- FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey
- Game-Changing Analytics Tool Nets Dennis Recognition
- Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending
- Navy Working Early Integration of MQ-25 Drone onto Aircraft Carriers
- China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank
- Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says
- MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22
- Trump Targets F-35, but Aircraft Means Jobs in 45 States
- Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It
- Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35
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FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey
NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – All roads lead to the paint complex in Building 466, where Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) aircraft products are concerned.
Most recently, that road was traveled by the first MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to undergo painting at the command. The Osprey was inducted in November and flown from its Planned Maintenance Interval-2 (PMI-2) event that was completed at FRCSW Site Miramar.
This course of events was quite unique: FRCSW Site Miramar completed the PMI-2 earlier in the year, returning the aircraft to the Marines of Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161) for build-up and testing before flying it to FRCSW for final painting and weight/balance as part of the PMI-2 process.
Final paint at FRCSW is typically applied before the build-up and testing of the aircraft prior to delivery to the customer; however, adequate paint facilities and the proper certifications are not available at Site Miramar, and so, required a different flow of events.
Preparation for the MV-22 paint event began more than a year ago when two journeyman, crew leader David Powers and painter Charles Broadnax, traveled to FRC East (FRCE) at Cherry Point to receive training on the MV-22’s strip and paint operations.
While FRCE’s operations and facilities differ from those of FRCSW’s, the team learned the unique differences and challenges involving the removal the aircraft’s original coatings, preparing the surfaces for painting, and applying the new Type IV paint, including the required stenciling and markings.
Logistics preparations continued throughout the year with stakeholder meetings that included materials lab engineers; deputy IPT leads; production control; production managers; planning department; paint crew leaders and artisans; supervisors; financial; safety office; and business office personnel. These critical preparations ensured the right materials were ordered along with the appropriate source documentation, and solutions to concerns were tailored to successfully assist the paint complex.
As an airframe, the MV-22 is a unique configuration both in its body and its large nacelles and subsequently massive 38- foot propellers.
The propellers require appropriate masking for sanding, and then separately for paint operations to include rotation during the painting process. Planning when to rotate the propellers, as well as the stenciling/marking of the areas, was critical due to the need to raise or lower the aircraft’s struts to allow clearance in the dual-bay operation.
The V-22 fuselage and empennage are comprised of aluminum, carbon/epoxy composite, and carbon/epoxy composite overlaid with 5 thousandths-of-an-inch copper mesh. The wing and nacelles are comprised of carbon/epoxy composite and fiberglass.
This mix of substrate materials and subsequent treatments fell under the expertise of materials engineer Esther Chan. Her dedication was critical in the timely success of the project, as she became respirator-certified and suited up to provide the necessary guidance to the artisan team.
Pre-training on the copper mesh (Astro-Strike) and the new primer and Type IV paint were stepping stones to success for the paint complex. Powers and Chan developed a training regimen consisting of an eight-hour education and lab environment for the artisans.
Using donated aircraft surfaces from the composite shop so as not to damage the Astro-Strike surface, the artisans learned new sanding techniques with new sanding materials, as well as painting with the new Type IV paint.
After induction of the MV-22, artisans and materials lab engineers overcame their first objective: fitting the new fall protection stands to the airframe under the instruction of FRCSW safety specialist Javier Trujillo.
FRCE crew leader James Kanuck and materials lab engineer Ryan Glembocki provided direct support and guidance to the FRCSW crew leaders and team members. The experience of the FRCE members translated directly to the paint artisans, reducing a potential 30-day estimated turn-around-time to a 14-day delivery from the paint complex to the weight/balance team.
The MV-22 paint process requires hand/scuff sanding of the entire surface of the airframe; and with such a large aircraft, the paint complex team needed to ensure enough members were trained. The aircraft was swarmed, creating a “leopard” pattern look on the airframe without sanding into the Astro-Strike.
Wiping the aircraft down following sanding, the artisans masked it for painting the tri-color paint scheme. The stenciling and marking of the aircraft with several hundred stencils of various sizes was another challenge, as well.
