FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of August 1, 2016

Teammates,

 

Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 Top Clips for the week of Aug. 1:

 

LOCAL COVERAGE

NAVAIR marks first flight with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts

Osprey takes to the sky with 3-D printed critical parts

Game-Changing Flight For Naval Aviation: First Flight With 3-D Printed, Safety-Critical Parts

FRCSW Upgrades Super Hornet AMAD Test Stand

FRCSE Sailor anything but blue to join Angels

FRC East supervisor is top federal manager

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat

Air Force F-35 Hits Drone With Sidewinder Missile In ‘Kill’ Test

The F-35 Is So Stealthy, It Produced Training Challenges, Pilot Says

Navy Schedules F-35C For Third Set Of Carrier Trials

It Could Be Years Before Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is Ready for Combat

Top Marine aviator: F-35B is ready for war

Blue Angels Upgrading To F/A 18 Super Hornets

New Navy Tech Makes It Easy To Land On A Carrier. Yes, Easy

Booz Allen to support Navy IT services

Navy’s Atlantic air force gets a new boss

Decision Coming Soon on Navy Job Title Review, Mabus Says

Marine Flight Readiness Improving .Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?

Marines order 24-hour pause in flight operations for all non-deployed aircraft

White House Launches New Salvo In Troop Funding Fight

Navy, Marines Put V-22 To The Test In Carrier Experiment

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

 

NAVAIR marks first flight with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 29 July 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs

 

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland – Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) marked its first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques here July 29.

 

An MV-22B Osprey completed a test flight outfitted with a titanium, 3-D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle. This link and fitting assembly is one of four that secure a V-22’s engine nacelle to the primary wing structure and will remain on the aircraft for continued evaluation. The flight was performed using the standard V-22 flight performance envelope.

 

“The flight went great. I never would have known that we had anything different onboard,” said MV-22 Project Officer Maj. Travis Stephenson, who piloted the flight.

 

AM uses digital 3-D design data to build components in layers of metal, plastic and other materials. The metal link and fitting assembly for this test event were printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Prior to this flight, multiple V-22 components built by Lakehurst and Penn State Applied Research Laboratory were tested at Patuxent River to validate performance.

 

“The flight today is a great first step toward using AM wherever and whenever we need to. It will revolutionize how we repair our aircraft and develop and field new capabilities – AM is a game changer,” said Liz McMichael, AM Integrated Product Team lead. “In the last 18 months, we’ve started to crack the code on using AM safely. We’ll be working with V-22 to go from this first flight demonstration to a formal configuration change to use these parts on any V-22 aircraft.”

 

Naval Aviation has employed additive manufacturing as a prototyping tool since the early 1990s and in recent years has begun the process of printing non-flight critical parts and tools.

 

Today’s demonstration is the first time a U.S. Navy aircraft flew with an AM part deemed essential to maintaining safe flight.

Navy officials envision a future where all parts can be made on-demand globally by fleet maintainers and operators, and our industry partners — stocking digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts. Today’s flight is an important step toward achieving that vision.

 

Including the V-22 link and fitting assembly, McMichael and her team have identified six additional safety-critical parts they plan to build and test over the next year for three U.S. Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms – the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K. Three of the parts will be made out of titanium, while the other three will be stainless steel.

 

Even with the success of today’s flight, NAVAIR officials advise that there is a lot work to do before deployed aircraft are flying in theater with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts.

 

“Our AM team has done some incredible work in a relatively short period of time — both internally through its production of aircraft components to be used in flight testing and externally through its liaison with industry and other government organizations,” said Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, NAVAIR commander. “Although the flight today is a great step forward, we are not trying to ‘lead’ industry in our AM efforts, but it is absolutely critical that we understand what it takes to successfully manufacture and qualify AM parts for flight in naval aircraft, which we expect will largely be manufactured by our industry partners.  Where I believe we can ‘lead’ industry is in the development of the AM “digital thread,” from initial design tools all the way to the flight line — securely maintained and managed through the life of an aircraft program.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6323

 

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Osprey Takes To The Sky With 3-D Printed Critical Parts

(NAVY TIMES, 1 Aug 16) … Meghann Myers

 

3-D printed parts have been used in Navy aircraft for years, but they’ve been mostly structural, not the safety parts that could mean the difference between flying and crashing.

That was until Friday, when Naval Air Systems Command held its first flight demonstration of an aircraft – a MV-22 Osprey – with a 3-D printed, metal link and fitting assembly for the engine housing.

 

“The flight went great,” said MV-22 pilot Marine Maj. Travis Stephenson said in a Navy release. “I never would have known that we had anything different onboard.”

 

While it’s an Air Force and Marine Corps vertical-lift aircraft now, the Navy has tapped the Osprey as its next carrier on-board delivery vehicle in the 2020s.

 

The military has dabbled in 3-D printing since the early 1990s, making plastic aircraft flight deck tabletop models and plastic models of medical tools. Critical parts are a new addition.

 

The process, also known as additive manufacturing, uses plastic, metal or other materials to fashion objects from detailed plans uploaded to a computer. With more facilities and better designs and technology, it could one day allow maintainers to quickly build their own parts rather than having to rely on the parts inventory in the supply system.

 

The service owns some of its own printers, but, NAVAIR’s boss said in the release, in the future will probably contract for a lot of its 3-D printing needs.

 

“Where I believe we can ‘lead’ industry is in the development of the AM ‘digital thread,’ from initial design tools all the way to the flight line – securely maintained and managed through the life of an aircraft program,” Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags said.

 

The parts in the recent test were printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, where the Navy has worked with Penn State Applied Research Laboratory to make non-critical Osprey parts.

 

“The flight today is a great first step toward using AM wherever and whenever we need to. It will revolutionize how we repair our aircraft and develop and field new capabilities – AM is a game changer,” said Liz McMichael, AM integrated product team lead, in the release.

 

Over the past year and a half, she added, her team has made major progress in printing critical parts, and there are plans to use the parts on any Osprey.

 

“Navy officials envision a future where all parts can be made on-demand globally by fleet maintainers and operators, and our industry partners – stocking digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts,” according to the release.

 

McMichael and her team have plans to build six more safety-critical parts for the Osprey as well as the H-1 Huey and the CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.

 

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/08/01/osprey-takes-sky-3-d-printed-critical-parts/87911176/

 

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Game-Changing Flight For Naval Aviation: First Flight With 3-D Printed, Safety-Critical Parts

(NAVY LIVE BLOG 02 Aug 16) … Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags

 

On July 29, an MV-22B Osprey completed a successful test flight while outfitted with a flight-critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing or 3-D printing. The successful use of this technology in a test flight is a first for Naval Air Systems Command and a significant game-changing milestone for naval aviation.

 

3-D printing works by using digital design data to build components in layers of metal, plastic and other materials. The component used in the V-22 test event – a titanium, 3-D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle – was printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey. This link and fitting assembly is one of four that secure a V-22’s engine nacelles to the primary wing structure and will remain on the aircraft for continued evaluation.

 

Additive manufacturing technology has the potential to revolutionize naval aviation by putting the ability to build parts into the hands of maintainers and operators in the fleet. The test flight marks a great step forward as we work toward a future where all parts can be made on-demand around the globe and where industry partners can stock digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts.

 

Think about what this could mean for our warfighters. Rather than having to order a part and wait for it to arrive, a maintainer serving overseas could just print out a required part when it is needed. This not only reduces the supply chain timeline but also reduces the need to store and transport parts – resulting in increased warfighting readiness at the best possible cost.

 

As we look ahead, the Naval Air Systems Command Additive Manufacturing Integrated Product Team will continue to work with the V-22 to go from the first flight demonstration to a formal configuration change to use the 3-D printed parts on any V-22 aircraft. The team has identified six safety-critical parts, including the V-22 link and fitting assembly, that they plan to build and test over the next year for three U.S. Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms – the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K.

 

Our additive manufacturing team has done incredible work in a relatively short period of time – both internally through its production of aircraft components to be used in flight testing, and externally through its liaison with industry and other government organizations.

 

It is absolutely critical that we understand what it takes to successfully manufacture and qualify additive manufacturing parts for use in deployed aircraft flying in theater. Together with industry, we will continue to work toward getting 3-D printing capability into the hands of our warfighters – giving them the ability to print required parts where they need them, when they need them.

 

Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2016/08/02/game-changing-flight-for-naval-aviation-first-flight-with-3-d-printed-safety-critical-parts/

 

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FRCSW Upgrades Super Hornet AMAD Test Stand

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST ALMANAC) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs

 

Overseeing the maintenance needs of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and its components is one task that is common to many of the Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC). But when the aircraft’s Airframe Mounted Accessory Drive (AMAD) needs repaired or overhauled, all of the FRCs turn to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) to handle the job.

 

The AMAD is the electrical and hydraulic brain of the F/A-18. It is a gearbox that is mounted to the engine of the aircraft and through engine revolutions, powers the aircraft’s hydraulic pump, fuel pump, generator, and starter. Each Hornet has two AMADs; one on each engine.

 

FRCSW AMAD work is assigned to the hydraulics shop in Building 379 and is performed by four pneudraulics mechanics.

 

When an F/A-18 is inducted for maintenance, the AMAD gear boxes are removed and examined.

 

AMAD units that operate properly and within specifications are forwarded as ready-for-issue (RFI) with flight hour notification sent to engineering.

 

“On the Super Hornet `F’ models, we’ll do a check-in test. But if it’s an E or F model that comes in for disassembly due to a generator failure, for example, we’ll do a complete overhaul,” said pneudraulics mechanic Brandon Bush.

