead over pure competitors is eroding. And we’re just simply undersized for the operational demands that we’re asked to meet. Unfortunately, during peacetime, one of the places that programmers go to find funds for other priorities are the munitions accounts. Now that’s because there are very few advocates for increasing munition inventories during peacetime therefore, when conflict does break out, we find ourselves facing munition shortages just when we need them in great or at least sufficient quantities.
You know as you get older you tend to tell more war stories, but I vividly recall during the opening months of Operation Enduring Freedom when I was the combined air operations … commander, [I] basically got a message saying hey, stopping using so many PGMs every day, you know, our stocks are getting low. And I’m thinking to myself, hey, we’ve only been doing this for three weeks. And we’re only hittng 70 to 80 DMPEs a day—desired mean points of impact. I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me. We’re starting to run low. This is Afghanistan. You know, these are 16th century tribesmen that we’re going against, not the Russians or the Chinese. The bottom line is, imagine a modern major regional conflict was on the order of 100,000 aim points in a matter of a few months. But as Gonzo alluded to in this day, and age, it’s not just about quantity. We’re faced with issues of manpower to build up weapons, survivability characteristics, range, adaptability to various targets, and many, many issues as those of you who are experts in munitions in here are aware of. So what the Air Force needs to do—it’s got to move out smartly to develop a new generation of mid-range standing PGMs that cost less than long range standoff weapons, to help develop a sufficient PGM inventory. Look, we’re not going to do 100,000 plus aim points with standoff. There’s not enough money in the Department of Defense to be able to do that. But we do need to be able to prepare to take care of that number of targets. So the next-generation stand-in PGMs, designed with low observability and other features to penetrate advanced integrated air defense systems, are kind of key to our ability to maintain that kind of deterrent effect that hopefully we’ll get back to being able to accomplish so we can prevent the kinds of things that we’re seeing in Europe today happening in other places around the world. Combining the range survivability and ability of penetrating aircraft to complete kill chains independently with next-generation standing PGMs will significantly increase the Air Force’s lethality and is something we got to move off of PowerPoint into production.
Stutzreim: Thanks, boss. Dr. Corley, comments.
Corley: Well, again, thanks for the opportunity to be here and to speak to AFA [and] to represent AFRL munitions directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, and Colonel Meeks as the director there. I’d say yes. And so I think, obviously, we need something between hypersonic weapons and standard in, you know, direct attack munitions, and something that’s affordable. And I’d say a subset of affordable mass would be affordable standoff. So I think we don’t have to necessarily go hypersonic to get in. To get in quick we can have a high speed cruise missile, that for Mike that’s much more affordable using much more mature technology in the near term, something like a high-mach turbine engine that could not only get us to the target at supersonic speeds but also generate power on the way to the target so that you could even increase this range.
So I think it’s not unimaginable that you could have a you know, excess of 1,000 miles’ range, you know, if you’re just at the warhead, and you’re trading trading fuel for warhead space.
Matter of fact, we’re working on a concept at AFRL called the affordable excuse me, it’s called the air launch response to strike missile. And it does just that, and it’s a feeder to a study that’s going on for the advanced long range affordable munition that’s in works and being studied right now.
But you can’t have a Gucci weapon just going after one targets that you got to have a multi-mission warhead, that for any of these cruise missiles … is pretty good at taking out not only your surface targets and your antennas and tails and those sorts of things, but also it was okay at bunkers and buildings and more recently maritime targets.
So we’re developing technologies that can go after all those.
A second approach to achieving this affordable mass would be I use the term organized chaos. And we’ve all talked about the ability to overwhelm and confuse the enemy by having network collaborative weapons. Thousands of them in the air, at least hundreds of them the air integrated. You know, this is a long term vision. I’m AFRL—I’m the long-term vision guy, right? May have Eurail on the long term vision guy, right?
So we are you can imagine having hundreds of these in the air network together. Making decisions on the fly target each other communicating back and forth with each other. But not only swarming, but having a loitering capability so we don’t want to just get to the target area and go right in we want to have some gas left for loitering as well.
And I’ll use the term and this was one that was coined at AFRL a few years back—heterogeneous integrated vehicle ensembles hives.