Since FRCE and FRCSW are the only FRCs to provide paint services to the fleet for this aircraft and with a growing population of MV-22s on the horizon that includes Navy models, it is anticipated that FRCSW will paint upwards of 15 units per year.
Currently, the paint complex is scheduled for three units in fiscal year 2017, with a goal to reduce the TAT through experience gained from this and future evolutions.
The success of FRCSW’s first MV-22 paint operation may be attributed to excellent logistics integration planning and good material sourcing. But success is also truly rooted within the people involved: the artisans, engineers, logisticians, P/Cs, QAs, and other members who take pride in their work, teaming together, determined to succeed for the fleet.
For FRCSW aircraft, all roads lead to paint: Taking the “Pain” out of Paint, leaving the “T” for on target delivery!
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Game-changing analytics tool nets Dennis recognition
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Aubrey Dennis, Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Aviation Logistics and Maintenance Analysis Division (AIR-6.8.2) division head, was presented with a DoN Superior Civilian Service Award Dec. 6 for his work on Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that moves Naval Aviation closer to predictive capability.
Vector pulls from more than 20 maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems, providing analysts, providers and other Naval Aviation stakeholders with a single source analytical tool which depicts actionable data, reducing the time to identify readiness degraders from several months to minutes. Dennis, who headed the team that created Vector, was recognized for his tenacity in pursuit of funding to incorporate future enhancements and instruct more than 1100 military and civilian users across the NAE on its use. Additionally, he and his team trained the Type/Model/Series teams of over 600 personnel in two months on the tool and its uses.
Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, NAVAIR (AIR-6.8), said Vector was a game changer for the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). “With little staff and no money, Dennis and his team created Vector, which is now the go-to tool for not only program managers at NAVAIR, but also for [type/model/series] leads and others in the fleet who need to see the status of their platform at any given moment,” he said.
Harris also commended Dennis on his vision and foresight before Vector was released in July 2016. “Before this summer, Vector was known as ILSMS [Integrated Logistics Support Management System] and was primarily being used by program managers at NAVAIR. Dennis believed that others in the fleet could use the same aggregated data to better manage their readiness.
“He pursued funding through a NAE Future Readiness initiative to make Vector accessible through the web so that everyone in the enterprise could have visibility,” he said.
“But he didn’t stop there,” Harris said. “Dennis travelled to the fleet to personally train them on Vector and to ensure its proper implementation and use.”
Dennis’ foresight also extended beyond today’s use of the analytic tool. Its components are modular, Dennis said, so that updates can be incorporated by section. “This way, the entire tool does not have to be recreated as technology updates.”
Vector is scheduled to incorporate other reporting databases over the next three fiscal years from supply, engines, support equipment, weapons and the P-8 Logistics Cell, a cross-functional collaborative organization.
Later this month, Dennis will be taking on a new challenge as the National Director of 6.3 (Industrial Operations Management Department) at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. Dennis said while he was the one recognized with service award, the success of Vector is a reflection of the teamwork and creativity residing in AIR-6.8.2. “I didn’t do this alone,” Dennis said. “This award is just as much theirs as well.”
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Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending
(BLOOMBERG 13 DEC 16) … Sangwon Yoon
It’s not just President-elect Donald Trump who’s bent on military build-up.
From Europe all the way to China, the next decade will be marked by an increase in global defense spending amid rising feuds and pockets of instability, according to IHS Jane’s latest annual Defense Budgets report.
Global defense expenditures rose to $1.57 trillion this year from $1.55 trillion in 2015 as Asian nations act on growing nervousness around the South China Sea, said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at the London-based defense and security analysis firm. Fenella McGerty, another analyst at IHS Jane’s, expects spending levels to return to pre-2008-2009 financial crisis levels by 2018. Here is a breakdown by regions.
