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 →

Michael Donley is the Secretary of the Air Force. This is the conclusion of a series of four op-eds Sec. Donley wrote exclusively for Breaking Defense on the future of the Air Force. Today’s piece makes the case that investments in new technology cannot be deferred — a modernization challenge that Army aviators are facing as well.

Among the most difficult challenges facing the Air Force is the need to modernize. In the sine waves of defense spending since World War II, most resources during defense buildups have supported wartime operations in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. The early-1980s build-up was the only one to focus on modernization without the burden of large combat operations, and to a significant degree we have been living off the investments from that era or even earlier. 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 →

(Photo: U.S. Air Force)

UPDATED WASHINGTON: Defense giant Boeing may have to prove in person their case to Congress on why they opted to shutter their Kansas facilities last week. Keep reading →