26 April 2011

Another Objection

OK, it was so much fun to look at objections to the FIST (Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny) approach, I figured I'd do it again.

Today's objection sounds something like this: "The FIST approach would never deliver a high-tech, complex, expensive system (like the F-22, for example)."

Um, duh!

At the core of most of these objections is a faulty assumption. One of the most common of these assumptions is that the cost, schedule and complexity of technology (particularly military technology) is inevitably high... and that these are not only inevitable attributes of a system but are also desirable attributes. FIST argues that speed, thrift and simplicity are simultaneously possible and operationally desirable.

Now, if we were to sit down and create an air superiority fighter using the FIST principles, we'd end up with something like the F-16 (or the F-5 or the F-20). It would be a low-cost, simple aircraft, requiring a minimal amount of effort to train, maintain, own and operate. It would do one thing extremely well and we'd have a large enough fleet of them to make a significant difference. It would also leave enough money in the treasury to build a second type of system to handle other missions (say, air-to-ground missions).

So, would the FIST approach deliver a high-tech, high-cost system? Um, no. But then, you really don't want one of those...

2 comments:

Watcher said...

This reminds me of a story in Australian army acquisition: they've been fussing around with a 'state of the art' automatic grenade launcher for years to give troops in Afghanastan some decent fire power. Nothing's happened as the consoritium partners couldn't agree on a targetting system (!). So there we are: troops have nothing, because the top line approach didn't work. But there are plenty of off the shelf automatic grenade launchers around. They could have been putting HE on the enemy for the past few years with them!

The Dan Ward said...

Thanks for the story - sadly, it's an all too common approach, delivering nothing because we can't deliver everything...