Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 clips for the week of Oct. 31:
- Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
- Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’
- New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15
- New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns
- Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position
- Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment
- Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes
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Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 31 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs
NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – “We have a mishmash of full birds and darts in here,” said Tim Guilbert as he walked between the F/A-18 legacy and Super Hornet aircraft stored in a cavernous new tension fabric aircraft hangar at the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Test Line.
The “full birds” have wings, the “darts” don’t.
About 115 feet in width and almost as long as a football field, the hangar is well lit, ventilated and climate-controlled by two gas and electric units located outside of the building to regulate the humidity inside.
“Our optimum health and humidity is 35 percent relative humidity plus or minus five. We want to be in the 30 to 40 percent range,” Guilbert said.
The production line manager and preservation supervisor and Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) aircraft preservation manager, Guilbert oversees the FRCSW preservation program.
And thanks to Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) the program recently received two hangars to help the command manage its F/A-18 preservation program.
Costing approximately $2.5 million each and able to accommodate up to 16 full Super Hornets, or 36-40 legacy “darts,” the hangars’ sole purpose is for storage. They are not outfitted for repairs or maintenance activity. Construction took about eight months.
The fabric “skins” are made of flame-resistant polyester pulled over a framework of steel. The materials can last five to 10 years, dependent upon environmental factors.
“The new hangars will minimize the cost of our level 2 preservation maintenance cycles,” Guilbert said. “We had 60 plus aircraft, and at one time we had almost 90 Hornets in level 2.”
There are four levels within the preservation program.
Level 1, not applicable to FRCSW, is preservation at the squadron level.
Level 2 occurs upon an aircraft’s induction, and encompasses the preservation procedure which includes fuel system preservation, caps and plugs. Aircraft in a level two preservation are typically seen wrapped with a laminated metal foil to prevent moisture contamination at intake openings.
Aircraft may remain in a level two state for up to one year.
“After one year you have to refresh them and do the whole thing over again. In the meantime, there are maintenance schedules that include daily inspections, seven-day, 28 and 56-day inspections all with different requirements. And there are heavy weather inspections where we inspect any wrapped areas and check for water intrusion,” Guilbert said.
“The goal of level 3 is if the shelter is there, the aircraft are put into a `dynamic level three,’ which means to take the whole aircraft and put it in a climate-controlled environment,” he said.
Level 4 signifies when the aircraft have reached an overhaul or Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) cycle, a time when the requirements for a stringent level two or three can no longer be met.
If parts are unavailable during the analysis of overhaul or PMI, work must stop and the aircraft may revert back to a level 3 preservation state depending upon the parts arrival date.
“If it was level 2 (under this scenario) we would have to wrap them back up, but now we have the level 3 capability with the hangars and can hold them for the duration,” Guilbert noted.
Overall, the preservation process takes about 50 hours per aircraft, he said.
FRCSW is currently slated to receive a third tension fabric aircraft hangar at its test line in late June 2017. It will exclusively store H-60 Seahawk helicopters.
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Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’
(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 31 OCT 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Seven NAVAIR women were recognized for their leadership, technical skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the 2016 Women of Color STEM Conference Oct. 13-15 in Detroit.
Sharon Keith, a mission systems lead engineer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office based out of Arlington, Virginia, won a Technical Innovation – Government Award for her work on the U.S. military’s largest, most complex program and her long career in naval avionics.
“[This award] meant finally knowing, after working 30-plus years in naval aviation, my professional accomplishments were being recognized among such a diverse audience of my peers on a national and international stage,” she said. “My engineering career has given me great pleasure knowing I’ve played a significant role in providing guidance and mentoring to junior engineers and providing our warfighters, servicemen and women the capabilities necessary to protect the U.S. while supporting our international partners as well.”
Keith said her mother inspired her to take on new opportunities and value education. She advises new employees to engage in STEM activities as much as they can.
“Look at ways to develop your critical thinking skills, take advantage of internship programs and look for individuals currently in your field to mentor,” she said.
NAVAIR also had six Technology Rising Star Award winners: Tashara Cooper, Lt. Cmdr. (select) Rolanda Findlay, Nikeya Gibbs, Bethany Harris, Connie Standifer and Kendra Woodruff. Rising Stars are women with fewer than 22 years in the workforce who are helping to shape technology for the future.
