The Pentagon IG believes the Air Force needs to correct a shortfall in its KC-X aerial refueling aircraft replacement program that could prevent it from getting the best price for more than half the aircraft buy. The Air Force agrees and plans to alter its acquisition strategy. In its report, the IG notes that the service intends to purchase the first 80 of a total 179 KC-X aircraft under a competitive arrangement; the remaining 99 would fall under a noncompetitive action with the original winner. The IG does not fault this plan but says USAF needs to “obtain accurate, complete, and current cost and pricing data to determine the reasonableness of the contractor’s proposed price.” However, the IG also acknowledges that USAF might “bypass” this option and jump straight into the next tanker replacement increment—a KC-Y competition. At present, the service plans three consecutive procurement programs—KC-X, KC-Y, and KC-Z—to field enough new tankers to replace its fleet of KC-135s. All three could be different platforms.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.