Bright Star ’83 B-52

An air-to-air left rear view of a B-52 bomber aircraft as it flies over the Pyramids during exercise Bright Star ’83. Camera Operator: JOINT SERVICE AUDIOVISUAL TEAM Date Shot: 10 Sep 1983

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  1. That’s one ugly (but effective) airplane. Ever see the XB-52? You can really see the relationship between the B-47 and the B-52 prototype. Lucky thing for us they didn’t take 25 years to develop it like the F-22, or even 12 years like the B-2.

  2. I like that the basic concept of the B-52 was designed over a weekend and the requirements sheet was a paragraph.

  3. Yeah, think of how much better they’d have been if they’d had as many requirements as that Aerial Common Sensor airplane that never got built, or the Crusader that never got built, or the Littoral Combat Ship that never got built, or that FIA satellite that never got built. Rest assured, they did not die before millions of requirements were written and billions of dollars were flushed down the toilet.

  4. From Strategy Page – Designing the ultimate war sim. I want a super-cool custom-weapons lab where I can design mech armor for my infantry with wicked acid-tipped missiles and guns that shoot spiders. Then I want to watch as 100 men are cooked alive in the desert because of a defect in the internal air conditioning units that shorted due to condensation in the fusion coils and insufficient insulation in the wiring units bypassing the laser reactor core, due to the contractor’s decision to use over-the-counter components instead of the military-grade ones mandated in Subsection 12:94A, Paragraph B of the Military Weapons Platform Procurement Act of 3013, a document that is 14,724 pages long and contains some 81,301 loopholes that allow congressmen to bypass component testing and funnel lucrative military contracts to cut-rate suppliers from their home districts at the peak of every election cycle.

  5. I was just in a meeting where I said I was tired of our products being obsolete compared to their commercial counter parts. Let’s face it, if you could ‘require’ someone to do a good job or do the smartest thing, the Soviet Union would not only still be around, they’d be thriving. Instead they’ve collapsed, and our country is becoming more and more socialist to the point that if you ask most people where the quote, ‘to each according to his ability, from each according to his need’ is from, they typically say, ‘the Bible’ and attribute it to Jesus himself. Sadly, our own brand of socialism lite, where only the capitalist facade remains, works so badly we’re getting our butts kicked by countries who have purely socialist weapons development programs. We don’t know how to make things better, but the only thing any of us seems to be sure of is that paying someone more to build a better weapon is not part of it.

  6. Defens- In general I agree with your point of view, as it applies to the morass that is the Defense procurement mafia. Its so inbred that it tends to be that its own propaganda is truth. ‘F-22 a super computer with wings!’, High Tech Military!…and so forth. Now I cringe at the disparity between reality and propaganda. If the F-22 was a desktop computer it would sell at wallmart for 500$ I see billion dollar programs to ‘invent’ ‘revolutionary’ all electric power systems for the DD(X). When such systems exist in commercial ships. Even the ‘low tech’ stuff is horrendous. Like the modified tommy lift put on Hummers to lift mortars. 23K$ each?? 20+ years to get a new combat rifle and counting… The strangest thing – is that the generals in charge can actually defend this process. All that said – yes the government and the military in particular are grossly mismanaging the public finances. Legal corruption is rampant and its only because to enormous capability of the American economy shovel so much money down this blackhole, that we manage to get anything out of it.

  7. And they keep telling us they need more money. Defense spending is at or above cold war levels, so now they’ve changed the tactics and say, ‘yes, but defense spending as a percentage of GDP is very low.’ What they’re really saying is that we need more socialism because capitalism is working so well that our socialists in the military/industrial complex cannot keep up. It is nothing more than absurdities built on absurdities. 3D audio is a classic example. Back in the early ’90s we were making all kinds of promises regarding how 3D audio was going to make the pilot’s life better. There was a huge amount of DoD research on the subject. Then, suddenly, the commercial world found out about it. They saw it’s commercial application in stereos, TV entertainment systems, and video games. Today, you can get 3D audio for free (OpenAl), so where is it in our military aircraft? Is it in the back of P-3s helping our boys locate subs? No. Is it in the commercial airplane cockpit helping alert pilots to approaching traffic? No. Is it in our fighters helping pilots locate enemies? No. Once there was no money to be milked from it, it disappeared from the DoD world. The idea that you would put this technology into an airplane just to make that airplane better is inconcievable in today’s business model. There is no incentive to do that.

  8. Loren Thompson of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute said the Navy’s air system command has increased its demands so significantly that it is no longer clear they can be met by the AgustaWestland 101 helicopter picked for the [presidential helicopter] program. The initial plan was to build seven test and five pilot production aircraft to be fielded in October 2009. That was to be followed by a second batch of 10 low-rate and eight full-rate production helicopters in full operation by 2015. ‘So many equipment carrying requirements and performance requirements have now been added to Increment II (the second phase of the program) that it could unravel that whole idea of using the existing helicopter that was selected,’ he said. ‘At this point the Pentagon doesn’t know how to proceed and may not do anything on Increment II during this administration,’ added Thompson, a consultant to Lockheed. ‘They’re sort of at a stalemate at this point.’

    That’s the difference between the way we do things now and the way we used to do them. If they had a design, this kind of crap wouldn’t happen. Instead the Navy levies requirements without having a design. The requirements, naturally, do not make sense when it comes time to actually design the helicopter. If you do the design first, then you don’t end up in a dicked up mess like this. If you write the requirements first it always ends in disaster. If you do a design, someone is accountable. If you write requirements, no one is accountable.

  9. For me its stunning. If you look at the most effective equipment, its is almost always the older stuff. The B-52, the A-10, the M-1, LAW… and so on. Yet the military keeps harping on how obsolete the stuff is & the new ‘revolution’ will sweep it all away. The DD(X), the LCS, F-35, FCS…. yet at almost ever opportunity, the new stuff fails to perform yet costs spiral out of control. Iraq proved the concept that situational awareness (eg FCS) is a crock. An armored vehicles without armor but with tones of electronic bells and whistles, will just get you dead. Yet the army insists on pouring its modernization funds down the FCS rat hole. The Navy is pricing itself out of existence while relying on the same failed theory that FCS had. Situational awareness & electronics are better then armor. So now we have a fleet that is astronomically expressive, yet can be sunk by a heavy machine gun. Even worse, the electronic walls of air that surround our ships — (Do not work – its been proven in several wargames and actual tests that it is very easy to beat. Hell in war games in the 80’s – between the US and Soviet Navy – after all the fighting ended and the US won – what was left? We had a few frigates, no carriers, half the sub fleet, and the four Iowa BB’s.) IMO – the greatest danger we face is not fanatics or China, but our own failed procurement system.

  10. You’re definitely right, James. What amazes me is that we can be this screwed up in the middle of a war with very serious consequences for the future of our civilization. It seems to me like no one gives a damn. They just watch it all go to hell like it’s happening on TV. Everything’s ok as long as it doesn’t effect my rice bowl. If it is someone else or someone else’s kid getting killed, then what’s on the next channel? If it puts an end to my government welfare check only then is it a catastrophe. Never in the history of this nation has so much been sacrificed by so few to enable so many to do absolutely nothing.