Washington Watch

Nov. 1, 2004

Druyun’s Downfall

Darleen A. Druyun, the Air Force’s top career civilian acquisition official from 1993-2002, was sentenced Oct. 1 to prison time and later probation after she admitted that, while in her USAF position, she gave Boeing preferential treatment on numerous contracts.

Among these was a controversial $20 billion lease program for Boeing KC-767 aerial tankers.

Druyun confessed that she performed the favors to “ingratiate” herself with the company in order to win a high-paying executive position for herself after retiring from the Air Force and to secure employment with the company for her daughter and son-in-law.

She received a sentence of nine months in prison, followed by additional, undetermined detention or house arrest, and three years’ probation.

The sentence and the confessions shocked the Air Force. Druyun had been expected to receive a six-month suspended sentence—or less—for conspiracy. She had previously admitted having inappropriate negotiations with Boeing officials about a potential post-retirement job, but had denied offering any kind of quid pro quo for Boeing while she was still working for the Air Force.

However, during the US attorney’s investigation of the matter, Druyun failed a polygraph test and then admitted she had lied about the facts. She admitted fabricating diaries to support her original version of the story.

Druyun did, in fact, sign on with Boeing, after leaving the Air Force, as head of its missile defense business activities in Washington, D.C. Her compensation ($250,000 a year and a $50,000 signing bonus) was more than double what she earned with the Air Force. She was terminated from the Boeing post when the allegations about the conspiracy first surfaced last year.

In a statement issued as part of a plea agreement, Druyun admitted awarding Boeing a $4 billion contract to upgrade the avionics on C-130 aircraft when an “objective” source selection process may not have given the work to Boeing. She considered herself indebted to Boeing for employing her daughter and son-in-law, she said in court papers.

She admitted passing to Boeing information about the offer of rival European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. to supply aerial tankers and then negotiating a lease deal with Boeing for 767 tankers that she believed gave the company a better deal than was “appropriate.”

There were other favors. She agreed the Air Force would pay Boeing a $412 million settlement in a dispute over C-17 production and agreed to a price for Boeing to upgrade NATO AWACS aircraft that was $100 million more generous than she believed the work was worth. The latter deal, she said in court papers, was a “parting gift” to the company before she left office. However, Druyun also said the AWACS move was motivated by the fact that Boeing had agreed to reassign her daughter, who was facing dismissal from the company for poor performance. Druyun’s daughter later left Boeing, but her son-in-law was still employed with the company at the time of Druyun’s sentencing.

Druyun’s power was so great during the nearly 10 years she held the USAF post that it eclipsed that of the political appointees for whom she supposedly worked. When she left in 2002, the Air Force did not replace her. A service spokesman said that “by virtue of the fact that this position usually had a significantly longer tenure than the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, [she] was able to exercise more authority than the position warranted.”

Prosecutors in the case asked for a 16-month sentence, but US District Court Judge T.S. Ellis said he had been moved by many testimonials touting Druyun as a diligent public servant who made her mistakes only at the end of an otherwise spotless career.

Nevertheless, Ellis said at the sentencing hearing, “I think an example needs to be set” to discourage other public servants from making similar “mistakes.”

The Air Force Reacts

The Air Force said in a statement that Druyun’s mistakes were her own and don’t “reflect the high levels of integrity and accountability within the Air Force acquisition community.” The service said its recent changes to the acquisition system will “strengthen” the system and “reduce the likelihood of this happening again.” (See “Operational Acquisition,” August, p. 54.)

USAF also noted that, shortly after Druyun’s initial misbehavior came to light, Air Force Secretary James G. Roche asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to “fully investigate” her contracting activities in the two years leading up to her retirement. That probe was still under way in mid-October.

Reacting to the revelations, the chief critic of the proposed tanker deal, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said the confessions prove that the leasing scheme “was a folly from the start.”

A Pentagon spokesman said that the NATO AWACS contract is being renegotiated. He also said that if the Pentagon IG discovers wrongdoing on more contracts, they, too, will be renegotiated.

Active Stealth for B-2

Improvements for B-2 stealthiness are available, if USAF wants to buy them.

