Payton Leaving

Sue Payton, the Air Force’s top weapons buyer since mid 2006, will be vacating her post soon, the Daily Report confirmed yesterday. An Air Force spokeswoman said no official date has been set yet for her departure, but an internal farewell ceremony for her is actually taking place today. Payton has said in the past she did not intend to pursue another government or industry post, but would rather retire. She took over USAF’s senior acquisition post with the intent of simplifying the weapons-buying processes, bolstering an acquisition workforce stretched to the limit, and speeding the delivery of much-needed new weapons systems to the warfighter by not overreaching with complex requirements. Despite work toward these goals, the Air Force’s acquisition shop, under Payton’s watch, was unable to advance the Air Force’s two top modernization priorities, as both the KC-X tanker and CSAR-X rescue helicopter recapitalization programs became bogged down in industry protests and legal impasses. Just Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his intent to cancel the CSAR-X program and re-examine whether a dedicated combat search and rescue platform is really necessary. He did say that the KC-X competition would continue with the goal of soliciting bids this summer.