WASHINGTON --- The contract award for the U.S. Air Force’s new trainer, as well as an influx of new pilots and cyber experts, are at risk if Congress funds the Pentagon through a long continuing resolution, according to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.
During an Aug. 31 joint interview with Defense News and Air Force Times, Wilson said the T-X contract award is one of the many programs that would likely be delayed under a CR, which funds the government at previous fiscal year levels.
The T-X is the Air Force’s next big contract, with the long competition for the right to produce 350 next-generation trainer aircraft finally expected to conclude before the end of the year. Boeing-Saab, Lockheed Martin-KAI, and Leonardo are the final three competitors for the T-X design.
Asked if the service could still name a winner for T-X while delaying an actual contract, Wilson indicated that wouldn’t be happening, saying, “Well, what’s the point? We don’t have the money to be able to do it, so you end up delaying a lot of new starts.”
Another concern for Wilson is the impact a CR would have on the service’s attempts to plus- up pilot numbers and increase the number of cyber experts in the service.
“You probably have a hard freeze, if not a chill, on hiring,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to hire people in cyber, in training. We’re trying to increase the number of pilots we’re putting through pilot training. ... This becomes very quickly an extremely difficult problem.” (end of excerpt)
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