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DoD Looking to Make Combat Aircraft, Rotorcraft Investments

Sep. 4, 2013 - 02:27PM   |  
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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering making investments in research programs to preserve technological know-how during a time of constrained US federal spending, a top DoD official said.

The development initiatives — which “are going to be rare and by exception” — could involve next-generation military combat aircraft and rotorcraft, said Frank Kendall, DoD undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

“They’re going to be done for the purpose of moving the technology forward, sustaining the design teams and positioning ourselves, should the budgets or the threats change,” Kendall said during a speech Wednesday at the IDEEA-sponsored COMDEF conference in Washington. Investments in initiatives now could in-turn reduce the time to field these types of platforms down the road.

Kendall said the Defense advanced Research Projects Agency is already looking into new combat aircraft technology. The so-called air dominance initiative will be conducting studies over “another year or so and then we’ll see if we can put a prototype program in after that.”

Kendall said he he is interested in new rotorcraft possibilities.

“We haven’t done a new cutting-edge design rotorcraft for some time, he said. “There’s some nascent initiatives in that area. It’s possible we can do something else.”

Kendall said he recently spoke to William Perry — who was defense secretary during Clinton administration and undersecretary for research and engineering during the Carter administration and conducted similar technological initiatives. Those investments helped the military field Army helicopters, a Navy ship combat system and Air Force and Navy fighters jets currently in service, Kendall said.

“In some cases we’ll start things and do some development even if I don’t know that I can take that into production … at the current budget levels,” Kendall told reporters after his speech.

But under DoD’s current budget constraints, conducting these types of initiatives could prove difficult, Kendall said.

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