2009 Emerging Leaders

Jared Summers

Reduced costs for our government by $200 million through his successful leadership of the disposition of the retired F-117 fleet.

Jared Summers may be one of the younger civil servants in our military, but he recently led the retirement of one of the Air Force’s older aircraft and is now playing a key role for the largest acquisition program in Department of Defense history.  

“I’ve loved aircraft my whole life,” said the 26-year-old Summers. “I’ve always wanted to spend my career in this field.”

His passion for his work is clearly paying dividends.

When the Air Force decided to retire the F-117, America’s first stealth fighter, the initial cost estimate for this project was high. Although barely old enough to buy a drink, this young program manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was selected to co-lead the disposition of the entire fleet, and he was charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of this massive project. Ultimately, the project was completed under budget, achieving a savings of more than $200 million.

“Jared is the sharpest young Air Force employee I’ve had the privilege to supervise,” said Summers’ boss Mark Hornbostel. “In three short years, he has already demonstrated a keen ability as a program manager while also finding significant time to selflessly lead numerous high profile support activities.”

Summers developed a creative approach for total disposition of the jets and the vast array of related assets.

He transferred some F-117 equipment to other aircraft, including the F-22, B-52 and U-2, thus eliminating expenditures for additional hardware for these programs.

Summers developed a plan to send three damaged engines to another Air Force base for training and certification of propulsion technicians. This enabled high fidelity training, cut costs by utilizing current resources and eliminated additional recertification expenses.

Once this training was complete, Summers transferred the engines to NASA, saving the Air Force an additional $100,000 in demilitarization costs. These and many other initiatives added up to significant savings to the Air Force and allowed for the closure of the F-117 engine depot five months early.

As the first stealth fighter, the F-117 represents technologies and a piece of our nation’s history that we could ill afford to lose. To ensure F-117 knowledge was available to future generations, Summers developed and coordinated the plan to provide items to the National Museum of the Air Force. Every American will now have the ability to see and learn more about the F-117.

“Jared exemplifies excellence in public service because of his positive approach, his refusal to accept ‘no’ when he believes that better processes are available and his willingness to question the status quo when the project could benefit from new ideas,” said Phillip Platt, who was Summers’ co-lead on the F-117 disposition project.

As activities in the F-117 ramped down, Jared was hand-picked to help with the acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter weapons system.

Summers’ job is to integrate various support systems in the acquisition of aircraft for 3 U.S. Military Services and 7 international partners, managing both logistics and relationships across the public and private sectors. He has already coordinated a number of high-profile conferences featuring senior military officials.

“Each of these stakeholders is geographically dispersed. Jared coordinates with each of these actors to keep the airplanes flying. This requires a unique approach and solid leadership skills that most people Jared’s age do not possess,” said John Carr, a deputy director of the 640th Aeronautical System Squadron who has worked with Summers on the F-35 project.

“The Ops tempo is high, creating a fast-paced and demanding environment,” said Summers, but he doesn’t seem to mind at all, because his service is clearly a labor of love.

In what little spare time he has, Summers regularly speaks to college students about the “joys and rewards of government work,” and he encourages young people to consider federal service.

“People are motivated by different things. In the private sector, it seems to all be about making a profit,” said Summers. “I get to provide support for our war fighters. That is what’s most important to me.”