The Air Force has begun an aggressive campaign to change business practices,
in an effort to accelerate technologies needed to meet pressing requirements,
senior service officials said.
The results, so far, have been encouraging, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard
Reynolds, commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center. “We are getting
better at enterprise leadership, at horizontal integration,” he said in
an interview during the 2003 National Aeronautical Systems and Technology conference,
in Dayton, Ohio.
Reynolds oversees a quarter of the Air Force’s product development capability.
“I have been given responsibility to operationalize enterprise leadership,”
he said. “In a sense, we are transforming how we fight and transforming
how we are equipping ourselves to fight.”
Out of ASC’s $19 billion budget for this fiscal year, $15 billion is
for Air Force programs, and $3 billion is for foreign military sales. For fiscal
year 2004, Reynolds is projecting a budget of $14 billion.
He said that the Air Force is trying to get better at coordinating projects
across the Air Force Materiel Command, the Air Force Research Laboratory and
Air Combat Command, as well as the logistics centers, the test centers and headquarters.
“We are figuring out how to do this,” he noted. “It is paying
us back in terms of our ability to deal with cross-enterprise issues, such as
GPS jamming, combat ID and time-critical targeting.”
“We are learning how to take advantage of the liberating policy that
we have that takes down some of the low or non-value added bureaucracy that
has worked its way into the acquisition process,” he said.
The overarching guidelines for developing future capabilities and improving
integration with joint forces come from seven task forces created by the Air
Force chief of staff, Gen. John P. Jumper.
The seven task forces quickly are becoming the “touchstones” of
what Reynolds calls enterprise leadership. The task forces are responsible for
developing concepts of operations in the following areas: global response, global
strike, air and space/C2ISR, homeland security, nuclear response, global mobility
and air and space expeditionary.
“In the product development world, using enterprise leadership, we bring
to bear the resources that we have to plan and experiment and define solutions
to fill those gaps,” he explained. “We present those as options
and options sets to the Air Force requirements community both at the Pentagon
and the major commands, and they choose to adopt them or reject them, depending
on their own internal prioritization process.”
The process is simple to conceptualize, but it is “very difficult in
application,” Reynolds said.
When it comes to delivering urgent war fighter requests, Reynolds said the
service has been adopting a SWAT-team mentality.
Some of the capabilities that were rapidly fielded in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom included integrating the Litening targeting pot on the B-52 bomber
and the F-16, and providing tactical air control parties with advanced targeting
equipment and text messaging capabilities on moving map displays.
The Air Combat Command sent teams to Kuwait to help train the operators, said
Col. Greg Feest, deputy director for requirements at ACC headquarters in Langley,
But this swift response comes at a considerable price, said Feest. The funds
had to be taken from other programs, including upgrades. Now, he said, ACC is
trying to fix the shortfalls in those programs.
In its recent draft of the fiscal year 2005 amended program objective memorandum,
or APOM, the ACC needed to offset $750 million for war-related work, such as
flying hours and depot costs, not including any procurement or modernization
While ACC’s job is to procure capabilities for the war fighters, “when
we get told to fund a program, the money does not come with it, [and] we have
to find offsets. This may hurt our modernization and our legacy programs,”
Feest said. Many times, the ACC funds a program, but finds that it does not
have the manpower to support it, he said.
About 38 percent of ACC’s money goes to supporting legacy weapons systems
and upgrades, said Feest. The rest goes to ACC’s largest acquisition programs—the
F/A-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter.
In the coming months, the Air Force will see a surge of maintenance requirements
as platforms return from the Middle East, said Gen. Lester Lyles, commander
of the Air Force Materiel Command.
“We are re-looking at those aircraft that were deferred from coming into
the depots and at how we can reschedule getting them back into the depots,”
he said in an interview.
Lyles is anticipating a high volume of platforms that will need modifications
in addition to maintenance and repair. “We are prepared to be able to
address that,” he said.
Improvements made in some of the depots are going to help do the job more efficiently,
he said. Tinker Air Force Base, in Oklahoma, is one example, Lyles said. Tinker
does maintenance and repair on the KC-135 tankers. “The war fighters will
be able to get their platforms back a lot faster than in the past,” he
Aging platforms like the KC-135 and the C-130 cargo aircraft are posing a dilemma
as to what kind of procedures they should undergo, because of the extensive
“We are seriously looking whether some series of those platforms should
be retired a lot earlier than may have been planned,” Lyles said. “The
amount of work that we have to do on them—corrosion control, cracks”
When those aircraft are back in the United States, many questions must be answered,
Lyles said. “What are we going to do with them? Do we continue to do maintenance
and repair the way we have done in the past, or do we try to take a concerted
effort to accelerate getting rid of them and try to bring something else to
Meanwhile, the Air Force Materiel Command is working on implementing the enterprise
approach to program development, he said. “We started our enterprise approach
before the task forces really came on board,” Lyles said.
AFMC has aligned its science and technology programs with the task forces,
Lyles explained, “to make sure that the technologies we work with in AFRL
are again in synch with the task force approaches and the capabilities needed
by the Air Force.”
Lyles, who is about to retire, has been working at convincing the Air Force
leadership that investments in bio-technology, nanotechnology and directed energy
“can revolutionize some of the ways we do war fighting,” he said.
“We are looking at more sensor work and greater and more effective sensored
capabilities that we can provide by using directed energy technology.”
The Air Force also needs to focus on multi-role platforms and work with the
other services on mobility issues, Feest said.
“We want to look at a plug-and-play architecture” for fighter aircraft,
unmanned aerial vehicles, and command and control intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance (C2ISR) platforms, he said.
The ACC stood up a “Tiger team” to come up with a roadmap on how
the Air Force wants to use future UAVs. The team is made up of representatives
from the ACC, Air Warfare Center, UAV Battle Lab, AFMC and AFRL.
Among the concepts being looked at are the ability to command and control the
Predator from a C-130 aircraft and to data-link the Predator to the B-52 bomber.