Saving Before the Launch Pad

Block buys of evolved expendable launch vehicles would save the Air Force “hundreds of millions of dollars” over the next few years, if properly implemented, said Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command. In his address at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium last week in Los Angeles, Shelton said the Air Force has purchased 15 EELVs since 2007 from the United Launch Alliance. Like everything else, these rockets are getting more expensive, prompting service space officials to come up with the block-buy strategy as a means of saving money and stabilizing the industrial base, he said. The Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office have proposed buying eight EELV core boosters a year from Fiscal 2013 to Fiscal 2017. The Government Accountability Office has already weighed in on the plan, citing some concerns. Shelton spoke on Nov. 17.