Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates addresses the audience at the Air Force Association's 2009 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16, 2009, in Washington, D.C. The three-day conference features more than 130 exhibitors and more than three dozen speakers and panelists discussing topics of key interest in today's Air Force and aerospace development. (Defense Department photo/Cherie Cullen)
by Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
9/16/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced the return of the KC-X program to the Air Force during the 2009 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Md., Sept. 16.
The announcement sparked applause as KC-X, the Air Force's tanker acquisition program, was delayed after the Government Accountability Office upheld a protest to the source selection.
"I don't need to belabor the importance of getting this done soon and done right, and my office will continue to have a robust oversight role," Secretary Gates said to conference attendees. "I have confidence that the KC-X selection authority is in good hands with the service's leadership team of Secretary (of the Air Force Michael) Donley and (Air Force Chief of Staff) General (Norton) Schwartz ... I depend greatly on their advice and strategic vision to fulfill my duties."
Secretary Donley noted that SecDEF's decision aligns with the Air Force's recapitalization agenda.
"The Air Force is pleased at today's announcement and the confidence Secretary Gates is placing in the Air Force," Secretary Donley said. "Tanker recapitalization remains the Air Force's number one acquisition priority."
Secretary Donley added that a draft request for proposal is close to release and will be presented with ample time for discussion to interested parties with offers.
"The Air Force is looking forward to leading the KC-X acquisition program and working closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to a successful conclusion, thus providing the warfighter this critical capability for years to come," Secretary Donley said.