 

“Overhaul is to disassemble the entire gearbox and inspect all of the parts. We use our manual to tell us what parts we need to order – like gaskets, seals, bearings and gears. It totals to a couple of hundred parts.”

 

Non-destructive testing (NDI) is used on the gear boxes to identify cracks or flaws. Worn parts, such as thread inserts, are sent to the machine shop for replacement.

 

“After that it goes to delay, who orders all of our parts, and then it comes back for reassembly with all new seals and whatever parts we replaced. Then it’s ready for testing,” Bush said.

 

Like all electronic and hydraulic aircraft components, the AMADs are checked using Automated Testing Equipment (ATE) prior to release as RFI to the fleet.

 

FRCSW uses two separate ATE to test the legacy and Super Hornet.

 

“We finished the C and D (legacy) Hornet stand three years ago and just finished installing the upgraded gearbox test stand for the E and F in April,” said Martha Hoffman, FRCSW Capital Investment Program Project Manager.

 

Hoffman said that the previous system was approximately 12 years old, ran on an older operating system, and often failed during testing procedures making it increasingly unreliable.

 

Costing $563,000, the upgrade to the test stand includes the data acquisition (DA) system, video system, control and sensor systems, the console computer hardware and operating system, and calibration and test software.

 

The DA system controls the test cycles and measures and records the test data. The data is stored and displayed for the operator to ensure that the tested unit is within safe operating specifications.

 

Other portions of the stand simulate varying loads in horsepower for the gearbox so it may be tested at different speeds, load conditions and vibrations.

 

“It reads the operating temperature and vibrations and provides the specifications. If the unit is out of the range of specifications, it will tell the operator immediately, and by what degree and where it is not responding,” Hoffman noted.

 

The test stand’s motor and some other equipment were not upgraded.

 

“We worked with the shop and engineering to customize the stand, so it has three screens,” Hoffman said. “One screen tells the operator if the testing unit is within calibration, the second indicates which tests are being conducted and the outcome, and the third screen is connected to a camera to show the actual AMAD stand.

The test stand also has a joy stick to identify and

query specific areas and tests of the AMAD.”

 

The system is manufactured by Sytronics and the test program is equipped with a manual intervention option, single-step troubleshooting and an automatic systems shutdown.

 

Bush said each AMAD undergoes an array of calibration tests on the stand including six tests in break in mode, six tests in calibration and ground maintenance mode, and an air turbine start cycle test.

 

The tests take about three hours to run per AMAD and an hour each for system setup and breakdown.

 

“After testing a unit we have to check the gearbox and its magnetic plug to make sure there’s no metal or debris in them or the oil out screen,” Bush said. “Overall, we have a 99 percent pass rate for RFI.”

 

FRCSW returns an average of 48 Super Hornet and about seven legacy Hornet AMADs to the fleet yearly.

 

Editor’s note: FRCSW would like to acknowledge the departments that were instrumental in the Super Hornet AMAD test stand upgrade: Engineering in 6.0, the shop personnel, facilities, MetCal engineers and calibration.

 

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

 

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FRCSE Sailor anything but blue to join Angels

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 29 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs

 

Jacksonville, Fla. – Waynesboro, Georgia is only about 400 miles from Pensacola, Florida, but for Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SW) Aldriick Kittles, it may as well be in another galaxy.

 

Through hard work and determination, the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Detachment Jacksonville Sailor has made it out of a hard-scrabble upbringing, and is headed to the world’s premier flight demonstration team.

 

In September, Kittles will join the Navy’s Blue Angels as a maintenance crew chief.

 

“He’s been inspirational to the other Sailors here,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Mark Sarna, Kittles’ supervisor at Detachment Jacksonville’s 700 Division. “To know where he’s come from, where he’s at and where he’s going is truly amazing.”

 

By his own admission, Kittles’ childhood in Waynesboro, Ga. was less than ideal.

 

“It was a bad environment,” he said. “I saw things I shouldn’t have seen and lived with things I shouldn’t have had to live with.”

 

For a while, it was football that seemed to be his ticket to a better life. As a standout safety, Kittles was part of the 2011 Burke County High School Georgia state championship team. But in his senior year, his close friend and teammate was killed in a car crash.

 

“We were planning on playing college football together, but I couldn’t play football anymore after that happened,” Kittles said. “College just wasn’t an option for me after that because my mind just wasn’t focused enough at that point.

 

“But I knew I had to leave. I had to go somewhere.”

 

“Somewhere” ended up being the United States Navy, where Kittles said he originally planned to serve only four years.

 

“I joined and I guess I just did everything correctly,” he said. “I wanted to get the most out of it.”

 

He started out as an undesignated seaman aboard USS Ft. McHenry (LSD-43). The demands of that job set him on a path from which he wouldn’t deviate.

 

“I had to do everything: paint the ship, bring everything onboard the ship,” he said. “It was 24/7, and I kept that mentality when I came here.”

 

In Jacksonville, Kittles threw himself into the job. He took on collateral duties and volunteered.

 

“As soon as he checked in, his motor has been running 150 miles per hour,” Sarna said. “I just tried to point him in the right direction, and he took off.”

 

His fondness for a fast-paced work environment and a commitment to excellence led Kittles to apply for a position with the Blue Angels. At the end of a week-long interview process in May, Kittles still didn’t know if he’d been accepted. He returned home just in time to make the birth of his first child, a son.

 

Then the call came.

 

“At first they messed with me and told me I wasn’t selected,” he said. “Then they asked me if I had my seabag packed.

 

“I said no, but I’ll pack it now!”

 

Initially, Kittles will join the Blue Angels at their home base in Pensacola, Florida before leaving for training at El Centro, California in January. It’s a journey he’s looking forward to.

 

“This is the way I can do the things I want to do in my naval career,” he said. “I want to be an officer one day, and this will help me get there.

 

“Sometimes I just can’t believe where I’m at in my life now,” he said.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6322

 

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FRC East supervisor is top federal manager

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 2 Aug 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs

 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – A Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East supervisor was selected as the Federal Managers Asso­ciation’s (FMA) Manager of the Year during the organization’s 78th national convention March 14 in Alexan­dria, Virginia.

 

Sue Thatch, production support logistician (PSL) team supervisor, was honored for demonstrating exception­al leadership, supervisory and communication skills, active involve­ment in the local FMA chapter and contributions to the local community.

 

“She is trustworthy, honor­able, knowledgeable and effi­cient.and has the ability to communicate on multiple levels by providing an attentive ear of understanding,” said Lori Glass, FRC East program analyst and FMA Chapter 21 president.

 

In the nomination form, Glass highlighted Thatch’s abilities of organiza­tion, leadership and motivation: “She is firm and fair,” wrote Glass. “Sue is extremely responsive to her employees’ needs, going far out of her way to ensure they have all tools necessary to achieve success. She possesses a calm wisdom that adds to her level-headed processes and infectious posi­tive attitude. This mindset energizes her employees and inspires them to achieve goals beyond expectations. She is a mentor to all, providing encour­aging leadership grounded in common sense and experience.”

 

Thatch, with 26 years of government service, built and supported the PSL team that she took the reins of as supervisor in 2013. She initiated a new Production Support Module (PSM) at FRC East, and her work with the Production Support Engineering Supervisor gave PSLs a voice and buy-in on the supply health for the shops. The PSM tool made a huge difference in communication, time savings and supportability at FRC East, according to Glass.

 

Thatch’s involvement in the lo­cal FMA chapter led to the authoring of the Wounded Warrior Fed­eral Leave Act, which provides wounded veterans with 30 per­cent or more disability a bank of 104 hours of sick leave to use within their first 12 months of civil service em­ployment in order to obtain treatment for their disabilities.

 

In the community, Thatch has initiated coat drives, candy sales and 5K fun runs to support local homeless and women’s shelters. She also leads the local FMA chapter’s annual golf tournament to fund scholarships and stuffed animal drives to support children who have experi­enced various traumas.

 

“She has a big heart and en­joys donating her time to those in need,” said Glass.

 

FMA is a professional as­sociation representing the in­terests of the nearly 200,000 managers, supervisors and ex­ecutives serving in today’s fed­eral government. More than 200 regular and associate members are employed at FRC East.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6325

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat

(DEFENSE NEWS 02 Aug 16) … Valerie Insinna

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday declared its first squadron of F-35As ready for battle, 15 years after Lockheed Martin won the contract to make the plane.

 

The milestone means that the service can now send its first operational F-35 formation – the 34th Fighter Squadron located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah – into combat operations anywhere in the world. The service, which plans to buy 1,763 F-35As, is the single-largest customer of the joint strike fighter program, which also includes the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and a host of governments worldwide.

 

The Air Force, which follows the Marine Corps in approving F-35s for operations, had a five-month window between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 to proclaim initial operational capability (IOC). After notifying Congress, Air Combat Command (ACC) head Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle signed off on the declaration on Aug. 2.

 

In a briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Carlisle stressed that although the F-35A is not perfect, the aircraft has significantly improved from the early days of the program. More importantly, its stealth, electronic warfare and sensor fusion capabilities are urgently needed for future conflicts.

 

“Given the national security strategy, we need it,” he said. “You look at the potential adversaries out there, or the potential environments where we have to operate this airplane, the attributes that the F-35 brings – the ability to penetrate defensive airspace, the ability to deliver precision munitions with a sensor suite that fuses data from multiple information sources – is something our nation needs.”

 

The service’s top leaders also sounded off in support of the declaration. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James both labeled it “an important milestone.”

 

“The F-35A brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability and adaptability to joint and combined operations, and is ready to deploy and strike well-defended targets anywhere on Earth,” Goldfein said in a statement.

 

F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the IOC declaration sends a message to U.S. friends and foes: “The F-35 can do its mission.”

