Capability development is one of the “really important strategic initiatives at the Air Staff-level” that will have a long-lasting effect on how the service does acquisition in the future, said Jeff Stanley, USAF associate deputy assistant secretary for science, technology, and engineering. Speaking at ASC16 on Tuesday, Stanley said the Enterprise Capability Collaboration Teams launched last year “reinvigorated development planning” in an effort to “provide more agility and really, truly deploy innovative strategic choices.” The Air Superiority 2030 plan—the result of the first ECCT— demonstrated the importance of multi-domain integrated capabilities in anti-access, area-denial environments. The Air Force also is conducting an experimentation campaign on directed energy and has completed three of four demonstrations of high-powered microwaves and high-energy lasers. “The purpose of an experimentation campaign isn’t to produce a product, but to understand or answer a question or mature a [concept of operation]. I think we’re on that path,” said Stanley. “We have a directed energy flight plan we’re following right now and hopefully that will lead to an analysis of alternatives and program of record downstream based on this experimentation campaign we have ongoing right now.”
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.