FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips for the Week of August 22

Teammates,

 

Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 top news clips for the week of Aug. 22:

 

LOCAL COVERAGE

Owen Assumes FRCSW Skipper’s Chair

FRCSW Manufacturing Increases Throughput

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

Air Boss: Navy Aviation Is Short On Readiness, But Not In Crisis

Congress Ponders A Future Without OCO

Lawmakers to Navy: Leave Marine One upkeep in Connecticut

V-22 Experiment On Carrier Shows Increased Flexibility Over C-2 In COD Mission

Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up A Runway

Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35

We Asked The U.S. Navy: What Will Replace The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet And EA-18G Growler?

Officer Selection Boards will no Longer Display Full-Length Photographs

Navy OK’s More Lenient Early Retirement Rules For Officers

Small Camera Saving Military Big Bucks

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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Owen Assumes FRCSW Skipper’s Chair

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 24 Aug 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs

 

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. Capt. Craig Owen relieved Capt. Timothy Pfannenstein as Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) commanding officer Aug. 11 in ceremonies held at the new FRCSW helicopter maintenance facility in Building 325 on Naval Air Station North Island. Capt. Owen previously served as the command’s executive officer.

 

Following the arrival of the official party and national anthem, Capt. Pfannenstein opened the ceremony with welcoming remarks and introduced the presiding officer Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, commander, Fleet Readiness Centers and guest speaker, Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force.

 

During his remarks, Rear Adm. Zarkowski spoke of the continued demand upon naval aviation forces and the crucial role the Fleet Readiness Centers play in providing assets to the warfighters.

 

“Across naval aviation the goal remains the same: Improving readiness of aircraft currently in the fleet by becoming more predictive, less reactive; improving the affordability and speed of delivery of these capabilities to our Sailors and Marines,” he said.

 

Zarkowski turned his focus to Pfannenstein’s tenure as FRCSW’s commanding officer and efforts to improve readiness and service to the fleet.

 

“Capt. Pfannenstein achieved breakthrough results in plant operations and overall throughput of depot repair modifications,” he said. “He leveraged intra-service logistic support to expand the scope of FRCSW’s support to the fleet, and led efforts to expand maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services with joint international agencies, and to identify new partnership opportunities within the Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force.”

 

Addressing the command’s employees, Zarkowski said: “The lines of effort you are pursuing here provide critical support to our warfighters, you extend the service life our platforms, you perform in-service repairs forward deployed and you are our back force multiplier.”

 

After his concluding remarks, Zarkowski introduced Rear Adm. Sohl.

 

Under Pfannenstein’s leadership, Sohl noted, FRCSW earned the fiscal year 2015 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Aviation Safety Award and the CNO’s FY 2015 Environmental Award for Sustainability, Industrial Installation.

 

“Capt. Pfannenstein made workforce development a priority,” Sohl said. “He began or jumpstarted numerous professional training and development initiatives including reinvigorating the command apprenticeship program in partnership with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.”

 

Addressing Level Two achievements during Pfannenstein’s leadership at North Island and FRCSW Site Point Mugu, Sohl noted their selections as the CNO’s nominee for the Secretary of Defense’s Phoenix Award for field-level maintenance performed by a medium-sized organization.

 

He pointed out that the Level Two shops repaired 37,500 components worth $442 million, and achieved an overall ready-for-issue (RFI) rate of 91 percent, and a 100 percent RFI rate for T-56 and T-700 engines and axillary power units.

 

Following Sohl’s remarks, Zarkowski presented Pfannenstein with the Legion of Merit Award for outstanding achievement as FRCSW commanding officer.

 

In his farewell remarks, Pfannenstein referenced the hosting site of the ceremony — the command’s 100,000 square-foot helicopter maintenance facility that was completed on January 21.

 

“This building represents the future of naval aviation. It is an impressive facility and it is where our vision of 2020 and beyond will take us in the FRC and NAE enterprise,” he said.

 

Afterward, he thanked the command’s artisans and support staff for not only their steadfast work during his tenure, but also for their support in creating a successful safety program which has pervaded the workplace culture.

 

He also noted the professionalism and personal conduct of the Sailors who served under his command.

 

After the reading of orders and the exchanges of salutes and during his opening remarks, Owen pointed out the rarity of civilian FRC workers in the nation’s workforce.

 

“In the United States the entire labor force is approximately 160 million people,” he said. “Compare that 160 million to the less than 4,000 civilian employees of the FRC. The FRC employees make up .007 percent of that total labor force of our country.”

 

“Our employees are masters and doctors of their trades, and what these professionals do every day for the Naval and Marine Corps aviation is truly remarkable,” he added.

