FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips for the week of July 25

LOCAL COVERAGE

Baselines help keep naval aviation on the flight line

FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton inducts first AH-1Z for IMP

Photo Release – FRCSE hosts Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

SECNAV announces implementation of Full And Inclusive Review program

Ten principles of ethical conduct

Advisory Panel: Incoming administration to face fiscal tsunami

HASC Chair says DoD needs supplemental

Insider threats a looming issue for government contractors

The President’s new helicopter fleet close to first flight

Report: Peninsula bases in crosshairs of climate change

Canada may become the first country to ditch the F-35 fighter jet

First Operational F-35A Squadron Finishes IOC To-Do List

US Navy’s sixth-generation F/A-XX fighter: Just a ‘super’ Super Hornet?

Navy Announces Greater Flexibility for FY-17 GMT

The Military Has A Flight-Readiness Problem That’s Not Going Away

What Happens When Pilots Aren’t Allowed To Fly

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

 

Baselines help keep naval aviation on the flight line

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 25 July 16) . NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND AIR-6.0 PUBLIC AFFAIRS

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – NALCOMIS OOMA may sound like the name of a character in a science fantasy novel, but it really is a powerful aviation maintenance tool that helps keep naval aviation flying affordably and reliably.

 

NALCOMIS, which is short for Naval Aviation Logistics Command Management Information Systems, is an automated information system that provides aviation maintenance and material management with timely, accurate and complete information that is used in the daily decision-making process and furnishes a means to satisfy the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) requirements.

 

Combined with the Optimized Organizational Maintenance Activity (OOMA), which provides data input though local data collection and validation for efficient and economical maintenance management, NALCOMIS describes an allowable configuration, called a baseline, so the fleet can create the actual airframe, engine, component or other item configurations, manage them electronically and report the data up line to a maintenance reporting system called DECKPLATE, or Decision Knowledge Programming for Logistics Analysis and Technical Evaluation.

 

Commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is the baseline manager for the effort and is responsible for creating, loading and maintaining the aircraft or weapons systems baseline data that belongs to the respective program manager, and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is responsible for the validation and functional testing of all Program Management Air (PMA) NALCOMIS OOMA baselines throughout the build and sustainment phases.

 

“Baseline managers previously reported to the programs so in an effort to streamline the process and produce cost savings we created a NALCOMIS Baseline Center of Excellence. The BCE was implemented in 2014 as budgets started getting tight,” said Brian Olson, national lead and process owner for NALCOMIS baseline development. “We have been able to consolidate functions, save costs by reducing manpower, establish policy and provide more consistent data for the fleet.

 

“We’re a gatekeeper to keep undocumented changes for making it to the fleet,” he said. “We make sure the aircraft configurations are maintained in the most current state so the platforms are ‘Safe for Flight’.”

 

The NALCOMIS OOMA database consists of three major segments. These include the Equipment Configuration Baseline, which is a hierarchical top-down breakdown of the actual configuration of the equipment; Usage Baseline, which includes of metrics called “data sources” that are used to track life expenditure of components, weapons systems and aircraft; and Maintenance Baseline, which contains all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance tasks.

 

There are currently about 60 aircraft platforms and mission mounted systems, with nearly 3,000 end-items that are baselined in NALCOMIS. Baseline data comes from a variety of sources, to include the original equipment manufacturer, the programs, Type Equipment Codes (TECs), Work Unit Codes (WUCs), part numbers, task definitions, technical bulletins, maintenance manuals and more.

 

This provides the maintainer a guide to what they should see as they begin to work on a piece of equipment, to include descriptions, part numbers, part locations and more. The data is validated by Baseline Center Quality Assurance before being released to the fleet.

 

“Our managers keep the baseline current for each type/model/series of aircraft,” said Tim Harte, NALCOMIS Baseline Center quality assurance (QA) team lead. “We work to update new technical data and not slow down the process of getting that data to the Fleet.”

 

Baseline managers and QAs work with a variety of stakeholders, to include NAVAIR competencies, PMA staff, In-Service Support teams (ISSCs), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) and others to ensure the baselines are maintained with approved and validated platform data and conform to current policy.

 

One method for validating the data is by creating and exercising virtual simulations, Harte said.

 

“We validate changes by setting up a virtual squadron,” he said. “We run the squadron through myriad scenarios. We fly it virtually to break it so we can fix it.”

 

NALCOMIS also stores authority documents to validate changes and helps track whether changes are current.

 

Maintenance procedures, such as Commander, Naval Air Forces Instruction (COMNAVAIRFORINST) 4790.2 Series, Maintenance Instruction Manuals and Maintenance Instructions are separate documents and not covered in NALCOMIS OOMA, but must still be used by the maintainer.

 

The fleet also has input into the process. Baseline data modifications/updates can be requested and discrepancies can be reported, increasing the accuracy of NALCOMIS. That is done by way of the Joint Discrepancy Reporting Systems (JDRS) that provides a single entry point for Baseline Trouble Reports (BTRs) and Baseline Change Reports (BCRs). BTRs are fleet-driven and are used to report Baseline data discrepancies for evaluation and correction, while BCRs are generated and are submitted by baseline managers and report changes made to the database through sustainment.

 

Changes are then posted to the NAVAIR Air Technical Data and Engineering Service Center (NATEC) website.

 

“Maintenance managers get updates every day via NATEC,” Harte said. “That helps keep them informed of any changes/updates with aircraft they may manage and provides standardization of the data being entered into OOMA and reporting up line to DECKPLATE.”

 

The NALCOMIS team is working to include Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the NALCOMIS OOMA.

 

“Regarding UAS, we’re learning as we’re going,” Olson said. “Baselines are identified by different groups such as group 4 & 5, which will cover the larger aircraft, and group 2 & 3, which are some of the smaller systems made up of the aircraft, launchers, recovery equipment, and more.”

 

The Baseline Center is helping to keep maintainers up-to-date on changes and trends and improving confidence in the data.

 

“When I was a maintainer in the Navy years ago, documentation was not as efficient as it is today,” Olson said. “Now that we have NALCOMIS, up-line reporting is real time and much more accurate.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6320

 

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FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton Inducts First AH-1Z for IMP

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST PUBLIC AFFAIRS)

 

A new era in Marine Corps helicopter maintenance began March 16 at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Site Camp Pendleton with the induction of the first AH-1Z Cobra to undergo the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP).

 

Manufactured by Bell Helicopter, the Zulu Cobra is a four-blade, twin engine attack helicopter. Full production of the model began in 2010, the same year it was deemed combat-ready.

 

The IMP is designed to keep the aircraft mission-ready by targeting the integrity of the airframe via two assessment events – Planned Maintenance Interval-one (PMI-1) and PMI-2.

 

Site Camp Pendleton manager Jeff Reiman said that PMI-1 is conducted every 50 calendar days, at which time the aircraft are disassembled, evaluated and repaired within the scope of specifications.

 

Prior to PMI-1 squadrons remove the aircraft’s blades, and the site’s artisans remove the aircraft’s intermediate and tail gear boxes, panels, engine and the transmission to evaluate those areas.

 

“We’ll also remove the stub wings and look at the connecting points to those, the bushings and the stub wing lugs. But because this is our first time evaluating a Zulu model, we’ll look for certain hot spots for excessive corrosion or areas that may require closer attention,” Reiman said.

 

He noted that the Zulu IMP is comparable to the UH-1Y Super Huey and W IMP, and that the artisans will also evaluate the aircraft’s entire tail boom while targeting specific parts identified by the IMP specification.

 

“The Zulu and Super Huey are similar in tail boom, engines, gear boxes and technologies. But the primary difference would be the stub wing assemblies on the Zulu. And there are no cargo doors on this aircraft because it’s a two-seater. The Z is really a beefer model than the W,” he said.

 

Damages or areas of concern outside of the IMP scope of specifications are reported to the squadron, and are typically repaired as an in-service repair (ISR).

 

Reiman said that the site had completed about 12 ISRs which were mostly panel repairs, and had repainted one aircraft.

 

“The paint ISR gave us a head start on our stencils and what we actually need to do for a complete painting event for the Z. That will be helpful in our PMI-2 on these,” he noted.

 

The PMI-2 cycle is held every 76 calendar days and entails similar evaluations to the PMI-1, but the aircraft are also stripped via particle media blast (PMB) and painted.

 

The 29 artisans of Site Camp Pendleton moved into a new hangar three years ago, and have a paint and PMB facility which enables a faster turn-around time of assets to the squadrons. Prior to that, from 2009 to 2013, painting was performed in a temporary facility.

 

Reiman said that the first Zulu Cobra scheduled for PMI-2 will be inducted on August 9, and that a total of six IMP events are projected for this fiscal year.

 

FRCSW Site Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, will also perform the IMP on the AH- 1Z Cobra.

 

In addition to the Zulu Cobra, Site Camp Pendleton also services the remaining AH-1W helicopters of Marine Air Group (MAG) 39, which are slated for upgrade by the Zulu.

 

From the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Almanac, Vol. 9, Issue 1.

 

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FRCSE hosts Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 26 July 16) . FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST PUBLIC AFFAIRS

 

Photo Release — http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6321

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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SECNAV announces implementation of Full And Inclusive Review program

(NAVY NEWS SERVICE 21 JUL 16) … Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

 

WASHINGTON – As part of ongoing efforts to enhance the professional growth of leaders in the Navy, Marine Corps and Department of the Navy (DON) civilian workforce, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recently directed the development of policies and procedures for the implementation of a Full and Inclusive Review (FAIR) program.

 

Core to the FAIR program is the use of a multi-rater assessment, more commonly referred to as a 360-degree review, for all military and civilian supervisory personnel. Government agencies and the private sector routinely use these types of assessments as a developmental tool to provide personnel with relevant feedback designed to help them evaluate and use their strengths while also dedicating attention and resources to skills they may need to improve.

 

“Effective implementation of FAIR, and the feedback provided by these reviews, will hone the skills of our future leaders and foster continued growth and excellence in the execution of our mission,” said Mabus. “This program is a further example of our existing efforts to modernize our personnel processes and strengthen our Navy, Marine Corps and civilian leaders.”

 

FAIR implementation plans and policies for DON civilian supervisory personnel are overseen by the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) (ASN(M&RA), while the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) will oversee the implementation of FAIR in their respective services.

 

The program is designed for use across the DON by personnel in positions of increasing scope of leadership and responsibility such as civilian supervisors, senior enlisted leaders or officers assigned as department heads or higher.

 

The feedback provided via FAIR will address core leadership and innovation competencies and be discussed during a developmental discussion with a supervisor during which the reviewed leader’s plan for continued growth will be addressed.

 

The DON has already launched a dedicated portal site to provide information to and register civilian senior executives for 360 assessments.

 

Further development of policy and training for those who will be using the program is underway and continues through the end of 2016.

 

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=95802

 

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Ten Principles Of Ethical Conduct

(CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL MARITIME SECURITY 21 JUL 16) … Capt. Mark Vandroff, USN

 

I recently read Dale R. Wilson’s well-written piece “Character is Crumbling in Our Leadership.” I was left, however, wondering about a definition of ethical behavior.

 

Lockheed Martin lists “Do The Right Thing” as the first of its three core values. This is a noble sentiment, but how does one determine “The Right Thing?” To be fair to Lockheed Martin, their ethics webpage, on which their value statement is clearly articulated, provides links to several different company publications with more detailed rules for the conduct of company business and training with examples of good and bad ethical behavior.

 

The federal government, including the Department of Defense (DoD), provides much of the same. For example, the Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) is attempting to make its sailors and civilian employees more ethically aware with its “Anchor Yourself In Ethics” campaign. This campaign focuses on awareness of the federal government’s “14 Principles Of Ethical Conduct.” In both cases, leaders seem to equate ethical behavior with compliance with an established set of rules. While related to the concepts of rule sets and professional conduct, ethical principles are something separate. It would certainly be unprofessional for an Assistant Secretary of the Navy to show up to work at the Pentagon in flip flops or for his Military Assistant to have his warfare pin on upside down, but neither would be unethical. I know of a Major Program Manager who knowingly violated the contracting rule on unauthorized commitments. Because he broke this rule, needed repair work was accomplished on a Navy ship in a timely manner allowing the ship to begin it basic training phase on time. The commitment was later ratified by an authorized contracting official. The program manager did not benefit financially, immediately informed his chain of command, and in the end the government did not suffer financially. His action broke rules, including one of the 14 Principles above; however, I would find very few who would describe his conduct as “unethical.”

 

If ethics is not merely following the rules, what is it? A good working definition might be that ethics are the processes and principles used to determine if an action is right or wrong. Even the words “right” and “wrong” are problematic. Using them in this context assumes the existence of some universal standard against which an action may be judged. Theologians and philosophers debate the origins and existence of such a standard.

 

Practitioners take a different stance. As the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described pornography in “Jacobellis vs. Ohio,” they “know it when they see it.” Apart from following established rule sets, ethical action involves honesty, transparency, compassion, dignity, and courage. As the Chief of Naval Operations put it in his recent letter to Flag Officers, “Words about values, no matter how eloquent, can only go so far. My experience is that, like so many parts of our language, these words have become overused, distorted, and diluted. Our behavior, as an organization and as individuals, must signal our commitment to the values we so often proclaim.” The question that I believe the CNO raises is how to take noble ideals and from them craft a usable set of principles people can use to evaluate their actions.

 

Roughly 2,300 years ago, Aristotle wrote ten enormous volumes of The Nicomachean Ethics. While it remains an important work on ethics to this day, it does have a certain lack of brevity. 1,400 years later, Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher who was heavily influenced by Aristotle’s writings, did have the gift of brevity. He synthesized the theological implications of the Hebrew Bible and all the attendant writings of several hundred years of revered Rabbis into 13 principles of faith. While his principles were praised by many and criticized by some, their very publication sparked a healthy and needed debate within the Jewish thinking of the day. In the spirit of both Aristotle and Maimonides, I offer the following 10 principles of ethical conduct. They are not rules but principles, ways of measuring the rightness and wrongness of a given act. They are designed to apply to all whose profession involves the common defense, not solely to military personnel. I offer these 10 principles to the Pentagon bureaucrat, the defense industry executive, the Congressional staffer, and the journalist whose beat covers national security as well as to the Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine. My hope is that a spirited public debate of these principles will lead to a healthier understanding of what constitutes ethical conduct.

 

  1. Actions must align with the legitimate interests of the stakeholders.

 

Everyone in the world of defense acts in the interest of someone else, often multiple people and/or groups, and only rarely is it a direct supervisor. A journalist has a responsibility to the owners of their media outlet to produce publishable content and an additional, sometimes competing interest, to their readers to provide content that is factual and relevant. A DoD Program Manager has a duty to produce items of military usefulness to the warfighter and also has a responsibility to the American taxpayer. A stakeholder is the entity in whose interest a person is bound by their position to act. (In the law, this would be called a fiduciary/principal relationship.) When judging the ethics of an action, ask first, “are these actions furthering the interest of one or more legitimate stakeholders?”

 

  1. Conflicting interests of various stakeholders must be balanced transparently.

 

An infantry officer calling for artillery fire must balance the need to protect the soldiers under their command (those soldiers are one legitimate stakeholder) with the need to prevent potential civilian casualties (those civilians are the unwitting other legitimate stakeholder). A Service Chief will have to balance the need to invest in the equipment of tomorrow’s force with the need to fund the operations and maintenance of force he leads today. Many situations will have rule sets for the balancing of these interests, from Rules of Engagement in the field to the Federal Acquisition Regulation in a contract award. Beyond merely following the appropriate rule set, the decision-maker must be open and clear with themselves, their chain of command, and possibly others outside their organization about who the stakeholders are and how he or she is balancing their interests.

 

  1. The financial benefits of an office can only come from legitimate sources, and must be openly communicated to all stakeholders.

 

This principle covers the innocent gift, the outright bribe, and everything in between. In most cases, there are easily understood rule sets to govern this behavior. However, even in a complicated case, the main principle is to take no money or other item of value in a manner not clearly known to all the relevant stakeholders. As an example, many journalists will earn additional income working as a ghostwriter. If a journalist covering the DoD and the defense industry ghostwrites a book or an article for a DoD or defense industry leader, that journalist’s readers have a right to know about how that may affect his or her reporting.

 

  1. Gain, in any form, personal, institutional, financial, or positional, only legitimately comes through excellence.

 

It is fine for colonels to want to become generals. There is no ethical violation in a business wanting to maximize its profit. Investors are one of the key stakeholder interests an industry leader must serve. However, gain must never be achieved by trick, fraud, or exploitation of personal relationships. Gain is achieved ethically when a competitor outperforms the competition. For example, many large acquisition programs fund government activities outside their program that advance the state of technology with the intent of eventual incorporation into that program. An O-6 major program manager might be tempted to fund projects favored by an influential flag/general officer even if the potential for program benefit is relatively low compared to other possible investments in an attempt to win a friend on possible future promotion boards. This action would violate no rules. It would be unethical because the major program manager is using the program’s resources for personal gain instead of acting in the interests of the program’s legitimate stakeholders.

 

  1. Established rule sets must be followed unless they are either patently unjust or are interfering with achieving a critical stakeholder need that cannot be fulfilled by acting within the rule set. When violated, they are always violated openly and transparently.

 

This is the encapsulation of the “Rosa Parks” rule; the defense professional’s guideline for civil disobedience. Rules exist for a reason. An ethical person follows established rule sets unless extraordinary circumstances compel deviation. When those circumstances exist, the ethical person does not break rules in secret, for that would defeat the purpose of exposing the unjust or mission obstructing rule. If a person is breaking rules without telling anyone about it, that person may be presumed unethical.

 

  1. When people have been placed under a leader’s authority, that authority may not be used for personal gain.

 

This covers the proper interaction of a leader with their team. The leader’s team exists for the accomplishment of stakeholders’ interests, not the leader’s personal interests. For example, commanders of large activities have public affairs staff. That staff is there to promote the public’s knowledge of the organization, not the Commander personally.

 

  1. Respect is due to the innate human dignity of every person.

 

This principle forms the basis of all personal interactions. People may be tasked, trained, hired, fired, disciplined, and rewarded only in ways that preserve their inherent dignity. Because all human beings possess this dignity, its preservation crosses all racial, ethnic, gender, and religious lines. It does not preclude intense training, preparation for stressful situations, or the correction of substandard performance. It does, however, require that no person be intentionally humiliated, denigrated, or exploited.

 

  1. The truth must be provided to any stakeholder with a legitimate claim.

 

It would be too simple, and even inaccurate, to proclaim a principle like “never lie.” Both war and successful business often require the art of deception. As an example, it has always been a legitimate form of deception to disguise the topside of a warship to make it appear to be some other type of vessel. In a business negotiation, there are legitimate reasons for keeping some items of information private. However, stakeholders that have a legitimate claim on the truth must be given the full, unabridged access to the best information and analysis when requested. Other stakeholders, with a lesser claim, may not be lied to but do not always have to be answered in full. As an example, a DoD program manager cannot tell a Congressional Defense Committee staffer that “testing is going great” when asked about testing on a program that is suffering serious delays. That program manager may tell a reporter, “I don’t want to talk about that” or, “I have confidence in the contractor” when asked the same question.

 

  1. Do not assume bad intent without evidence.

 

The unethical person judges others by their actions and himself by his intent. The ethical person judges himself by his actions and other by their intent. Ethical people will understand that there will be honest differences of opinion among even seasoned practitioners. Just because someone comes to a different judgment does not mean that person is less competent or under a bad influence. For example, an investigator with an inspector general organization is assessing whether or not a trip was legitimately official, to be properly paid for with government funds, or a personal trip on which business was done only incidentally, such that government funding would be unauthorized. The given facts could logically support either conclusion. The investigator may have a personal interest in a finding of wrongdoing because it would be a demonstration of the investigator’s own thoroughness. Nonetheless, an ethical investigator will decline to find wrongdoing when the facts support either conclusion.

 

  1. An ethical person does not stand idle in the face of wrongdoing.

 

Great thinkers, from Aristotle, to Sir Winston Churchill, to Maya Angelou, recognized courage as the primary human virtue, because it is a necessary precursor to all other virtuous acts. Theoretically, a person may be able to behave ethically without courage in an environment free from temptation. However, such environments don’t exist in the world of the defense professional. To be ethical, to follow the first nine principles, one must have the courage to do so even when such action might be unpopular or dangerous.

 

At the end of The (seemingly endless) Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle observes that both virtue and laws are needed to have a good society. Similarly, ethical principles are not a replacement for solid, well understood, and faithfully executed rule sets. A wise ethics attorney once counseled me, “there is no right way to do the wrong thing, but there are lots of wrong ways to do the right thing.” These ethical principles are, for our actions, like a well-laid foundation to a house. They are the necessary precursor to a sound structure of ethical conduct.

Captain Mark Vandroff is the Program Manager for DDG-51 Class Shipbuilding.

 

Ten Principles of Ethical Conduct

 

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Advisory Panel: Incoming Administration To Face Fiscal Tsunami

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 24 JUL 16) … Sandra I. Erwin

 

Before every change of administration, government agencies harbor grand expectations for new leadership and a fresh vision of the future, although transformational ideas on how to manage a headstrong bureaucracy may not be necessarily welcome.

 

The transition at the Defense Department is always a major focus due to the nature of its mission and demanding responsibilities. Months before the November presidential election, Pentagon advisory teams have been mobilized to help prepare the next administration for the management challenges that lie ahead.

 

A key warning for incoming leaders is that the best laid plans at the Pentagon can fall apart in the wake of unexpected global events. A new twist in this year’s transition preparations is the chaotic political climate in the United States and the likely disruption caused by fiscal cliffs and government shutdowns.

 

“This is an unprecedented environment,” said Defense Business Board Chairman Michael Bayer.

 

The Defense Business Board is one of several advisory teams that will be involved in transition planning. The Defense Science Board and the Defense Policy Board also will be offering nonpartisan advice to the incoming administration.

 

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work directed the business board in a June 2 memo to “develop, from a private sector perspective, a series of topic papers germane to the department’s current and incoming senior executives and leaders, focusing on effectively managing a large-scale enterprise through transition.”

 

The panel met July 21 and approved a motion to get started on this effort. During the 90-minute portion of the meeting that was open to the public, panel members said they expect the handoff to the next administration to go smoothly, but worry about the fiscal picture it will face.

 

A gap between the Pentagon’s projected funding needs and what Congress would allow under the Budget Control Act will continue to dog the Defense Department’s leadership, board members said. Budget drives policy in Washington, they noted, and the unstable funding pattern from the past five years could continue into the next administration.

 

The new leadership comes in already facing a huge budget hole, said Defense Business Board member Arnold Punaro, retired Marine Corps major general and CEO of The Punaro Group.

 

The budget plan President Obama submitted this year for 2017-2021 is $250 billion above the spending caps set by Congress. The next secretary must either hope for relief from Congress or prepare to find ways to restrain spending, said Punaro. Defense leaders will be in a bind as Congress sets spending limits but also restricts the Pentagon from making politically unpopular cost-cutting moves like closing bases or curtailing retiree and health benefits.

 

All four defense secretaries under Obama sought to contain cost growth in the military and civilian personnel accounts, but ran into a buzzsaw. Punaro said the transition team will need to understand the impact of rising personnel costs – including troops, civilians and contractors. “The fully burdened cost of supporting the all-volunteer force and retirees is over 50 percent of the budget, he said. “You have to come to grips with these costs.”

 

Making the Pentagon leaner and nimbler has been a perennial goal of every administration. The Defense Business Board expects efforts to continue but acknowledged that private-sector practices don’t go over well in a culture that is risk averse and resistant to change. Among the recommendations the board plans to offer to incoming leaders: Delayer and flatten organizational structures, empower subordinates and create less complex organization so decisions can be made faster.

 

The panel also will encourage the transition team to press on with the innovation initiatives started by current Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Deputy Secretary Work. Projects like the “third offset” strategy to modernize the military and opening technology incubators outside the Washington beltway should continue in the new administration, board members agreed.

 

Punaro said he is optimistic the future administration will push for change out of necessity in the tight budget environment. Business reforms are tough sells, especially when the nation is in the middle of fighting wars, he told National Defense, insisting he was not speaking on behalf of the Defense Business Board.

 

“You have to adjust to what’s going on in the world, much of which you have no control over,” said Punaro. The problem with changing how the Pentagon does business is that it can take decades to see results. Even a two-term presidential administration might not see the impact of its policies until it’s out of office. “It takes five to 15 years sometimes to make the changes that need to happen,” said Punaro. “The problem is they never seem to get started.”

 

The budget pressures will only get worse, said Punaro. “We need an additional $250 million just to get to the Obama FYDP [five year defense plan] before we add one soldier to the Army or one sailor to the Navy.”

 

Meanwhile, there is no sign from the Congress that deeply divided factions are willing to compromise to increase federal spending. Next year, the dynamics are not expected to change, he said. “You’ll still have a conservative caucus in the House, and they won’t even agree to the $30 billion [increase to discretionary spending] we agreed to last year.”

 

Spending on defense over time has gone up but the size of the U.S. military force is shrinking, he added. This will continue to squeeze programs to modernize the military and increase combat readiness. There has to be a serious effort to make the Pentagon more efficient by closing unneeded infrastructure and reexaming personnel priorities, said Punaro. “We have to tame the huge cost growth, and you can’t get these changes in one or two years.”

 

Everyone knows that government doesn’t like to change, said Punaro. “And DoD is very resistant to these kinds of reforms. You have to have leadership at the top that’s going to drive it. And you need a Congress that cooperates.” Congress in recent years has been “extremely uncooperative and unhelpful to the Department of Defense,” he stressed. “In fact they have thrown significant new impediments. They won’t allow base closures, or study how to make commissaries more efficient, they set depot maintenance rules to keep jobs in their districts. Congress is a big part of this problem as well.”

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=2255

 

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HASC Chair Says DoD Needs Supplemental

(DEFENSE DAILY 25 JUL 16) … Marc Selinger

 

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) urged the Obama administration July 25 to send a supplemental funding request to Congress to pay for new military operations not covered in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal.

 

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters that he has heard “rumblings” in the Pentagon that officials estimate they will need an extra $6 billion or so to carry out military activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere that the administration did not anticipate when it released its FY ’17 budget request earlier this year.

 

Officials at the Department of Defense are “trying to get their arms around” how much money they need, Thornberry said. “Clearly, we need a supplemental.”

 

Thornberry said the amount is too big to take out of the regular budget because defense funding is “already stressed.” He also would oppose making a supplemental contingent on a corresponding increase in non-defense spending, as some policymakers have proposed in the past.

 

Thornberry’s committee, meanwhile, is reviewing the FY ’16 omnibus reprogramming request that DoD recently sent to Capitol Hill. And with Congress on recess until September, staffers are trying to narrow the differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY ’17 defense authorization bill.

 

Thornberry, who visited Afghanistan and Iraq last week, said Afghan combat forces seem much-improved from the previous fighting season but that the Taliban and many others remain potent threats. He also expressed concern about the ability of Iraqi forces to hold ground it takes from ISIS.

 

He said his travels underscored the “tremendous amount of effort and dollars” required to maintain aging aircraft. And he criticized “artificial” caps on U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, saying they have forced the military to leave equipment maintainers at home and hire more expensive contractors to perform their duties.

 

Thornberry was joined on his trip by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who served four tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantry officer.

 

HASC Chair Says DoD Needs Supplemental

 

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Insider Threats A Looming Issue For Government Contractors

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 25 JUL 16) … Kristen Torres

 

Government contractors must devote more resources and attention toward insider threat programs within their companies, a Deloitte executive said.