Cooper is part of the Human Integration and Performance Division, one of the largest STEM departments at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Florida. Her research helps provide improved, more effective instructional strategies to train warfighters.
She said she feels pride in helping pave the way for other individuals with visual disabilities within the scientific field.
“It means a lot to me to not only change the world for myself – however small or great – but to change the vision of possibility for others,” Cooper said. “Transitioning from the role of management analyst to research psychologist says persons with disabilities can not only serve well in administrative roles, but in technical roles as well.”
Findlay said she decided to become a naval aerospace experimental psychologist because it was a unique career path unlike anything she had previously seen.
“I could use my background in industrial and organizational psychology to make a direct impact in naval aviation,” she explained. “I was intrigued by the possibilities, and it appeared to be a powerful way to use my skillset.” Findlay, who is based out of Orlando, has brought several scientific advances from her field of industrial and organizational psychology into applied selection and training technologies that support mission accomplishment and safety for the aviation community.
Standifer is NAVAIR’s first Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) competency manager to be selected for the Technology Rising Star Award, which she said brings her career full circle.
“My parents taught me and my siblings to always give 100 percent in whatever we set forth as our goal,” she said. “They were right in that you may not hear your name called in the moment, but just keep pushing forward, for greatness never goes unnoticed.”
Recent college graduate Woodruff said the movie “Toy Story” inspired her to pursue a career in modeling and simulation. She works as a computer scientist based in Orlando, where her biggest accomplishment has been integrating the latest electronic learning standard, Experience API, into a previously developed 3-D game-based training course. Her team became the first Navy entity to communicate successfully with two remote learning resource stores owned by the Naval Education and Training Command and the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab.
NAVAIR relies on its STEM professionals to accomplish its major goals and initiatives, such as delivering integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities. In fiscal year 2016, women accounted for approximately 18 percent of all STEM positions at NAVAIR.
Each of the award winners encouraged new and up-and-coming STEM employees to seek out new opportunities and mentoring.
“If it’s your dream to go into any certain field, you must first take fear out of the equation and go for it,” Standifer said. “You can achieve anything you set your mind to; always remain goal oriented, and there’s really nothing you can’t do.”
Cooper advised finding a mentor: “Surround yourself with those who believe in you and your dreams,” she said. “Embrace that it will be really hard at times, and you may fall short here and there, but push through while remaining true to who you are. Know that everything that happens – or does not happen – is all part of a perfect plan for you, so hold steady, because we are all riders on our own unique journey. No two paths are identical.”
At the conference, hosted by Women of Color Magazine and with a theme of “STEM is a Girl Thing,” attendees also participated in workshops, training and networking opportunities.
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New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15
We know recognizing the talent and commitment our people bring to their work is incredibly important. A pat on the back for a job well done inspires, motivates and makes us feel valued.
The recent NAVAIR Command Climate Survey indicated rewards and recognition as an area needing improvement. Whether big or small, formal or informal, individual, team or peer-to-peer, we need to recognize great work more often.
One of the actions we’ve taken at the NAVAIR command level is to revamp the annual Commander’s Awards.
We’ve changed the award categories to recognize achievements that align directly to our strategic priorities. There are four categories:
–Improving Fleet Readiness
–Increasing the Speed of Capabilities to the Fleet –Business Innovation
Each category will include several winners: first, second and honorable mention.
We’ve also simplified the nomination process (a new 2-3 page write-up replaces the old 14+ page nomination package), and moved the awards ceremony closer to the period of achievement (March 2017). As always, civilian and military teams from all sites are eligible.
This year’s nominations are due to your competency/site awards POC by 15 December 2016. SES/Flag champions will chair panels for each award category and sit on the Awards Board, along with myself and Deputy Commander Garry Newton.
These awards are a great opportunity to showcase people and teams who are adding tremendous value to fleet readiness and capability. I look forward to sharing their stories with you at the 2017 awards ceremony.
