A lesson from Dave Trott
Sunday, 27 July 2014
Dave Trott is an advertising man. He's also a very original thinker. His blog is one of my favourite things. Here's an example of why:
Bean Counter Logic
The US Navy, the US Air Force, and the US Marines each needed a new fighter/bomber.
But instead of making a different one for each, the government decided to save money.
By making one plane they could use for everyone.
The F35 Joint-Strike Fighter.
These will cost $200 million for each plane.
That’s a lot of money.
But at least for that money you get the best plane in the world.
Er, no actually, you don’t.
In fact, it’s so bad the US military has already begun cancelling their orders, and they were the ones that briefed it.
So what went wrong?
The flaw was the initial concept.
To save money, they combined different requirements and came up with a single answer to work for everyone.
The illusion is that you get an all round state-of-the-art solution.
The reality is you get a lowest-common-denominator fix.
Something that does lots of jobs badly.
The Air Force wanted a plane that would fly at supersonic speeds, with stealth technology, and be able to dogfight.
The Navy wanted a plane that could land on aircraft carriers in all weather.
The Marines wanted a plane for ground-strikes, that had could take off and land vertically, without runways.
The F35 had to do all these things.
The trouble is, many of them are mutually exclusive.
For vertical take off, it would need a massive lift-fan.
This would make it fatter and heavier.
So it would use more fuel and be slower.
To go supersonic it would need shorter wings, so it wouldn’t be manoeuvrable enough to dogfight.
To land on a carrier it would need a much tougher undercarriage.
This would also make it heavier and slower.
To make it stealthy it couldn’t carry weapons under the wings.
They would need to be stored inside, to give it a smoother silhouette.
This meant it couldn’t carry many bombs.
So, far from a plane that can do everything, they’ve got a plane that can’t do much at all.
It’s so heavy it can’t go supersonic without burning up all its fuel.
That’s no use to the Air Force.
Its wings are so short it can’t carry many bombs or rockets, or fly slowly, or dogfight.
That’s no use to the Marines.
The huge lift-fan makes it so heavy it slams down hard on landing.
That’s no use to the Navy.
It’s so fat, it can’t be made stealthy.
That’s no use to anyone.
So they’ve got the world’s most expensive aeroplane and it can’t do anything well.
But that’s pretty much what happens when you try to make one thing that satisfies everyone.
You don’t satisfy anyone, and you end up doing lots of things badly.
You can find more brilliance like this at http://thegateworldwide.com/london/news/?category=16
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