We Can Overhaul Our Military-Industrial Complex Smaller budgets can lead to leaner procurement process: Arthur Herman By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Jan 18, 2012 1:51 PM CST 15 comments Comments In this 2007 file photo, F-16s from the California Air National Guard's 144th Fighter Wing fly in close formation. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File) (Newser) – Arthur Herman hopes the move toward smaller defense budgets will end at long last the Pentagon's bloated, wasteful, and outdated method of buying weapons and equipment. The system dates back to the days of "vacuum tubes and hi-fi sets" and it's precisely why an F-18 costs $90 million instead of $18 million, writes the American Enterprise Institute scholar at the Wall Street Journal. The five-stage procurement process might have made sense when the young Robert McNamara instituted it in the 1960s, but it's turned into a bureaucratic monster that stifles innovation and provides little incentive to save money. "This cumbersome system has been sustained by big defense budgets, so now is the perfect opportunity to create a new military-industrial complex more suited to the era of cyberspace, robotics, unmanned systems, and even more exotic high-tech areas like nanotechnology, where America's military future will be forged," writes Herman.