 

Still, challenges abound. For example, during a recent interim readiness assessment, operational testers found the F-35A’s scope did not always display data in an intuitive manner, necessitating that the pilot hone in on a data point to get more information, Carlisle told reporters.

 

The Air Force, together with the joint program office, hopes to fix that issue in 2017 with its 3F software, which will give the aircraft its full war-fighting capability, including the ability to launch certain types of weapons such as the Small Diameter Bomb. Other 3F changes, like improved pilot interfaces and displays, will make the plane easier to operate, he said.

 

To reach the IOC milestone, Hill Air Force Base needed at least 12 combat-ready jets capable of global deployment to provide what officials have termed basic close-air support, air interdiction, and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense missions. Also required were enough pilots, maintainers and equipment to support the squadron.

 

Asked to spell out what the difference was from the F-35’s basic close-air support capability and a full close-air support capability, Carlisle declined to go into specifics.

 

“Basically it doesn’t have necessarily all of the attributes” of the A-10, which was built for close-air support, he said. For instance, the airplane was not designed with an infrared pointer.

 

Getting to the point where the Air Force could meet its IOC requirements was not exactly easy, as the F-35 program hit a few unforeseen snags this year. Bogdan announced in the spring that the joint program office had identified instances of “software instability” that would cause the jets to have trouble booting up and, once the software was running, prompt the random shutdown of sensors.

 

Then, Lockheed in June disclosed that the latest version of the plane’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, ALIS 2.0.2, would not be available until at least October. ALIS is the F-35’s maintenance backbone, and is used for everything from mission planning to ordering spare parts.

 

The F-35 appeared to turn the corner after seven planes from Hill deployed to Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. There, pilots and maintainers confirmed they could successfully operate and repair the plane away from home base, even with an earlier version of ALIS. They also demonstrated that Lockheed’s software update had fixed software instability problems, reporting zero glitches during the 88 sorties flown.

 

After that deployment, Carlisle said the current version of ALIS would not be a “limiting factor” that would keep the F-35 from becoming operational.

 

The squadron at Hill then completed its own checklist, which included tasks such as ensuring enough pilots were combat-ready and subjecting them to an oral examination. On July 27, members of Hill Air Force Base’s 34th Fighter Squadron told the press they had amassed 12 modified F-35As and 21 combat-mission-ready pilots and completed all the paperwork needed to make an IOC declaration.

 

Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said declaring IOC is a sign the F-35 program has moved beyond the well-known cost overruns and development issues that marked so much of the fifth-generation fighter’s development.

 

“I’m sure there will still be kinks that come up in the system in the coming years, but for the most part I think this means the program has stabilized, they’re on a good trajectory, [and] most of the potential for major cost overruns and technological challenges are now behind us,” he said.

 

Critics of the program have said declaring IOC is more of a marketing move than an actual operational one, as the service set the IOC requirements itself. Harrison acknowledged that view but said IOC is still an important step forward.

 

“It’s not doing everything they wanted it to do. It’s had all kinds of problems along the way. But they are at the point now where it is stabilizing, so it’s still a milestone of progress.”

 

The Road Ahead

 

Carlisle said in July that even though he would feel comfortable sending the F-35 to a fight as soon as the jet becomes operational, ACC has formed a “deliberate path” where the aircraft would deploy in stages: first to Red Flag exercises, then as a “theater security package” to Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

 

The fighter probably won’t deploy to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State group any earlier than 2017, he said, but if a combatant commander asked for the capability, “I’d send them down in a heartbeat because they’re very, very good.”

 

The ACC commander reiterated that sentiment Tuesday, stating that he would deploy the F-35 if its capabilities were needed. Deployments to Europe and the Asia-Pacific, which Carlisle would like to see within 18 months, would help boost partner nations’ confidence in the airframe, he said.

 

Over the next several years, the Air Force plans to stand up two more operational squadrons at Hill. That will entail growing the F-35 maintainer corps from the 222 currently trained personnel to almost 700 maintainers, said Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, deputy commander of the 388th Maintenance Group.

 

“We’ve got at least another 150 in the training pipeline,” he said last week. “On average, it’s 12 months to take a fourth-gen legacy aircraft maintainer and turn them into a fifth-generation maintainer, so those maintainers that are in the pipeline now will be standing up our next couple squadrons.”

 

Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont is set to become the second operational base – and the first Air National Guard base – to host the F-35, and will receive 18 joint strike fighters to replace its F-16s, Richard Meyer, the Air Force’s deputy chief of the F-35 system management division, said in a July 29 interview.

 

Around 2020, Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, will get two squadrons of 24 F-35s. Those aircraft are not slated to replace any fourth-generation fighters at the base and will bring added capability, he said

The Air Force’s first overseas base, RAF Lakenheath in England, will follow about a year afterward. Lakenheath will be home to two F-35 squadrons in addition to the F-15E and F-15C squadrons it already has.

 

The service is still evaluating which installations to select for the fifth, sixth and seventh operational bases, Meyers said. The fifth and sixth bases will be Air National Guard bases, while the seventh will be one of four reserve bases that currently host F-16 or A-10 squadrons: Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona or Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, which is home to Air Force F-16s.

 

“You have to do an environmental assessment to ensure the base meets all the requirements of the environment of the new plane,” Meyers said. That assessment entails evaluating whether new military construction is needed and whether existing facilities need any alterations to be able to support the aircraft.

“It just takes a while,” he added.

 

F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin congratulated the service on meeting the IOC milestone. “With the F-35A, the Air Force now has a fighter combining next-generation radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed, fighter agility and advanced logistical support with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history,” the company said in a statement.

 

Pratt & Whitney, which produces the F135 engine used in all three variants of the jet, also sent a statement congratulating the service.

 

Aaron Mehta in Washington contributed to this report.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/story/breaking-news/2016/08/02/f35-ioc-air-force-operational-acc-combat/87948142/

 

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Air Force F-35 Hits Drone With Sidewinder Missile In ‘Kill’ Test

(DOD BUZZ 01 AUG 16) … Hope Hodge Seck

 

The Air Force variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed another key test days ago, deploying an AIM-9X missile while in flight to hit a drone over a military test range, officials with the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office said.

 

The test with the F-35A was conducted off the California coast July 28, Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova said in a news release.

 

The Raytheon-made AIM-9X Sidewinder missile was launched from the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft’s external wing in the test. The F-35 was able to complete a series of complex steps to track and target the drone, including identifying the object with mission systems sensors; communicating with the missile; giving the pilot, Air Force Maj. Raven LeClair the change to confirm the targeting information using the high-tech F-35 helmet mounted display, and launching the missile to engage the target, according to the release.

 

“After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile before destroying the drone, achieving the first F-35 Air-to-Air kill or ‘Boola Boola,’ which is the traditional radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone,” officials said in the release.

 

During the same exercise, LeClair fired an AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, carried internally, to take out another drone. This was a miss, however, as the drone target was out of visual range.

 

“It’s been said you don’t really have a fighter until you can actually hit a target and we crossed that threshold with the first air-to-air weapon delivery of an AIM-9X. This successful test demonstrates the combat capability the F-35 will bring to the U.S. Military and our allies,” LeClair said in a statement. “This test represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by combined government and contractor teams. We want to ensure operators will receive the combat capability they need to execute their mission and return home safely – we cannot compromise or falter in delivering this capability.”

 

The F-35A is is likely just days away from being Initial Operational Capability certified, according to multiple reports. It will be the second F-35 variant to reach IOC, following the Marine Corps F-35B “jump jet” variant, which was declared IOC last July.

 

The ongoing weapons accuracy testing for the F-35A will include the deployment of small-diameter bombs, joint direct attack munitions and AIM-120C AMRAAMs, according to the release.

 

Air Force F-35 Hits Drone with Sidewinder Missile in ‘Kill’ Test

 

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The F-35 Is So Stealthy, It Produced Training Challenges, Pilot Says

(AIR FORCE TIMES 31 JUL 16) … Phillip Swarts

 

The F-35 Lightning II is so stealthy, pilots are facing an unusual challenge. They’re having difficulty participating in some types of training exercises, a squadron commander told reporters Wednesday.

 

During a recent exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, F-35 squadrons wanted to practice evading surface-to-air threats. There was just one problem: No one on the ground could track the plane.

“If they never saw us, they couldn’t target us,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, the commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

 

The F-35s resorted to flipping on their transponders, used for FAA identification, so that simulated anti-air weapons could track the planes, Watkins said.

 

“We basically told them where we were at and said, ‘Hey, try to shoot at us,'” he said, adding that without the transponders on, “most likely we would not have suffered a single loss from any SAM threats while we were training at Mountain Home.”

 

“When we go to train, it’s really an unfair fight for the guys who are simulating the adversaries,” Watkins continued. “We’ve been amazed by what we can do when we go up against fourth-gen adversaries in our training environment, in the air and on the ground.”

 

Watkins said he can take four F-35s and “be everywhere and nowhere at the same time because we can cover so much ground with our sensors, so much ground and so much airspace. And the F-15s or F-16s, or whoever is simulating an adversary or red air threat, they have no idea where we’re at and they can’t see us and they can’t target us.”

 

“That’s a pretty awesome feeling when you’re going out to train for combat,” Watkins concluded, “to know that your pilots are in an unfair fight.”

 

The pilots and crews at Hill have been putting the new fifth-generation fighter through its paces, in preparation for top Air Force brass declaring the plane operationally ready – a move expected within days.

 

The Air Force’s variant of the F-35 will make its first appearance at the famous Red Flag training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in January 2017, Watkins told Air Force Times. Marine Corps F-35Bs have already reached initial operating capability and participated in the exercise this year.

