Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2016 Contents Steinbock said that one reason that defense
companies may be spending less on IR&D
is to keep expenses down and present
more attractive bids for DOD contracts,
in line with changes in Pentagon procure-
ment policy that give greater emphasis to
lower-cost procurement, particularly to
source selection concepts such as "lowest
price technically acceptable."
"R&D expenditures in the commercial
technology sector can and do lead to
signi cantly increased revenues from
growing markets." In contrast, Steinbock
said, "in an era of declining defense pro-
curement, R&D expenditures for defense
at best let a rm get a slightly larger slice
of a smaller pie---hardly a compelling
proposition for shareholders."
"We still are operating in a defense indus-
trial world that's based on the '50s and
the Cold War, where we had one com-
mon enemy, and that enemy had one
common enemy, and we kind of knew
what needed to be done," Chew said.
Since then, like the U.S. automotive
industry in the 1980s, the defense indus-
try has lost its bearings, and "they don't
really know what to invest in." Mean-
while, defense companies "are doing
everything that they can to squeeze the
last dollar out of their existing product
line. [ ey've] got to ll [their] assembly
lines, at the end of the day."
"When was the last time the Army or
[DOD] really built a new platform? You
can pretty much trace when we started
running into problems to when we 'won'
the Cold War and we stopped building
things," Chew said. Previously, "Every
time you designed a main battle tank,
you knew there was another main battle
tank on the drawing boards right after
that, and the same with the Air Force:
Every time you designed a new ghter,
you knew there was a new ghter on the
drawing boards after that. In the Navy,
every time you designed a new surface
vessel, you knew there was one after that.
" at's why it's so important to build stu .
You have to keep people active. ere's
no such thing as a technology faucet; you
just can't turn it on, and there it is. ere's
also no such thing as an acquisition or
design faucet. Look at what happened
when we stopped developing rotary-
wing aircraft," Chew said. With respect
to rotary-wing innovation, he explained,
"You see the commercial guys absolutely
cleaning the department's clock."
Even the development of the Future Ver-
tical Lift (FVL) program appears to be
a shortsighted solution, Chew said. (See
"A Big Lift," Page 108.) e notion that
the aircraft will have to be designed to
last 30 years with incremental improve-
ments because the Army probably won't
build a new rotary aircraft in that time
frame ies in the face of innovation, he
said. "Can you imagine if Apple actually
had that philosophy on the iPhone? ' is
is going to be the last iPhone that people
are ever going to want to buy, so it's got
to last 30 years.' [Apple would] never get
In the same vein, DOD should focus on
awarding valuable R&D projects to com-
panies that can produce something from
the R&D, not organizations such as big
laboratories or universities that don't
make anything, Chew said. "If you really
want to have innovation in the industrial
base, then focus on the industrial base."
Awarding contracts to entities that don't
have a manufacturing base is a recipe for
"unbuildable systems that don't transi-
tion," said Chew.
Overall, Chew is skeptical about the sub-
stantive bene ts of DOD's innovation
push. "When you start dictating innova-
tion, that's like dictating creativity. If you
really have to talk about innovation, you
have to ask yourself, what are you really
doing?" he said. But he applauded DOD's
push for more prototyping and experimen-
tation of emerging capabilities, speci cally
the O ce of the Deputy Assistant Secre-
tary of Defense for Emerging Capability
& Prototyping, under the ASD(R&E):
"Give me your idea and let's see what we
can do with it," as Chew put it.
Even with that commitment to inno-
vation, Chew said industry is likely to
approach warily, "because again, a lot
of stu that you do with the science and
technology and advanced concepts in the
prototyping world is, frankly, knocking
current rice bowls. Nobody likes that."
He also sees promise in defense-industry
exchanges to broaden each side's under-
standing of how the other works and how
they could work better together.
Disruptive technologies, by de nition, are not
initially welcomed by large institutions like the big
defense contractors or the DOD acquisition system.
68 Army AL&T Magazine July-September 2016
MAKING INNOVATION HAPPEN
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