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/