U.S. military improves efficiency as budget cuts loom As elected leaders continue to push for significant budget cuts that will ultimately affect nearly every government agency's budget, officials are endeavoring to achieve business cost reductions. Though it has been spared from such budget reduction programs historically, the U.S. military is not immune from the latest cuts.

The New York Times reports that as the U.S. Department of Defense has moved to achieve business cost reductions over the past year, officials are faced with the daunting task of expanding industrial equipment inventories with what could be drastically diminished financing.

In what effectively amounts to the DOD's adopting procurement best practices, the U.S. military has begun to purchase used private planes instead of brand new models. Officials have hailed the initiative thus far, as the aircraft are vetted to ensure they meet the military's exacting specifications.

The U.S. Air Force has purchased eight King Air 350 private planes from sellers, according to The Times. Engineers subsequently equipped the planes with the latest in video camera and eavesdropping technologies, and they are being used throughout Iraq and Afghanistan to support the unmanned drones that routinely patrol the skies above the Middle Eastern countries.

Aside from the money saved on lower equipment costs as a result of the new spend management policies, the planes are an important strategic investment, military officials assert, benefiting ground-deployed troops. Crews operating the aircraft, which the Air Force has dubbed MC-12s, are able to have more contact with soldiers, experts say.

The Central Intelligence Agency has also utilized private planes over the past decade as it worked to keep costs down in the post-September 11th era, according to The London Guardian.

Crews flying the MC-12s are in nearly constant radio contact with convoys and troops in firefights – a feat unmanned drones are incapable of accomplishing. As the military prepares for the possibility of precipitous declines in future funding, the innovative purchasing services program has the potential to become increasingly ubiquitous.

"For me, this is a precursor of what we're trying to do across the board," Air Force acquisition official David M. Van Buren affirmed.

The planes also filled a gaping hole in the country's defense needs, as the Pentagon was failing to manufacture enough unmanned drones to keep up with demand. The MC-12s, analysts contend, are filling the void.

"It's been a nice little case study in industry and the Air Force working together to get something done quickly, and at low cost, in a very pragmatic fashion," asserted Terry Harrell, the vice president of Hawker Beechcraft, a provider of planes to the military.

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