We have heard much about the anti-access/area denial threat China poses to American and allied forces in the Pacific. We have read much about new Chinese missiles such as the DF-21, which supposedly can destroy maneuvering ships at sea — especially US aircraft carriers. We have read that Pacific allies wish to deploy substantial fleets of F-35s, and then critics decide that these “short range” assets can not meet the crucial needs of warfighting in the Pacific.

We have also learned in the press that core competencies like amphibious assault have now become virtually impossible because of the A2/AD capabilities of China. What is lost in all of this hyperbole is what the United States and its allies are doing to shape a new combat capability appropriate to the 21st century. It may be true that a linear airpower force would find it difficult to cope with such threats. One deploying what we call S-cubed evolution capabilities — sensors, stealth, and speed — can create a powerful distributed force in the Pacific, one that so complicates Chinese military planning as to greatly enhance US deterrence.

At the heart of getting the policy agenda right is to understand that warfare is highly interactive. Buying, building, and deploying yesterday’s technologies against evolving threats is the right way of being on the wrong side of the outcome.

As Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, put it succinctly in a recent presentation: “Some say that the development of modern anti-access, area denial threats make an amphibious assault impossible. That has been said before and it was not true then and it is not true now. The challenge is to leverage the asymmetric advantages we have in functions like ISR, precision-first, and seabasing. The challenge is to use the sea as a maneuver space in the context of the modern threat. We don’t need to give up on the capability. We need to think our way through the challenge.”

This is especially true because persistent presence is fundamental to the kind of alliance and partner relationships necessary for 21st century Pacific operations. What Walsh was hinting at is what we would call the S-cubed evolution or revolution of capabilities.

A deployed fleet of F-35s – allied and American – in the Pacific lay down a strong stealth and sensor-enabled honeycomb of deployed kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities. The F-35 has been built to be a fleet, not a single silver bullet. As Lt. General Robert Schmidle, the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation, commented recently, speaking of the flexibility and coverage which F-35Bs can bring to a theater like the Pacific: “I think that we’re going to find ourselves in a situation where we, the Marine Corps, are going to be able to offer much more to the joint force in terms of capability… The Air Force Commander will look at USMC or USN F-35s as part of his F-35 fleet from the perspective of the joint fight.”

Other sensor capabilities will be provided by robotic capabilities under the sea, on the sea and in the air. The concept of a wolf pack of robotic elements outside of the fleet and inside the planes themselves will create a stealth-sensors dynamic as a solid foundation for the weapons revolution.

We are currently putting third- and fourth-generation weapons on fifth-generation aircraft. This makes little sense. With a plane that can see significantly further than the weapons it carries can engage, the capabilities of the F-35 are being limited by the past, rather than enabling a new strike enterprise future.

The core capability which we wish to highlight here is the third S – speed – in offboarding of weapons. Offloading of weapons will be a fundamental opportunity posed by fifth generation aircraft. Before his departure, former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz spoke of F-22s training to guide Tomahawk missiles fired from surface ships to their targets. The US tested an F-22 retargeting a Tomahawk cruise missile that was launched from a submarine last year: This is an example of how we are moving closer to this joint pre-integration under the Air-Sea Battle concept.

But all that is just a hint of things to come. The F-35 has a 360-degree situational awareness and data delivery capability. This offers the possibility of leveraging the 360-degree space to guide weapons to their targets. Target acquisition does not have to be limited to weapons carried on board. This means that classic distinctions between tactical fighters doing close air support or air superiority missions or air defense missions become blurred. The fleet as a whole identifies targets for the various mission sets and can guide weapons from any of its elements to a diversity of targets. The reach of the fleet is the key to the operation of the fleet, not the range of individual aircraft.

Mark Lewis, former Chief Scientist of the Air Force and now head of the Science and Technology Policy Institute at the Institute for Defense Analyses, is one of the world’s leading experts in hypersonics, the science of flying more than five times the speed of sound. Lewis thinks that a Mach 5+ cruise missile is the low-hanging fruit of the hypersonics revolution. In considering the impact of hypersonic missiles carrying new kinds of warheads, one can see the breakthrough possibilities. With a forward-deployed stealth fleet doing target identification as well as being able to rapidly prosecute combat advantage from the results of the strike, American and allied forces would not only be more lethal, but a much more effective deterrent force.

