Someone high up, made enough money out of that for himself that cancellation, rinse and repeat will pay for his retirement
I hadn’t thought of that. Or it could also be the Army just being realistic about upcoming politics. If they feel confident that the program will be cancelled in a year, why not bite the bullet now and use the cash now. This is why we can’t have nice things.
I found the “recon choppers are obsoleted by cheap little drones, look at whats happening in Ukraine” shtick quite convincing as well. As cool as the FARA chopper would have been, it makes sense.
Yep. The future is “Robots Kill. People Die”
What @schurem said. The US is woefully behind China in consumer grade drone technology and more importantly, supply chain manufacturing. DJI (Shenzhen) owns 70% of the consumer market. As we have seen in the Ukraine war, consumer drones have replaced more costly and less effective military grade weapons. I don’t know if this translates into how well we would do against a peer adversary in any sort of conflict, but it doesn’t give me a lot of confidence. Look how difficult it has been to stop a minimally equipped force like the Houthis and Iranian back militias.
So maybe, redirecting those funds toward the UAS space is inevitable and necessary.
Found this in my Inbox this afternoon, from the Merge newsletter. I highly recommend their podcast and newsletter, if you are into this sort of thing…
It’s usually the Air Force dropping bombs, but this week, the Army dropped a bomb of its own: it killed its new scout helicopter program.
Lost in the headline was the other bomb: it also pulled the plug on 19,000+ legacy drones (RQ-7 Shadows and Ravens).
ICYMI: The now-defunct $20B Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program was intended to replace the retired OH-58 Kiowa (and canceled RAH-66 Comanche), filling a role the AH-64 Apache had been forced to fill the past few years.
BUT…the cancellation wasn’t due to budgets, poor contractor performance, or lack of need. In fact, Army aviation’s number 1 mission gap is armed reconnaissance.
What happened: Ukraine.
There is a reason you don’t see lightly armed, manned helicopters flying around Ukraine doing reconnaissance.
Chief of Staff of the Army General Randy Georgestated it nicely: “We are learning from the battlefield—especially in Ukraine—that aerial reconnaissance has fundamentally changed. Sensors and weapons mounted on a variety of unmanned systems and in space are more ubiquitous, further reaching, and more inexpensive than ever before.”
$2B had been spent on FARA to date, and it’s easy to chuck spears at “another failed government program.” But it did not fail. In many ways, it succeeded.
Check it out: One truth about all military acquisition programs is that they are all really just trying to predict the future—sometimes decades into the future. But seldom does anyone reassess the facts and assumptions that framed the “requirements” of the original intent of the program.
Facts are facts. But equally important are assumptions—the key planning factors that must be treated as “conditional facts” to make informed decisions to navigate uncertainty. At the same time, this list of facts and assumptions also serves as a sanity check—when the facts and assumptions change, a revisit to the decision is warranted.
In this case, Ukraine provided ample examples that the operational environment has, is, and will continue to be rapidly changing—faster than any large, manned, monolithic helicopter program could have kept up with. The counter-tech was just too overwhelming.
Army leadership assessed the conditions (i.e., facts and assumptions) and decided there were far better asymmetric, cost-imposing ways to spend $20B on forward reconnaissance for the modern battlefield.
What’s Next: Big changes usually mean upsetting big players. Expect to see a full-frontal assault from Congress and lobbyists in the coming months.
Point to Ponder: This decision frees up ~$500M/year to spend on forward reconnaissance using autonomous drones and space-based sensing. Is the Army about to slingshot past the Air Force in the airborne ISR realm?
Technology was supposed to make ‘modern warfare’ so swift and decisive that spares were irrelevant. Besides, it took months to build a replacement and it took years to train someone to use it anyway.
Conflict with ‘not even close to peer’ enemies reinforced this view.
However, recent events have forced a rethink of that (especially when it comes to seizing and holding ground… such an outdated concept ).
If for the cost of one FARA I can blanket a couple of hundred square kilometers with cheap disposable ‘drones’ and cover that with precision indirect fires then guess what this little black duck votes for?
We are re-entering a period of War=Attrition, so we might as well get ready now.
But I’m sorry Eric. Harry Harrison beat you by just a few years with his titular story from “War With The Robots”.
I absolutely believe this to be true.
Actually, that makes a lit of sense. So how I see this attrition thing is civilians must be attacked in large numbers in order to avoid losing outright a war of attrition. Unless you are certain of victory, violence on a massive
scale inflicted on a poorly defended population is the only way to avoid being steamrolled.
Unfortunately I don’t think you are far off… If it comes to a global conflict, the only way to ‘win’ will be to go all in.
Who else can hear that image?