Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From Sword Fighters to Jet Fighters

We're about all things nerdy here, and there's nothing more nerdy than engineering...unless we're talking military engineering! Here's a video clip of Pierre Sprey, one of the engineers of the classic F-16 fighter, talking about why the F-35 JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) is such a mess, a dog's breakfast, a clusterf***...a kludge. On a personal note, more than 40 years ago, my dad worked at the Pentagon as a math/engineering nerd, helping to evaluate weapons systems. He told me the generals enthused about an assault rifle that could throw a slug the length of a football field and offered multiple fire modes and attachments. These came at the design cost of complexity, lack of user-friendliness, and lack of reliability. The generals didn't consider that the US was fighting in jungles with limited sight
lines, humid environments that were tough on delicate machinery, and a draftee army with limited training opportunities. The Viet Cong used the AK-47 - it lacked options and accuracy, but it was rugged, easy to make, easy to use, and cheap.

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