Hypersonic cruise missiles are part of the competitive landscape. The Russians, the Indians, the Chinese, and the US are all investing in these capabilities. Lewis compared the development of hypersonics to the work which led to the development of ICBMs: “The resistance of the bomber community to ICBMs was significant. General Le May referred to them as firecrackers. But to his credit, the USAF leadership garnered the resources and built the ICBMs. I think hypersonic poses a very, very similar change in mindset. The fact that I can reach in quickly, that I can reach far. Hypersonic systems give us the ability to marry surgical precision with rapidity of action and provides for invulnerability in the face of enemy aircraft as well. And rather than thinking of it as a silver bullet but part of an ‘S Cubed force,’ it enables the forward deployed F-35 stealth fleet to guide lethality to a broad variety of targets. Such game changing technology needs to be a high priority for DOD and NASA investments.”

As allies develop new missiles and pay to integrate them on the global fleet, the US would have access directly to such missiles. When block four of the F-35 software arrives, we will see MBDA, Kongsberg, and Turkish missiles made available across the fleet. This frees the US from having to invest in duplicating existing allied missiles for the F-35 fleet or the legacy fleet. Investments can be concentrated on a breakthrough technology, like hypersonic cruise missiles, or increasingly faster cruise missiles with new types of warheads.

And associated with shaping new delivery vehicles is the development of new warheads as well. New warheads can be developed for the hypersonic missile which have the ability to get inside the electronics, the fire controls, the signals, the sensors of your opponent and to do it at very high speed.

One way to understand the potential for change is to revisit the large deck aircraft carrier. Does not a hypersonic missile woven into a fleet of evolving capabilities significantly enhance the viability of the force and its lethality? Imagine the F-35Bs and F-35Cs providing the forward punch to the sea force and identifying targets along with robotic elements deployed in the water, under the water, and in the air. They could guide a set of new weapons on the fourth-generation F-18s based on the carriers, including a hypersonic cruise missile.

What is there not to like about a maneuvering ship with a variable geometry strike force onboard? In short, sensors combined with stealth combined with speed can provide a new paradigm for shaping the Pacific force necessary for the US in working in the Pacific.

As Lewis put it: “Distance only gives you tyranny if you’re clanking along at 30 knots. If I’m flying at Mach 2, Mach 3, Mach 5, Mach 6, I don’t think distance is such a tyranny any longer. And I think that’s what speed and range, by the way, in combination bring to the equation.”

Comments

  • JG

    Area denial, not anti-denial.

  • http://casinos-top.org/ casinos-top.org

    I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.

  • smedleybutlersociety

    re: photo
    The Chinese aircraft carrier Shi Lang? I though it was christened Liaoning.

  • smedleybutlersociety

    Amphibious assaults in the Pacific area, supported by fleets of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters costing $300m each with operating cots of $30K per hour — makes sense to me.–not

    Somebody needs to bring these uniforms back to reality.

  • Peter

    Yes, nice philosophy: Sensors, Stealth, and Speed. Problem with this is that the U.S. comes up with all these ideas and plans, but in reality, DOES IT WORK and CAN WE BUILD, BUY, and GET IT?

    The U.S. has been down this road before: Commanche stealth helo (overbudget, cancelled), Crusader (too heavy, reduced in weight, then cancelled), FCS (prototypes tested and then cancelled), F-22 (only 187 made, of which some crashed), B-2 Stealth Bomber (21 made, one crashed), M8 AGS (prototypes made and never went into production. Army rumored it wasn’t interested in it. Cancelled), Kiowa Scout Helicopter Replacement (two programs cancelled and nothing so far), Tri-Service Missile (cancelled), EFOG-M and NLOS-M (cancelled, hence the Navy’s LCS has no missile), FMBT M1 Abrams replacement programs (never developed, cancelled), FCS Tracer Scout (cancelled), SLAMRAAM (never went into production, cancelled), MEADS SAM (never went into production, funding in limbo), USMC EFV (overbudget and technical problems, cancelled), Dragonfire Auto Mortar (tested and never went into production, stored). Seawolf submarines (too expensive, only three built, cancelled). Zumwalt Destroyer (too expensive, only three will be built, rest unknown). USCG National Security Cutter (funding for up to six, USCG wants eight, funding for rest unknown), Space Shuttle (all retired), USCG “Polar” Icebreakers (one refurbished, one retired, and one in use, no plans to make new ones even though the Arctic ice is melting), Land Warrior Soldier (tested, too heavy, reduced in weight and size, and no kind of in limbo), F-35 (limited production with testing problems), F-15SE and F-15SK (we don’t have them as the foreign nations have better F-15 versions than the USAF) F-16XL (prototype), F-16 Block 60, F-16I (we don’t have them as the foreign nations have better F-16 versions than the USAF), USAF 747 Airborne Laser (tested and deemed to heavy and expensive to use, cancelled). I could go on and on.

