Having come across a frank and candid report from a test pilot about the Joint Strike Fighter Program’s F-35 inability to compete with an older F-16 jet in a “dog fight” had us reflecting on a short story written by Sir Arthur in 1951.
The same parallel was brought up by Tyler Rogoway last year:
The fantastic and haunting short story “Superiority,” written by the science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke in 1951, warns us about the opportunity cost of getting into a cycle of developing ever more complex and costly weaponry while sacrificing more numerous and proven systems in the process. It is an essay on numerical advantage, over-optimistic design goals, wanting to believe manufacturer excuses and the internal threat posed relying solely on exceedingly complex systems.
I first read this story in high school back in the late 1990s, and I remember my teacher saying it was mandatory reading at some of the best engineering colleges in the world. I had since forgotten about it until I was reminded of its existence a few years back from an Aviationintel reader. In retrospect I have a feeling that it may have influenced my thought processes more than I like to admit in regards to my writing.
We welcome you to read the story and come to your own conclusions…
Superiority – by Arthur C. Clarke
IN MAKING THIS STATEMENT – which I do of my own free will – I wish first to make it perfectly clear that I am not in any way trying to gain sympathy, nor do I expect any mitigation of whatever sentence the Court may pronounce. I am writing this in an attempt to refute some of the lying reports broadcast over the prison radio and published in the papers I have been allowed to see. These have given an entirely false picture of the true cause of our defeat, and as the leader of my race’s armed forces at the cessation of hostilities I feel it my duty to protest against such libels upon those who served under me. Continue Reading →