Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said July 9 he is engaging Sue Payton, USAF’s acquisition executive, and her acquisition team to ensure that the Government Accountability Office’s findings in its ruling on Boeing’s successful legal protest of the KC-X tanker award are “fully understood” and “accounted for” as the service prepares to advance other big-ticket weapons programs. “The Air Force needs to rapidly apply the lessons learned from this experience” since “other Air Force acquisition decisions are on the horizon,” Donley told reporters during a Pentagon press briefing July 9. He appeared with Defense Secretary Robert Gates who laid out the path ahead for choosing the winner in the KC-X program now that the Office of the Secretary of Defense has thrown out the original decision in the wake of GAO sustaining Boeing’s legal protest of the award to Northrop Grumman/EADS. “GAO’s conclusions show that even in a large, complex procurement with considerable staff resources and oversight, work accomplished by our contracting personnel, our warfighters, and our engineers is not always adequately prepared to withstand the detailed audits and the legal challenges that we can now expect,” Donley said.
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.