MR. KLINGER: Good afternoon everyone. General Chilton, good afternoon. Thank you. We all appreciate the opportunity here. I'm Gil Klinger. I'll be your game show host for today. Laugh people, laugh. I'm between you and a break.
Okay. It's my privilege to be up here today with three of my colleagues of many years standing. And our topic today is Delivering Space Capabilities On-Time to the Fight.
My experience, and I think our experience, in forums like this when any of us has been sitting in the seats that you're sitting in is that it's the interaction with the members of the panel. I emphasize the members of the panel, not the moderator. The moderator is simply sphinx-like in these environments. It's the interaction between the members of the audience and the panel, so we are going to leave time for questions because I think that's the most productive interaction as I said.
Getting capabilities to the warfighter I think to some degree implies that we may have collectively fallen short of what's needed in the theater. Certainly we've had our problems in recent years with the cancellation of certain programs, and we are having a challenging time with space acquisition although actually my observation now 15 months into the job that I'm in the Defense Department is that the Navy, the Air Force and the NRO have stabilized the vast majority of those programs that were having difficulty with.
We have taken several years, more than a decade, to get ourselves into the situation in which we now find ourselves, and it is going to take us some time to get out of that.
[With] that said, Washington is a place where you frequently just focus on the bad news. So I'd offer a little bit of a different perspective, notwithstanding the challenges that we have. And that is whether one is operating in a theater, any of our intelligence users, any of our garrison forces throughout the national security sector, I think that it's fair to say that space capabilities have become more or less like the dial tone on the telephone. I don't know about you, but I don't pay any attention to the dial tone in the telephone except for one time and that's when I pick up the headset and it's not there. And on those relatively few times when it happens, my reaction is what the State Department would call colorful exclamations that occur.
And I think that actually is both the good news and the bad news with respect to space capabilities. On the one hand, they have become so ubiquitous and so embedded within the fabric of everything that we do in national security that we do take them for granted. They are invisible in many real and figurative ways. But at the same time, they are so embedded in what we do that when there's a problem, that problem's consequences become very noticeable.
So the context in which we find ourselves trying to address diversifying and increasing needs for warfighters in the theater as well as addressing our ongoing acquisition issues and, in fact, recapitalizing many of the infrastructures, many of the portions of the infrastructures of our space capabilities are occurring at a context of sort of unprecedented challenge.
If you've been reading many of the things that the Secretary of Defense has said, you know we are probably at the front end of a fairly serious downturn or at least challenging fiscal environment. I can say this as a career staff guy. The tendency whether you're in the OD&I or OSD, the tendency of staffs at a time like this or a time when there are problems and it's an understandable tendency is to actually add more oversight.
And I think if you listen to what Dr. Carter and Mr. Kendall have been saying within DoD; you'll know that's not what we're trying do. In fact, we're trying to streamline much of what we do in the space acquisition business in a very different way than we aspired to do 10 or 15 years ago. The question is not really more oversight. It's really what the right oversight is.
There are three people that are going to try to talk to these challenges today and speak about their individual perspectives of delivering capability to the fight after which we'll take questions.
Rich McKinney is the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space. We'll hear about his perspective from the headquarters Air Force level.
RDML Liz Young is the navy PEO, Program Executive Officer, for space.
And Doug Loverro is the Executive Director of Air Force Space Command SMC [Space and Missile Systems Center]. So let me turn this over to Doug who by a very scientific method we decided is going to speak first.
MR. LOVERRO: I think the scientific method is I was the only one foolish enough to bring charts. But they did tell me I could take the first hour to go through them, so I appreciate that. I'll try to leave at least a minute or two for Rich and Liz.
Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you for having me here today. Can we bring up the charts? Thank you.
You know, the topic that we were asked to discuss was delivering space capabilities to the fight. As Gil mentioned in his opening comments, on the dial tone, we in space don't actually deliver the dial tone immediately from the space acquisition side when needed. That's really a function of the operator and the COCOM. They deliver the space capabilities immediately that are in space.
What we do and the way I'll entitle my discussion with the next chart is not so much delivering the space capabilities, next chart, please, but assuring space capabilities are there. I can't go ahead and deliver a satellite in the hours, minutes, days or even months necessary to go ahead and meet the warfighter's demand today. Even under an ORS [Operationally Responsive Space] paradigm, the notion that we'll build a new space system in that time frame is unlikely.
I think in ORS1 which SMC is executed along with the ORS office, we're building a space system in about two years which is an incredible breakneck pace compared to what we do otherwise. But even then, I can't build a new space system in a short amount of time to impact the fight today.
What I can do is make sure that the space capabilities are there when we need them, and that's what I'd like to address today. Next chart, please.
So from 1990 to 2010 I asked you to think what do you think are the greatest threats have been to the U.S. assurance of its national space capability? Now, this is my list. This is not an endorsed list by anybody in the DoD or by Air Force Space Command. But it's my list, and I think many of you may agree at least more or less in the order I come up with. Next slide, please.
Adversary action is a big problem for us. Man-made debris tends to not target a specific capability. We have lost satellites to the natural space environment.
Launch vehicle failure has been one of the biggest issues in the past. But indeed from about 1990 to 2010, the biggest problem I've had and the biggest we've had as a nation in ensuring space capabilities are the acquisition issues we have been dealing with over those last 20 years. Next chart.
Now, I've asked the same question going forward. The order may have changed slightly with the chart. In this case I think we've pretty well understood where the national space environment is, and we do a good job engineering around it these days. Manmade debris hasn't changed.
Launch vehicle failure has gone down in importance as how they threaten spacecraft. They used to be our single largest natural predator is what the satellite guys used to say. We've reduced that significantly, and if we keep our attention and focus on the process, I think we can keep that down.
Adversary action has certainly become a far more important aspect of how we might assure space capabilities, but in reality in today's world what I see is that acquisition issues still are at the top of the list in us being able to assure the continuation of our space capabilities. And I think that goes across the waterfront, and I know General Chilton mentioned that this morning. I've heard him mention it, last year and the year before and the year before. I'm not sure how many years he's been working for a SBIRS [Space-Based Infrared System], but it's been a lot of years.
So my question and I think all of our questions have got to be what do we do about this? And I'll tell you what my thoughts are and how we address this next chart. One more, please.
So I believe we've been victim of what I call the space system vicious cycle, and let me explain how this cycle runs.
The cost of space systems and the schedule for space systems has grown. We've all seen that over time from what it was in the '60s and '70s to the '80s and '90s now where we stand today.
As a result, if you hit the next button, please, we end up with smaller constellations, just-in-time replacement, and we maximize our capability per satellite because they cost so much. And as a result, the risk of a gap increases and so our mission assurance costs for launch increases because we can't stand a gap. And next chart.
And so our production quantity shrinks, our ability to reconstitute is lessened and our technology insertion is delayed. And as a result, one more chart, please, the cost of space and the schedule grows.
