Daily Report

March 17, 2011

Another F-35A IOC Slip Looms

The Air Force may have to wait up to two additional years beyond the current estimate before its first unit of F-35A strike fighters is declared ready for operations, according to two senior service officials. Last June, Air Combat Command estimated that it would be able to reach initial operational capability with the F-35A in 2016. But this may change depending on the outcome of subsequent ongoing analysis weighing the impacts of the most recent F-35 program changes, said Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements, and Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, military deputy to USAF's acquisition executive, in a joint statement submitted to the House Armed Services Committee's tactical air and land forces panel Tuesday. "When this analysis is complete [later this year], the Air Force will reevaluate our IOC estimate, but we currently expect up to a two-year delay," they wrote. (Carlisle-Shackelford prepared testimony) (See also DOD F-35 fact sheet outlining program changes.)

Airmen Press On with Japan Relief Efforts

The Air Force has delivered 107.5 tons of relief supplies and emergency equipment to Japan since last week’s earthquake and tsunami pummeled northern Japan. USAF tankers have offloaded more than 29,900 gallons of fuel to keep the aerial lifeline going,...

EASE-ing Congressional Budgetary Concerns

Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton made her first public pitch to Congress on the space-acquisition strategy that the service would like to implement in Fiscal 2012, if lawmakers go along. The aim of Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency, or EASE,...

Avoiding Near Misses

A top National Reconnaissance Office official told lawmakers that her organization supports the Air Force's efforts to recapture space acquisition excellence and stabilize the industrial base through the Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency, or EASE, strategy. "We've been using the EASE approach for decades and when we've gone away from that approach, we've had some misses, so we think that it's a good model for space acquisition and one we plan to stick with," said Betty Sapp, NRO's principal deputy director, Tuesday in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee's strategic forces panel alongside Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton and Air Force Space Command boss Gen. William Shelton. EASE, which made its debut in the Air Force's Fiscal 2012 budget request, is based on blocked buys of satellites, fixed-priced contracts, and a new way of appropriating funding. (Sapp prepared testimony)

Waiting for the Plan

The annual Congressionally mandated Aircraft Investment Plan that’s supposed to accompany the Defense Department’s budget request isn’t ready yet, a Pentagon spokeswoman said. DOD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office is still developing the document, she told the Daily Report...

Pentagon Gets Average Grade in Cyber Security

Army Gen. Keith Alexander, US Cyber Command boss, gave the Defense Department a “C” grade on Wednesday when asked during a Congressional oversight hearing how he’d judge the Pentagon’s ability to protect its thousands of networks from attack. “We have...

Defining Authorities in Cyberspace

If the intelligence community got word that a foreign adversary was clearly targeting US infrastructure with its bomber aircraft, the Air Force would clearly have the authority to take out the aircraft before they inflicted any damage. But such authorities...

F-35 Progress Still Lagging

Although flight testing on the F-35 strike fighter ramped up "significantly" in Fiscal 2010, the F-35 program's overall progress continues to lag, said Michael Sullivan, director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office. "Software development—essential for achieving about 80 percent of [F-35] functionality—is significantly behind schedule as [the program] enters its most challenging phase," Sullivan told members of the House Armed Services Committee's tactical air and land forces panel Tuesday. Further, only four percent of the F-35's capabilities have been fully verified through flight tests and/or lab results, he said. Sullivan characterized the Pentagon's F-35 restructure as "positive, substantial actions that should lead to more achievable and predictable outcomes." However, as a result, the aircraft's development "is now estimated at $56.4 billion to complete in 2018, a 26 percent cost increase and a five-year schedule slip," he said. (Sullivan's prepared remarks)

Carpathian Spring in the Air

Exercise Carpathian Spring, an annual bilateral capacity-building exercise between the United States and Romania commenced at Otopeni Air Base and Campia Turzii in Romania. C-130Js and airmen from Ramstein AB, Germany, are participating in the week-long exercise, along with US...