Controlling Cost Growth in Sustainment

The Air Force expects to save about $3 billion across its five-year spending plan that starts in Fiscal 2012 by modifying its depot and supply chain processes for weapons system sustainment, according to Secretary Michael Donley. Speaking at an AFA-sponsored event last week in Arlington, Va., Donley said Air Force officials realized as they were putting together the Fiscal 2012 budget that they had a requirement for weapons systems sustainment that exceeded the Fiscal 2011 forecast by $7 billion. All that spending would have accounted for only a two percent increase—from 80 percent to 82 percent—in sustainment levels, he said. (A higher level means that it takes less time to move an aircraft through a depot and have it available for use.) “This kind of [cost] growth is really unsustainable,” he said. To counter this trend, Donley said the Air Force convened a working group to identify sustainment efficiencies. The group discovered that USAF could “squeeze a little more sustainment” and cut the overall projected cost to from $7 billion to $4 billion, while raising the sustainment level by four percent—from 80 percent to 84 percent—he said.