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

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 

WE’RE SOCIAL!

Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at http://facebook.com/COMFRC

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

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LOCAL COVERAGE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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

 

(return to top)

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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

 

(return to top)

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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/

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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

 

(return to top)

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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/

 

(return to top)

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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/

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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/

 

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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/

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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/

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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

 

(return to top)

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

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