F-35B and C

WASHINGTON: The overall cost for Pentagon’s weapons buying is at the lowest it’s been a decade, says the Government Accountability Office in its respected annual assessment of the military’s major programs. But that overall result, which might seem to cheer exponents of acquisition reform and of smaller Pentagon budgets, contains two smaller points well worth… Keep reading →

next-gen bomber

It will be one of the great weapons competitions of the 21st century. Northrop Grumman is competing against a team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin to build the Long Range Strike Bomber. The company has also created design teams to work on so-called sixth generation fighters for the Air Force and the Navy. With the… Keep reading →

Phoenix Air isolation unit

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon’s Transportation Command — the folks who move most everything for the military from Point A to Point B — are testing a new isolation unit to fit in a C-17 or C-130 aircraft, just 60 days after issuing the requirement. The head of TransCom, Gen. Paul Selva, told reporters this morning at a… Keep reading →

KC-46 tanker in air

PENTAGON: One of the most screwed up programs in Pentagon history, the airborne tanker, may have turned a corner, with the KC-46 program cutting more than half-a-billion dollars from its projected costs, with $386.9 million of those savings coming in fiscal 2015. Some of these details will doubtless be discussed at the Wednesday afternoon House Armed… Keep reading →


UPDATED: With Official Air Force Comment PENTAGON: It’s one of those sentences that gets a defense reporter’s heart beating a little faster. “DOT&E analysis of initial Boeing schedules with regard to aerial refueling certifications, aircraft and support equipment technical orders, and operator/maintainer training indicates that operational testing will likely slip at least 6 to 12… Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Sean O’Keefe, who led the bold but ultimately unsuccessful campaign by EADS North America to win the contract to build a new airborne tanker for the United States, is stepping down from his post as CEO and chairman of the American portion of the company now known as Airbus Group Inc. But O’Keefe is… Keep reading →

Heritage Flight Conference

Budget cuts won’t make the Air Force give up any of its current missions, the service’s Chief of Staff promised today. But, Gen. Mark Welsh acknowledged, the cuts will force it to do those missions with different and perhaps not optimal aircraft. Yes, the famous A-10 “Warthog” is “the best at close air support” –… Keep reading →

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh (right) in the cockpit of an aging B-52 bomber.

ARLINGTON: As if Syria and sequestration weren’t complicated enough on their own, the combat training cutbacks required by the sequester are cutting into the military’s readiness to intervene, the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, told reporters this morning. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has expressed similar concerns about his service’s… Keep reading →

Michael Donley, Air Force Secretary, wrote this second of four op-eds on the future of the Air Force exclusively for Breaking Defense. Today’s piece grapples with just how small the Air Force’s force structure can get while the service can still accomplish its missions.We will run an op-ed early each morning through Friday. The Editor.

Like all of our military services, the US Air Force has been through an extraordinary decade of change. Airmen have moved unprecedented amounts of personnel and equipment to remote theaters of operation; built global command, control, and intelligence operations; provided 24/7 close air support to ground forces; and introduced new technologies, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft [RPAs, aka UAVs]. Keep reading →

UPDATED: Boeing statement added
NATIONAL HARBOR: Boeing has been plowing through its KC-46 management reserve for much of the last six months, according to a senior Air Force official.

“The burn rate of their management reserve rate has gone up significantly over the last six months or so,” the official told reporters today. While this technically does not qualify as a cost overrun since this is a fixed price contract, it does raise questions about the program. The Air Force official was not willing to share either the percentage of the reserve nor the dollar amount.
“We have brought forward the allocation of management reserve largely to expedite risk mitigation opportunities in the program, including the system integration laboratories. However, the overall management reserve plan for the program remains unchanged,” Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling said in an email.
Breaking Defense readers will remember that Boeing had already wracked up roughly $300 million in what we would otherwise call a cost overrun by July last year. Most close observers of Boeing’s successful bid believe the company is more than willing to take a “loss” on the first phase of the deal and make it back once it moves beyond the development phase. Keep reading →

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