Aerospace event connects defense with industry

  • Published
  • By Amy Schiess
  • Air Force Sustainment Center Public Affairs

Oklahoma aerospace industry professionals have a more thorough understanding of the Air Force Sustainment Center’s organic industrial base, supply chain considerations and small business efforts after attending the Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Industry Day May 16 at Rose State College.

The event, facilitated by the Aerospace Commerce Economic Services Program, featured several speakers from AFSC, a panel discussion and one-on one sessions with sustainment center organizations.

“One of the key strategic objectives of the 2023 small business strategy is to strengthen our engagement and support our nation’s small business,” said Ronnie Hobbs, AFSC Small Business Director. “We know we must continue to do more to provide opportunities for small businesses to help meet the challenges that we face as an Air Force today.”

One of the challenges highlighted by companies seeking to do business with the Air Force is understanding the Air Force’s acquisition process. Gregg May, AFSC director of Contracting, explained the five-step procedure and encouraged industry partners to have a working knowledge of how they fit in.

“We need our industry partners to be engaged and involved in the acquisition process,” he said. “We are approachable, and we are ready, willing, and able to help.”

During the panel discussion, AFSC Executive Director Dennis D’Angelo cited sustaining an aging aircraft fleet while the force transitions to newer aircraft as the biggest sustainment challenge right now. He said he is looking to industry partners to help expand the defense industrial base to help address the situation, but acknowledged the process of partnering with the Air Force can be difficult.

“We want to make it easier for you to do business with AFSC,” D’Angelo said.  “We know if we make it easier, we reduce the cost burden on you. We want to make it so that if there’s work out there, you can compete for that work and fairly and quickly get that work on board.” An easily navigable website, more open lines of communication and less red tape are in the works to make that happen, he said.

“We are really trying to change that ecosystem,” Hobbs added. “When you guys have those ideas and capabilities, we’re trying to give you a better process to get that to us.”

The panel also included Jeff Sick, AFSC director of Logistics, and Steve Gray, director of the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing. Representatives from the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and other units also presented throughout the day.