– China’s defense budget will nearly double from $123 billion in 2010 to $233 billion in 2020, according to the report, which forecasts defense expenditure for 105 countries. That is four times what the U.K. spends and more than the combined expenditure of Western Europe.
India has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the fourth-largest spender in the world. If the pound continues to weaken, India will spend more on defense than the U.K. by 2018, according to IHS Jane’s.
EU members boosted their combined budget to $219 billion in 2016, with Western Europe leading the charge, the report said. The only things holding back future increases are economic constraints in the south – take Greece, for example – and the question marks hanging over Brexit.
Russia cut its budget for the first time since the late 1990s to $48 billion this year. Despite a hit from the dramatic drop in oil prices, the Middle East as a whole is not expected to dramatically reduce expenditures considering regional instability, Caffrey added.
At $622 billion in 2016, the U.S. is still the world leader in defense spending, with its budget accounting for about 40 percent of the global total, according to the report.
The Pentagon’s “investment levels going forward were to decrease by 1.1 percent in real terms, but with the election of Trump, the expectation is that both investment and readiness will receive injections of much needed funds,” said Guy Eastman, a senior analyst.
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Navy working early integration of MQ-25 drone onto aircraft carriers
By: Mark Pomerleau
The Navy is working to integrate the MQ-25 Stingray drone onto aircraft carriers.
The much anticipated UAV will be a tanker for aerial refueling. This, senior leaders said, would allow highly reliable aircraft, some with specifically tailored capabilities such as the premier aerial electronic attack aircraft, the EA-18G Growler, increase its range in the face of anti-access, area-denial environments, which seek to push adversaries farther away.
With this announcement, the Navy must ready itself from an integration standpoint to support the new UAS platform – building upon the successes of the X-47B demonstrator aircraft tests. At this early stage in the program, which will encompass many Navy system commands, one official is pleased by the coordination taking place.
“I was just with Capt. [Beau] Duarte, [ program manager for PMA-268, or the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office], Tuesday up in [Patuxent] River and what was really encouraging about the discussion was that Capt. Duarte and his PMA were still really aligned to ensure that the integration of all the capabilities on the MQ-25 was being coordinated with fellow SYSCOMS like SPAWAR and NAVSEA to include PEO C4I,” Capt. Andy Gibbons, the program manager for Carrier and Air Integration at PEO C4I, told C4ISRNET on Dec. 9 on the sidelines of the C5ISR Summit, hosted by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association.
“We’re all still all in the game with [PMA-]268 and their way forward. . Definitely a win-win in moving forward with that program,” he said, regarding the teaming across the Navy and contracting community.
In terms of integrating a new aircraft onto the carrier platforms, Gibbons noted various challenges, saying that with a “a tremendous capability coming to an aircraft carrier that not only has to be designed from an aircraft perspective to be on a carrier . the carrier has to be designed to support that airframe.”
Gibbons noted that from a C4I perspective, he’s working with the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office to ensure that there are modernization efforts for the carriers to support the timeline for the new airframe to be on the carrier. “The good news is that we’re able to do that with current budgets . as it pertains to our fielding plans. That’s where my focus is,” he said. “We have to expand and ensure that the networking, the command and control, the ISR capabilities that we normally field are fielded in such a way that they all arrive in time for MQ-25. Right now we’re on [a] path to do that.”
Gibbons declined to get into any specifics regarding the acquisition aspects of the MQ-25 given that it is not in his lane. A NAVAIR spokeswoman told C4ISRNET that there have not been any recent acquisition updates to the program.
There has been some discussion about whether MQ-25 will also serve some ISR capacity in addition to aerial refueling, which will come down to the final requirements. The NAVAIR spokeswoman said an RFP will be released in summer 2017 for the platform itself as well as the requirements component.
However, Gibbons expressed that within his lane, he is working the ISR component as it applies to overall integration of the aircraft into the carrier. This includes not only the pipes down to the ship, “but the pipes off the ship to the wider team as it were,” Gibbons said. “I want to reemphasize, that’s the good teaming with [PMA-]268, they really came to us early in the process to make sure that what we were doing on the carrier aligned with their program. So we’re able to make the necessary moves, and again, no cost to the program to make sure that we’re all in concert with that delivery.
