Air Force Cancels Air Weapons System After Sinking More Than $500 Million

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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The Air Force canceled an expensive weapons network software program 10 years in the making, the service announced Thursday.

The Air Force’s proposed networked software system known as the Air and Space Operations Center (AOC) 10.2, developed by Northrop Grumman, won’t become reality after the contract cost ballooned to $745 million from the original $374 million late last year.

“[It] is unfortunate that the Air Force had already spent more than half a billion dollars over the last ten years on the AOC 10.2 upgrade, and yet the program has not delivered any meaningful capability,” Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said in a statement Thursday. “Even more unfortunately, this program is only one example of the Department’s troubling record on software-intensive systems.”

The Air Force “underestimated the complexity of integrating numerous third-party” systems into one streamlined platform, the report announcing the cost overruns said, Bloomberg News reported. The report also projected the price tag could reach as high as $2.98 billion. (RELATED: Air Force’s Critical War Software Will Be Three Years Late And Twice The Price)

The current AOC is a collection of 43 integrated software programs that helps coordinate counterterrorism, humanitarian and other combat missions, and the Air Force is still looking for tools and funding to modernize and improve air networks for combat.

Currently, the Air Force wants to develop what it calls a Pathfinder system that “implements industry best practices by allowing airmen to communicate software requirements directly to the developers throughout the life of the system, creating valuable feedback and learning for the development team and users, and shrinking release cycles from years to weeks,” Capt. Emily Grabowski, an Air Force spokeswoman, told Defense News.

“In recent years, Congress has taken steps to improve the Pentagon’s acquisition system, especially by holding the Services more accountable for delivering systems within cost and schedule,” McCain said. “The Air Force’s decision is an important demonstration of what accountability in the acquisition process can and should look like.”

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