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Will Roper Raises Concerns About Implications of Mid-Tier Company Acquisitions

Will Roper

Acquisition chief

Air Force

Will Roper Raises Concerns About Implications of Mid-Tier Company Acquisitions

Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper, a past Potomac Officers Club event speaker and 2020 Wash100 winner, has raised concerns about the acquisition of medium-sized companies by larger defense contractors and its impacts on the defense industrial base at large. 

Speaking at a recent press event, Roper said he considers some of the major acquisitions over the past years as caution flags since they contribute to a smaller industrial base.

Roper argued that the acquisition of mid-tier companies leads to the loss of company specializations and a shift towards a more generalized approach, where major primes build capabilities for nearly every mission, National Defense Magazine reported Thursday.  

With company specializations getting lost in the mix and major primes pushing to build more generalized service offerings, inefficiencies arise in companies that are evident in the government, he said. 

In addition, Roper told reporters that the increasing acquisition trend lowers competition among defense contractors. Looking ahead, he fears that the existing pool of companies capable of developing advanced tactical aircraft systems could diminish further, hindering the Air Force from holding competitions to address requirements like fighter jets.

To mitigate the problem, Roper promoted the adoption of the Digital Century Series acquisition approach, particularly for the service’s next-generation air dominance initiative. The new strategy departs from the service’s previous acquisition approach in such a way that embraces digital engineering, open systems architectures and advanced software development methods for accelerating technology refreshes of new aircraft.

According to the acquisition czar, the acquisition approach allows the Air Force more competition than it can typically afford and gives middle-tier companies more opportunities to work more directly with the government, resulting in an "egalitarian table to sit at where they are co-equal with the primes and the government.”

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Tags: company specialization defense contractors Defense Industrial Base Digital Century Series lower competition major primes mid-tier companies National Defense Magazine Speaker News US Air Force Will Roper