you all know the cliche--some general somewhere gets a hard-on for a multi-million dollar weapon, and, before you know it, eisenhower's military-industrial complex has turned it into a multi-billion dollar sacred budget cow, (witness the clusterfuck of senators, 44 and counting, all falling over themselves to press obama on ordering more f-22's even though the pentagon clearly said it doesn't want to buy any more), and nobody ever says one more word about whatever such weapons might mean or not mean to our fighting effectiveness, let alone the life expectancy of our soldiers on the battlefield.
so, anyway, back to 80's era newsweek...
seems some guy in minnesota somewhere (i really don't remember the details, most of this is in dire need of fact-checking, but the general gist is pretty accurate) discovered that if you put a small explosive charge in the bottom of a cardboard mailing tube that is packed with the seeds that, upon presence of air, turn into those little puffy styrofoam packing peanuts, then the resulting "weapon" (weighing all of about 2 pounds and costing a whopping $5 to make) could be strapped to the back of every GI in a combat zone vulnerable to enemy (i.e. russian) strafing warplanes and helicopter gunships, and instructed to set them off whenever an enemy bird was in the area and, for pennies, remain safer than if they were "covered" by a "smart" and multi-billion dollar ground-to-air missile system. it's not a coincidence that, just like the engines of an A320 don't care for migrating waterfowl, most any jet engine, military or otherwise, will have a very hard time once crammed full of styrofoam. its especially convenient for the mailing-tube approach that once said styrofoam is up a hundred yards or two (where anti-personnel aircraft tend to prefer to aviate, and where that little cheap explosive charge is more than capable of sending the peanut pellets before the air interaction causes them to expand into their fluffy "adult" versions) the intake suction of the engines themselves will guarantee perfect projectile guidance, straight into paydirt.
guaranteed kill. $5 per GI. even fun at base parties.
so why are such bountiful fruits of american ingenuity so rarely developed or employed???
think about it: our troops went into iraq without sufficient body and humvee armor. i have to imagine, at $140,000,000 per f-22, we could have sacrificed at least one of them to cover a few thousands of troops in harms way with a little bit more than lip service, AND, (for those disinterested in the value of human life), at HUGE savings in medical and rehabilitative costs for those lucky enough to survive their resulting wounds. and i'm not dissing the f-22, either, because i understand it's a kick-ass weapon, and the best thing in the world whose only major objection is that our enemies don't have anything sophisticated enough to warrant us needing many. i'm only saying, at $140,000,000 a pop, there's room to wonder if there are other priorities that can be balanced into the mix.
bottom line is, i guess, that the kevlar lobby isn't quite as effective as lockheed-martin's...
oh, and one last jab at the ridiculous concept of "homeland security" as a euphemism for "let's go kill terrorists"--per thehill.com, our current domestic air defense is calculated by the GAO to become inadequate for its mission within the next 10 years. even if new equipment is agreed soon, still 14 of our current 18 air defense sites will need to suspend operations sometime between 2010 and 2020 in order to swap out aircraft too old to be used anymore. (we're already flying the oldest fleet of planes in the history of our country). by 2020, if nothing is done, 11 of our air defense sites will be out of viable aircraft, and, hence, out of commission entirely. (what was it that those terrorists used to knock down those buildings again?) but, by all means, lets make sure the boys and girls protecting the iraqis from themselves have all the $140,000,000 toys that they can fly, even though we have perfectly good air defense options that cost $70,000,000 LESS APIECE that are desperately needed here at home. (f-15's are still way cool, too, even though, as i understand it, both they and the f-22 contain less on-board software than some of the new cars presently sitting unsold on dealer lots all around the country).
either way, all sarcasm implied, i'm feeling more secure already, aren't you?
or does the idea of protecting americans in america, as well as the men and women who fight to protect us overseas, within our means, not interest anyone anymore?