Wanted: Risky, Edgy Aircraft

The Air Force and Pentagon are not adequately rewarding industry for taking the risks needed to develop breakthrough aircraft and weapons, said former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, speaking at ASC15 on Tuesday. “I think there’s a risk we’re taking now as a country” by not “pushing and asking specifically for those breakthroughs and funding them as hedge bets” against potential project failures. “I go back to the 1950s and I think to myself: How many aircraft programs did we have back in the ‘50s? At least 20. How many aircraft [development] programs did we have last year? One,” Wynne stressed, singling out the KC-46 tanker. Even once the long-range strategic bomber program kicks off, “it’s not the same as having 20 risk-taking companies putting money up knowing full well that you may not succeed, but every one of them driving a different aspect of flight,” he added.