 

“Developing strategies so that employees know what kind of activities are acceptable and which ones are not is critical to the protection of data,” said Mike Gelles, director of law enforcement, intelligence and security at Deloitte and author of “Insider Threat.”

 

“Developing a policy isn’t enough – there has to be consistent monitoring to make sure employees are keeping critical data secured,” he told National Defense.

 

The book, published by Butterworth-Heinemann in May, defines an insider threat as encompassing everything from espionage and embezzlement to intellectual property theft from current or former employees.

 

Information leaks like Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency scandal can possibly be mitigated through cybersecurity initiatives, Gelles said.

 

“Cybersecurity looks at protecting the perimeter – it focuses on a company’s ability to lose potential assets from an external attack,” he added. “By creating an insider threat policy in conjunction with cybersecurity, you can monitor what is going on inside your workforce … and determine who can be attacking from within.”

 

On May 18, the Defense Department released a letter indicating a change to the National Industrial Security Operating Manual (NISPOM). It requires government contractors to establish and maintain a “program to detect, deter and mitigate insider threats.” The deadline for implementing these changes is Nov. 30.

 

Gelles isn’t completely satisfied with the mandate, citing a lack of comprehensive solutions for protecting government data.

 

“I don’t know if it’s the end-all solution,” he said. “It comes up short because it [NISPOM] doesn’t require monitoring. There’s nothing to suggest they should be implementing analytics to keep track of employee activities.”

 

Having a policy alone isn’t enough, Gelles said. Oftentimes rules are not easily assimilated into the everyday work place, and the lack of enforcement means that information moves more readily.

 

“The workforce needs to remain aware,” he said. “It’s not enough for company leadership to say, ‘You cannot use this information in this way.’ There has to be a dialogue.”

 

Better communication across the board means that employees are much more readily able and comfortable with moving information, both within the company and from the company to an outsider. However, having this access opens the door for potential exploitation of information, Gelles said.

 

What he classifies as a “complacent insider” in his book – an unwitting, non-malevolent employee who sees himself/herself as above the rules and the job they’re performing – is the most threatening for an organization.

 

“Complacent workers are the key vulnerability between the perimeter and the inside,” Gelles said. “Because they do their job by whatever means necessary, they violate rules and controls, exposing an organization to tremendous risk.”

 

Activities carried out by complacent workers include clicking on phishing emails or allowing an outsider access to systems, buildings or people.

 

As millennials begin to come into the workforce, companies will also have to come to terms with dealing with an increasingly comfortable digital generation.

 

“Millennials can manipulate information and virtual systems at a far more superior rate than baby boomers can,” Gelles said.

 

Younger generations tend to be far more fluid in the dissemination of the information and programs they create, he added. For example, employees can take projects and information systems they created in their past roles with them when they move on to another job. That creates a hole in a company’s security, Gelles said.

 

“Business in a virtual space makes it easy to move information to … Dropbox or [an] email in such a way that their activities aren’t being observed like they were in the days of having to carry around physical documents,” he said.

 

Gelles believes the process behind a company’s insider threat policy is what matters most. “Contractors need to have programs to take on the responsibility of their workforce,” he said. “There will be a continued contractor threat if their companies don’t develop programs to safeguard their data.”

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=2256

 

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The President’s New Helicopter Fleet Close to First Flight

The Sikorksy S-92 helicopter will be the basis for the new Marine One

(POPULAR MECHANICS, 27 July 16) . Kyle Mizokami

 

The next generation of helicopters to transport the President of the United States passed a critical design review, with the next step the manufacture of six production helicopters. The choppers, known as VH-92s, will likely be the most expensive helicopters ever made.

 

In the early 2000s, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps attempted to build a replacement for Marine One, the President’s official transport helicopters. The current Marine One fleet is based on the Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King helicopter and was built around 1975, making them only 14 years older than President Obama himself. The U.S. Military retired the last of its Sea Kings in the 1990s.

 

The engineering requirements for Marine One make it one complicated helicopter. It has to have a full suite of defensive countermeasures to throw off the targeting and guidance systems of missiles. It has to be “hardened” against the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion. It needs sophisticated onboard communications, including the ability to hold secure video conferences with military and government leaders worldwide-including the commanders of America’s nuclear arsenal. Finally, it needs a toilet.

 

A new Marine One, designated the VH-71 Kestrel, was to be developed by Lockheed Martin, based on the Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. The VH-71 suffered from engineering bloat, as requirements kept being added to the helicopter, drastically increasing weight and cost. The program to build 23 helicopters eventually ballooned to between $10 and $17 billion dollars. It was cancelled in June 2009 after three billion was spent. Even President Obama sounded skeptical of the need for a new helicopter, noting that the ones he was flying seemed “just fine”.

 

In May 2014, a new contract was signed with longtime helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky for the a Marine One based on the Sikorsky S-92 medium helicopter. The S-92 can carry up to nineteen passengers, cruise at 174 miles an hour, and can fly for up to 539 nautical miles unrefueled. It was never bought by the U.S. Military, although it serves with the armed forces of several other countries, including Canada and South Korea.

 

The contract is for six helicopters at a cost of $1.42 billion dollars, with the first helicopter due in 2017. Seventeen more helicopters will follow, and assuming the rest of the fleet costs roughly the same, the total program will still cost almost $6 billion dollars-$9 billion if you factor in the VH-71 debacle, which you should.

 

If all goes according to plan-and hey, why would anyone suspect otherwise-the VH-92s should enter service in 2020. That’ll be too late for President Obama, but will make a pretty nice ride for the next President-or the President after that.

 

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a22062/the-presidents-new-helicopter-fleet-close-to-first-flight/

 

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Report: Peninsula bases in crosshairs of climate change

(DAILY PRESS, 27 July 16) . Tamara Dietrich

 

When Hurricane Isabel pummeled Hampton Roads with 5- to 8-foot waves in 2003, low-lying Langley Air Force Base in Hampton was largely underwater, sustaining more than $160 million in damage.

 

Now, a new Union of Concerned Scientists report warns that Isabel was just a grim taste of things to come. That flooding and storm surge at Langley and other coastal military installations will only get worse – maybe a lot worse.

 

In fact, under the worst-case scenario of 6.9 feet of sea level rise for this region by the end of this century, the base stands to lose nearly 90 percent of its land to daily flooding as it essentially becomes part of the tidal zone.

 

Meanwhile, some 20 miles away along the James River, roughly 60 percent of Joint Base Langley-Eustis could be lost to high tides – with even more lost to the extreme spring and king tides.

 

Coastal military installations in Hampton Roads have known for years they’re in the crosshairs of climate change. The region is a national hot spot for sea level rise, second behind New Orleans, as the Atlantic warms and expands, the land continues to sink and ocean currents shift.

 

Such changes will continue to drive the high tide line inland, while hurricanes and nor’easters push storm surge ever deeper into low-lying areas.

 

The report projects flooding exposure for the years 2050, 2070 and 2100 based on two global sea level rise scenarios – intermediate and highest – from the National Climate Assessment.

 

The intermediate rise is 3.7 feet above 2012 global levels by the end of the century, while the highest is 6.3 feet above.

 

In hot spot Hampton Roads, though, the intermediate projection is 4.5 feet by 2100, and the highest is nearly 7 feet.

 

UCS scientists say the highest scenario becomes ever more plausible as recent studies indicate land-based ice sheets are melting at an ever faster rate.

 

Among the report’s findings for land loss at Langley and Fort Eustis:

 

.Today, Fort Eustis experiences routine tidal flooding about nine times a year, mostly in wetlands. Under an intermediate scenario, flooding will expand by 2050 to affect roadways and other areas on the base;

 

.Under the highest scenario, by 2050, tidal flooding at Eustis will occur about 540 times a year in current flood-prone areas. By 2070, wetland areas could be inundated most of the year;

 

.Under the highest scenario, about 60 percent of Fort Eustis and nearly 90 percent of Langley would become part of the tidal zone, flooding daily, by the end of the century.

 

And among its findings for storm surge:

 

.By 2050 under an intermediate scenario, the area at Langley exposed to flooding from a Category 1 hurricane increases by more than 30 percent to about 85 percent. It increases to about 65 percent at Fort Eustis;

 

.Today, the two bases experience flooding mostly at 5 feet or less during a Category 1. By 2100, under the intermediate scenario, the same storm will expose more than 30 percent of Langley and 40 percent of Fort Eustis to flooding 5- to 10-feet deep.

 

Astrid Caldis at the UCS said she did a deep tour of Langley last month and found the base is being proactive in preparing for sea level rise and recurrent flooding. Together with neighboring NASA Langley Research Center, the base developed a tool to predict which buildings will flood during an upcoming event, the better to prepare and protect vulnerable areas.

 

After Isabel, the base raised electrical transformers and HVAC units and removed mechanical rooms from the basements of most of its facilities, the report states. It also installed integrated flood barriers at the entrances of vulnerable facilities. The barriers are a series of steel beams that act as door dams to keep flood waters out.

 

At Fort Eustis, spokeswoman Angela D. Watson said they take a three-pronged approach to resilience against a rising sea: prevention and mitigation, preparation, and recovery.

 

This approach includes stabilizing shoreline and modifying infrastructure at both Eustis and Langley, partnering with local emergency management officers and first responders, and using flood prediction tools.

 

It also means keeping 50,000 sandbags on hand at all times, she said, while Langley also has a groundwater pumping station that can move 7.4 million gallons of water an hour from the airfield back to the bay.

 

“Our consistent resilience against short-notice flooding will also help us counter the longer-term threat of sea level rise,” Watson said. “It is important for our installation to protect our environment today to sustain our operations in the future.”

 

The U.S. Navy has been especially proactive in pushing resilience to climate change, particularly at Naval Station Norfolk, the largest such installation in the world, and Naval Air Station Oceana near Virginia Beach.

 

Michelle Hamor, chief of flood plain management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, says they’ve partnered on resilience studies at the Norfolk base to help inform decision-making.

 

“And we anticipate we’ll partner on (other) studies in the future,” Hamor said.

 

So far, she said they haven’t partnered with installations on the Peninsula, but the Corps has invited Langley and NASA Langley to participate in a study of repetitive flooding in the Newmarket Creek watershed, where the facilities are located.

 

Municipalities throughout Hampton Roads have taken their own steps to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate, and Hamor called for more collaboration.

 

“We already have multiple areas today that experience repetitive flooding,” Hamor said. “To successfully increase resilience really will require the partnership of federal, state and local governments. They need to work together.”

 

http://www.dailypress.com/news/science/dp-nws-concerned-scientists-military-climate-20160727-story.html

 

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Canada may become the first country to ditch the F-35 fighter jet

(VICE NEWS, 26 July 16) . Justin Ling

 

 

If newly-obtained documents are any indication, Canada may become the first country to scrap its order for the American F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive weapons program ever. Letters sent to the big industry players are just further evidence that the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to pull the trigger on a whole new open competition to pick Canada’s next generation of fighter jet.

 

That competition will likely favour an out-of-the-box jet, over the expensive F-35.

 

Industry sources confirmed that the government set up meetings with big-name players in the aerospace industry in recent weeks to figure out its next steps in buying a new fighter jet – this, even though it’s technically already on the hook to buy 65 of the F-35 Lightning II jets, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

 

Those face-to-face meetings took place with representatives from two US companies: Boeing, Lockheed Martin itself; Sweden’s Saab; the French Dassault; and the European multinational consortium Eurofighter. All of them make fighters that, while less advanced than the stealthy F-35, are vastly cheaper.

 

The meetings follow a 38-page questionnaire, provided to VICE News, which was sent to the five industry players, asking them to lay out the pros and cons of their jets.

 

This inquiry is likely the first step in what promises to be a protracted competition to choose a warplane to replace the current fleet of 79 CF-188 Hornets, a version of the American F-18, that Canada bought in the 1980s. Those jets, the letter notes, “should have been replaced years ago”

 

“The Government of Canada remains committed to building a more agile, better-equipped military, while ensuring best value for Canadians,” reads a letter sent to the companies that accompanied the questionnaire.

 

Pulling out of the international consortium to build the F-35 program – which dates back to 1998 and includes the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, and others – could be costly for the remaining partners, and may force some of the smaller states to reconsider their participation. The total cost of the program for Canada is pegged at some $25 billion, over the life of the jets. The full cost of the procurement is virtually impossible to pin down, but it is estimated that the full life-cycle cost for the US’ nearly 2,500 planes could hit $1.5 trillion.

 

While the document stresses that “no decision has been made at this time and all procurement options are being considered,” those in the industry who have obtained the letter say it likely means that Ottawa will start from scratch and force a whole new competition for the jets.

 

Ottawa isn’t wasting time. The letters, sent July 7, have a due date of July 29 for the submission of proposals.

 

A spokesperson for the Department of National Defense wouldn’t comment on the letters, but indicated that they would be posted publicly next week.

 

 

If Canada does go back to the drawing board, it could be bad news for the international F-35 program, which has been beset by one problem after another. According to a March 2016 report, its software remained buggy. It shook mid-flight. Its diagnostics system had trouble figuring out what needs repair, and what doesn’t.

 

Those problems, Lockheed Martin contends, have been put to bed. The company expects to announce that the planes are fully operational in US service – with all the kinks worked out – by the end of summer.

 

No country has, thus far, pulled out entirely from the consortium, despite heated political debates in some countries that have chosen the F-35.

 

Since their election in October, the Liberals have been paralyzed on what to do about the procurement process.

 

In their official platform, Trudeau’s party swore: “We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber.” Their plan was to reopen the competition process, rip up the sole-sourced contract to Lockheed Martin, and exclude the F-35 altogether.

 

Trudeau’s team has been more equivocal since taking office. The letters that were sent out in early July certainly suggest that Lockheed Martin will be allowed to participate in the process.

 

If Canada does back out, it could spell two big problems: it could raise costs for the remaining partners, since they will be spread out over fewer overall planes, and it could lead to other smaller partners to back out as well – which, in turn, could increase costs.

 

There are already a few weak links in the consortium.

 

In Australia, currently on the hook to buy 72 of the planes, objections have been raised as well since Trudeau’s election in October. An analyst with independent think tank Air Power Australia, which had long been critical of the F-35, told an Australian Senate committee earlier this year that the plane was a “jackass of all trades and masterful of none,” and compared the entire procurement process to a Ponzi scheme.

 

Italy, also a big customer and most importantly one of the two countries outside the US that will assemble the plane, is still planning to buy the jets, although it scaled back its acquisition by 30 percent. The Norwegian military, which plans to buy 52, has also openly mused about cutting its purchase, thanks to a stagnant economy.

 

Part of the deal with the consortium, meant to offset the staggering costs of the acquisition, was to expand research, development, and upkeep across all partners. Each country would have a chance to vie for contracts and maintenance with the planes, meaning that buying the planes could come with huge economic benefits. But as costs continue to rise, the allure of manufacturing jobs has become less and less attractive.

 

Lockheed Martin does have an insurance policy to keep countries in the consortium: Jobs. The massive American defense company has publicly said that, should Canada withdraw, it could lose 10,000 job opportunities to develop, maintain, and repair the aircraft.

 

The questionnaire sent to industry appears to acknowledge this potential headache.

 

“Please describe the potential opportunities for Canadian companies to be integrated into the production supply chain of this aircraft,” the questionnaire asks prospective suppliers. “Could these opportunities extend to the global supply for future sales of this aircraft? Please explain. Are there future opportunities for Canadian companies to participate in the development of upgrades on the current aircraft and/or developmental opportunities related to a new version of the aircraft?”

 

Canada’s likely alternative is the more practical F/A-18 Super Hornet – an upgraded model of Canada’s current fleet of fighter jets – manufactured by Boeing. Sources have already said that the Trudeau government would be looking to buy a number of Super Hornets while they figure out whether to stick with the F-35, or go elsewhere; Australia made a similar move during its procurement process.

 

The questionnaire certainly hints that the Super Hornet could be an ideal replacement for their aging predecessor.

 

“If the current CF-18 gun ammunition, deployable countermeasures (e.g. chaff/flares), missiles and bombs, are incompatible with the new aircraft this item should include the cost of an initial stock of such items,” the introduction to the questionnaire reads.

 

If Canada purchases some F/A-18s in the interim, it’s deeply unlikely that it would go on to buy the F-35s as well, as it would require a whole different set of trained personnel, equipment and weaponry, which could bring higher costs.

 

But the letter provided with the questionnaire hints at the government doing exactly that – citing a perceived “capability gap” – telling prospective manufacturers that “new aircraft must be acquired as soon as possible so Canada can remain a credible and dependable ally.”

 

Those in the industry have balked at the idea that this gap exists at all. Canadian CF-18 jets had been used in the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, regularly participate in exercises in Eastern Europe, and are regularly used to patrol the arctic. Life-extending measures will mean those jets will be usable well after the delivery date of whichever aircraft Canada chooses to buy.

 

Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canada’s defense minister, has, nevertheless, liberally employed that talking point as of late, saying that the country needs to move quickly – but not, evidently, on the F-35.

 

Canada’s current fleet of jets, however, will remain operational at least until 2023. Even factoring in some delays, the F-35s are expected to be delivered by 2020, though Lockheed Martin contends that if Canada really wants them sooner, it could work out a deal to have the jets delivered within 18 months.

 

On top of this, the F/A-18 is simply a less capable aircraft. The technological argument for the F-35, whatever its drawbacks, is pretty solid.

 

And when this journalist sat in the cockpits of the flight simulators for each jet, there was no competition – the F-35 was easier to control, easier to shoot, and more maneuverable. In the industry, there’s no question: the F-35 is the better jet.

 

But Boeing has marketed the F-18 more as a minivan than a Ferrari, highlighting its stability, cost, and reliability – for example, it has two engines as opposed to the F-35’s single one, a big plus over the vast expanses of Canada’s North where an engine failure could spell doom.

 

“It’s difficult to imagine a better value proposition,” Roberto Valla, Boeing’s Vice President of Global Sales for Canada, told a room of journalists at a defense show in Ottawa earlier in 2016.

 

A statement from Boeing, provided to VICE News, contends that “We believe the Super Hornet is the best fit for Canada, with low acquisition and sustainment costs, advanced capabilities, and economic benefits for Canadian industry, building on Boeing’s $6 billion in direct contracts with Canadian companies over the past five years alone.”

 

A Boeing representative previously admitted that, should Ottawa go for the F/A-18, it would not necessarily come with any direct economic benefit to Canada.

 

The other options are less likely candidates. There’s the Eurofighter Typhoon, a plane that’s been in service for more than a decade with a handful of NATO states and others. Then there’s the Dassault Rafale, used by France and ordered by a small number of Middle Eastern states. The Saab Gripen, a smaller one-engined fighter, is currently deployed by the air forces of nations like Sweden and Hungary.

 

Ultimately, those are all unlikely candidates for heavy-lifting NATO partners like Canada. Ricardo Traven, chief test pilot for the F/A-18 Super Hornet, said the competition is really between the F-35 and the F/A-18. The others? “We kind of squash them,” he said.

 

The Gripen, for example – “we’re not even in the same class,” Traven said. “It is, to me, a toy.”

 

Boeing says it is welcoming the open competition, confident that it is the cheapest of the two options. Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, hopes that Ottawa will stick to the precedent of other nations and eventually choose to stick with the Lightning.

 

https://news.vice.com/article/canada-may-become-the-first-country-to-ditch-the-f-35-fighter-jet?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-27-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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First Operational F-35A Squadron Finishes IOC To-Do List

(DEFENSE NEWS, 27 July 16) . Valerie Insinna

 

WASHINGTON – The Air Force’s first F-35 squadron has completed all preparations necessary to declare the joint strike fighter combat capable, and sources say an initial operating capability declaration could be made early next week.

 

Twelve jets have received the modifications necessary for IOC, 21 combat-mission-ready pilots are available, and the maintenance infrastructure is ready to support the Hill Air Force Base’s 34th Fighter Squadron, said some of those operators on July 27. With paperwork filed, all that’s left is for Air Combat Command head Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle to sign off.

 

“We have achieved all our milestones,” said Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, deputy commander of the 388th Maintenance Group. Anderson, along with several other maintainers and pilots from Hill Air Force Base, spoke to reporters over a conference call. “We have submitted all of the data to ACC for General Carlisle’s consideration on making that declaration.”

 

Over the past couple of weeks, pilots at Hill finished up the last remaining items on its IOC checklist, said Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron commander. For instance, the Air Force considers pilots “combat mission ready” only after he or she complete a certain number of training sorties during a 30- or 90-day period, so some operators had to conduct additional flights.

 

“As of today, we have 21 pilots combat mission ready based on the number of training sorties they’ve done in the last 30 days,” he said. “That was one thing that was yellow.”

 

They also went through “pilot verifications,” which Watkins described as similar to an oral examination. After doing an in-depth study of the F-35’s mission systems, tactics and potential threats, pilots briefed a panel, who then quizzed the pilots on a simulated mission.

 

The Air Force has laid out several requirements for declaring the F-35A ready for battle. It needs at least 12 combat-configured F-35As with enough trained pilots, maintainers and other personnel needed to support the jets. The aircraft must be deployable and able to conduct basic close-air support, air interdiction and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense missions.

 

Hill Air Force Base has received 15 F-35As, and expect another to be delivered in August, Anderson said. Twelve jets have gone through modifications necessary to make them ready for combat, including improvements to the fuel system, additional lightning protection and a modification that expands the flight envelope of the aircraft.

 

All of the aircraft have installed the latest software, which fixed previous software instability issues, he said.

 

An early IOC declaration would be no surprise given Carlisle’s own statements on the matter. The ACC commander told reporters earlier this month to expect a declaration during the “leading edge” of the Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 window for IOC.

 

Even though the version of the aircraft’s logistics system planned to be ready for the milestone, Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) 2.0.2, will not come online until this fall, Carlisle has said that would not be a “limiting factor” on his decision.

 

The recent deployment of seven F-35As to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, proved the current version meets requirements for the aircraft to operate away from home base, he said. During that event, Hill Air Force Base pilots conducted exercises and maintainers serviced the plane using a deployable version of ALIS.

 

“We’ve deployed with the current software we had and it worked,” Carlisle said. “The Marines have deployed with it in its current configuration. It’s not quite up to where we wanted to be, but there’s workarounds.”

 

Past precedent is another indication a decision could happen early in August. The Marine Corps, which declared their jets combat-capable last year, wrapped up final tests of the aircraft and filed the paperwork necessary for IOC on July 27, 2015. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford – then the Marine Corps commandant – signed off on the jets days later, on July 31.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/air-space/air-force/2016/07/27/first-operational-f-35a-squadron-ioc-hill-air-force/87640282/

 

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US Navy’s Sixth-Generation F/A-XX Fighter: Just a ‘Super’ Super Hornet?

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST, 26 July 16) . Dave Majumdar

 

The United States Navy does not appear to have a coherent plan for how its carrier-based tactical aircraft will operate in the post-2030 threat environment. Sources tell The National Interest that even the Navy’s planned F/A-XX will not solve the service’s challenges in operating in an anti-access/area denial environment (A2/AD) defended by advanced integrated air defenses and a new generation of enemy warplanes. Meanwhile, the Navy remains skeptical of the F-35C-which is the only aircraft that might meet most of its requirements during that era.

 

“Naval aviation has got to get beyond the calcification and thinking that is inherent to older designs in order to be able to keep the aircraft carrier relevant in the future security environment that’s going to be dominated by advanced surface-to-air missile systems like the S-300 and S-400,” Jerry Hendrix, director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, told The National Interest.

 

 

Despite the threat, the U.S. Navy will field only a handful of stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighters on the carrier flight deck in the 2030s. According to sources close to the Navy, while the service is no longer worried about the capability the stealthy single-engine warplane will bring to the fleet, both the N98 Air Warfare Directorate in the Pentagon and the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) remain extremely concerned about the cost of the F-35C. “They’re looking at it in a very short-sighted way. They’re still skeptical because the expense hasn’t come down to the degree they wanted,” the source explained. “Already the aircraft squadron buy of the new airplane is smaller than the Hornet squadron they’re supposed to replace-10 aircraft vice 12-simply because they can’t afford it.”

 

Hendrix said that the problem is simple. If the Navy has a flat top line budget and the new aircraft is much more expensive, the service simply can’t afford as many planes. “If you don’t have a budget line plus up, you’ve got buy fewer aircraft,” Hendrix noted. “In a flat budget environment, there is no additional money coming so you have to take the cut in your overall number of assets.”

 

Because of the sheer cost of the F-35C, if the Navy could find a way to leave the Joint Strike Fighter program, it would, the source said. Ideally, the Navy would like to bypass the F-35C and move directly to the nascent F/A-XX-which is still technically in an analysis of alternatives phase. “They would really like to delay it until they get to F/A-XX because they think it’ll be designed more according to their liking,” the source said. “But the fact is that F/A-XX is just a dream on a piece of paper right now and it’s a dream they’re getting push back on from DOD [Department of Defense] leadership.”

 

While many outside observers had assumed that a future F/A-XX would be some kind of supersonically cruising, broadband all-aspect stealth sixth-generation fighter or even a new long-range unmanned stealth bomber, the Navy’s vision for the F/A-XX is much more mundane. Not only does the Navy currently envision the F/A-XX as a manned aircraft, the service is not aiming to build a jet that is significantly more capable than the existing Super Hornet. Indeed, the F/A-XX-as it is currently envisioned-would offer little more capability than a F/A-18E/F with some radar cross section reductions and increased range. “What they really want-unfortunately-is something that looks remarkably like an F/A-18 Hornet-just super, heterodyned and modernized. It’s essentially just a super Super Hornet,” the source said. ‘That aircraft is simply not going to be able to operate in an S-300/S-400 anti-air environment. It doesn’t have an RCS [radar cross section] that’s going to allow it to do that.”

 

The reason behind the bizarre F/A-XX conception is the Navy’s internal cabal of Super Hornet pilots and weapons systems officers-who the source described as the F/A-18 lobby. “The Super Hornet lobby owns naval aviation writ large,” the source said. “They’re very close to Boeing and they tend to revert to a Boeing-like design.”

 

Indeed, one of the reasons the naval aviation community is getting severe pushback from senior DOD leadership and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is because the F/A-XX is being envisioned as an extremely conservative design that is less advanced by some margin than the F-35C, the source said. The Defense Department-particularly Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work-and Mabus had both wanted a much more capable long-range unmanned stealth bomber, which the Super Hornet community is uncomfortable with.

 

According to the source, the Super Hornet community torpedoed the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program because of their insistence that the drone be an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft optimized for a permissive environment. The source pointed out that a deep strike optimized unmanned aircraft would be a threat to the fighter-attack community’s control naval aviation. “Butts in seats is how they justify their leadership role,” the source said.

 

However, the Defense Department and Secretary of the Navy insisted on a path toward a deep strike capability-which ultimately resulted in the program being reborn under the guise of the Stingray carrier-based autonomous refueling aircraft. “Naval aviation has been thrown out of the front office on at least two occasions when they come in and propose the same damn thing over again,” the source said. “They don’t want anything on the table to get in the way of F/A-XX and F/A-XX looks an awful lot like a super Super Hornet.”

 

Given the opposition from the Defense Department, the Navy is trying to intentionally force a decision on the future of the naval aviation enterprise into either a new Clinton or Trump administration. “They’re simply playing to get beyond this administration in hopes of getting a better bite at the apple in the next administration where they could T-up F/A-XX and perhaps truncate the F-35 buy in order to get something they really want,” the source said.

