General Says USAF Will Procure 380 F-22s, Despite OSD

February 14th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: General Says USAF Will Procure 380 F-22s, Despite OSD

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
February 14, 2008 Gen. Bruce Carlson, chief of the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command, told a group of reporters Feb. 13 that the Air Force will figure out a way to buy 380 F-22s, despite the fact that the Pentagon has capped the number of aircraft to be procured at 183.
"We think that [183] is the wrong number," Carlson said. Even 380, a number he joked is a "compromise" from the 381 the Air Force originally asked for, still leaves too much room for risk. That risk could even include a future conflict with China, he said. "Most people say in the future there will be a Chinese element to whatever we do," he added.
"We're committed to funding 380," Carlson said. "We're building a program right now to do that. It's going to be incredibly difficult on the Air Force, but we've done this before." Carlson added there are only three places from which to draw funds to accomplish the Air Force's goal: operations and maintenance, research and development and procurement. "We don't have a [money] printing machine," he said. "We have to pay for it."
Carlson also expressed his disapproval with the bid protest process. The KC-X tanker award will be announced at the end of February, he said, "and I'm confident that many of the protests have already been written.
Why? Because there's no penalty." He said protests "bog down a cumbersome process."
Carlson suggested a penalty be levied on companies that file protests deemed "inappropriate" or without value. In some cases, Carlson said, companies will file 20 to 30 elements, "most of which are frivolous."
In those cases, he said, there should be a cost.
Carlson also said there is a building consensus on Capitol Hill for levying fines because the protest process causes "such disruption in the budgeting process ... it's very destructive." He used CSAR-X as an example, saying the Air Force has lost money during the protest over the helicopter. "I programmed that money ... but I can't spend it," he said. The funds are allocated instead to the global war on terror, fuel, and other expenses. "I lose it. I've already paid that bill once. I didn't get to spend it, somebody else did. Now I've got to go back and take money from something else inside the Air Force to find the $800 million to buy those airplanes I should have bought last year."
According to Carlson, even industry is interested in reforming the process, although debate will inevitably center on how much of a fine is appropriate. "I've found unanimous support for some sort of accountability in the protest process," he said. "I think we'd find support for some sort of cost of doing business."
Carlson spoke with reporters after his presentation before an audience at Aviation Week's Defense Technology and Requirements conference in Washington, D.C.
-- Bettina H. Chavanne

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