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​Even though the number of protests sustained against Air Force contract awards is “pretty low,” the service wants contractors to think more than twice about lodging a protest unless they’ve got a real good reason. “I want them to have some skin in the game,” Air Force uniformed acquisition chief Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch said at a McAleese/Credit Suisse conference in Washington Wednesday. Bunch said accelerating acquisition is critical because USAF adversaries are “nipping at our heels or side-by-side with us” in technology. However, a protest can shut a needed program down for months or longer, causing a “delay in getting it to the field” and keeping it “out of the hands” of the operators who need it. It happened with the B-21 bomber and the KC-46 tanker, two of USAF’s top three programs, but there are almost no drawbacks to a protest, other than the cost of the lawyers. Bunch said he’d like to force protesters who don’t succeed to bear the costs of investigating and evaluating the complaint. “I want them … to pay a price,” and thus be deterred from protesting unless their case seems airtight. Bunch acknowledged that this change would require legislation, and it’s a “windmill” at which he’s been tilting for some time.