 

Owen then turned his attention to the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) and said that continuing successful NAE operations must rely upon the application of the existing 12 Integrated Product Support Elements (IPS).

 

The IPS is comprised of three management categories with four subcategories each that target production processes from infrastructure to technical support.

 

“We must understand all 12 elements and execute them in our everyday business,” he said. “And by following the 12 elements, we will solve many of our challenges.”

 

Also contributing to the ceremony were the FRCSW Color Guard and the Navy Region Southwest Band.

 

Pfannenstein assumed command of FRCSW on August 8, 2014. His next assignment will be as the 6.0B logistics head for Naval Air Systems Command.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6341

 

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FRCSW Manufacturing Increases Throughput

AIRSpeed Tools Garnish Significant Gains

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

 

Since fiscal year (FY) 2013, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) manufacturing in Building 472 has managed to increase its production throughput by 345 percent. How? By using AIRSpeed – The continuous process improvement program that has been in use throughout the naval aviation enterprise for almost 10 years.

 

AIRSpeed offers a “toolset” of Lean, Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints to increase production efficiencies and reduce turnaround times.

 

`Lean’ is a move to identify waste (time, material, etc.) in a production process; while Six Sigma increases production improvement by eliminating variation in a process; and Theory of Constraints identifies restrictions to processes that interfere with the flow of production systems.

 

“We aren’t afraid to challenge older processes,” said Arnel Canja, integrated process team leader for FRCSW manufacturing. “And with our level of communication between planning, programming, our shops and lab engineers, everybody is heard. So when someone has a concern, we address it as a team.”

 

Canja leads a team of 36 artisans including sheet metal mechanics, welders and heat treaters that provide mostly structural parts for Navy and some Air Force aircraft. They work with an array of metals including aluminum, steel, titanium and composite laminated materials.

 

“The composites are a mixture of resins and are used for insulating electrical wires, cables or conduits running through the aircraft. We’ll bolt those on the side of the aircraft to keep them from chafing,” said sheet metal mechanic supervisor Charlie Greer.

 

The code’s artisans also manufacture hydraulic tubing for aircraft. Many of the products are critical safety items (CSI) for the aircraft which undergo stringent processes to meet CSI requirements.

 

For CSI, FRCSW manufacturing looks to quality assurance and engineering for support. The code also works in conjunction with many of the command’s processing shops including paint, blasting, plating, NDI and production control.

 

To ensure a steady production stream, Canja said that communication improvements were targeted first, followed by a review of tooling requirements.

 

“Because of the lack of proper tooling, our setup time took longer,” Canja said. “So we had to substitute tools which could potentially compromise our programs, or, not run our jobs at all.”

 

To resolve the issue the code coordinated with the Defense Logistics Agency and the central tool room to establish pre-expended bins, which ensure that the tools and hardware needed for specific tasks, are readily available to the artisans.

 

To maintain organizational readiness and to compensate for the effects of attrition to its high-end skilled artisans, Canja said that positions were established to enable artisans to move into computer numerically controlled (CNC) programmer and model maker billets.

 

“The model makers are a hybrid,” Canja said. “They are highly skilled machinists who can program as well as operate and run the CNC machines.”

 

“We established a quick response area: Our model makers would handle the parts that didn’t require an extended amount of time in terms of programming. They would program it and run it from beginning to end; so we eliminated the hand-off from the programmer to the machinist because the model maker does it all.”

The code recently added two new CNC 5-axis machines which are used to manufacture complex parts including LM2500 engine components, and form dyes for the foundry.

 

“We get a critically accurate part from that (CNC) process. Our customer feedback has been very good because the parts we manufacture bolt right into place, as opposed to making adjustments to fit,” Greer said.

 

“We’ve made form guides for aircraft skins and E-2/C-2 airframe hatch channels (an extension joint on the aircraft where two major surfaces join), which is a part we’ve never made before. We tried to outsource those, but couldn’t find a buyer. So we took on the challenge and were able to do it.”

 

Improving customer service and increasing throughput on sheet metal products required a shift from manufacturing customer requested oversized parts to blueprint-specific parts only.

 

“They wanted oversized parts so they could trim them on the plane (during installation),” Canja said.

 

“Customers were happy with that sometimes and sometimes they were not, and we would get that rework. So by going to blueprint specs the customers were happier, and we didn’t have to rework the parts. This increased our throughput because we eliminated that rework time.”

 

To increase overall production, Canja said a move to identify defective work orders in processes in and outside of manufacturing was established.

 

“We implemented process improvement steps whether to adjust, or create a rapid improvement event or a project. And we collaborated with our support groups in terms of eliminating or mitigating problems that we were having. That helped increase throughput by parts monitoring, damage and lost parts,” he said.

