U.S. Air Force Cadets Just Invented a Stealth Fighter
This story originally appeared on March 1, 2016. In 2003, the U.S. Air Force started a series of design studies to explore the concept of developing an aerial target aircraft with stealth capabilities. But a funny thing happened on the way to building this target. It turns out that... Read more
Star Wars Mega Weapons Make Awful Bureaucratic Sense
Warning! Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers below. If you’ve seen the posters for the new Star Wars movie — and frankly, how could you not have? — you may have noticed the large, Death Star-ish object lurking in the background. It’s called (spoiler alert!) Starkiller Base and if... Read more
The Only Winning Move
Since 9/11, military conversations have largely focused on how the armed forces will fight wars. Today’s military professionals discuss and debate issues such as how drones and Joint Strike Fighters and cyber weapons will shape battlefields, how forward-positioned 3D printers will enable front-line resupply at the speed of need... Read more
In F-35 Debate, U.S. Air Force Leaders Bully Critics
Shortly before I retired from active duty at a small Air Force base outside of Boston, I received a cryptic voice mail from an unfamiliar colonel. He identified himself as working at the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program office in Washington, D.C. and he wanted me to call him... Read more
How to Save the U.S. Air Force $8 Million
I’d triple-checked the numbers already, but I asked my deputy one last time to be sure. “Eight million dollars. I am reading this correctly, and these figures are up to date, right?” “Yes sir. We are eight million dollars under budget.” “Excellent. Let’s go tell the colonel the good... Read more
For America’s F-35 Stealth Fighter, the Best Case Is Still… Bad
Forget the enormous cost overruns. Excuse the epic schedule delays. Overlook the disturbing performance limitations. Let’s assume the Pentagon somehow comes up with enough money to pay for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Suppose further the F-35 eventually passes all its test and evaluation milestones and the appropriate authorities... Read more
The Thunderbuck Jet Fighter Burns Money to Save Money
With oil prices projected to rise in the future and the defense budget continuing to shrink, visionary U.S. Air Force leaders have launched an exciting new fighter jet program that promises to be much more affordable than recent efforts. The so-called Fiscal Fighter, officially designated the F-1,000,000 Thunderbuck, delivers... Read more
Follow These Steps to Reform the Way We Buy Weapons
The Internet loves listicles, those ubiquitous numbered lists masquerading as thoughtful articles on some topic that is essential to your health and happiness and just might change your life! I figure it’s about time somebody finally wrote a listicle about defense acquisition reform, which I’m pretty sure has never... Read more
New Military Gear Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune
I didn’t ask to be put in charge of the BRITE project. In fact, given a choice I almost certainly would have declined. The odd little system looked distinctly underwhelming—and promised to be a blip on my radar, a forgettable job to be passed off to someone else as... Read more
Outrageous Waste—America’s Secret Strategy for Military Deterrence
In 2009, I published an oddball little piece of nightmare fiction entitled “Acquisition as Deterrent.” In this admittedly oddball story, the unnamed main character has a terrible dream in which he discovers a disturbing secret … That the schedule delays, cost overruns, excessive complexity and ineffective performance frequently associated with... Read more

Dan Ward

Author

Dan Ward is the author of F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation (HarperBusiness, 2014) and The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide To Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse (HarperBusiness, 2015). Prior to launching Dan Ward Consulting, he served for more than 20 years as an acquisition officer in the US Air Force, where he specialized in leading high-speed, low-cost technology development programs and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.