21 May 2009

Innovative Acquisitions: Reverse Foreign Military Sales

Under the Adversary Program, Navy and Marine pilots train against an aggressor squadron that mimics the tactics of potential adversaries. The Adversary Program flies F-5 aircraft, and it really puts them through the wringer. The planes started getting old and there wasn’t much time or money available to upgrade, modify and/or replace them, so the Adversary Program came up with a pretty clever solution: buy used F-5’s from the Swiss Air Force.

Now, I didn’t know the Swiss even had an Air Force, but it turns out they do, and one of the planes they fly is the F-5. As luck would have it, the Swiss Air Force only flies during office hours on working days. So the Swiss F-5’s, in addition to being immaculately maintained, only had 2500 flight hours per aircraft, as compared with the 7000 flight hours on the American F-5’s. And further adding to our good fortune, the Swiss were looking to downsize their fleet. They wanted to do it soon, so the Navy had to move quickly. And they did

This “reverse Foreign Military Sales” initiative is a great example of the kind of innovative, aggressive, fast-and-cheap decision making that should be the hallmark of the US defense technology community.We therefore award the F-5 Adversary Program office the coveted Rogue Project Leader Gold Medal for Awesomeness.

Read the whole story in the May/June issue of Defense AT&L.

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