All Stops, No Starts

While the federal government is functioning again on a budget continuing resolution, the Air Force has stopped some of its major acquisition programs and may not start them again due to cost considerations, William LaPlante, the Air Force’s principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, told lawmakers on Wednesday. Stoppages have affected even top priority efforts like the F-35 strike fighter program, he said in testimony to the House Armed Services Committee’s tactical air and land forces panel. As a result of budget sequestration, the Air Force halted the Space Fence project in September, with a contract award pending and an acquisition strategy laid out, said LaPlante. “It may not get started again,” he said, adding that it would cost $70 million more a year later to restart it and that initial operations would slip at least a year. Due to Air Force civilian furloughs during the shutdown, the F-35 program lost between one and two months of testing, he said. Plus, the service was within two days of temporarily shutting down the F-35 production line when the government shutdown ended. (LaPlante-Moeller joint written statement)