So it goes with a swarm theme so you have hives of that launch the swarms that are not only lethal packages, but they may have other payloads as well. You might have as supplies or payloads, you might have decoys, and some of them and some of them might have lethal and other types of payloads including you know, comm relay packages. You could even get—now bear with me, in know this is way-out thinking—you could even have sub-munitions that were powered as well, that you want from these cruise missiles to extend the range of those even further. So that would be swarms of swarms, to create confusion and give you some additional ability.
You mentioned the idea of capacity. And you know, we talked about the peace dividend, but I say there’s a precision weapons dividend that we incurred after Desert Storm where we got precision weapons [and] now we don’t need as many platforms. And guess what, we don’t have as many platforms now, so we don’t have as many hardpoints.
We cannot, you know, hang hundreds of these munitions just on conventional aircraft. So I think you’re gonna have to do something to take advantage of the broader launch platforms that we do have. Well, they may not even be launch platforms today. Think about transport aircraft. Think about palletized munitions. We’ve all seen the AFRL booth. Hopefully if you haven’t been, go by and see what they’re doing with Rapid Dragon for instance. I want to give a shout out to the Blue Horizon team. Do you have any the you are all here in the room today? Blue Horizon is a group that was started [unintelligible] at the Air University. And they are kind of a think tank within the Air Force of mid-grade officers that are going to be the leaders of tomorrow. And they have some concepts beyond Rapid Dragon. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically palletizing JASSM—a pretty expensive missile—but it was you know it was an F 117 replacement. So it was a good trade in terms of cost when at the time it was developed. But it’s probably not the exactly right missile for palletized ammunition to be affordable.
But think about concepts where you could have a less exquisite, more fragile missile that would be capable of being delivered in mass and at a lower cost and quantity and being able to produce you know, if you make them into economies of large quantities. You can realize economies of scale.
But back to Blue Horizon—they actually have some concepts besides pushing these out of transport aircraft with manned platforms. They’ve been talking about droning planes out of the Boneyard, and then using them to launch swarms of palletize munitions. And then you don’t have a return flight. You know, you just drone them into a target as well. So the vehicle itself becomes the target.
When we look at you think well how are we going to get to a … cruise missile that could be affordable enough to palletize we’ve actually got a concept. Again, it’s a blank-sheet concept … at AFRL called Cleaver, which is all about affordability, you know, making things that are survivable to the extent that they need to be but also more affordable.
And there was a compliant, so you can plug any payloads in there. You don’t have to crack them open, which is it doesn’t matter if you crack them open, you can crack them open and replace the chamber payloads and change them out. But, you know, update the warheads after their 20-year period. And essentially you come up with and they don’t have to have all of them have large 1,000-pound payloads in them.
They could essentially be flying fuel tanks where you have … reasonable sized payload that you’re trading … range and then have something left in the gas tank when you get there. And then the final part that I like to talk is about agile, competent, combat employment. I think we talked about direct attack munitions, but if you think about containerized munitions. Right now our direct attack munitions are shipped over and multiple containers into the field. And there it is a logistical nightmare to ship all of those random, these big shipping containers, unpack them, reassemble them. And now you got to do that if you want to highland hop, you’ve got to do that again, every day. No, you know, let’s just have containers and we can pull them out. Take unitary munitions are already built up, and all up rounds and hang them on the aircraft. And so we’re working concepts like that as well.
Gunzinger: Hey, John. Just real quick before we get to the questions. I didn’t want to imply that standoff weapons are bad, right? And right now, we need both. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. But that hole is missing those mid-range weapons. The other point is not about weapons costs. It really is cost per target, which is hard to show on ROI. That’s the metric.
Stutzreim: And we’ll talk about that a little bit. Dr. Corley, it’s great that you’re thinking logistically to develop this very important tool. Let me ask you, you know, we have been talking about how important it is to get this right mix PGMS for a long time. And everybody’s been talking what’s different today? Why is it so important to get this right now?