 

Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, the 388th Maintenance Group deputy commander, said all the boxes have been checked for Hill F-35s to reach IOC, and that the base will be ready to send six-ship packages of the aircraft wherever they’re needed in the world.

 

“For most of us, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bed down a new weapon set and make it employable and bring this capability for the defense of our nation,” Anderson said. “Everyone from the youngest airmen on up through our wing commanders is totally invested in this program. We are all excited and very motivated for what we’ve accomplished over the last year and what we’re going to accomplish in the future.”

 

Hill now has 21 pilots ready to fly, with another three going through final certification training, Anderson said. Some 222 maintainers are also ready, with another 150 in training. The base has 15 F-35s now, with a 16th scheduled to be delivered in late August. Eventually, the base is looking to set up three full squadrons with a total of 72 aircraft by 2019.

 

Anderson said the base isn’t expecting any problems with getting enough maintainers or pilots to operate the planes.

 

“We don’t see any shortfalls in our maintenance and pilots right now,” he said. “We can project up to 18 months out to see where our pilots and maintainers are coming from, and we will have enough to stand up this unit. IOC, for us, it’s just getting us out of the starting gate.”

 

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/07/31/f-35-so-stealthy-produced-training-challenges-pilot-says/87760454/

 

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Navy Schedules F-35C For Third Set Of Carrier Trials

(SEAPOWER 02 AUG 16) … Richard R. Burgess

 

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Navy’s F-35C Lightning II strike fighter is scheduled to begin carrier qualifications (CQs) for the third and final phase of its developmental test program (DT-III) this week, a Navy spokesman said in an e-mail announcing the planned event.

 

DT-III will be conducted onboard USS George Washington off the Virginia Capes Aug. 3-23. If the event proceeds on schedule, DT-III will begin with an F-35C landing onboard George Washington on Aug. 3.

 

“A broad range of elements associated with carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment will be tested during DT-III, including day and night CQs, launch and recovery with external stores, approach handling qualities with symmetric and asymmetric external stores, Delta Flight Path testing, Joint Precision Approach and Landing System testing, crosswind and maximum-weight launches, military-/maximum-power lunches, and night operations with the [Generation] III Helmet-Mounted Display,” said Cmdr. Dave Hecht, public affairs officer for commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.

 

The F-35C as put through its first set of carrier trials, DT-I, in November 2014 onboard USS Nimitz in the Southern California operations area. The F-35C, operated by Air Test & Evaluation 23, made the aircraft’s first carrier landing on Nov, 3, 2014. The pilots in the event accomplished 33 flights that included 124 catapult launches, 222 touch-and-go landings, and 124 arrested landings.

 

DT-II for the F-35C was conducted in October off the Virginia Capes onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. This event included catapult launches and arrested landings with internal stores.

 

The F-35C is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2018, when a full 10-plane squadron will be operational.

 

http://www.seapowermagazine.org/stories/20160802-f35c.html

 

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It Could Be Years Before Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is Ready for Combat

(DAILY BEAST, 1 Aug 16) . David Axe

 

Don’t get too excited about the U.S. Air Force possibly declaring the long-delayed F-35 fighter jet ready for combat-if history is any guide, it won’t be sent into a fight for years.

 

The U.S. Air Force could declare its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jet combat-ready as early as Monday.

 

The so-called initial operational capability announcement means the F-35-the Pentagon’s latest radar-evading warplane and the product of history’s most expensive weapons program-can, in theory, deploy overseas to bomb ISIS or deter Russia or China.

 

“We have achieved all our milestones,” Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, an officer with the Air Force’s Utah-based 388th Wing, set to be the flying branch’s first operational F-35 unit-told Air Force magazine, a trade publication.

 

It’s up to Gen. Hawk Carlisle-the head of Air Combat Command, which oversees most of the Air Force’s frontline fighter squadrons-to make the formal declaration. Many observers expect Carlisle to make the call no later than Wednesday.

 

That will be an event 20 years and $100 billion in the making.

 

But don’t celebrate quite yet. It could take another 20 years and $300 billion for the Air Force-not to mention the Navy and Marines-to get all 2,400 F-35s they currently plan on buying. And even though the JSF technically could deploy to a conflict zone as early as August, it’s likely the Pentagon will hold the plane back for a few more years as it continues to work out its many bugs.

 

For while the F-35 might be officially war-ready, that doesn’t mean the military and plane-maker Lockheed Martin have solved all the F-35’s problems. Even with the Air Force’s endorsement, the Joint Strike Fighter is still less maneuverable, more complex, less reliable, and more expensive than its developers promised.

 

In many ways, the F-35 the Air Force will receive in 2016 is not the plane it thought it would be getting just a few years ago.

 

Originally conceived in 1996 as an inexpensive, multi-purpose warplane-one that could replace almost all the other frontline jet types in Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps squadrons-the JSF proved devilishly complex.

 

The Air Force, Navy, and Marines all wanted different things from the fighter. The only thing they really agreed on was stealth-the ability to avoid detection by radars and other sensors by way of radar-scattering wing- and fuselage-shaping and special, energy-absorbing skin coatings.

 

The Air Force wanted its F-35s to be simple, cheap, and maneuverable, with one engine, a small wing and a slim fuselage, all striking the best balance between speed, payload, and turning ability. The Navy preferred the redundancy of a twin-engine plane but, at the very least, needed its F-35s to be able to operate from aircraft carriers at sea-meaning a bigger wing generating more lift at the cost of speed.

 

Most vexingly, the Marines demanded that their own F-35s have the ability to take off and land vertically so they can fly from the small, carrier-like Navy assault ships the Marines use to launch amphibious assaults. Vertical capability meant adding a downward blasting secondary engine behind the cockpit, which in turn meant a wider fuselage generating more drag than the Air Force was happy with.

 

To satisfy all three main customers, Lockheed devised three versions of the JSF-the F-35A for the Air Force, the F-35B for the Marines, and the Navy’s F-35C. To keep the cost down, the military and Lockheed wanted the three versions to be as similar as possible. That meant compromises-largely dictated by the F-35B’s extraordinary vertical takeoff and landing ability. The F-35A has a fatter fuselage than it really needs. The F-35C possesses just one main engine, even though most Navy fighters have two.

 

But the compromises failed to keep the cost down. Indeed, the combination of competing requirements added complexity to the JSF that drove up the cost. In October 2001, when the Pentagon chose Lockheed to build the JSF, officials expected the design and production of about 3,000 F-35s to set back U.S. taxpayers around $200 billion.

 

A few years later that figure had ballooned to $400 billion, plus another $600 billion for fuel, parts, and pilot-training over another 30 or 40 years of flying. And that was after the Pentagon cut hundreds of F-35s from the production plan as a cost-saving measure. Engineers struggled to accommodate all the competing demands on the F-35-and ran into trouble. In 2004, the government and Lockheed admitted the JSF was simply too heavy and needed a costly redesign.

 

What followed was a drumbeat of bad news lasting more than a decade, as the various versions of the F-35 slowly took shape and, starting in 2006, began a lengthy period of test-flying.

 

The F-35’s power system and engine frequently failed. Its pilots’ high-tech helmets were bulky and buggy. For a while, it couldn’t fly near thunderstorms because it lacked the equipment for channeling lightning strikes. The new plane’s gun wouldn’t be fully operational until 2019. Its software was taking too long to write. Its radar often had to be rebooted mid-flight. And sometimes the F-35 just caught on fire while on the ground.

 

Perhaps most damning, in mid-2015 someone inside the JSF program leaked a test pilot’s official account of a mock dogfight pitting an F-35 against an Air Force F-16, one of the older planes the F-35 is supposed to replace. “The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the pilot wrote. In layman’s terms, that means the F-35 couldn’t match the F-16 maneuver for maneuver.

 

The military and Lockheed claimed the media took the pilot’s report out of context and insisted that, in combat, the F-35 would never need to engage in a close-range dogfight, anyway, as it would either shoot down enemy planes at long range or merely avoid them.

 

In the aftermath of the dogfight report’s leaking, the F-35’s boosters went on a public-relations counteroffensive, frequently highlighting the plane’s supposed superior performance during war games. And in July 2015, the Marines declared their first F-35B squadron to be combat-ready with 10 planes-but then scheduled the unit’s first deployment for 2017, all but admitting that the combat-readiness declaration was a P.R. ploy.

 

The Air Force had predicted it would designate its first dozen F-35s (out of 180 that Lockheed had delivered to the flying branch) operational between August and December 2016-and was clearly determined not to miss that self-imposed deadline.

 

Indeed, with the F-35’s software development falling farther and farther behind schedule, in 2013 Gen. Mike Hostage, then the top officer in Air Combat Command, had to make a choice-either give the developers an extra couple of years to work on the F-35 or water down the official definition of “operational” in order to suit the new plane’s condition.

 

Hostage chose to water down the F-35’s requirements, limiting the range of missions the plane would be capable of undertaking and reducing the variety of weapons it would be able to carry.

 

The decision was politically motivated. The general “began to realize the overall negative repercussions associated with waiting,” according to an official Air Force account of the decision-making process.

 

Feedback from lawmakers reinforced Hostage’s concerns. “The read on Congress.was that there was more support overall for an early declaration,” the Air Force recalled. “These opinions came from the negative connotation with having over 180 F-35A aircraft parked on runways without [initial operational capability] and also being two years behind the Marines.”

 

So when Carlisle gives the 388th Wing’s first dozen F-35s the official thumbs-up, don’t get too excited. Even if Carlisle expects you to do so. “The minute I declare initial operational capability, if the combatant commander called me up and said, ‘We need F-35s,’ I would send them,” Carlisle told reporters in July.