    Billions and billions of dollars spent on “bright ideas” and replacement programs for the U.S. DoD and in the end, the result was to upgrade, reset, and reuse “Legacy” systems that are 20-40+ years old!

    What scares the Pentagon is China buying, developing, making, building, and fielding much better, newer, and more capable weapons systems than before for a lot cheaper cost whereas the U.S. struggles to even replace some of their weapons systems in service for decades. If China says it wants this and that, makes it, fields it, uses it, then of course the U.S. would be scared when it looks at its future Wish List and sees a lot of programs going nowhere. See, spending more money on Defense won’t solve issues if the weapons aren’t making it into the Pentagon’s inventory because they never left the factory.

    A counter cannot work if nothing has been built and fielded and often mark –CANCELLED– due to a variety of reasons ranging from overbudget to politics to lack of DoD interest. Granted, there are DoD “Wish List” weapons out there that do work, but were they built, fielded, and used?

  • PolicyWonk

    If the massive targeting capability is what is supposed to make the F-35 so awesome, then one would think that doing something silly like arming the LCS with weapons more capable than the 57mm popgun and RAM.

    But its seems to me that no one is coordinating the entire threat analysis and determining what the overall strategy and force structure should be to defeat those threats. Thats why our acquisition system stinks, and gives the US the lousiest bang for the buck in the western world.

    • http://defense.aol.com/ Colin Clark

      Don’t forget that JSF also possesses serious cyber and EM capabilities because of its radar and other things. Add the dispersion of the squadron when going into combat and the amazing ranges at which they can find targets and you’ve got interesting capabilities. Now we need to start building some kinetic weapons worthy of the plane.

  • JimBobJoe

    I don’t see why America doesn’t fund hypersonic research more. Research is moving so slow for such a promising breakthrough technology. The X-51A has been tested and then it takes another year and a half or so before they get another test completed. If this is such a valuable technology, then America should be testing prototypes every other month, or so.

  • see~u

    The more money The US spend in the army of east Asia to countering china, the less money the US can spend in basic construction、Civic welfare and the other. draw back the fist can make you have the real power

  • http://twitter.com/ziggy1988 ziggy1988

    “We have read that Pacific allies wish to deploy substantial fleets of F-35s, and then critics decide that these “short range” assets can not meet the crucial needs of warfighting in the Pacific.”

    Yes – because THEY CAN’T. It’s as simple as that. All 3 variants of the F-35 have a short combat radius (1000 kms in the F-35A’s) case, meaning their bases would all be within easy range of even the shortest-ranged Chinese, North Korean, and Iranian ballistic missiles. They wouldn’t even have to destroy the aircraft (unless they’re F-35B), only the runways. If you can’t fly, you can’t fight and win. And they could destroy the aircraft just as easily, and thus inflict huge financial losses on the US at little cost to them. By pursuing the F-35, the US is merely wasting tons of money on creating VERY lucrative targets for China, NK, and Iran.

    Likewise, carriers have become disastrously vulnerable while being way too expensive. And the US military doesn’t need aircraft to guide its missiles; other means can be used.

    The US will win future wars ONLY if it seriously invests in LONG-RANGE platforms, including and especially the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB).

    • damian

      f-35 has VTOL & STOL capability ………… destroy the runways they’ll still get up lol admittedly its not a good system yet but give it time :)

  • tee

    Another Marine Corp. General pushing the F-35, “Imagine That ” / sarcasm. At $300 Million a pop for the F-35B version just imagine what it would of cost the US if those Harriers that the Taliban blew up and destroyed last year were F-35B’s, with 6 destroyed and 4 severally damaged, $1.8 Billion destroyed and how many 100′s of Million to repair the other 4? Why do you think that Singapore just went with the F-15SG instead of the F-35B, maybe 2 for the price of one? At $125 Million a pop, or because of the range and being a very mature system?

