Day two of Industry Days strengthens industry and government partnerships

DAYTON, Ohio – During the second day of the inaugural Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Life Cycle (AFLCMC) Industry Days, Thursday, Sept. 15, a panel of Program Executive Officers (PEO) and CEOs held an open discussion sharing government and industry perspectives. 


Held at the University of Dayton’s River Campus, Lt. Gen. John Thompson, AFLCMC Commander, served as the moderator for a panel discussion on partnerships with government and industry.


Panelists included Brig. Gen. Michael Schmidt, Fighters and Bombers PEO, Lynda Rutledge, Agile Combat Support Directorate PEO, Kevin Buckley, Mobility Directorate PEO, Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President of Aeronautics, Thomas Vice, Northrop Grumman President of Aerospace Systems and Corporate Vice President, Ed Dolanski, Boeing President of Global Services and Support, and Henry Brooks, UTAS Interiors President.


Panel members shared their thoughts, followed by a question and answer session with the conference attendees.


The overall theme for the panel discussion was “government and industry, how can we out-innovate our opponents?” The four overarching topics discussed were: weapons system roadmaps and the Third Offset, business operations and execution, partnerships and Performance Based Logistics (PBLs), and weapons system cyber security.


Shifting to weapons system roadmaps and the Third Offset, Thompson asked panel members how industry and government could cooperate on legacy weapons system road maps to address these threats, and how they could cooperate on a Third Offset strategy to counter evolving world threats and challenges over the next five to ten years.


The top concern for both industry and government panelists was the need to accelerate the acquisition process. When new threats occur, systems need the agility to rapidly increase their capabilities in both the short and long term.


“We need to find a way to collaborate much closer with industry and breakdown some of the barriers between the two and to also collaborate with industry to build future roadmaps,” said Schmidt.


Rutledge provided her views on the topic of business operations and execution.


"We need to go to common open systems,” Rutledge said. “We cannot be innovative if we are supporting multiple configurations and systems. If we keep spending funding and resources, sustaining old equipment, it’s duplicative. One example is taking the six bomber armament testers and boiling that down to a single configuration. Not only can we respond more quickly, we no longer have people sustaining six different testers.”   


Thompson broke from the discussion topics to ask each panel member what the one most frustrating part of the U.S. government's acquisition process they must deal with is.


Panel members from both government and industry said they would like to see the acquisition process move faster in order to keep up with the capabilities. In addition, they said that receiving too many reviews from people who are not accountable (directly in the PEO-SAE-DAE chain) and not getting on a contract fast enough were concerning.


Discussing partnership and PBLs, Thompson asked what partnerships or PBL constructs are the panel members considering that can be applied to both legacy systems and future capabilities, and how can they develop support strategies that are effective and efficient. 


Dolanksi said he looked at what was successful with commercial industries and how they got the results they were looking for.


“They first defined the operational outcome and what the level of performance they were going after and then those contracts were built around that,” Dolanski said. “Step back and look at what outcome the warfighter is looking for and then craft the appropriate strategy that you want to put in place.”


On the final topic of weapons system cyber security, Thompson asked the panel how they will bolt cyber security onto legacy capabilities and bake in future capabilities to ensure future weapons are resilient in the face of new cyber threats.


“We take a holistic approach,” Vice said. “We look at how an adversary will try to inject an effect in the weapons system. We look for direct injects in terms of the aircraft by looking at ground maintenance, testing equipment, development labs, and supply chains. We also look at insider threats.”


“We need to create a cyber culture and bring in new skillsets to the industry that can understand these kind of threats,” Vice said.


After the panel discussion, a round of breakout sessions was held followed by guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Bradley Spacy, Air Force Installation Mission Support Center (AFIMSC) commander. Spacy provided the attendees an overview of AFIMSC and its mission and vision.


AFIMSC serves as the single intermediate level staff supporting Air Force wide installation and expeditionary support activities.


The day concluded with the conference’s final round of breakout sessions.