And I think we've attracted this vicious cycle making it larger and larger over time over the last 20 or 30 years, and I don't think it's because we don't have the right policies. Lord knows we've changed the policies several times. And I don't think it's because we have the wrong requirements because I think we've worked the requirements very hard. I think it's because we may be building to an architecture that creates the cycle. Next chart.
And so in my mind, it's more than just new rules. Please keep on ongoing. We need to change what we buy. We need to buy, if you will, things that can fit into an architecture with smaller capabilities that can be delivered on a shorter time scale where the loss of failure isn't so great that we're not afraid of technology's insertion. We're not so dependent upon 100 percent launch success. We're not in a just-in-time mode for everything we deliver.
I think that we have to change fundamentally how we think about how we go ahead and form late our space architectures to allow this architectural change to happen, to allow us to go ahead and really address this at the fundamental level of the "what" we buy, not the rules under which we buy. And I'll save comments for questions. Thank you very much.
MR. McKINNEY: Thank you, Gil, and thank you, General Chilton, AFCEA, the Qwest Center here, and USSTRATCOM in general for hosting this conference.
I look forward to this each year. The last couple years I haven't been able to come and I'll tell you why in a minute. But I always thought this was a premier organization and event to come to, particularly in terms of international participation. I know General Chilton has tried to make that a focus of his, and I think he's succeeded. And for that reason alone, I think it's well worthwhile to come here.
I've had the privilege in the last couple of years to actually serve in Europe, and I got to know the European space capabilities to a great degree. And I will say that the more we can work with our international partners, the better our common security will become.
Now, as Gil said, the topic today is delivering on-time capability. And as Doug talked about and Liz will talk about, specific systems and capabilities, I'm going to talk a little bit about the process. I'll talk about how the Air Force is reorganized to help deliver on-time capabilities.
But let me premise my comments first by saying, there's been a lot of talk about some of the acquisition issues. We just heard Doug talk a little bit about that, but I would say that the capabilities we have on orbit from the United States are second to none. I think they're the envy of the world. And when we do get the capabilities up there, they are just phenomenal, and I don't think we should lose sight of what we've accomplished along the way.
Now, you might say, okay, we now have an Air Force staff person talking about how we're going to have greater capability, but let me tell you a little story about what an Air Force staff person does.
A friend of mine saw all the replacement parts being built for humans and so forth and says, â€œYou know, I haven't been as smart as I used to be. I think I might want a brain transplant.â€ So he goes to his doctor and he kind of laughs at him. He says, â€œNo, really, I want a brain transplant.â€ So he says, â€œwell, I don't know where to go and how do I do that?â€ He says, â€œThere might be some guy in the South Pacific.â€ So he gives him the location. Yep, it's Bob's Brain Shop. It's on this old shack in the back of the jungle.
He goes in there and says, â€œI'd like a new brain.â€ He [Bob] says, â€œYou've come to the right place. He says, â€œHow about that one? That looks like a nice one. How much does that cost?â€ â€œThat's $300,000.â€ â€œ Well, who did that belong to?â€ â€œThat was a lawyer.â€ â€œHow about that one over there? That one looks good too.â€ â€œThat's half million. That belonged to a doctor.â€ He says, â€œThat's a little out of my league. I don't want to be as smart as a doctor. I just want an improvement and I don't want to pay that much.â€ He says, â€œWell, do you have something that's maybe not as nice looking but would still give me an increase in capability?â€ He says, â€œCome with me.â€
He takes in the back room, cobwebs go away. And he says, â€œHow about that one up there? It looks kind of small but that might do the job. How much is that one?â€ â€œThat's a million dollars.â€ â€œWhat do you mean? It's tiny; it doesn't compare to the others ones. Why is that so much money?â€ He says, â€œWell, that it belonged to an Air Force staff person. You have to realize you have to pay a lot more for something that's never been used before.â€ [Laughter.]
So what I want to talk about today is from an Air Force staff person's perspective. The task I was given, I was in Europe for a couple years and the Secretary of the Air Force called me back and said we're not organized to deliver the capabilities the way we need to within the headquarters of the Air Force, and I want you to go take a look at a clean sheet of paper and how should we be organized. And he gave me three broad main goals. One was to clarify and streamline the space functions assigned to the Under Secretary, to reaffirm our space related roles and functions and relationships across the headquarters of Air Force, and to assess the space-related fact of life changes to the roles and functions that are assigned to AFSPACE.
So we started this in early December of '09, and he wanted me to take a look then. I guess you know what essentially has happened. So back in the early 2000s, you know, as Secretary Rumsfeld and the Space Commission reported out, we restructured not only the Air Force but the DoD on how we were organized for space.
But over the years things changed, and the Air Force is no longer dual-hatted with the NRO, with the Director of the NRO. The separate acquisition process that we had in place was returned to OSD. The milestone decision authority was returned to OSD. And sort of the integration functions that we had embedded within the Pentagon changes over time.
So that was one thing that changed, but the Secretary also found that the Air Force is totally committed to space. It's over 90 percent of our budget. We have over 60 assets on orbit. And 93 percent of the space coded positions in what we call the MFP12 which tracks all the space programs within the Department of Defense are provided by the Air Force. 84 percent of the military positions at the NRO come from the Air Force, and then 81 percent of the overall funding in the MFP12 comes from the Air Force. So it was pretty clear that, yes, we're committed but we're not organized right.
And so what I did was I looked at every space study going back to 1960. I interviewed over 70 different people from industry, military, retired military, international. And I tried to get a sense of what was working and what wasn't working.
And so what we found were a couple of things. First of all, there are over five separate offices within the Air Force that reported directly to the Under Secretary of the Air Force just on space matters alone. And the Secretary himself served as Service Acquisition Executive for Acquisition for Space, and that was unique for space.
And both internal and external to the Air Force, there's confusion regarding the roles and responsibilities of who was doing what, what were the lanes in the road, in terms of what organization does what, who reports to whom.
And there was some other minor issues regarding should ORS [Operationally Responsive Space] report directly to the Under Secretary or to the AFR space rather and how should his support staff be organized?
So I took a look at all that, but I would say, and this kind of goes back to one of my earlier remarks, we found some things that worked remarkably well, and that was in the operations standpoint in the 14th Air Force, our launch systems that Doug talked about, our ability to operate and control assets in space.
From an operations standpoint, there's absolutely no reason to make any changes. From a headquarters standpoint, there were some phenomenally important reasons to make some changes.
So what did we do? So the Secretary decided that the Under Secretary of the Air Force would still serve as the focal point for space within the Air Force. She, who is Erin Conaton, will be the Air Force official for Headquarters Air Force space matters to include planning, policy, strategy, international relations, space interagency relations and interface to OSD for space. So that's with the Under Secretary. The Secretary himself would retain the EA for space title. He would assign the service acquisition executive responsibilities to staff AQ. So the office that we had, the Director of Space Acquisition would no longer report to the Under Secretary, but now reports to the system's Secretary for Acquisition.
