The Defense Department still plans to hire thousands of additional acquisition personnel to improve its oversight of weapons projects, said Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s No. 2 acquisition executive. It’ll take a while, though, until everybody is in place and has the proper experience to be effective, he told defense writers during a meeting in Washington, D.C., this week. “We have to grow our engineers and program managers, and that takes a long time,” he explained. DOD reduced its acquisition corps too deeply in years past and making up that deficit will be tough since most of current acquisition cadre is at or near retirement, and quality recruits are hard to get, said Kendall. “We are not attracting people to aerospace work the way we used to in the space age and during the Cold War. I’m a little nervous about . . . the demographics,” he said. Moreover, fixing acquisition “means training, which means you need senior people to do the training,” he added.
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.