At some point in the future, according to Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Government Relations Manager Harry H. Heimple, it will be necessary for the B-2 to employ “active” stealth—wherein the airplane feeds an inverse radar wave back to a radar transmitter, masking the aircraft electronically. Today, tracking radars are fooled by the B-2’s passive systems, where the radar signal is either redirected away from the transmitter or absorbed or attenuated by the aircraft’s skin and structure.

“The question is, when,” Heimple said. So far, the Air Force has not stated a requirement for the B-2 to have capability for active stealth, and the B-2 is considered highly effective against emerging air defense systems. Heimple said, though, that when the time comes, the processing power of computers already extant would make it “very feasible” to undertake this approach.

He also said the Air Force has not forgotten that the B-2 has space for a third seat in the cockpit, and Northrop has proposed several ideas for how to employ a possible third crew member.

So has the Air Force. One of the service’s ideas, Heimple reported, is to put a third pilot in the aircraft, both to spell the other crew members on particularly long missions and to provide in-flight target updates to the many weapons in the bomb bay. Modifications now under way will enable the entire fleet of B-2s to carry 80 500-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions on a single mission.

Heimple also reported that the B-2s will soon be able to carry highly asymmetric bomb loads. One bomb bay may be fitted with racks to carry 40 500-pound JDAMs, while the other may house a rotary launcher able to carry the large, 2,000-pound JDAMs and other weapons. Tests have shown that the B-2’s handling is not greatly affected by carrying a huge 25,000-pound bunker buster in one bay while the other bay is empty.

Although the Air Force has no stated requirement to put the 250-pound Small Diameter Bomb on the B-2, Heimple said racks could be developed to allow the B-2 to carry 240 of the weapons.

Another important upgrade would retrofit the B-2, which still has a nuclear attack mission, with the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite data link system.

The chief drawback of modifying the fleet so slowly is that there is likely to be a perpetual mismatch in the configuration of the B-2s. Technology will advance rapidly in the seven years between programmed depot maintenance, meaning there will be significant differences between a B-2 at the front of the line and one at the end, Heimple noted.

In proposing ideas to the Air Force on future long-range strike options earlier this year, Northrop did not offer to restart the B-2 production line.

F-35’s Diet a Success—So Far

An aggressive weight-cutting program has brought the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter down by about 2,700 pounds, well back into the range of achieving requirements, program officials said.

The aircraft is once again meeting “key performance parameters,” according to Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 general manager.

Along with the weight, concerns about the aircraft’s aerodynamic performance “have diminished,” he told reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in September.

The STOVL version of the triservice airplane is the most technically challenging. It involves running a shaft from the front of the main F135 engine to a lift fan positioned vertically behind the cockpit. The cool thrust from the lift fan coupled with the hot downward thrust of the engine’s swiveling nozzle in the back gets the fighter vertically off the ground.

The Marine Corps and the British Royal Navy were to be the main customers for the STOVL F-35, but the Air Force has also decided to buy “hundreds” of the variant, Air Force Chief Jumper revealed at the conference.

Lockheed managed the weight loss with 400 separate design changes, Burbage said. These ranged from trimming the weight of certain parts to rearranging the airplane’s inner structure, reducing the overall weight of wiring and ducting. This went hand-in-hand with boosting the thrust of the engine to lift more weight, without reducing the aircraft’s range.

Rather than achieve a certain weight, the F-35 is instead being held to certain performance requirements. Nevertheless, there is a direct correlation between weight and performance.

Other changes involve revamping some performance demands. Adding a few feet to takeoff roll, for example, could result in saving dozens of pounds in engine weight.

Similarly, the Marine Corps might reduce the “bring-back” requirement, which mandates that the airplane be able to land with a certain amount of unused ordnance. Being lighter on landing would make it possible to use landing gear that is not as heavy.

The design changes have not come without a penalty, however. Changing the ductwork forced the weapons bay of the STOVL F-35 to be shortened. While it can still carry air-to-air AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and 1,000-pound JDAMs, some other munitions would be relegated to wing stations, which could only be used when the aircraft doesn’t need to be stealthy.

The Air Force’s stated intention to buy some STOVL aircraft also adds another complication—and potentially more weight—to the design. The Marine Corps baseline aircraft calls for mounting a gun externally in a pod, but the Air Force wants an internal gun. It would also like to have capability to refuel from a boom-equipped aerial tanker, while the baseline STOVL aircraft is to be equipped with the Navy-style probe-and-drogue, which is incompatible with USAF boom tankers.