It's kind of back to the future, back to the way it was back before we did the space commission. At the time I helped make that transition. And I can tell you at the time it was the right thing to do.
But today given all the things that changed, it makes sense to make a title change from staff USA to staff AQS. And that was but what is improved is now we have a total focus of all acquisition in one office. And the same space professionals who were providing those acquisition functions within the Pentagon are still providing those same functions. So you keep the expertise and you add a focus on acquisition.
We would retain the Deputy Under Secretary for Space with the third item that the Secretary decided. That's the office I now hold. And my responsibilities include directing an Air Force Space Office for Policy Integration Strategy and Policy and support to the Under Secretary and the Vice Chief of Staff on space matters. The next thing that Secretary decided to do was create an Air Force space board.
You know, always in the past there was kind of a bit of a disconnect on the headquarters Air Force staff on space, and so he's decided to create an inter-force space board which includes the Under Secretary, the Vice Chief of Staff, the Commander of Space Command, the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, International Affairs Office and the A3-A5 to form a space board to look at all Air Force space matters across the headquarters, and it would be co-chaired by the Under Secretary of the Vice Chief of Staff. We haven't had this type of interaction and coordination before.
So those were the major findings from the study in terms of what we're doing within the Air Force. There's also a comparable study undergoing in OSD, and that's a discussion for another time.
But I think the Air Force is now properly focused on how we ought to be organized for space within headquarters. We didn't look at any functions outside the headquarters. Like I said, the operational side was working just fine. So we just focused internal to the Air Force on how we want to be organized.
And so that's where we ended up. [We had] a greater focus, a greater organization and integration across the Air Force. And I think now we're focused on how we should be organized going forward given the current structures within OSD and in light of the new space policy, the new national security space strategy that's coming up, and the existing DPPG [Defense Policy & Planning Guidance] too from an EA for space standpoint from an Air Force standpoint to adequately carry out that mission that's been assigned to us. Thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.
RDML YOUNG: Thank you for attending. General Chilton, thank you for the symposium and the opportunity to participate. I know it's getting kind of late in the day and I'm rounding this up, so lucky for you all the earlier caveat that said all of our comments were subject to publication has shortened my comments down.
I would like to offer, though, that the ability to deliver space capability on time, I believe, is tied to our ability to understand our space systems. Pretty simple, but I think it's pretty critical.
We must understand our space systems in order to design, build, deliver, operate and manage them. We also need to know and need this understanding so we know what capability we should build and we can build. We need to know what we can do. We need to know what our international partners can do, and we need to know what our adversaries can do.
Once we have this knowledge and we have the experience, then we as an acquisition community can go ahead and make the commitments that we need to make to the nation to meet its needs, hopefully get on a path to meet those commitments.
So I've mentioned knowledge and understanding and experience quite a bit. And that's people, that's not a new idea, but I still think it's a very critical one.
I spent most of my career in space systems with a couple of entertaining diversions here and there, and it was quite a while before I started thinking about the industrial base. And when I first thought about the industrial base, I sort of envisioned a lot of heavy equipment, big test fixtures, and that's what I thought the industrial base was about. And I thought what's all this concern? Just keep it oiled.
But at some point in time I started to realize all that stuff is important and we need that capital equipment investment. It is our people that's key to this and we need people with the education and the experience to design, build, deliver and operate our space systems.
And what I finally realized is the term industrial base isn't broad enough unless it incorporates not only our industry partners, our commercial industry partners but our government people and our academia.
There's been some concern in our community and discussion about who these people are and who we need, and it's a very broad spectrum of people that we need to build space systems.
But from my part, one of the more fragile aspects of this community is the technical community. And there's been some focus by us and also nationally on the fragility of the pool from which we can draw those technical folks and that causes a great deal of concern. I've seen some pretty scary numbers about the number of people who are getting technical degrees in this country and are staying. And then the number gets even smaller of those folks who want to come in our field and apply what they've learned and help us build these space systems.
So I'm not going to go down that path, I think a lot of work has been done there, but I think it's important. So my point is I guess my concern is that we need these folks. We need to keep that very broad, industrial base and it takes in all of us. We need to keep it healthy.
And as a government guy, I'm particularly sensitive to the state of our government workforce. And I certainly don't want anybody to think I don't believe we have a very strong and capable government workforce. I just worry if we can keep them. I think we need to work hard on that.
I certainly echo the general's comments this morning; we need to build career paths for them. We need make sure we value these folks. We need to nurture them. Can I say nurture here? I guess I should say we need to develop them. We need to provide them with a rewarding career path, and we always need to keep recruiting the next generation. We need to make sure that people are coming into our field, or we won't be able to figure out what the next capability is that we need to deliver on time. We won't know what on time is.
So if I haven't made it, my point is we need to look after our workforce, government, academia, industry, keep recruiting it, keep it strong, and take care of it. And then we'll have the foundation from which we can build these space systems, we can deliver the capabilities the country needs on time. Thank you.
MR. KLINGER: In addition to working through the questions that folks have been submitted electronically, periodically I'll stop and see if folks in the audience have questions. As I understand it, there will be microphones available in the audience.
Ready? Okay. If you could scroll down just a little bit.
Do you see there being an impact with the dissolution of NII? Look at where the time has gone. Okay. Moving on. I mentioned the moderator is just a sphinx here. Earlier this morning, General Chilton pointed out if he had to put a metric on resiliency for peacetime, he said we'd need to be able to sustain a failure. How do you see us adding resiliency to our constellations given the current budgetary constraints? Doug, do you want to address this.
MR. LOVERRO: Sure. You know I spoke very briefly about the architectural nature of how we go ahead and address some of our acquisition issues. I find surprisingly that when I come to questions about resiliency, both in peacetime and in conflict, that some of the same answers come to the floor. And that is that typically we need more of our space systems. We need them to be quite frankly less all encompassing than they are today.
The resiliency of a floor satellite constellation where the minimum number of satellites to do the mission is four is not resilient of all. We need constellations of satellites that can cover both for peacetime action and wartime action can cover in case of failure or in case of the need to provide more capability.
The resiliency is, again, an architectural question and, I find in my thinking that it leads us down some of the same lines that could address our acquisition issues as well.
I think that we were very much taken in by the peacetime nature and the long life of our systems to believe that we can depend upon engineering of the systems to provide the resiliency we need.
That really doesn't work in the future in my mind, so I think we really need to readdress how we build architectures to provide that resiliency. I think that comes through allied action as well. I think the current space policy that the president has issued speaks admirably to our need to go ahead and partner with our allies on space capability, provide some of that resiliency, but I think it also depends upon what we build as well.
MR. MCKINNEY: And on what Doug said, I agree it's an architectural issue, but it's not just building the architecture, it's following the architecture. We've built some great architecture over the years but not always did we follow them. So when you don't follow it you might as well not put one in place at all.
