Creating competition in the defense market?

Does competition, as it’s understood in fast-paced and dynamic industries like telecom or autos, exist in the 21st Century U.S. defense market? Here’s an essay at The Atlantic’s Web site that I wrote with Joshua Foust, a colleague at the American Security Project, about the Defense Department’s Joint Strike Fighter program, a more than $1 trillion effort led by Lockheed Martin Corp. Competition is crucial in the defense market, but defining it, let alone creating it, is increasingly difficult for the Pentagon and Congress. This is an issue I’ll revisit soon.

Here’s the opening paragraphs … read the full essay on The Atlantic’s Web site.

“We are about to enter an era of defense austerity. Two years ago, President Obama famously said the days of giving defense industry a “blank check” are over, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates made good on the pledge. But we’re not there yet.

Case in point: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Defense Department’s largest contract ever, is challenging a basic assumption that competition is better, and feasible, in every case.

The F-35 has been plagued with cost overruns, is behind schedule, and the government is pulling out all the stops to find ways to cut the price. General Electric and Rolls Royce have been developing an alternative engine for the fighter, and earlier this month they offered to put up about $100 million of their own money to finish key work on it, as the project has come under criticism.”