There are lessons to be learned from the B-2 program that can inform the development of the Air Force’s new B-21 bomber, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said Thursday. The big takeaway is, “I have to be able to go faster because that’s what our adversaries are doing,” Wilson told the audience at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C. “How we do things today,” he said, “takes way too long.” Speeding things up will be a team effort. “I’ve got to have help from Congress—I think stable funding is really important,” Wilson said, adding that “too much oversight is not good.” But he also insisted that “industry has to be part of this—I need to be able to reduce the timeline.” He said the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office has provided a better alternative. “Their oversight is four people,” he explained, “the Chief, the Secretary, AT&L, and our service acquisition executive.” The RCO has also succeeded in quickening acquisition because “they’re tied to the warfighter” and “they’ve got good contracting folks, they’ve got good budget folks.”
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.