As the Air Force Association (AFA) Aerospace Warfare Symposium kicks off, the editors of Modern Integrated Warfare connected with leaders to discuss the hot button event topics and the event theme of “Accelerate and Innovate.” Most recently, we had the opportunity to chat with Bruce VanSkiver, who spent 26 years serving in the U.S. Air Force and formerly was a board member of AFA’s National Chapter.
VanSkiver’s USAF career culminated as Chief of the Mobility Acquisition Division on the Secretary of the Air Force staff responsible for modernizing the service’s strategic airlift, air refueling, and VIP aircraft fleets including Air Force One. Today, VanSkiver still has his eye on modernization, helping the USAF rethink innovation and acquisition as Director of Air Force Programs, Government Operations for Collins Aerospace.
We asked VanSkiver how industry can help USAF accelerate with a focus on speed and innovation. He commented that when the new imperative was first started, it immediately resonated across the board.
“Those of us in industry, especially those with a large commercial footprint, see how fast civilian sector technologies evolve. We see how that evolution directly relates to defense programs,” he said. “Think advanced microprocessors, emerging networking and communications technologies such as 5G, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. All these play a direct role in the DoD’s ability to deter and defend.”
VanSkiver told us that the DoD’s Adaptive Acquisition Framework has already accelerated the Department’s efforts to align with commercial practices. “Further, there has been strong outreach to non-traditional suppliers and leveraging venture capital to create a new defense marketplace. This is innovation and it’s highly encouraging,” he said.
“There will always be a place for traditional defense acquisition processes. However, the speed of modernization and the ability of software-defined systems to rapidly adapt to change has made ‘accelerate and innovate’ an easy concept to embrace across the department and with its industry partners,” VanSkiver concluded.
You can listen to the full conversation with VanSkiver here.