There is a well worn myth in the agile community, that large complex projects are developed using waterfall methods, where all the requirements are defined upfront, (BDUF), rigid processes are used to execution the program and the outcome is defined before the project starts. This of course is great fodder to the replacement of the "devil" waterfall process with agile processes.
For anyone interested in how a program actually works, here a good book that can be found at the Air University Press book store. "The Development of the B-52 and Jet Propulsion: A Case Study in Organizational Innovation," Dr. Mark D. Mandeles, Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. March 1998. The Air University Press has many books on management, leadership, strategy, and history.
Quoted from the preface:
The B-52 and Jet Propulsion: A Case Study in Organizational Innovation is a coherent and nonpolemical discussion of the revolution in military affairs, a hot topic in the national security arena. Mark Mandeles examines an interesting topic, how can the military better understand, manage, and evaluate technological development programs. We see Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) in operation. No matter how carefully the military designs, plans, and programs the process of technological development, inevitably, equipment, organizations, and people will challenge the desired expectations. Mandeles argues convincingly that recognizing the inevitability of error may be the single most important factor in the design of effective organizations and procedures to foster and enhance innovative technology and concepts.
The book focuses on the introduction of jet propulsion into the B-52. This case study illustrates the reality that surprises and failures are endemic to development programs where information and knowledge are indeterminate, ambiguous, and imperfect. Mandeles’ choice of the B-52 to illustrate this process is both intriguing and apt. The military had no coherent search process inevitably leading to the choice of a particular technology; nor was decision making concerning the B-52 development program coherent or orderly. Different mixtures of participants, problems, and solutions came together at various times to make decisions about funding or to review the status of performance projections and requirements.
Sounds like an agile project to me.