25–29 June 2018
Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia

The Need for Speed Is Critical to Today’s Warfighting Needs

Posted: 5 June 2017, 1:30 p.m. EDT


Speaker:
Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of advanced development programs, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics


by  Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications

To help today’s American warfighters and their global partners defend freedom worldwide, industry must quickly deliver warfighting tools, Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of advanced development programs with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said June 5 during the opening plenary session of the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver.

Weiss said today’s warfighters — and the aerospace and defense industry — have a real “need for speed” when it comes to program and systems development. He challenged attendees to think of the future of aerospace as “now, not five, not 10, not 15 years from now, but now.” Weiss believes this mentality will energize workers to do their best work today and quickly.

In earlier eras of the industry, short timelines and high-risk development programs were possible, Weiss explained, because “urgent, national defense needs” drove requirements. He cited the 143-day development, from concept to flight, of the XP-80, America’s first fighter jet; the eight-month development, from concept to flight, of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft; and the 32-month development of the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft.

But, he said, such speedy development is no longer possible. Using the F-35 fighter jet program as an example, Weiss said the aircraft was “being delivered much more slowly than expected” due to tensions between industry and government and the need to develop three separate aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. Weiss said such tensions and requirements did not exist in earlier eras.

When it comes to the future of warfighting, Weiss sees four distinct programs shaping the future: next-generation air dominance platforms, hypersonic technology, advancements in unmanned aircraft and quiet supersonic technology. Each of these, according to Weiss, is critical to meeting the threats of a “dangerous world.”

RobWeiss1-AVIATION2017-5Jun

Rob Weiss, executive vice president and general manager of advanced development programs with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, delivers remarks June 5 during the opening plenary session of the 2017 AIAA AVIATION Forum in Denver.

“We are making tremendous advancements in open system architecture, cyberwarfare capabilities and mission systems software, as well as in space, subsurface and surface technologies,” he said. “We all have a tremendous amount of innovation occurring in our country today … the issue is not so much about advancements in technology and innovations — it’s about getting those capabilities into the hands of our warfighters. In short, the need for speed.”

Weiss urged everyone from engineers to those who release purchase orders to set a high bar on delivery standards, move quickly and recognize that time is crucial.

“If each of us did this and sets a high bar and rallies our team around achieving that, you’ll have some successes,” he said. “We must do this for our nation and must do it for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”

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