Revamping Space Acquisition

The Air Force is launching a more efficient space acquisition strategy focused primarily on block buys for satellites, greater use of fixed-priced contracting, and more stable research and development funding, says Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. “We are still working out the details of how to effect this, but our challenge in the satellite world is that we have been waiting until the last minute to produce new generations of satellites and stretching the operational lives of those satellites on orbit,” Donley told attendees at his Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Series presentation Wednesday in Arlington, Va. He added, “As we do that, we’ve stretched our acquisition programs and we’ve created breaks in production … in a way that has cost us tremendously.” Donley compared an Air Force satellite buy, which often carries a price tag in the billions of dollars, to the Navy’s purchase of a new ship. “For us buying a satellite is a very significant investment … so we needed to smooth out funding,” he said. The service will kick off the new strategy in Fiscal 2012 with the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program. (See also Cooperation and Collaboration in Space from the Air Force Magazine archives)