Air Force officials said they may simply bite the bullet and accept their STOVL airplanes in the baseline configuration, but this could have a ripple effect on, for example, the number and type of tankers needed to support the fighters.

“Our largest concern, as we go through the weight issue, is anything having to be redesigned inside the plane that would cause outer mold line changes,” Roche told reporters at the conference. If the outer mold line changes, the F-35’s stealth design could be compromised, rendering it less survivable.

Roche said the Air Force is fully aware that the STOVL version will be able to carry less firepower than the conventional takeoff model, but it offers the ability to operate close to the troops and support them rapidly if they call for help.

“We want the time of flight to be very, very short,” he said. “We don’t want to fly an hour and a half to get there.”

The Defense Acquisition Board was to review the JSF program in October.

Air Mobility Key to European Restructure

To carry out its planned base restructuring, US European Command is going to need a lot of air mobility assets, which suggests that the Joint Staff’s ongoing Mobility Capability Study will call for even more airlift than previously thought.

Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones Jr., who commands EUCOM and NATO forces, said in September testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the planned basing changes acknowledge that the Soviet threat has indeed vanished and that the US must redistribute its capabilities to deal with more likely scenarios, such as those posed by the war on terrorism.

The US will leave some number of well-established, full-service bases in NATO partner countries and switch to a range of bases that will better facilitate the quick deployment of US and NATO forces to where they’re needed. Some of the big existing bases, such as Ramstein AB, Germany, will see few changes. Some that are poorly positioned to facilitate quick deployments will be closed. Many new ones will be austere but stocked with pre-positioned supplies and equipment, to be activated only when needed.

It will take lots of airlift to get those bases quickly up and running, Jones said. The plan demands that US strategic airlift and sealift remain modern and up to the task, he told lawmakers.

In computing the requirement for strategic lift—now set at 54.5 million ton miles a day (MTM/D)—the Joint Staff takes into account various war plans and the needs of special operations forces. The requirement goes up if new missions are added on top of old ones. This new demand for enough lift to rapidly deploy virtually whole air and ground force bases on short notice likely will raise the bar again.

Air Force leaders have said they expect the new Mobility Capability Study under way by the Joint Staff to come back with a figure of at least 60 MTM/D to accommodate the increased demands of the new, highly mobile strategy. (See “The Airlift Gap,” October, p. 34.) The shift in focus of EUCOM, however, will add another three to five MTM/D to the requirement, Pentagon officials said.

The number is not dramatically higher because “some of that increase is already built in” to the basic assumption of the MCS, one official said. However, “it certainly looks like EUCOM is going to have to have a significant number of C-17s close by and ready to go, which may or may not be under [Air Mobility Command’s] control,” he added.

Jones laid out a new lexicon of base terminology that explains the variety of facilities the command will use in the future.

  • Joint Main Operating Bases: These bases will be like today’s Ramstein, described as “an enduring strategic asset established in friendly territory” and equipped with permanently stationed combat forces, command and control capabilities, and family support facilities. They’ll be close to established training areas and have the ability to process large amounts of cargo and personnel on their way to other locations.
  • Joint Forward Operating Site: Jones described this facility as a “warm site” in a friendly country. There would be a small contingent of permanently assigned people and pre-positioned equipment at a JFOS. Such a facility would also likely be a local focal point for regional training and could be expanded for longer-term use.
  • Joint Cooperative Security Location: A host-nation site with little or no permanent US presence, it would be periodically updated by a contractor so that it could be quickly turned on as needed. A JCSL likely would be used for tactical purposes but could be scaled up to a JFOS. There would be no family support at a JCSL.
  • Joint Pre-position Site: A secure site where pre-positioned equipment and supplies would be stored, either for nearby use or rapid shipment to a battle theater in the region. These would be “maintained by contractor support and may be sea-based.”
  • En Route Infrastructure: A larger facility that would be used for refueling and transshipment of gear and personnel. Jones described these as “anchor points for throughput, training, engagement, and US commitment.” He said they also might be “a JMOB or JFOS.”