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News > Benchmark 'Dragon Spear' program earns William J. Perry Award
Benchmark 'Dragon Spear' program earns William J. Perry Award

Posted 3/2/2011   Updated 3/2/2011 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Kristen D. Duncan
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

3/2/2011 - FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- A model U.S. Special Operations Command acquisition and development program was recently honored during the Precision Strike Association annual review at the Emerald Coast Conference Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

The 'Project Dragon Spear Joint Acquisition Task Force' received the 15th annual William J. Perry Award, recognizing public or private sector leadership or achievement that results in significant contributions to the development of precision strike systems.

Developed by Air Force Special Operations Command, 'Dragon Spear' is the roll-on, roll-off Precision Strike Package used on MC-130W aircraft in AFSOC's inventory. This capability allows aircrew to provide precision strike weaponry on the battlefield, as well as dual high-definition Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance targeting sensors, multiple video uplinks, downlinks and communications advancements.

Increasing mission capability and protecting Special Operations Forces and Coalition ground forces, this provides a multi-person mission operations console with the means to launch stand-off precision guided munitions.

"In a great team effort, you did great things - saving lives, literally every day, and getting bad guys, literally every day," said James Geurts, USSOCOM deputy director for acquisition, to the program team members during the presentation. "Continue to expand your thinking."

According to the award citation, the Dragon Spear program delivered the capability ahead of schedule, under cost and with greater capability than first theorized. The team's innovative and unconventional approach enabled the fielding of next generation precision strike capabilities in months and at 20 percent unit cost. Eight MC-130W aircraft were delivered just 15 months after production funding was approved and several more will be fielded by the summer - completing the line-up.

Admiral Eric T. Olson, USSOCOM commander, used the example of Dragon Spear as a benchmark on how other programs within AFSOC and USSOCOM should work, said David Torraca, AFSOC Plans and Requirements, AC-130 and MC-130W 'Combat Spear' strike requirements.

"Lt. Gen. (Donny) Wurster (AFSOC commander) and the (Plans and Requirements) leadership have also been on board and supported the program fully, which helped with the speed of the program," said Mr. Torraca. "Concept to deployment happened in 15 months, which is a testament to AFSOC's agility and fiscal responsibility."

Project Dragon Spear Joint Acquisition Task Force's technical excellence and response to USSOCOM needs makes this team an exceptionally worthy recipient of this award, said Erik Ballinger, the PSA annual review event chair who works for ATK, an aerospace and defense supplier company.

Deployed since November 2010, the MC-130W is operated by the 73rd Special Operations Squadron, assigned to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. They have provided the Dragon Spear combat capability to units supporting Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN daily with highly effective ISR and armed over watch capability.

The Dragon Spear team helped USSOCOM and the Department of Defense meet other requirements, such as the U.S. Marine Corps' Harvest Hawk program. The roll-on, roll-off standoff precision guided munition kit provided the Marine's with a similar over watch and precision strike capability.

USSOCOM first stood up the program's acquisition task force to meet its urgent need for precision strike on the battlefield.

"Future acquisition needs will and should follow this model, and the AC-130H recapitalization with AC-130J's will follow it," Mr. Torraca said. "AC-recap is going to use the same (Joint Acquisition Task Force) construct, and the Capabilities Development Document is being written using the Dragon Spear example."

In addition to the AFSOC Plans and Requirements office, members of AFSOC Operations, Logistics and the 18th Flight Test Squadron were also involved with the fielding of Dragon Spear.

The award is named in honor of former Secretary of Defense Dr. Perry (1994 to 1997). Previous recipients include a former vice president and two of the U.S. Air Force's weapons programs from neighboring Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

3/9/2011 12:57:57 PM ET
The 413th playsplayed a pivotal role in both RecapDragon Spear-they were not noted in the article and should have been
Kathy De La O, Hurlburt
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