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Letter to Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense - Senators Call on DOD for Competition in Air Force Space Launch Program


Location: Washington, DC

The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Hagel:

We write to express our concern regarding the Air Force's proposed reduction in competition opportunities for new entrants in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. We strongly believe this proposal undermines the Air Force's previous plan to begin to compete launches in 2015 and urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure the Air Force fulfills its commitment to provide meaningful competition opportunities this year for award in fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

As you know, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum on November 27, 2012, directing the Air Force to "aggressively introduce a competitive procurement environment" for the EELV program, and identify "up to 14 missions that should be competed as early as 2015."

However, the Air Force's recent budget proposal includes plans to compete zero Air Force missions in 2015 and to reduce the total number of missions to be competed from 14 to 7 during fiscal years 2015 - 2017. We believe this action does not comply with the 2012 Acquisition Decision Memorandum and should be immediately reviewed.

The lack of competition in the EELV program comes at a time when the cost of national security space launches has greatly increased. The EELV program has incurred massive cost overruns since the United Launch Alliance was formed in 2006. Since 2011 alone, the amounts budgeted by the Air Force for an average of six satellite launches per year has grown by 60 percent. The President's fiscal year 2015 budget request revealed that the unit price to the Air Force had risen nearly $200 million since fiscal year 2014 at a time when the previous plan promised serious savings to the Air Force. These increased costs in a difficult budget environment are a clear indication as to why these launches should be competed.

We understand from recent public statements from the Air Force that new entrants to the EELV program may be certified this year. If there is more than one certified provider capable of executing any Air Force launch, we believe that those missions should be competed.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your prompt response.

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