In the past a lot of our decisions were driven by financial issues as the question kind of applied. Well, in order to save money in the short term, they basically said we'll build a system, it will stop, we'll build another system, and it will start and be successful and just go on from there, except when it's not.
When you're transitioning from an old system to a new system, you know, you need to follow the first rule of wing walking, don't let go of one strut before you have a hold of the second one.
So the philosophy is that it's really cheaper in the short analogue term to really have a system that's continuing and the next one starts in parallel with that one. So if the new system runs into something difficult in development, you've still got the old one in place. And the old architecture system, we didn't have that opportunity. We already let go of that one.
And so you then spend a lot of money trying to fix that second system that might not have started on time, or if you just develop that money to kind of do something in parallel, you got the resiliency, you've got the back-up, and you have an architecture in place that will allow that resiliency to continue. And those are some concepts that we're working on now. And I think we'll prove them over time.
RDML YOUNG: I agreed if they said architecture I would stick with that theme. So yes, I would offer it is the architecture. But I'd suggest that there is a different view that we need to expand our view of architecture so that if we look across capabilities and platforms we don't normally associate to solve a problem. So if we use one piece of that, we still have other capabilities to solve that particular problem. So we learn to use our commercial assets with our national assets. We learn to use our different assets, if you will, together so that if we use one, we still have the others to solve a problem. So that would be the one path to resiliency I would offer.
MR. KLINGER: When would we ever be able to synchronize terminal delivery with satellite launches? It seems that we waste significant satellite life by not having terminals available to use the satellites that are on orbit. Liz, do you want to comment?
RDML YOUNG: No, actually I don't. So let's see, it's hard not to agree with that. So what that means is we need to do a better job of understanding what our enterprises are and what we need to integrate. And I'm hopefully the proud owner of a satellite that's going to go up pretty soon sadly without all of its terminals, and that is a waste. So we put a very expensive capability on orbit, and we aren't able to use it.
The easy answer; there is no magic there. We just need to coordinate our schedules better, and we need to make sure we focus our resources properly. I mean, if that's where the problems are, then we need to make sure that we resource that adequately and not in JDRS [Joint Deficiency Reporting System]. I would never say this. Now say it's just a radio, how hard can that be? We're asking a lot of them, and that's why that devotement has been so hard. And I think you'll see that in other areas on terminals.
Now, satellites get a lot of focus because it's well known that we're late. And so if you were betting, a betting man or a betting woman, you could say, I could hold up on my terminal a bit. But eventually we have to tie those together because we just waste capability. Sorry.
MR. KLINGER: No takers there? There's a shocker. Questions from the audience before I keep looking? Okay. Could you scroll down a little bit for me, please? While we're scrolling down, I would just offer an editorial regarding the question about terminals.
You know, there's a saying with the space business that goes something like put it up on orbit, the ground will catch up. Ladies and gentlemen, the ground never catches up never, ever, ever, not in a hundred lifetimes.
And so one of the things that you are going to see us doing is focusing, and I think you're seeing it also in the Air Force, the NRO and the Navy and amongst the OSD components as I said is to put more and more emphasis on making sure that we have a holistic approach to space acquisitions, from the user terminals back all the way up to the front end spacecraft because the realty is as Liz pointed out not only are we putting spacecraft on orbit which have inherent capabilities of which we cannot take advantage, but it is going to be harder and harder in a constrained budget environment to be able to get funding for new and different, more innovative ideas if we are unable to take advantage of the capabilities that we already have on orbit. Would you scroll down a little bit more? Keep going. There was a question about at long last, will you please tell us where the aliens are and I just left that to the side. Keep going.
Okay. Rich, what are the roadblocks to leveraging international cooperation to deliver on-time capability, and how can those roadblocks be removed?
And before you answer let me amend the question for you and Doug and expand it. What are the roadblocks to leveraging international and U.S. commercial cooperating opportunities to deliver on-time capability, and how can those roadblocks be removed?
MR. MCKINNEY: I guess the premise of the question is there are some roadblocks, and I think that's probably overstating the question.
But I think there's no question to the fact that the international partners that we have some great capabilities, and they're going to have even greater capabilities in the years to come. And I think that's probably the biggest roadblock, if you will, in terms of just a mindset.
In the years preceding and the decades preceding where we are today, there really were the Russians and the United States. But I think if you go back ten years leading up to today, the Europeans and Japanese and other allies have made some phenomenal gains on orbit and on the ground in their space capabilities.
And it's in our common national security to make sure that we can leverage those as best policy. And the new national space policy talks about exactly that is international cooperation. So I think it can help us both going forward. We just have to realize those capabilities are there.
And I would also say you have to start early. You have to get involved at the beginning of a program rather than waiting for someone to build in and say, hey, can you use this? If we can make sure the program is designed from the very beginning with the concept of international cooperation in mind, that would make it much easier going forward.
And you will create a mindset from the very beginning that that's where we're going, that's how we're going to operate and that's how we're going to function in the future. And I think that's probably the number one thing we have to do is just have that mindset that we will cooperate from the very beginning of these perhaps.
MR. KLINGER: Doug?
MR. LOVERRO: Sure. Let me add on to what Rich said. And I think on some of his comments with one word that might indeed be characterized as roadblock, and that's this is a cultural question.
We don't have a culture of cooperating in space across our space systems. We have a culture of using operationally -- and this kind of goes back to my original comments.
We do have a culture of using operationally allied space capabilities when we're in the fight, but we don't have a culture of actually building that into our overall space system architecture and our forward planning as we put those together.
Rich already talked about some of the rich capabilities that we're seeing from our allies that I think will be critically important as we move forward both to supplement the capabilities that we provide indigenously as well as to go ahead and be relied on in case we suffer either attack or failure in the future.
And we have to do that before that happens. We have to build in the mechanisms to share the data. We have to build in the mechanisms to go ahead and share the capability.
We've spent lot of time, for example, in GPS when I was there and beyond in making sure compatibility between the signals, between Galileo and GPS signals were there so that we could go ahead and make sure we could build user equipment that could take best advantage of both without going ahead and stepping on each other's capability.
I think the NGA has done a marvelous job in showing us how to go ahead and leverage commercial capabilities and even some foreign capabilities. And the recent contractual actions they took to go ahead and build a multiyear buy of image from some of our commercial partners I think demonstrates a true way forward there.
What we have to do is get into the habit of building this as part of our mainstream, not as just an afterthought, but as a part of the mainstream. The way we're going to provision, for example, wideband communications, the way we're going to provision perhaps nonstrategic missile warning, IR, the way we provision other elements of our architecture. Absolutely cry out for us to use commercially-hosted capabilities, to use ally capabilities, to use interagency solutions albeit perhaps not in the same way we did (inaudible) as I'm living right now.
But there are some new ways for us to go ahead and work cooperatively to create the resiliency we need, and there's nothing other than culture that prevents us from doing it.