Moreover, from an ISR and integration perspective, Gibbons noted he doesn’t need to be concerned with the pilot – or in this case, lack thereof.
“From a C4I perspective, I don’t necessarily need to know if it’s got a man in it or it doesn’t . for me it’s another air platform,” he said. “From a C4I perspective, what we like to look at it as another node extending the network to the air domain. So whether that’s piloted by a human or if it’s unmanned, we’re still going to work on it and make sure its interoperable with the carrier.”
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China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank
(REUTERS 15 DEC 16) … David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON – China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported, citing new satellite imagery.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings, made available first to Reuters on Wednesday, come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.
China said on Thursday that, while its construction on islands and reefs in the South China Sea was mainly for civilian use, it was “legitimate and normal” for it to take steps to defend its territory.
AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.
“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs,” it said citing images taken in November.
“This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs.”
Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.
Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.
AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.
“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” it said.
“Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing that he “did not understand” the situation referred to in the report.
“The Nansha islands are China’s inherent territory. China’s building of facilities and necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own territory is completely normal,” he said, using China’s name for the Spratlys.
“If China’s building of normal facilities and deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own islands is considered militarization, then what is the sailing of fleets into the South China Sea?” he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. “freedom of navigation” patrols in the waters.
Philippines Says “Big Concern”
The Philippines, one of several countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, said it was still verifying the report.
“But if true it is a big concern for us and the international community who use the South China Sea lanes for trade,” said Defense Minister Delfin Lorenza during a visit to Singapore with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area which is not good.”
Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
AMTI director Greg Poling said AMTI had spent months trying to figure out what the purposes of the structures was.
“This is the first time that we’re confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there,” he told Reuters.
“This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it’s only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.
“They keep saying they are not militarizing, but they could deploy fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles tomorrow if they wanted to,” he said. “Now they have all the infrastructure in place for these interlocking rings of defense and power projection.” The report said the installations would likely back up a defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms like the HQ-9 system deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, farther to the north in the South China Sea.
It forecast that such a deployment could happen “at any time,” noting a recent Fox News report that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.
“Ready Your Slingshot”
Singapore-based South China Sea expert Ian Storey said he believed the move would help ready the facilities for the probable next step of China flying jet fighters and military transport planes to its new runways.
“From the outset it’s been quite obvious that the artificial islands were designed to serve as military outposts in the South China Sea,” said Storey, of the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.
“Even while tensions are at a relatively low ebb, I think we can expect to see military flights to the Spratlys in the coming months – including the first jet fighters,” Storey said.
The United States has criticized what it called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has also criticized Chinese behavior in the South China Sea while signaling he may adopt a tougher approach to China’s assertive behavior in the region than President Barack Obama.
The State Department said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but spokesman John Kirby added:
“We consistently call on China as well as other claimants to commit to peacefully managing and resolving disputes, to refrain from further land reclamation and construction of new facilities and the militarization of disputed features.”
China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its microblog on Thursday that it was “legitimate and lawful” for it to place defensive military installations on islands where it said Beijing had “indisputable sovereignty.”
“If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?” it said.
(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Karen Lima, Greg Torode, My Pham, Manuel Mogato, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Alistair Bell, Lincoln Feast and Alex Richardson)
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Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says
(DEFENSE DAILY 13 DEC 16) … Pat Host
President-elect Donald Trump might focus on managing cost-plus defense development programs as a way to extract better deals for taxpayers, according to an adviser to Trump’s transition team.
“I see this as a deal making proposition,” former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.) said at the Eilene Galloway space law symposium in Washington. “My guess is you’re going to see him do that.”
