A key aspect of the Air Force’s newly unveiled strategic document is building modularity and flexibility into its platforms and capabilities, and allowing for “decision points” in acquisition programs to introduce new tools and technologies efficiently. “Our best opportunities are in new programs,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Wednesday. To the extent USAF can build in “modularity” to new programs, this could enable new technologies to inform future programs. Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh went further, saying even existing programs could benefit. “If the (advanced engine technology demonstrator) probes you can create systems that save 30 to 45 percent of fuel, we should build that into every fleet,” he said. “We have to take advantage of things as they change,” he said. Asked for specific examples of which programs would benefit from this approach, James highlighted the Joint STARS replacement program and the new trainer aircraft competition as programs where a more flexible and modular approach could be implemented. (James/Welsh transcript).
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.