 

But in reality, it could be years before F-35s see combat. The Air Force wanted until 2018 to keep refining the JSF-and it might just take that time despite the official war-readiness nod.

 

There’s certainly precedent for a delay. The Air Force declared the F-22 stealth fighter-the F-35’s bigger, slightly older cousin-operational in 2006, but waited eight years to finally send the jets into combat.

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/01/it-could-be-years-before-billion-dollar-war-toy-f-35-is-ready-for-combat.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-1-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Top Marine aviator: F-35B is ready for war

(MARINE CORPS TIMES, 29 July 16) . Jeff Schogol

 

The F-35B is “ready to go right now” if it is needed to fly combat missions, the head of Marine Aviation told reporters Friday.

 

Although the F-35B is still being tested, the Marine Corps declared in July 2015 that it was ready to fly operations. The Marine version of the F-35 needs upgraded software and other improvements.

 

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the F-35B is ready for combat, just as every other type of aircraft the Marine Corps has, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.

 

“There were a lot of people out here that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC [initial operational capability] because it would be politically untenable not to do that,” Davis said at an event Friday at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. “IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat.”

 

Talking to reporters after the event, Davis was asked if the F-35B could be deployed to fight the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

 

“If we think we need to do that, we will,” Davis replied. “We’re ready to do that.”

 

The Marine Corps’ first F-35B squadron is expected to arrive in Japan in January and then go to sea with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the spring of 2018, he said. The service’s second F-35B squadron is expected to go to sea in the summer of 2018.

 

“Do we keep it on track or do we do something different: That’s up to the national command authorities,” Davis said. “But it’s ready to go right now.”

 

One of the F-35B’s advantages is that it can carry 3,000 pounds more ordnance than F/A-18 Hornets.

 

“As Marines, there’s times when we want to carry a lot of bombs and go knock on doors,” he said.

 

In testing, the F-35B has proved to be “phenomenally successful,” showing that it can easily destroy the most advanced enemy aircraft defenses and fighters, Davis said. In fact, F-35B pilots made a demonstration of the aircraft’s capabilities last month more challenging than Davis had asked for because they did not feel it was difficult enough, he said.

 

“I watched how they went and did this with two airplanes with pylons and two without,” Davis said. “It was a work of art. That’s not the way my brain works but that is the way their brains are working.”

 

In little more than five minutes, the F-35Bs destroyed the targets and a surface-to-air-missile site using pictures from a forward air controller that were relayed to the aircraft through the cloud cover, he said.

 

Davis rebutted critics who claim the F-35B is “too much technology for the Marine Corps,” explaining the Marines’ mission is to be able to fight anywhere at any time against anybody.

 

To drive his point home, Davis recalled a conversation he had with retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen Jr., the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. The two met before Petersen died in August.

 

“I said: Well, some people think we’re getting too much technology,” Davis said. “He goes: ‘I was shot down in Korea and I was shot down in Vietnam; never once did I think I had too much technology. Go tell them they’re idiots.'”

 

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2016/07/29/top-marine-aviator-f-35b-ready-war/87723280/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military+EBB+8-1-16&utm_term=Editorial+-+Military+-+Early+Bird+Brief

 

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Blue Angels Upgrading To F/A 18 Super Hornets

Upgrading from classic Hornet

(WKMG CBS ORLANDO 29 JUL 16)

 

Patuxent River, Md. – The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team has begun its transition to the F/A 18 Super Hornet under a recently approved contract with Boeing.

 

“We are supporting the Navy’s plans to transition the Blue Angels to Super Hornet aircraft from classic Hornets by providing engineering for the necessary conversion modifications. We are proud to continue our association with the Blue Angels as they demonstrate the precision and professionalism of Naval Aviation to millions each year,” Paul Guse, a spokesman for Boeing, said Thursday in an emailed statement.

 

News 6 partner Florida Today reports that under the $12 million contract, Boeing is expected to finish the work before September 2017.

 

A spokesman for the Blue Angels referred questions about the conversion to the Navy’s Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland. The command did not immediately return messages seeking additional information about the conversion.

 

The elite flight demonstration team has flown different models of the F/A 18 Hornet since 1986.

 

During a community event celebrating the team’s 70-year history earlier this month, Blue Angels solo pilot Lt. Ryan Chamberlin told the crowd that the team would eventually transition to the Super Hornet. Ryan said the conversion would take time because the Super Hornet is a different air frame from what the pilots are accustomed to flying in their tight formations.

 

The Blue Angels typically receive aircraft after the planes have been flown for years in the regular Navy fleet. The planes are then customized for Blue Angels flying with features including a spring-loaded flight stick, which allows the pilots to maneuver the jets within 18 inches of each other.

 

Blue Angels pilots do not wear the G-suits worn by other jets pilots. Inflatable bladders in the suits help pool blood in the pilots’ upper extremities to keep them from passing out. The Blue Angels using breathing techniques and abdominal exercises to fight the G-forces because the inflatable bladders in the legs of the suits could interfere with the control of the flight stick.

 

Blue Angels and other Navy officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether pilots would use G-suits once the team converts to the Super Hornets.

 

According to a Navy fact sheet, the Super Hornet, which has been in operational use by the military since 2002, has a longer range than the Hornet, aerial refueling capability, and improved carrier sustainability.

 

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/blue-angels-upgrading-to-fa-18-super-hornets

 

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New Navy Tech Makes It Easy To Land On A Carrier. Yes, Easy

(WIRED 02 AUG 16) … Eric Adams

 

For Navy pilots who land jets on aircraft carriers, life is tough. First, there’s the bit about touching down at precisely the right time and position to have the tailhook catch the arresting wire and bring you to a stop before the runway – all 300 feet of it – runs out. And then there’s the fact flight decks don’t stay still. They heave and sway with the sea. In the seconds before touchdown, a pilot typically makes hundreds of small changes to his trajectory.

 

The U.S. Navy says new tech could make white-knuckle carrier traps a thing of the past. It recently completed testing the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, a software mod that makes a carrier approach nearly as routine as a runway landing. In the Pentagon’s honored tradition of strained acronyms, the Navy calls it Magic Carpet.

 

According to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland, which led the development of Magic Carpet, the system works with the plane’s autopilot to maintain the approach using what’s called direct lift control. In short, once the pilot sets the glide angle of the approach, it becomes the “neutral” setting for the controls.

 

The autopilot tracks the position of the deck, adjusting the throttle, flaps, ailerons, and stabilizers to keep the flight path and angle of attack on point. Instead of maintaining continuous pressure on the stick and making myriad inputs before landing, the pilot can relax. Any adjustments he does make are incorporated into the autopilot settings.

 

During a week of trials last month, test pilots flying F/A-18 Super Hornets conducted nearly 600 touch-and-go landings and many tailhook-arrested landings on the Nimitz-class USS George Washington. They made both highly accurate approaches and deliberately inaccurate approaches, with varying wind speeds and directions.

 

According to engineers with the Navy and Boeing, the system increased the accuracy and consistency of landings under all conditions. Those landings were less stressful, too: Pilots typically perform 300 corrections to their flight path in the final 18 seconds of an approach. Magic Carpet drops that between 10 and 20.

 

The Navy is quick to stress that the system is not fully automated, and pilots remain in control. Magic Carpet just simplifies the descent. And because it augments existing flight control systems, it doesn’t require hardware mods. It will take flight on the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the EA-18G Growler, and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, all of which have the digital flight controls needed to work with the system.

 

The Navy expects to start integrating the system in 2019. Beyond reducing stress, Magic Carpet could minimize the time and effort needed to train pilots for carrier landings, allowing more time for tactical training. It also could reduce the time and money spent maneuvering carriers into ideal landing positions. Fewer aborted landings saves fuel, and fewer hard landings saves wear and tear on aircraft. And you thought Aladdin’s flying carpet was cool.

 

New Navy Tech Makes It Easy to Land on a Carrier. Yes, Easy

 

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Booz Allen to support Navy IT services

(C4ISRNET, 29 July 16) . Michael Peck

 

Booz Allen Hamilton has been awarded a $13.2 million contract option for Navy IT services.

 

Under the first-year option extension of a previously awarded contract, Booz Allen will provide “enterprise management and technical support to the Navy Information Force’s Shore Modernization and Integration Directorate in the areas of: enterprise architecture and operational transition planning; shore network and communications modernization; information technology service management process standardization; cyber security; and information technology portfolio management support,” according to the Department of Defense contract announcement.

 

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/cyber/2016/07/29/booze-allen-navy-it-cyber/87697282/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-1-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Navy’s Atlantic air force gets a new boss

(NAVY TIMES,    30 July 16) . Mark D. Faram

 

ABOARD CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON AT NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. – At a Friday ceremony abbreviated by the sweltering heat, Rear Adm. Bruce “Birdy” Lindsey took over as the Atlantic fleet’s top aviator.

 

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the head of Naval Air Forces, presided over the ceremony and praised Lindsey and the outgoing Naval Air Force Atlantic boss, Rear Adm. John “JR” Haley.

 

Haley cited the successes of the Norfolk-based carrier Harry S. Truman, which recently returned from the Middle East after an eight-month deployment where the flattop smashed previous records in attacking ISIS militants.

 

Watching the successes of the carriers under his purview was the highlight of his time as AIRLANT, Haley said.

 

“If we do our job right at AIRLANT, we get to see those sailors at the tip of the spear open up a can of whoop-ass on the bad guys,” Haley said in his farewell. “Let me tell you – we love that feeling.”

