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Air Force tries to shift focus on weapons procurement

WASHINGTON — In an acknowledgment that the military may be pricing itself out of business, the Air Force on Wednesday called for a shift away from big-ticket weapon systems that take decades to develop and a move toward what Defense Department officials are calling more “agile” high-tech armaments that can be quickly adapted to meet a range of emerging threats.

A 20-year Air Force forecast, spurred in part by looming budget constraints, also calls for a faster pace, with lower price tags, in developing personnel and the technology they use, warning that the current way of acquiring warplanes and weapons is too plodding.

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The report limits itself to how the country’s most tech-heavy military service can adapt to looming threats and budget constraints. But it is also a warning to, and an admission from, the entire Defense Department that with military compensation and retirement costs rising sharply, the country may soon be unable to afford the military it has without making significant changes to the way it does business.

“To boil this down, we have to buy things very differently and develop and employ our people differently,” said Major General David W. Allvin, the author of the report. “We have to behave more like an innovative 21st-century company.”

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