USAF considers EELV & satellite reform

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docm

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Aviation Week....

USAF Considers New Contracting Methods

The U.S. Air Force is likely to begin implementing new purchasing practices for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) rocket family and existing and new satellite programs in the interest of efficiency, says Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton.

This could include bulk buys of EELV—an effort the Air Force has been exploring for months—as well as multi-year satellite procurements and changes in how the service calculates financial awards for contractors.

Proposals are now under review by officials in the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The first of these are likely to be included in the Fiscal 2012 budget request, which will go to Congress for review in February. Conaton took office in March after serving as staff director at the House Armed Services Committee.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates intends to cut $100 billion in wasteful Pentagon spending during the next five years. The unclassified Air Force-led account for space development and procurement is usually about $9-10 billion annually. However, the portfolio has been riddled with billions of dollars of cost overruns and major delays.
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stevekk

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You mean they don't make "Bulk" purchases now ?

The Air Force already knows how many Altas and Delta launches they need over the next 4-5 years. Don't they have an entire GPS constellation to replace, plus a couple more AEHF sats, and a fixed number of NRO missions ? Add in a few more tests of the X-37, and we are easily talking about 50+ launches over the next 5 years. With that type of volume, they should get a fairly decent discount. As long as there is some flexibility in the schedule, so that they can swap the order of say a Atlas 531 with a Atlas 501, it shouldn't be that big a deal. I wonder how many Delta IV Heavys they would need to purchase to get any type of break on the pricing ? Maybe a break just because of the total number of Delta cores on order.
 
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DarkenedOne

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stevekk":1kdvxyt8 said:
You mean they don't make "Bulk" purchases now ?

The Air Force already knows how many Altas and Delta launches they need over the next 4-5 years. Don't they have an entire GPS constellation to replace, plus a couple more AEHF sats, and a fixed number of NRO missions ? Add in a few more tests of the X-37, and we are easily talking about 50+ launches over the next 5 years. With that type of volume, they should get a fairly decent discount. As long as there is some flexibility in the schedule, so that they can swap the order of say a Atlas 531 with a Atlas 501, it shouldn't be that big a deal. I wonder how many Delta IV Heavys they would need to purchase to get any type of break on the pricing ? Maybe a break just because of the total number of Delta cores on order.
Well the thing is that they still work on a model where they order each rocket for each individual payload. They buy one rocket every time they need a satellite. You can see on their manifest that the rockets are assigned to a particular payload. This procurement strategy causes problems because when there are delays. It causes a ripple effect due to the fact they prep the rocket for one rocket at a time, so when a rocket launch is pushed back because the satellite is not ready all the following launches are pushed back as well even if their payloads are ready.

What they want is to switch to a model where there is enough standardization to where they can simply order a certain number of rockets for the satellites they need to launch and simply launch the satellites once they become ready. This procurement policy eliminates the costly delays that are caused when a satellite is not ready on time.
 
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