 

Canja stressed that achieving production goals and milestones through the application of AIRSpeed tools lies in communication and collaboration.

 

“We work as a cohesive unit. Sometimes to get a job done, one person has to be an expert in multiple trades. Our lines of communication are open; so if one area can’t do it, then we help that area or code out. It’s one team, one effort here. If one person is falling short, then we’re all falling short.”

 

From 2013 to 2014, FRCSW manufacturing garnished a throughput increase of approximately 8,000 parts and 6,000 more through FY 2015. FY 2016 throughput is projected to exceed more than 30,000 parts.

 

“But our process improvement is still ongoing; we’re still identifying areas and we’re still in the infancy of where we want to be. We hope within three years to double or triple our throughput,” Canja said.

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Air Boss: Navy Aviation Is Short On Readiness, But Not In Crisis

(NAVY TIMES, 18 Aug 16) … Meghann Myers

 

It’s been a rough year so far for deadly crashes in the Navy and Marine Corps, but the Navy’s aviation boss believes that the two are unrelated.

 

The Navy is not in a crisis, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said Thursday at the Center for Security and International Studies at Washington, D.C., but it is struggling to stay trained up and well maintained on its tight budget.

 

Quoting Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., the pace is burning out ships, aircraft and sailors, Shoemaker said. That is particularly apparent in squadrons’ post-deployment and maintenance phases, when there aren’t enough ready aircraft to keep pilots in the air and not enough money to fix the grounded planes.

 

“What we’ve seen over the last – since we’ve come through a heavy use period and recovering from sequestration – we’re not able to fully execute those accounts,” he said of their yearly target flight hours. “Those accounts have not been resourced to meet the flight-hour account.”

 

The pain is felt most in the strike fighter and E-2 Hawkeye communities, which can be frustrating for aviators who want as much experience as possible to stay competitive. But, Shoemaker said, the deficit is manageable.

 

“Right now it’s below what we target for maintenance phase, and it’s below our tactical hard deck,” he added.

 

Still, the well-known lack of readiness has raised questions as to whether the Navy’s mishap rates are connected.

 

There were 20 and 19 Class A mishaps between the Navy and Marine Corps and fiscal years 2014 and 2015, respectively, meaning they resulted in a death or permanent total disability and/or more than $2,000,000 in damage.

 

With six weeks left in this fiscal year, the services are on track to do slightly better, with 15 mishaps. Deaths, however, are up this year, including three strike fighter pilots killed in the span of eight days this summer – all three Marines, one a member of the Blue Angels.

 

But so far, Shoemaker said, it doesn’t look like any of those tragedies were the fault of inexperienced pilots.

“Trying to make a tie to readiness or proficiency, in every case, that’s not there,” he said.

 

Total Overhaul

 

All but two communities in naval aviation – the recently transitioned EA-18G Growler and the E-6B Mercury – are in the midst of testing and introducing new aircraft, Shoemaker said.

 

This summer has seen strides for both the strike fighter and carrier on-board delivery communities, with a third and final round of carrier testing for the F-35C and three initial “battle experiments” for the MV-22 Osprey.

 

The plan is to hit initial operational capability for the F-35C in late 2018, Shoemaker said. With 30 total F-35Cs and one operational squadron – Strike Fighter Squadron 101 – the next steps are to stand up the VFA-125 fleet replacement squadron next year to train new pilots and to wait for software upgrades that will flesh out the F-35’s ability to carry out Navy missions.

 

The CMV-22B Osprey, as the Navy will call it, is still five years from hitting the fleet. For now, the focus is on figuring out how the tilt-rotor craft will integrate as a transport vehicle to the carrier, as the job has been done by the C-2A Greyhound propeller plane for the past 50 years.

 

The Osprey has had a sketchy but improving safety record, though Shoemaker said he wasn’t hearing worries from the fleet. Beyond that, there are some concerns about its ability to carry as much cargo and as many passengers as the Greyhound.

 

It’s true that the Osprey has less space than its predecessor, Shoemaker said, but the plan is to make up for it with a more flexible aircraft. Seats can be added or removed in the Osprey to accommodate cargo, he said, and because the Osprey can land at night – which was never done with the Greyhound – that could mean a third daily supply run during a deployment.

 

The Osprey is also less work for the carrier’s crew, he said. It takes about six people to launch and recover the helicopter-like vehicle, rather than 40 or so to operate the catapult and arresting gear required to launch and recover a C-2.

 

“Although we give up a little bit in people and cargo, I think the flexibility Osprey brings will be good,” Shoemaker said.