RDML YOUNG: I would certainly agree it's a cultural problem. Those of us who grew up in our little stovepipes blissfully unaware that anyone actually had a satellite; it is difficult for us to envision a world where we do a lot of cooperation.
But stepping out of character, I'd offer a very good example, and that's in the military SATCOM area which Doug started talking about.
UHF provisioning to use your word is spread across military satellites, commercial satellites, augmented with military class payloads and we've also made some agreements with our international partners, and we're doing UHF hosted payload options and sharing channels with the Australians. So there's one more area I'd offer that we look at. We've made some good progress.
MR. KLINGER: First of all, let me commend the folks who are coming in with questions. We won't have time for all of them, but there are a lot of terrific pointed questions, so I'm trying to pull those together in a fashion that places all three of our panelists in the most possibly, uncomfortable way that we can.
But there are a series of questions that really amount to what you people have been talking about this for years. What exactly are you going to do specifically to actually change this? I meanâ€¦..
RDML YOUNG: Follow-on panel.
MR. KLINGER: There are a series of questions, so I'll just open -- Rich, why don't we start off for all three of you.
MR. McKINNEY: Sure. I think that's a valid question. But again, I would point to the capability we have in orbit like I mentioned in my earlier remarks.
But let's just go back a couple years. The Air Force has embarked on a program called Back to Basics. One of the things that we saw in Doug's blue circle of death is we tend to not trust that these systems will come online and there won't be a lot of them; so, therefore, we want to put every possible capability on the very first satellite, and that way we will ensure we have our capability. Well, it turns out to do just the opposite and ensures us that you won't have the capability.
So the Back to Basics is based on what we've learned a long time ago in the air craft capabilities is build your basic core capabilities, add the B model, add the C model. When those technologies and capabilities are ready and they're proven and that they've been planned for from the very beginning.
On the GPS3 program, for example, which has started three years ago now I guess is when we first really started that, the requirements for that. There's been one minor change in requirements for that program since it began and it's so minor it's not going to affect anything.
And that program was built to be just that. We're going to have a basic capability. Then we're going to add a little more capability on the Block B satellites then we're going to add some more significant capability on the Block C satellites. But we're not going to go to the second block or third block unless the capabilities are ready. And if they're not ready, we'll keep on building the basic capability because we have to secure the mission that GPS provides with all the basic signals that we have and also now the L2, the L5, the M code signals are all on board and compatible with Galileo.
So I think that's the main thing is make sure your requirements are well stated, they're achievable, you're not trying to put everything on the first block and you stick to that.
And so far the first program out of this chute is GPS, and that seems to be working well. And I would say it's also the same on OCX which is the ground portion of that.
So I don't think it's any mystery in what we need to do. We just need to follow through and not try to do everything on the first satellite, stick to our guns on the requirements, and move to the next step when we're ready and not before we're ready.
MR. KLINGER: Doug?
MR. LOVERRO: Sure. Let me answer this one from one an SMC perspective a little bit. First of all, I agree with everything Rich said. I think the way we moved forward on our GPS is indeed to go ahead and get as close as we can to on-time delivery of capability and not 100 percent reflection of what was in the original CDD [Capability Development Document] on that.
In fact, the CDD on GPS actually started being written back in 2002 and had the full companion of everything everybody ever wanted. And wise program directors after I left realized that wasn't going to be the way we got there. And between the folks at SMC and the folks at OSD and the air staff put together a very solid evolutionary path, but we're also at SMC doing other things.
I mentioned a little earlier ORS1. For the longest time I think I certainly took this to heart when I got back there. I think that Space and Missile Systems Center was seen as sort of a one-trick pony. You send us money, we'll send it to Lockheed, and we might send your satellite back.
And that's not as much with any particular contract. We did that for many different contractors, but that was how I think we were seen. We weren't seen as the folks who could do things differently, and I think what you're seeing now is that we are doing that. We built a commercially-hosted IR payload, CHIRP, which we worked with the commercial company on, and the payload was delivered in about 19 months after we put it on contract. It'll be launched as soon as the commercial satellite is ready to be launched. ORS1, we're going to deliver that satellite probably about I think 27 months after contract award rather than normal 10 years.
GPS3 is going to be about seven years. We've put together studies for General Chilton and for STRATCOM on a missile warning augmentation satellite which I think we can competently deliver in four years, again, using different modus operandi than the way we normally have been accused of buying or selling.
So I think what we're doing and this goes back to Liz's point on people. What we're doing is training our folks at SMC that there's more than a single way to go ahead and provide space capability. You really need to adjust your strategy commensurate with the need. And General Kehler I think is very fond of talking about capability of the speed of need, and that's what we have tried to do in looking at how we give capability.
Let us understand what the requirement is, and we will adjust the methodology that we use on contract or to provision it in order to go ahead and meet that need.
And I am happy to say it seems to me that we're churning that ship quite well, and hopefully we can train the next generation more than one way to skin this cat so we can continue that.
MR. KLINGER: Liz?
RDML YOUNG: Well, of course I agree with my colleagues. I would like to emphasize, I think we've all stumbled onto or thought it through carefully the same sort of acquisition seems to be working for us on the DoD side of the house, on the NRO side of the house.
What we've noticed is the programs we build steadily that we establish a foundational capability and we build that capability at an interval. What I think we're starting to understand is the interval isn't necessarily dictated by satellite light. It's dictated by how frequently we need our people to build this satellite.
And if it gets really slow, I'll tell you my water pump experience, but only if it gets really slow. So what we're doing is exactly what Rich and Doug both said is we stabilize and build a foundational capability and do the recurring engineering there, and we separate the nonrecurring or the design engineering which tends to be our most expensive engineering, if you will, on a different path, and we cut that new capability in when it's ready. The pace at which we work on this design engineering or R&D or nonrecurring, whatever your favorite term is, should be dictated by need and our ability to get there.
But the advantage of this is we keep our industrial base busy so that we don't have to rebuild an industry to go to a particular type of satellite. And we also keep our R&D healthy, and we do not hold up a recurring capability waiting on a new system or piece of R&D that isn't maturing as rapidly as we want which you see. OSD has looked at that, NRO has looked at that, and you've seen some emphasis on that. When people ask us a lot about TRL levels, technology readiness levels, because we tend to do, you know, I saw a glimmer of it on a PowerPoint chart in a facility so I'm pretty sure we can field it next year. And maybe that's not always the case, so we set that kind of work aside and then cut it in when it's ready. So I think we're all kind of heading the same way.
MR. KLINGER: I'm told we have time for one more question. I'll just give you another editorial prerogative from the moderator.
My answer to the first specific thing we have to do to write this ship to the extent that the ship needs writing, and that is obviously a matter of debate, and I say this not to the industrial partners but to the government and industry, all of us, the first ten things we have to do are execute.
We have to execute the programs in acquisition right now, and we have to demonstrate to our overseers that we are capable, maintain the recipe, and have the wherewithal to produce the same capabilities whose benefits we are now enjoying from the on-market systems because if we aren't able to do that, not much else is going to matter.