 

Haley, retiring after a 36-year career, is a 1980 Naval Academy graduate. His aviation career started when he was first designated a naval flight officer, serving as a bombardier/navigator in the A-6E Intruder. Switching seats, he entered pilot training in 1987 and became a designated pilot in 1989, tallying up 3,500 flight hours and over 1,100 carrier arrested landings. He flew first in EA-6B Prowlers and later transitioned to the EA-18G Growlers and F/A-18E Super Hornets.

 

Haley also commanded two aircraft carriers, the Theodore Roosevelt and later the George Washington.

 

Lindsey takes over as naval aviation’s “mini-boss,” working for Shoemaker, the fleet’s top aviator after back to back tours as a strike group commander, most recently the Norfolk-based CSG 4, which trains and certifies Atlantic fleet carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups and well as independent deploying ships.

 

Prior to that, he commanded CSG-4 aboard carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also commanded the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson during “Operations Enduring Freedom” and “New Dawn.”

 

Lindsey is a 1982 academy grad. A career naval flight officer designated in 1983, he spent his flying career in S-3B Viking squadrons. He commanded Sea Combat Squadron 29 embarked on the carrier Carl Vinson during the first 72 days of Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

Lindsey has served in various other leadership positions during his career.

 

At AIRLANT, Lindsey will be responsible for manning, equipping, and training four nuclear-powered flattops, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft and 50,000 personnel.

 

Lindsey’s first act as AIRLANT boss was to lead three rousing cheers of “Hip hip, hooray,” for his retiring predecessor.

 

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/07/29/navys-atlantic-air-force-gets-new-boss/87714836/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-1-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Decision Coming Soon on Navy Job Title Review, Mabus Says

(MILITARY.COM, 28 July 16) . Hope Hodge Seck

 

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday that he expects a review of Navy job titles to help sailors’ careers, not only within the service, but also when they transition out into the civilian sector.

 

The Navy in June announced that top brass had decided to expand a review initiated by Mabus to ensure that current job titles were gender-inclusive to also explore the impact of titles on personnel policy and training organization.

 

The review now could go beyond changing the names assigned to Navy ratings and include updates to detailing policy, reorganization of training pipelines and more.

 

Mabus said the results of the policy review were going to come out “pretty soon,” though a proposal was not yet on his desk.

 

“I think it will do two things: It will better describe what people do, and it will make career paths more flexible and more rewarding,” Mabus said. “Two is, when people leave the Navy, it will make the transition easier, because people outside will understand what they did and what their skills are.”

 

While Navy officials have said that all job titles are under review and haven’t described any specific titles as candidates for special scrutiny, Mabus’ comments may indicate that more antiquated or opaque titles, such as yeoman, for a sailor who performs administrative and clerical work, or aerographer’s mate, for a specialist in meteorology and weather forecasting, may receive consideration for change.

 

The Marine Corps, which was also commanded by Mabus to review job titles for gender-specific language, announced in late June that the service would change 19 job titles to make them more gender-neutral, while keeping some, such as rifleman, out of respect for tradition.

 

The job title review is one of a series of measures Mabus has promoted in an effort to minimize distinctions between the genders in the military. He has also worked to overhaul Navy uniforms as the driving force behind new unisex dress covers, “dixie cup” enlisted white hats for women, a female version of the “crackerjack” blues and the prohibition of dress white skirts at this year’s Naval Academy graduation.

 

Mabus told Military.com today that he was proud of his legacy as Navy secretary, even as he broke with service tradition on a wide range of issues.

 

“Every decision I’ve made, I’ve made with the view of making the Navy and the Marine Corps stronger, better for the future. Better at their jobs, better at what we’re entrusted to do, which is defend this country,” he said. “And I think we’ve done some historic things. … We’ve got the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known.”

 

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/07/28/decision-coming-soon-on-navy-job-title-review-mabus-says.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Mil%20EBB%207.29.16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Marine Flight Readiness Improving .Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

(BREAKING DEFENSE, 29 July 16) . Richard Whittle

 

WASHINGTON: Marine Corps aviation is on a “glide slope” to reaching acceptable readiness levels by 2020, the deputy commandant for aviation said Friday. But today the only units fully ready – with enough spare parts, trained maintainers and air crews, and adequate monthly flight hours for pilots – are two squadrons flying brand new Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jump jets.

 

“After 15 years of hard fighting, the numbers of aircraft in up status aren’t where they need to be,” Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis told a joint Air Force Association/American Enterprise Institute event. Davis said the Corps now has about 80 more aircraft mission capable than at a similar time last year, when 378 planes and helicopters were down for maintenance or repairs.

 

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says he was pleased to hear things are improving, adding he’ll keep pushing to improve readiness. “I continue to be concerned that current restoration plans are too fragile and optimistic because they rely on funding stability and funding levels that we have not seen in recent years. That is why Congress must follow through on the actions we have taken to replace the readiness cuts imposed by this administration,” Rep. Mac Thornberry says in an email.

 

Asked whether inadequate flight hours or other readiness gaps could explain the Thursday night fatal crash of a Third Marine Air Wing F-18C Hornet near Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Davis said he doubted it.

 

“We don’t have all the details on it just yet,” Davis said. “I track each and every unit each and every week. The number of flight hours per pilot – this particular unit is doing okay.” He said flight hours per month per pilot vary according to the type of aircraft but the “low ebb” for the Marine Corps F-18C fleet was last summer, when the average was 8.8 hours per month per pilot for the entire fleet. “I do not think we’re unsafe, but we’re not as proficient as we should be, across the spectrum. We don’t let units fly that are unsafe.”

 

The 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan set 2020 as the goal for the service’s air arm to reach a readiness rate of T 2.0, defined as every unit being able to conduct at least 70 percent of “mission essential tasks at the individual and unit level.”

 

“We’ve been on that track now for two years to get all of our pilots in every type model series the hours they need,” Davis said. “Last year the only guys that got their hours, and the only T-1 unit I have right now, is the F-35s.” He added: “They’re ready for everything.”

 

Davis said the Corps was on its way to meeting its readiness goals because, “We’ve had great allies in Congress. They’ve actually helped us out.”

 

Retired Air Force deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who as dean of the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute think tank co-hosted Davis’s appearance, said readiness problems are being suffered across the armed services, but especially by the Air Force.

 

“The Air Force has been at war not just since 9/11 but since January 1991,” Deptula said, referring to that year’s Gulf War to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait and various conflicts since then. “That 25 years of continuous combat, coupled with budget instability and lower than planned top lines, has made the Air Force the smallest, the oldest and the least ready in its history.”

 

Deptula said that compared to 1991’s Operation Desert Storm – an air campaign he planned – the Air Force today has 30 percent fewer people, 40 percent fewer aircraft, 60 percent fewer combat-coded fighter squadrons, and 25 percent fewer aircraft per squadron. “At the height of the hollow force of the 1970s,” Deptula added, the average age of Air Force planes was 12 years. “Today we’re at 27.” Airline aircraft average ages are 10 years, Deptula added.

 

“We’re operating a geriatric Air Force,” he said. “It’s an absurd situation we find ourselves in.”

 

Marine Flight Readiness Improving …Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

 

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What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?

(CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, 1 Aug 16) . Todd Harrison

 

 

Q1: What is the Budget Control Act?

 

A1: The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) was signed into law five years ago on August 2, 2011. It is a resurrection of a much older law, known as Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, originally enacted in 1985. The BCA reinstates budget caps for a 10-year period ending in FY 2021 with separate caps for the defense and nondefense parts of the discretionary budget. For defense, the budget caps represent a reduction of roughly $1 trillion over 10 years compared to what the president had proposed in his FY 2012 budget request earlier in 2011.

 

The law delayed full enforcement of the budget caps until January 2013 to give Congress time to find an alternative. It also created a bipartisan joint committee, known as the Super Committee, and gave it special one-time authority to propose a deficit-reduction package subject to a simple up-or-down vote in both chambers. This was Congress’s best chance to avoid the cuts imposed by the BCA. In November 2011, however, the Super Committee announced it was unable to reach an agreement, leaving the BCA in effect.

 

Q2: Why was the BCA enacted?

 

A2: In early 2011, federal spending was soaring and revenues were plummeting, mainly due to the Great Recession and the stimulus package Congress enacted in 2009. As a result, the deficit was projected to peak at a record level of $1.5 trillion in 2011-although it never actually got that high. Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, had just taken control of the House of Representatives and were refusing to increase the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to dollar-for-dollar cuts in spending. Both sides refused to yield, forcing a fiscal standoff that came to a head in August of that year. The BCA emerged from that standoff as a forcing function for a broader budget deal by ensuring that painful spending cuts would occur if no deal could be reached.

 

Q3: What is sequestration?

 

A3: Sequestration is the automatic process of making across-the-board cuts if the budget caps are exceeded. To be clear, sequestration and the budget caps are not the same thing. The budget caps set the level of the budget, and sequestration is the enforcement mechanism. The BCA did not create sequestration-it was part of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and was used several times in the 1980s and 1990s. To better understand how sequestration works, imagine if you had to cut your personal budget by a certain percentage. If given the flexibility to choose how these cuts are allocated, you would probably cut back on nonessential things, like going out to dinner or buying the latest cell phone. But under sequestration rules, you would be forced to cut each item in your budget by the same percentage-even things like rent payments and insurance premiums. That kind of cutting can create a lot of problems and end up costing more in the long run.

 

Sequestration was triggered in 2013, but it has not been triggered since then. Under current law, sequestration will only be triggered again if the budget caps are exceeded. In other words, Congress would have to appropriate more than the budget caps allow knowing that the additional funds it is appropriating will be automatically cut. Moreover, the president would have to sign this bill into law knowing it would trigger a sequester and all of the problems that come with across-the-board cuts. For these reasons, it is unlikely sequestration will occur again.