 

https://www.navytimes.com/articles/air-boss-navy-aviation-is-short-on-readiness-but-not-in-crisis

 

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Congress Ponders A Future Without OCO

(POLITICO, 18 Aug 16) … Connor O’Brien and Jeremy Herb

 

As Congress haggles over tapping the Pentagon’s war account, some lawmakers want a new way for the Defense Department to plan and pay for its everyday operations and military contingencies.

 

In interviews with POLITICO, several lawmakers said they’re interested in overhauling the way the Pentagon’s war budget is funded after repeated fights over using it to increase overall defense spending, which led to a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act last year.

 

The special Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which is exempt from the spending caps set by the Budget Control Act, has been derided by members of both parties as a “slush fund” that finances far more than immediate wartime needs.

 

“That would be an honest and transparent way to go back to funding the military, the way we have for decades,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That is: You put it all in the budget, and you’re held accountable in the same way you’re held accountable for the rest of the budget.”

 

Eliminating OCO funding – or as much of it as possible – would effectively limit the number of tools Congress has to evade the budget caps and increase spending without offsets.

 

But lawmakers and experts on both sides of the issue concede eliminating the special account would be nearly impossible politically and logistically. And efforts to remove all or parts of war funding in defense policy and spending bills have so far fallen flat.

 

“There’s a very easy way to do it. You eliminate the Budget Control Act and you increase domestic spending by the same amount as the defense budget,” said Gordon Adams, a former budget official in the Clinton administration who’s now a professor at American University. “That’s technically not complicated at all. But politically – forget about it.”

 

While a major shift in the defense budget process may be politically difficult, that camp could find a significant ally in a potential Clinton administration in Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

 

The war fund is “now used the wrong way” and can’t be counted on more than one year at a time, he says.

 

“We’ve just moved to this position where OCO is the end-run around the budget caps that Congress foolishly put in place,” Kaine told POLITICO in an interview before Clinton tapped him as her running mate. “I definitely think we ought to reform the budget, if not eliminate OCO, try to pull as much into the base as we can.”

 

For others, America’s post-9/11 military engagement, including the nearly 15 year-long war in Afghanistan, are so enduring that the Defense Department should be able to factor it into its normal budgeting process.

 

“I’ve said in committee, I have said in subcommittee and elsewhere that I don’t believe OCO should exist at all,” Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, the top Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said during a hearing last year.

 

“I believe the world circumstances we face today are the new normal and the administration, whoever it is, ought to anticipate that in their budget,” he said.

 

Still, any effort to eliminate OCO entirely, skeptics say, would require the unlikely repeal of the budget caps, which has proven politically impossible since the Budget Control Act was enacted in 2011.

 

“It’s not going to happen because the majority of both parties in both branches want and need it to continue.” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It’s just that simple, because everybody can say that their position prevailed and they’re right.”

 

“As long as we have the budget caps in effect, we are going to have OCO funding, irregardless of what’s going on in the world, because OCO funding has become the grease, the lubricant that makes the wheels of the budget process turn,” added defense budget expert Todd Harrison at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

 

To help cover a projected shortfall in the Pentagon’s base budget for the coming fiscal year, the House defense policy bill maintains the president’s defense topline, including $59 billion in OCO funding, but allocates $18 billion from the war account to cover base budget spending.

 

The maneuver funds a slew of politically popular items, including a higher military pay raise, thousands more active-duty troops in the Army and Marine Corps and more fighter jets, ships and helicopters.

 

Designed to force a supplemental funding request from the next president, the approach has drawn a veto threat from the White House, which said it would create “a dangerous level of uncertainty” for overseas operations. But House appropriators nevertheless followed suit, dedicating nearly $16 billion in war funds to pay for base priorities.

 

The Senate defense policy and spending bills don’t tap OCO to backfill the base budget, though Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) unsuccessfully pushed to increase the defense topline by $18 billion, proposing to use war dollars to pay for many of the same big-ticket items funded by the House.

 

Criteria for designating OCO funding issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2010 have largely been adhered to with “notable exceptions,” said former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale, now an adviser at the giant consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

 

He points to newer programs like the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund and the European Reassurance Initiative – a combined $4.4 billion request for next year – as line items that could arguably be housed in the base budget.

 

“Ideally, though, you would get rid of everything in OCO that isn’t reasonably closely related to wartime needs,” Hale said. “And clearly, there are a number of items in there now that are not.”

 

While far from perfect, Hale contends OCO is preferable to the emergency supplemental appropriations bills previously used to fund the wars, which the former comptroller said were often poorly timed and executed and cut congressional authorizers out of the process.

 

“It has allowed the Department of Defense to fully meet the needs of warfighters … in a period of enormous budgetary turmoil,” he said. “I mean, think of what we went through and I think it is because of OCO, or at least largely so, that we were able to meet all their needs, and that’s very important.”

