BLACKBIRD REUNION 1997
Clarence L."Kelly" Johnson
12th Blackbird Association Reunion
The twelfth biennial Blackbird Association reunion was held in Reno, Nevada on June 5-8th, 1997. Consisting of former and current SR-71 and U-2 aircrews, maintenance and contractor personnel, the Blackbird Association fosters the unique reconnaissance capabilities of the two aircraft. The guest speaker for the evening banquet was Mr. Jack Gordon , President of the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.
Awards and Recognition
SR-71 Acquisition Reform Success Story
The SR-71 is an all weather day/night reconnaissance platform that offers global reach and survivable penetration of heavily defended areas. The Air Force retired the weapon system from active service in FY89. With delays in follow-on programs, in FY95 Congress directed the Air Force, through the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO), to reactivate the capability with two operational aircraft and sensors.
How Streamlining Made a Difference
Congressional guidance and $100 million funding were provided in the 1995 Defense Authorization Act for the reactivation of the SR-71 weapon system. Air Force directed the program management function be provided by ASC/RAB at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. Three days after receipt of funding, the five person program office had the prime integrating contractor, Lockheed Martin, on contract. The hardware (aircraft, sensors, and support equipment) had been in wide spread storage for over five years. Locating all this unique equipment and the specialized personnel to perform the reactivation was a Herculean effort. Using an existing contract and a management style that is fast becoming the norm in Air Force acquisition, this team had the first aircraft ready for flight within three months. They then delivered Air Combat Command the first operationally ready and deployable aircraft six months later and the second aircraft five months after that.
Measure Result SPO Size 5 Time to Contract 3 days Projected Program Savings $27.5M
Bottom Line: In less than 11 months from funding (over two fiscal years), this cadre of specialists returned two airframes from retirement to full operational capability for far less dollars then was authorized in the first fiscal year alone.
Capt Mike Zimmerman DSN 785-2368, ASC/RAB
Published by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) as of June 1997.
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