Manufacturers of military aircraft and missiles can expect to see fewer new starts of major programs at the Defense Department in the near future, but they can still count on a significant amount of work coming from upgrades and modifications of existing hardware, said Keith Sanders, deputy director for air warfare acquisition at the office of the secretary of defense. The Pentagon’s current surveillance aircraft, for instance, need more and better sensors that are smaller and consume less power than current systems. Commanders also need improved tools to capture and analyze existing sensor data, Sanders said at the recent Precision Strike Association’s annual programs review conference.
A few major acquisition programs may be launched, he said. Winning these contracts will require companies to build fully functional prototypes and prove they work before the Pentagon commits long-term funding. “Go slow in the early program phases” and make sure the design is mature, Sanders told industry representatives.
“Expect lots of outside scrutiny, schedule risk analyses and second-guessing by well-informed third parties.”