why on earth did it take them 8 years to figure this one out ?
The U.S. Army, more so than the other U.S. armed services, has always seemed to me to be driven by inscrutable politics and lacking in good management. Fortunately it appears that the leadership of foreign armies is even worse.
Once, while listening to Westley Richards making an obviously ridiculous statement, the former civilian technical head of a major Army development center whispered to me, "Do you know why we win wars ?". I said, "No." He replied, "Because we fight other Armies."
I have seen some very technically competent Army scientists and engineers at Aberdeen Proving Grounds totally ignored by much less competent engineers at another facility -- basically political posturing and turf wars. Those same engineers were also content to ignore the input and wishes of the actual war fighters saying, "They will use what we give them." Army politics is counterproductive and rampant.
The Navy and Air Force are also politically driven, but less so than the Army, and seem to be able to handle scientific and engineering issues more objectively. That is fortunate since the level of technology employed by those services is somewhat higher.
Take the OICW, which was in development for about 15 years, ending in the type-classified XM29. It combined an ineffective 20mm grenade with a 5.56 rifle with a barrel too short to be effective into a package that was so overweight that it could not be handled effectively by a soldier. To compensate, the cost was excessive. Eventually it morphed into the XM25 which is a larger grenade launcher, without a rifle component, that does seem to have a valuable combat role. Anyone handling the OICW in the earlier stages could see that this eventually reversion to a "smart" grenade launcher was the way to go, but it took about 15 years to get there.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objective_
... on_program http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM29_SABRhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM25_CDTE
But, as noted earlier, the situation is just as bad, and worse, in other armies.
To be fair I must also note that the real war fighters with whom I have worked are very reasonable and extremely competent. Unfortunately they are burdened by a bureaucracy that is neither reasonable nor competent. When one gets to work directly with users (as is the case with some projects for special forces) then good things can happen quickly.