[We have a] a series of questions that really roll up about workforce, some of the themes that you raised that I guess I'd offer to all three of you, with a major emphasis on space acquisition issues, what are your thoughts on creating a separate acquisition pool of professionals dedicated only to space, which I would amend to extend only to say what of the space force if you want to address that as well.
But let me start coming back and, Liz, start with you.
RDML YOUNG: Can you read this name tag from where you are? So I think there's been a number of looks at whether we should consolidate into a space force and if we should manage that group of people separately.
MR. KLINGER: Excuse me, Liz. We're not off the hook. I'm told we have the panel until 3 o'clock.
RDML YOUNG: Thanks for that.
MR. KLINGER: Sure. Please, sorry.
RDML YOUNG: So it is a pretty unique workforce. There are some unique skill sets. [That's my] my observation. So I notice with interest that you said you had 84 percent of the military folks at the NRO. And I thought, Wow that means I'm less than 60 percent. [We are] probably quite a bit lower than that.
But I noticed in my people is when I have Navy folks, Navy officers who are very skilled in space systems, I have no trouble getting them jobs out in the rest of the big Navy. It is a transferable skill. So that kind of argues towards we should keep these people in our various services and go along the path we're on.
But the other side of that coin which I guess push comes to shove I might be more in that camp is the United States is very dependent on space systems, and in a good way. I don't think that's necessarily a weakness. As you heard, my view is we are very dependent on our people to do that, and that's a very fragile workforce and it spans a lot of folks, it spans technical folks policy folks, folks who understand how to communicate with other folks which rules out the technical folks.
So you have a lot of people there, well, not a lot of people, but you have a unique set of skills that you need to take care of. And maybe it was advantageous to set them aside and look after that workforce. You have to make sure it's big enough to stay healthy. And if it's not big enough to stay healthy on its own, then we'll have to stay with the path we're on where we bring people in from other areas and send them back out to other jobs.
Hopefully I didn't actually answer that question.
MR. LOVERRO: I think you did a great job of avoiding it. I'll try to do as equally a good job.
I think it's interesting, I've heard statements before maybe we need a separate career path for intel officers. We need a separate career path for those folks who are going to work on UAVs. We need a separate career path. I actually think that, yes, we may solve some problems if we set up a separate space career path, but I think we probably will end up creating problems we don't anticipate or see at this stage as well.
You know, it's interesting, I think many people view me as being a lifetime space person. I actually didn't start working in space until I was Lieutenant Colonel. The first 18 years of my career was non-space. And I benefited quite frankly from that because I got to see different ways of doing things, not just a single way of doing things.
And I think we all benefit from that kind of a broad experience base, and I worry that if you stovepipe people too greatly, that you would limit that experience base and limit the ability to bring new ideas to the floor.
Now, at the same time you need people who are well experienced in space because the problems that we face in space acquisition and space operations are different than the problems that we face in air acquisition or in ship acquisition or other areas with the DoD.
So certainly we need a way to identify folks and their experience, and I think the Air Force has done that. As Rich just said, we actually maintain a database of our space professionals; we track them, where they go. I was quite happy to see when I got back to Air Force Space Command about three years ago that that database was incredibly complete and included folks who hadn't been assigned to Air Force Space Command for many, many years, but they still had them on the books, they still knew where they were.
So I think that barring any dramatic change in the state of the world or the state of how many people we have in this field, that we kind of reached a pretty good equilibrium of being able to track the individuals and their experience but being also able to assign them outside of space so they can learn those lessons from outside the space arena and bring them back for our benefit and at the same time bring our lessons learned outside. There are many people who want to adopt our mission assurance techniques. In the nuclear career field, for example, folks have wanted to adopt the kind of mission assurance techniques we've honed in space. So again, I think that two-way street is important for us to grow in all areas. Rich?
MR. McKINNEY: In spite of Gil's attempt to create controversy here, I think we're probably going to end up all agreeing. Let me tell you a few stories regarding this, and I've thought about this for quite some time.
But you know the basics of acquisition are the same no matter what you're buying. Ability to do the RFP, to negotiate a contract, to manage a contract, to manage a program, those basics are the same no matter whether you're managing a satellite or an aircraft.
I have a good friend of mine who is a senior general in the Air Force who does acquisition and I won't use his name because he hasn't allowed me to do so, but I'll tell you this story.
The argument goes, he says, people come up to me all the time and say, well, space is different. And they say the first time we launched something it's got to work the first time. It's a half billion dollars sitting on top of a rocket. We got to make sure it works. You need to have a special technique for that.
And his reply back to that person is, he says, well, I've managed aircraft programs, and the first time I do a flight of an aircraft there's a person sitting up front, and that's what I have to take care of. So we all have our focuses, we all have our special needs, but that doesn't mean we totally have to be different.
If you go back and look at the more successful acquisition managers in Air Force career just like Doug was talking about, we had a variety of acquisition backgrounds. I will say at some point in your career you have to specialize. You're going to have to say to learn the special techniques and procedures, whether it's going to be in aircraft, electronics, terminals, satellites, what have you.
But I think the basics that we have, I think the best rounded persons we have in terms of acquisition is someone who has a variety of techniques and experiences to bring into the capability. Like Doug, I haven't spent my whole time in space. At one time, I was in charge of half of the jet engines for the United States Air Force. And I brought some space experience to that, and I learned a tremendous amount from the jet engine folks as well.
And so I think any time you stovepipe, it will lose a little bit of the fresh bread and the new techniques that come along. So I would say the situation we have on focusing on acquisition across the board and not doing a specific career field is the right answer.
MR. KLINGER: And I studied the Franco (inaudible) and look what help that's been in the space business. Questions from the audience before we keep going?
Okay. A number of questions I think Doug triggered off of your comments about shifting the nature of the architectures to smaller, how do we get from here to there, going down a series of questions, and then a specific question about ORS which is what is the transition strategy from an ORS office to integrating the ORS philosophy into acquisition culture. I guess I'll leave it to you, Doug, to define what the ORS acquisition culture and what ETHOS is. But all three of you I would say, how do we get from here to there?
MR. LOVERRO: I'm going to elect Rich to answer the ORS part of the question. I don't think there is a panacea answer called ORS or small satellites or things like that. I think it's a more complex situation than you can sum up in just a short phrase or set of terms.
I do think that in general, what we have to do is get off of that vicious cycle I talked about. And to do that, we do need to, and not all at once, not immediately, not tomorrow, but we do need to go ahead and change our vector slightly from a prejudice towards the most highly cost efficient, most capable combined space system to the most highly (inaudible) resilient architecture that we can build, and those may not be exactly aligned.
