Monday, November 2, 2015

After Bomber Award, Experts Raise Red Flags - Blog

After Bomber Award, Experts Raise Red Flags - Blog: In the context of major U.S. military acquisitions, the Air Force long-range strike bomber may eventually emerge as a poster child for how to buy complex big-ticket weapons. Since the program got under way in 2011, it was deliberately set up to avoid the pitfalls that have tripped up the F-35 joint strike fighter and other troubled acquisitions.

The bid selection process that culminated in the Oct. 27 bomber development and production award to Northrop Grumman also was carefully crafted to ensure the Pentagon prevails if the losing bidder — a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team — challenges the decision in court.

A laser-like focus on containing cost and setting realistic technology targets should help keep the new stealth bomber in Congress’ good graces and out of the news. But some advocates are warning that Air Force leaders are spending far more time dwelling on the process of buying a new bomber than on stressing its importance or why the bomber is needed.

“One of the lessons not talked about much that this decision process illustrates is that the decision took way too long to make,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies.

“As we move into an ever-accelerating future, the Department of Defense has to learn how to make decisions quicker, and reverse the trend of adding expense and time by paying so much attention to ‘process' as opposed to ‘product,’” he said in a statement to National Defense. “Much of the delay is driven by exquisite attention to excessive procurement rules and regulations in what is apparently greater concern with avoiding litigation than moving on with development of a critically needed capability.”