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FIST Could Revolutionize Defense Procurement

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  • FIST Could Revolutionize Defense Procurement

    The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the largest single piece of new hardware procurement the armed forces are currently pursuing, now that the F-22 Raptor project has melted down into a molten puddle of red ink. Both of those programs will end up taking twenty years from inception to fielding of a weapon system, and a big part of the procurement system we have right now is that the whole world changes a lot in twenty years. Increasingly, these sorts of procurement times are the rule, not the exception. One result is that the specifications for the hardware keep morphing to meet that new world, or simply to meet the latest military fad which has caught the headlines. Lots of army vehicle projects died on the vine because the world changed out from under them before real vehicles could come off assembly lines.

    A group of Air Force officers have been arguing for a while that there is a better way. They call it “Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, and Tiny,” or FIST. One real-world example of FIST is the MC-12W intelligence gather aircraft, a manned variant of the C-12 unmanned system, optimized for intelligence gathering, and which went from concept to deployment in thirteen months.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has gotten on-board with its “Sim Tank,” more formally (if awkwardly) title the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) initiative. It aims at taking basic computer design and modeling a step beyond current software limitations to make the final output of computer modeling ...


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