The Changing Goal Line

The Air Force has been operating under escalating Predator requirements since early Fiscal 2007, when it readjusted the program of record for the MQ-1 force to reach the Joint Requirements Oversight Council-directed 21 Predator combat air patrols by October 2009. The Air Force programmed equipment and training to meet that mark; however, in July 2007, at SECDEF’s request, USAF accelerated the drive to reach 21 CAPs by a year, setting its new goal post as October 2008. To meet that requirement, the service delayed upgrades to older equipment and used backup equipment, and it ramped up to train 160 crews per year, holding over current crews to help in that training. In September 2007, SECDEF requested an increase to 18 CAPs by November 2007, which USAF accomplished by cutting ops testing and calling upon reserve personnel and prior Predator crews. In January of this year, SECDEF directed yet another change—bumping up Predator CAPs to 24 by June 1. This latest directive, which the Air Force says it is “on track to meet,” takes the Predator push out of the “acceleration” bracket and into a “surge” because it exceeds the program of record and the JROC-validated requirement for 21 CAPs, states Air Force spokesman Maj. David Small. The Air Force believes it can sustain this level of effort only through early 2009, when the Air National Guard mobilization must end, because it doesn’t have the end strength to continue. And, the service knows that its increased training pipeline will not be sufficient, so it plans to increase from 160 to 240 crews per year in Fiscal 2009. (Shifting requirements graph)