Is the cost of military space programs going up or down? Depends on how you count

In three of the most important and costliest house applications — the AEHF communications satellites, the SBIRS missile-warning constellation and the developed expendable launch automobiles — the Air Drive claims to have introduced costs down significantly.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Drive this month dropped its annual report on weapon acquisition applications for fiscal yr 2017. It gives a snapshot of the service’s 465 applications of document, and tasks acquisition priorities for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

The report cites $13 billion in cost-savings since 2011 and lists plenty of initiatives the Air Drive is taking to hurry up acquisition timelines and efficiency.

In three of the most important and costliest house applications — the AEHF communications satellites, the SBIRS missile-warning constellation and the developed expendable launch automobiles — the Air Drive claims to have introduced costs down significantly.

The unique per-unit value of satellites 5 and 6 of the Superior Extraordinarily Excessive Frequency system, which gives safe, jam-resistant communications for tactical and strategic missions, was $1.7 billion, the Air Drive reported. The present value is $1.3 billion per satellite tv for pc, a 23 % drop.

For the space-based infrared SBIRS satellites 5 and 6, the Air Drive says the per-unit value went down 12 % — from $1.9 billion to $1.6 billion.

The Air Drive stories a 23 % value discount for EELV launches — from $421 million in 2013 to $326 million at the moment. The Advanced Expendable Launch Automobile program gives house launch companies for medium and heavy nationwide safety house missions.

However finances analysts are casting a skeptical eye on these metrics, suggesting that the Air Drive picked favorable knowledge factors comparable to the price of particular satellites in a constellation, as a substitute of the price of the whole program.

On these three applications, the Air Drive’s numbers are in sharp distinction to these of the congressional auditors of the Authorities Accountability Workplace. In the newest annual report on house applications, GAO Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Administration Cristina Chaplain appeared on the bills in every whole program and got here up with outcomes that present hovering prices.

GAO estimated the AEHF satellite tv for pc program grew 118 % and prices for SBIRS grew almost 300 %

For AEHF, the unique program value for a five-satellite system was projected at $6.9 billion, in comparison with the present value of $15 billion for six satellites, in line with the GAO report. And the EELV program’s authentic value of $18.8 billion for 181 launches ballooned to $59.6 billion for 161 launches.

SBIRS at first was anticipated to value $5 billion for 5 satellites, and GAO calculated the full program value is now $19.2 billion for six satellites.

In a press release to table4, Chaplain mentioned there are “methodological variations” that specify why one report is displaying favorable developments whereas the opposite not a lot. For SBIRS and AEHF, the Air Drive is barely reporting on the fifth and sixth satellites, which had been “block buys” below every program, she mentioned. The Air Drive just isn’t together with in its report the event and manufacturing prices of the primary 4 satellites — and extremely elliptical orbit payloads within the case of SBIRS — which is the place the majority of the price will increase occurred and which make unit prices a lot increased, famous Chaplain. For EELV, likewise, the Air Drive didn’t go to the start of this system to calculate preliminary prices. “It’s not clear what methodology it used for calculating present prices.”

The Air Drive mentioned the EELV acquisition technique was amended in November 2016 and is being executed in two components. The preliminary technique arrange a “block purchase” cope with United Launch Alliance, “leading to value financial savings of $3.6 billion and stabilization of the commercial base,” the Air Drive report mentioned. The second section launched SpaceX as a competitor. “The Air Drive continues to transition from a sole-source surroundings to a aggressive surroundings with two or extra launch suppliers.”

In comparison with earlier Air Drive acquisition stories, the one for fiscal yr 2017 has splashier charts and graphs, and was written in a reader-friendly format. An Air Drive spokesman mentioned this was the primary time the Air Drive purposely sought to ship a “publicly digestible” report on its acquisition applications.

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.