 

Meanwhile, the carrier air wing will still consist of venerable fourth-generation Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the mid-2030s. Asked directly what if any steps the service is taking to address how it intends to operate the fourth-generation Super Hornet in the post-2030 threat environment, the Naval Air Systems Command offered this: “Ongoing analysis by NAVAIR and the NAWC organizations are working to define challenges, limitations, and operational capability requirements to fight in an A2/AD 2030 environment.  Additionally, OPNAV prioritizes our capabilities into the future,” reads a Naval Air Systems Command statement. “The Navy continuously analyzes the capabilities of the Carrier Air Wing assets and potential adversarial capabilities and develops roadmaps and flight plans for technology maturation, insertion, and deployment ensuring tactical relevance well past the 2030 timeframe.  NAVAIR in coordination with OPNAV is developing investment plans for all facets of the carrier air wing; F/A-18s, EA-18Gs, E-2C/Ds, JSF, etc.”

 

Bryan McGrath, managing director of the FerryBridge Group naval consultancy said that the carrier air wing will look much like it does today in 2030-but with a handful of F-35Cs to fight inside highly defended airspace. “I think the Super Hornets in the fleet are going to do a lot of the same things they do today-strike/AAW/ASUW. Operations in a contested environment where more stealthy strikers are required will likely fall to the F-35C’s, but keep in mind a Wing fights as a system, and the Growlers will be up creating opportunities for the Super Hornets with their ability to jam,” McGrath said. “Additionally, I think you’ll see a move in the next fifteen years to default to weapons that are precise-and longer range. This would enable the Super Hornets to stand off and attack.”

 

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said that the Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter-Air (NIFC-CA) will be the key for the Navy’s carrier-based air operations in the post-2030 environment. One option is “using F-35Cs or Bs as stealthy ISR platforms that passively find targets, which are communicated using secure datalinks to F/A-18 E/F ‘missile trucks’ located at standoff range from threat air defenses or aircraft,” Clark said. But the Navy might also be “conducting strikes like today with F/A-18 E/Fs launching standoff weapons while protected by E/A-18Gs, but complemented by F-35C as a stealthy stand-in jamming platform.”

 

Additional, the Navy might eventually be able to use the future MQ-21 Stingray unmanned aerial refuelers “as ISR platforms, which send targets via secure datalinks to F-35Cs. The F-35Cs act as C2 platforms and assign targets to F/A-18 E/F,” Clark said. As such, if the Navy is simply looking at the F/A-XX to fill the gap once the F/A-18E/F leaves service, a super Super Hornet design might make sense in the overall context of the entire NIFC-CA construct-which will include everything from E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes to Aegis cruisers and destroyers.

 

Nonetheless, fundamentally, the problem-according to the source-is that the Navy simply does not have an answer to the question as to how the carrier air wing will fight in an anti-access/area denial environment. “Naval aviation refuses to look long range and to think about the threat environment,” the source said. “It’s no longer the future threat environment-it’s the threat environment. If the Russians put up an A2/AD bubble over Syria-if they activated their S-400 system in Syria-the F/A-18 Hornet is not going to go in there. That means the Navy is essentially locked out of the Eastern Mediterranean.”

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/us-navys-sixth-generation-f-xx-fighter-just-super-super-17128?page=show

 

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Navy Announces Greater Flexibility for FY-17 GMT

(Naval Education and Training Command, 26 July 16) . Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

 

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) — The Navy announced via Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN) 166/16, additional flexibility for the fiscal year 2017 General Military Training (GMT) requirements released July 26.

 

The two categories of GMT, Standardized Core Training (SCT) and Command-Assigned Readiness Enhancement (CARE) training will continue to place additional control at the discretion of commands in determining the frequency at which some of the training is delivered.

 

The following SCT topics are required by all uniformed personnel during the upcoming fiscal year either through instructor led, face-to-face delivery at the command level or, in some cases, completed individually via Navy eLearning:

 

  1. Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Awareness
  2. Equal Opportunity/Sexual Harassment/Grievance Procedures (EO/SH)
  3. Suicide Prevention
  4. Combating Trafficking in Persons General Awareness
  5. Antiterrorism Level I Awareness
  6. Cyber Security Awareness
  7. Counterintellligence Awareness and Reporting
  8. Operations Security (OPSEC)
  9. Privacy and Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  10. Records Management

 

All of the following CARE topics for the upcoming fiscal year are to be delivered to the appropriate audience at an appropriate periodicity as determined by local command leadership, allowing individual commands the flexibility to determine what training is required and how often it is accomplished. There is NO minimum periodicity associated with these topics:

 

  1. Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Awareness
  2. Stress Management
  3. Domestic Violence Prevention and Reporting
  4. Sexual Health and Responsibility
  5. Physical Readiness
  6. Hazing Policy and Prevention
  7. Personal Financial Management
  8. Operational Risk Management
  9. Energy Policy

 

Additionally, there are currently four GMT courses available via mobile applications — OPSEC, Records Management, PII and Domestic Violence Prevention. The apps are “bring-your-own-device” tools designed to work on personal devices outside of the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) domain. Users can download the apps from both Google Play and iTunes app stores at no cost.

 

All individually-completed web-based and mobile app delivered training is recorded and tracked in the individual’s electronic training jacket. Command-delivered training completion is documented in FLTMPS (Fleet Training Management Planning System).

 

For additional information related to the GMT program and to access the GMT Web page, go to Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) at http://www.nko.navy.mil/. Once logged into NKO, select the “GMT” option under the “Personal Development” menu item to access the Navy’s GMT Web page.

 

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=95884

 

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The Military Has A Flight-Readiness Problem That’s Not Going Away

(TASK AND PURPOSE, 27 July 16) . Sarah Sicard

 

Pilots, maintenance crews, and aircraft are suffering the effects of budget cuts.

 

Since sequestration began in 2013, the reduced number of hours flown by pilots, crews trained, and aircraft maintained has created a major problem: a lack of flight readiness across all the services. While the effect of budget constraints was not at first apparent, a rise in-flight mishaps, decreases in pilot retention, and increases in the number of aircraft that simply can’t fly have made it clear to policymakers that U.S. air superiority is suffering.

 

“The military is increasingly willing to speak up and say, ‘Yes, this is a real problem,'” House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, told Task & Purpose in a recent interview.

 

But the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act – the bill that provides the budget for the entire Department of Defense – has renewed hope that the military can begin to remedy those issues.

 

“Our bill does not say, ‘Well this increases flight hours by five a month,'” Thornberry said. “But it tries to turn the corner on all of these factors that are decreasing our readiness and increasing the risk.”

 

However, the issues did not arise overnight, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, a Democrat from Guam, told the members of the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing on July 6.

 

“What the services are experiencing now, and what we are working to remedy in the fiscal year 2017 NDAA, are the consequences of years of high operational tempo experienced by fewer aircraft, with fewer experienced operators and skilled military and civilian personnel to sustain them,” she added.

 

And the numbers paint an alarming picture.

 

In a Heritage Foundation briefing on July 7, Thornberry reported that currently, the Air Force is short 4,000 maintainers and more than 700 pilots. In 2015, the Navy had a backlog of 11 planes in need of repairs, and in fiscal year 2017, it will have a backlog of 278. And Marine Corps pilots, who require on average 10 hours of flight time each month, are only getting around four.

 

But these are just a few of the statistics that have decision-makers concerned.

 

House Armed Services Committee member, and the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot, Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, shared further insight about the severity of the situation.

 

Around the time she began her career as a pilot, the Air Force had 134 fighter squadrons. Now, there are only 55.

 

“I hear from my friends on active duty about how the forces have been really bleeding significantly over the last years in the readiness area,” McSally told Task & Purpose.

 

According to McSally, pilots were flying 200 to 250 hours a year a decade ago. Now it’s roughly 120 to 180. Over time, this will become a significant issue when considering the level of aviation mastery that flight leads, aviation instructors, and squadron commanders should have, she said.

 

“This kind of trend is one where we’re going to have people missing out on critical experience,” McSally added.

 

During the July HASC hearing, all the services reported that flight hours have dipped to the bare minimum required for pilots to essentially avoid probation.

 

Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, testified that rookie pilots are getting far fewer training hours, roughly half of what he got.

 

“Average aircrew flight time has reached historic lows,” he added. “Every lost day, every missed hour, is missed experience this nation depends upon in the future.”

 

But it’s not just the pilots who are affected. Aircraft are in a state of disrepair, with some of the services needing to borrow parts from discontinued planes. Maintenance crews have been sacrificed too. And readiness takes time and stability to rebuild, not just one year of adequate funding.

 

 

According to Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott West’s testimony, it would take seven years to restore maintenance crews to pre-sequestration levels.

 

“Our readiness is imbalanced at a time when the Air Force is small, old and heavily tasked,” West added.

 

The impact of the imbalance is reflected in aviation mishap rates not just in the Air Force, but across all the services.

 

“The facts are that the rate of Class A mishaps per flight hour are going up,” Thornberry said. “It all depends on what you compare the accident rate to. If you just look at the past few years, there has been a significant increase in Class A mishaps per 100,000 hours of flight. B and C are going up as well.”

 

Korean depot maintenance saves AFRC time, money

 

Class A mishaps are categorized as those where there is a fatality, the loss of an aircraft, or an incident result in more than $2 million in damages. Class C mishaps involve damages of $50,000 to $500,000 and personnel injuries. Class B mishaps cover everything in between.

 

Since October 2014, the Air Force has reported 27 Class A mishaps, the Navy has had 30, and the Army suffered 43. And just this year, the Marine Corps’ Class C mishap rate doubled.

 

“The effect multiplies over time. Whatever you see today – it will become worse tomorrow and the next day,” Thornberry stated.

 

What’s more, key airspace stakeholders like China and Russia have been putting a great deal of spend toward new military aircraft and increased hours of flight training – something that McSally is particularly concerned with.

 

If Russia made a run at the Baltics, she suggested, “We would not have air superiority.”

 

“If we think that all we’re going to be doing for the next [few] years is counterinsurgency deployments against threats like ISIS,” she added, “that is a very naive view of what our military might be asked to do.”

 

Thornberry echoed that sentiment.

 

“There is concern among some of our pilots that our adversaries are getting more training hours,” he said. “One of the things they’re concerned about is the sophistication of the aircraft from some of these air-peer competitors, plus the training that their pilots are getting make them a real threat in a way that we have not faced at least since the fall of the Soviet Union.”

 

Both McSally and Thornberry voiced apprehension over the fact that our fleets across the services are smaller and older than they’ve been in decades. And across the board, U.S. aircraft are aging faster than they can be replaced.

 

With the exception the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is still in the early stages of production, the Air Force’s aircraft are all decades-old. The last B-52 was produced in 1962. The 1970s gave rise to the A-10 Warthog, F-15, and F-16. The B-1 was produced in the 1980s, and the B-2 followed in the 1990s.

 

While new aircraft are expensive, as demonstrated by the laundry list of shortfalls experienced by the F-35, the maintenance cost to keep older planes in the air is not necessarily any more efficient than purchasing new ones. And there is little relief in sight.

 

In a later segment of the hearing, Bordallo asked the service chiefs if they thought the solution was stable, predictable budgets or an increase in funding.

 

The response from all four branches was unanimous: They need both.

 

But it’s unclear whether or not that is possible. Though Thornberry suggested that the fiscal year 2017 NDAA is a good starting point.

 

As for those in Congress and the administration who don’t support an increase in military spending – particularly regarding aviation readiness – McSally and Thornberry surmised that they simply don’t recognize the danger.

 

“There are some people who are just against increasing military spending because they’re against increasing any kind of spending,” Thornberry said. “I do not believe those people have talked to the pilots or looked into the matter themselves.”

 

http://taskandpurpose.com/military-losing-air-superiority-pilots-arent-flying-enough/

 

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What Happens When Pilots Aren’t Allowed To Fly

(TASK AND PURPOSE, 26 July 16) . Carl Forsling

 

Lately there have been many articles and reports about the services in general, and the Marine Corps in particular, reducing stateside training hours for aviators.

 

The reasons for this are varied. Long story short, resources are limited, and a disproportionate share are going to the fight against ISIS and other overseas operations. This means that for those not actually on deployment, there’s not much flying going on. Many pilots are getting fewer than 15 hours a month, and some are getting less than 10.

 

 

When I started flying in the Marine Corps two decades ago, pilots assigned to line units regularly got about 30 hours per month. That gradually dropped to 20. With 30 hours, one steadily improves. With 20, one is at least confident in fundamental skills. With 15 and below, one is just focusing on the bare essentials.

 

Once a pilot goes below about 15 hours, his skills start to atrophy. The fundamentals of flying, which need to come naturally, require conscious thought when a pilot hasn’t been in the air enough. So of those limited hours, many have to be spent just practicing takeoffs, landings, and instrument approaches. Every pilot is required to get prescribed numbers of these essential tasks at regular intervals. Those flights aren’t just administrative, they’re essential. Aviation is a dangerous business, even without bad guys shooting at you.

 

Other military jobs are dangerous in a combat zone. Military aviation is dangerous all the time. If you can’t bring the aircraft back home at night or bad weather, then the enemy doesn’t even have to work. Practicing the fundamentals is essential. But military pilots don’t just fly from point A to point B. They’re expected to do important and demanding tasks in-between, like picking up troops or dropping bombs. The bare minimum does not maintain adequate proficiency in those skills without compromising either mission accomplishment or safety.

 

Some may wonder whether the extra flight time these pilots get while deployed makes up for the deficit incurred stateside. It does to a small extent. Pilots often catch up a little on flight hours while deployed. Modern simulators also make up from some of the shortfall, but there’s a huge difference between playing a videogame of landing an aircraft in the dust and actually doing it. Just like in football, one can’t just just practice like a madman for a few months, then play Madden 17 for the rest of the year, and expect to complete at a high level.

 

And competing at a high level is, or will be, the problem. As much as President Obama was criticized for saying ISIS was the JV team, as far as aviation goes, it is. It has no real air force or integrated air defense system, which was also true of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of Iraqi insurgents. While the U.S. is blessed to have a large contingent of combat experienced aviators who at know what it’s like to see tracer rounds travelling the wrong direction, that experience has come at the price of not practicing for tougher foes and tougher mission sets.

 

While there have been many individual missions that have required exceptional skill and heroism, the bulk of combat aviation sorties since 9/11 have been missions such as “battlefield circulations” for assault aircraft, i.e. moving people and stuff from base to base. Other platforms have similar woes. Many a fighter pilot who thought he’d be dogfighting MiGs has instead found himself working as a JDAM truck driver when he’s not flying a “manned UAV” providing ISR (Intelligence/Surveillance/Reconnaissance) via a Lightning pod or similar system.

 

What they aren’t doing is practicing missions with large flights of multiple aircraft types or against enemies with “double digit” surface-to-air missiles. While deployed, the military has to do the mission, whatever that is. Back home, the mission should be to rest, recover, refit, and prepare for the next fight or potential fight.

 

When the number of hours is barely enough to sustain proficiency in the basics of all-weather flying and landing, it’s laughable to think pilots will get really good at the more demanding mission sets. On top of just maintaining the basics, aviators stateside also have to support tasking from higher headquarters, ranging from the useful, such as helping the infantry train, to the useless, such as supporting “dog and pony” shows for communities or dignitaries.

 

A few pilots, either the best, or those who their commanders like the most, depending on who you ask, will get to practice massive missions at advanced training such as the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

 

The rest of the herd get the minimums to keep the crew legal to fly their assigned missions. That comes with a price in both safety and mission accomplishment.

 

Beyond those, the real cost is in the long term. Doing the minimum in aviation training is like paying the minimum on your credit card. You can live large for awhile, going to parties like the one with ISIS. Eventually the bill gets bigger and bigger, and you end up either limping along for years, never able to get ahead, or going broke when you can’t even afford the minimum.

 

Typically In Marine aviation, a new pilot checks in as a first lieutenant or new captain, does a deployment or two, then ends up as an instructor to the next crop of new pilots. That now mid-grade captain is expected to be at his most proficient at tactics, able to lead the most difficult missions and train the next group of lieutenants.

 

If most of those captains barely get the minimums stateside, then spend their deployments schlepping cargo from base to base, the next generation doesn’t get mentorship and flight leadership knowledge passed on to them. And if that group only gets the minimums, too, then.

 

Those captains eventually go off to a school, or a staff job, or whatever. They come back as majors, who are now neck-deep in administrivia running operations or maintenance, and who fly the minimums, or maybe even less, because they’re too busy dealing with making quad slides in PowerPoint for their commander to show his commander. Besides, the captains are supposed to handle most of the actual flight training, right?

 

Eventually, the Marine Corps will be left with squadrons full of pilots who are salty enough from combat service to attract wild deer, but who worry about the basics, like doing shipboard landings.

 

When I started in Marine aviation, the old guys, the lieutenant colonels and colonels, often had four or five thousand hours of flight time, sometimes more. By the time I left, I was considered an unusually high-time pilot with only about 3500 hours. Those behind me are on a pace for far less.

 

The Marine Corps will never cry uncle on its assigned missions overseas. That “will do” mentality has kept the Marine Corps in good stead for 240 years now. But when what it physically “can do” falls short of what it will do, something is going to break. The nation’s leadership in the White House and in Congress either need to give Marine air more or ask less of it, or the broken something is likely to be many multimillion dollar aircraft and their crews.

 

http://taskandpurpose.com/marine-pilots-arent-flying-nearly-enough/

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of July 18, 2016

Teammates,

 

Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 clips for the week of July 18:

 

LOCAL COVERAGE

FRCSE avionics shop becomes first Navy depot repair site for P-8A

FRCSW Sailor Helps Suicidal Man On The Bridge

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

Army Aviator Receives Medal of Honor for Heroism in Vietnam War

Defense Firm Banks on ‘Chemputer’ to Spit Out Aircraft Parts

Carter Voices Support for Veto of Defense Bill in Letter to McCain

Drones able to inspect manned aircraft in record time

F-35 impact from unrest in Turkey unclear: Lockheed

Sailors to get more training on finances, new retirement system

Pentagon’s Quest For Single IT Architecture Needs Work, Says GAO

Defense Secretary Warns Of ‘Widespread Negative Consequences’ If Senior Executive Corps Is Cut

Pentagon Wants To Automate Social-Media Checks On Clearance Holders

 

NAVY LIVE: Do’s and Don’ts for Voicing Your Political Opinion on Social Media

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WE’RE SOCIAL!

Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at http://facebook.com/COMFRC

and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

 

FRCSE avionics shop becomes first Navy depot repair site for P-8A

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 15 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s (FRCSE) avionics shop celebrated becoming the first U.S. Navy site to establish depot repair capability on a component of the P-8A “Poseidon” aircraft with a ribbon cutting July 12.

 

This new capability means that Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s (NAS Jax) P-8As will now have a quick, readily accessible repair site for its radars, right down the runway. The result will be faster turnaround time and reduced cost compared to sending the radars off to be repaired or modified.

 

“When I look at FRCSE doing this workload, especially because the P-8s are based here, I realize how we’re moving maintenance capability forward to the flight line – which is where we are here,” said FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart.

 

However, Stuart told the artisans of another reason for the location of the workload.

 

“The reason we put this here in this building wasn’t simply because of the building or the capability,” he said. “It’s because of you and the expertise you have with radar systems. That’s why this work had to come here.”

 

The radar is crucial to the P-8’s patrol mission, and the AN/APY-10 provides the new planes with increased detection capabilities and range.

 

“The APY-10 works over water, on the littorals and over land with incredible high-resolution capabilities,” Stuart said. “It also has aircraft mission systems like weather avoidance. It does it all.”

 

The new Poseidons are quickly becoming a crucial tool for the U.S. Navy. The planes perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in hot spots across the globe, in addition to anti-submarine patrols and other duties.

 

This fact is not lost on the men who keep the planes mission-ready.

 

“This mission is incredibly important to us,” said Adam Perry, supervisor of the FRCSE radar shop. “We’re proud that we are on that tip of the spear. We’re supporting the squadrons who are deploying to Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific.

 

“We’re supporting all of this right now. They’re flying these systems as we speak.”

 

The achievement at FRCSE was a result of three years of hard work between the depot, Naval Air Systems Command and Raytheon, the radar’s manufacturer.

 

“I remember walking in here to an empty room and just having a vision of what this would all eventually look like,” Raytheon’s depot program manager, Alex Sedillo, said as he looked around the room stacked with test equipment and diagnostic machines. “This will seriously cut the turnaround time for repairs and upgrades.

 

“Any repairs or upgrades that are required for the AN/APY-10 radar, they can bring them right off the flight line and they’ll get repaired right here.”

 

The new workspace was already paying off for the P-8 squadrons at NAS Jax before the ribbon was even cut.

 

“Just in the last couple of days we had a mission code update to the radars,” Sedillo said. “In the past, they had to go out to each of the aircraft, which is not the easiest thing to do – to upgrade the hardware.

 

“Yesterday, the Sailors were bringing the parts in and updating them and the job was done in about half the time.”

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6315

 

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FRCSW Sailor Helps Suicidal Man On The Bridge

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 11 July 16) . Jim Markle

 

 

While others drove on by, Lt. Jordan Walma had to stop.

 

“I could tell he was distraught as he was crying as he was walking and I thought, `I can’t let this guy go. I need to try something.’ I was in the number one lane and said, `Hey, just get on my bike and I’ll give you a ride across the bridge,'” Walma recounted.

 

Walma, the Level II Legal Officer and 400 Division Officer at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), knew something wasn’t right yesterday morning as he rode his motorcycle to work crossing the Coronado Bridge to North Island and he saw someone running from the number two lane toward the bridge’s edge.

 

Believing there was an accident he slowed down to anticipate a stopping point of vehicles. That’s when he found the lone pedestrian walking toward the mid-span of the bridge.

 

The man acted erratically and moved from lane to lane in front of traffic, and then to the side of the bridge where he paused to look down at the water; then slowly made his way toward the bridge’s high point.

 

At about 6 a.m. Walma called 9-11 via his motorcycle helmet’s Bluetooth to notify authorities.

 

“I trailed him on the bike just trying to get him to talk to me. Every time we got higher and higher on the bridge span, his pause would get a little bit longer like he was trying to decide if he was going to jump from there, so I just kept following him trying to get closer and closer so in case he jumped, that I might be able to stop him,” Walma said.

 

Cars continued to maneuver past before help from two other Sailors arrived. The female petty officers stopped their car in front of the man, and all traffic came to a stop.

 

“The driver stayed in the car and the passenger got out. She suggested he get in the car, so I stopped my bike and put my arm around him and told him that things would be okay, and that he should get in the car,” Walma said.

 

“We were in the number two lane, and I was coaxing him away from the bridge when the police arrived. As soon as he saw them, he spun around like he was going to make a run toward the water. He was a slight guy, maybe 5 foot 8 inches, 150 pounds and I didn’t see a weapon on him, so I wrapped him up and held on to him until the police could get there.”

 

At 6 feet 3 inches tall, the 44-year-old Walma said he never felt that he was in danger during the almost 10 minute ordeal.

 

“He fought a bit and said he would hit me, but I had my helmet on and (motorcycle) padding. When the police arrived, they told me to let him go. So I did. I pointed him toward the middle of the bridge but he spun around and walked to the edge of the bridge where he sat for about a half an hour,” Walma said.

 

“He sat with his hands behind him, to keep him from falling if he leaned too far forward. I was thinking it was more of a cry for help than anything. If you’re going to jump, you’d put your hands in front of you so you can push off. There was 15 to 20 feet between him and anybody else. After I let him go I couldn’t look anymore. Had he jumped, I would’ve been the last person he was in contact with.”

 

But he didn’t jump, and was eventually coaxed into police custody for the help he desperately needed.

 

Maybe that’s because someone cared enough to stop.

 

And throughout the chaotic pressure to prevent a potential deadly tragedy, Walma never got the name of the man whose life he very well may have saved.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6318

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Army Aviator Receives Medal of Honor for Heroism in Vietnam War

(ARMY NEWS SERVICE, 18 July 16) . David Vergun

 

 

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2016 – President Barack Obama today awarded retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War almost 50 years ago.

 

“You couldn’t make this up. It’s like a bad Rambo movie,” Obama said, describing the harrowing exploits of then-Major Kettles on that fateful day, May 15, 1967, in “Chump Valley,” South Vietnam.

 

As commander of the 176th Aviation Company, Kettles’ mission was to fly in reinforcements and evacuate wounded soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, who were outgunned and outnumbered by the North Vietnamese in a rural riverbed near Duc Pho. “They needed support fast,” the president said.

 

Towering above Chump Valley was a 1,500-foot-high hill where the enemy was entrenched in an extensive series of tunnels and bunkers. It was “the ideal spot for an ambush,” Obama said.

 

Despite the dangers that they all were aware of, Kettles and his fellow company of soldiers took off in their “Huey” helicopters. As they approached the landing zone, they met a “solid wall of enemy tracers coming right at them,” Obama said. “None of them had ever seen fire that intense. Soldiers in the helos were hit and killed before they could even leap off.” Despite the withering fire, Kettles landed his helicopter and kept it there, exposed, so the wounded could board, Obama said.

 

Second Rescue Mission

 

After flying the wounded to safety, Kettles returned to the valley, the president recounted. He dropped off four soldiers and supplies and picked up more wounded.

 

“Once more, machine-gun bullets and mortar rounds came screaming after them. . Rounds pierced the arm and leg of Chuck’s door gunner, Roland Scheck,” Obama said. His Huey was hit. Fuel was pouring out as he flew away. His helicopter was so badly damaged that he couldn’t make it to the field hospital so Kettles found another helicopter and took them to safety, the president said.

 

By then it was near evening. Back in the riverbed, 44 American soldiers were still pinned down. “The air was thick with gunpowder, the smell of burning metal,” the president described. “Then they heard a faint sound. As the sun started to set, they saw something rise over the horizon — six American helicopters, one of them said, ‘as beautiful as could be.'”

 

Third Rescue Mission

 

For a third time, Chuck and his unit “headed into that hell on earth,” Obama said. “Death or injury was all but certain,” a fellow pilot had said, “and a lesser person would not return,” the president related.

 

Once again, the enemy unloaded everything they had on Kettles as he landed: small arms, automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, Obama said. Soldiers ran to the helicopters as they had before. When Kettles was told all were accounted for, he took off, the president said.

 

On the return flight, Kettles received a radio call informing him that eight men had not made it aboard. “They’d been providing cover for the others,” the president said. They “could only watch as [the helicopters] floated away. ‘We all figured we were done for,'” one later said. Kettles came to the same conclusion, the commander in chief said, conveying his words: “If we’d left them for 10 minutes, they’d become POWs or dead.”

 

A soldier who was there that day said “Major Kettles became our John Wayne,” Obama said, adding his own take: “With all due respect to John Wayne, he couldn’t do what Chuck Kettles did.”

 

Fourth Rescue Mission

 

Kettles couldn’t shake from his mind the idea of leaving the eight behind, so “he broke off from formation, took a steep, sharp descending turn back toward the valley, this time with no aerial or artillery support, a lone helicopter heading back in,” Obama said.

 

“Chuck’s Huey was the only target for the enemy to attack. And they did,” he continued. Tracers lit up the sky once more. “Chuck came in so hot his chopper bounced for several hundred feet before coming to a stop,” the president said.

 

As soon as he landed, a mortar round shattered his windshield. Another hit the main rotor blade. Shrapnel tore through the cockpit and Kettles’ chair. Yet, Obama said, those eight soldiers sprinted to the Huey through the firestorm.