 

“So, it’s got some things going for it,” Hale added. “I don’t think you want to go back to emergency supplementals.”

 

The ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, who has been a vocal critic of the broadened use of OCO, said he’d be open to an “intelligent way” of winding down the war fund, but doubts it’s possible.

 

“It would very, very hard to simply build it into the base,” he said.

 

“I see the wisdom of that. I certainly see that OCO has been abused,” Smith explained. “But it just has fluctuated so much that it’s hard to build it into a base budget when you don’t know what’s going to be happening.”

 

https://www.politicopro.com/defense/story/2016/08/lawmakers-ponder-a-future-without-oco-126757

 

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Lawmakers to Navy: Leave Marine One upkeep in Connecticut

(The Associated Press, 22 Aug 16)

 

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s congressional delegation is urging the U.S. Navy to suspend any possible plans to shift maintenance of the Marine One presidential helicopter fleet from Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford to a facility in Florida.

 

Members of the state’s all-Democratic delegation sent a letter Monday to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus urging him to hold off on any relocation pending a “thorough review of all direct and indirect costs” of a possible relocation.

 

The delegation says no other facility has the expertise to maintain the helicopters. They say the fleet has been supported and maintained by about 85 workers in Stratford over the past four decades.

 

Sikorsky was acquired by Maryland-based Lockheed Martin in 2015.

 

Negotiations concerning the Marine One contract between Lockheed Martin and the Navy recently fell through.

 

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/lawmakers-to-navy-leave-marine-one-upkeep-in-connecticut?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Military%20EBB%208-23-16&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Military%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

 

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V-22 Experiment On Carrier Shows Increased Flexibility Over C-2 In COD Mission

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS, 18 Aug 16) … Megan Eckstein

 

Using the MV-22 Osprey as the basis for the Navy’s new Carrier On-Board Delivery (COD) is poised to add significant operational flexibility and reduce flight deck manpower requirements, the Navy’s Air Boss said today.

 

Commander of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said a recent Fleet Battle Experiment to begin integrating the V-22 tiltrotor into fixed wing cyclic operations on an aircraft carrier went very well.

 

In January 2015 the Navy chose to replace its decades-old C-2 Greyhound with a version of the Osprey dubbed the CMV-22B – which will be the Marine Corps’ Osprey, plus an extended range fuel tank, long-range communications and a public address system for passengers in the back. The decision raised several concerns about the cargo-carrying capacity of the Osprey, the range and altitude at which the tiltrotor could fly, and how a vertical-landing aircraft replacing a fixed-wing plane would affect flight deck operations.

 

Shoemaker, speaking at an event cohosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Naval Institute, said there is no reason for concern.

 

By the end of the experiment, the crew of USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) had figured out how to land and unload the Osprey in about 20 minutes for passenger delivery missions and about 30 minutes for cargo delivery missions. That fits within the flight deck’s natural cycle, in which the plane might launch a number of aircraft at once, and recover a number of aircraft perhaps an hour or more later.

 

More than just being able to land and unload the cargo quickly, Shoemaker said using the V-22 instead of the C-2 greatly reduced the manpower burden on the ship. Because the Osprey lands and takes off like a helicopter instead of requiring the steam catapult launcher and the arrested landing gear like a fixed-wing plane, “it takes about six folks to launch and recover an Osprey. It would take about 40 or so to man up the ship to bring in the (current) COD. So that’s some unique operating benefits that I think come with the Osprey.”

 

Additionally, the Osprey can land on the aircraft carrier at night whereas the C-2 does not perform nighttime carrier landings. So the V-22 could land day or night, and even on days when the rest of the airwing is not flying and therefore the catapult and arresting gear isn’t running.

 

Shoemaker acknowledged that the inside of the V-22 is slightly smaller than the C-2, meaning the plane can deliver a bit less cargo or a couple fewer people, “but I think the way you do the reconfiguring of seats inside the Osprey gives you some opportunity to do passenger/cargo mix and quickly reconfigure in a way we didn’t have with the C-2.

 

“I think when we put in the extended range package that will be part of the CMV-22, it will be at C-2 range, comparable to that or even actually beyond, around 1,100-plus miles for legs,” the Air Boss added.

 

In total, “although we gave up a little bit in people and cargo, I think the flexibility the Osprey brings will be good,” he said.

 

https://news.usni.org/2016/08/18/v-22-experiment-carrier-shows-increased-flexibility-c-2-cod-mission

 

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Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up A Runway

(DOD BUZZ, 18 Aug 16) … Hope Hodge Seck

 

Before seven of the Navy’s carrier-variant F-35 Joint Strike Fighters embarked aboard the carrier USS George Washington for its third and final round of developmental testing, they completed a required ashore training period, practicing landings at Choctaw Naval Outlying Field near Pensacola, Florida. The landings went well – maybe a little too well.

