Last July I was trying to avoid reading anything about Canadian politics during an escape to Las Vegas. I had no such luck.
Not only was the CNOOC-Nexen deal splashed across the front of the Wall Street Journal but the paper was also carrying stories about the F-35 fighter jet program. Historian and policy wonk Arthur Herman had the best idea, turn over development of fighter jets to the private sector as had been done during the second world war.
First, we recruited the most productive and innovative companies and manufacturers to help. In 1939, most weapons for the U.S. Army were built in government arsenals or by contractors in small batches—much as they are made by a handful of big defense contractors today. The war brought in car makers like General Motors and Ford, electronics firms like GE, RCA and Westinghouse, and companies like Boeing and Lockheed that still made their living designing and building civilian aircraft. Companies that had never made a tank or machine gun or bazooka ended up producing them by the thousands—and brought their engineering expertise to every step.
The future of military technology is the kind of high-tech engineering in which American companies already are the established leaders. So why not let the Air Force ask Apple to design an iFighter? Or let the Navy ask Google to design the software architecture to power its ships and submarines? That company’s skunk-works innovation team, Google X, has now developed a car that drives itself on the streets of San Francisco. Why not tap that expertise for the Pentagon’s future unmanned systems?