If you have questions, please contact the NAVAIR Awards Office at NAVAIR_Awards@navy.mil. For more information on award criteria and submission guidelines, visit the Awards Toolkit at https://myteam.navair.navy.mil/KM/73/awardstoolkit/Pages/Home.aspx
VADM Paul Grosklags
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New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns
(FLIGHTGLOBAL (UK) 27 OCT 16) … Leigh Giangreco
WASHINGTON – Lockheed Martin will begin studying options for adding a software filter to the system that tracks maintenance and training data for the F-35 fighter as part of an effort to limit the amount of data that gets shared with U.S.-based contractors over concerns about privacy and sovereignty.
The U.S. government intends to award a sole source contract to F-35 prime Lockheed to conduct a trade study for connecting a “sovereign data gateway” (SDG) to the autonomic logistics information system (ALIS), according to a 17 October Federal Business Opportunities website announcement.
Lockheed’s ALIS is programmed to keep track of thousands of operational details about the F-35 fleet, including data from health monitoring systems on board the aircraft as well as the training and flight logs for each of the pilots. As the global data hub, ALIS is supposed to order parts and schedule training as they are needed, saving operators the burden of managing and back-filling spare inventories. For the system to work, the jet must automatically transmit information after and even during each flight by an F-35 to Lockheed’s ALIS hub in Fort Worth, Texas.
But that automated stream of data also worries some of the F-35’s international customers.
To address those concerns, the SDG software will remain within the partner country’s central point of entry and will control the flow of data to the Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU), the F-35 Joint Programme Office says in an emailed response to questions.
The software will allow each partner country to inspect and verify data flowing to and from the U.S. hub, the JPO stays. The software will also be able to block, modify or delay sensitive data. One example of sensitive data are details in the pilot’s training and flight records, which in some countries are protected by privacy laws.
“Most partners have this inspection requirement as a prerequisite to their own certification and approval of ALIS on their national networks,” he says. “An example of SDG’s use could be to enforce regulations in place to protect data containing personally identifiable information, which in some cases is subject to national privacy legislation.”
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Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position
(DEFENSE NEWS 28 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta
WASHINGTON – Less than a month after his Defense Innovation Board had its first public meeting, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is moving on a trio of suggestions on how to drive innovation forward for the Pentagon – including the creation of a new chief innovation officer position.
Carter made the announcement during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He did not go into details about when that office would be stood up or who might fill that role.
“Many different organizations have recently embraced this position, and also started to regularly run these kinds of innovation tournaments and competitions – including tech companies like IBM, Intel and Google – and it’s time we did as well, to help incentivize our people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches,” Carter said about creating the chief innovation officer.
The suggestion was first raised by the Defense Innovation Board at an Oct. 5 public meeting. At the time, Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School who has served in various government positions, described the sharing of best practices around the DoD as currently “less than ideal” and noted that the position could act as the umbrella from which funding for low-level projects could flow.
In addition to the creation of that spot, Carter said the Pentagon will launch targeted recruiting initiatives to increase recruitment of computer scientists and software engineers.
“We’ll do this through targeted recruiting initiatives ranging from our Reserve Officer Training Corps to our civilian Scholarship For Service program that’s intended to help build the next generation of DoD science and technology leaders, with the goal of making computer science a core competency of the Department of Defense,” Carter said.
Carter later added that the Pentagon needs to do a better job directly recruiting on college campuses, noting that may require changes to hiring statutes.
College students “don’t want to live a career that’s an escalator where you get on the bottom stair and you wait and it takes you up to the top,” Carter said. “They want a jungle gym where they can get higher by climbing around. We need to recognize that’s the way many people see their lives.”
However, Carter did not go as far as to endorse the “digital ROTC” idea put forth from the board’s public meeting.
Finally, the department is going to invest broadly in machine learning, including the creation of a “virtual center of excellence” that Carter said “establishes stretch goals and incentivizes academy and commercial technology companies [that] have been making significant strides.”
That center of excellence was a direct suggestion from the board, which emphasized, as Carter has in the past, that machine learning will be key to all technologies going forward. Interestingly, the lead here will be taken by Carter’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) group, which will sponsor an initial prize challenge for machine learning issues.
Carter has made innovation a key part of his tenure, and of his legacy in the position. He has also tied those groups closely to his office, which some have speculated could be a problem when a new secretary comes in – an idea Carter dismissed in his speech.
