ϟilicon ϟoul (dphq) wrote,
ϟilicon ϟoul

Why does military equipment cost so much compared to comparable civilian equipment?

Вместо того, чтобы смотреть на существующие современные технологии и постепенно модернизировать аппаратные узлы, военные по 20 лет требуют от производителей одну и ту же херню с кучей спецификаций.

Да, спецификации обеспечивают совместимость с остальным оборудованием и железяки делают свою работу, но по всем параметрам они серьёзно устарели и неоправданно жрут налоговое баблище: 30 центов против $2000 за чип, как показано ниже.

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David Crawley, Lean Product Development Methods Practitioner
99.8k Views • Upvoted by Michael Chan, Republic of Singapore Navy (1988-1997)

I worked for a company that sold a microchip to the military for more than $2k per chip. This chip would have sold to a civilian contract for about 30 cents, but we never sold it to civilians as it was such an old technology (about 20 years old) that no civilian wanted to buy it.

Why did we sell it for that much? Because we could. The part was military, and thus specialized, only some companies (US ones) could even tender for it. The military qualification process required tons of paperwork and work to prove compliance and that was something that only some companies could do. The technology while not particularly demanding was demanding enough that only some companies could make it. We knew we were the only company in the world who could supply this particular part. We also knew that this part went in to a well known piece of very expensive flying military hardware. The cost to re-qualify to a lower cost part was about a gazillion dollars (all that paperwork remember, oh and a small matter of flight testing). We were just one of thousands of line items of parts that were too small for congress to notice. So we absolutely price gouged like crazy. Contrary to what other people answering this question might claim the part was not more reliable, or somehow magically better, it was actually quite a lot worse than alternatives. Imagine that happening thousands of times over on millions of small parts that make up hundreds of big contracts and you can see why the American military is the most expensive in the world by far.

Just go to the Federal Business Opportunities website and download some of the specs that people are tendering for, and you will notice that they often have hundreds of line items most of which they probably don't need and often are counterproductive.

The answer is simple. Military purchasers should stop thinking that they are so damn special that they need special specs for everything. They should also stop acting like the US taxpayer is an inexhaustible piggy bank of dollars. They should actually go to manufacturers who make things that are useful for them and see what they've come up with every few years rather than posting thousand line specs on a website and ask that the manufacturers come to them. Most important of all, when they think civilian stuff isn't good enough for their needs they should do the work, to solve the problem that this presents. This may involve some hard internal thinking and creativity, rather than just throwing someone elses money at the alleged problem until it goes away. After all creatively looking for alternatives is what everyone else on this earth does when something seems a little pricey.

In short military contractors price gouge because they can, military purchasers spend money like its free because they can. It is a system that is perfectly designed to create the result that it does. Until these two truths change then you will not get more rational pricing.

Tags: usa, war, weapons

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