• Enterprise-level initiatives such as NextGen CLS; and
• Individual program initiatives, including sustainment partnerships.3
Following the presentation, one observer noted that the F-22 was supposed to need only one-half of the maintenance required by the F-15 and asked, what happened? According to Lt Gen Fedder, the F-22 was envisioned to not need low observable maintenance specialists, just a “mech-tech” provided by the OEM. This turned out not to be the case. In addition, the Air Force added an egress system and other specialties and had to buy back the manpower to support these. There is a higher confidence that the F-35 will not need so many specialties, and this should result in large savings compared with the F-22.
Several participants raised critiques of the way the Air Force estimates the total costs of sustainment. One suggested a better breakdown of costs into five components that captures 95 percent of the costs: (1) maintenance, repair, and overhaul; (2) training; (3) personnel; (4) energy; and (5) modifications and upgrades. Because costs are incurred in so many different places, controlled by different authorities, rules, and colors of money, intelligent investment decisions cannot be made. A participant noted that the Air Force needs to view sustainment from a fleet perspective. The first question needs to be, What is the best way to deliver support? This participant offered as an example a similar situation in the Army. The M1 tank upgrade and fuel accounts were in different places, so when the question arose as to whether to put diesel in the tank, it was not possible to consider this from a business perspective. How can these components be brought together under one person?
Another participant remarked that data systems are not available that would serve as the basis for making smarter sustainment decisions. Knowing what people are actually doing is the key to cutting costs. Focusing on budgets is not the same as focusing on costs. Budgets reflect expenditures, not costs. The Air Force is budget-driven, but costs are more important. He noted that with respect to the growth of CLS costs, the Air Force dug itself a hole when it failed to purchase technical data at acquisition, which would have allowed the option to bring sustainment in-house. At the same time, the Air Force has lost technical expertise due to increase reliance on contractors, so the Air Force does not have access to what is driving CLS costs higher. On the organic side, this participant noted that another piece of the problem is that the supply chain and the depot are separate. “Which drives the bus?” The airlines have the same problem of knowing actual cost, but operationally the supply chain is under control of a
points, maintenance depots, distribution warehouses, and transportation facilities. Like the garden variety organic farmer who uses only natural or self-produced products, organic infrastructure sustainment uses the government’s ability to support a product’s mechanical and structural demands, such as those seen by the C-17, over the course of its life.” Albert Barnes and Capt Lewis Johnson, U.S. Air Force, Going Organic: The C-17 Depot Maintenance Activation Working Group, Defense AT&L Magazine, September-October, 2010. Available at http://www.dau.mil/pubscats/ATL%20Docs/Sep-Oct10/Barnes%20sept-oct10.pdf. Accessed January 15, 2013.
3Lt Gen Judith Fedder, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, “Air Force Studies Board Workshop: Zero-Sustainment Aircraft,” presentation to the workshop on December 5, 2012.