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Posted May 6, 2013
Project Terminated Review - 5-6-13 Aerospace history is littered
Project Terminated Review - 5-6-13
Aerospace history is littered with the debris of what-might-have-been. Cutting-edge aircraft and space programs that were conceived, studied, funded and often brought to the threshold of flight or operational status are explored in this fascinating, art-rich book. But a key discriminator is the author's careful, understated exploration of reasons behind project terminations, and the impacts thereof.
For example, Erik Simonsen's concise history of North American Aviation's F-108 Rapier Mach-3 interceptor—augmented by the author's trademark photos of exquisite models melded with real-world backgrounds—is a sobering case study of how national security often is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Even though military professionals were counting on the F-108 to defend against Soviet bombers and missiles attacking the U.S., president Eisenhower's budget director was wedded to the idea of balancing the federal budget, during Ike's last year in office. It would look good and be a fine legacy. Despite the national security risks incurred, he deemed the Rapier expendable.
But what if the F-108, B-70 supersonic bomber, X-20 DynaSoar spaceplane, Canadian CF-105 Arrow and myriad other visionary projects had been completed and fielded in robust numbers? Might the Cold War have ended much sooner, perhaps saving billions of taxpayer dollars and untold lives? Would mankind's knowledge of hypersonic aerodynamics be far more advanced now? How many shooting wars might have been avoided across the globe, thanks to more-imposing deterrents?
These and equally intriguing what-ifs are examined in this benchmark work, which belongs on every airman's bookshelf. And, in a logical world, "Project Terminated" would be required reading for every politician and government official responsible for protecting and serving a nation's citizens.
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Posted December 20, 2013