Young Slams AF Over UAVs

Young Slams AF Over UAVs

Outgoing Pentagon acquisition czar John Young sharply criticized the Air Force today in his last meeting with reporters, saying the service had refused to budget for auto-landing gear for Predator UAVs even though the Air Force has lost a substantial portion of these to landing accidents. The new undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Ash Carter, was sworn in this afternoon.

Young said the Air Force has lost one-third of the 183 Predators it has bought, and one third of those have crashed because of ground control issues. (Young’s spokesman, Chris Isleib, later sent an email to reporters slightly changing the numbers. “Since 1994 the Air Force has procured 195 Predators. 65 have been lost due to Class A mishaps,” he said.) Isleib added that of the 65 mishaps, 36 percent are laid at the door of human error and “many of those attributable to ground station problems.” About 15 percent of the total was destroyed during the landing phase, Isleib clarified in his email. (For a very human and honest portrayal of the difficulties of flying a Predator, catch this briefing by a NASA pilot who has flown them.)

Young said he told the Air Force to “move as fast as possible to auto-land.” A clearly irritated undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told reporters “it will not surprise you that the Air Force is resisting this.” No cost estimates are available yet for equipping the Predator fleet with auto-land.


Young drew a sharp contrast with the Army’s Shadow UAV, saying it had lost very few aircraft to landing mishaps because it possesses auto-land capability.

Isleib said in his email that they did “not have similar [crash] data for Shadow. However, we feel that improvements to the ground stations and addition of auto-land capability could reduce the overall mishap rate for Predator by 25 percent.”

Young also criticized the Army and the Air Force for simply not communicating. Although the Predator and Warrior [used by the Army] systems share a great deal in common, the two services have resisted sharing information about new engines and items such as signals intelligence sensors. Young, almost growling, said, “that’s power of OSD” to bring the services together in the same room and make them talk.

Young told reporters he regrets not pushing sooner to segregate various parts of the Army’s Future Combat Systems program by issuing separate contracts for its vehicles, unmanned platforms and other systems.

The contract was heavily weighted so that Boeing and SAIC would receive 90 percent of their award fees based on performance before the program reached its Critical Design Review, leaving the Army with few tools to force better performance out of the program. Most award fees should be based, he said, on performance after CDR to ensure companies remain vigilant about performance.

Young also spoke at length about the acquisition enterprise but I’ll write about that in another post after talking with some acquisition experts to lend some perspective to Young’s remarks.

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Obviuosly General Michael Moseley’s proposal that the AF become the primary manager of all medium-high altitude UASs ruffled some feathers over at the Army.

“At an Army aviation roundtable March 23 at the Pentagon, Army Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Mundt, chief of Army air operations, blasted the Air Force for proposing that it be responsible for the development and operations of unmanned aerial vehicles that operate above 3,500 feet…
Don’t get into the tactical commander’s fight and don’t get into the way we do business,” Mundt warned the Air Force.“
http://​www​.armytimes​.com/​n​e​w​s​/​2​0​0​7​/​0​3​/​a​i​r​f​o​r​c​e​_​a​r​m​y​_​U​A​V​f​i​g​h​t​_​0​7​0​3​30/

So why would the Army now want to work with the AF, when the AF is still trying through Congress to take away Army capability? I chuckled that the Army already had “auto-land capability”.

Goodbye, John Young. This is the guy that wanted to give one of the largest procurement contracts in DOD history to Airbus. Adieu!

Aurora’s comment is thoroughly uncalled for. Whatever John Young’s relative merits as a manager of such a large enterprise, the A330 has unmistakable merits as a tanker. Since neither the 330 nor the 767 is an obviously bad choice, choosing the Airbus logically must logically within the discretion of the Air Force, subject only to the USD-AT&L’s review. Protectionist interference in the decision has only endangered lives by delaying the program.

Got to agree with james there, it does seem to be a matter of buying US-Made over any other consideration.

James Hasik,

The KC-30 is obviously a bad choice. It is larger & heavier than the KC-10 (in fact it is larger & heavier than all aircraft in US inventory except for the C-5 & a handful of 747-based aircraft) yet has a fuel capacity of ‘just’ 246,000 lbs (110,000 lbs less than the KC-10 & ‘only’ 44,000 lbs more than the MUCH smaller & lighter KC-135R — note that the KC-135s are in need of replacement NOT because they lack sufficient fuel capacity but because they are old & expensive to maintain & will not last forever).

Despite its very good take-off performance, the KC-30 is too big &/or too heavy to operate from the smaller bases closer to the refueling points the KC-X is/was intended for (of it it can only at reduced take-off weight were the KC-767AT can actually take-off with a greater amount of fuel than the KC-30) & can not operate in sufficient numbers from those that it can.

James Hasik, I did not mean to troll. There are many dimensions to national security that transcend the number of pallets an aircraft can carry; economic and industrial base must factor into the equation as well. The last administration, for whatever reason, choose to ignore any of these considerations. John Young’s testimony before Congress on the tanker speaks for itself.

Do we really want Everett, Washington, to look like Flint, Michigan, in 5 years?

I submit that if the USAF had chosen Boeing, they would have hand funding in place for the tanker as we speak (type).

By the way Aurora a grasp of facts would be good; the contract was to NG and NG beat Boeing which has still not delivered a tanker that works effectively to Japan or Italy; and the A330 air frame is superior to the 767 which remains the problem,

Um, I thought this article and thread was about UAV systems and acquisitions, not tankers …

RFL, Boeing has transferred 3 tankers to Japan for delivery. How many gallons of fuel has the KC-30 transferred? How many A330 tanker varients have been delivered? EADS has delayed deliveries of the A330MRTT to the RAAF. No reason given for the delay. What gives?

A grasp of the facts would be nice. :-(

Tim D-T is on to something.

ummmm you guys high-jacked this thread.….. stay on topic

What?!? The AF put pilot job security ahead of mission needs?!?

(Sounds like business as usual to me.)

lol pilots dont even want to fly that thing, i dont think they care about the feature… UAV’s are the last thing on pilots out of UPT want… if was their choice they would rather have it automated so they wouldnt have to even go down the UAV pipeline after UPT…

What the Air Force needs to do is bring back Warrent Officers to fly them and make successful UAV hours a perequisite to flying fast movers and heavies. When AF-1 is flown by pilot with UAV hours that will be the symbol the nation takes the technology seriously.

Then again after NYC fly by there maybe an ex AF-1 pilot flying UAVs in the desert.

Auroa I work with the Japanese and your facts are a bit out of whack; the boom is not effective

When the Air Force stops trying to play politics with the lives of troops maybe I will not be as cynical as I am. I have never forgotten the fact that the most damage done to my unit in Vietnam was done by the United States Air Force jets and not the Peoples’ Army of Vietnam or the Vietminh.

The Air Force other than Special Operations units do not want to support ground troops. The AC130 gun ship crews are first rate and the transport squadrons are very good. I trust the few A 10 crews that are still around. The rest of the jet crews I don’t trust.

Also I think that the United States Air Force has aspirations of being Herman Goring’s Luftwaffe and controlling Airborne forces and Army Aviation. If the United States Air Force had its way the First Air Cavalry Division would have been stillborn and I would have died in Vietnam.

A response to Mr. Young can be found at: http://​www​.wingeddefense​.com/​a​r​c​h​i​v​e​s​/95.

Thanks for reading!

gostaria desaber do seu ramance com guiomar

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