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Vexen Crabtree 2015


Vexen Crabtree's Live Journal

Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards

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Vexen Crabtree 2015

Economies of Scale of an International Military Force

I have expanded the comment on the economies of scale of an international military force, which is part of "Uniforce: An International Military Force" by Vexen Crabtree (2007):

"Once an international military force is established, there will be less need overall for the massive offensive armies retained by today's powers. Much of the surplus can be changed into a defensive, mostly part-time home guard. A study for the European Parliament in 2006 highlighted the fact that NATO-Europe maintains several different models of tank and 11 types of frigate (whereas American only maintains one type of each), and sixteen types of armoured vehicle against 3 in America. All these varieties require factories, contracts, research costs, warehouses, maintenance schedules and supply chains. If ten countries contribute to the costs of a single model of tank, then, it is as if research costs have become a tenth of what they were when those ten countries researched their own unilateral models. When such economies of scale apply across the full range of military equipment and training, the savings are staggering."

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There have been voices raised for consolidating the European defense industry for years, but of course no-one wants to loose their 'strategic' edge...I think it'll require even greater integration between the countries before they actually get round to standardising everything and that's it's all for short-term political posturing. If you wanted to be paranoid you could also imply that the US would prefer for the various European arms companies to stay small and not rival their contractors. I wonder how far the UK will go in adopting US equipment? Speaking of which while you'll know far better than I, I wish the UK had adopted the G36 when the rumours started a couple of years back.

Picked up an interesting book on logistics called 'lifeblood of war' by Julian Thompson (no relation) who briefly discusses some of the inter-operability put in place for the cold war.

I know it's an old principal, fortress Europe and all that... you might think from an Army point of view that it seems to be nowhere on the horizons: All our news comms kit, armoured vehicles and the like, are all researched, designed and built specifically for the British Army.

But in Defence as a whole, consider the Typhoon fighter. A European-wide collaboration; imagine if the 10 European countries had each developed their own fighters, and built a few of them each. The savings made were unimaginable.


Hey I'd have loved to adopt the G36, it's awesome, accurate, light. I kicked ass with one, and found it intuitive to use (no training required!). Its sights are good too. It would make a brilliant standard-issue weapon.

Over the years I have watched any government bodies and companies econimise until they have organizations so efficient that at the first sign of anything unexpected they break. I think one of your examples here may be a case in point. to have only one kind of tank should save money but it creates a weakens similar to in breading If the tank has a specific weakness in a particular campaign setting (A problem previously unseen with a terrain or a weapon/tactic used by a particular enemy for instance) you have no alternative tank. If you have more than one kind of tank available you have a greater chance of avoiding this problem.

Also the cynic in me suggests that the purchase of weapons will be as much about politics and making sure each of the major powers get their share of the cake as it will be about which tank/aircraft/gun is the best.

I'm not sure the politics that would have to work behind it would work either for that matter.

I wonder if, secretly, there is still a bit of mentality about worrying about who HAS the factory that makes all the tanks, or guns, or whatever.

I mean, if country A won the contract to have the factory to build all the tanks, but then ten years later they decided they wanted to side with "the enemy".. leaving the rest of europe wondering where they're going to make their tanks and supplies now?

The Eurofighter was produced in multiple different countries; Brits and Germans both specialized in manufacturing different components, along with the other countries who were involved from the beginning. Once developed and built, other countries such as Greece merely bought the finished product, sans all development costs.


As you've pointed out a centralised european force would save a lot of money. However I doubt BAE would want to compete with other European companies for contracts when it can directly get them of the MOD. Sadly, common sense has little power in the face of a company with direct links to the government.

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