 

Q4: What types of defense funding are exempt from the BCA?

 

A4: The most notable exception in the law is for war-related funding, also known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Technically, the law says the budget cap is automatically increased by the amount of war-related funding Congress enacts, which means that OCO funding is effectively uncapped. The law does not, however, provide a robust definition of what constitutes OCO funding. In practice, this means that OCO funding is whatever Congress enacts and the president signs into law-a loophole both Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) have used to get around the budget caps since 2013.

 

Another important exception in the law is for military personnel (MILPERS) funding. MILPERS accounts are used for pay, allowances, and some benefits service members receive. If sequestration is triggered, the president can exempt MILPERS accounts from the automatic across-the-board cuts. Unlike the OCO exception, the MILPERS exception does not reduce the total amount of cuts for defense or alter the level of the budget caps. It merely protects one set of accounts from cuts and causes all other defense accounts to be cut by a greater percentage to compensate. The president exempted military personnel accounts from sequestration in 2013, and if sequestration ever occurs again it is likely this exception would be used.

 

Q5: Is the BCA still in effect?

 

A5: Yes, but it has been modified three times since it was enacted. Just before the budget caps went into enforcement in January 2013, Congress passed a last-minute deal known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Among other things, this law raised the budget caps slightly for FY 2013, with equal increases on the defense and nondefense sides of the budget caps. But it paid for these increases in part by lowering the caps in FY 2014.

 

In December 2013, Congress modified the BCA for a second time with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. This two-year deal raised the budget caps for FY 2014 and FY 2015, again with equal increases for the defense and nondefense sides of the budget. Both Congress and the administration stuck to this deal, appropriating funding at the revised budget cap levels in both years, thus avoiding sequestration being triggered.

 

As FY 2016 got underway, the budget caps were still at their original level because the previous deals only adjusted the caps through FY 2015. Congress passed a third modification to the BCA in November 2015 known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Like the previous deal, it raised the budget caps for two years (FY 2016 and FY 2017) with equal increases for defense and nondefense. Unlike previous deals, however, it included additional OCO funding as part of the deal. It added $8 billion in OCO funding for defense and $8 billion in OCO for nondefense. The nondefense OCO funding was used primarily by the State Department to offset costs in its base budget, which in turn freed up funding under the nondefense budget caps that could be used by other agencies. As of this writing, the BCA budget caps remain at their original level for FY 2018 to FY 2021, but it is possible Congress will again modify the caps for these future years.

 

Q6: Why weren’t the effects of the BCA as devastating for defense as some predicted?

 

A6: In the weeks and months leading up to the budget caps going into full enforcement in 2013, defense leaders described it with increasingly colorful metaphors, such as “a doomsday mechanism,” “a gunshot to the head,” “a goofy meat ax,” and “fiscal castration.” Not to be outdone, many defense companies joined in these warnings by decrying the jobs that would be lost, and one company threated to send out layoff notices just days before the 2012 presidential election. The Aerospace Industries Association projected that more than 1 million jobs would be lost due to the BCA. And in congressional testimony just days before sequestration took effect in 2013, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned “the wolf’s at the door.”

 

This rhetoric may have led some to conclude that the military was crying wolf. In reality, the effects were never going to be as immediate and visible as these statements implied. One of the main reasons is that the budget caps apply to budget authority-money that Congress has approved but the executive branch has not yet obligated or spent. It takes time for budget authority to work its way through the system-in some cases several years-before it becomes actual spending (outlays) that has an economic impact.

 

Another important reason the effects of the BCA have not been as severe as originally predicted is that the defense budget has not actually been cut to the level originally prescribed in the BCA. The three budget deals enacted since 2011 have raised the budget caps for FY 2013 to FY 2017. Moreover, Congress and DoD have used the OCO funding loophole to supplement the base budget at a level of roughly $25-$30 billion annually according to my analysis. These last minute deals and budget maneuvers have largely protected defense from the full effects of the BCA.

 

The mechanism by which the cuts are implemented is also an important consideration. While sequestration was triggered in 2013, the reductions that have occurred since then have not been through sequestration. In FY 2014, FY 2015, and FY 2016, Congress enacted appropriations at the revised budget cap level, so Congress was able to decide how to target reductions rather than the “goofy meat ax” approach of sequestration. Even in 2013 when the budget was actually sequestered, DoD followed up with a massive reprogramming request to Congress that allowed it to move money between accounts to fix some of the problems sequestration created.

 

Q7: Who’s to blame for the BCA?

 

A7: Since the BCA was enacted, both sides have attempted to blame the other. For example, during this election season, both parties have included statements on the BCA in their party platforms. The Republican Party Platform for 2016 says, “We support lifting the budget cap for defense and reject the efforts of Democrats to hold the military’s budget hostage for their domestic agenda.” And the Democratic Party Platform for 2016 says, “We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration.”

 

In truth, the BCA passed with bipartisan majorities in both chambers. In the House,174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it; in the Senate, 28 Republicans and 45 Democrats voted for it; and President Obama ultimately signed it into law. Without bipartisan support, this bill would not have become law. Both sides share responsibility for enacting the BCA-and finding a way out of it.

 

Todd Harrison is a senior fellow and director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

 

https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-has-budget-control-act-2011-meant-defense?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-2-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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Marines order 24-hour pause in flight operations for all non-deployed aircraft

(MARINE CORPS TIMES, 3 Aug 16) . Jeff Schogol

 

The head of Marine Aviation has ordered all non-deployed aircraft to stand down for 24 hours following three recent crashes of F/A-18s, two of which were fatal.

 

Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told wing commanders on Wednesday that non-deployed squadrons must take “an operational pause” within the next seven business days, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns. The move is different than grounding aircraft, she said.

 

Commanders can decide which day to take the pause, during which aircraft are typically inspected, Burns said on Wednesday.

 

Burns could not say what exactly prompted Davis’ decision, which was approved by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

 

Three Marine Corps F/A-18s have crashed since June 2, when Blue Angels pilot Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss’ Hornet crashed shortly after takeoff in Smyrna, Tennessee. On July 28, Marine Maj. Richard Norton, a graduate of the Navy’s TOPGUN school, was killed when his F/A-18C crashed near Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.

 

Then on Tuesday, a Navy pilot safely ejected from an F/A-18C that was on loan from the Marine Corps. The Hornet went down near Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

 

Marine aviation is suffering from a perfect storm that has caused the number of flyable aircraft to plunge in the last five years. Budget cuts have postponed maintenance for aircraft that have been flown hard during 15 years of combat and led to a shortage of spare parts, especially for CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.

 

The service is in the process of transitioning to the F-35 joint strike fighter, but delays in the program have forced the Marine Corps to fly their Hornets, AV-8B Harrier II jump jets and their EA-6B Prowlers longer than anticipated.

 

Last summer, only 378 of the Marine Corps’ required flightline inventory of 1,065 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft could fly, Davis said at an Aug. 1 event at a think tank in Washington. Since then, roughly 80 more aircraft have become flightworthy, he said.

 

With fewer aircraft flying, Marine pilots are not getting the flight hours they need, but the service is slowly improving, Davis said. The Marine Corps is trying to get pilots the appropriate number of flight hours by 2020.

 

At the Aug. 1 event, Davis was asked if Marine pilots’ lives were in danger as a result of the drop in flight hours.

 

“I do not think we’re unsafe, but we’re not as proficient as we should be,” Davis said. “We don’t let units fly that are unsafe.”

 

He added that he tracks how many flight hours all units get per week, and Norton’s unit was “doing OK.”

 

On Jan. 14, two CH-53E helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 crashed off Hawaii, killing 12 Marines. The crash came months after Marine aviation deaths hit a five-year high.

 

Davis has said the CH-53E helicopter crews had enough training for the mission they were doing, but they probably needed more training before they could fly in combat.

 

“We don’t know what happened out there – I won’t know until that investigation that comes out,” he told reporters on July 6. “I grieve for every one of the families. That’s the hardest part for me. I’m the deputy commandant for aviation and I lost 12 great Marines. That’s what I think about every day.”

 

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2016/08/03/marines-order-24-hour-pause-flight-operations-all-non-deployed-aircraft/88047246/

 

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White House Launches New Salvo In Troop Funding Fight

(POLITICO 03 AUG 16) … Austin Wright and Connor O’Brien

 

A new battle over how to pay for extra troops in Afghanistan is about to break out on Capitol Hill.

 

Republicans want to boost the overall military budget to pay for President Barack Obama’s decision last month to leave more soldiers than planned. But the White House now insists any such increase in Pentagon spending must be accompanied by corresponding increases to other agencies and domestic programs.

 

The administration’s stance, outlined on Wednesday in a statement to POLITICO, is almost certain to anger GOP defense hawks on Capitol Hill who are seeking to use Obama’s troop decision to bolster their argument that the military’s war budget should be larger.

 

“Together with the Department of Defense, we are actively looking at funding needs related to the revised force posture in Afghanistan the president announced last month,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in an email.

 

“In the coming months and into the fall,” the office continued, “we will work with the Congress to ensure the necessary funds are available, and we will do it in a responsible way that is consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 by adhering to the principle that any increase in funding must be shared equally between defense and non-defense – a central tenet of that budget agreement.”

 

A Republican congressional aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reacted with outrage after hearing the administration’s stance.

 

“The president has ordered additional troops to deploy to Afghanistan, but he is holding their funding hostage to his domestic political agenda,” said the aide. “I would think that when you have an urgent national security need, you would act promptly to take care of that need.”

