New light on F2AST

You’ll see a lot of news print (and electrons) this year on the big US defense procurements with names like KC-X, BAMS, JTRS and the like, and that’s appropriate.
But you won’t see much coverage of a very different sort of contract competition underway within the US Air Force, despite its enormous significance for the defense industry.
The contract is called F2AST for short, or the Flexible Acquisition Sustainment Tool follow-on. It’s scheduled to be awarded in June. The money involved – up to $5.4 billion — is potentially greater than the BAMS and JTRS deals combined.
The contract focuses on the un-sexy task of sustaining and modifying existing weapon systems, versus developing new platforms. But that’s the market that the US defense industry covets the most as the balance of DOD’s money shifts from procurement to operations and maintenance accounts.
It’s also the hardest part of the market to keep track of, especially as a journalistic outsider. There are no line items in DOD’s annual budget request for small upgrades, no operational test and evaluation reports, no single-issue congressional hearings, no industry press conferences and – unsurprisingly — virtually no coverage across the trade press.
As a self-appointed watchdog, I’ve never been comfortable with the anonymity of the acquisition process for contracts like F2AST, especially because of the huge sums involved. There’s too much money changing hands behind the scenes for this to be a good thing.
Thankfully, the USAF has just made my job much easier. As part of its new openness policy in acquisition, the USAF has released a motherlode of documentation on the F2AST program, including a detailed database of every task order awarded to a contractor during the previous contract.
Here’s the link to the database:


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