“After its firing from the submarine Dmitry Donskoy, the Bulava missile self-liquidated and exploded into the air” – Russian MoD spokesman to Interfax 23 Dec 08
And thus was written the postscript on the latest test of the star-crossed Bulava SLBM.¬† Five failures in eight attempts would seem to call into question the fast-track to IOC/deployment of the missile – but given that there is no alternative to speak of (yes, there is the SS-N-23, but it won’t fit the launchers on the new SSBNs), it looks like the Russians are stuck with continuing to try and make the Bulava work.¬† And maybe not so fast on the IOC…
The Bulava scenario is pregnant with questions for our own procurement process – e.g., putting all your eggs in one basket and hoping it all works as advertised since¬†you’ve pinned the future of a platform/capability on the success of that development (*cough*JSF*cough*).¬† So what happens if we find ourselves in a similar coffin corner with a major program?¬† Cancel it and hope that in the interim we can stretch out the legacy platform until the (next) new one comes on line?¬† Been there, done that.¬† Remember the A-12?¬† Look what that scenario did to the VA and VF communities¬†and our long-range strike capability in particular and TACAIR in general (still feeling the aftereffects today).¬† There’s a lot of discussion out there right now about the F-35, some legit, some politically motivated, but enough that hope alone isn’t COA if it falls short in trials (and here I’m particularly concerned about the F-35B and it’s purported weight and cooling problems).¬† Twasn’t always so – look at the development of the Tomcat out of the ashes of the TFX, but that was a different time.¬† Or was it?¬† What are your thoughts?
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