“Going forward, I’m confident that the logic behind everything I’m talking about today will be self-evident to future defense secretaries, as will the value of these efforts – but they also need to have the momentum and institutional foundation to keep going under their own steam and continue to thrive,” he said. “We must ensure they can keep leading the way and keep disrupting, challenging and inspiring the rest of the Defense Department to change for the better.”
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Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment
(DEFENSE NEWS 31 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta
Excerpt: Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down. … For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.
WASHINGTON – As the Department of Defense focuses on ways to reduce sustainment costs for future programs, it could look to increase the use of services contracts and improve how it handles cost estimates for software upgrades.
Speaking to reporters Oct. 21, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said targeting sustainment costs is the next frontier for getting the price of defense programs down.
Kendall reiterated a statement, first made in September, that a fourth round of his Better Buying Power initiatives should focus on sustainment, noting that development costs average about 10 percent of a weapon system cost, production averages another 40-50 percent, and the rest comes due for upkeep.
“By far most of the cost we bear is in the sustainment phase. We don’t have as good data on it,” Kendall said, adding that officials need to develop “best practices” going forward.
What could that look like? Andrew Hunter, a former Pentagon acquisition official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says one area to look at is how the department treats services.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to do more partnering and rethink what is the critical government role, what’s the inherent government function, and what is something industry can do,” Hunter said. “Especially when you’re trying to get the price of software talent and other technical talent. Are you going to be able to recruit [for the] government or are you better off working more closely with industry?”
In any war on sustainment costs, the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) would likely play a big part. Jamie Morin, the current CAPE director, told Defense News in an exclusive interview that he sees “progress” in current sustainment cost controls, thanks in part to Kendall’s focus on services contracting.
“A lot of the success there really just depends on regular management review of requirements and performance and pricing. That is just blocking and tackling at the individual contract level that has to occur,” Morin explained. “In some cases, you need to pay top dollar because you need a top-dollar service. In other cases, you can drive to the lowest-cost provider because it’s an area where you can afford to take technical or performance risks.”
The Software Challenge
Another area Hunter predicts the Pentagon needs to deal with is how the department performs software-cost estimates. In particular, he wonders if the Pentagon’s estimates for those upgrades are operating on realistic timetables, given that future weapon systems are expected to feature software updates regularly, as opposed to a major system update every few years.
“The idea that I’m going to need to be adding and interacting with new capabilities every six months, as opposed to every five years, that’s where we have the potential to underestimate the extent to which we’re going to need to plan for,” he said.
Morin acknowledged that projecting O&S costs for software upgrades comes with “wider uncertainty” than hardware estimates, but noted that some of the same considerations would apply across the board.
“You say you are going to put, each year, X number of people worth of software engineering and do it to fielding capability. Or you look at programs that have modular and spiral approaches in software that have continued to [be fielded] and you get a sense of what is the annual expenditure associated with that. Then you work it across, balance it across all the differences between the two or the multiple programs.”
At a broad level, CAPE is working to improve how it predicts and handles sustainment costs for new programs – but Morin cautioned that the nature of those costs means analysts won’t know immediately if the new approach is working.
“This is one of those things where our Washington tempo doesn’t really support the adequate distance from the problem to understand it,” Morin explained. “So we are making decisions now on programs as they go through acquisition milestones with much more visibility and rigor in estimating future O&S costs, but those won’t actually be realized, in many cases, for five or ten years.”
“It’s incredibly unsatisfying, but I just have to counsel patience,” he added.
Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down.
For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.
“Are you using a material in building this [system] that you will need to replace with parts on this that is so rare, that the fact that you are buying thousands of this item is going to drive its price to spiral up faster than other commodities? Are you building something that is so software intensive, in a highly specialized way, that you are going to drive up wages among experts in this kind of software more than wages for programmers in general? Those are the things you have to think through a little bit,” he said by way of example.
“The precise numbers, bottom line, are probably precisely wrong, but the process of doing the estimates identifies management levers for you and so can really help you converting broad affordability of the portfolio,” Morin added.
That question of labor rates will apply to high-end software development, Hunter predicted.
“In some specialized areas DoD could be very much driving demand for the workforce and you could find yourself driving up prices in little niche technology areas,” Hunter said.
