AF Space, Operationally OK, Acquisition Has Work Remaining

Asked for his assessment of the state of the Air Force space program, Air Force Space Command’s Gen. Robert Kehler told reporters at a Space Foundation symposium in Colorado March 31 that operations are going well, but there are still some “troubled programs” being worked in acquisition. He said that although AFSPC assets have aging issues, like much of USAF’s aircraft fleet, the service now has plans to get to the next generation of space capabilities. And, he said, “I see beginnings of a better day [for space acquisition], but it is not time for high fives.” He commended Defense Secretary Robert Gates for now requiring a “block build” approach on new programs, saying the Air Force’s Global Positioning System III satellite acquisition effort is a key example of this approach. AFSPC’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles is working with GPS III-contractor Lockheed Martin to get the most capability operational now and build the last 25 percent later. (Lockheed recently said it’s on track for a preliminary design review next month.) Kehler said, that with GPS III, “I think we can manage the requirements and we’ll move forward.”