Corley: Two words: Russia, Ukraine. The threat a pure conflict today is real. Now, Desert Storm involved about 45,000 aim points. That was our last real major regional conflict. Afghanistan, Iraq because we’re small scale contingencies. They go back to Desert Storm, only about six percent of all the weapons employed were precision guided munitions. If you fast forward 25 years to Operation Inherent Resolve, operations against the Islamic State. Over 95 percent of the munitions used were PGMs. But since the numbers of weapons applied were very small, on average, between 10 and 15 strike sorties a day, with about one weapon drop per each, we could handle that.
But imagine a repeat of a major regional contingency on the order of a Desert Storm with a China or Russia. That’s what bumps up those aim points to on the order of 100,000 or more. So do we have that number of weapons on hand to deal with that magnitude of a threat? No, we don’t have the capacity to either to generate that number of weapons in a matter of weeks, so we need to get to stockpiling more munitions, with the capabilities that we desire.
Now, … you heard John already talk about some of the desired capabilities. Let me highlight what I believe we need to use as guidelines to shape this new standard in weapons inventory.
Five items. Broad-sense adaptability, locality, simplify logistics, reliability, and then reduce total cost. I’m not going to go into each one of them because you know, we could dig down into a level of detail and we just need not to do here, but let me just give you an example. What I mean by adaptability incorporating a universal arming, interface, platform language, resilient GPS INS in terminal secret capabilities, so we’re not tied to just one data-linked enhanced standoff. I mean, we’re looking at something minimum range of 50 miles, multi-mission capability, blast frag penetration, blast, low collateral damage, open system architecture, all up around and compatible with almost any bomb dropping platform in the inventory. So those are the kinds of things that I think we need to be aiming toward.
Stutzreim: A similar question, and I’ll go to Dr. Corley. And that is, in this regime Gonzo talks about in the direct attack, that shorter range piece, what attributes are you looking for, in addition to this, to get the right capability there and what operational factors drive those attributes? Can you prioritize those?
Corley: Well, I think, you know, as we spoke, there’s going to be, it has been said there’s been thousands of DMPEs and hundreds of hours that we’re going to have to go after. And do we have the stockpiles today even to do that, and every drop is going to have to count right. So I think reliability is job one. You have to make sure that every strike is going to survive the impact of the target. And the fuse is going to function right now.
You know, we know that we launched several weapons time sometimes to take out a single target we got to up our reliability of our weapon, so to make sure that we can trust that that one shot will do and that goes in really in line with what part of the reason we’ve launched multiple weapons is because our lethality tools are somewhat lacking.
So we you know, we don’t have enough confidence in the process that we use to characterize our weapons through static arena tests and then say, we let’s do three arena tests and then we’re good to go. But we’re not sure so we’re going to drop two weapons just in case and we’re just not going to have the luxury of doing that in future cons in future in future fights with a with a peer competitor.
I already mentioned … the idea about it being unitary and containerized that makes you know, the implication is that they would have transportability as another “ility” [to] be able to get them into the fight. Of course, smaller is always good for larger loadouts and we’re looking at you know, more lethal blast mechanisms.
People always talk about having the need to have larger warheads for more lethality. And I always say, as long as you’re in the right place at the right time, you can have a pretty small weapon and make and do the lethal effect, and so it’s all a cost, cost trade. And as I mentioned, we got to have weapons that we can build in mass and leverage those economies of scale because we’re producing a single type of weapon not multiple weapons for different targets sets, but single weapons that can do a lot of different things. And obviously, they all have to be have open system architecture, so they can be upgradable and drive towards—now this is something that you have to think about this a minute—but a PK greater than one. If your weapon can take out more than one target in process, then you you’ve won the calculus there. So those are some of the attributes that I would I would talk to
Stutzreim: Very good … We don’t have much time left. I’d like to ask General Deptula a cost-per-effect question, if we could … move on to that. I’ll come back to discussion on hypersonics with Dr. Corley and Gonzo if that’s okay. But General Deptula, you know, these budgets have a huge impact on our munitions, both in terms of capacity and capability. And how does this concept that we’ve been talking about for a while now virtual Institute, how does this concept cost per effect, enter the mix in that regard? How does it fit?
