For most people 2008 is still three months away, but this blog -- er, obviously -- isn't for most people. To the US Department of Defense, of course, 2008 is already upon us, at least as a weird fiscal organizing system.
Hence, it's time to list my top 10 questions for FY08. This list may be modified and perhaps even answered as events unfold throughout the year.
1. How does the US Air Force save its two most endangered production lines -- for the F-22 and C-17 -- while keeping funding streams alive for the F-35 and KC-X?
2. Will there ever be an end to the downselect process for either the CSAR-X or KC-X tanker? If so, does any body still think either contract will be awarded before the first week of November in an election year?
3. Will the A380 face off against the 747-8 when the US Air Force starts up an Air Force One replacement program next year?
4. Will the sweetspot for the tactical mobility fleet shift away from the C-130J? (IE, will the sweetspot shift up to the A400M "box" or down to the C-27J "box"? And how will Lockheed Martin respond if it does? Okay, that's really three questions.)
5. How does the US Air Force regain credibility for its acqusition system after the debacles of FY07?
6. How does the US military continue to afford three separate airborne intelligence fleets operated by the air force, navy and army?
7. Is it too soon to impose technology standards that risk stifling innovation on the unmanned aerial systems market, or will the industry's survival be a problem if there is any further delay?
8. When will the F-35 recover from the electrical short that grounded the test aircraft after the 19th test flight way, way back on May 3, and how will this five-month (and counting...) delay affect the program?
9. Why do people continue to quote the Lexington Institute as if it's an impartial observer of the defense industry?
10. Will the US defense industry get creamed in the next round of international fighter contract competitions -- mostly in Asia -- to European or Russian competitors?