Washington Pulse

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FUTURE COMBAT SYSTEMS TO HIT A FEW BUMPS

The road ahead for the Army's Future Combat Systems will be anything but smooth, a senior official said.

"We will always have to fight for the program and demonstrate we can get there. And that's an everyday fight," predicted Lt. Gen. Joseph Yakovac Jr., military deputy of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. "That is the nature of the beast we live in." Immediate war-spending priorities make long-term projects harder to sell, Yakovac told an industry conference. The perception that FCS is on the wrong track also has been fueled by media reports quoting retired officers, whom Yakovac chided for speaking about a subject they may know little about. "If you aren't current, keep your mouth shut," he advised. "Time has passed you by."

PENTAGON NOT READY TO RETURN OVERSIGHT TO USAF

It does not appear that the Air Force will regain complete control of its acquisition programs any time soon. Since the tanker scandal last year, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics was given temporary oversight for all Air Force procurement. According to a Pentagon spokesman, "There is no set timeline for this temporary designation, and the AT&L staff will work closely with Acting secretary of the Air Force Michael L. Dominguez and the Air Force acquisition workforce until oversight of these programs is returned to the Air Force."

F/A-22 SUPPORTERS NOT GIVING UP YET

The Air Force remains hopeful that its top modernization program, the F/A-22 air superiority fighter, will be restored to 381 aircraft, even though the Defense Department downsized the number to 180, or possibly 150.

An ongoing Pentagon study on "joint air dominance," scheduled to be completed in September, may prove that 381 is the right number, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Ronald J. Bath, head of strategic planning. Like other F/A-22 supporters, Bath challenged the contention that the Air Force would get a bigger bang for the buck by buying more F-15s and F-16s. Spending additional money on "legacy aircraft" would be a mistake, he said. F-l6s and F-15s cost much less than the $185 million F/A-22, "but the capability differential is huge."

'WORLD-CLASS BALONEY' CAUSING INDIGESTION

The military services need to rethink their strategies for securing political support for major weapon systems. …