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Flying Blind offers an astute analysis of the role of organizational forces in initiating and shaping weapons programs. Michael E. Brown concerns himself with how weapons programs begin and why they turn out as they do. In the process he redresses a large imbalance in our understanding of how nations arm themselves.
In an unmatched account constructed from massive archival work and material declassified through the Freedom of Information Act, the author provides a detailed description of all fifteen postwar U.S. strategic bomber programs, from the B-35 to the B-2. Challenging the conventional wisdom about arms races and the weapons acquisition process, Brown marshals compelling evidence that Air Force reactions to strategic developments, not technological opportunism or industry initiative, brought about many major innovations in those programs. He also discusses competing explanations of the cost, schedule, and performance problems that plague U.S. acquisition efforts. He maintains that powerful strategic and bureaucratic forces lead American military organizations to set their performance requirements far beyond the state of the art and to push their programs as fast as possible. This, he argues, is a recipe for disaster. Developing a comprehensive explanation of the cost and performance problems that plague modern weapons programs, he presents policy recommendations designed to address these issues.
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