 

The president described what happened next: “Chuck’s helo, now badly damaged, was carrying 13 souls and was 600 pounds over the [weight] limit. He said ‘it felt like flying a two-and-a-half-ton truck.’ He couldn’t hover long enough to take off, but the cool customer that he is, he saw his shattered windshield and thought, ‘that’s pretty good air conditioning.’

 

“The cabin filled with black smoke as Chuck hopped and skipped the helo across the ground to pick up enough speed to take off, ‘like a jackrabbit bouncing across the riverbed,'” the president said, relating Kettle’s analogy.

 

The instant he got airborne, another mortar ripped into the tail and the Huey fishtailed violently. A soldier was tossed from the helicopter, but managed to grab a skid, hanging on as Kettles flew them to safety,” Obama said.

 

Warrior Ethos

 

“The Army’s Warrior Ethos is based on a simple principle: A soldier never leaves his comrades behind,” Obama said. “Chuck Kettles honored that creed. Not with a single act of heroism, but over and over and over and over. And, because of that heroism, 44 American Soldiers made it out that day.”

 

The most gratifying part of this whole story “is that Dewey’s name and Roland’s name and the names of 42 other Americans he saved are not etched in the solemn granite wall not far from here that memorializes the fallen in the Vietnam War,” the president remarked.

 

“To the dozens of American soldiers that he saved in Vietnam half a century ago, Chuck is the reason they lived and came home and had children and grandchildren. Entire family trees, made possible by the actions of this one man,” the president concluded.

 

White House Ceremony

 

Kettles, 86, was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Anne. They will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in March, the president said. With them were eight of their 10 children and three grandchildren.

 

“It’s the Kettles family reunion in the White House,” the president noted.

 

Also attending were some of the soldiers Kettles served with that day, including Scheck, Dewey Smith, who was among the last eight soldiers rescued that day, and a number of other soldiers who fought in that battle. Past Medal of Honor recipients attended as well.

 

http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/848636/army-aviator-receives-medal-of-honor-for-heroism-in-vietnam-war

 

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Defense Firm Banks on ‘Chemputer’ to Spit Out Aircraft Parts

(DEFENSE NEWS, 14 July 16) . Valerie Insinna

 

FARNBOROUGH, England – Forget 3-D printing. BAE Systems is working with a UK scientist on an advanced computer it hopes may one day be able to grow aircraft molecule by molecule.

 

The “Chemputer,” developed by University of Glasgow scientist Lee Cronin, looks a lot like a 3-D printer, but builds objects through a very different process, said Nick Colosimo, a BAE Systems global engineering fellow and futurist, during a Wednesday briefing at Farnborough International Airshow.

 

Instead of depositing a material layer by layer via robotics to gradually build up a structure – the process used for 3-D printing – the Chemputer operates at a molecular level, combining a variety of molecules together and then using that chemical reaction to synthesize the object.

 

“This is really an idea that you use a machine which has access to a number of different chemicals, and you effectively enact chemistry,” he said. “You provide a data file to the machine and say, ‘I want ibuprofen,’ and the machine will produce ibuprofen or a range of other pharmaceuticals. Because in principle you can produce molecules in different shapes and different size.”

 

Through a UK government-funded program called Digital Synthesis, Cronin has used the Chemputer to produce tiny metal objects, such as small gold pyramids or rods. Colosimo, who works as Cronin’s industrial adviser, compared the computer’s process to a robotic lab assistant who is constantly running millions of experiments.

 

“The machine will mix some chemicals together and see what happens in terms of the reaction, and look at the reaction products. But it will do this very, very quickly,” he said. “What the machine will do is use an algorithm in order to conduct these directed trial and error experiments. So the experiments that don’t work, they will die off. The experiments that do work will be continued and adapted, ultimately producing small nanoparticles.”

 

Once the machine learns how to make an object, it can put those structures together in new ways. For example, after making the gold pyramid and rod, it was told to create a rod with a pyramid on each end and was able to use its prior experience to do so. It has also made small, Lego-like bricks.

 

BAE believes the technology may one day be used to create small unmanned aircraft quicker than through the typical manufacturing process. Users could choose the aircraft’s capabilities from a menu of options, and then the computer would figure out the best way to grow the drone, the company envisions.

 

Another potential application is the development of completely novel materials by combining molecules in new ways to create substances that are more durable or lightweight, Colosimo said.

 

“We’ve still got a long way to go before we start producing something as complex and as capable as an aircraft,” he said.

 

The discovery of new materials could occur much sooner. Cronin is working on data files that contain information about particular molecules and materials, which the Chemputer can use to run trial-and-error style experiments.

 

“New materials discovery – certainly I think we’re talking years. Whether it’s three years or whether its 10 years, it’s too hard to say at this particular stage,” he said. “But certainly the discovery of new materials, certainly that’s in the cards. The machine has already produced one of the world’s largest molecules.”

 

Cronin and Colosimo have some ideas of what types of new materials they would like to create and what molecules could possibly give rise to them. But that information is too sensitive to be released, Colosimo said.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/show-daily/farnborough/2016/07/14/bae-systems-chemputer-farnborough-lee-cronin-molecules/87068906/

 

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Carter Voices Support for Veto of Defense Bill in Letter to McCain

(DEFENSE NEWS, 18 July 16) . Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he will recommend President Obama veto the 2017 defense policy bill over a laundry list of congressional proposals, including a tangle of bureaucratic reforms and a House-passed plan to shift war funding, Carter said in a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain last week.

 

“If a bill is presented to the President in the current form of either version of the NDAA, I will join with the President’s other senior advisors in recommending that he veto the legislation,” Carter said in the July 13 letter. “I am, however, hopeful that you will address the Department’s concerns during your conference negotiations.”

 

The threat, which came as House and Senate conferees began to reconcile differences between the two bills, follows Carter’s broader public objections to Congress’ “micromanagement” of the Pentagon. The letter spells out grievances with the Senate-passed bill’s overhaul of DoD’s acquisition leadership, among other organizational prescriptions, as well as the bills’ rejection of ways for DoD to cut costs.

 

Pushing back against raft of aggressive bureaucratic overhaul provisions, Carter called for more study and review, to be done by a new bipartisan panel in the style of the Packard Commission, whose recommendations were rolled into the defense reforms of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act. He drew a contrast with this year’s proposed reforms and those, which he said grew from “years of study and debate” for a better understanding of the ripple effects from those changes, and “more responsible timing and timelines.”

 

Under the banner of Goldwater-Nichols bureaucratic reforms, both policy bills took a number of steps which Carter called, “excessive micromanagement.” Carter counted 131 acquisition policy provisions, 120 military personnel policy provisions, and 69 health care provisions from both bills that would “require extensive implementation efforts,” for the military.

 

Carter lamented potential chaos involved in implementing overlapping restructuring efforts, which would need added staff, just as Congress would mandate a new round of personnel reductions for senior civilians and uniformed officials. For instance, a plan to shift responsibility for personnel security and background checks would require more headquarters personnel to implement, not less.

 

“The Department is engaged in multiple overseas conflicts, including in the ongoing fight against [the Islamic State group], and is about to experience a transition to a new presidential administration,” Carter wrote. “With this backdrop, the first rule for the NDAA must be: do no harm. The scope, specificity, and pace of the prescribed major reforms and policy changes in the Senate bill, in particular do not meet this standard.

 

President Obama has threatened to veto the House and Senate versions of the bills – the House bill over its unorthodox treatment of overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds, and the Senate bill over its acquisition reform provisions and limits it would place on the closure of the Guantanamo military detainment facility in Cuba – objections Carter echoed.

 

The House passed a version of the policy bill that shifts $18 billion in OCO toward base budget requirements, and adds more troops, jet aircraft, shipbuilding and rotorcraft than the president’s budget. The House bill also cuts off OCO after April 30, 2017, a gambit to force the next president to ask Congress for supplemental defense spending next year.

 

The Senate did not take the same route.

 

The approach threatens to upend the two-year budget deal reached last year by congressional leaders and the White House, Carter warned, and it flirts with sequestration budget cuts, which would kick in if the federal budget topped statutory caps.

 

“By gambling with warfighting funds, the bill risks the safety of our men and women fighting to keep America safe, undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles our allies, and emboldens our enemies,” Carter’s letter reads. “In short, it is an approach that is objectionable on its face.”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/07/18/carter-voices-veto-support-defense-bill-letter-mccain/87265804/

 

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Drones able to inspect manned aircraft in record time

(C4ISRNET, 19 July 16) . Michael Peck

 

Airbus has demonstrated how a drone can conduct a visual aircraft inspection.

 

At the Farnborough Air Show, a drone with a high-definition camera inspected the upper part of an aircraft on the ground, according to an Airbus announcement. Inspections take 10 to 15 minutes versus two hours for a human inspector, according to Airbus.

 

The drone was flown “using an automatic flight control system supervised by a human pilot,” Airbus said. “The UAV follows a predetermined flight path and takes a series of pictures automatically. All these images and especially those showing any potential non-quality such as scratches, dents and painting defects, are compiled in a 3-D digital model, recorded in a database and then analyzed. This data helps improve traceability, prevention and reduction of damage.”

 

Airbus is now conducting full-scale industrial testing on A330 aircraft.

 

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/uas/2016/07/19/drones-able-inspect-manned-aircraft-record-time/87261096/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-20-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

 

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F-35 impact from unrest in Turkey unclear: Lockheed

(FLIGHTGLOBAL, 19 July 16) . Leigh Giangreco

 

A failed military coup last week will not affect Lockheed Martin’s business relationship with Turkey, though it could be too early to make that call, according to top Lockheed Martin executives.

 

In a Tuesday earnings call, Lockheed’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, and chief financial officer, Bruce Tanner, offered different views over whether recent events in Turkey would affect Lockheed’s business deals there.

 

“If you look at Turkey, I know there’s been a lot of churn recently,” Hewson says. “But it’s an essential security partner for the US and our allies . we have not seen an indication it will affect our business.”

 

Tanner measured Hewson’s comments, saying it’s too early to call up implications for the F-35 programme in Turkey. He also notes Lockheed’s business history with Turkish aerospace companies, including the Lockheed’s foreign military sale deal with TAI to upgrade the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighters.

 

“We’ve got a long history with Turkey,” Tanner says. “They’ve been a trusted partner.”

 

On July 15, members of the Turkish military attempted to seize government buildings in the country’s capital of Ankara and at least two rebel pilots hijacked F-16 fighters. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the former head of Turkey’s Air Force, Gen. Akin Ozturk, as the coup’s leader.

 

Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme goes back 14 years. The Turkish government signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Defense Department in 2002 to join the nine-member international partnership, pledging to contribute $175 million to develop the fighter. Northrop Grumman later named Turkish Aerospace Industries as a second source for producing the F-35’s complex centre fuselage. In 2014, the US DOD announced that Turkey would host the first heavy engine maintenance centre in Europe in 2018, supporting the Pratt & Whitney F135 powerplant for the F-35A.

 

Turkey plans to order 100 conventional takeoff and landing F-35As, with the first 30 scheduled for delivery by 2022, according to a 14 June presentation by a Lockheed official at Defense Acquisition University’s “Insight Day” event.

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/f-35-impact-from-unrest-in-turkey-unclear-lockheed-427610/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-20-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Sailors to get more training on finances, new retirement system

(NAVY TIMES, 19 July 16) . Mark D. Faram

 

Sailors are about to get more financial training throughout their career as the military moves to a new retirement system in coming years.

 

Congress has mandated the services revamp their financial management training to educate them on retirement, and on how to manage the major financial hurdles sailors encounter in a career and beyond.

 

As a result, the service released NAVADMIN 161/16 Tuesday, the first of many messages expected over the next two years about what’s being called the Navy’s Financial Literacy Education Program as the military shifts to a blended retirement system.

 

“The goal of Navy’s financial education program is to arm sailors and their families with skills and tools for use to make informed decisions about their financial future,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. “Personal financial readiness is a key component of the overall Family Readiness System, a network of agencies, programs, services and individuals that work in a collaborative manner to assist service members and their families to meet the unique challenges associated with military service.”

 

The new retirement system will be implemented in 2018. Sailors who are currently serving will be grandfathered into the current retirement system, known as the 20-year cliff-vesting system. Some will have the choice to opt into the new scheme, which shrinks the current pension but also offers government contributions to retirement accounts and retirement benefits for those who leave the service before reaching 20 years.

 

If you have 12 years or more of service as of Dec. 31, 2017, the current retirement system is your only option. Likewise, those who join on or after Jan. 1, 2018, their only option will be the new Blended Retirement System.

 

But for those who joined between Jan 1, 2006, and Jan. 1, 2018 will have the choice to keep the current retirement or switch to the new plan.

 

Christensen said the service has long provided financial management training as part of Navy accessions training and is often revisited by commands as part of the General Military Training program.

 

The new training plan mandates sailors revisit their financial training at crucial times in their careers.

 

For example, in addition to the accessions training, sailors will also get a financial check when they arrive at their initial and subsequent duty stations through the ranks of E-5 and O-4, as well as each time they advance up those ranks.

 

Other “touch points” for financial training will be when sailors vest in the Thrift Savings Program or receive continuation pay under the new retirement plan. Marriage, divorce and childbirth are also considered key points for follow-on financial training.

 

“This training will help assist sailors in maintaining their financial readiness throughout their military service and as they transition into civilian life,” Christensen said. “The Navy recognizes that personal financial readiness of Sailors and their families must be maintained to sustain mission readiness.”

 

The new financial training will incorporate existing training from various points, including accession training, GMT, pre- and post-deployment training and transition courses.

 

A key facet of the new training will be front-loaded to educate sailors on the new retirement system that’s only a year and a half away.

 

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/07/19/sailors-get-more-training-finances-new-retirement-system/87307962/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military+EBB+7-20-16&utm_term=Editorial+-+Military+-+Early+Bird+Brief

 

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Pentagon’s Quest For Single IT Architecture Needs Work, Says GAO

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 18 JUL 16) … Charles S. Clark

 

The Pentagon’s efforts to harmonize the information technology systems on which it is spending $38 billion this fiscal year have fallen behind on specifying costs, workforce needs and cybersecurity strategies, a watchdog found.

 

The so-called Joint Information Environment–established in 2010 by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates as an architecture for the Defense Department’s IT infrastructure-is at risk unless the department can “fully define JIE’s scope and expected cost, and take steps to improve workforce and security planning,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report released on July 14.

 

The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act required the Pentagon to assess resources needed to achieve the vision of the Joint Information Environment to save in acquisition spending, speed up communications, modernize training and protect data from intruders.

 

The final product would include such elements as a reduction in the number of IT networks; a standardized virtual desktop environment; a cloud-enabled command and control capability; and a common set of standards, protocols and interfaces to enhance data sharing with other agencies, allies, coalition partners and private-sector organizations, GAO noted.

 

This March, DoD officials reported that cost estimates are in preparation following a January recommendation to Congress from the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation that oversight of the admittedly complex cost estimates be improved.

 

In addition, the auditors found, the department “has not determined the number of staff and the specific skills and abilities needed” to make the JIE a reality, and “DoD also lacks a strategy to ensure required JIE security assessments are conducted.”

 

In interviews over the past year, officials said the department has taken steps to address JIE personnel and security needs, “but it does not have plans in place to address these existing gaps,” GAO wrote. “As a result, DoD risks having a deficient security posture and not being able to ensure that it will have the appropriate workforce knowledge and skills needed to support JIE.”

 

Until officials and congressional committees are provided with accurate estimates, GAO continued, “they are limited in their ability to provide oversight for performance and make effective resource decisions.”

 

GAO recommended that the department fully define JIE’s scope and expected cost, and improve workforce and security planning. In the report, DoD described steps it is taking along those lines.

 

http://www.govexec.com/defense/2016/07/pentagons-quest-single-it-architecture-needs-work-says-gao/130001/

 

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Defense Secretary Warns Of ‘Widespread Negative Consequences’ If Senior Executive Corps Is Cut

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 20 JUL 16) … By Kellie Lunney

 

Reducing the number of senior executives at the Pentagon would have “widespread negative consequences” on the department’s mission-critical programs and services, the Defense secretary told the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a new letter.

 

In a 23-page letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlined a litany of concerns with the current House and Senate fiscal 2017 Defense policy bills, including a provision in the Senate version that would require the department to cut its career Senior Executive Service ranks by 25 percent by Jan. 1, 2019.

 

Carter called the provision arbitrary and without justification, arguing that Defense has reduced the size of its SES workforce by 105 since 2010. He also said that the department operates with fewer senior executives compared to the ratio that exists between SESers and employees in the rest of the federal civilian workforce.

 

“DoD’s SES population is 0.17 percent of the DoD workforce (one SES member to every 586 non-SES employees), compared to the average of 0.89 percent SES members to the overall civilian workforce of the other Cabinet-level agencies, a factor of five difference,” said the July 13 letter. “Arbitrarily reducing this already low factor even further would have widespread negative consequences.” It also would demoralize the DoD’s civilian workforce “when opportunities for promotion to SES in the short- to medium-terms are severely curtailed and eliminated,” Carter wrote.

 

The provision in the Senate bill would exempt those SES employees considered “highly qualified experts,” limiting that designation to 200 employees, accord to the Armed Services Committee report on the fiscal 2017 NDAA. Defense – the largest department in the federal government – has roughly 1,000 career senior executives. The measure also would not apply to “those employees of the department who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.” The House fiscal 2017 NDAA does not contain a similar provision; a congressional conference committee currently is ironing out the differences between the two versions.

 

Carter also sent the letter to the House Armed Services Committee.

 

President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA, in part over of the provision calling for the SES reduction.

 

(The statement from the administration actually said DoD eliminated 97 SES positions in 2011 and more than 140 positions since then.) Carter in his July letter said he would recommend the president veto both current versions of the NDAA if they reached him.

 

“I am surprised and disappointed about the extent to which provisions in the [House and Senate] bills could adversely affect our enterprise, to include discarding well-reasoned, necessary force management and budgetary decisions of the department’s senior, expert civilian and uniformed leaders,” Carter wrote.

 

The Defense secretary also took issue with other “workforce limitations” in the bills, including new restrictions on the size of the civilian and contractor workforces at DoD headquarters as well as a call for reducing general and flag officer positions and the legislation’s “micromanagement of department personnel and infrastructure.”

 

In addition, Carter objected to the 2.1 percent military pay raise for troops next year, which is included in the House bill, saying that “a 1.6 percent pay raise represents the best judgment of our military and civilian leaders on how to balance responsible compensation increases with our readiness and modernization needs.”

 

As for the House and Senate legislation’s provisions on parental and adoption leave, the Pentagon chief said many of the provisions would restrict DoD’s discretion when it comes to maternity leave, and in the case of the House version would provide more adoption leave for dual-military couples than for single-military couples, granting the former an extra benefit not available to the latter. Carter said he supports provisions that would expand parental (non-maternity) leave from 10 to 14 days, which the department had proposed as part of its Force of the Future initiative.

 

The majority for the House and Senate Armed Services committees did not immediately respond to questions for comment.

 

Jason Briefel, interim president of the Senior Executives Association, said there appears to be “little to no rationale or analysis” behind the Senate proposal to slash the department’s SES ranks. “SEA applauds the Defense secretary and the administration for pushing back on this arbitrary proposal which, if enacted, would significantly undermine the department’s career leadership capacity and threaten the expertise, knowledge, stability and consistency provided by senior executives,” said Briefel.

 

http://www.govexec.com/management/2016/07/defense-secretary-warns-widespread-negative-consequences-if-senior-executive-corps-cut/130071/

 

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Pentagon Wants To Automate Social-Media Checks On Clearance Holders

The program would analyze public posts to help determine an employee’s suitability for Defense Intelligence Agency classified work.

(DEFENSE ONE 20 JUL 16) … Aliya Sternstein

 

The Pentagon is conducting market research for a planned 12-month “social media checks” pilot that would analyze public posts to help determine an employee’s suitability for Defense Intelligence Agency classified work.

 

The effort is part of a shift away from screening intelligence and military staff every five years, as is current practice. The program is meant to support “continuous evaluation” through automated searches of various data sources, including social media posts, DIA says.

 

The scope of this particular trial run would involve generating “social media reports” that provide “comprehensive and objective data” and expertise to carry out a “whole of person review,” in line with Office of Director of National Intelligence guidelines, states a newly released January draft statement of work.

 

In May, DNI chief James Clapper issued a directive approving the use of social media in the public domain to vet personnel.

 

If DIA goes through with a contract, “at a minimum, the service would have to analyze foreign comments and postings, foreign contacts and any information regarding: allegiance to the United States, foreign influence and/or preference, sexual behavior, personal conduct, financial, alcohol, legal and/or illegal drug involvement, psychological conditions and criminal conduct,” the work statement says.

 

A DIA official told Nextgov there is no guarantee the agency will solicit any vendor; rather, DIA is figuring out what features companies might be able to offer.

 

The social media reports would help out that agency’s existing Personnel Security, Insider Threat, Continuous Evaluation, Counterintelligence and Investigation program, DIA spokesman James Kudla said.

 

“This is part of the larger government effort” for “continuous evaluation monitoring,” Kudla said in a brief interview. It’s not restricted to the intelligence community; “it’s really part of the Department of Defense program as well.”

 

“Social media reports are required to identify national security concerns on individuals who are required to obtain and retain a national security clearance” for handling sensitive material, states a July 14 sources sought notice accompanying the work description.

 

The reports should include checks of “all publicly available social media sites,” the work statement says.

DIA does not specify particular websites, like Facebook, Twitter or other online networks.

 

The analyses also would cross-check an individual’s various online personas through “social media profile comparisons,” the work statement adds.

 

Clapper’s policy states that security clearance investigators cannot create shadow accounts to “follow” or “friend” an employee under review. In addition, social media content about other people inadvertently collected during a check cannot be retained unless the information is relevant to the review of the employee, the directive says.

 

Other intelligence agencies have experimented with social media monitoring to aid the background investigation process.

 

The National Security Agency, for example, says it performed a successful social media test that tracked 175 NSA employees on their online networks.

 

About 45 percent of the searches returned information that aligned with criteria NSA currently uses to judge candidates – “some of which we didn’t know before,” Kemp Ensor, NSA director of security, said in April at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance symposium in Chantilly, Virginia.

 

The DIA market research notice says the agency would like social media reports for routine investigations turned around within five days and two-day delivery for most “expedited” social media reports.

 

The agency is looking for prospective vendors that would be able to use a secure, encrypted internet website or document transfer tool to furnish the social media reports, the work statement says.

 

Defense writ large is building a massive information-sharing system that can profile security clearance-holders, to flag who among them might become traitors or other “insider threats.”

 

The DoD Component Insider Threat Records System is part of the governmentwide reaction to the 2010 sharing of classified diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks by former Pfc. Chelsea Manning.

 

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/pentagon-wants-automate-social-media-checks-clearance-holders/130062/

 

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Do’s and Don’ts for Voicing Your Political Opinion on Social Media

(NAVY LIVE, 19 July 16) . Jason Kelly

 

Back in 2008, political and media analysts dubbed that year’s presidential election the YouTube election since the candidates used the platform to post videos longer than traditional political ads.

 

Fast forward to 2016 where now a third of 18- to 29-year-olds say social media is their most helpful source for learning about this year’s presidential election, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

 

More social media opportunities exist now for Americans to share everything from their favorite cat photos to their personal opinions, including about this year’s presidential election.

 

So what do Sailors and Department of the Navy civilians need to know before they post, tweet and snap their political opinions? The information below doesn’t cover everything but, if in doubt, consult your command’s ethics representative.

 

Service members.

 

Let’s start with Sailors. NAVADMIN 055-16 and DoD Directive 1344.10 spell it out.

 

Active-duty Sailors may generally express their personal views about public issues or political candidates using social media – just like they can write a letter to a newspaper’s editor. If the social media site or content identifies the Sailor as on active duty (or if they’re reasonably identifiable as an active-duty Sailor), then the content needs to clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the Department of Defense (DoD). However, active-duty service members may not engage in any partisan political activity such as posting or making direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause. That’s the equivalent of distributing literature on behalf of those entities or individuals, which is prohibited.

 

Active-duty Sailors can like or follow accounts of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause. However, they cannot suggest that others like, friend or follow them or forward an invitation or solicitation.

 

Remember, active-duty service members are subject to additional restrictions based on the Joint Ethics Regulation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and rules about the use of government resources and government communications systems, including email and internet.

 

What about Sailors who aren’t on active duty? They’re not subject to the above social media restrictions so long as they don’t reasonably create the perception or appearance of official sponsorship, approval or endorsement by the DoD.

 

Department of the Defense civilians.

 

DoD civilians need to consider the Hatch Act and DoD policy.

 

In general, federal employees may use social media and email and comply with the Hatch Act if they:

.Don’t engage in political activity while on duty or in the workplace, even if the employee is using their personal smartphone, tablet or laptop to do so. Federal employees are “on duty” when they’re in a pay status (including during telework hours) other than paid leave or are representing the government in an official capacity

.Don’t engage in political activity in an official capacity at any time

.Don’t solicit or receive political contributions at any time

 

Political activity refers to any activity directed at the success or failure of a political party or partisan political group or candidate in a partisan race.

 

Below is a list of some frequently asked questions. For additional FAQs, visit http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/defense_ethics/resource_library/hatch_act_and_social_media.pdf.

 

Q: May a federal employee engage in political activity on social media?

 

A: Yes, they may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting, liking, sharing, tweeting or retweeting, but there are a few limitations. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from:

.Engaging in any political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace

.Referring to their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity at any time (note that including an employee’s official title or position on one’s social media profile, without more, is not an improper use of official authority)

.Suggesting or asking anyone to make political contributions at any time, including providing links to the political contribution page of any partisan group or candidate in a partisan race or liking, sharing or retweeting a solicitation from one of those entities and invitation to a political fundraising event. However, an employee may accept an invitation to a political fundraising event from such entities via social media.

 

Further restricted employees also may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting or sharing content, but there are a few limitations. In addition to the limitations above, the Hatch Act prohibits further restricted employees from:

.Posting or linking to campaign or other partisan material of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race

.Sharing those entities’ social media sites or their content, including retweeting

 

Q: If a federal employee lists his or her official title or position on Facebook, may he or she also complete the “political views”?

 

A: Yes, identifying political party affiliation on a social media profile, which also contains one’s official title or position, without more, isn’t an improper use of official authority.

 

Q: May a federal employee display a political party or campaign logo or a candidate photograph as his profile picture?

 

A: Yes, but subject to the following limitations. Because a profile picture accompanies most actions on social media, a federal employee would not be permitted-while on duty or in the workplace-to post, share, tweet or retweet any social media content because each such action would show their support for a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race, even if the content of the action is not about those entities.

 

Q: May a federal employee – while on duty or in the work place – send or forward a partisan political email from his or her government email account or their personal email account to others?

 

A: No, they can’t send or forward a partisan political email from either their government email account or their personal email account (even using a personal device) while at work. A partisan political email is defined as one that is directed at the success or failure of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race.

 

Again, the above information doesn’t cover every situation. If in doubt, consult your command’s ethics counselor.

 

Don’t forget the presidential election is November 8. For voting information, visit DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website.