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/singapores-rsaf-decides-to-fly-like-an-eagle-01141

  • TX Chainsaw

    One element the author alludes to, but doesn’t explicitly state, is the dark side of integrating 5th generation weapons into 4th generation strategies, concept of operations (CONOPS) and tactics.

    Exercises and studies show that advanced systems perform only marginally better when used in the same manner as the systems they were designed to replaced. F-22s can get take hits when the rules of engagement are constrained for it to fight like an F-15. However, taking full advantage of advanced CONOPS and tactics, and leveraging full capabilities of S-cube can produce spectacular combat effectiveness. The F-35 will continue grow this asymmetry and expand it to air/sea/ground operations as it has a combination of capabilities not present on F-22 or any other aircraft in the world.

    One true challenge is for coalition and joint planners and tacticians to develop aggressive asymmetric strategies, CONOPS and tactics across air, ground, sea, space, cyber dimensions. A very difficult challenge given legacy ground rules, assumptions, data and tools.

    The old guard of OIF/OEF political and military leadership should refrain from angst of protecting legacy capability and capacity but rather usher in a new era to position us to take best advantage of the effects produced from simultaneity of asymmetric S-cube capabilities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyalfidi Anthony J. Alfidi

    Sensors, stealth, and speed are good but the US will need lots of all three. China can keep building hypersonic missiles until it feels the pinch from resource shortages. China’s quest for resources requires it to reach farther than ever: http://thirdeyeosint.blogspot.com/2013/04/naval-war-college-foundation-seminar-in.html

  • ISIcyberAgent

    First counter with Taliban in Afghanistan the talk about powerful economies

  • M&S

    What rubbish.

    You cannot ‘associate’ F-35A/B/C with each other if their combat radii vary by as much as half. You cannot play JACC and call up Navy assets to go where your airfield based forces cannot because they are too far away or _dead_ from preemptive strikes on the base logistics before your FWs even arrived.

    Talking about hypersonics is all well and good, but to then assert that the range of the F-35 is not at issue here when dealing with fighters doing ‘air supremacy’ (SM-6 from over the horizon but how many minutes from now?) ‘CAS’ (can you afford missile strikes for infantry combat?) and ‘Air Defense’ (doesn’t matter how many radars see a DF-21, post bus, only how many interceptors you have that can hit it, before) is completely ridiculous.

    Because fighter radius @ rate + loiter as a function of pilot endurance determines how many targets you can see and how far into the danger zone the carrier has to come to give you that persistence.

    And let’s talk about “Mach 5, even Mach 6…” shall we?

    Why does it have to come off a Super Hornet force? Why are you trying to buy in a legacy fleet when you just admitted that _Gen-5_ doesn’t fight well when constrained by legacy weapon/airframe restrictions?

    F/A-18E/F has an ‘official’ KPP as OPEVAL certified combat radius of 363nm in strike configuration. Never mind that the official number was 393nm, long after it was admitted that pylon toe outs had killed the promised 550nm capability.

    It’s just 363nm.

    What does mounting a 1,500-2,000lb PAIR of ‘hypersonic’ missiles on a Super Hornet that toodles forward at subsonic speeds, to add perhaps a third again as much total range footprint to a weapon can, surface launch, only achieve about 200-300nm on it’s own mean?

    Nothing. Because the carrier has to come forward to the point at which the fixed wing airframe becomes an efficiently reuseable booster platform to hit targets which would otherwise require a ramjet weapon to achieve compareable time-critical targeting. Which is to <10minutes to minimum (combined airframe+weapon) reach of some 1,100 to 1,500nm.

    Any less and the Carrier may not be there when you come back. Switch to ramjet and your free oxidizer increases range substantially (see the Chinese HN/DN 2000 developments) but your cost is now 2-3 million (with Brahmos as baseline).

    And so the tacair, jump start, modifier just isn't a savings over a Mk.31 SM-2/3 booster in a slightly longer missile.

