US defence experts have questioned the rationale for spending a fortune, as the Pentagon has, on cutting-edge platforms like the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightening II, both next-generation fighters that cost hundreds of billions of dollars to develop? Or, by extending this logic, for India to spend tens of billions on newly designed fighters like the Rafale, rather than implement the IAF’s suggestion to buy upgraded versions of the proven Mirage-2000 fighter.
Expensive, custom-designed platforms are a waste, avers Admiral Jonathan Greenert, America’s new chief of naval operations (CNO). In a controversial article just published in “Proceedings”, the journal of the United States Naval Institute, the influential CNO has argued for a “paradigm shift” that emphasises “payloads over platforms”.
Greenert’s argument is: fancy platforms (like the F-35 fighter, though he does not name it) whose superiority is based on design attributes like “stealth”, get technologically overtaken by an adversary’s evolving electronics capability. But sturdy, flexible payload carriers (like an aircraft carrier, or like the B-52 and the C-130) get outdated far more slowly since they are “inherently reconfigurable, with sensor and weapon systems that can evolve over time for the expected mission.”
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