We hear it often: It takes entirely too long to develop new military aircraft and other defense systems. We wistfully long for the bygone era when legendary outfits like Kelly Johnson’s Lockheed Skunk Works team actually went from proposal to production of a new aircraft concept, the XP-80 jet, in only 143 days.
Earlier this week leaders of a diverse range of organizations representing research universities, public service providers, aerospace and defense companies, and the broader manufacturing sector gave concrete examples of how federal budget cuts are harming the national interest.
Between the now lamented government shutdown and the potential sequestration cuts slated for January, we are avoiding serious discussion about meeting the future needs of our nation while still addressing our deficit and debt problems.
When members of Congress return from their August recess, their plates will be very full. Our legislators need to fund the government for the next fiscal year, which starts October first. Although it may seem like a simple task to keep the government operating, a potential partisan collision over raising the debt ceiling once again presents the threat of a government shutdown. Even if the two parties and two chambers can agree and prevent this from happening, Congress’s recent habit of punting on appropriations bills and funding the government through a Continuing Resolution limits implementation of important national security programs and continues to delay new starts.
In my role as president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, I’m sometimes asked this question: “Now that the space shuttle is retired, whatever happened to our human spaceflight program?” My response: “It’s alive and well in the form of the International Space Station.”