In light of cost curbs and efficiencies first put forward under former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Air Education and Training Command has made several adjustments to operations, trimming funds for recruiting advertising and marketing, combining certain developmental education efforts, and cutting back on publications. Even flying hours have not been spared. “All of us have reduced the cost of our operations from last year—we have had to make some adjustments,” said AETC’s Gen. Edward Rice in a meeting with reporters Monday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference. Flying hours for training have also been reduced in the last few years, with some training shifting to high fidelity simulators. In other cases, AETC is taking a close look at the flight training curriculum itself and deciding whether technology or other means would allow the command to change how certain curriculums are run. However, Rice added, “We believe it’s important to maintain a very strong training base as we reduce our portfolio in some areas.”
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.