Times of austerity are exactly the wrong times to cut science and technology, Mark Lewis of Institute for Defense Analysis said in a panel discussion at ASC?15. S&T—and test and evaluation, as well—must not become a “bill payer” for operations or modernization precisely because it will deliver the capabilities the force will depend on in the future, said Lewis, USAF’s former Chief Scientist of USAF. He also said “there’s a tendency in times like this to ask other people to fund our programs,” such as DARPA. “That would be a mistake.” Rather, “the Air Force has to own its own innovation future. It’s our warfighters who understand how those systems will be used.” Lewis also noted that innovation “is different from invention;” being about use rather than creation, and “nobody understands the use of these technologies better than the United States Air Force.” Lewis pushed for investment in test facilities, such as wind tunnels, which are not glamorous or obviously a force enabler, as indispensable to achieving the advancements USAF is counting on, particularly in hypersonics. No amount of modeling and simulation can substitute for the tunnels, Lewis said.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.