    OTOH, unless the enemy has a genuine midcourse intercept ability to hit missiles transiting at Mach 3 and 80-100K (in which case it can also hit them at Mach 6 @150K, just a little later in terminals) then hitching your gen-6 missile -of any kind- to a gen-4 platform is the inverse of hitching your gen-5 airframe to gen-4 JDAM. The threat to the high performance shot comes from the vulnerability of the shooter, prelaunch.

    A VLS _does not care_ what 'generation' the missile is, so long as it fits the Strike configured tube length, the difference being that 'clanking along at 30 knots' (at pennies per mile over a 30 year hull life) you had better well be 'distance dominating' because you have anywhere from 200-500 crew at risk.

    To me, this means it's a wash. Because you either bring the Gen-4 with Gen-5 minders in close and risk continuing attrition of the mission force as well as a mazcat of your basing modality. Or you avoid the big threat by sacrificially exposing smaller hulls to lots of minicats and acknowledge that ramjet missiles as throwaway assets are now going to cost more than you can afford to also sustain your tacair capabilities at peak with.

    S3 then becomes pointless as a whole because targeting is not and indeed _should not_ be linked to range or value limited assets, PERIOD.

    As a function of this there is waaaaaay too much that can go wrong here.

    If you don't have sensor dominance because the Chinese hack the datalinks and the F-22/35 force goes dead, your uber missiles don't work because they are the only ones who can go forward into defended airspace. If, say, J-20 can come out and make the Super Hornets drop weapons to defend themselves, the mission is a fail. If the Hornets bring the Carriers into DF-21D range, the better bullet as S3 standard fails. If the tankers which stage from Andersen or Al Udeid aren't there because of commando attack or long range strike by supersonic cruise weapons, then you can't drag the Hornets from extended radius via KC-45. If you are dependent on fixed targets and/or -time- to degrade threats in a given area but the enemy attacks on a broad front which you cannot bring your super high-cost enablers to fight (including loop-around attacks on from unexpected threat radials on already engaged forces), then you win the battle only to lose the war.

    _Keep In Mind_ that the Chinese doctrinal dictum, since 1991, has been 'War Without Limits'. More properly translated: _War Without Boundaries_. That doesn't sound like something a few hundred Gen-5s and perhaps half again as many also-ran weapon carriers from the war before can handle, geographicaly, to keep the Chinese wondering where the next threat is going to come from.

    Which brings me to my last point: it all sounds like Judo to me. You reach here, I reach there, a twist and a shove and 'whoever has the biggest leverage, wins'.

    Well, there is no doubt that the Chinese have the logistical Archimedes on us. But what's worse is that we seem to be trying to wrestle our own view into something that is a transient edge at best and an ephemeral pipe dream at worst.

    And for what? What do we gain from defending the Malaysian Archipelago through the Formosa Strait and up to the East China Sea that we could not just as easily hand off to local powers as Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Korea? Why do we not see them as our 'secret weapons' because, by nuclearizing them and providing them turnkey capabilities in LO design, the can guard their own SLOCs?

    There has to be a better reason to stick our noses in the jam and dare China to slam the door than simple lack of other competition. Not least because Chinese electronics are already in 90% of our weapons systems and I can't believe they have missed that MASSIVE cyber opportunity.

    When you find that reason, probably as a function of geopolitical economics and resource access, you find the method of defeating China. Not as a tactical opponent but as a strategic one.

    To me, the answer is obvious: we can pretend that (we can afford to) maintaining vast numbers of multi-overlap force capabilities matters. Because 'of course' the Chinese will chase all our capabilities rather than just those which actually matter to securing her own SOI hegemony.

    Or we can stop pretending that how we 'go team!' fight the S3/netcentric battle matters (it doesn't because the data linkages are the own worst vulnerability of the system metric and the Chinese will copy the doctrine with cheaper landbasing effectors anyway).

    To instead start concentrating on the kinds of damage that we do, where and how badly it hurts the enemy.

    China cannot be 'contained' as the world industrial manufacturing powerhouse. Not simply because it's unfair to do to her what we did to Germany _under a reverse of monetary conditions_ as happened in the 1920s-30s. But rather because they have an entire Western frontier area where they are diplomatically heavily engaged.

