Air Force looks to build ‘big idea pipeline’ to expand industrial base

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Originally Published on This Site.

By Jared Serbu

5 March 2019

The Air Force spends north of $40 billion on acquisition and R&D each year, a sum that, in theory, ought to be plenty to sustain a healthy and competitive industrial base.

But one of the service’s big problems, according to its acquisition chief, is that those dollars tend to be concentrated among only a relative handful of major systems. Meanwhile the big investment decisions the Air Force makes to introduce new technologies are several years apart from one another.

“It takes decades between fighters, decades between tankers,” said Will Roper, the assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. “When the Air Force started off, it was years — in the small single digits. A fundamental flaw that we have in working with the industry base is that we don’t do enough big ideas, enough prototypes, enough diversifying, because the frequency of our awards is too slow.”

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