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2016/07/19/dos-and-donts-for-voicing-your-political-opinion-on-social-media/

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of July 11

LOCAL COVERAGE

FRCMA Sailor wins Athena DC 1.0

Related – The Pentagon’s Secret Weapons Guru Asked For Your Crazy Ideas & Got 1,000 In 1 Month

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

Pentagon to Issue Directive on Arming Troops at Facilities in the US

CSIS Chief Backs McCain’s Defense Acquisitions Shakeup

Senate Democrats Block DoD Spending Bill, Seeking Omnibus

Armed Services leaders encouraged after first conference meeting

Funding Gap Hangs Over Defense Policy Bill Negotiations in Congress

Marines’ New King Stallion Won’t Have To Borrow Spare Parts

Desperate for planes, military turns to the ‘boneyard’

Navy F/A-18 Adds Real-Time Fast Attack Video Data Link

US Lawmakers Urge Action on Jet Sales to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain

Pentagon Says Near Deal With Lockheed For More F-35 Fighter Jets

Navy Issues Roughly $2 Billion In F-35 Contracts

Plans Under Way For October F-35B Sea-Based Test

F-35C To Conduct Sea Trials in August Aboard Carrier George Washington

F-35 to Tap Airbus for Data Protection Technology

Marine Corps Aviation Chief Ranks SDB II as F-35 Upgrade Priority

 

Security Message: Potential for Day of Rage Protests across America

 

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The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce our 5th national event!

 

Guest Speaker: Ms. Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

Agenda: 1 hour of discussion and QA based on topic

 

For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner (meghan.wagner@navy.mil) or Sara Gravatt (sara.gravatt@navy.mil)

 

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WE’RE SOCIAL!

Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at http://facebook.com/COMFRC

and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ

 

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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FRCMA Sailor wins Athena DC 1.0

(FLEET READINESS CENTER MID-ATLANTIC, 12 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – One Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA) Sailor has proven he has the ability to think outside the box when working to solve problems for his fellow Sailors and take home a top prize in the process.

 

Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Pecota, senior Innovation Think Tank member from FRCMA Detachment Patuxent River, was one of six Sailors who pitched innovative ideas in front of spectators and a panel of Naval leaders during the recent Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition as part of Athena DC 1.0. The pitches were done in a fashion similar to the TV show, “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs pitch ideas before a panel of potential investors.

 

Pecota’s idea is to use additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, to design and produce a cover at the cost of about $10 for the $2 million MH-60R Seahawk sonar system’s transducer to prevent scraping the foam inside of a shipping or transporting container. This problem has caused an average of two man-hours and cost of $90 to repair each time this happens.  This innovative idea stands to have a potential cost savings of more than $76,000 and nearly 1,700 man-hours per year. In short, it was a $10 solution to a $2 million problem.

 

For presenting the top idea, Pecota received the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage and command backing for a small functional team to make their idea a reality by leveraging the Athena Network of scientists and engineers.

 

The Athena Project, an initiative focused on harnessing deckplate innovations to create a cadre of forward-thinking, creatively confident Sailors for the fleet of tomorrow, provides an open forum for Sailors to pitch innovative ideas to improve their command or the Navy. Contestants have five minutes to present their innovative ideas in a casual environment, followed by a five-minute question and answer session from the panel and audience.  The contestants are judged in three categories based on idea quality, actionability and presentation.

 

More than 20 ideas were submitted from throughout the Navy with six being selected by the Athena National Council to compete at Athena DC 1.0.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6313

 

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RELATED –

 

The Pentagon’s Secret Weapons Guru Asked For Your Crazy Ideas & Got 1,000 In 1 Month

(DEFENSE ONE 13 JUL 16) … Caroline Houck

 

Will Roper, director of the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office, got “exactly what we want” from the public.

 

An open call for “novel concepts” by the Pentagon’s secret-weapons guru William Roper has produced almost a thousand responses in less than one month, some of them surprisingly promising.

 

Roper heads the Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, which is at the head of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s efforts to make the military more innovative and agile. Roper’s outfit published a request for research proposals last month, – called a Broad Area Announcement, or BAA, – which asks for “novel concepts in the following focus areas: Autonomy, Command and Control, Cyber, Sensors, and Weapon Technologies,” and is what Roper calls “an open door for the outside world to bring us ideas.”

 

“I was afraid when we put the BAA out that I would get the old ideas that I’ve seen many times, that now have a new label, a new name, a new graphic, but it’s the same idea,” Roper said. “And there’s a little bit of that. But I have seen people put in some things that are different. There are companies that haven’t really done a lot of work with the government. All of that is exactly what we want. We want people who have creative ideas to be able to get to us.”

 

The SCO trades in this world of ideas, helping the U.S. military keep its tech advantage in the crazy-quilt of modern warfare by finding creative ways to repurpose existing technologies or integrate them with new ones. Roper’s go-to example is the SM-6 missile , which the SCO helped repurpose to strike enemy ships.

 

He’s just recently started talking about the electromagnetic railgun, which captures imaginations and creates “a different paradigm of missile defense,” but has also led the military to realize “we were not pulling all of the tricks that we could pull in powder guns,” he said.

 

We now think that we can do pretty revolutionary things with existing powder guns – think the Howizers, the Navy’s 5-inch guns. So we’ve shifted emphasis to that, not because we’re not interested in railguns, because we are, but when you look at the delta between fueling and quantity, you’ve got over 1,000 powder guns, but just a few railguns.”

 

Of course, Roper doesn’t discuss the specifics of most of the rest of his office’s projects, and declined to reveal the “creative ideas” generated by the BAA. For the new pitches, that’s in part due to the legality of government contracting – “obviously for any kind of competitive decision I can’t discuss the specific [ones] that jump ahead of the others,” he said.

 

More importantly, though, is the need to keep the majority of the unconventional applications and new technologies confidential. Deciding which surprises to reveal or conceal – enough of the former to deter wars, but enough of the latter to win them – is akin to “multivariate calculus,” Roper says.

 

So don’t expect big reveals on the BAA submissions any time in the near future, particularly since the call is staying “open as a revolving door around the year.” The SCO has to “generate new ideas in every budget in order to stay around,” Roper said, noting that $840 million of the office’s $900-million budget was awarded to individually pitched projects.

 

“If you have an idea,” Roper said with a smile, “go to FedBizOps and search for ‘SCO.'”

 

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/pentagons-secret-weapons-guru-asked-your-crazy-ideas-received-1000-one-month/129894/

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Pentagon to Issue Directive on Arming Troops at Facilities in the US

(STARS AND STRIPES, 12 Jul 16) . Alex Horton

 

SAN ANTONIO — The Defense Department is close to releasing its updated policy for arming troops at facilities in the United States following several attacks, including the shooting deaths of four Marines and a sailor last July, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

 

The policy, which could be unveiled by September, will further clarify commanders’ authority to allow servicemembers to carry and store weapons on and off military installations. The guidance will regulate privately owned and military-issued weapons, said Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

 

On July 16, 2015, Mohammed Abdulazeez opened fire at a recruiting station and reserve center in Chattanooga, killing five and wounding one Marine and a police officer.

 

Investigators concluded a sailor at the reserve center likely returned fire with a personal unauthorized handgun, according to The Washington Post.

 

The policy that the Defense Department put forth in October 2015, following the Chattanooga attacks, states “qualified personnel shall be armed when required for assigned duties and there is reasonable expectation that DOD installations, property, or personnel lives or DOD assets will be jeopardized if personnel are not armed.”

 

Since 2009, 40 people were killed during single gunman assaults at military facilities, including two shootings at Fort Hood and one at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The attacks have raised concerns by defense officials and Congress about security measures and force protection shortfalls in the wake of such attacks.

 

Recruiting stations were identified as the most vulnerable public facilities following a force-wide Pentagon review and the Army Corps of Engineers prioritized security improvements among those installations out of more than 6,000 total facilities, Davis said.

 

“We’re putting in place stronger physical security systems, including stronger entry controls, better alarm systems, reinforced doors, and additional ways to safely exit our facilities,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in May, describing the upgrades.

 

But Davis declined Monday to further describe the measures due to security concerns.

 

The Pentagon will spend $80 million this year and $100 million the next two years for security augmentation at recruiting facilities, including a system to notify and broadcast warnings to troops within a 20-mile radius of a threat, Davis said.

 

He also said the new arming policy will implement the intent of Congress, alluding to a bill proposed last year that would give commanders in the United States more authority to arm troops at off-site installations, such as recruiting stations, when they deemed it appropriate.

 

“We take very seriously any decision to place a member of the department in a position to potentially use deadly force. We have to balance that potential against the possibility of an attack on our personnel,” Davis said.

 

Military and civilian personnel performing law enforcement and security duties are typically the only troops authorized to carry weapons on military posts, which are usually handguns. Government issued weapons are kept in secured arms rooms with controlled access, and ammunition is commonly stored in depots away from those weapons, Davis said.

 

The Chattanooga ambush claimed the lives of one sailor, Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, and four Marines: Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40, a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received in Iraq; Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, 21; Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 35, and Sgt. Carson Holmquist, 25.

 

All four posthumously received a Purple Heart in April. The wounded Marine, Sergeant DeMonte Cheeley, received his Purple Heart in a ceremony in January.

 

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/07/12/pentagon-to-issue-directive-on-arming-troops-at-facilities-us.html

 

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CSIS Chief Backs McCain’s Defense Acquisitions Shakeup

(DEFENSE NEWS 07 JUL 16) … Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON – Defense Policy Board Chairman John Hamre, in a visit to Capitol Hill Thursday, threw his weight behind the Senate’s plan to shake up the defense acquisitions hierarchy.

 

Hamre, a former senior Pentagon official and the current chief of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an influential Washington think tank, also endorsed a House defense policy bill that would require the National Security Council advisor to be confirmed by the Senate, if the NSC’s staff rises above 100. It stands at about 450.

 

Testifying before the full House Armed Services Committee before it conferences its defense policy bill with its aggressive Senate counterpart, Hamre said he supports a provision to end the office of the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer and divide its duties between two positions, one of them a new chief technological innovator for the Defense Department.

 

“The No. 3 position in the department needs to be the chief innovation officer, who’s going to bring superior technology and put it in the hands of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, going forward,” said Hamre. “I strongly support this provision.”

 

The two bills offer differing, but significant, changes to defense acquisitions, DoD’s structure and to the National Security Council.

 

The White House has threatened to veto both bills, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter has charged that the bills represent “micromanagement” from Congress. A White House policy memo last month insisted the Senate measures on acquisitions, “would roll back the acquisition reforms of the last two decades,” calling them “inappropriate” as other acquisition reforms begin to show progress.

 

Hamre, asked by the HASC to weigh in on five of the most significant portions of the Senate bill, drew a distinction between this round of defense reforms and the major reforms of 30 years ago. The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols legislation, he said, was borne out military operational failures without a counterpart today.

 

“We do not have failure in the field today,” he said. “We have policy failure, but it’s not military. We need to make changes now because we don’t have the resources to support the needs we have. We have to make this organization more agile and streamlined.”

 

Hamre urged lawmakers to use caution.

 

“Looking at this legislation and how it changes the department, please be careful, we’re at war,” he said. “We’ve got at least two wars going on, operations around the world, we’re about to change governments, and so I’d ask you to approach this with prudence, please.”

 

1. Elevating the director of defense research and engineering and diminishing the director of acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L): Yes.

 

Past bureaucratic changes inadvertently cost DoD better access to innovative hardware. Today AT&L, is “not an innovation organization, they are a compliance organization,” Hamre said. “If we have to restore innovation to the department, we have to create a lean, superior position in the department.”

 

2. Cutting general and flag officers by 25 percent: No, but delay the cuts and ask DoD for its plan to make them.

 

“Simply imposing a cut of 25 percent is pretty arbitrary right now,” Hamre said. “My recommendation is to keep the cut in place, but keep the implementation a year away.”

 

3. Cross-functional teams: No.

 

“I understand the sincerity of the proposal, but I think it’s profoundly wrong for Congress to dictate the operational activity of the department,” Hamre said. “Hold him accountable, and let him organize to achieve those goals.

 

4. Bring the Joint Chiefs chairman into the chain of command for select administrative matters: No, as it erodes civilian control of the military, Hamre said.

 

“Civilian control is a toggle switch, either it’s on or its off,” Hamre said. “It’s not a rheostat where you can dial some level of civilian control and give powers directly to the chairman.”

 

5. Capping the National Security Council: Yes.

 

Hamre backed an amendment from HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, that would require the Senate to approve the president’s national security advisor, if the staff of the NSC rises above 100.

 

The Senate bill would cap the NSC staff at 150 people.

 

“The status of the National Security Council rests at a fault line in the Constitution,” Hamre said. “Is the NSC an extension of the work of the departments, where Congress has oversight? Or is the NSC an extension of the president where the right of presidential privilege gives privacy and autonomy to its deliberations?”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/07/07/csis-chief-backs-mccains-defense-acquisitions-shakeup/86814778/

 

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Senate Democrats Block DoD Spending Bill, Seeking Omnibus

(DEFENSE NEWS 13 JUL 16) … Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON – With their blockage of defense appropriations, Democrats are signaling that they are done with the process for passing individual appropriations bills and want to negotiate an omnibus.

 

Republicans, at a press briefing Tuesday blasted Democratic obstruction on defense as a bad faith move against the troops and a losing position on the campaign-trail. But Democrats at their briefing, said Republicans are maneuvering to get military appropriations passed so they can punt on domestic spending.

 

Asked whether he was sensitive Republican accusations, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, lit up.

 

“Am I sensitive? Let me tell you: They are so obvious that even me with one blind eye can see it pretty easy,” said Reid, D-Nev. “All they want to do is they want to get defense appropriations bills passed and then walk away. And then all the other bills would be at their mercy.”

 

Democrats are signaling they want terms similar to last year’s bipartisan budget deal, which was supposed to cover 2017. One of the key players in last year’s agreement, Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said her caucus is seeking parity between defense and non-defense spending, all appropriations bills “recognized” in an omnibus, and no “poison pill riders.”

 

The fear, Mikulski said Tuesday, is that with defense bills in hand, Republicans will pass a stop-gap continuing resolution to fund all domestic spending at last year’s levels.

 

To hear them tell it, whatever trust Democratic leaders had in their Republican counterparts evaporated during the House-Senate process of producing a House-Senate conference report on the Milcon-VA bill, which funds military construction and Veterans Affairs.

 

Democrats, who fought hard to include $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, ultimately withdrew support after House Republicans inserted riders targeting Planned Parenthood, promoting the Confederate flag and cutting veterans’ funding by $500 million below the Senate bill.

 

“What happened in Milcon-VA really destroyed an excellent bipartisan atmosphere,” said Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair Sen. Dick Durbin. D-Ill. “We looked at that and said, if that is a picture of what we are going to face with appropriations bills, we’re going to have to bargain the whole package.”

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this is the best deal Democrats will get.

 

“If we did what the Senate Democrats said they want to do, we get no action on that at all,” McConnell said.

 

You’d strip the veterans out and the military construction out, send the Zika Bill to the House that we know the House wouldn’t pass and so we’d leave here having done neither.”

 

On July 7, Democrats fought McConnell’s motion to take defense appropriations to the Senate floor. McConnell lost in a 50-44 vote which fell short of the 60 votes he needed.

 

Tuesday, Durbin said Democrats now need President Obama to sit at the negotiating table, wielding a veto threat. “The last time we had the president sitting at the table, we had a two-year budget agreement,” he said.

 

In the meantime, Republican leadership is publicly shaming Democrats over the stalled defense bill in hopes that it will hurt them at the polls. McConnell had Sen. Dan Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Marine, speak at Tuesday’s press briefing to blast Democrats.

 

“I think it’s indefensible and hopefully they will see the light, because I don’t think any senator wants to go home and brag about filibustering supporting our troops with five funding five times in one year,” said Sullivan, R-Alaska.

 

McConnell, too hammered Democrats.

 

“They have succeeded now in disrupting the process, thereby guaranteeing once again we end up with some indeterminate way of finishing the funding in a way that balls up the process,” McConnell said.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/07/13/senate-democrats-block-dod-spending-bill/87020058/

 

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Armed Services leaders encouraged after first conference meeting

(THE HILL, 13 July 16) . Rebecca Kheel

 

The conferees reconciling the House and Senate versions of a defense policy bill had a productive first meeting Wednesday, the leaders of the Armed Services committees agreed.

 

Still, the meeting made clear the $18 billion gap between the two bills will be a hurdle to overcome, they added.

 

“We had a very, I think, fruitful discussion, members of the Senate and House, members of both the committees and outside committee,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I still believe that with the significant challenges that we face, including the issue of sequestration and others, I don’t believe that we’re going to break a 53-year tradition of producing a defense authorization bill because we all agree it’s too important to the men and women who are serving in our military.”

 

McCain was talking with reporters alongside his counterpart in the House, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), and the ranking Democrats on both committees, Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), after a “pass the gavel” meeting where conferees discussed the priorities and issues they want to address during negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act.

 

The Senate bill would authorize $543 billion for the base budget and $59 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

 

In the House bill, $23 billion of the OCO would be used for base budget items. That’s $18 billion more than the Obama administration had requested to use for the base budget. As such, the OCO account would only be authorized through April, forcing the next president to request supplemental war funding.

 

As far as other differences between the two bills, McCain said he doesn’t “see a lot of distance.”

 

But the money will be a “stumbling block,” he and the others agreed.

 

“We have not found a way through that yet, but we have just begun,” McCain said.

 

One complicating factor in recent weeks is President Obama’s decision to leave more troops than planned in Afghanistan and send more troops to Iraq. Both Thornberry and McCain have said those decisions require more defense spending.

 

Reports indicate the Pentagon may submit a supplemental funding request, Thornberry said. But in the meantime, he added, lawmakers still have to negotiate the bill.

 

“Our job is to work on these intense discussions, get our bill ready, come back in September and see what the fiscal landscape looks like, and we’ll work our way from there,” Thornberry said.

 

The White House has threatened to veto the House version of the bill, largely because of how it authorizes funding.

 

The quartet of lawmakers said it’s too early in the conference process to say whether the final bill will result in a veto showdown with the White House.

 

“We are seriously engaging and trying to find a way through this,” Reed said.

 

The lawmakers were confident they will find a way to fund defense despite budget caps.

 

 

“We always have,” McCain and Smith said in concert.

 

Added Thornberry: “Our job is to support the men and women who risk their lives to defend the country. And so whatever problems there may be, we’ve got to work through them because that’s what comes first, and that’s the mood in this room.”

 

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/287562-armed-services-leaders-encouraged-after-first-conference-meeting?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-14-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Funding Gap Hangs Over Defense Policy Bill Negotiations in Congress

(DEFENSE NEWS, 13 July 16) . Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON – As top US lawmakers fired the proverbial starting gun Wednesday for House-Senate negotiations on a defense policy bill, they expressed confidence they would reach common ground, but the big sticking point is clear.

 

There is an $18 billion disparity between the bills and no clear path to resolve it, said lawmakers at a rare public press conference hosted by the “Big Four,” the armed services chairmen Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, as well as the panels’ ranking members Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.

 

“I didn’t see a major stumbling block, except the issues of sequestration, which we have not found a way through yet, but we have just begun,” McCain said.

 

Outside of the press conference, McCain said, “I don’t know the way through it now, but we always seem to get through it.”

 

The committees hosted a closed “pass the gavel” conference meeting in the bowels of the Capitol on Wednesday wherein lawmakers were able to make brief statements about their priorities. Smith agreed the funding controversy was a “significant stumbling block.”

 

“There is that need, there isn’t the money, and each of the four committees has taken a different swing at that, and the White House as well,” Smith said, referring to the congressional panels with jurisdiction over defense policy and spending. “Figuring out the money is the most important part of our negotiations.”

 

The Senate bill, in keeping with the funding levels in last year’s budget deal, authorizes about $543 billion for national defense programs and $59 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO).

 

The House bill matches that total but shifts $18 billion in emergency war spending into the base budget, providing for overseas operations funding for only seven months in fiscal 2017-a gambit to force the next presidential administration to request supplemental defense spending.

 

House Democrats have called that Republican plan risky and irresponsible, and McCain did not support that approach. McCain instead mounted a failed attempt to add $18 billion to the Senate defense policy bill.

 

On Wednesday, McCain said the military’s increased activity in Europe, Afghanistan and the Middle East have added pressures for more defense spending.

 

“All of those cost money, and the administration has not come over with an additional funding request for those, much less the $18 billion issue that we’re also facing,” McCain said.

 

Thornberry pointed to reports the Pentagon is preparing a supplemental spending request.

 

“Our job is to work in these intense discussions, get our bill ready, come back in September and see what the funding landscape looks like- and work our way from there,” Thornberry said.

 

The White House has issued a veto threat over both bills, but the assembled lawmakers said it was too soon to say what role that threat would play in the negotiations.

 

Though the press conference began with all involved expressing confidence that they could work toward a solution, lawmakers quickly, but politely, turned to familiar positions.

 

Reed, whose party leadership is seeking parity for defense and non-defense spending, said that there are national security expenses outside the Pentagon-for agencies such as the FBI.

 

Smith said the problem is Congress’ “desire to spend more than we have” for defense and priorities like the nation’s infrastructure-all with a national deficit in the billions. “We can lift the budget caps, but how do we live within our means,” Smith said.

 

“While all those things are true, our job is to support the men and women of this country,” Thornberry said. “So whatever problems there may be, we have to work through them because that’s what comes first.”

 

In spite of it all, lawmakers circled back to shared optimism. Asked how they would be able to find a solution to persistent sequestration-related funding issues, McCain and Smith said in unison: “Because we always have.”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/07/13/defense-policy-bill-begins/87042016/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%207-14-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Marines’ New King Stallion Won’t Have To Borrow Spare Parts

(DOD BUZZ 13 JUL 16) … Hope Hodge Seck

 

FARNBOROUGH, England – Under the hood of the much-anticipated CH-53K King Stallion helicopter is a slew of smart systems that will help maintainers keep it flying faster and safer, the Navy’s program executive officer for air, anti-submarine warfare, assault and special mission programs said this week.

 

Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow on Tuesday, Rear Adm. Dean Peters said the King Stallion, built by the Lockheed Martin Corp.-owned Sikorsky and set to hit the Marine Corps fleet in 2019, would come with native health usage and monitoring systems and enhanced logistics tracking capability that would allow the aircraft to tell the crew when a part was failing or needed maintenance well ahead of a crisis point.

 

This advanced tech, he said, would allow maintainers to request parts further in advance.

 

“It’s similar to the technology that’s used in commercial department stores, so we understand when components are failing or about to fail and we have the part ready and we don’t have to rob that from another aircraft and create more maintenance,” Peters said.

 

The aircraft will also come equipped with a high-durability gearbox that are expected to keep the aircraft out of maintenance for longer periods, a key concern now as the Marine Corps grapples with a fleet of heavy-lift helicopters that is largely unfit to fly.

 

These are just a few ways of many that the King Stallion is expected to save the Marines’ aging CH-53 Echo Super Stallion fleet.

 

The workhorse aircraft, which entered service for the Marine Corps in 1981, has been plagued by readiness shortfalls following a decade-and-a-half of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Marine Corps revealed earlier this year that less than a third of the service’s 147 aircraft were cleared to fly and Congress had committed $360 million to refurbishing the fleet.

 

The Marine Corps “probably kept [CH-53s] in theater a little bit too long,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told a Senate panel in March.

 

With fewer aircraft available to fly, officials have also decried a decrease in per-pilot flight hours.

 

Marine brass have yet to release the cause of a tragic collision of two Super Stallions off the coast of Oahu in January that cost the lives of all 12 pilots and crew members. While Marine Corps Deputy Commandant of Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said earlier this month there’s no correlation between stress on the fleet and decreased flight hours and increased deadly mishaps, he said the Corps has seen an increase in smaller mishaps resulting in up to $500,000 worth of damage.

 

“We do know that we need to get our pilots more aircraft,” Peters said. “That’s some of the impetus of pushing this program forward, even in the midst of challenging defense budgets. And those 200 aircraft, as we start to fill in the squadrons there on the Marine Corps side, are going to be very well received in terms of being able to provide an operational capability.”

 

The King Stallion just completed a test in which it successfully lifted a load of 27,000 pounds, a feat it is expected to be able to do under “high-hot” conditions at 6,000 feet in the air, 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

“With better environmental conditions, it will be able to lift even larger loads,” Peters said. “This is pretty exciting.”

 

Four King Stallions are now undergoing testing at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Marine Corps plans to stand up its first squadron of King Stallions, Marine Heavy Lift Helicopter Squadron 366 [HMH-366] at New River, North Carolina in 2019.

 

http://www.dodbuzz.com/2016/07/13/marines-new-king-stallion-wont-have-to-borrow-spare-parts/

 

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Desperate for planes, military turns to the ‘boneyard’

(CNN, 14 July 16) . Zachary Cohen

 

It’s something akin to raising the dead.

 

A troubling shortage of flyable combat aircraft — one military official recently called the air fleet the “smallest, oldest and least ready” in history — is forcing the military to go to its “boneyard.”

 

The Marine Corps announced last month it was taking the extreme step of resurrecting 23 F/A-18 Hornets to meet fleet requirements until the new — and much-delayed — F-35 fighter is eventually delivered.

 

“We are very focused on our current readiness, and at the moment, we don’t have enough Hornets for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training,” Sarah Burns, a spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps, told CNN.

 

She explained that the out-of-service, aging aircraft are housed at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center — a desert base in Arizona known as “the boneyard” — with the “intent to store, maintain, and upgrade them for today’s use.”

 

The military regularly sends “mothball” or extra aircraft to the “boneyard” for long-term storage, rather than destroying the planes. However, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commandant for aviation for the U.S. Marine Corps, noted that while bringing back the planes does provide additional inventory, they are still “old birds” and not as reliable as they once were.

 

And if planes aren’t in the boneyard already, others are getting close.

 

The delayed arrival of new aircraft, like the fifth-generation F-35, also has forced the military to rely heavily on planes nearing the end of their lifespan.

 

According to Maj. Gen. Scott West, the director of current operations for the Air Force, airmen are flying some aircraft and bombers, like the B-52 Stratofortress, that are more than 50 years old.

 

Military brass warn Congress there’s a problem

 

As it presses aircraft back into service, the military is having to lean heavily on a smaller and aging air fleet — a trend that has leaders across all four armed service branches concerned about combat performance and pilot safety.

Appearing before a House Armed Services subcommittee last week, leaders from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines warned lawmakers that fiscal constraints, coupled with the critical focus on overseas operations, have seriously degraded training and readiness efforts.

 

“Twenty-five years of continuous combat operations … coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned funding levels, have contributed to one of the smallest, oldest and least ready forces across the full-spectrum of operations in our history,” said Maj. Gen. Scott West, director of current operations, Headquarters for the U.S. Air Force.

 

While each armed service branch has scrambled to find ways to fulfill its combat responsibilities in the short-term, military leaders said delays in the production of next-generation aircraft and shrinking budgets have put a strain on the condition of the current fleet, as well as the servicemen and women who fly and maintain them.

 

“Fiscal constraints continue to force difficult trades in capacity and readiness for long-term capability improvements,” said Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems.

 

The military commanders cautioned that they simply do not have enough aircraft ready for flight to keep up with the current pace of deployment and to safely train aircrews here at home.

 

“Today, there are not enough flyable aircraft — our ‘ready bench’ — if our nation were subjected to a crisis,” Davis said. “Today, I could fly 43% (443 of the 1,040) of the aircraft I should have on my flight lines.”

 

A lack of spare parts and maintenance personnel trained to repair damaged aircraft are two of the main factors contributing to the lack of operational aircraft, according to military brass.

 

Describing military aviation as a “fragile ecosystem,” Davis emphasized the importance of keeping all requisite aspects of that system nourished to keep the entire network healthy.

 

“We are balancing the need to have our current fleet as ready and modern as possible, to train our pilots and maintainers, and to out match any current foe on the battlefield,” he said. “If any get out of balance for long, the whole system can begin to fray and collapse.”

