Forging Weapons Strategies for the Future Defense Landscape

  • Lieutenant Colonel Derek James O’Malley

The rhetoric is heated in the debate over the future of the A-10. The F-35, which has been touted as the replacement for the A-10 and several other legacy fighters, is behind schedule and currently lacks many of the A-10’s capabilities. Critics argue that the F-35 will never match the A-10 and is a leap backwards in CAS capability, while F-35 advocates cite the impressive 5th generation capabilities the F-35 will eventually bring to the fight. Amidst this war of words, where emotions run high, it is difficult to wade through the ensembles of points and counterpoints to discern a productive path. Thus, this paper is not just about the A-10 or the F-35. Rather, it is about making tough choices to forge effective defense strategies in a complex, resource constrained, and rapidly changing environment. To this end, we will explore a series of cases from both the business world and the Department of Defense (DoD). These vignettes will reveal patterns of behavior, which converge to stifle critical thinking in competitive landscapes. This paper will present a balanced discussion on future defense strategies, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about the future of the A-10.