Trump’s Monday tweet calling F-35 costs out of control came on the heels of another attack against a high-profile defense program: the Air Force’s Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR), or new Air Force One, program. Walker said Trump’s Twitter call for the Air Force to cancel PAR was a declaration that the administration will not have cost-plus contracts extend out the cost of programs in unacceptable ways. Boeing [BA] is the prime contractor for PAR.
The federal government is liable for cost overruns in cost-plus contracts while the contractor is liable for overruns in fixed-cost contracts. Complex defense development programs like the F-35 are traditionally cost-plus contracts. Lockheed Martin [LMT] spokesman Michael Rein said Tuesday that the F-35 program, of which Lockheed Martin is serving as prime contractor, has been working on fixed-price contracts since the award of low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 4 contract in fiscal year 2010. An exception is the Air Force’s KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, which is hurting Boeing’s bottom line due to development issues.
A leading defense analyst believes it is too soon for investors to react to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent online attacks on a pair of big-budget defense programs. Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners in Washington said Tuesday while concerns over whether the next administration could be hostile to the defense industry are legitimate, investors should wait and see who Trump names to key second- or third-level Pentagon positions like deputy defense secretary and acquisition czar. Once those positions are filled, Callan said investors will have better information to guide investment action.
Callan said history doesn’t show that emphasis on fixed-price defense contracts necessarily brings decreased costs and improved program performance. He said there was a lot of emphasis on fixed-price contracts for development work in the late 1960s and early 1980s and that he didn’t think winners could be declared from such an effort.
“It’s just not clear from the data that fixed-price contracts have necessarily developed complex technological systems on a lower cost schedule,” Callan said.
Callan said investors could see a markdown in defense stock prices and an increase in portfolio risk if the new administration does pursue an emphasis on fixed-price contracting. It may not happen immediately, he said, but would happen when a big “blowup,” or a big writeoff on a program, takes place. Callan said a blowup gets investors to question contractor margins and cash flows and that blowups happened on the C-5, C-17 and P-7 programs.
Callan said if Trump follows through on Walker’s prediction of getting involved in deal-making for large cost-plus defense programs, it would break precedent. He said he couldn’t remember the last time over the past couple administrations where a president got involved in cost issues on specific defense programs.
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MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22
Breaking Defense | Richard Whittle Marines in Afghanistan with V-22
When V-22 Ospreys full of Marines take to the skies 10 years from now, they could be escorted by armed high-speed drones called MUX.
That’s become the Marine Corps plan because drones let you do things differently. Doing without a pilot inside makes it possible to build unorthodox aircraft that would work poorly carrying tender humans. You can also test unmanned aircraft more quickly, because you don’t have to validate pilot safety features, and because crashes don’t cost human lives. So the Marines figure they can get the MUX – a new armed, ship-based, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone – four to seven years before the Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) project starts replacing existing helicopters with advanced, far speedier manned VTOL aircraft.
The Marine Corps’s rotorcraft requirements director, Col. John Barranco Jr., told me after a CSIS panel Friday on FVL that his service wants the drone first because “we have a gap that the Army does not have.” Specifically, the Corps needs an armed escort for its V-22 Osprey tiltrotor troop transports, which at 250 knots (287 mph) cruise more than twice as fast as its AH-1Z Cobra gunships. The Army doesn’t have that problem because the Army transports troops in conventional helicopters.
Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team are building manned technology demonstrator aircraft under the FVL umbrella – the V-280 Valor and SB>1 Defiant, respectively – that will be required to fly fast enough to escort an Osprey. First flights are scheduled next year. But no production FVL aircraft are expected until the early 2030s.
By contrast, “we’re trying to accelerate MUX and field it in 2026,” said Barranco, using the acronym within an acronym adopted for the sea-based drone. (MUX stands for MAGTF Unmanned eXpeditionary; MAGTF, in turn, stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force). For manned aircraft, Barranco said, “we have a lot of testing requirements. A lot of the burden in test is really related to aviation life support systems, air crew survivability, which we don’t have in an unmanned system. Crashworthiness. G-(force)-compliance for the air crew.” Since that won’t be needed for a drone, he said, “MUX could fill that gap, temporarily, to escort the Osprey.”
