McCain Calls for IG Look into EELV

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) laid into senior USAF leadership on Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, saying he had grave concerns regarding the structure of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and the acquisition process surrounding it. McCain has requested a Department of Defense Inspector General investigation into the program, noting in an April 25 letter to DODIG Jon Rymer that EELV costs have inflated 166 percent over the program’s life. McCain noted that OSD acquisition head Frank Kendall previously directed USAF to aggressively approach competition, but the Air Force cut the number of launches eligible for competition from 14 to 7 in its five-year spending plan. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she welcomed an IG investigation, noting it would be “of help to me.” James said she wants to see competition expanded, but noted the current EELV “strategy was put in place before I came along.” Last week, SpaceX announced it was filing suit against the Air Force, saying the most recent EELV contract with United Launch Alliance prohibits other companies, such as SpaceX, from competing for national security launches.