 

“They were landing in the same spot on the runway every time, tearing up where the hook touches down,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of Naval Air Forces, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Thursday. “So we quickly realized, we needed to either fix the runway or adjust, put some variants in the system. So that’s how precise this new system is.”

 

The new system in question is called Delta Flight Path, a built-in F-35C technology that controls glide slope and minimizes the number of variables pilots to monitor as they complete arrested carrier landings. A parallel system known as MAGIC CARPET, short for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, is being developed for use with the Navy’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. Together, these systems may allow carriers to operate with fewer tankers, leaving more room for other aircraft, Shoemaker said.

 

Military.com reported on the implications of this new landing technology from the carrier George Washington earlier this week, as the first operational pilot-instructors with Strike Fighter Squadron 101, out of Oceana, Virginia, began daytime carrier qualifications on the aircraft. On Thursday, Shoemaker had an update on the ongoing carrier tests.

 

Of about 100 F-35C arrested landings completed on the carrier, he said, 80 percent engaged the 3-wire, meaning the aircraft had touched down at the ideal spot. As of Monday, there had been zero bolters, when the aircraft misses an arresting wire and must circle the carrier for another attempt.

 

“I think that’s going to give us the ability to look at the way we work up and expand the number of sorties. I think it will change the way we operate around the ship … in terms of the number of tankers you have to have up, daytime and nighttime,” he said. “I think that will give us a lot of flexibility in the air wing in the way we use those strike fighters.”

 

Tankers, or in-air refueling aircraft, come into play because they as required to be at the ready when aircraft make arrested landings in case they run low on fuel during landing attempts. Fewer bolters means, prospectively, a reduced tanker requirement.

 

“Right now we configure maybe six to eight tankers aboard the ship,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t think we need to that many. That will give us flexibility on our strike fighter numbers, increase the Growler numbers, which I know we’re going to do, and probably E2D [Advanced Hawkeye carrier-launched radar aircraft] as well.”

 

The F-35C’s last developmental testing phase is set to wrap up Aug. 23. MAGIC CARPET is expected to be introduced to the fleet in 2019, officials have said.

 

Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up a Runway

 

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Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35

(INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY, 18 Aug 16) . Gillian Rich

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navy plans to “continue to modernize” Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 Super Hornets, said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, calling newer versions “4.5-generation” fighters.

 

During a talk Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Shoemaker said he isn’t minimizing the need for Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) F-35, a fifth-generation fighter. Instead, he sees a role for both of them.

 

“We absolutely need the F-35 as soon as we can get it,” he said. “We want to pair those two up together.”

 

Shoemaker said the two jets could be flown in tandem to take advantage of the planes’ “very good complement of high-low mix.”

 

Boeing shares rose 0.2% to 135 in the stock market today. Lockheed shares fell 0.1% to 255.42. Northrop Grumman (NOC), a major F-35 contractor, was down 0.2% to 218.14

 

It’s unclear how many more Super Hornets the Pentagon will buy. Without additional orders, Boeing faces the end of its production run. Currently, the Navy has money in its budget for two Super Hornets in 2017 and 14 in 2018.

 

But the service could purchase even more Super Hornets as part of its unfunded spending request, and Congress seems keen to keep the production line open. Boeing has said it needs 24 orders per year to keep the production line alive past 2020.

 

A deal between Boeing and Kuwait for 28 Super Hornets, with an option for 12 more, is facing political roadblocks, so Kuwait recently ordered Eurofighter Typhoons instead.

 

Meanwhile, Shoemaker said that, despite some setbacks with the F-35’s development, the Navy has plans to declare the new fighter ready for combat in late 2018. The Navy still needs the new 3F software update on the plane, however.

 

The Air Force declared initial operational capability for its version of the F-35 earlier this month, and the Marine Corps declared its version combat-ready last year.

 

Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35

 

 

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We Asked The U.S. Navy: What Will Replace The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet And EA-18G Growler?

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST, 23 Aug 16) … Dave Majumdar

 

The U.S. Navy’s analysis of alternatives (AOA) for its next generation replacement for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet is well underway. The AOA will be roughly a year-and-half long, but the process is its infancy. While the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program will aim to fill the gap in the carrier air wing when the Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft retire, the service does not yet have any concepts emerging from that on-going analysis.

 

“There are no concepts yet that have come up,” Rear Adm. (Upper Half) DeWolfe Miller, the Navy’s director of air warfare told The National Interest during an interview in the Pentagon on Aug. 23. “So myself and deputy undersecretary of the navy for airwarfare – DASN (Air) [Gary Kessler] – are the two co-chairs of that AOA.”

