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By Debbie Gregory.

“AQ Delta” is the U.S. Air Force’s new office that will streamline its weapons, platforms and networks procurement system.

Under Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper, the acquisition process will identify programs that will keep the acquisition process running smoothly.

Dr. Roper is responsible for and oversees Air Force research, development and acquisition activities totaling an annual budget in excess of $40 billion for more than 465 acquisition programs.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced the program during a May 4th town hall at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Roper had previously spearheaded the creation of the Strategic Capabilities Office, a cornerstone of the Third Offset initiative, which envisioned a modern arsenal of swarming unmanned air vehicles, hypersonic weapons and autonomous systems. During his tenure as SCO Director, Dr. Roper served on the Department’s 2018 National Defense Strategy Steering Group, Cloud Executive Steering Group and Defense Modernization Team. That office now has an uncertain future since Roper’s departure in February.

Wilson has touted the Air Force’s progress in improving its procurement approach, often pointing to additional acquisition authorities, rapid prototyping endeavors and even the service’s “Light Attack experiment” ongoing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Accelerating how the Air Force acquires new weapons isn’t the only item on the agenda; the service is rethinking maintenance as well.

Roper has hinted that the Air Force may be more open to competing sustainment or upgrade contracts, allowing additional companies to compete for upgrades on current programs, which are often automatically dedicated to the firm that originated them.

“I would like to be able for a system to continually compete, replace and upgrade, all the different components,” Roper said earlier this month.

Wilson endorses the idea.

“In general, competition helps to drive up performance and drive down cost, and so competition works.”

By Debbie Gregory.

The contract for two refrigerator units that were destined for Air Force One has been canceled.

The $24 million contract would have provided two new “chiller” units that would have been installed in 2020. The current Air Force One planes have been in use since 1990, and are scheduled for replacement in 2024. Boeing reached a deal this year to build replacements for those two presidential airplanes for $3.9 billion.

That would have meant that the $24 million dollar chiller units were only going to be in use for four years.

The Air Force and White House Military Office decided to cancel the purchase until the new Boeing Air Force One planes are delivered, according to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. Wilson stressed that if the delivery of those planes is delayed, they will have to reconsider the possibility of replacement.

Technically speaking, any U.S. Air Force plane carrying the president becomes Air Force One, but the moniker usually refers to the two identical planes that have been specifically modified to meet the security and logistical needs of the commander-in-chief and his flying staff.

The refrigerators on Air Force One are required to carry 3,000 meals in order to feed passengers and crew for four weeks in case of an emergency that prevents the plane from landing.

The Air Force has said the refrigerators currently on board Air Force One are based on old technology and were designed for short-term food storage, and are increasingly failing in hot and humid environments.

Rep. Joe Courtney, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and projection forces, who had inquired about the refrigerator contract, praised the Air Force for terminating it, saying it “didn’t pass the smell test.”

By Debbie Gregory.

Bethesda, Maryland based defense giant Lockheed Martin Corporation has secured a contract with the U.S. Air Force to develop a prototype of the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. It is hoped that the hypersonic cruise missile will be able to travel at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound. That means a hypersonic weapon can travel about one mile per second.

If the hypersonic conventional strike weapon is successful, it could result in a $928 million payday for the defense contractor over the course of the project’s lifetime. No end date has been set for the new contract.

“Both Russia and China are aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities,” said General John Hytens, the head of U.S. Strategic Command. “We’ve watched them test those capabilities.”

Lockheed Martin will be responsible for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.

The development will take place in the northern Alabama city of Huntsville, which is dubbed the “Rocket City” as it was the birthplace of America’s rocket program.

The Pentagon’s research and development chief, Michael Griffin, has called hypersonic technology the Defense Department’s first priority.

“In my opinion, today the most significant advance by our adversaries has been the Chinese development of what is now today a pretty mature system for conventional prompt strike at multi-thousand-kilometer ranges,” he said.

A second hypersonic project being pursued by the Air Force is the Tactical Boost Glide system,  which is a boost glide craft  accelerated to high speed by a rocket before gliding unpowered to its destination.

Both projects are part of a program to develop advanced prototypes that can later be fielded on U.S. jets.

By Debbie Gregory.

The first time a U.S. president flew in an airplane, it was a Boeing airplane. That was in January, 1943, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt flew to Casablanca aboard a Boeing model 314 Clipper.

Boeing airplanes have transported U.S. presidents, from Roosevelt to Trump, around the world. The U.S. Air Force wants to continue the Boeing tradition with the 747-8, which will replace the two 747-200s that serve as the presidential Air Force One fleet. That is, if they can negotiate a deal with Boeing.

President Trump and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg are working together to try to re-kick-start the stalled multibillion-dollar deal for two new Air Force One airplanes which will fly future presidents for decades to come.

The two planes were initially built for a Russian airline that has since gone bankrupt. Air Force leaders and Boeing have been negotiating the terms of the modifications since last summer, but keep getting stuck at the type of contract that will be signed.

The Air Force wants to sign a fixed-price deal that would require Boeing to buy the planes at an agreed price. Boeing would then be responsible to absorb any cost overruns.

The project made headlines when before taking office, then president-elect Trump attacked Boeing for the $4 billion price tag, calling the costs “out of control” and demanded the order be canceled.  But Trump changed his tune last year after visiting a Boeing 787 Dreamliner factory in South Carolina. His parting words were: “God bless Boeing.”

As one of the largest defense contractors in the world, Boeing does a lot of business with the U.S. government.

The newer airplanes are larger than the current 747-200 airliners that were put into presidential service in the early 1990s.

The new planes will need to be modified with conference rooms, a presidential office, and secure military communications

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