Congress directed the Pentagon to provide more information on the Air Force’s proposed block buy of evolved expendable launch vehicles over the next five fiscal years and also mandated tougher EELV program oversight over concerns about cost growth. Lawmakers adopted language in the final version of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill that requires the Defense Department to provide information when it submits its Fiscal 2013 budget request on how the block-buy strategy has incorporated the recommendations that the Government Accountability Office made last fall. Among its concerns, GAO warned that the block buys, as currently presented, might actually lock in higher prices and not result in the savings that the Air Force desires. The lawmakers also mandated that the EELV program revert to a major defense acquisition program from its current status as a sustainment effort or that the Defense Department provide Congress with “all information with respect to the cost, schedule, and performance” as if it were an MDAP once again. President Obama signed the bill, H.R. 1540, into law on Dec. 31.
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.