Apparently it’s not just the Pentagon’s weapons that represent relics of the superpower rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union — it is the Cold War way it continues to develop weapons despite today’s very different world. The chart above shows just how much time it takes the military to come up with new weapons — some as long as a half-century. Even simpler weapons can take decades to get from drawing board to battlefield.
According to a report out Wednesday by the Pentagon’s independent Defense Science Board, the reasons for the prolonged development are a bipolar-world hangover:
Complex compliance-based processes were exercised to minimize mistakes with little regard for impact on schedule or cost…schedule was often the first sacrificial offering, quite often followed by cost. Although cost and schedule overruns generated significant criticism, the impact was moderated by the potential existential threat…Over time the enterprise functions hardened into stodgy, compliance-driven processes with diminished capabilities for adaptability more focused on following rules with little attention to produce desirable outcomes.
While the Pentagon remains stuck in past, the outside advisers warn that adversaries operating more nimbly “can acquire capability much cheaper and faster on the global market.”