Obama’s Cold War
If the new Administration in Washington has to contend with old Cold War threats in its future force structure planning, such as against China or Russia, then they are off to a good start with most of the weapon systems the military services currently have under contract. Though the bulk were ordered after the collapse of the Soviet Union, each bears striking resemblance to the old way of warfare. Photos are of alternatives we think better suited to Hybrid Conflicts:
Virginia class submarine-Case of the right submarine at the wrong time. A pretty good Blue Water design which the Navy insists is adequate for operating in littoral or shallow seas. Instead it is a natural evolution of the Los Angeles class which proved so essential in standing down the Soviets. At 7800 tons they are the size of a WW 2 light cruiser, and in no way need be anywhere near waters infested with naval mines and deadly silent new diesel electric submarines. Alternative-A true littoral submarine such as the Swedish Gotland with air-independent-propulsion. Keep some Virginia’s for deep sea operations only.
Zumwalt class destroyer-Another evolutionary warship with Cold War trappings, keeping the pattern with each new design getting greater defensive equipment and advanced propulsion, while increasing steadily in size and cost. The first of the last class, the Arleigh Burkes Flight I, had so many extras such as armor and missiles, she had no room for an ASW helicopter hangar. The Zumwalts, even at 14,500 tons can barely defend herself from aerial attacks. Alternative-Return the destroyer back to basics by building small corvettes of 1500 tons, their size giving them a natural stealth, while their cost allows them to be bought in larger numbers, rather than only 3 for the Zumwalt dinosaurs.
F-22 Raptor Fighters-The only weapon on our list actually designed during the Cold War, just as its air superiority mission was superseded by multi-role fighters armed with advanced missiles. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, military jets have been used almost exclusively in the bombing role. The Raptor is an expensive relic of another era whose capabilities are no longer required, except in air shows. Alternative-Legacy fighters updated to carry the new precision smart bombs and missiles, and increasingly combat UAVs.
Future Combat System-We save the most expensive program on our list for last. At $200 billion and counting, a good example of an unnecessary weapons program. The Army has repeated this before with the M-551 Sheridan airborne tank and the XM-70 battletank. Once again they are trying to reinvent the tank by advanced and untried technologies with stealthy features to make these series of vehicles more survivable on the battlefield, and costly composite materials to drastically reduce weight. Alternative-The army need only look to new vehicles which have been bought off the shelf and have proven good enough for a very tough fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, with Stryker combat vehicles, uparmored Humvees, and new MRAPs.
Honorable mentions ripe for cuts include the Joint Strike Fighter which will likely cost as much as the more-capable Raptor when it finally enters service in the next decade (replacing it with Navy Super Hornets, prop planes for close air support, and UAVs), Ford class supercarriers (with over 20 large carriers, and Marine Harrier carriers in service, how many do we need?), and Burke class destroyers (over 60 of these modern battleships ordered).