Obligingly, Barranco then posed and answered a pertinent question: “Why temporarily? Why not permanently?” Because, he explained, “You have to escort to the objective area and from the objective area. (That’s) kind of defeating some of the purpose and advantage that an unmanned system gives you, which is overhead persistence in the target area.”
Tern, DARPA’s proposed ship-launched drone.
Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy Marine commandant for aviation, has said the Corps wants the MUX to do everything the Air Force’s fixed-wing MQ-9 Reaper drone can do and more. The Reaper, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ derivative of their MQ-1 Predator, offers airborne endurance in the 20-hour range; carries sensors to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and is typically armed with four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and four 500-pound guided bombs.
Barranco said what the Marines primarily want the MUX to do is, when an assault is being mounted, “go ahead of you, get over the target area, show you that picture, stay there once troops are on the ground, and when you have to go back, be there when you come to resupply, be there when you come back, to do close air support, give you that persistent SA (situational awareness).” Escorting Ospreys to and from objective areas would sacrifice the ability to loiter over the target area, he said, but the MUX “can be a gap-filler temporarily for the seven or eight years until FVL starts coming on line to be our manned solution to provide escort in support of our Ospreys.”
Davis has said a relay of MUX could also serve as an airborne “picket line” around ships, which is one reason Bell Helicopter has named a tiltrotor drone it is offering for the job “V-247,” pronounced “vee-twenty-four-seven” to emphasize the potential for round-the-clock operations. Other contenders for MUX include a tail-sitter flying wing called Tern, which is being developed by Northrop Grumman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and a Karem Aircraft tiltrotor called Swift.
The powerful Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approved moving ahead with the MUX on Oct. 27 and the Marines will conduct an official Analysis of Alternatives next year. The JROC has also approved the much larger FVL program.
Barranco and two Army colonels on the FVL panel at CSIS indicated the services are gradually coming to agreement on broad requirements for the first aircraft to be developed, known for now as “Capabilities Set 3,” or as insiders say it, “cape set three.” In the past, Army leaders have been a lot less enthusiastic than the Marines about paying more for faster aircraft, since they generally operate over shorter distances. But Army Col. Erskine Bentley, Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for FVL, began his remarks by noting the strategic and tactical advantages faster VTOL troop transports could offer his service.
“The three panelists highlighted the broad support of the Army, Navy/Marines and SOCOM (Special Operations Command) for FVL within their services,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “There’s also growing support in Congress for FVL and accelerating it. Advocacy in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill is going to need to be strengthened for that to happen.”
Maybe they could speed things up
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Trump targets F-35, but aircraft means jobs in 45 states
AP | Richard Lardner
WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to corral the “out of control” cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But congressional Republicans and Democrats, aware of the tens of thousands of jobs the aircraft generates in 45 states, will be wary of any plans by Trump to cut the program. A Monday morning tweet from Trump targeting the F-35 doesn’t explain exactly how he’ll save billions of dollars in military purchases while also honoring a campaign vow to rebuild the armed forces. Once Trump is in office, he can propose deep cuts to the F-35 or even elect to cancel the program altogether. But Congress, not the president, controls the government’s purse strings and makes the final decisions about the budget.
Built by defense giant Lockheed Martin, the nearly $400 billion price tag for the F-35 makes the program the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition ever. Despite the huge cost, the program has strong bipartisan support in Congress, where lawmakers view the aircraft as essential to national security.
Lockheed Martin’s stock tumbled after Trump’s tweet, wiping out nearly $2 billion of the company’s market value. The company’s shares fell $6.42, or 2.5 percent, to close at $253.11 Monday.
The F-35 program made up 20 percent of Lockheed’s total 2015 revenue of $46.1 billion. U.S. government orders made up 78 percent of its revenue last year.
