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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crosby Calls for ‘Marriage’ of S&T, Program Management

By Andrew Parker, Editor-in-Chief

During the AHS International Forum, Maj. Gen. William “Tim” Crosby, U.S. Army Aviation program executive officer, told a crowd of engineers on May 1 that expanded collaboration between science and technology (S&T) and military program management needs to occur, “a marriage if you will, because we can ill-afford to be pursuing things that don’t either support the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) or where we need to go in modernizing the platforms that we have.” That partnership is “the kind of communication and collaboration we’re going to need in budget-tight environments. … We’ve got to collaborate, we’ve got to coordinate, we’ve got to discuss.”

Crosby speaking at the AHS Forum. Photo by Andrew Parker

Crosby noted that as much as he’d like to build a new Armed Aerial Scout, “we’ve kicked it down the road so many times, and done nothing to it. We need to address that issue. I’d love to do a new build. But when we look across our portfolio, with everything else we’ve got going on, it’s unaffordable.” The Army issued an request for information (RfI) on April 25 for Armed Aerial Scout, but “our fallback position is we’re just going to do a service life extension program (SLEP). So then many of our industry partners came in and said, ‘Whoa whoa, wait a minute—you’re preaching the 80 percent gospel here, we’ve got some stuff out here that can get you pretty close, we think.’”

So the Army decided to try and convince OSD leadership that “maybe there’s benefit to doing a demo to see if there is something out there that’s worth doing a Program of Record, that’s affordable. We know we can do it, but is it affordable within that balanced portfolio?”

Crosby said he’s willing to accept risk in the Scout area because “in the medium variant within the Army, that’s 75 percent of my fleet. The attack/utility mix is 75 percent of my entire fleet. So you get the best bang for your investment … and when you look across joint platforms, which one—that medium variant—today the Black Hawk, Sea Hawk variants within the Navy and the Air Force, is also one that has benefits across the services.”

A number of helicopter manufacturers have prepared entries for the AAS demo. “The demo’s working toward—all of that’s going to inform us to put together a viable acquisition strategy to go forward,” Crosby said. “A little time to go with that, but we’re sustaining these old girls and they’re doing well in battle.”
Crosby pointed out the importance of keeping an eye on the future. “This is the number one priority, and sometimes it’s easy to focus on the right now, the current budget year, and thinking to yourself that you’re supporting that soldier. That’s the easy way out. But if I don’t think about long range, if every one of us in this room don’t think about the long range support for that solider, we’ll feel real good about ourselves today, but in a few years we’ll look back and say we screwed up and it’s our fault. If we accept that short-term answer today, then we have no one to blame but ourselves down the road when our kids are out there trying to fight these battles for us. If we don’t stand our ground and have a vision, and that’s vision’s got to translate into execution.”

The S&T community and program managers “have got to pull closer together, and this collaboration has got to be tighter to prevent us from using the small amount of resources we’ve got, and when you look across I’ve got a $6, $7, or $8-billion profile, and about $100 million in S&T, that’s budget dust,” Crosby said.
“If we waste one of those dollars pursuing something that doesn’t tie into our vision for the future, then we’re wasting that, and we can ill-afford to let that happen.”

He concluded that he “never met an engineer that couldn’t design what we asked him to do. What makes your blood boil is when I come in halfway through and keep changing it. So again, that communication flow and that marriage has to happen so that we have a clear vision. You all have the greatest concepts, the ideas, what you need is prioritization of resources.”
More: Technology News

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