February 1, 2009  

TSAT rush

TO THE AIR FORCE for rushing through with the revamped TSAT program. The Transformational Satellite communications System is a classic example of why Pentagon acquisition reform is essential. Plagued by budget cuts and a lack of faith in its technological readiness, the program was halted in December and replaced by a scaled-down program. Yet the Defense Department and Air Force are hurrying through the revamped TSAT in a manner that invites the same errors made with the original program. Gary Payton, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, said the request for proposals will be issued in April, and a winner for the approximately $11 billion contract is scheduled to be selected in about a year. He also said he would like to award a contract earlier, if possible. Though TSAT’s ability to get secure information to ground troops is essential, the Air Force has not yet demonstrated it can manage and deliver this huge and complex program. Rushing through the process will not help. “If we do accelerate, I’m going to make sure we don’t do something stupid,” Payton said. That’s a promise AFJ is going to track.