 

The Navy’s AOA is looking at a broad range of concepts that would fill the void left by the Super Hornet and Growler in the 2030s using “set-based design methodology,” Miller said. The Navy and the Air Force will conduct two separate AOAs for their respective sixth-generation fighter efforts that will likely develop two separate solutions for their respective missions. That being said, the two jets could share technology and they will be able to operate together seamlessly. “We will leverage each other on the technology and we’ll leverage each other on the interoperability,” Miller said. “So we’ll be informed of what each others’ efforts are doing.”

 

Indeed, the Navy is examining family of system approaches, individual system approaches, manned and unmanned as well as optionally manned capabilities. “It’s going to be very broad reaching,” Miller said. “What it’s going to look at are the capabilities in the 2030 timeframe – take a look at the capabilities the air wing needs to have to win in that 2030 timeframe.”

 

The process that the Navy is using essentially projects the carrier air wing out to the future using its current design. To examine the gap left by the F/A-18-series airframe, the Super Hornet and Growler would be removed from the air wing, Miller explained. “What they’ll do is take our air wing of that timeframe and they’ll remove the Super Hornets and they’ll remove the Growler, and they’ll say: ‘OK, what are the capabilities that we need to provide. That’s when they’ll start to come up with various options that they’ll bring forward to us.”

 

While the NGAD will be a “follow-on” to the Super Hornet and the Growler, it will not simply be a new version of the F/A-18E/F aircraft, Miller said. The Navy will have to understand exact what capabilities the air wing needs, what the carrier strike group needs and what the overall U.S. military’s joint forces need from the new fighter.

 

As such, it is not possible to address questions of stealth, performance or weapons at this stage. “They’re going to take look at what the air wing needs and how that air wing fits into the overall joint fight,” Miller said, adding.

 

“It’s in the embryonic stages here of starting.”

 

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/we-asked-the-us-navy-what-will-replace-the-f-18e-f-super-17453

 

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Officer Selection Boards will no Longer Display Full-Length Photographs

(CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL, 23 Aug 16) . Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

 

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced today in NAVADMIN 186/16 that officers’ full-length photographs will no longer be displayed during promotion selection or administrative boards, starting with the Active-Duty O-8 selection board in the fall of 2016.

 

After a review, it was determined that removing photos, which do not provide significant value to the selection board process, will lessen an administrative burden. Officers will still be required to have a current full-length photo as part of their official personnel record.

 

“During selection boards, hundreds of records are reviewed in a short period of time by board members,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke. “By enacting this change, it is our belief that we will help selection board members more closely focus their attention on the entirety of Sailors’ documented performance records.”

 

Additionally, officers’ records fully capture physical fitness assessment and body composition metrics.

 

More information on the full-length photograph requirement for officers can be found in NAVADMIN 103/07 and MILPERSMAN 1070-180.

 

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=96354

 

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Navy OK’s More Lenient Early Retirement Rules For Officers

(NAVY TIMES, 23 Aug 16) … Mark D. Faram

 

Navy personnel officials are tweaking the rules for commanders and captains wanting to retire in their current grade and punch out up to a year early.

 

Since 2008, the Navy has allowed O-5s and O-6s with at least 24-months time-in-grade to request a waiver and retire sooner than the 36 months normally required. In addition, the requests no longer need final approval by the chief of naval personnel. The new rules give community managers more leeway to OK routine early retirement requests.

 

Now, only cases where officials feel they can’t support the early out will the request reach CNP’s desk for a final determination.

 

So far this fiscal year, 29 officers from six officer communities have gotten permission punch out under the old rules and officials say these recent tweaks, announced in NavAdmin 182/16, released Aug. 16.

 

Navy officials allow up to 50 takers each year, but insist there’s no quotas that must be filled.

 

And community health in the officer corps is good enough that a lack of applicants won’t force the Navy into mandatory cuts or selective early retirement boards, officials say.

 

“Approval of a time-in-grade wavier is based on each community’s inventory compared against requirements,” said Sharon Anderson, spokeswoman for the chief of naval personnel. “In the last few years, the number of requests has not exceeded the goal, therefore community managers and strength planners do not anticipate receiving a large number of requests that approaches the goal number.”

 

Under current policies, the Navy secretary can approve retirement in grade with as little as 24 months served in highest grade and that authority has been delegated down to CNP and now the community managers.

 

However, by law, such waivers can be granted with as little as six months time-in-grade, but those requests require presidential approval, Anderson said.

 

For those who can’t get community waivers to retire early at their current paygrade, because they can’t meet the 24-month minimum time in grade, the program allows officers to take a reduction in grade and retire.

