A better procurement process for the modernization of the nuclear triad

Air Force Chief: A Better Acquisition Process for Modernizing the Nuclear Triad

Concept art by Nothrop Grumman

How the Air Force approaches its new stealth bomber and ballistic missile programs will help avoid cost overruns and schedule delays that have traditionally delayed the development of other systems, the chief of staff said. service staff on June 22.

The Air Force developed the B-21 to replace its aging fleet of B-1 and B-2 bombers, while the Sentinel would replace the LGM-30 Minuteman III. These programs constitute the two legs of the nuclear triad that the Pentagon is trying to modernize.

“Our approach with these different programs is different from how we’ve implemented other programs,” said Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr., when asked about the programs at a Hudson Institute event. .

Brown said a shift in Air Force strategy is the close collaboration of acquisition professionals and Air Force operators. Acquisition experts can help operators get to “a certain level of reality” to get capability into the hands of warfighters faster, he said.

“If you just look at the issues over the years, what happens is we have another good idea. We keep adding these good ideas, which leads to cost and schedule issues” , he said at the event.

Digital engineering will also help keep programs on track, he said. Having a digital process allows for better dialogue between operators and technology developers to resolve issues before they reach the production stage. He noted that designers can continue to add new ideas for the ability using a digital environment.

“If you use a digital approach, you can actually keep upgrading and modifying, especially if it’s software-based, and make adjustments to the design before you start bending the metal,” he said. -he declares.

Brown said that after visiting program offices for both programs, he heard “positive” comments about the non-traditional approach.

“It’s a different approach, and it’s something we want to continue across the Air Force,” he said.

While the B-21 program has received praise from the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee as an example of progress on procurement reform, the Air Force recently announced that it will delay the B-21’s first test flight until in 2023. Brown did not address the delay or the reasons for it during his remarks.

Meanwhile, Brown said the Air Force’s project to connect sensors and gunners – the Advanced Combat Management System – was progressing. Since ABMS is not just a communications system, the service has focused on identifying all existing networks it can access.

The service took the time “to step back and look at what everyone is doing. … and then we can see each other much better, to now see the areas we need to focus on,” he said.

“We are making good progress now on how to better invest our resources to get us on our way,” he said.

Topics: Acquisition programs

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