to fund the development and implementation cost associated with the change. This bureaucratic process takes an inordinate amount of time and often results in ECP rejection.
The recommended approach to facilitate CI is to provide budget within the contractor’s development and recurring budget for making changes without resorting to the ECP process. Imbedded government representatives should participate in the ERBs that assess and approve improvement changes and voice objections to both the contractor’s management and the Air Force, if necessary.
With the current emphasis on cost, the potential exists for the current EELV production monitoring conducted by the Defense Contract Administration Services at United Launch Alliance’s Decatur Manufacturing facility to become increasingly adversarial. Such a situation increases contractor costs, slows production, and results in demotivated production employees, which is not conducive to obtaining the highest quality launch vehicle hardware. The government is encouraged to find an imbedded oversight approach that works in cooperation with the contractor to identify and fix problems without resorting to excessive adversarial and bureaucratic reporting and resolution methods.
A very fundamental question to be addressed by the Air Force early in the program with regard to operations that will drive many design and fielding decisions is the following: Will the operational system be operated by military personnel with contractor support or by contractors with military oversight? Since the earliest days of the intercontinental ballistic missile program, those systems have been operated by the military. Some early space launch systems were operated by the military (e.g., Thor). However, for more than 40 years the government launch systems have been operated by contractors with NASA or Air Force oversight: the space shuttle, Atlas I, II, III, and V, Delta I, II, and IV, Titan III and IV, Pegasus, and Minotaur. Since an RBS capability could lead to much improved operability, it would be surprising if the Air Force did not consider using this program to transition to “blue suit” operations for this responsive and flexible segment of their launch capability. The discussion below is based on the assumption that at some level the Air Force will conduct RBS operations.
22.214.171.124 Air Force Operations
The Air Force, with a military and civilian mix, would conduct all operations required to process the RBS for launch, mate the payload, conduct the launch, recover the reusable portions of the system, and restore them to the condition where the RBS is ready to be processed for another launch.
126.96.36.199 Contractor Role
The contractor would maintain a “depot-level” repair capability to accomplish the maintenance tasks that are determined to be beyond the cost-effective level of military personnel that may have an average duty assignment of 3 to 4 years. This may be the same capability that would accomplish the major refurbishment of flight or ground systems when that is required. The contractor would maintain on-site technical staff to assist in anomaly resolution and other issues that might arise in pre-launch or post-recovery processing.
188.8.131.52 Concepts for Operations
The approach used for reusable portions of the RBS will have significant impact on cost and the availability of the underlying industrial base. At one end of the spectrum, all the fly-back-boosters anticipated for use over the lifetime of the system might be bought in a block, with considerable savings because of the quantity. However, this would almost certainly require a total restart of the production capability if a subsequent procurement was desired