 

The need to improve readiness and training has been further amplified by the shrinking technology advantage that the U.S. holds over potential adversaries like China and Russia, according to Manazir.

 

“Provocations with state and non-state actors continue to cause instability in almost every region of the world,” he told the subcommittee. “We continue to face challenges associated with balancing readiness for today and modernization for tomorrow’s fight. More of our force is being demanded, deployed longer than planned. Intended replacements are not keeping pace with attrition.”

 

With that in mind, the Pentagon has fought to extend the life of several aircraft, including the A-10 Thunderbolt, despite calls from Congress to eliminate the program in favor of allocating funding to other initiatives.

 

But the lack of a clear replacement for the A-10, which specializes in performing close air support missions, has forced Congress to continue the use of the old warbird that first flew in 1975.

 

Fears about pilot safety

 

All four military leaders also repeatedly emphasized that the current lack of flyable aircraft could pose a significant risk to pilot safety.

 

Despite no significant rise in serious mishaps or accidents resulting from any gaps in maintenance and lack of training, the four services noted that the potential for such looms in the near future.

 

With fewer planes available, Davis said Marine aviators are receiving significantly less flight time. In the past, Marine pilots would receive 1,000 to 1,500 hours but today’s aviators only have between 500 and 600 hours.

 

“I worry about my young aviators that aren’t getting the number of hours they need to,” Davis said. “As a young guy, I had a couple of close calls. I do not know how I would do having the amount of flight time that my youngsters get.”

 

There has been an uptick in recent minor aircraft incidents resulting in billions of dollars in damage and, in some cases, loss of life, the military brass told Congress.

 

Many of the incidents are still under investigation to determine whether they were caused by human error or an aircraft malfunction, but both lawmakers and military officials agreed that the limited training of pilots raises concern about the potential for future incidents.

 

“While it may not show itself directly today in the rate of mishaps, I do believe it exhibits itself in additional risk,” said Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., the subcommittee chairman.

 

“There’s a common theme here: We’re pushing harder. We have fewer resources. We have fewer of the skilled people in the necessary positions to do all the things that we need to do to make sure that we are not just rebuilding that readiness but maintaining the current level of readiness,” he said.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/13/politics/military-aircraft-boneyard/index.html

 

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Navy F/A-18 Adds Real-Time Fast Attack Video Data Link

(SCOUT.COM 12 JUL 16) … Kris Osborn

 

Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets are being outfitted with a new, real-time sensor video data link which will better enable the aircraft to network and attack targets from farther ranges.

 

The Navy is aggressively seeking to increase the size of its F/A-18 fleet, extend the current service life of existing aircraft and integrate a series of new technologies to better enable the carrier-launched fighter to track and destroy enemy targets, service officials said.

 

F/A-18s are being outfitted with a real-time video sharing technology called Advanced Targeting FLIR; the system uses electro-optical and infrared cameras with powerful laser technology. This addition will help pilots more quickly zero in on and attack targets with a wider and longer-range envelope of engagement.

 

“ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet, outperforming comparable targeting systems. As a powerful net-enabler, it can pass tracking and targeting information to other nodes in the networked battlespace,” a Raytheon statement said.

 

An impetus for the effort has several facets, including a previously unanticipated delay in the delivery of the Navy’s F-35C carrier-launched variant of the Joint Strike Fighter – along with the continued operational demands placed on F/A-18s by the need for ongoing attacks against ISIS.

 

One immediate move from the Navy involves an initiative to begin formal Service Life Assessment Programs for the F/A-18 earlier than previously scheduled, Navy spokesman Ensign Marc Rockwellpate told Scout Warrior.

 

New Technology for the F/A-18.

 

to the expectation of extended service mission requirements for the F/A-18 Super Hornets, the Navy has continued to procure and install advanced systems for the aircraft — such as the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), High Order Language Mission Computers, ALR-67v3, ALQ-214v5, Multifunctional Information Distribution System, APG-73 radar enhancements, Advanced Targeting Forward looking Infrared upgrades; and LITENING (precision targeting and ISR system) for the Marine Corps on select Legacy aircraft.

 

“FA-18A-F aircraft will continue to receive capability enhancements to sustain their lethality and Fleet interoperability well into the next decade. Future avionics upgrades will enable network-centric operations for integrated fire control, situational awareness and transfer of data to command-and-control nodes afloat and ashore,” Rockwellpate said.

 

Additional technologies for Super Hornets include Digital Communication System Radio, MIDS – Joint Tactical Radio System, Digital Memory Device, Distributed Targeting System, Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and continued advancement of the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar, officials told Scout Warrior.

A Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, or JHMCS, is a technology upgrade which engineers a viewing module proving 20-degree field of view visor.

 

JHMCS provides several options for the night module including Night Vision Cueing Display called QuadEye (100-degree by 40-degree field of view) or Aviator Night Vision Imaging System (40-degree field of view), with symbology or video inserted into the night-vision scene, Rockwell Collins information explains.

 

“JHMCS incorporates a highly accurate magnetic tracking system, providing the pilot full situational awareness throughout the canopy field-or-regard. JHMCS is in full-rate production and is operational on the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18,” a Rockwell Collins statement said.

 

Infrared Search and Track

 

The Navy is integrating 170 F/A-18E/F Block II fighter jets with a next-generation infrared sensor designed to locate air-to-air targets in a high-threat electronic attack environment, service officials said.

 

The Infrared Search and Track, or IRST, system will be installed   by operational squadrons flying F-18s, Navy officials said.

 

Navy officials have described the IRST system is a passive, long-range sensor that searches for and detects infrared emissions; IRST is designed to simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology, Navy developers explained.

 

The IRST technology was specifically engineered with a mind to the fast-changing electromagnetic warfare environment and the realization that potential future adversaries are far more likely to contest U.S. dominance in these areas.

 

IRST also provides the Super Hornet an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high threat electronic attack environment, developers explained.

 

The IRST technology, designed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is designed to search for heat signals over long distances, providing the aircraft with key targeting information.

 

The IRST system -which has been tested on F/A-18s, is passive and therefore harder to detect than some radar technologies which give off radiation, Navy officials said.

 

The IRST system is being developed under a $135 million contract awarded in 2011 and is currently planned to be deployed by 2017, a Boeing statement said.

 

The technology has been tested on a Boeing King Air Test Aircraft, the statement added.

 

F/A-18 Service Life Extension

 

“Since the F/A-18 E/F fleet, on average, has already consumed approximately 46% of its 6,000 flight hour ESL, the Navy elected to initiate the F/A-18E/F SLAP earlier in the Super Hornet’s service life. The ongoing F/A-18E/F SLAP effort is analyzing actual usage versus structural tests to determine the feasibility of extending F/A-18E/F ESL beyond 6,000 flight hours; via a follow-on SLEP (Service Life Extension Program),” he added.

 

When the F/A-18A and F/A-18C reach 8,000 flight hours, they are sent into the depot for service life extension upgrades with the hope of getting the airframes to 10,000 hours. However, many of the older aircraft are in need of substantial repairs and, at the moment, as many as 54 percent of the Navy’s fleet of older Hornets are not in service.

 

“Enhancements and modifications include replacing the center barrel (section) and extending the fatigue life of the Nacelles, ensuring the airframe structures achieve 100% service life. Additional modifications increase the total landing limit and modifications to catapult attachment components can be incorporated to extend total catapults,” Rockwellpate added.

 

The Navy’s goal is to achieve as high as 10,000 flight hours, on a select number of Legacy Hornets, to meet current and future operational demand. To date, 186 High Flight Hour inspections have been successfully completed with 125 inspections currently in-work, he said.

 

Navy: More Than 35 Additional Super Hornets Needed

 

As part of a need to better bridge the gap until F-35Cs start arriving, the Navy is looking to add as many as 35 new F/A-18 Super Hornets to the fleet.

 

The most recent 2017 budget request includes a Navy request for 21 new Super Hornets to be added through 2021. The service also placed 14 more Super Hornets on the so-called “unfunded requirements” list to Congress as part of an attempt at a further increase.

 

Senior Navy leaders have consistently called for the need to add more F/A-18 Super Hornets to the fleet.

 

A carrier air wing consists of about 44 strike aircraft made up of two 10-aircraft squadrons and two 12-plane squadrons complemented by several electrical jamming aircraft. Therefore, the Navy’s stated need for additional squadrons would require the addition of more than 20 new aircraft.

 

The current composition of most carrier-based air wings includes 24 Super Hornets and 20 Hornets. The Navy plans to replace the existing Hornets with F-35Cs.The depots cannot keep up with the demand to repair airplanes due to the deployment of F-18s, industry and Navy officials have explained.

 

The Navy had been planning for the Super Hornets to serve well into the 2030s, but now service leaders say that timeline will need to extend into the 2040s. The Navy plans to begin buying 20 F-35Cs a year by 2020.

 

http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1685822-navy-fa-18-adds-fast-attack-video-link

 

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US Lawmakers Urge Action on Jet Sales to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain

(DEFENSE NEWS, 12 July 16) . Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON – A group of Republican lawmakers is pressing the White House to approve long-delayed fighter jet sales to Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar and open up about why it has taken so long.

 

The sales have been pending for more than two years, but the White House has not yet allowed them to move forward. The hold-up has been linked to Israel’s concerns that its qualitative military edge (QME) – which it is US policy to protect – would be eroded if its neighbors obtained the jets. Members of Congress are likely to have concerns of their own about the repercussions of such sales for the region.

 

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Tuesday he expects the White House to clear jet sales to all three countries after the conclusion of negotiations for the US’s new aid package to Israel, a follow-on to the $30 billion, 10-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2007. Corker supports the jet sales in line with the US-Gulf Cooperation Council summit in 2015, which yielded a declaration of deeper ties between the US and its Gulf allies.

 

“Everyone says there’s no linkage” between the MoU and the fighter jet sales, “and I happen to think there’s linkage,” said Corker, R-Tenn. “Again, when the MoU is completed, hopefully as part of that, or shortly thereafter, these sales will be completed … We’re not getting a lot of clarity on these issues [from the White House].”

 

Reps. Rodney Freylinghuysen, R-N.J., Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., signed the July 6 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice, which argued the “unacceptable” delays are undermining relationships with Mideast allies who are needed for the multinational fight against the Islamic State. Granger chairs the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Freylinghuysen chairs the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, while Crenshaw serves on both subcommittees.

 

“Inexplicably, at the same time we have asked our partners in the region to assume greater roles in this fight, their requests for U.S. equipment languish,” the letter reads. “In some cases, their requests wait for years. This is unacceptable and must be rectified immediately. We are acutely aware of the harmful repercussions of these continued delays.”

 

“They are putting strain on important relationships with partners in the fight, driving countries to purchase weapons from China and Russia, risking U.S. military interoperability with our partners, and damaging the U.S. manufacturing and industrial base.”

 

The lawmakers asked for a briefing by July 14 that includes how and when the administration will resolve the cases.

 

Qatar has requested 36 to 72 F-15E Strike Eagles and Kuwait requested 28 F-18E/F Super Hornets, both made by Boeing. Bahrain is reportedly in the market for as many as 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons, made by Lockheed Martin.

 

The delays have driven Kuwait to sign a deal for 28 Eurofighter jets and Doha to buy 24 French Rafale as an alternative to a portion of the fighters initially planned for purchase from the US. It also threatens Boeing’s 40-year-old F-15 production line in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

Boeing Defense chief executive Leann Caret, said Sunday in London that customers were, “hanging in there with us” while employees were looking forward to building the aircraft. While the arms transfer process is taking longer than Boeing wants, Caret acknowledged, “you’re dealing with a global perspective and there are issues that from a US perspective, in these nations, that they have to deal with.”

 

Thorny geopolitical concerns are at the root of the delay. One Senate staffer affirmed Corker’s assessment that ongoing negotiations between the US and Israel over a consolidated aid package are likely part of the calculus for the US, adding that Israel may be seeking a hedge against its neighbors buying the jets, on top of the 33 US-made F-35 Lightning II jets it is set to buy.

 

“If I were the Israeli government and I knew our government was required by law and policy to do QME assessments on potential military sales in the region, I would see what I could get beyond the F-35 sale, which is already locked in,” the staffer said.

 

Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has criticized certain US arms sales to the region, said the US must be cognizant that Mideast allies who once bought US hardware as “showpieces” are now using it to wage war.

 

“They’re being used to kill civilians, so we need to be a lot more careful today than we have been in the past,” Murphy said of US arm sales. “There is an open proxy war in the region between Saudi Arabia and its allies, and Iran – and both sides are arming up, getting ready for the next front in that proxy war.”

 

As it weighs the sales, the White House is likely weighing potential objections from Congress, to include Bahrain’s human rights record and Israel’s sensitivity to Qatar’s support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Citing Bahrain’s progress on human rights, the Obama administration only last year lifted holds on security assistance to Bahrain in place since Bahrain squelched an uprising in 2011.

 

“What Bahrain is doing today is not a great advertisement for continued US military sales, but Qatar has taken important steps forward in their fight against extremism and answering some of our concerns about domestic worker rights,” Murphy said. “A sale to Bahrain right now would certainly raise my antennae, and I know these Israelis have sensitivities about the Qatari sale. These aren’t easy calls.”

 

Kuwait, which hosts the US Army component of US Central Command and is a significant partner to US military operations in the region, wants the jets to replace its aging Hornet fleet. One analyst said this sale seems the most non-controversial and obvious one of the three.

 

“That’s a no-brainer,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group who focuses on aerospace. “In addition to the jobs and cash, you also have a lifeline that keeps St. Louis going as a fighter producer for longer than what’s in the [US’s] pipeline.”

 

For Qatar, owning 72 of the world’s best fighter jets, “would be quite an expansion of their military capabilities,” Aboulafia said. “There are a million scenarios that could evolve, and they’re potentially creating another military force, with expeditionary warfare capability. It takes time to dig through the ramifications.”

 

Under the Arms Export Control Act and US policy, it is not unusual for transfers of major U.S. weapons systems to take “significant interagency consideration and consultation, given the potentially significant long-term implications for U.S. national security interests,” said State Department spokesman Josh Paul.

 

Paul reaffirmed the US commitment to the security and stability of the Gulf region, citing President Obama’s message at the US-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in April as well as the US’s decades-long efforts to build defense capacity across the region.

 

Lawmakers have been pressuring the administration on the deals for months. With Corker, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in May wrote a letter to Obama urging him to complete the deals.

 

McCain, as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, shepherded an annual defense policy bill through the Senate that would streamline the military’s security cooperation authorities.

 

“These things get stalled and don’t move forward, and we need to do it,” McCain said of foreign military sales more broadly. “There’s allies of ours fighting with us against ISIS that need the equipment.”

 

Aaron Mehta contributed to this report from London.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/07/12/us-lawmakers-urge-action-jet-sales-qatar-kuwait-and-bahrain/86956906/

 

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Pentagon Says Near Deal With Lockheed For More F-35 Fighter Jets

(REUTERS 09 JUL 16) … Andrea Shalal

 

RAF FAIRFORD, England — The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corp are in the final stages of negotiations about two contracts for 160 fighter jets, tandem deals valued at more than $14 billion, the Pentagon’s F-35 program manager said on Saturday.

 

“We’re in the end game,” Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said in an interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo the world’s largest military airshow, where six F-35 Lightning II jets are flying this week.

 

Bogdan said an agreement could be finalised soon, but declined to predict if it could be announced at the Farnborough International Airshow next week. He said all the major issues had been resolved and the fate of the deal was largely in Lockheed’s hands at the moment.

 

Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Jeff Babione had told reporters on Thursday that he expected to reach an agreement soon about contracts for the ninth and 10th production contracts for the new warplane.

 

Sources familiar with the two contracts said they would likely be valued between $14 billion and $15 billion.

Babione said the price of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing version of the jet would drop to under $100 million per plane in the 10th low-rate production batch, including an engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

 

Bogdan said he was continuing to work on a block buy deal for international partners on the $379 billion warplane project, the largest arms program in the world, as part of a larger effort to drive down the jets’ cost.

Buying larger numbers of jets at a time — starting with the 12th production batch of jets — could generate savings of $2 billion to $2.8 billion, even if the U.S. military was not able to join in until it got congressional approval, he said.

 

The U.S. military services would likely join in starting with the 13th and 14th production lots, which would reduce the initially anticipated savings by “hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

 

Bogdan told reporters the program office was carefully assessing any potential impact on trade and tariffs stemming from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, but the initial expectation was that it would not have much impact.

 

A drop in the value of the British pound could help lower some costs, since 15 percent of the jet is built by UK firms.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-airshow-britain-lockheed-fighter-idUSKCN0ZP0QA

 

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Navy Issues Roughly $2 Billion In F-35 Contracts

(DEFENSE DAILY 07 JUL 16) … Pat Host

 

The Navy on Thursday awarded a pair of F-35 contracts worth nearly a combined $2 billion, according to a Defense Department statement.

 

The Navy awarded Pratt & Whitney a $1.5 billion firm-fixed-price, incentive-firm target modification for components, parts and materials for low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 10 of F135-PW-100 propulsion systems. The contract includes 44 engines for the Air Force, four for the Navy and nine F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.

 

In addition, the contract modification provides components, parts and materials for 36 F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for international partners and two F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the global spares pool. Work is expected to be completed by September 2019.

 

The Navy also awarded a $560 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, fixed-price-incentive-firm contract for non-air vehicle spares, support equipment, autonomic logistics information system hardware and software upgrades, supply chain management, full mission simulators and non-recurring engineering services. These are in support of LRIP Lot 10 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non DoD participants and foreign military sale (FMS) customers.

 

Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp.

 

http://www.defensedaily.com/navy-issues-roughly-2-billion-in-f-35-contracts/

 

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Plans Under Way For October F-35B Sea-Based Test

(FLIGHT GLOBAL 07 JUL 16) … Beth Stevenson

 

Lockheed Martin’s F-35B is due to embark on a third phase of ship-based developmental testing (DT) in October, the final step before it begins qualification trials on the UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier.

 

Two examples of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant will embark on the USS America amphibious assault ship for three weeks at the end of October. It will evaluate operations at the minimum requirement of sea state five, but is expected to go up to sea state six.

 

Five F-35B test aircraft – designated BF1-5 – are currently being used for the programme, and it is likely that the BF-5 plus BF1 or BF2 will be used for the October tests.

 

“We’re in the last phases of planning,” Peter Wilson, STOVL lead test pilot for the F-35 programme told a media briefing at RAF Fairford on 7 July. “We are currently in the throes of testing the high levels of asymmetry, which we have to do before we go to the ship in October.”

 

Asymmetry has to be evaluated to ensure that the aircraft can effectively operate from the ship once some of the weapons payload has been dropped; there are “literally a couple of tests” left to be carried out ahead of the DT-3 phase, Wilson says.

 

“The US Marine Corps is completely happy with the capability we’re providing,” Wilson adds.

 

A separate round of qualification trials will need to be performed using the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, on which the UK’s F-35Bs will deploy, but Wilson is hopeful this can be wrapped up quickly: “I think the shortest amount of time to do this will be a couple of months,” he adds.

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/plans-under-way-for-october-f-35b-sea-based-test-427094/

 

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F-35C To Conduct Sea Trials in August Aboard Carrier George Washington

(DEFENSE NEWS, 13 July 16) . Valerie Insinna

 

FARNBOROUGH, England – The US Navy’s F-35C will head back to the seas next month for the third round of developmental tests aboard the aircraft carrier George Washington, the F-35 program executive officer (PEO) said.

 

During a July 9 interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo, F-35 PEO Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told Defense News the sea trials would take place off the East Coast of the United States.

 

“They’re going to open up the full envelope of the airplane to land and take off from the carrier, which means things like heavyweight, asymmetric stores, heavy cross winds, high seas,” he said. “Plus we’ll do a lot of reliability, maintainability and maintenance administrations to make sure we get that right.”

 

At the same time, student pilots will conduct carrier qualifications onboard the ship, he said.

 

The F-35C has operated aboard an aircraft carrier twice so far: in October 2015 on the Dwight D. Eisenhower and November 2014 on the Nimitz. In those tests, pilots conducted catapult takeoffs, arrested landings, and touch-and-go landings on the deck, gradually working in night operations and opening up the flight envelope of the aircraft.

 

The second round of tests also included launches and landings with simulated weapons, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, inside the F-35’s internal weapons bay.

 

The “C” model is planned to become operational in 2018, the last of the three joint strike fighter variants to do so.

 

The US Marine Corps is also preparing for developmental testing of the F-35B aboard the amphibious assault ship America, which will start this fall when the ship is sailing off the West Coast.

 

“They’re going out to do basically the same thing that the Navy is doing,” Bogdan said. “We will finally fully open up the envelope for them on different landing spots and different takeoff conditions, including asymmetric stores, short takeoffs, high seas, different winds.”

 

Aside from the developmental tests, the service will also conduct some operational testing with the “B” model, he said.

 

Previous sea trial events occurred on the amphibious assault ship Wasp in August 2013 and October 2011.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/show-daily/farnborough/2016/07/13/f-35c-conduct-sea-trials-uss-george-washington-farnborough/87021258/

 

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F-35 to Tap Airbus for Data Protection Technology

(DEFENSE NEWS, 10 July 16) . Andrew Chuter

 

LONDON – British F-35s will use Airbus technology to help store, distribute and protect encrypted information on the combat jet when it comes into operation in 2018.

 

Airbus Defence and Space has secured a deal to supply what’s known as local key management system (LKMS) technology for the strike aircraft and two other British military aircraft types – the Voyager A330 inflight refuelling jet and Hercules C-130J airlifters – in a deal recently struck with the British Ministry of Defence.

 

The deal could open the door to sales of the technology to a restricted list of other air forces, including F-35 customers.

 

“I see no reason why we cannot offer this technology to other F-35 users,” said Phil Jones, the head of cyber security operations for Airbus Defence in the UK.

 

The high sensitivity of the ITAR-free technology may mean Airbus will have to develop an export version for all but a handful of countries, he said.

 

Airbus is already supplying the technology, developed at its south Wales facility, to British Typhoon combat jets and A400M airlifters.

 

LKMS receives, translates and packages cryptographic keys so that they can be loaded using a single hand held device into what are known as end crypto units (ECUs) on the aircraft. Input of the crypto information is through a single plug and socket rather than the seven or eight interface points and different handheld devices required previously.

 

Company officials said the technology permits prolonged out-of-area operation through providing the ability to store and distribute multiple cryptographic keys.

 

The technology also provides high levels of protection for encrypted data by preventing data compromise that could threaten the safety and security of an aircraft mission, they said.

 

The crypto technology is likely to eventually find it’s way on to helicopters, unmanned air vehicles and other platforms, but company officials were unwilling to comment on potential discussion with the UK MoD about adding the technology to other aircraft. It did however confirm initial conversations with the MoD about the technology’s suitability for the new Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft being purchased for the Royal Air Force.

 

Jones said the use of technology is not just confined to aerospace applications.

 

“The technology has maritime applications in surface ships and submarines and we are in the early stages of looking at it for critical infrastructure and industrial control systems use as well,” he said.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/show-daily/farnborough/2016/07/10/f-35-tap-airbus-data-protection-technology/86925068/

 

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Marine Corps Aviation Chief Ranks SDB II as F-35 Upgrade Priority

(DEFENSE NEWS, 14 July 16) . Valerie Insinna

 

FARNBOROUGH, England – The US Defense Department is hammering out the final details of its Block 4 upgrade plan for the F-35 joint strike fighter, but the Marine Corps has made clear that Raytheon’s Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) is at the top of its wish list.

 

Asked by journalists at the Royal International Air Tattoo what he’d most like to see in the modernization program, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, characterized the SDB II as the most critical system.

 

“That’s a fantastic weapon,” he said July 8. “I want to get it on there and really increase the capability of the airplane.”

Days later at Farnborough International Airshow, Davis’ executive assistant, Col. William Lieblein, reiterated the service’s desire for the SDB II. The service also wants to incorporate full-motion video onboard the F-35 and improve the electro-optical targeting system with forward-looking infrared, he said.

 

The F-35 will be initially equipped with the first iteration of the weapon, but the follow-on version includes a tri-mode seeker that uses infrared, millimeter wave and laser guidance to identify and destroy targets.

 

Raytheon and the Air Force recently started up a new round of SDB II flight tests of the weapon’s coordinate attack and laser modes, the company announced Monday. When coordinate attack mode is engaged, the SDB II’s GPS system will direct it to fixed targets at distances of more than 40 miles, while the latter mode uses a semi-active laser to illuminate targets.

 

For the most part, the services have finalized which capabilities will funnel into the Block 4 modernization program but are deliberating when those upgrades will funnel into production, Davis said.

 

A capabilities development document is working its way through the Air Force and will go to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council later this summer, said F-35 program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan.

 

“We have a pretty good idea of what’s going to be in the first few increments of Block 4,” he said in a July 9 interview. “Now we’re working on putting together a funding profile to meet that and the acquisition strategy to do that.”

 

The current plan is to separate the Block 4 upgrades into four increments. Those capabilities will be integrated into the F-35 every two years, starting in 2018 with the first delivery of new capabilities in 2020.

 

“If a capability is not mature as we develop it, instead of waiting around for it, we’ll push it to the next increment,” he said. “So we’re trying to work the strategy with industry on how to be that flexible with contracting on the business side.”

 

The F-35 joint program office (JPO) estimates the upgrades will cost somewhere around $3.8 billion to $4.8 billion to procure and integrate into the aircraft. That doesn’t include unique international requirements such as Norway’s joint strike missile. All weapons, including SDB II, will be fielded within the first two increments, Bogdan said.

 

Other upgrades will include more modern electronic warfare systems, radar, avionics and interfaces, and changes that improve the aircraft’s reliability, maintainability and ability to deploy. Generally speaking, the JPO will look to current contractors for Block 4 systems, but could compete capabilities if technology has significantly advanced.

 

“One of the big things to drive cost down in Block 4 is that we will be looking to outside companies who may not have traditionally had equipment on the airplane,” he said. “That’s because in Block 4 we’re getting computers that are open and modular, an open system, so that you can put new sensors and new things on the airplane easier than having to change the whole infrastructure.”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/show-daily/farnborough/2016/07/14/marine-corps-aviation-chief-ranks-small-diameter-bomb-ii-no-1-f-35-upgrade-priority/87070442/

 

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PROVIDED FOR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS ONLY

 

Potential for Day of Rage Protests across America

 

According to social media and open source reporting, on 15 JUL 16, multiple protests are scheduled to be conducted across the United States. Being in the vicinity of these protests increases the chance that individuals may become a victim of violence. Although the media has encouraged non-violence and denounces actions taken against police officers that were not involved in the deaths, the protests may be emotionally charged with the potential to quickly erupt into violence.

 

If you have any questions, please contact your site Security Manager.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of July 5, 2016

Below and attached are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 Top Clips for the week of July 5:

 

LOCAL COVERAGE

NAWCWD engineers’ impact earns Etter Awards

Developmental program manager makes a difference to NAVAIR’s most important resource: people

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

Interview: HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith

Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up At Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

Navy Fighters Are One Upgrade Away From Changing Carrier Aviation Forever

Congress’ Shrinking Calendar Suggests Omnibus, CR Ahead

US Marine Corps F-35s Cleared For Farnborough

The Navy Builds Strength By Saving Energy

Non-deployed Marine pilots still aren’t getting enough training

Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

Marine Aviation Chief: Readiness Improving But Slowly

Marines: Class C Aviation Mishaps Have Doubled, Service Investigating

Navy Fleets Unable To Fix $500M Ship Maintenance Shortfall On Their Own

 

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The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce our 5th national event!

