Editor Bill Kincaid introduces the summer issue of RUSI Defence Systems
This issue is dominated by the relationship between governments and the defence
industry, a subject which is, or should be, of intense interest to all those involved in the acquisition and operation of defence equipment – industry, government departments, academia and the military. From industry, Dr Ron Sugar, chairman of Northrop Grumman, and Ian King, BAE Systems, give their views on working with the UK MoD, while an Italian view of a possible European industrial policy of the future is expounded by Lieutenant General Vincenzo Camporini. Dr Robbin Laird compares future challenges for the US and European defence industries, and the vexing question of measuring value is tackled by Dr Alex Weiss.
The catalyst for this examination of the government–industry relationship was the UK’s Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS), which was published last December and which is now being implemented energetically. The DIS is examined in depth in our ‘email@example.com’ section with trenchant comment from independent observers. We also introduce a new feature – the RUSI Acquisition Focus – which will have a regular spot in future issues. The Focus is made up of a number of UK experts, with extensive first-hand knowledge of acquisition gained in industry or the MoD or both. They will meet regularly to discuss various aspects of acquisition and their deliberations will be published in RUSI Defence Systems. In their first meeting, they discussed four important aspects of the DIS which do not seem to have been clearly addressed. Concluding that the DIS is a welcome initiative, the Focus believes implementation will not be easy and questions how strong MoD’s commitment is.
Over the last few years, France, UK and US have all been planning new generations of aircraft carriers. Dr Norman Friedman examines the US requirement for new carriers, while Rear Admiral David Architzel discusses the US CVN21 programme to replace its Nimitz class carriers. While the US is now pressing ahead with acquisition, the UK is still facing considerable challenges, not least over its choice of aircraft, a subject that Francis Tusa examines critically. Given that international collaboration has a history of major delay and cost escalation, it will be interesting to see if the joint Franco-British carrier programme can buck that trend; Louis Cazaubon provides a French industrial view.
Another issue that remains a major challenge for the UK MoD is the programme for the next generation of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) – the Future Rapid Effect System or FRES – and we explore some of the issues of AFV acquisition from the points of view of UK industry, US industry and the Italian and UK MoDs. In our previous edition, we explored the importance of innovation, and in this issue we look at some innovative technologies. Doug Beason, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US, explains why Directed Energy Weapons will change the way future wars are fought and why they will make bombs and bullets seem obsolete. Should we in UK be investing more in this vision of the future?
Authors from the Swedish Defence Agency and Linköping University explain their gaze-controlled mixed reality system for technical maintenance, Ben Godfrey of MBDA examines the advantages of composite materials, and Dirk Ellinger discusses the German
research and development concept with examples of innovative research being carried out.
In a small training section, IT training and the German public-private partnership for NH90 helicopter training are discussed. Last, but certainly not least, our series on ‘Military Operations Today’ features articles on naval operations by Vice Admiral Pierre-François Forissier, Deputy Chief of the French Naval Staff, and Vice Admiral John Morgan, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy for the US Navy. Continuing the naval theme, this section also includes an article by Major Mark Brinkman, Deputy Commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy Command, on Europe’s oldest internationally integrated force, the UKNL Amphibious Force. This series on military operations has highlighted the extensive range of operations that armed forces have to carry out today, much of it of a very different nature from those of the Cold War. It sparks the question of whether the UK and other countries have got their defence acquisition policies right or whether we are all (perhaps with the exception of the US) trying to do too much with too little. With steeply rising acquisition costs, we may be forced to modify our policies before long – but in what way? It is a question that we shall explore in our Autumn edition.