T-6 Texan II Development
Air Training Command (ATC) published the USAF Trainer Masterplan in April 1988 to coalesce Air Force thinking about the direction of pilot training into the early 21st century and to satisfy congressional mandates. The Trainer Masterplan addressed in broad outline how the Air Force intended to convert from generalized to specialized undergraduate pilot training (SUPT). Underpinning the SUPT concept was the idea of tailoring training to produce pilots better prepared to step into the cockpits of bomber, fighter, tanker, and transport aircraft. To do that ATC would have to obtain three new aircraft—a primary trainer to replace the obsolescent T-37, an advanced trainer to take the place of the aging T-38, and a brand new trainer suited to prepare pilots for airlift and tanker duties.
The primary aircraft training system (PATS) was the replacement for the T-37. To bring PATS on line as quickly and cheaply as possible, ATC decided to adopt the same strategy as it had with the TTTS and look for a commercially available aircraft that could be modified to suit its purpose. With the candidate aircraft ranging in price from $2 to $4 million, ATC expected to buy a fleet of 538 aircraft at an estimated cost of $3.2 million per plane. The entire PATS program had a tentative price tag of $3.6 billion. At the outset, all the companies interested in competing for the PATS contract were foreign, but they were all seeking pairing arrangements with US companies. ATC planned to release the Request for Proposal in February 1994 and award the contract later that year in October. The command anticipated taking delivery of the first aircraft sometime in 1995, reaching IOC in 1999, and attaining FOC in 2004.
In response to FY89 Congressional direction, DoD submitted the 1989 Trainer Aircraft Master Plan which documented the status of USAF and USN pilot training programs. In December 1990 the Joint Requirements Oversight Council validated the JPATS Mission Need Statement, with a need for nearly 900 trainer aircraft to replace the Air Force T-37B and Navy T-34C. Operational requirements were subsequently codified in the JPATS Operational Requirements Document. In January 1992 JPATS was designated a Defense Acquisition Pilot Program.
The Air Force, as the Executive Service for JPATS, managed the program through the Flight Training System Program Director under a joint agreement with the Navy. The Program Director reported to the AFPEO for Airlift and Trainers (AFPEO/AT). The Milestone Decision Authority was the Air Force Component Acquisition Executive (CAE). From the beginning of the program, JPATS was structured to take advantage of NDI/commercial practices and, thus, quantitative measures of specific regulatory relief unique to commercial items are difficult to quantify. Therefore, the program initially concentrated on three quantifiable measures: number of program office staff, time to deliver the first production aircraft, and program cost. These measures were refined in coordination with the PPCG to develop JPATS-specific metrics.
JPATS experience demonstrates the potential cost (in both dollars and time) of infusing acquisition reform principles into an ongoing solicitation. The JPATS Request for Proposal (RFP) was delayed twice to incorporate aspects of acquisition reform, specifically reductions in the RFP size, reductions in the number of referenced documents, and reductions in the number of contract data requirements. The JPATS source selection was also disturbed by directed program changes while in source selection. Although not the most efficient mechanism for implementation of changes, the revised RFP incorporated value added changes which ultimately resulted in program savings.
The JPATS selection process began formally on May 18, 1994, when the request for proposal was issued by the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Some of the major requirements in the proposal were advanced ejection seats, increased bird-strike protection, electronic flight instrumentation and digital cockpit display, pressurized cockpit, increased oxygen capacity, and cockpits to accommodate a larger range of individuals with different physical (male and female) dimensions. The source selection process included assessment of each contestant's proposals and flight evaluations of the candidate aircraft. This was one of the longest and most closely scrutinized source-selection competitions ever." The selection process took fourteen months and entailed evaluation of seven aircraft, seven cockpit mockups, and thousands of pages of contractor proposals.
Source selection for the JPATS was completed in the summer of 1995. On June 22, Raytheon Aircraft Company was selected as the JPATS contractor, and contract award was slated to occur in August. However, protest actions were filed with the General Accounting Office in July. On Nov. 22, 1995, and Feb. 5, 1996, the GAO issued rulings that upheld the source selection decision.
Raytheon was awarded the contract Feb. 5, 1996. The US General Accounting Office denied protests lodged by Cessna Aircraft Company against the selection of Raytheon, and an earlier protest, lodged by Rockwell, was also denied. Reported results demonstrate the cost of the protest in terms of government and contractor staffing.
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