KC-46

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 →

kc-46illustration

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 →

Reaping the Benefits of a Global Defense Industry

The U.S. defense industry, being reshaped by declining post-war budgets, globalization, and the increased pace of technological change, must work with the Pentagon and take proactive steps to maintain our historic preeminence on the battlefield. Our industry does not easily embrace change. In fact, history demonstrates that shifts in the defense industry have largely been… Keep reading →

NASA outgoing Administrator Sean O'Keefe

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 →


WASHINGTON: The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter is the biggest conventional weapons program in history and Vice Adm. David Venlet has run it to much acclaim and quite a bit of backbiting, depending on who you talk with.

This afternoon the Pentagon very quietly sent out notice that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had nominated Venlet’s deputy, Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan for a third star and assignment as director of the F-35 program. Keep reading →

HARTFORD, CT: Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney proudly predicts it will double its revenues this decade from $12 billion in 2010 to $24 billion in 2020 — but the company admits it will have to get through some lean years first. On both the commercial and military sides, key Pratt & Whitney programs are going away, and new engines using new technology for new aircraft are coming online, but there’s a gap before they pick up, a gap that slow economic growth and downsizing defense budgets threaten to lengthen. The single most critical factor: whether the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter materializes more or less on time. Keep reading →


CORRECTED JSF OVERRUN TO $1.5B. WE ADDED A ZERO…

CAPITOL HILL: The budget cuts known as sequestration would “break” the KC-46 and Littoral Combat Ship contracts, forcing the Pentagon to renegotiate those deals, the presumptive head of DoD acquisition told the Senate Armed Services Committee today. Keep reading →

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