In a time in which budget cuts to military spending is it right to put money into a project that the forces themselves do not need?
Read that first, let it all sink in I will give you a moment. du du du. Right lets begin. I will be looking at this from a defence and technological standpoint rather than a financial view. I will be using this project as a case study and not look towards the UK that has similar issues in priorities. This is done for the purpose of keeping this concise.
Firstly does this tank need updating? The threats that currently face the Abrams M1 to M1A2 tank these days are mostly guerrilla based weapons. Roadside bombs and the ever famous RPG-7. It is evident that even a highly dated tank would prove enough match for a man with a kalashnikov.
Well the RPG-7 hitting anywhere from the back would be pretty much useless due to the use of Chobham armour. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chobham_armour. So you may be asking yourself why if there is no current real threat to the existing tanks an upgrade would be needed? Is there a risk of Hellfire missiles?
I will be contrasting this to the f-22 Raptor and the B2 Spirit. All of these seem to come from a Cold War mentality in which the best is needed. So while sometimes issues arise with the supply of body armour or small arms fire a totally cool tank is on the budget. The B2 stealth bomber had a real purpose and has recently been used to strike some fear into N.Korea.
The f-22 despite it’s problems (http://www.dailytech.com/Lockheed+Given+24M+to+Fix+F22+Onboard+Oxygen+Generator+Airframe+Issues/article23127.htm) is an amazing 6th generation fighter. But what is it’s target? While it can work as a bomber it has no real use unless a war broke out with a powerful nation like China or Russia.
So why is such advancement used? Well firstly I suspect the idea that we need these toys is important in the off chance of a world war. The second world war was a massive change and this caught many nations off guard who were locked into a trench mentality despite the monster that was the Panzer 2 allowing greater mobility in battles.
This to me gives sufficient reason for the technology to exist in order to make these advanced weapons. I would also argue however that the actual creation of them are redundant. The Aurora which may or may not exist as a replacement to the sr-71 Is a good idea from a standpoint of technological advancement. Gearing up for war is costly but it gives great technological advancement. The flying wing ideas of the Nazi’s quickly became the b2 which still today is a useful and powerful weapon however perhaps such money would be better spent on DARPA (http://www.darpa.mil/) who have really pushed advancement far and wide which has had many civilian uses.
So while expensive unneeded weapons exist some illogical moves are made. The UK removing the Harrier was a costly mistake as while the Harrier is a powerful jet it had a great manoeuvrability and flexibility. The ability to Vertical land is something that served the Huey’s in becoming legendary during the Vietnam war.
So while advancements in technology are of great use to us all, and we all seem to be gearing up towards some imaginary war with some benefits why do nations do this?
Simply put I think it is an issue of ego. My dad can beat up your dad. I have the best fighter, tank ect yet the tomahawk and m2 browning are a bigger use. The m2 being a great example of a machine gun yet being a ww2 design. Surely better bullet shooters beat more advanced engines on tanks? The standard m1911 pistol named after it’s year of creation is still standard issue and a brilliant gun but why is one so advanced and one fits into a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp? The same stands for Trident. If the British need to Nuke somebody borrow a b-52 from the Americans who have plenty rotting in the desert.
Still while the threat of a nuclear attack is worth having and I would even go so far as to say Trident may still be a good idea. But this ego is dangerous and has left some big issues.
Auschwitz is accepted to be an evil thing and rightfully so. It did however bring some medical advancements due to the testing done on the Jews. The infamous unit 731 also provided medical advancements. While evil and depraved some ‘good’ was taken from it. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-439776/Doctors-Depravity.html.
So why the tangent? Because we sit on a greater evil than even a nuclear bomb. There was some debate on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was even known as the destruction preventer if the idea that destroying a city and even killing children born after the bomb can be such a thing. What could be worse?
Smallpox. An eradicated disease that we are loosing immunity for. Which can still be used as a biological weapon.
Unleashing smallpox would be disastrous and more dangerous than a couple of nuclear bombs. The effect of two of these weapons on cities was enough that they were never used again. We saw the evil that the mushroom cloud brought. So why do we not destroy such a thing rather than have Russia and the United states to have such a weapon. If both countries destroyed it it would be gone for good.
Yet we live in a world with it, when the fall of the USSR lead to a black market in nuclear material. http://www.cfr.org/weapons-of-terrorism/loose-nukes/p9549. Enough to build a nuke potentially. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=506177&page=1
So while technology is important as is advancement. Better ways of advancing need to be found. Developing weapons is something that any nation should not stop doing however there needs to be a cost proportional to the threat. An army is important as is it being well equipped but surely the Americans don’t need tanks which at great cost have a very large diminishing returns? If I was on the front line I’d rather more pooled into Liquid body armour. It would potentially save more lives after all.
Still what do you think? Is this irresponsibility a simple beat of the chest or is there a real reason for the f-22 and tank advancements? The T-90 is far cheaper yet serves the Russians well. My own view is that while the Cold War may be over our politicians were raised in its shadow meaning that our politics still act in a cold war state. We all know how many lives that cost on 9/11 when a military system designed to win an air supremacy battle is fooled by a simple hijack.