|Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley|
The Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, was tight-lipped at the Air Force Association Conference with regard to the ongoing Tanker source selection process. In particular, he would not respond to questions regarding Boeing's possible offer to lower their bid price. Secretary Donley only referenced the ability of the process to have dialog with bidders to refine their proposals.
In other equipment news, the Air Force, as the lead agent for the F-35 program, is close to striking a deal on the next batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Having said that, there is talk of rebaselining the F-35 program after cost overruns, particularly due to the Marine Corps vertical take-off variant.
ROA's interest in this program is to ensure concurrent and proportional basing of the F-35 in the Reserve Component, particularly to units affected by BRAC and the retirement of legacy fighter aircraft. The Air Force announced in July that Burlington Air National Guard Station is a candidate for the first beddown of F-35s.
As for Long Range Strike, the Secretary alluded to progress made since the Secretary of Defense cancelled the Next Generation Bomber program more than a year ago. Details of the Long Range Strike program should be expected in February with the President's budget release. ROA maintains a legislative resolution advocating funding of a new bomber aircraft.