There seems to be some confusion—and acrimony—on the part of some defense officials and lawmakers over USAF’s unmanned aerial vehicle proposal. Some have condemned it as one that would leave the Army with less battlefield intelligence than it needs, and many seem to want to hamstring the proposal up front by lumping its two separate elements into one and labeling it a power grab. The Air Staff’s intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance boss, Lt. Gen. David Deptula has attempted to correct misinformation about the two-part proposal in testimony on Capitol Hill and in at least one newspaper rebuttal. In a new statement, Deptula states once again that the idea of establishing an executive agent for acquisition and putting UAVs under joint operational control are “two related, but distinctly separate issues.” He refutes comments that offer “a fundamental misunderstanding of service roles and missions” (see above) and asserts, “UAV capability is not an extension of the ground force; it is an extension of the joint force; the Air Force provides the expertise in the aerial domain, as the ground forces do on the land.” Deptula goes on to point out that, by DOD directive, USAF provides aerial imagery and that to allow the services “to develop redundant and wasteful crossover capabilities” rejects the Goldwater-Nichols reforms and the principle of joint warfighting.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.