 

The president announced last month he was slowing his planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, keeping 8,400 U.S. troops in the country into the next calendar year instead of drawing down to 5,500. But the White House’s budget request for next fiscal year, submitted to Congress in February, was built around the assumption that, on average, the U.S. will have 6,217 troops in Afghanistan.

 

Obama’s troop decision has become a flashpoint in the larger budget standoff between congressional Democrats and Republicans.

 

Senior Republicans are calling on the White House to submit an addendum to its war funding request to cover the new troop commitments. GOP hawks argue the administration’s $583 billion proposed budget doesn’t fund war operations at a suitable level given all the global threats.

 

They want to boost Pentagon spending while leaving other parts of the federal government – including the State Department and other agencies – subject to congressional spending caps. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, insist that increases in the defense budget be accompanied by increases in non-defense spending.

 

Estimates vary on how much money the military might need to pay for the additional troops in Afghanistan next year.

 

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters that “rumblings” inside the Pentagon suggest the department has about $6 billion in higher war costs than it originally planned in its budget request for the coming year due to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

 

Budget expert Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies pegs the cost of extra troops in Afghanistan at $3 billion to $4 billion, at a price tag of $1.2 million per troop.

 

Former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale, now an adviser at defense company Booz Allen Hamilton, said there are several ways the Pentagon could pay for the extra troops.

 

First, he said, the Pentagon could amend its budget request for fiscal 2017, asking for more money. Second, it could wait until the budget is finalized and then submit to Congress an emergency supplemental request.

 

The third option, he said, would be for the military to shift money within its fiscal 2017 budget – without increasing overall defense spending. This could come through a reprogramming request and would take funds from other parts of the military’s budget to pay for the extra troops.

 

“There’s a lot of questions that I think will have to be settled in negotiations during the lame duck session,” Hale said.

 

https://www.politicopro.com/defense/story/2016/08/white-house-launches-new-salvo-in-troop-funding-fight-125941

 

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Navy, Marines Put V-22 To The Test In Carrier Experiment

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 03 AUG 16) … Gidget Fuentes

 

ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS CARL VINSON – Ten days into a two-week fleet battle experiment on this aircraft carrier off the California coast, the Navy is getting a good look at how the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor can fit into flight and deck operations of its carrier fleet. So far, the outlook is promising.

 

The Osprey is slated to replace the C-2A Greyhound as the carrier onboard delivery aircraft, doing the COD logistics mission of hauling cargo, mail and passengers between aircraft carriers and beach detachments ashore.

 

After that decision in January 2015, the Navy approved an engineering change for a naval variant of the V-22, and this year is working with the Marine Corps as it supports Osprey operations this summer for the fleet battle experiment (FBE).

 

The Marine Corps is flying four MV-22B aircraft aboard USS Carl Vinson since the experiment began July 22. Three of the Ospreys belong to Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1) from Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ariz. and the fourth belongs to Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 from Quantico, Va.

 

This initial “proof of concept” will begin to show how to employ the Osprey, which blends rotary and fixed-wing flight, and see how it affects cycles of launch and recovery operations and overall deck handling on a carrier, officials said. “This is an opportunity to go out and see how this is going to do,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Naval Air Forces commander, speaking with a group of reporters Tuesday before boarding an HMX-1 Osprey for the flight to the Carl Vinson conducting training in the offshore ranges.

 

So far, it seems, initial tests don’t reveal any glaring problems that time and experience couldn’t smooth out. “I think it’s going very well,” Shoemaker said. Some worries about downwash from the Osprey’s beefy rotors haven’t materialized, perhaps in part from more handling and simple adjustments with pilots moving the nacelles to ease the heat and deflect the exhaust on the flight deck surface. He said the downwash is “comparable” to that of the MH-53 helicopter.

 

One good thing: Landing and launching an Osprey, which can land and take off vertically like a helicopter, lightens the deck crew load since it requires no wire trap and isn’t catapulted off the deck. Plus, it isn’t limited to just flying during fixed-wing operations. Only five personnel are needed on deck, several Carl Vinson officers told a group of reporters Tuesday, far fewer than the 30 to 50 hands usually on position when the Greyhound is operating on deck.

 

A concern: Turnaround time to unload or load the Osprey might take longer than the Greyhound, potentially cutting into the deck cycling window between flight operations. That’s because deck crews would offload and load the Osprey while it’s still in the landing and launching spot – spots 6 at the “waist” or 9 by the fantail – rather than outside the landing area where the Greyhound and cargo go when being moved or pre-staged for delivery. Both spots will require different approaches to safely move cargo and passengers.

 

“It becomes how fast can you offload the Ospreys to get fuel and put the people back on so it can be off the flight deck, and then I’ll deal with the rest,” said Lt. Cmdr. Reynaldo Stanley, the flight deck handler. “The impact is on deck time.” In flight deck control, Stanley briefly described deck operations using a “ouija” board, with silhouette cutouts of each aircraft scaled to the flight deck to help track and position aircraft. He had no cutouts of the Osprey but used those of the now-defunct H-46 Sea Knight tandem-rotor helicopter.

 

“The C-2 is a big plane … It takes a lot of real estate in the parking area,” Stanley said. “The Osprey takes up a lot of real estate in the landing area.” The V-22 and C-2 have similar-sized footprints (one’s width is roughly the other’s wingspan) when operational so they take up similar space. The V-22 lands but can’t taxi and park with its wings folded like the Greyhound since its engines are shut down when it’s folded up. “When the C-2 lands, the intent is to park,” and then offload, reload and refuel before taxiing for another flight, he said, but most Osprey flights will entail landing and offload followed by any reloading and subsequent takeoff.

 

Vinson’s flight deck crew got their first familiarization with the Osprey in June when Marines brought several Ospreys for a sea trial of sorts. So far, “I think it’s gone pretty smoothly. But nothing’s happened, that is the key,” Stanley said.

 

“The most difficult thing we have is the aircraft would be on deck a little bit longer than was expected, which would eat up into the launching of the aircraft,” he said. “The longer it takes to take off, then the longer it takes for us to actually set up for cats (and fixed-wing flight ops) if we’re stuck up here and can’t launch” if the Osprey is on spot 6.

 

Navy officials cautioned that the experiment is starting to sort out and determine the Osprey’s operations and deck procedures in doing the COD mission. As of Tuesday morning, the carrier had handled 23 flights that moved 598 people and 33,000 pounds of cargo, said Cmdr. Clarke “Cosmo” Cramer, the fleet introduction team leader.

 

The Center for Naval Analyses is collecting data from flight and deck operations during the experiment, including the timing between flight ops cycles and impacts on moving cargo and passengers.

 

Cmdr. Lucas Kadar, Vinson’s Air Boss, said the Osprey “brings us flexibility and options. It’s easier from a flight deck point of view to operate with the MV-22 … We don’t have to go into fixed-wing flight ops.” It provides more options, Kadar said, and has the “best of both worlds” since it can conduct flight missions faster than helicopters but also land or launch regardless of the flight deck status and also between launches and recoveries.

 

A short utility assessment conducted aboard USS Harry S. Truman in 2013 gave the service an initial look at whether the Osprey might fulfill the COD mission when the C-2A is retired. “Our C-2 community is like the masters of global logistics,” Shoemaker said, with detachments supporting ships and ashore units.

 

“What we’re trying to do is help inform the future,” Shoemaker added. That includes determining “how will we employ this airplane, maybe differently or similar to the C-2.” The Navy hasn’t yet tested flying the Osprey to smaller ships like destroyers or cruisers, although the V-22 could hover over ships’ flight decks. “We are just kind of scratching the surface in how we’ll use this platform,” he said.

 

Another difference is that unlike the C-2A, the Navy would use the Osprey to carry cargo at night. The V-22B carries a bit less internal cargo than the Greyhound, but it can lift more and haul cargo by sling load. The Osprey has three fewer seats available, 23 compared to 26 in the Greyhound. The C-2A can fly higher, above bad weather, with its pressurized cockpit that the Osprey lacks.

 

“I think it’s still a very good fit for the mission,” Shoemaker said of the Osprey.

 

The Navy is looking at how to make cargo handling more efficient, officials said, with specialized metal bins, the Joint Modular Intermodal Container (JMIC), that can be rolled onto the Osprey and also corrugated cardboard boxes and palletized cargo that can shorten the turnaround time. The C-2A has a cage that contains loose items, but containers on the V-22 will allow pre-staging of cargo rather than sailors packing it in “hand over hand, stacking it in where they can,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Miller, Vinson’s principal assistant for logistics.

 

The testing, done closely with VMX-1, is led by a fleet introduction team from Point Mugu, Calif.-based Airborne Command, Control and Logistics Wing, which manages the C-2 and E-2 fleet. Between October and February, the first group of 77 C-2 pilots, aircrewmen and maintainers will get training with the V-22B and will “start flying the airplane,” said Capt. Val Overstreet, the wing commodore and veteran E-2 pilot. “We are really excited about that.” They will provide the first training cadre and become instructors for follow-on crews at New River Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. They will be followed by helicopter pilots who plan to transition to the V-22, she said.

 

Shoemaker said the Navy expects to reach initial operational capability (IOC) in fiscal 2021, with the first detachment deployed during 2022. “We’ll do it very similar to how we are set up now with the C-2 community,” he said, with east and west coast-based squadrons providing V-22 dets to carriers. He said he thinks the Navy might, at some point, stand up its own V-22 training squadron.

 

The Navy’s version of the Marine Corps’ newest rotary-wing aircraft would be designated CMV-22. It would mirror the aircraft that the Marines fly but will include extended range fuel tanks, high frequency radio and a public-address system. Unlike the COD it’s replacing, the Navy’s Osprey variant potentially could operate off other gray hulls.

 

Navy, Marines put V-22 to the Test in Carrier Experiment