In and Out

Technology moves so fast that the days of big, omnibus upgrades may be over, according to Gen. Don Hoffman, head of Air Force Materiel Command. In an interview Feb. 27 during AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Hoffman said that he thinks programs ought to be funded and scoped such that they can be completed within a five-year future year defense plan. After that, the technology inserted would almost certainly be obsolete. Hoffman thinks this “in and out within the FYDP” scheme will mean that something like the C-5 re-engining and avionics update would be broken into smaller, consecutive chunks. A classic case of the the obsolescence problem is the F-15E radar replacement. It will take two years to develop, but current funding constraints will cause installation to take 20 years, by which time new circuit cards and other equipment will almost certainly be needed. Hoffman also said it’s unlikely that large fleets of aircraft will be of a common configuration anymore. There will be commonality within a wing, or perhaps a block, but upgrades will be constant, causing commonality to suffer.