Liz will correct me on this. I often like to say, you know, in the Navy if you need to go ahead and steam eight carry battle groups, you build twelve. In the Air Force if you need to fly a squadron of 20 F22s, you build 24. In the space world if we need to go ahead and have a constellation of four, we build a 70 percent likelihood of having four. That just doesn't seem to make sense to me from a warfighting perspective. That's not how you plan warfighting capability. To be able to get beyond that, to be able to afford eight satellites to make six or ten satellites to make eight, you need to make satellites that are smaller, can be produced more easily. I'm not talking about 1,000-pound satellites. I'm not talking about small sats or microsats. Those may be part of the answer.
But I'm talking about a tempering of our appetite for how much we put on a single system, recognition that not all capabilities need the same protection. For example, tactical IR warning and tactical IR events don't require the same kind of nuclear hardening as strategic missile warning. And yet, we put both of them on the same system, much to our chagrin as we try to build all these capabilities into a single system. One of those, it has to be highly secure; it has to be absolutely there all the time. It can't ever go ahead and fall below 0.99999 operational availability. It has to have quick switchover which drives a lot of cost.
And when you throw that cost into the capability that doesn't need to be there 99.9 percent of the time when you drive that capability that can be less than 100 percent successful. You suddenly go ahead and put a mortgage on the entire system.
And so I think we have to wisely decide how to put capabilities together, how to use that as a way to go ahead and shrink our systems. I think we have a fairly clear way forward there on unprotected wideband SATCOM. I think we have an equally compelling case for how we might separate the tactical IR capability from the strategic IR capability if we choose to go that way. And I don't mean to stop building a major line system right now to do it. I simply need to change my emphasis on how I do that.
And I think we have even in many people's minds ways to do that in all the areas within the DoD constellations that we fly today. And we have an opportunity to do that quite frankly in the next ten years if we go ahead and develop those ideas and we put them forward and get agreement to them. I think we can easily see a changed face of how these architectures might look in the decade of '20s and the '30s if we start that within this decade which I think is very possible.
RDML YOUNG: I think I'd step one back. When we say we want small satellites or ORS, ORS is fine, but when we pick a size, we're picking a solution. And really the question is how do we go to more resilient architectural enterprise that we can afford?
So we're back to understanding what is the need we're meeting and what are the capabilities that meet that need. There may be some larger satellites that have a lot of capability and there may be some less capable satellites that are presumably smaller and cheaper. In perhaps a different orbit, communication architectures can be envisioned with several different orbits to accommodate the communications needs.
So the answer is what is it we actually need and how do we spread that out across everything that's available to us? And I think the real challenge is for guys who have built satellites for a long time and packed everything possible onto them, we have to think a different way. We have to think in terms of is this a better mission than a hand-off to a small HEO satellite? Is this a better mission than a hand-off to a UAV to provide regional support?
So I would just step up one and say we need to understand what is the need we're meeting and what are the capabilities at our disposal and how can we allocate out those responsibilities, those requirements.
MR. KLINGER: Let's talk about contract. What place do firm fixed price contract approaches have with regard to space capabilities? You've all spoken to varying degrees about the differences or similarities of space to other forms of acquisition. We all know that the Secretary's initiatives include much tighter focus on cost control and so forth.
So I'd be interested in your views really at the front end of the acquisition process, folks asking about, you know, where do you see, if any, a shift from a cost-plus type approach to our acquisitions to some variant of fixed price contracting? Doug, if you want to start?
MR. LOVERRO: You didn't give Rich a chance to answer the ORS question.
MR. KLINGER: Oh, I'm sorry.
MR. McKINNEY: I'll do both at once. You know, at the risk of going ahead and sounding like some of the elections, I give to some of my guys as we go through acquisition strategies. I always like to start off any discussion about acquisition strategy saying it's not about contract type; it's about the whole envelope of tools you use in constructing an acquisition, one of which is the contract type.
There are probably about 50 or 60 different levers to pull in any acquisition from incentive structure to technology insertion structure to actual pace of the program, when you make decisions, when you go from a competitive to a noncompetitive strategy. These are all a variety of tools and very many more.
And when I teach classes on this, I try to tell them that program management is sort of like puzzle solving. It's one of those terrible puzzles; you've all seen them before. They're borderless, there's extra pieces, the colors are hard to discern, you can't really tell where all the pieces go, and you can't figure out whether or not you ought to just force a piece in hard or throw that piece away and try for another piece.
People have in many cases tried to do in the past and as far as I can tell try saying we want to create a nice square puzzle with three pieces and these are the only pieces you get to use. In the past that was a cost-plus award fee. Today it's fixed price incentive fee.
And in reality it's a far more complicated matter than that. I think fixed price contracting is absolutely part of the answer that we will use to control both our appetite and control the pace at which we go ahead and create capability.
We are in the midst of a space fence acquisition today, a multibillion dollar system where to date we have done nothing but gone ahead and awarded firm fixed price contracts. And we do not have a final strategy on the actual final development, but we may end up going through the entire development on a fixed price basis.
But that's complemented by a competitive field, complemented by an incentive strategy, complemented by our requirements vetting strategy that is appropriate to that fixed price development.
We can do the same thing and I think to our advantage in space systems, but there are still some areas of space which are always going to be high risk, which are always going to be uncertain, which are going to be reaches for all of us which we want to do. We don't want to stop reaching in space because it's risky. We want to limit the risks to areas that we are willing to take the risks in. And that's not in current operational capability or things that the warfighters depend upon. That's new capability; things that we can afford to fail on and still may be amenable to a cost-plus kind of solution.
So I don't want to paint a broad stroke as many have. I absolutely agree with what Secretary Carter has put forward in his 17-page, 14 September document. I have been pushing a bias for fixed price at SMC before that document came out, and I think we still can do it.
But it's a bias that has to be complemented by all the other tools as well. We can't just plop it down. We tried that in my mind in the '80s. We tried to plop fixed price down onto otherwise unchanged landscape, and we quite frankly didn't do such a good job.
And what we can do this time is think about that, take that new tool that we've been asked to use, fixed price, and make sure we adjust all the other pieces of the puzzle so the picture we get at the very end is good and there aren't pieces that are dog-eared as we try to force them into the board.
MR. KLINGER: Rich?
MR. McKINNEY: Fixed price contracts have a perfectly useful place in space acquisition. It goes back to kind of what I said in terms of this Back to Basics. Once you've got control of your requirements, you've got control of the risk, you've built this before, and there should not be any more risk. So if you're going to build just a carbon copy of what you've already done, that's a perfect vehicle for fixed price.
It goes back to what, again, Doug's circle, if you keep changing the satellite or changing the requirements as you go along, you've got no uncertainty, you have risk, you haven't done it before. So you'll likely not want to go fixed price at that point.
But if you can get control of that and put some rigor into that, then fixed price is a perfect position going forward. It just depends on what you want to accomplish, and it also goes to about what I was saying as you get towards a mature product cycle, that there's no reason why that shouldn't be fixed price.
As you move onto the next capability, what Liz talked about, is developing the technologies in advance. So when you get to the on-orbit capability, do fixed price.
