Dec 31, 1994
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Anecdotal evidence suggests that experience plays a critical role in the cost-effectiveness design and development of successful military aircraft. Understanding the true situation may be essential to meet Air Force needs despite declining R&D budgets, few new programs starts, and industry contraction. To examine this issue, the authors explore the history of U.S. bomber production since the end of World War II. They conclude that relevant experience does, indeed, matter — firms develop valuable system-specific knowledge in ongoing work, and experience in important new technologies has a distinct advantage. There is far less correlation between commercial and military aircraft than was once thought, so such experience is unlikely to be useful. And since major breakthroughs in technology, design approaches, and concepts have come far more often from government labs than from the commercial sector, the contribution of "dual-use" technology to future military aircraft design and development may be limited.
The 1940s and 1950s: Ever Faster and Higher
The 1960s and 1970s: The Strategic Bomber Under Attack
The 1970s Through the 1990s: The Stealth Revolution