Included in the marching orders issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England last week that derailed—once again—to USAF’s bid to become executive agent for higher flying unmanned aerial vehicles is direction to merge the Air Force’s Predator and Army Sky Warrior acquisition programs. That consolidation is to take place over the next year and produce a single contract by October 2008. General Atomics produces the two UAVs, which basically have the same airframe. England wants the two services to equip the UAVs with a common data link “in order to achieve common development, procurement, sustainment, and training activities.” Oh, in his memo, England says the following actions are being taken “in lieu of establishing an executive agent.” The other actions listed comprise creating a task force “to develop a way ahead that will enhance operations, enable interdependencies, and streamline acquisition;” having the Joint Requirements Oversight Council coordinate training and operational employment; and having the Pentagon acquisition chief recommend ways to increase competition in acquisition and, with the Joint Chiefs Chairman, develop interoperability profiles.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.