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In order to save money and speed development, the Air Force is shifting its policy from building all its own space products to buying them from commercial companies.
The desire to leverage more commercial technology came after the Army concluded that a pre-planned modernization path would have taken until 2032 to complete, and ultimately would have cost more than desired, James Mingus, director of the Army’s Mission Command Center of Excellence, said Oct. 10 at the Association of the United States Army conference here. “We are going to halt programs that are not sufficiently, or cannot be sufficiently remedied; we are going to fix those programs we need to be able to “fight tonight,” and then we are going to pivot to an ‘adapt and buy’ approach,” he said.
Being able to “fight tonight” means maintaining the necessary telecommunications infrastructure to engage in combat at a moment’s notice. Beyond keeping that capability steady, the Army wants to apply commercial solutions, which Mingus said “probably meet the majority” of the Army’s needs.
This process began when SpaceX forced the Air Force to open up its launch bids to competition. It has continued as commercial space has shown itself to be fast and innovative and capable of meeting the Air Force’s needs quickly and cheaply. It has probably been accelerated again by the Trump administration itself. In the end, by trusting private enterprise to provide the Air Force what it needs, the country’s economy will grow, and it will do so efficiently, while the government will save money and get what it needs, sooner.