Deptula: Well, it’s no secret that as you describe that, we need to refocus on the effectiveness piece of the cost effective equation. Because for too many years now, we’ve only focused on cost. And so when we talk about cost per effect you need to consider in compare the cost and effects that each weapon can create, for the purpose of maximizing the value of desired operational outcomes. So it’s sort of like you want to start it in game at the target and then work backwards from there from there. For airstrikes, these comparisons should include not just the number and cost of the PGMs but the aircraft needed to execute the missions as well as the direct support assets, such as refueling tankers, electromagnetic jamming platforms, SAM suppression efforts, and including air crews and infrastructure like basing and maintenance support. Let me use as an example John’s already mentioned, and that’s the whole concept of agile combat and engagement because it’s got to be a huge driving factor and it’s great in terms of an example.
So in this particular case, think about it we’re looking at dispersed operations. So reducing manpower requirements becomes huge. As we will first in the first place, we’re not going to have the manpower to build up all these JDAMs as we’ve become used to in the past. We need all up rounds that you can pull out of a container and jam to an aircraft with no additional hands on time. So that’s what cause per effect in the context of munitions is all about one point. On cost effect. This is something that we were both in general depth to. The analyses that took place determine whether or not our nation needed a new penetrating bomber, and they took cost per effect into account as they did analyses, the various options standoff versus penetrating payloads and all that and well, the results are classified. We’re getting a new penetrating bomber and there is a very good reason for that.
Stutzreim: Pretty good. Let me skip to hypersonics real quick, and this is for both Gonzo and Dr. Corley. I’ll start with Gonzo, just talk about this mix. Where does it factor in in terms of the mix you’re talking about in your findings? Go ahead and just I know you absolutely talked about weapons survivability and hypersonic speeds can give us more survivability. As Secretary Kendall has said, there are a lot of ways of improving the survivability of our weapons so not just speeds. So our hypersonic weapons must be affordable enough to buy in quantity. And you take a look at boost glide weapons, I cited one—the Army’s—so $40 to $50 million a shot. Those two targets could buy an F 35 that we can reuse over and over and over again. Or they can buy a heck of a lot of those mid-range weapons like I talked about. But there are another class of hypersonic weapons and that’s scramjet air launched weapons, and I think [its] moderate range is 500 to 600 nautical miles. [There is] a good chance that scramjet-powered hypersonic weapons can be procured. It’d be much, much, much more affordable. I look forward to your thoughts on that.
Corley: Well, I think the role for hypersonic weapons, really, is that first of all deterrence and strategic messaging. But from a practical standpoint, it really … should it come to that they’re, a piece of rolling back the [uintelligible acronym] along with subsequent waves of crewed and uncrewed platforms to unlock that joint force. But nobody goes into the World Series with the strategy of, we’re going to win it with home runs. You know, so I think you’ve got to have that balanced approach. We know I think we were headed there, you know, okay, hypersonics is gonna solve everything. And I think now we’ve got to take a more balanced approach and I think you point that out in your in your paper very, very well. You know, I think hypersonics could be used to support swarms. So, you know, they can be very distracting. It can be very striking, distracting, you know, as you’re as they’re monitoring an incoming hypersonic weapon and you have a swarm come, you know, to really do the effect on target or vice versa. You have a swarm distract them while you’re engaging with the hypersonic target. So I think there’s some synergies there, that can be used together. So I think, you know, both hypersonic boost glide, and the cruise missiles have a have a role. But I think from a practical standpoint, really accelerating the ability of the cruise missiles to provide that shorter range, more affordable application of hypersonics is just as important that there’s all sorts of strategic targets that you need the long range for, but that would be what I would say about the mix.
Deptula: Yeah, let me jump in here just real quick and remind folks, that if the decision cycle takes longer than the time of flight of the missile would you use an hypersonic weapon for?
Corley: It really comes down to survivability that point, right? I mean, save a lot of money. We say time we you know, I think the argument to say that hypersonics for time critical targets just as you are implying, that does not solve the equation because there’s much longer portion to the equation, but it doesn’t you know, it is a means of enhancing survivability, but I think you can do that with supersonic weapons and maybe aren’t as expensive as well.