 

The NavAdmin says that officers willing to take this cut in grade – and with it reduced retired pay – if their time in grade wavier is denied should include a next lower grade waiver request in their package that will be considered if their original request to retire early in their current grade is denied.

 

https://www.navytimes.com/articles/navy-oks-more-lenient-early-retirement-rules-for-officers

 

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Small Camera Saving Military Big Bucks

(HAVELOCK (NC) NEWS 24 AUG 16) … Drew C. Wilson

 

A small video camera is saving the Navy and Marine Corps big money.

 

A new initiative to use video borescopes to inspect engine blades for damage is saving millions of dollars, officials say. In the last year, 35 Marines have gained certification in a common video borescope class for the AV-8B Harrier F-402 Pegasus engine.

 

“Right now, we have actually saved six to seven engines on wing this year alone and by just a couple engines have saved the Marine Corps millions and millions of dollars’ worth of headache and resources,” said Charles Dowdle, a Rolls Royse field service representative teaching the class.

 

The Pegasus engine is one of the most complex used by the Navy and the Marine Corps, he said.

 

“Our engine is very unique. It has the least amount of forward object damage allowed on any of the Navy and Marine Corps engines, so we had to come up with the best possible criteria to actually have a safe aircraft,” Dowdle said.

 

The two-week, 84-hour course teaches Marines how to locate evidence of impacts on each of the 657 blades in the high-pressure compressor of the engine. They use a miniature camera on the end of a rod to make photographs and measure imperfections between five-thousandths of an inch all the way up to 25-thousandths of an inch. Their measurements must be within three-thousandths of an inch, which is less than the thickness of a dollar bill.

 

“Since we’ve started doing this, we have made all of the Marines fully award of FOD, the Forward Object Damage on the flight line, on their parking spaces, and they have been very hyper aware of inspecting their low pressure compressors, the blades, where they can actually see inside the intakes,” said Dowdle.

 

Such inspection is critical to making sure the jets are safe to fly, but the monetary savings is real,” Dowdle said.

“It saves money,” he said. “It’s about $1.5 million to actually change an engine out and 750 man hours.”

 

The cost per engine is between $3 million and $4 million, which includes shipping, labor and parts.

 

Marines trained in the operation of the camera system are using it now.

 

“We have successfully employed them and we have saved six engines so far out in the fleet through this last year,” said Dowdle. “It wasn’t until we got enough qualified Marines in the squadrons that we were actually able to use it. Now they have been employed to Bahrain and on the boats successfully and have utilized the borescope correctly and they have saved engines through our training and they have saved lives.”

 

The blades on the engines are required to be inspected every 30 hours of flight. Major damage requires replacement of the engine, but minor impacts can be “blended.”

 

“If it’s really bad, then we’ll go ahead and get the Rolls Royce bore blend team out to their aircraft to blend it out and save the $1.5 million and keep the aircraft in the warfighting shape, or if it is bad, we will go ahead and issue them another engine and keep them safe and flying,” said Dowdle.

 

He said the process of inspection can take three to five hours, depending on the experience of the Marine.

 

“So if they have 10 aircraft and each aircraft flies 30 hours, that means they have to do 10 inspections in a month, so if they do that over a year, that’s quite a lot of inspections so they need to be good at inspecting,” Dowdle said.

 

Stewart Hassell, an aerospace engineer who supports the F-402 engine, said the video borescope first proved its worth in 2013. He said four spare engines were sent to the USS Kearsarge, and upon inspection with the camera, three were rejected with pre-existing damage.

 

“So that brought this need to light,” said Hassell. “We saw the need for some training to get people certified on how to correctly measure the damage inside the engine.”

 

Marines in the course have to take three pictures per impact and make measurements. Their accuracy is checked against a master book of all the known impacts on each engine blade.

 

Cpl. Kyle Rettinger, from Marine Attack Squadron 223, said the work is challenging and tedious.

“You just have to be real precise because they are such small measurements,” said Rettinger.

 

Cpl. Nolan Brewer, also with VMA-223, said the training was a good learning experience.

 

“It’s something that I won’t just use in the Corps,” Brewer said. “I plan on doing aviation when I’m out, and this is a nice step for me, a nice learning experience.”

 

Because of the program, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 has 14 engines ready for inspection and ready to go out anywhere in the world.

 

“It is the first time in 20 years that we have had so many engines ready to go at any one time than we have had in the history of Harrier aviation just because of this CBS class, hyper awareness of forward object damage on the flight line and the formal class that we have taught from our FST engineers to our Marines,” said Dowdle.

 

“This is a legacy engine and we don’t make any more of them, so we have to take care of them.”

 

http://www.havenews.com/news/20160824/small-camera-saving-military-big-bucks