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I suspect most of the innovation is actually in the acquisitions side of the house. They could burn money for decades on this project and still come out ahead compared to running half a dozen acquisitions projects for multiple planes.

Could you explain this argument in a bit more detail please. Why and how is this way better, what's the comparison, what are the main cost drivers/differences?

Sure, take this chart[0] and multiply it times the number of air frames one would anticipate needing to accomplish various missions. Not only are the bureaucratic meetings amplified, but the O&M long tail starts to kill you with the logistics of moving and storing parts, training specialists on each aircraft, administering the additional specialists... it keeps going and going.

As an aside, I didn't say it was "way better", I just said they would come out ahead even burning money for decades.

0: https://www.dau.mil/tools/t/Department-of-Defense-Acquisitio...

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