 

Guest Speaker: Ms. Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

Agenda: 1 hour of discussion and QA based on topic

 

For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner (meghan.wagner@navy.mil) or Sara Gravatt (sara.gravatt@navy.mil)

 

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WE’RE SOCIAL!

Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at http://facebook.com/COMFRC

and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ

 

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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NAWCWD engineers’ impact earns Etter Awards

(NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION, 29 June 16) … NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION PUBLIC AFFAIRS

 

NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION CHINA LAKE, Calif. – NAWCWD research mechanical engineer Dr. Jonathan Essel and aerospace engineer Jeremy Abshire were recognized June 22 at a ceremony at the Pentagon for earning 2015 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards in the Scientific Excellence and Engineering Excellence categories, respectively.

 

The Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award, named after the former assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, was established in 2006 to recognize Navy and Marine Corps civilian and military personnel for exceptional science and engineering achievements and contributions in their fields and to the fleet.

 

Essel made breakthroughs in developing innovative methods of harvesting explosive nanoparticles for improving the performance and safety of explosives and propellants. Among Dr. Essel’s accomplishments was the creation of energetic inks and precursor materials to be used for additive manufacturing—or 3-D printing—of energetics and energetic devices. Additionally, he initiated the development of a unique nanomaterial laboratory specifically designed for Navy energetic materials.

 

“It’s really an honor to receive this award,” Essel said. “Nanoenergetics is something that I studied in grad school, so the work I do here is a continuation of that. It’s really exciting because we have a lot of tools now that didn’t exist 20 years ago and that gives us great control of the final product.”

 

Essel’s work in gathering nanoparticle energetic material has contributed to increased effectiveness and performance of energetic materials in blast and propulsion, providing safer munitions for the warfighter.

 

“Dr. Essel’s dedication, innovative attitude, and professional demeanor exemplify the Navy’s standards of excellence and professionalism,” his nomination read. “Even with the many projects he directs, he continues to stay active in hands-on technology development.”

 

Abshire supports multiple development and production programs as a solid rocket propulsion subject matter expert. Through his work on the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology Program (IHPRPT) and the Counter Air Future Naval Capability (CA FNC), Abshire and his team developed, matured, and demonstrated several advanced propulsion technologies that offer significant performance improvements to current and future tactical air-launched rocket propulsion systems.

 

“I was pleased to learn of my nomination for this award and honored to receive it,” Abshire said. “I knew the work we were doing in IHPRPT and CA FNC was important to the future of tactical rocket propulsion, but I didn’t think it would be recognized at this level.”

 

Since the conclusion of the CA FNC, Abshire continues to be actively engaged with industry partners to further mature HLG propulsion while protecting the Navy’s intellectual property rights to the technology through patent defense activities with the NAWCWD Office of Counsel.

 

“I’m also especially proud of and grateful for the multi-disciplined team, made up of individuals from both NAWCWD and industry, that supported me throughout the CA FNC,” Abshire said. “Without them, none of these accomplishments would have been possible.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6309

 

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Developmental program manager makes a difference to NAVAIR’s most important resource: people

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 7 JULY 16) … NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND AIR-6.0 PUBLIC AFFAIRS

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Stephanie Souders, program manager for the Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0C) received NAVAIR’s “You Made a Difference” award on June 21. The award recognizes members of the workforce for their extra effort and dedication.

 

“Stephanie’s focus on continued process improvement has been the catalyst for actions across each of the departments within 6.0,” said Michele DeMoss-Coward, director for the Workforce Strategy, Acquisition and Development, Logistics Management Integration department, NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.6), who nominated Souders for the award. “As a direct result of her professionalism and diligence, departments have reprioritized actions related to their interns.”

 

“Stephanie is knowledgeable, highly motivated, committed and passionate about the [NADP]program and every individual that is (or has ever been) an intern,” DeMoss-Coward continued. “She is diligent in her efforts to provide NAVAIR a well-developed, talented workforce. Her professionalism has earned her the respect of everyone she encounters, both internally and externally to NAVAIR, and she needed to be recognized as a member of NAVAIR that has truly ‘made a difference.’”

 

Souders’s accomplishments include developing and streamlining processes for intern hiring and orientation, intern mentorship, new employee onboarding and senior projects. She also inaugurated an intern council and established regular meetings for knowledge and “lessons learned” sharing.

 

“Being the AIR 6.0 NADP program manager has been the most rewarding job I have had to date,” Souders said. “I get to help guide and mentor 70 wonderful people on a daily basis — how can it be any better than that? Two years ago when I accepted this position, I knew I wanted to make a big difference and take this program to the next level and, now that we’re there, we’re still going to keep moving forward. I couldn’t do it without the support from our leadership and without the help from our NADPs.  I look to them just as much as they look to me.  We are a great team, and I’m thankful that I’m in this position.”

 

Currently, the NADP has 70 participants at Patuxent River and 135 nationally.

 

The NADP program provides professional development, coaching and mentorship to promote the growth of entry-level professionals in finance, contracting, logistics, science and engineering. Mid-career professionals can participate in the program as an associate. For more information about the NADP program, contact Stephanie Souders at 301-757-8416 or visit http://www.secnav.navy.mil/rda/workforce/Pages/NADP.aspx.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6312

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Interview: HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith

(DEFENSE NEWS 30 JUN 16) … Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON — House and Senate conferees will hash out differences between their defense policy bills behind closed doors this summer, but it is no mystery to Congress watchers where disagreement will be the loudest.

 

The Senate did not pursue the House-approved plan to shift billions the president’s budget proposed for wartime Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) toward unrequested hardware and troops, which cuts off OCO in April to force a supplemental defense spending bill.

 

“That’s going to be the sticking point: What’s the number? How do you divide between the OCO and base? And do we stick to the deal we made just last year,” House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., told Defense News last week.

 

Smith, a voice for limiting Congress’s appetite on defense spending in the name of better strategic choices, favors a throttle on the Pentagon’s nuclear modernization budget, closing excess military bases and the administration’s plan to cut 40,000 soldiers—all thwarted in some form or another by his Republican-led committee’s own policy bill.

 

In an extended question-and-answer session, Smith spoke with the Defense News about these issues, Brexit, the chances the House’s defense funding plan will deadlock Congress on federal spending, and, of course, a notional Donald Trump presidency. (Hint: Smith thinks that would be “very, very dangerous for our national security and the future of the nation.”)

 

Q. You cosponsored an amendment to the House defense appropriations bill to cut some $75 million from development of the Long Range Stand Off Weapon and bump the program off of its accelerated schedule, but that was voted down. After that setback, where is there potential for action, legislative or otherwise, and what would it be?

 

A. We can make this part of the larger debate about the trillion-dollar modernization of our nuclear weapons force. It’s completely and utterly unaffordable. If you look at our national security challenges, make no mistake, we have to have a credible deterrent. But I think to have a Cold War nuclear policy is completely inappropriate to the current times. The challenge we face from radical islamists and terrorists in general is far more pressing right now. The threats from North Korea — there’s a whole lot of things we’d like to have in terms of national security threats — the end-strength of the Army and Marine Corps, the number of ships we have, the necessary technology to improve our weapons — are all more important than having a ridiculously large nuclear arsenal. I have been in the classified briefings where they give out the scenarios where if this, that and the other thing happened, we would really like to have 5,000 warheads. But I think the better approach—and China has the right approach to nuclear deterrence, a small number of nuclear weapons, but they have enough so that it’s a deterrent to anybody messing with them.

 

I think we ought to rethink our approach, and the LRSO is one place to start, and its only one piece of the larger debate. The final thing I’ll say is the LRSO is low-yield, which is the oxymoron of a tactical nuclear weapon. There is no such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Going nuclear is going nuclear, and we want make sure that to deter that, and not give people the idea there is a lesser something they can do in the nuclear arena. We want no use of nuclear weapons by anybody. So have a credible deterrent, but not one that bankrupts us.

 

Q. Given the dynamics in the Senate and the short legislative calendar, could this be punted to a future administration without any action? How might this play out next year and beyond?

 

A. Impossible to say, but it’s an absolute guarantee that this will be taken up by a future administration, because it’s a decade-long, trillion-dollar program. I think the long term decision will be made by the next administration, and we wanted to set the framework for that discussion in a place where we realize we don’t have to spend all this money and there are better choices to be made.

 

Q. You’ve now introduced legislation to let DoD make targeted reductions to excess infrastructure capacity. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is so unpopular that the House recently voted down a measure that would have allowed it to be considered. How is your bill different and why is it needed?

 

A. My bill is different. What we do in our bill is we place a greater emphasis on savings, we place a greater emphasis on transparency, we give Congress the ability to vote after the military has made its initial take on what is excess capacity. The first step in a BRAC is [identifying] excess capacity. [With this bill] Congress can say, ‘We don’t buy this, we can cut this off.’ So we do some things to make it a more transparent decision.

 

Ultimately this is a political decision, and the only way we get a BRAC is if we push political arguments hard enough to make people change their minds. I think the country sees the common sense, if the military is coming out and says it has 22 percent excess capacity. Given the national security threat we face and given the finite resources we have, if there is money to be saved, we have to do it.

 

The politics are much more personal. Everyone knows if a BRAC comes out, and a base in their district is closed, they will pay a price for that. I’m hoping we’re more enlightened than that. My district has changed — I used to represent Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I don’t have any military bases in my district anymore, but I do have defense contractors. More than that, small manufacturers who would be impacted.

 

The point is, it’s not my job as a member of the Armed Services Committee to grab every single solitary dollar I can for my district. The American Defense Communities had their annual conference Washington, DC, this week and 75 percent said they would prefer to have a BRAC instead of everything shrinking around them [at random].

 

Q. As you get ready to reconcile the House and Senate defense policy bills in conference, what are the issues you feel the strongest about? Are those the most contentious ones?

 

A. The most contentious issue is the top-line number, and we came to an agreement on a top-line of $610 billion. Some members have been chafing at that number and want it to be higher, so we’ll have that discussion. Any effort going above that $610 million number will create conflicts with the president and with Democrats. Or you could do it the way the House Armed Services Committee did it, you know, steal it from OCO to put it in the base and counting on a supplemental six months from now. Now, the Senate didn’t do that, the Senate stuck to the 610 number and OCO the way it was in their authorizing committee. That’s going to be the sticking point: What’s the number? How do you divide between the OCO and base? And do we stick to the deal we made just last year?

 

The second biggest thing is the end-strength number. Prohibitions that reduce the size of the Army and the Marine Corps are things that could lead to a presidential veto, and if the budget caps come back, you have to be prepared for it [with a gradual drawdown]. You don’t want to slash 40,000 soldiers in a month. That would be an incredibly inefficient and terrible way to do it. So if you do it, you want to be prepared for it. The prohibitions are problematic.

 

And then the Senate took pretty big swings at reform, on acquisitions reform, Goldwater-Nichols reform, on healthcare reform, on Basic Housing allowance—really it’s those big reforms that will be some of the tougher ideas to resolve.

 

Q. Is there anything that would have you withhold your signature from the conference report?

 

A. Well, I voted against the bill. Obviously the answer to that is yes, and funding is going to be the issue. Listen, I feel we have to live within that 610 number, and live with the OCO-base that was agreed to—unless they want to get rid of the budget caps. We have an overarching problem here beyond the defense budget: a $19 trillion debt. We have a lot of pressing needs, not just in defense. The most notable is the [nation’s] crumbling infrastructure. ‘Here’s what we want’ and ‘here’s what we want to spend’—and there’s an enormous gap between the two.

 

Q. One of HASC Chair Mac Thornberry’s most persistent arguments to add to defense and the maneuver to shift $18 billion from OCO to base budget needs is that it addresses a readiness crisis in the military. Is that argument valid? Isn’t there always a military readiness crisis?

 

A. It’s valid, but its not what they’re doing. The way they’ve approached this over the last few years is actually helping to create a legitimate readiness crisis. There’s never a time when you have all the maintenance you want, all the training you want. I think we are in a readiness crisis — make no mistake about that, but why? It’s because we have been spending money on programs and short-changing readiness. When the Pentagon says they want to lay up 11 cruisers, three amphibious vehicles, and save $5 billion, and we say, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ where does that money come out of? It comes out of the last person in line at the buffet, and that’s readiness. You don’t repair a building, you don’t fix a plane, you don’t fly as many hours, you don’t train as much. I know the A-10 is a great aircraft, but instead of offering up alternative savings, you put the money back in again and that’s [costing] readiness.

 

The Army was trying to save money by transferring some of the air assets between the Guard and the active duty, and we’ve stepped in and limited that. All of that comes out of readiness ultimately.

They put a portion of that money and put it into readiness, but they’ve also bought more F-35s and more F-18s and more Black Hawks and more missiles — and maybe that’s stuff we need, but it comes at the expense of readiness because of where the budget is at.

 

I’ve argued for a long time now what we need to do is step back and say, given where we’re at financially, what should our national security strategy be? Instead what we’ve said is, ‘Don’t tell me about fiscal limitations. We’re going to force through the budget, the defense spending, that we want.’ But it’s done awkwardly because the money isn’t there. Readiness suffers.

 

Q. Many folks were shocked to wake up and see Great Britain’s decision to exit the European Union. What’s your sense of what that means for US national security and NATO? Does that vote presage support for Donald Trump, as some have said?

 

A. It’s hard to say, but it’s part of a larger trend toward a more isolationist approach and less cooperative approach among Western allies. How exactly it impacts the national security piece will remain to be seen—but it’s not good. It causes economic turmoil. That impacts our ability to fund defense. Great Britain is going to take a huge economic blow, so what are they going to do? How will they continue to fund their defense requirements? It’s a major problem and it portends a larger trend, which will be a significant challenge as well.

 

Q. It definitely doesn’t send Russia a signal of unity ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw in July. You mentioned a larger trend and I thought you might mean the American electorate. Could this presage support for Donald Trump?

A. None of the people of Great Britain can vote in the presidential election, so I don’t think that’s a valid point.

 

Q. But we aren’t dealing with the same sentiment here in the US?

 

A. There is some of that same sentiment here in the US. But gauging from Great Britain, I don’t think you can make the same comparison. Look at what’s happened in the world today in the stock markets and all the problems out there.

 

You could make the argument people will say, ‘Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.’ In fact there are articles today with people saying, ‘I didn’t know that was going to happen,’ and that Google searches have gone up four-fold in Great Britain, like, ‘What did we just do?’ Maybe there will be an understanding that compromise with allies, where you don’t get everything you want, is better than every person for themselves and separation. We’ll see. I don’t think Donald Trump’s comments this morning were not particularly inspiring, as far as how the US should engage the world.

 

Q. Donald Trump is the GOP’s presumptive presidential candidate. What do you envision it would be like for you in Congress under a Trump presidency?

 

A. [Laughs] It is hard to say. Mr. Trump is unpredictable from one sentence to the next, so I don’t know. I don’t think he knows. I think it would be fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, at least initially, and I think it will be very, very dangerous for our national security and the future of the nation.

 

Q. To circle back to the funding question, how likely is it that Congress will wind up deadlocked, with a temporary continuing resolution (CR) this fall to fund the government? I’ve heard it said that most lawmakers on the Hill haven’t been around long enough to know what regular order looks like and don’t know how to be functional. How likely is it we’ll see anything other than a CR?

 

A. I think less than 50 percent. Look, it requires compromise. I just read the article in the Atlantic, ‘How American Politics Went Insane,’ and the gist of the argument is it became an individualized, contractor approach, where compromise and a half-loaf became dirty words — and where you go for it all, and let the chips fall where they may. There was no sense of keeping the basic structure of government functioning to be a good enough thing to merit a compromise approach, and the public has made it clear they will vote for the uncompromising, angry people.

 

Combine that with how divided we are? Look at your average Tea Party Republican and their vision for what America should be, and take your average Democrat and look at our vision. Finding the middle ground between those two points is a tricky thing to do. In this environment, I’m never going to be betting on a deal. I hope that changes. I hope we understand, certainly people on Armed Services understand, how it impacts DoD when you have this constant uncertainty. What Republicans are going to vote for appropriations bills? They might vote for defense, they might vote for [military construction], but there are four or five [appropriations bills] that 100 Republicans wouldn’t vote for. So, then what?

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/06/30/interview-hasc-ranking-member-adam-smith/86510664/

 

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Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up At Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

(US NAVAL INSTITUTE 30 JUN 16) … Megan Eckstein

 

The Marine Corps’ second F-35B Joint Strike Fighter squadron stood up today, as the AV-8B Harrier-flying Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 became Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211.

 

A re-designation and change of command ceremony was held at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona today, with Lt. Col. William Maples taking command of the second operational JSF squadron. The squadron flew its final Harrier flight on May 6 and received its first two JSFs three days later.

 

VMFA-121 became operational when initial operational capability was declared on the platform last July.

 

Due to readiness improvements in the Harrier fleet and ongoing readiness challenges in the F/A-18 Hornet fleet, Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told USNI News earlier this year that the F-35B transition plan may change, with Hornet squadrons prioritized and the Harrier squadrons flying their legacy planes for a bit longer.

 

Under current procurement plans, the Marines should receive 20 to 24 planes a year, allowing them to transition two squadrons a year. VMFA-122 will be the next Hornet squadron to transition, followed by VMFA-314 becoming an F-35C squadron to operate off of Navy aircraft carriers. This faster rate of squadron re-designations will “allow me to shut down F-18 squadrons faster” and “get out of the old metal into the new,” Davis told USNI News previously.

 

https://news.usni.org/2016/06/30/20458

 

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Navy Fighters Are One Upgrade Away From Changing Carrier Aviation Forever

(NAVY TIMES 03 JUL 16) … Meghann Myers

 

ABOARD CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON OFF NORFOLK, Va. – In a typical aircraft carrier landing, a fighter pilot may make up to 300 adjustments with the stick and throttle over 18 seconds before hitting the deck and snagging the jet’s tail hook just-so across one of four arresting wires.

 

It’s one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in the world because of that landing, but a revolutionary program that’s as simple as a software upgrade will take a lot of the scrambling out of the final seconds of a combat mission.

 

It’s called MAGIC CARPET, and — don’t laugh — it stands for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. What it does is put jets into a sort of automatic landing mode that guides the plane’s trajectory to the deck and reduces the frantic adjustments out of the process.

 

It won’t go in the legacy F/A-18A-D Hornets because the jet’s mechanical systems won’t respond to this specific software, but for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, adding this upgrade could not only make carrier landings safer, but increase efficiency to a point that pilots will need fewer traps to get qualified and stay proficient. As a result, aircraft will take less of a beating and pilots can focus more on missions.

 

It will also come standard in the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter when it goes operational in 2019.

 

“Over the next year, we’re going to start to look at what kind of checks we can write,” Hornet and Growler program manager Capt. David Kindley explained June 27 during an underway to test the program aboard this carrier.

 

“I know this is really good, and I think it could be crazy good, but I don’t have a sense of the quantity of that,” he added.

 

To properly land a fighter on a carrier, a pilot needs to maintain a 3-degree glide slope, while staying lined up with a moving ship and keeping the jet’s nose at just the right angle so it doesn’t slam into the deck.

 

This requires constant movement of their controls — left and right with the stick for the right direction, back and forth to put the nose up or down, and constant acceleration and deceleration with the throttle to make up for any power lost with all that moving around.

 

But with Magic Carpet, a flight control software program developed by Navy engineers in-house at Naval Air Systems Command, all of those controls have been decoupled.

 

Now, Kindley said, the jet will self-adjust to stay on that 3-degree path.

 

“What we do with Magic Carpet, and it’s very disorienting for an aviator … basically, you take the stick and push it forward until you’re on glide slope, and then let go. Which is so weird to do in an airplane,” he said. “Instead of making multiple corrections with throttle and stick to make glide slope, I just do one.”

 

The software is still in development and not scheduled for full operational use until 2019, but later this year, Kindley plans to hand it over to Naval Air Forces to decide which squadrons will get to test it.

 

For now, Kindley suggested, it would be ideal to test the software with squadrons who aren’t deployed or preparing for deployment, because they have enough to worry about.

 

But for those in a training phase, it would be great to switch on Magic Carpet during a perfect-weather day and see how the pilots like it.

 

“I’m expecting the fleet to incorporate Magic Carpet as a circus pass,” he said, turning the system on and off to test pilots’ skills, the same way they practice flying without a heads-up display, for example.

 

Stick and rudder

 

To operate Magic Carpet, the pilot inputs the glide slope, makes an adjustment to line it up, and the jet locks it in. Unlike before, moving the stick left or right to line up with the carrier is simply a move left or right, rather than a small adjustment that requires several more adjustments of power and angle to maintain glide slope.

 

“I am uncomfortable with how few inputs I’m making,” recalled Lt. Cmdr. Matthew “Pogo” Dominick of his first time landing on the carrier using Magic Carpet.

 

Dominick and a few of his fellow Patuxent River, Maryland-based pilots from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 brought two Super Hornets and a Growler aboard GW for a few days to do the final carrier tests for the software, before it’s handed over to the fleet for further testing.

 

The squadron flew 598 approaches, the majority of them touch-and-go’s, over six days aboard GW, averaging about six hours of flight time a day. The VX-23 fliers flew plenty of perfect passes, Kindley said, but were challenged to purposely mess-up and see how much effort it took to correct themselves.

 

“I’m going to be high at the start, I’m also going to overshoot the line-up there, so now I’ve got to make a correction to both line-up and glide slope all before I make it to touchdown,” said Lt. Christopher “U-Turn” Montague, of one of his more daring passes.

 

“On the old system, no chance — I probably would have been told to wave-off before I even started my approach,” he said.

 

But instead, Montague said, he was able to move the stick just so to land perfectly centered with a few seconds to spare, making half as many corrections as he would have needed to without Magic Carpet.

 

They also tested out a variation of ship conditions, moving the carrier to get between 20 and nearly 50 knots of wind coming across the deck.

 

“And it didn’t matter,” Dominick said. “The aircraft could handle all those conditions.”

 

Changing the game

 

Dominick and Montague’s jobs are some of the world’s toughest, just because of the risk involved in landing on a 300-foot runway.

 

Magic Carpet doesn’t take all of that danger away, but it does make the task much simpler. Landing the jet is technically just an administrative task after completing a mission, so taking away much of the stress allows the pilot to focus on the real reason for flying.

 

For the pilots, that’s a win-win situation, even if automation diminishes the bad-ass factor.

 

“I don’t derive satisfaction from landing aboard the ship and going, ‘I’m cool. I’m a carrier aviator,’ ” said Dominick, who has 11 years in the cockpit. “I’ll be honest. If you want to look at my flight jacket, I have no patches on it. I don’t have any patches for traps or Top Hook or any of it. I wake up and I just want to do my job.”

For Montague, whose father was an F-14 Tomcat pilot, landing on the boat was the whole reason to pick the Navy over the Air Force.

 

“I can tell you that I’m proud of the work that goes into that, and the work from the whole system, in order to be able to do that,” he said. “It is an incredible feat from all people involved, from the human system and the mechanical system, to be able to regularly operate aircraft from an aircraft carrier. And I think it’s a valid source of pride.”

 

Montague, an 8-year rhino driver, said he had a feeling he’d be testing Magic Carpet when he joined VX-23, and he thought about what it might mean to the fighter pilot culture.

 

“I was curious as to how that was going to play out. ‘Hey, are we going to take away this thing that makes me think I’m special?’ ” he said. “After my first couple passes here, it went away.”

 

The point of the job, they said, is to drop the bombs or jam the enemy’s communications, and a beautiful landing on the carrier hours later is just an afterthought.

 

“I’m getting goosebumps right now thinking about the number of scary passes I’ve seen as a [landing safety officer], watching people come aboard the ship,” Dominick said. “I know two specific times that my life was saved by LSOs. For me, it’s the risk, and now I can stop focusing on admin and focus on being an even better tactician for the guys on the ground.”

 

Lightening the load

 

It’s too soon to tell, Kindley said, but Magic Carpet could have benefits far beyond aircrew safety.

 

In a perfect world, a pilot would hit the flight deck and hook the third of the four arresting wires laid out across the runway every time. Obviously, that’s rarely the case.

 

Landings are regularly waved-off, to start. During training, a pilot will get two or three chances before they’re told to go land back on base. On deployment, another jet will have to launch to act as a tanker to keep the other jet in the air until it can safely land.

 

Then there are the scary landings, when the jet comes down hard, or the tail hook misses all four wires and the pilot has to get airborne again.

 

All of that requires countless hours of practice to keep the pilots proficient, and countless hours of maintenance for the extra time spent in the air and the airframe stress from the impact of landing.

 

But if you can make it easier, Kindley said, it might have a positive effect all everything else.

 

“What the ship is seeing, and what I was seeing when we were standing out there is, these airplanes are tagging the three-wire,” he said. “There’s smoothness to the airplanes, I’m not seeing the nose move. They’re consistent with where they’re going, and it looks to be very, very predictable.”

 

That has the potential to change the way pilots are trained and qualified.

 

“So if we’ve really done that, if we’ve really made it that easy, then what do we have to do go to sea?” Kindley said. “Do I need to spend the amount of time in the future preparing for the ship then as I do now? I think it’ll be less.”

 

But he’s not ready to commit to how much less, he added.

 

Then there is the amount of time and money spent maintaining fighters. The Super Hornet is due to operate to 2040, and the new Growlers will be flying beyond that, Kindley said.

 

“There is a tax that we’re paying for these airplanes in having to bounce them before they go to sea, and the inconsistencies you’re seeing on the carrier,” he said. “It’s difficult to say what that tax is, but I know it’s not zero.”

 

With less stress on the aircraft, the 6,000 or 10,000 flight-hour limits on the planes might stretch a little further.

“We may have done a really good thing in terms of the long-term support of the airplane,” he said.

 

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/07/03/navy-fighters-one-upgrade-away-changing-carrier-aviation-forever/86521216/

 

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Congress’ Shrinking Calendar Suggests Omnibus, CR Ahead

(DEFENSE NEW 05 JUL 16) … Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed the House will work against the clock to pass appropriations bills as Congress’ waning calendar suggests a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past Sept. 30 and an omnibus spending resolution grows ever more likely.

 

Both loom over Congress’s election-year schedule, which has eight working days ahead, then a seven-week recess for party conventions and campaigning, and then four working weeks in September. McCarthy, R-Calif., all but acknowledged his caucus would not complete all 12 appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year.

 

“I think we will work through to get as many [appropriations bills] done as we can do before Sept. 30,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.

 

At McCarthy’s news conference, a reporter asked not whether there would be a CR but how long it would last. McCarthy would not say.

 

“We will deal with that when we reach it, but right now we have appropriations bills before us, so why would we stop now?” he said.

 

House Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters last month that he wants a CR to run from Oct. 1 through early December, followed by an omnibus to fund the government through the end of fiscal 2017.

 

The House has only managed to pass three appropriations bills — including the defense and the military construction-Veterans Affairs bills. The House is on track to consider one this week and another next week, but it would still fall behind the seven it had passed by this time last year.

 

Work on appropriations bills was delayed before the July Fourth recess when Democrats staged a 26-hour sit-in to demand the House take up gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

 

Democrats also derailed a 2017 energy-water appropriations bill last month by including an anti-discrimination amendment that cost Republican support. That prompted House GOP leadership to tighten rules governing which amendments may be considered on the floor.

 

McCarthy touted the rule as a means to speed along appropriations.

 

“I believe the House should do its work, and I think you’ll see the House be very productive with appropriations, especially with the new structured rule,” McCarthy said. “When you have a structured rule, the approps process goes much faster, and I think we’ll continue with that work to get as much done as possible.”

