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Does DoD need a 'technology roadmap?'

You read here about Wednesday's debate as to whether DoD should keep up, change or eliminate the requirement that the servies must regularly submit 30-year shipbuilding and aviation plans. In fact, one defense analyst who appeared before the House Armed Services Committee thinks the Pentagon could use another long-term plan.

Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation told lawmakers she thinks the Pentagon needs a "technology roadmap," developed in concert with its other long-term strategies, so that the Navy and Air Force can have a clear view about where they need to apply their focus. Here's what she said in her opening statement:

Navy leaders recognize that the U.S. is quickly losing its monopolies on guided weapons and the ability to project power. Precision munitions (guided rockets, artillery, mortars, and missiles) and battle networks are proliferating, while advances in radar and electro-optical technology are increasingly rendering stealth less effective.

Policymakers should help the Navy and the Air Force to take a step back and look at the big picture to inform future investment portfolios. Congress should mandate the development of long-range technology road maps, including a science and technology plan and a research and development plan for the Department of the Navy and Air Force. These plans should broadly outline future investments, capabilities, and requirements. The possibilities include:

• A next-generation surface combatant,

• A new air superiority fighter jet, and

• Low-observable capabilities beyond stealth.

These plans should also identify and prioritize the need for additional investment in critical capabilities, including:

• More capable anti-ship, land attack, and air-to-air missiles;

• Next-generation rotary wing aircraft;

• Satellite recapitalization;

• Directed energy and electromagnetic weapons;

• Underwater weapons, including an unmanned underwater vehicle;

• Nanotechnology and solid-state and fiber lasers;

• Biotechnologies; and

• Advanced cyber technologies.

In light of the need for a comprehensive, long-range technology road map for the services, Congress should consider adding to its requirement for 30-year shipbuilding and aviation plans by directing the Navy and Air Force to submit long-range technology road maps.

Would another long-term plan help clarify the services' way forward? Or would it be a waste of effort to try to plan on buying all these kinds of high-ticket programs as budgets wilt in Austerity America? Show Full Article

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