Friday, February 6, 2015

The High-Low Mix

I've been reading some criticism recently about US aircraft acquisition policy which is sort of interesting from a wargaming perspective.  The opposition allege that the Air Force has a problem where it tries to construct a fleet solely of maximum-capability airframes with stealth and mach 3 and all the bells and whistles required to fight an adversary with advanced air defense capabilities while making cuts to areas like close air support and aerial reconnaissance that don't require the same degree of technological sophistication and are much more useful against technologically inferior opponents.  As it turns out, these sort of high-tech aircraft are really expensive and hard to manufacture and maintain in large numbers, leading to numerical inferiority and either reliance on old models for pedestrian missions like bombing guerillas (for which all the bells and whistles are not required), or extreme maintenance costs for those missions if advanced aircraft are employed.

The opposition further argues that the Air Force should strive for a "high-low" force mix, with 20% of the force consisting of highest-end specialist hardware designed to punch holes in technologically advanced adversaries at any expense, and the other 80% consisting of less-expensive, less-specialized, general-purpose aircraft capable of performing a wide variety of missions at lower costs.

This reminds me of a time when someone tried to build an all-cataphract army - it was very strong on paper, but availability was low and they weren't good at going in and digging lizardmen out of caves.

This discussion is also interesting in light of our Starmada games.  I think part of the reason we didn't really see mission-specialized ships was that basically all of the Starmada victory conditions boiled down to "destroy the enemy fleet".  It probably didn't help that some scenarios banned Cloaking, Hyperdrive, and other options which would permit the construction of specialist ships for those missions.

...  and now I have the itch to build a better (less complex) BattleTech on top of Starmada's chassis while avoiding Wardogs' mistakes.  Bother.

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