Speaking to defense reporters in Washington Thursday, Gen. Bruce Carlson, head of Air Force Materiel Command, said that he has braced his workforce for the combination punch they face in trying to sustain greater numbers of aging and overworked aircraft with less money. Over the next 10 years, said Carlson, AFMC faces a “significant workload,” particularly when it comes to the KC-135 fleet, which needs new wiring, hydraulics, spars, and landing gears to sustain it until the service gets a new tanker. The AFMC boss added that AFMC maintainers have to invent new ways to extend the life spans of a growing fleet of older aircraft of all types, including figuring out how to obtain components that haven’t been produced for years. “We’re always looking for new opportunities to integrate new technologies,” Carlson said, noting that it won’t be the first time the command has had to engineer new solutions for electronics and components as a way of getting around the obsolete parts problem.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.