Gunzinger: Yeah, the key really is, I mentioned earlier to my briefing, understand your target set. And ours is not the same as China’s. So replicating what they’re doing by buying lots and lots hypersonic weapons and [unintelligible] doesn’t make sense except to a small crowd of policy, non-operational people and people trying to solidify their portion of the budget. There you go, and I’m your loan is cheaper. So let’s get rid of the surface launch stuff.
Corley: And one more three C’s. We’ve heard China, China, China, I’ll say capacity, capacity, capacity.
Stutzreim: Well said. We’re going to move to we got like four minutes left, but we’ve got to get to this discussion. I’m sure all three of you will have some things to say about this. But I’ll start with Gonzo.
You know, there’s this debate in town between the advocates for a penetrating strike and those advocating for these long range missiles that we’re talking about right now. So the outcome of this though, like General Deptula said, is really going to have a huge impact on how the money’s spent and what the portfolio looks like—and how effective it is against a threat. So talk to us you did a lot of work in this report about this debate.
Gunzinger: I’m a fan of some standoff weapons, no question about it. They have advantages that a direct attack these mid-range weapons can’t provide. But that said, very long range, service launch weapons that extremely expensive, logistics intensive huge footprints on the ground, problems closing the kill chain in a timely fashion, especially against targets that are mobile and that is our problem, China. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I like the PrSM [precision strike missile system. Army should buy the PrSM—for Europe. That’s the right theater that’s the right target set us the right time of flight, etc.
Corley: That your goes back to what was said this morning. You know, putting previous-generation weapons on future generation aircraft just doesn’t make a lot of sense. I gave a talk several years ago, looking back 30 … This was 10 years ago, looking back 30 years and say, 30 years from now—do we want to have the same weapons that we had 30 years ago on our on our airplanes? But that’s what we’re kind of doing. It kind of was sobering. This morning when he was talking about Desert Storm and 30 years ago, and I’m like, oh, my goodness, I’m getting old. But you know, I think that’s the reality. We’re still fighting with yesterday’s weapons on tomorrow’s platforms.
Stutzreim: While you’ve got the mic, Dr. Corley, one last question for you. On the horizon, do we have technologies that will increase munitions lethality, but not inflate the cost? Do we see that on the horizon?
Corley: Well, we are always trying to drive that calculus down and put more capability … into a less expensive platform like a weapon that’s expendable, and dial back some of the margin that we haven’t that’s built into today’s weapons because we want to pull them out of a box after 20 years and make sure they work the first time when you hang on an aircraft. That’s what we asked if our weapons today and if you can make more affordable weapons. That are going to be used and replaced, you know, parts of them those expendable parts more readily. We can we can drive that cost down. And again, not making so many different weapons, but cooperating as an industry base to develop more and more of the same things and it leverages economies of scale.
Stutzreim: We love what you do at the munitions directorate. General Deptula, do you have any closing comments by chance?
Deptula: No, I just emphasize the importance of this area and it’s one of the places I’ll finish where I started. Munitions tend to get neglected during peacetime. But given the kinds of challenges that we’re facing, potential peer level fights in the future, we’ve got to modernize and increase our munitions accounts to be able to handle the size of the kinds of challenges that we’re sure to face
Stutzreim: Thank you, sir. And thank you Dr. Corley. Go ahead, one last closing comment.
Corley: I’ve got one last closing comment. I just want to because you can’t go the recession without talking about digital engineering. I think that is really going to be a key to us going faster and cheaper as well in the future. And we’re starting to see that in the weapons community as well.
Gunzinger: We can have the best fifth- and sixth-gen force in the world. We’re going to have the largest bomber force in the world we can have NGADs out our ears. If they don’t have weapons, that does not translate into combat power. And Gen. Deptula is exactly right. The time to buy those weapons is now.
Stutzreim: Okay, folks, this comes brings us to the conclusion. If you are interested in this discussion, you can download Gonzo’s paper at mitchellaerospacepower.org. But I’m asking you sign up and you’ll get [unintelligible] on all of Mitchell Institute’s announcements or events. We’ve got a podcast you can listen to every week for 30 or 40 minutes. That’s aerospace advantage. But go ahead and sign up. It doesn’t cost you think we’d like to have you on our on our team.