The commercial industry has done this forever in terms to have commercial satellites. I don't know the last time I've seen a cost-plus contract for a basic COMM satellite. Why, because they know there's no risk, they know what the technology is, and they probably built that satellite ten times before. It's a perfect vehicle to do fixed price.
But you also have to manage the expectations of the buyer meaning once you make that contract, that's it. You're not going to make any more changes in it. You say, well, gee, a new technique came along; I think I'll slide that in. No. I mean, once you decide what you want to do, that's fixed price, and leave that technology development to another effort.
So I think it's just a matter of sticking to what you're trying to accomplish, know where you are on the risk cycle and choosing the right vehicle like Doug said. Fixed price is a perfectly valuable and useful position in space acquisition.
MR. KLINGER: Liz, I don't know if you have anything.
RDML YOUNG: Yeah. I think these gentlemen have covered that quite well. The only thing I would offer is you can't choose your contract in isolation, and we talked about maturity of technology. But fixed price contract cannot be better than its funding profile either, and there are some issues that go with getting the best buy that you want for a fixed price contract and how you fund it, so you have to think ahead how that's going to work out.
MR. KLINGER: A series of questions about agility or lack thereof in an acquisition system and one sort of pulls together a series of those questions. Technology changes continue to follow Moore's law in the upper taking seven years to produce GPS3 satellite while technology will have improved four-fold in the period.
I guess I'll nip that question together to some degree, Liz, with your comments about attracting and keeping people and Doug with your now affectionately-named circle of death. We all know the stories of Air Force civilians and intelligence professionals and military officers who are often seen as the Halcyon Days came in as second or first lieutenants or GS9s or 11s and over five years saw four or five satellites come off the black board and go to launch. And now we've all the heard the stories, we're living with them of a far slower reaction time.
I guess in my mind I guess under the heading of sometimes everything is related to everything else, there's a relationship I suppose at one level one could postulate between taking advantage of technology in terms of our cycle times but also the impact that might have on the workforce.
So I'd be interested picking up on the question of your thoughts about that. How do we move more rapidly, especially when it comes to certain areas like technology insertion where longer cycle times are just lethal to us?
MR. McKINNEY: I think you need to understand all the issues involved. And I'll just use a non-space program. I think we built the P51 in, what was it? 90 days? What does a commercial airliner now take? Five to seven years. 777, 787. I mean, those are all very complex, highly technical systems, not unlike some space programs. But those are basically using known technologies. So we have got more complex, the systems are more capable and so you've got to understand that some things are going to take that period of time.
A commercial satellite takes three years, but there's really no development there. We are just doing what we've done before.
But I think it also leads to the question are you willing to accept some risk? And we're kind of doing that in the ORS program, but I think one of the earliest NRO programs had, what, 13 failures before we had the first success. Could we stand that today? Would we have that same attitude towards risk saying we're making progress, we're moving along, and this is an acceptable path going forward?
So there are some programs I think you can do much faster, much quicker, the electronics are getting smaller, and the power requirements are getting easier to supply. And I think if you go in with that attitude saying we're going to do this quickly on something that hasn't been done before, and I think we can do that in a much shorter acquisition time. But if it doesn't work you can't say, well, that doesn't work. I guess we've got to go spend ten years developing a program. It's all about the attitude and the mindset going forward and where do you want to accomplish and where do you want to go and how that impacts the overall mission capability.
I think for some programs that's great; for other programs you don't want to take that risk and then you have to adjust accordingly.
RDML YOUNG: Since you asked, if we want to be more agile, there is certainly a -- the easy thing to pick on is the bureaucratic side of the house because we've demonstrated we're not quick there.
But there's a great deal of engineering aspects for our work that slow us down. We all talked a little bit about establishing foundational capability and building on that and cutting in our technologies.
So if we go down that path and we actually look at. Forgive me for saying this so late in the afternoon, the interfaces we have because what we've established now and the environment we grew up is an extraordinarily complicated engineering environment. And in order to cut in a piece of new technology, it's a daunting process. I mean, there are very beginner face documents. You can print them out and I'm not tall enough to see over them. That's just too hard.
We have to look at how we establish kind of our infrastructure capability, if you will, understand how to maintain it and keep it funded because it doesn't have as glossy of charts as maybe the new special sensor.
But if we look at actually simplifying that engineering environment which I believe personally a lot of it centers around complexity of the interfaces, then we have an opportunity to have a satellite that brings us a GPS capability and then cut in the next best thing in GPS, to have a communications satellite. And then to quickly cut in the next best thing in communications or in imaging or any other topic you want. But you have to go ahead and set up an engineering environment that allows you to move in these new capabilities quickly.
MR. LOVERRO: You know, there are so many layers to this question, I'm not sure I know where to start. It reminds me that in this, today's political arena, I would be terrible at coming up with sound bites that I could stand behind because I see too many different tentacles of this reaching out to many places.
I mean, this is a question of where do you cut in technical, new technology? Do you always have to cut in new technology at the space segment, or can you cut it in at the ground?
At the most basic level when ORS was first set up part of the founding documentation of ORS was to find new ways to make use of on-orbit capability. That's a capability insertion question that has nothing to do with what we launch in space.
Rich talked about and Liz talked about the need to go ahead and do technology development offline before you put it in your satellite. I mentioned the CHIRP system where we are taking new technology and putting it up in an experimental role so we can prove it out before it gets onto an operational space capability.
We've seen things like TacSat 3 which is in operational use today, which has a hyper spectral imaging capability which was not intended but Air Force Space Command and 14th Air Force and STRATCOM have shown we can take that technology demonstration capability and convert it into operation capability when we found out it was useful.
And I could probably come up with a hundred different examples of the different ways that you can insert technology into the system without inserting technology on the system. And I think we need to. It's somewhat facile I always find to say, well, technology turns on an 18-month basis. And I can get it to my desktop every two years. Why can't I get it in space?
And the fact of the matter is it's different. It's hard right now for those of us who are watching it to get IP Version 6 into the field because there's so much IP Version 5 stuff on the internet today. To make that change is going to take a generation or more of computer users.
And as Liz said, that's because it's a very integrated network. We do have integrated networks. And I think we ourselves find a little justice if we tried to cut in technology for technology's sake without understanding the impact on the rest of the system.
So I think we need to be clever about how we bring that technology online, not ignoring it but finding the right ways to go ahead and bring it about.
MR. KLINGER: Last question about the relationship between OSD, the NRO and the Air Force, but alas, time has expired. So we're going to leave it at that.
Thank you, General Chilton. Thank you to AFCEA and members of the audience, and thank you for all the people who submitted questions. We hope you found this enjoyable and informative. Thank you very much.
MR. GANDY: All right. We get a 30-minute break. Again, I encourage you to go out to the exhibit hall and talk to some of our exhibitors there. We'll be back at 3:30; we'll start our last panel of the day headed up by Dr. Mark Gallagher from the Air Force A9.