WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s first “chief architect” began work at the Pentagon this week, the service confirmed in a statement Friday.

Preston Dunlap, formerly the national security analysis executive at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, has been named chief architect for the office of the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

As the Air Force becomes increasingly interested in “systems of systems,” where multiple technologies and platforms are wrapped together to accomplish a single mission, the service wanted to name a single person to oversee those programs.

The first program for which Dunlap will be responsible is the Advanced Battle Management System, a series of legacy and new manned and unmanned aircraft, sensors, communications equipment, and other emerging tech that will conduct the ground surveillance mission currently performed by the E-8C JSTARS aircraft.

However, the Air Force’s statement makes it clear that Dunlap’s responsibilities could extend past that program.

The position was created “to enable the development of enterprise-wide combat capability through families of systems. [Dunlap] will create and manage family of systems trade space, design margins, and define interfaces and standards to ensure interoperability across domains and permissive to highly contested environments.”

Will Roper, the service’s top acquisition official, told reporters last month that an architect had been hired, but was unwilling to disclose who would be taking the position until it was made official.

Dunlap is no stranger to the Pentagon, having worked in a multitude of positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense including director of program analysis and chief of staff to the director of the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, according to a 2016 news release announcing his promotion at Johns Hopkins.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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