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All’s Happy in ‘Call of Duty: Defense-Industrial Complex’

By Taylor Marvin

Call of Duty XX Modern Warfare: Black Ops II is coming out this November.

Black Ops II is set in 2025, 13 years in the future. By my count, the trailer features dozens of novel aircraft:

  • A VTOL ducted-fan business jet.
  • A four-engined ducted-rotor tiltrotor gunship, smaller than a V-22 Osprey.
  • Lots of combat drones visually similar to the General Atomics Predator C and the Northrop Grumman X-47.
  • A VTOL transport powered twin rotating jet engines.
  • A VTOL twin-engined sixth-generation fighter aircraft capable of hovering.
  • Look, I know Black Ops II is a video game, not a documentary about the bureaucratic meat grinder of US military procurement. But this is absurdly optimistic (or pessimistic, depending on your perspective) vision of the near future. It took the V-22 program 24 years to reach full production after its 1981 initial proposal, and the Joint Strike Fighter is expected to reach initial deployment by 2018 at the earliest (and there are many reasons to doubt this timeline), nearly 30 years after the Marine Corp and Air Force launched the core program in 1992. Both the Air Force’s Next Generation Bomber and Navy’s nascent F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter program are not expected to enter service before the mid-2030s, or after an over twenty year development cycle. Legacy platform like the F-15C/D/E will serve into the 2030s at least, and fifth-generation F-22s until they’re likely replaced by air-to-air combat drones in the second half of the century. One way or another the aircraft modern air forces fly now or in the near future, not exotic science fiction designs, will dominate 21st century airpower.

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