single manager/user. The same participant stated that a recent analysis suggested that a typical time required to get an ordered part in the Air Force is 17 days.4
Another comment related to the organization of the Air Force, to the effect that the Air Force looks at problems through discrete views, or soda straws (e.g., AF/A1-A4), and cannot combine these views to link smart sustainment choices with acquisition decisions. The Air Force cannot get its arms around costs and, therefore, has no ability to influence the acquisition side. The Air Force cannot win the battle looking through these lenses. In Figure 2-1, for example, what are the options for cutting? Where can the Air Force cut to minimize risk? The answers are not clear. Yet, another participant asked rhetorically how much it costs to fly the F-15, all elements of cost together, fully burdened. The answer is that the Air Force does not know. The cost per flying hour may be known, but these data are not inclusive. The goal is to bring all of the communities together to agree on a metric. And if the Air Force has the data, does it have a decision mechanism to set priorities?
Another participant asked if the organic sustainment piece is going down as CLS goes up. He stressed that if the Air Force does outsourcing correctly, it needs to do it in a way that reduces internal staff levels to reduce costs. Related to that, he asked if the Air Force has a depot strategy. He answered his own question by commenting that Air Force should look at ISR and decide what skill set to keep in house, but that this strategy has not been developed. According to the participant, with platforms rushed to deployment during wartime, such as certain ISR platforms or the Army mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicle, DoD needs to plan up front for how these platforms will be brought into the regular sustainment system after the war is over.
A final topic of discussion related to the need to bring life cycle considerations into the acquisition process from the beginning. Lt Gen Fedder stated that the Air Force is well aware of the need to do better in this regard. One participant observed that the Air Force does not have the decision tools to make trade-offs early in the acquisition process. In the last 25 years, the division between acquisition and sustainment has gotten worse. In his view, program managers (PMs) should be fleet life-cycle managers and work closely with logistics experts. The Air Force currently does not have the authority, tools, or visibility to affect other parts of the product life cycle. This issue was recognized in the 1970s, but 40 years later has not been resolved.
Katherine Stevens, Director, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate and Capability Lead for Agile Combat Support, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), gave an overview of the AFRL’s role in science and technology (S&T) for sustainment in the near term, mid-term, and far term. She also cited a number of examples of successful development and transition of sustainment technologies. Near-term activities address challenges in the maintenance of the current fleet, such as improved nondestructive inspection tools and expertise in support of the
4For a commercial airline of approximately 350 aircraft, cutting 1 day in the work-in-progress cycle—that is, from removal to repair to return to service—could save $7 million in inventory investment. This could be as simple as returning a failed part to a repair facility faster, cutting repair time, among other factors.