    The PacRim is basically a hole but for the SLOCs through which some 70% of the world's maritime commerce flows. If we -try- to deny China resources she needs to make the manufactured goods the world wants, the world market will collapse. International banking will not let that happen over a prolonged war effort.

    Long before that happens, China will be exporting overland via what is notionally being called the 'Silk Road II' as a system of interconnected road and rail links being built as part of an overarching national roadbuilding infrastructure effort, similar to what Eisenhower did in the 1950s.

    What goes out will also come in on those rail links and that includes Iranian and Russian petroleum products.

    If you have 7-10 days to 'win' a war before it is arbitrated out of our hands, these are the communication methods as industrial base energizers which we must hit.

    Why is this important? Because China is 2,500 miles, north to south. She is 3,200 miles East to West. The majority of her commercial industry is in the heartland while nearly ALL her military R&D as production is in the West. Those are the targets which, if hit properly and expeditiously by Mid-not-Low hypersonic strike (Mach 10-12), will put China on her knees. And no 'tactical' ramjet or even scramjet missile has the thermodynamic efficiencies to reach these kinds of targets.

    As we have let ourselves be kicked out of the CIS states (Kyrghzstan and others) we cannot undertake to attack from the West ourselves, even if Russia doesn't end up on the Chinese side.

    But.

    If you launch just five aircraft from a carrier just off Hokkaido and fly them in a great looping arc to another carrier just off of Vietnam, dropping 40 hypersonic KEM as rods from god which aero-skip across half a time zone or more before dropping on industrial targets with the Mach-8 equivalent of a low level nuke going off in the manufacturing hall or railheads, you _don't need to pay_ for all the secondary systems whose presence or absence makes the 'S3' workable vice laughable as a house of cards any one of whose 'pull this' absence will bring the whole system down.

    Most especially, even with only a 2hr flying time, a hypersonic vehicle which is carrier capable means your carriers can now be as much as 2,000nm off shore and still make the transit, with ease. Clanking 30 knot range dominance thus is guaranteed by 5,500knot hypersonic as standoff from the coast.

    Those factories aren't gonna move at all so LINK intensive combat coordination is thus not required (use prewar satrecce if you want) and the threat from even S-300V with Mach-8 intercept is minimal if the strikers are lofting their weapons so far out on the slant. Equally important, you are beyond all but fixed installation DEWS with LTA reflector targeting mirrors.

    And China's (Russia's too, really) enduring weakness is propulsion. So much so that the J-20 is not really a supercruise platform and the J-31 is caught between fuel and T/Wr from ever being an air dominance fighter at all. Whereas we are routinely achieving total OPRs on the order of 10:1 greater (21 vs. 30 RD-93 vs. F414), we can afford to go multimodal. With one, small, turbine for carrier launch, rockets for transitioning to hypersonics and scram for the main cruise engine.

    And we should, because there will come a point where the 'tactical' (M=.65-2.0) regime is completely plateau'd in engines as well.

    Sun Tzu once said: "Have a good strategy but no tactics and you doom yourself to the longest, hardest, road to victory. Have no ultimate strategic goal and it doesn't matter how good your tactics are, your journey is certain to take end with defeat."

    S3 is the continuance of the tactical progression as the better bullet system. Wherein it is cheaper to build a more capable smart munition than it is a bigger/better airframe-as-rifle to fire it.

    And in principle, I am all for this.

    Where a T3/JDRADM type weapon effectively merges DEAD and A2A seeker capabilities with ramjet back ends to reenergize F-22 VLO with longer poles and less aggressive supercruise, solely to position the airframe into sensor cross-look which picks up other-LO targets weakest (as largest) side-on aspect RCS.

    But I still have to ask: where is that Raptor coming from (how far and how badly damaged) and _what is it doing there_.

    In this, better bullets cannot be allowed to become a warfighting doctrine without focus or understanding of the theater as strategic implications of who your enemy is and how you must hit him, to defeat him.

    We are outsmarting ourselves, delusionally, trying to prop up a vision of warfighting that may have worked in Europe or the PG. But which is completely outscoped in the breadth and depth of capability which we now face in an opponent like China.

    Given we are also broke and in-debt up to our eyeballs, I don't even believe we are looking at the economic big picture with a rational cognizance of consequences inherent to an honest answer to the 'Can we afford the whole system of systems approach anymore?' question.