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"Starfire" and Stepping Backwards
by Dale Brown, [IMAGE]2014

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED AT DaleBrown.Info, 02/05/2014

[MEGAFORTRESS.COM image] As I cast about for relevant topics for novel #26, I look at the state of aircraft design and technology, and the state of the U.S. military in general, that will be deployed in the next 2-5 years...

...and I don't find much at all.

As I've written about in the past 3 novels, I believe the future of the U.S. military is space and cyberspace. The U.S. should not just have a presence in space (which since the retirement of the Shuttle we do not) but we should militarily dominate space, exactly like we dominated the seas and nuclear warfighting after WWII. Space should not be just the realm of GPS and reconnaissance, but of offensive rapid-strike capability; cyberspace should not simply be the ability to defend ourselves against cyber attack, but to attack any potential enemy instantly from cyberspace and render any enemy's network useless.

But what are we building instead?

The F-35 Lightning II fighter-bomber was designed in the mid-1990s. It is a single-engine, single-crewmember (no 2-seat combat or trainer models are planned) small fighter-bomber, with an 18,000-lb. max payload, only slightly higher than the F-16 Fighting Falcon it is scheduled to replace. Very high-tech compared to the F-16 and F/A-18 it is supposed to replace, but compared to fifth-generation adversaries being developed in Russia and China, it is not a game-changer.

The Air Force's Long-Range Strike bomber, formerly the "Next-Generation Bomber"--is non-existent. Any plan to build one would probably not be operational for another 10 years at a bare minimum.

Our return to space is also non-existent, except for a handful of private contractors working to provide resupply services for the International Space Station, which for now (except for a couple experimental private missions) is solely provided by the Russian Federation, who could cut off such support at the blink of an eye. We have no plans right now for a persistent presence in space.

"Starfire" and previous novels proposed a very radical departure from current strategic planning: slash legacy weapon systems and quickly invest in 21st and 22nd century technologies. Yes, the risk is great, but so is the potential reward. It's risky, very risky. But we need to do it.

Plan of action:

  • 1) Cancel the F-35 Lightning II program, or at the very least reduce the buy to fewer than 500 airframes;

  • 2) Continue development of the Next Generation Bomber, but limiting the build to 100 or fewer airframes;

  • 3) Push harder for more cyber defensive and offensive units actively invovled in operations, including the Guard, Reserves, and civilian volunteer auxiliaries such as the Civil Air Patrol.

  • 4) Immediately develop a space-based offensive strike capability. Set up the systems now, then over the decades engage in negotiations to limit such weapons. Like nuclear weapons, develop and master the technology first, then work over the decades to restrict its use for all.
  • Read "Starfire" to see how these ideas might be put in motion!

    GBA, Dale...

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