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Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes
(SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 01 NOV 16) … Carl Prine
The once-maligned, $1.4 trillion Joint Strike Fighter jet program passed another milestone Monday, executing a successful vertical landing on a Navy warship pitched by rough seas.
The latest success of the F-35B aircraft in the Marine Corps’ third phase of testing – plus ongoing mock engagements with American jets like the F-18 Super Hornet – seems to show just how capable the stealthy, fast and menacing “fifth generation” strike fighter has become during a rocky pathway to the fleet.
“The biggest surprise is that I can prosecute a target without him ever knowing that I’m there,” said Marine Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette, a test pilot from Phoenix who previously flew the F-18. “It’s a completely unfair fight. It’s an assassination, that’s what it is.”
Guyette and his fellow test pilots are slated during the next two and a half weeks to finish all remaining sea tests for the F-35B, the Joint Strike Fighter variant for the Corps. The jet can land vertically – either on a rolling flight deck, like that of the San Diego-based amphibious warship America on Monday, or in austere battlefield conditions found in places like Afghanistan.
Two Marine F-35B squadrons in Yuma, Ariz., are now classified as “operational.” The Green Knights of Fighter Squadron 121 are slated to deploy to Japan in January, while the Wake Avengers of Squadron 211 are scheduled for sea duty near the Middle East in 2018.
“Everything we do is geared toward protecting the lance corporal,” said Guyette, referring to troops who make up the core of the Marine force – its infantry.
“The great thing about having Marine test pilots is that we are always agents for the Marine Corps and for that 19-year-old kid with the rifle. Our objective is the clear the sky above and clear the path forward,” the 36-year-old, who served in Afghanistan as a forward air controller directing bomb strikes against the enemy and medical evacuations of wounded Marines, added Monday afternoon.
The Navy’s version of the fighter, the F-35C, lands on aircraft carriers. The Air Force’s F-35A takes off and lands on runways.
Mounting delays in getting these jets to the full operation phase forced the Navy to revamp its aging Hornet strike fleet, pushing those already old aircraft far beyond their anticipated service lives. To keep the Marines’ Harrier II ground-attack planes, the Corps bought scrapped British jets to cannibalize for parts.
Plagued by cost overruns, mechanical gremlins and fears that its high-tech sensors would overload a human pilot’s ability to analyze the aerial battlefield, the F-35 project infamously became known in the Pentagon as “acquisition malpractice.”
But Guyette said the “bucket” of pilot – the capability of aviators to sort out, prioritize and quickly react to vital information flowing to them – is helped, not hurt, by the Joint Strike Fighter because it does most of the work.
He pointed to Sunday night’s tests in “zero illumination” conditions, performed on the America’s churning deck in between bouts of rain.
Marine Lt. Col. Richard M. Rusnok, 40, a former Harrier pilot, said those sorts of conditions used to make for a “scary night,” but the F-35B turned Sunday’s tests into a “fun” ride.
Monday’s exercises took place aboard an America rocked by six-foot waves and whipped by gusty winds about 100 miles off of Southern California’s coastline.
They were delayed by the early afternoon fall of an unnamed male sailor from the warship into the sea. A 2:48 p.m. announcement by Navy Capt. Joseph Olson to all hands indicated that the sailor was safely recovered by a helicopter rescue team and he “was in medical, getting some treatments.” The Navy declined to say how the sailor fell overboard.
The Pentagon has scheduled 19 more days of testing for the F-35Bs aboard the America.
The drills, which run day and night, are meant to examine the jet’s night vision and landing capabilities, the pilot’s high-tech helmet and even the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, aboard the ship. That system constantly monitors the fighter jet to diagnose potential maintenance problems, with the goal of slashing potential downtime.
In an April report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office uncovered “functionality” problems with the $16.7 billion system, which is pronounced like “Alice.”
The agency warned that the Corps failed to prove that it could deploy successfully with the system, largely due to a lack of server connectivity and the ability to generate enough power to run it. The Marines declared their Yuma squadrons to be operational but never proved that ALIS could work in real battlefield conditions, the agency reported.
The Pentagon has since unveiled a new version of ALIS.
Engineers and high-ranking officers connected to the Joint Strike Fighter program said they so far have detected no problems with ALIS during their ongoing tests.
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