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had promised an “open rules” process, which allows more rank-and-file members to amend bills on the floor, and McCarthy said leadership has continued to keep the floor “very open.”

“We want to make sure we are moving legislation through, and I think you’ll find the approps process works a little smoother,” McCarthy said.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/07/05/congresss-shrinking-calendar-suggests-omnibus-cr-ahead/86721090/

 

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US Marine Corps F-35s Cleared For Farnborough

(DEFENSE NEWS 05 JUL 16) … Valerie Insinna

 

RAF FAIRFORD, England — Two US Marine Corps F-35Bs on Tuesday completed validation flights with the UK government, clearing the jets to perform at Farnborough International Airshow next week.

 

During a validation flight, the UK Ministry of Defence confirms that an aircraft’s flight profile meets regulations and approves it for the show. The two jets took off around 2 p.m. from RAF Fairford and flew to Farnborough, landing back at Fairford after about 20 minutes.

 

The F-35Bs will do practice runs for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) on Wednesday, said Lt. Col Richard Rusnok, one of the Marine Corps F-35B pilots in town for the air shows.

 

The Air Force F-35As, which will fly only at RIAT, conducted their flight validation at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia before the jets flew across the Atlantic Ocean last week, said Maj. Will Andreotta, F-35A heritage flight team commander and an F-35 pilot.

 

One of the A-variants conducted a practice flight Tuesday morning, Andreotta said. A different F-35A will run through the same profile Wednesday morning, and the F-22s will practice Thursday.

 

“It’s our first time flying in the UK so they have different rules. We’re doing actually a new profile here that we don’t do [in the US],” he said. “So today was one of those days to go out there and kind of look at the overall lay of the land, see where the show line is, where the crowd lines are. Obviously safety is our priority while we’re over here.”

During heritage flights, the aircraft typically conducts three maneuvers. The pilots first conduct an “arcing” or “banana pass,” which gives the crowd a view of the top of the jet, then do a “flat pass” where the aircraft flies straight and level. In the US, the pilots fly over the crowd before breaking formation and landing, but because flying over the crowd is prohibited in the UK, the pilots will instead repeat either a flat or arching base, Andreotta said.

 

The F-35As will be joined during the heritage flight by an F-22 and a P-51 Warbird but will not be practicing in the UK with the other aircraft before the demonstration at RIAT, said Master Sgt. Samuel Smith, F-35 heritage flight team chief.

 

“It’s our eighth air show, so we’ve actually done this quite a few times,” he said.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/omr/roadtowarsaw/2016/07/05/poland-patriot-missile-pgz-raytheon/86719468/

 

 

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The Navy Builds Strength By Saving Energy

(WASHINGTON POST 05 JUL 16) … David Ignatius

 

The week of July Fourth is a good moment to salute an unlikely champion of saving energy and switching to alternative fuels — the U.S. Navy. Once a supreme fuel-guzzler whose energy needs sometimes dictated foreign policy, the Navy has become a model for how the country can curb its appetite for fossil fuels.

 

The Navy’s energy diet began seven years ago with an edict from newly appointed Secretary Ray Mabus, who issued five goals for radically changing how the Navy bought and consumed fuel. A former Mississippi governor who had served two years as U.S. ambassador to Riyadh in the mid-1990s, Mabus worried about how vulnerable the U.S. military was to foreign energy sources.

 

The Navy, like most military services, likes its traditions. So the idea of a “Great Green Fleet” met considerable resistance from admirals and their allies in Congress. The Navy brass resisted, in particular, Mabus’s commitment to switch the Navy’s consumption so that by 2020, at least 50 percent of its fuel would come from alternative sources. At that time, many Navy commanders thought that 30 percent was a realistic target.

 

The Navy has already exceeded that 50 percent target in its contracts for fuel ashore, Mabus told me in a recent interview. And it expects to meet the overall goal well before 2020. Under the rules Mabus set for transition, the alternative fuels must be ready to “drop in” for any requirement, including jet fuel for an F/A-18 Hornet; the fuels must be competitively priced; and any biofuels can’t take land away from food production.

 

Mabus, who served aboard a cruiser in the early 1970s, argues that this energy shift is as much about national security as environmental goals. Saving fuel reduces combat vulnerability: He notes that in Afghanistan, the Marine Corps suffered one Marine killed or wounded for every 50 convoys of fuel. Less fuel consumption means fewer casualties.

 

The Navy’s main push has involved alternative fuels for ships, planes and shore facilities. The cost curve has come down sharply: Mabus says that four years ago when the Navy began buying jet fuel that used a heavy mix of biofuel, it cost $25 a gallon. Today, it costs less than $2 a gallon.

 

The Navy is also making some new “hybrids,” such as the amphibious assault ships USS Makin Island and USS America. These ships use electric propulsion for lower speeds and save the gas turbines for higher speeds.

 

Mabus says the “Prius of the sea,” as he jokingly calls the Makin Island, was able to remain at sea 44 days longer than expected without refueling. Over a ship’s lifetime, the savings could add up to $250 million, the Navy says.

 

Mabus also pushed the Navy and Marines to begin using alternative technologies for electricity. The Navy is refitting ships to use long-lasting LED lights; so far, 7 percent of the fleet has made this transition, saving the equivalent of 1 million gallons of marine diesel fuel annually. Marines deployed in combat are now using solar panels, where possible, to produce power that would otherwise come from generators and batteries. For a Marine company, this could spare troops from lugging 700 pounds of batteries into combat.

 

Another nice thing about using green technology in combat, says Mabus, is that it’s quiet. He notes a comment by a SEAL Team officer after a recent deployment: “When you turn off the generator, you can hear the bad guys.” In remote, rural areas of Afghanistan, “a generator is likely putting a target on your back,” says Mabus.

 

The Navy has always been at the cutting edge with energy: Sailing vessels that depended on the wind gave way to steamships, which were replaced by diesel-powered vessels, which made way for nuclear carriers and submarines. Mabus says the Defense Department is still the largest single user of fossil fuels on earth, with the Navy accounting for about one-third of that total.

 

Climate change is a very practical problem for a seagoing Navy. Melting polar ice changes the strategic map of the world; rising sea levels are expected to displace up to 150 million living in coastal areas by 2050, adding to global instability; the Navy’s prize Atlantic port of Norfolk may be at risk, as sea levels rise through this century.

 

Occasionally, environmental and defense policy converge. Mabus’s energy initiative, which drew jeers at first, now looks like a demonstration of how to make the country stronger and greener at the same time.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-navy-builds-strength-by-saving-energy/2016/07/05/a66b5cd2-42da-11e6-88d0-6adee48be8bc_story.html

 

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Non-deployed Marine pilots still aren’t getting enough training

(STARS AND STRIPES, 6 July 16) … Tara Copp

 

WASHINGTON — The Marines have made slight improvements to increase the number of training flight hours its non-deployed pilots receive monthly, but it remains far below what is required and could have long-term consequences for the service, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis told lawmakers Wednesday.

 

According to the Marines’ own standards, those pilots should have 16.5 hours of flight training each month. But they have received far less because the needed aircraft or the funds to pay for training have been transferred to deploying units.

 

Last year, non-deploying Marine pilots on average were getting only six to nine hours of flight training each month, Davis told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on readiness. Since Congress added funds to help address the readiness problem, hours of training have increased to average seven to 11 hours each month, said Davis, the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation.

 

“It is an improvement but still six hours per month shy of what a trained-and-ready force requires,” he said.

 

Retired Cmdr. Chris Harmer, who flew SH-60F Sea Hawks and is now a senior analyst at the think tank Institute for the Study of War, said the single-digit monthly training hours are putting servicemembers’ lives at risk.

 

“A pilot flying only 100 hours a year is not really deployable and not really even safe,” Harmer said. “If you are flying just 7 to 11 hours per month you are not only completely non-proficient in combat, you are dangerously lacking in basic airmanship – takeoffs, navigation and landings. The pilots not in the deployment queue, their skills are eroding. They are a danger to themselves and their fellow Marines.”

 

 

Davis said the Marines continue to increase its flight training availabilities. But the longer-term consequences of having a new generation of aviators receive so few flight hours could lead to more “Class A” mishaps, where aircraft and crews are lost, because future leaders, who should have at least 2,000 hours of training, might only have 500 to 600 hours when they are called to guide a less-experienced aviator.

 

Davis called the lack of hours “concerning … the loss of experience this generation of Marines aviators has.”

 

The readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps’ helicopters and aircraft came into sharp focus after a string of fatal aircraft crashes in recent months, including the January 2016 collision of two CH-53E Super Stallions that killed 12 Marines off the coast of Hawaii. The investigation into that crash is close to complete, Davis said Wednesday.

 

http://www.stripes.com/news/non-deployed-marine-pilots-still-aren-t-getting-enough-training-1.417782

 

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Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

(DEFENSE NEWS 06 JUL 16) … Aaron Mehta

 

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has submitted its reprogramming request to Congress, with roughly $2.6 billion in funding shifts targeted.

 

The request, signed off by comptroller Mike McCord on June 30, will now need to be weighed by Congress.

In broad strokes, the reprogramming features the following pots of money:

 

$1.174 billion in fiscal 2016 appropriations

$54.8 million in fiscal 2016 overseas contingency operation (OCO) fund

$583 million from the Defense Working Capitol Fund towards operations and maintenance requirements

$155 million among various fiscal 2015 appropriations

$499 million in fiscal 2015 OCO funding

$128 million among various fiscal 2014 appropriations

 

Inside the fiscal 2016 increases, the Army gets a boost of $267 million. Included in that is $21 million in funding for testing and procurement on the Hellfire Longbow L7A missile and $1 million for the an engineering study for the Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter System (E-HETS), but the majority of the funding goes to support for the service’s Long Haul Communications program.

 

That funding has to come from somewhere, and for the Army, it’s primarily by dropping $207.5 million from personnel costs. Much of that savings comes from lower-than-budgeted Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) average costs.

 

The reprogramming brings the Navy a boost of $476 million, including $129 million to boost flying hours for pilots. It also features $7 million to address depot level repair of components for Advance Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) on CVN-78, as well as $4.6 million to complete certification for the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) capability.

 

As with the Army, the Navy found significant savings on personnel this year, freeing up $85.3 million. The Navy also freed up $40 million for F-18 funding due to a delay in the FY 2016 contract award for Infrared Search and Track (IRST) low rate initial production 2 (LRIP 2) contracts.

 

The US Air Force gained $273 million, including $10 million to support the aging UH-1N helicopter fleets, $7 million to support maintenance at ICBM sites, and $6 million for the Space Mission Forces initiative, which seeks to improve the training and organization of airmen focused on the space domain. It also requests $10 million in a new start effort to procure the PGU-48/B weapon for the F-35A joint strike fighter, a sign that the long-delayed jet is close to going operational. The Air Force expects that funding stream to include $4 million each in its fiscal 2018 and 2019 budget requests.

 

Roughly $54 million is being sought to increase research and development efforts for the Air Force, including $23.9 million to keep the Air Force’s next-generation fighter program, referred to as “Next Generation Air Dominance” by the service, on schedule to support a 2017 milestone.

 

The funding is needed to keep “identifying and/or eliminating candidate technologies early in the analysis process to ensure more effective use of planned air superiority investment, and to ensure the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) incorporates an accurate capability picture. If funds are not received, [Next-Generation Air Dominance] activities will not be able to remain on schedule to support the FY 2017 [Material Development Decision],” according to the reprogramming note.

 

For the Air Force, the reprogramming shifts around $86 million in delayed aircraft procurement and maintenance, largely due to overperforming systems not needing as much work as expected.

 

Roughly $3 million was saved because of delays to the Guardian Angel Air-Deployable Rescue Vehicles (GAARV) program, due to “suitability issues found during testing. The fielding decision has been pushed to the 4th quarter of FY 2017 to allow time to resolve these issues.”

 

Intriguingly, the reprograming includes a plus up of $9.2 million for procurement on a classified Air Force program. Another $9 million are reprogramed under the research and development heading. The Navy also shifted $20 million from a classified program marked as “LINK PLUMERIA.”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/budget/2016/07/06/pentagon-seeks-nearly-26b-reprogramming-request/86781858/

 

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Marine Aviation Chief: Readiness Improving But Slowly

(DEFENSE DAILY 06 JUL 16) … Marc Selinger

 

The Marine Corps’ aviation chief said July 6 that his service’s well-publicized aviation readiness problems are improving but that progress is not fast enough and is endangered by another potential budget stalemate in Washington.

 

Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, told the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel that 42 percent of his service’s 1,000-plus aircraft are flyable, up from about 33 percent the last time he testified. “However, we are still far short of what we need to be the force of readiness,” Davis said. “42 percent is not good enough. It’s not good at all.”

 

The readiness of the AV-8B Harrier jump jet has rebounded, but the CH-53E Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopter lags and will take until 2019 or 2020 to recover, the general said. And while non-deployed air-crews are flying seven to 11 hours a month, up from six to nine hours the last time he testified, they are still falling about six hours short.

 

Davis was encouraged by the progress of the new Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Lightning II fighter, saying “we can’t get the airplane fast enough into the fleet” to replace aging, hard-to-maintain aircraft. The Marine Corps stood up its second operational squadron last week.

 

Davis said the F-35 had a 24-to-0 kill ratio in a spring drill, which was like “watching a Velociprator,” an aggressive dinosaur that “kills everything” in the Jurassic Park movies. He also praised the CH-53K King Stallion, the CH-53E’s planned replacement, noting that it recently lifted a 27,000-pound external load in a test. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is developing the CH-53K.

 

But Davis warned that continued progress for Marine aviation depends on funding stability, which could be jeopardized by a possible political stalemate on the fiscal year 2017 budget request or by the potential return of sequestration’s deep budget cuts. “I would characterize our current recovery as fragile,” he said. “We’re in a deep hole and have a ways to go to climb out.”

 

According to Davis, shortfalls in readiness and flight time do not seem to have caused an increase in serious accidents for Marine aviation. But ground mishaps have jumped, and he recently hired an outside expert to find out why.

 

The general also expressed concern about airspace restrictions around military training ranges. The F-35 needs more room than older fighters to try out all of its capabilities, he said.

 

http://www.defensedaily.com/marine-aviation-chief-says-readiness-improving-but-slowly/

 

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Marines: Class C Aviation Mishaps Have Doubled, Service Investigating

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, 6 July 16) … Megan Eckstein

 

 

The Marine Corps has hired an independent review team lead to look at Class C aviation mishaps, which have doubled over the last year amid the current aviation readiness crisis.

 

Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told reporters after a House Armed Services Committee hearing today that he hired someone who will spearhead a review team – which will have access to travel dollars to get out to the fleet and see first-hand what’s going on with Marine pilots and aircrews. While Class A mishaps – the most serious class, involving either a fatality, the loss of an aircraft or more than $2 million in damages – have remained steady over the last four or so years, Class C mishaps – which involve damages of $50,000 to $500,000 or personnel injuries – have doubled compared to last year.

 

“I don’t know the reason for that,” Davis said.

“I know that people are running pretty hard with not a lot of gear, and we’re just making it – if you are getting your airplanes ready at the last possible minute to get out the door for deployment, there’s a wear and tear on the fleet, a wear and tear on the enlisted Marines and the officers to get ready. I don’t know what the answer is to that, we are going to look at that in great detail.”

 

Davis said the review would focus only on ground-based Class C mishaps that occur during towing, taxiing, aircraft maintenance or other activities. He could not give a timeline for the review, saying it would be up to the review team to take the time they needed to get to the bottom of the problem.

 

“These are the very best Marines we’ve ever had in the Marine Corps, so if they’re making mistakes, why?” Davis said.

“We’ve already looked at it, I obviously don’t have it right, or I’m not seeing the problem the way I should. I want someone else to kind of help me see it more clearly.”

 

These mishaps exacerbate the larger readiness problem the Marine Corps and the other services face today. With only 42 percent of planes in flying condition today and pilots who are not in next-to-deploy units only flying seven to 11 hours a month, “what I’ve asked this team to look at is, not just the cost of (the mishaps), but what’s the lost readiness from having an airplane not ready to train or fly because we’re fixing it.”

 

During the hearing, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9) Rear Adm. Michael Manazir said the Navy has seen its Class C mishaps double since 2008, while Class B mishaps are down and Class A has remained steady.

 

“We’re diving hard with the Safety Center to see what the causal factors would be for increased Class C mishaps, ground mishaps,” he said.

“Were the mistakes made because of inexperience? Were there procedures that were not followed? This might be an indicator that the lower level of our mishap classes, potentially some effects of readiness. When we asked to look at, to weigh the causal factors against the mishaps, there were none that stood out as low readiness, low currency, lack of familiarity with procedures for our aircrew or our maintainers, but we continue to look at that Class C mishap rate to see if there might be a problem.”

 

Manazir and Davis agreed that a big concern for them is that today’s low readiness and low flight time for pilots will lead to a rash of mishaps in the future, as today’s young pilots progress through their careers and eventually are responsible for training the next generation.

 

“We probably won’t see the effects of critical underfunding in readiness, critical under-flying, critical lack of experience, for several years, as people are now put in leadership positions and leading larger flight operations or they’re leading squadrons, and with the lack of experience, that lack of exposure, you might start to see some effects on the units that they lead because of the lack of flying” today, Manazir said.

 

When asked about a connection between the readiness crisis and recent Class A mishaps – particularly the January incident when two CH-53Es crashed in Hawaii, killing all 12 Marines onboard the helos – Davis said the data does not support any connection yet.

 

He said the Marines are still conducting their investigation and he would not comment ahead of the final report’s release, but Davis said that “I can’t make a direct line to Class A, but there is risk there by not flying,” and he worries that a couple years from now the Marine Corps will conclude that a fatal crash was caused by pilot inexperience.

 

“I think we could see future mishaps spikes in Class As because of low flight times, the low experience,” he said.

“it’s hard to tie the low flight time to the Class A mishap rate right now, but we are seeing high (operational tempos), the deployment-to-dwell I think has an impact for sure on the Class C mishap rates, which impacts the readiness.”

 

Though the data may not show a direct line from today’s low flying hours to the recent Class As, “I can’t tie the low readiness rates to a Class A mishap rate even though my gut sense says there’s something there. I can’t tie it to the data right now.”

 

https://news.usni.org/2016/07/06/marines-investigating-class-c-aviation-mishaps-doubled-year#more-20543

 

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Navy Fleets Unable To Fix $500M Ship Maintenance Shortfall On Their Own

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, 6 July 16) … Megan Eckstein

 

The Navy fleets have a $500-million ship maintenance budget shortfall leftover from last year that they cannot pay for on their own. Any existing budget slack is already stretched too tight – meaning that $500-million shortfall will likely be pushed into the next year, U.S. Fleet Forces Command officials told USNI News.

 

The Pentagon budgeting process forces Navy leaders to predict their spending needs two years out – and a lot can change in two years. Previously, though, there was enough margin in U.S. Fleet Forces’ other accounts – ship operations, air operations and combat operations – to help cover unexpected cost increases in the ship maintenance account. Now, USFF executive director and chief of staff Mark Honecker said, there is little to no slack in the fleet’s budget – so the combined $500-million shortfall in ship maintenance funding U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet faced at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2016 has barely shrunk, forcing the two organizations to search higher up the chain of command for money or continue the cycle of postponing maintenance work.

 

“What’s happened this year that made it a little more challenging is, we’ve gotten much better at pricing out our flying hours account, models have gotten better on the ship ops account, and so those margins that we had, they’re gone,” he said. “And so in previous years we would have been able to address these shortfalls and not defer these (maintenance) availabilities within our own account, but this year’s been a little bit different because we got better at models and then we also took a couple-hundred-million-dollar hit in our flying hour account. So those margins are gone now to solve our own problems.”

 

“Each year we do have a shortfall, each year we do manage the shortfall,” he continued, but “as budgets get tighter and margins go away, we’re unable to do that just within the fleet accounts, and we have to raise it up a few levels and see where we get resources elsewhere. But even Navy overall, there’s very limited resources and flexibility because there’s shortfalls in other accounts too.”

 

This year, it appears that without assistance from the Defense Department or Congress, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET will have to push that shortfall forward by deferring the maintenance availabilities of four surface ships and an attack submarine into FY 2017.

 

Rear Adm. Richard Berkey, U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s director of fleet maintenance, told USNI News that this fiscal year has played out very differently than the original plan called for. Planning for FY 2016 started in the fall of 2013, and several kinds of assumptions – on operational needs, the shipyard workforce, work package scopes and more – have proven wrong.

 

For starters, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET started the year at a combined $520 million in the hole in the ship maintenance accounts – $76 million and $444 million, respectively, Berkey said.

 

Fleet Forces’ shortfall was due to one simple event: the attack submarine USS Montpelier’s (SSN-765) interim dry docking period was moved from a public yard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, to a private yard.

 

“[General Dynamics] Electric Boat won that contract, and when they won that contract their bid was $76 million higher than what we had anticipated,” Berkey said, noting that it wasn’t unusual for the private yard bid to be higher than the original government estimate. However, the contract was awarded after the program objective memorandum (POM) planning two years ahead of the start of the fiscal year, and also after the detailed budgeting process that starts one year out, creating a FY 2016 bill that wasn’t budgeted for.

 

The $444-million shortfall at PACFLEET, on the other hand, was much more complex.

•The biggest factor was that many availabilities took much longer than anticipated, not due to unexpected maintenance work but rather because modernization work suddenly started driving schedules. “Modernization, in the past, has generally not been a driver for schedule in availabilities – they would have been specific to particular parts of the ship, or particular machinery, or some capability like that. We’re now getting into modernization that really takes the ship apart completely,” Berkey said, citing the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) as an example. The scope and duration of a CANES installation is now well understood, he said, but “they didn’t know until between that budget process and the beginning of the year.”

•Additionally, three submarine availabilities were moved from public shipyards into private yards, which costs more. A fourth submarine was moved from the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard San Diego Detachment, which was more expensive but was necessary due to workforce imbalance issues, Berkey said.

•The Littoral Combat Ship class has proven more expensive to operate and maintain than was predicted a couple years ago, Berkey said. “I don’t think that’s a secret, that’s a new class of ship and we generally have that for every new class of ship. It’s a little bit more particular on the LCS because of the sustainment model that we have, where we minimize the manning on the LCS with the idea that we would sustain it from the shore with contractors and those types of things. We continue to mature that model and to understand what those real costs are going to be. So we’ve done that with the LCSs out of San Diego, and now moving them to Singapore adds a little bit of complexity to that that we’re still getting our arms wrapped around.”

•Workforce challenges at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility that “go back to the sequestration back in FY ‘13” led to delays in an availability for USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and pushed work from FY 2015 into 2016.

•And finally, three maintenance availabilities were intentionally moved from FY 2015 to 2016 to deal with a budget shortfall at the time.

 

Berkey said Fleet Forces ultimately shifted some of its money over to PACFLEET to help address all those challenges – though ultimately the shortfall is about the same size now as it was at the beginning of the fiscal year in October, with Fleet Forces facing a $330 million deficit and PACFLEET a $160 million deficit. That combined total equates to about 6 percent of the total ship maintenance budget for the two fleets.

 

That the deficit hasn’t shrunk much over the last nine months isn’t for lack of trying, though. Berkey said the Navy had begun awarding firm fixed-priced contracts for surface ships on the East Coast in FY 2016 instead of the old multi-ship/multi-option (MSMO) setup. Preliminary data shows that costs are coming down, freeing up money for the Navy to spend on other emerging ship maintenance work. Fleet Forces was also on track to save in FY 2016 due to the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) delivering in October instead of March 2016 and therefore pushing its selected restricted availability into FY 2017 – though that potentially creates a larger shortfall going into FY 2017.

 

However, the Navy will be facing a big unplanned bill this fiscal year when carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) returns home from a deployment that was not only extended a month but was also essentially the second in a back-to-back deployment with only bare-bones maintenance work in between.

 

“What we’re seeing now with the actual testing of equipment prior to the availability, the additional steaming time Truman has, we’re seeing a lot more work now coming into that package,” Berkey said.

“That availability will be much bigger than we anticipated, starting in September.”

 

So despite an effort to dig out of the funding shortfall, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET find themselves having to push that deficit into the next year – via deferring the five ship availabilities – unless the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or Congress step in and find the money to pay for that work in this current year.

 

“We’re still hoping that money can come in, and the beauty of the contract strategy that we use is that if we get money in time we can put money back on contract using FY ‘16 funds, but if we don’t then that requirement then moves over into FY ’17,” Berkey said.

“And when we go into that year, similar to what I said about PACFLEET where they had three availabilities that went from ‘15 to ‘16, there will be five availabilities that move from ‘16 into ‘17 in aggregate between the two fleets.”

 

Asked if money was the limiting factor or if other reasons may preclude the Navy from carrying out those availabilities this year, Berkey said, “if we were resourced this year, we could award the contracts for those maintenance availabilities, if we got it early enough.

 

“If we got a check written to us tomorrow, we could award those contracts and not bow wave that work into ’17,” he continued.

“It is executable if resources are provided early enough.”

 

Budgeting In The Future

 

Berkey said there are two reasons to be optimistic that, even as planning for air operations and ship operations has gotten more accurate over the years, planning for ship maintenance will become more accurate too to avoid some of the problems PACFLEET saw going into this fiscal year.

 

First, the Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program (SURFMEPP) is already doing a better job of predicting the maintenance needs of specific ship hulls and should continue getting more accurate over the next few years.

 

SURFMEPP, which was stood up in 2010, has technical foundation papers that look at each class of ship and, based on where a hull is in its lifecycle and what type of maintenance availability it is approaching, outlines what type of work the ship is likely to need. SURFMEPP also maintains ship sheets for each individual hull, monitoring deferred maintenance and other things the engineering community knows about that particular warship.

 

Berkey said the Navy is about four years into using the technical foundation papers and ship sheets, so most of the ships have come in for an availability but not all have been in for a docking availability – which occurs every eight years or so. Once all the ships have been through a docking availability, where they are more thoroughly taken apart and inspected, SURFMEPP should have a very clear idea of the state of each ship and what to expect for future maintenance periods.

 

“I see the problem (of work package growth) reducing,” Berkey said, but “I don’t see it ever going away. There is always something that will surprise us when you take a pump off of a foundation that you couldn’t see before and then that foundation is eroding.”

 

The good news is that the Navy plans for 20-percent work growth when drafting the POM two years out, and they generally can stay within that margin.

 

“Where we see growth today is still on ships that have not gone through that process, that docking process that I was talking about before, and really getting into the tanks and understanding what those conditions are,” Berkey said, and within the next four or so years the Navy should have cycled all its ships through at least one docking period. He praised SURFMEPP as a “constantly improving process with the goal … to know exactly what the condition of the ship is so we can properly plan for it, order the material and be able to do the work on schedule and on time.”

 

A second positive for the future is that, after furloughs and hiring freezes in 2013, the workforce size has stabled out, though training continues to be a challenge.

 

“You can go back to the sequestration back in FY ‘13 where we stopped hiring for a while at the naval shipyards. We had pretty much recovered from the pure numbers of people we need back into the naval shipyards by the end of FY ‘15, but now there’s a training period,” Berkey said, noting that 20 percent of the shipyard workforce was hired within the last year and 50 percent within the last five years.

 

But the yards have created learning centers to help new hires become proficient at their trades faster, and Berkey said he was confident that cases of schedule delays and therefore cost increases due to workforce challenges – particularly like the case if Nimitz – will be less of a budgeting problem going forward.

 

https://news.usni.org/2016/07/06/navy-fleets-unable-fix-500m-ship-maintenance-shortfall