“Whoever has this airplane will have the most advanced air force in the world. That’s why we’re building the F35. That’s why it’s important to not only the U.S., our partners and our partners like the Israeli Air force to have this airplane,” said Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, at a base in Israel.
Israel and several other U.S. allies are also buying the F-35, expanding the program’s international footprint. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Israel on Monday as Tel Aviv received the first two next-generation F-35 fighter jets that will help preserve the country’s military edge in the volatile Mideast.
The F-35, which uses stealth technology to avoid being detected by radar, is being built in different configurations to be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy’s version, for example, is designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.
Current plans call for the United States to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s. Close to $13 billion will be needed annually between 2016 and 2038 to hit that procurement number, according to the Government Accountability Office.
While the F-35 had massive budget overruns early on, the cost has stabilized and even dropped a bit following tough negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, according to Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Trump is unlikely to squeeze more blood out of this rock,” Harrison said.
Lockheed said that it has worked to lower the price of the F-35 by 60 percent and expected the aircraft to cost $85 million each in 2019 and 2020. But the company’s estimate appears to omit the price of the engine and the cost of development. When those elements are added in, the cost per F-35 in current-year dollars is closer to $138 million, according to Harrison.
Companies from 45 states are involved in the F-35’s production, with Texas, Georgia, California, Arizona and Florida playing the leading roles in testing and manufacturing the jet fighter. The company is teamed with more than 1,250 domestic suppliers to produce thousands of components ranging from highly sophisticated radar sensors to parts of the aircraft’s fuselage, according to Lockheed Martin.
Overall, the F-35 program is responsible for more than 146,000 U.S. jobs, the company said.
The Lockheed Martin plant where the F-35 is being built is located in Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger’s district. She’s vice chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, represents the district next door to Granger’s.
In a statement Monday, Granger hailed the F-35 delivery to Israel, calling the aircraft “what we need to keep our two countries safe in these dangerous times.”
Thornberry’s committee has supported buying more F-35s than the Obama administration had asked for in its budget request. The F-35 will replace an aging inventory of U.S. aircraft that many lawmakers believe are becoming increasingly unsafe to fly.
Claude Chafin, a committee spokesman, said Thornberry “shares the president-elect’s determination to have the Pentagon get weapons in the hands of our troops faster, while being better stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”
The tweet on the F-35 marks the second time in a week Trump has blasted U.S. aircraft spending. Last week, he tweeted that costs to build new presidential planes by Boeing Corp. were “out of control” and ended the tweet with “Cancel order!”
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Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It
(WASHINGTON POST 12 DEC 16) … Robert J. Samuelson
Any reporter who’s written about the federal budget knows that there’s a surefire solution to every problem. It’s called “fraud, waste and abuse.” You want to end budget deficits? Just eliminate all the “fraud, waste and abuse” in the $4 trillion budget. The same is true for cutting taxes or raising spending. Attacking fraud and waste is virtuous and dispenses with the hard political work of making unpopular choices.
It’s a fantasy, of course. There isn’t enough “fraud, waste and abuse” – or we can’t get at it – to evade the difficult choices. But we cling to the mythology because it makes us seem “responsible” and reduces the budget problem to purging sloth and policing misdeeds.
I was reminded of this last week when The Post published a fascinating front-page story headlined “Pentagon hid study revealing $125 billion in waste.” The article, meticulously reported by Bob Woodward and Craig Whitlock, disclosed that a Defense Department study had found that the Pentagon was “spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.”
These jobs need doing, but it seems that the generals are being overwhelmed by accountants and property managers. If we could squeeze $125 billion out of the Pentagon’s annual budget, there’d be plenty of money to spend on true military needs. Indeed, the report asserts that the savings could cover the costs for 50 Army brigades. It sounds straightforward.
It isn’t. On inspection, it turns out that the estimated savings of $125 billon are spread over five years, from fiscal 2016 to 2020. This changes the numbers dramatically. Instead of annual savings of 22 percent of the defense budget ($125 billion out of $580 billion), the plausible cuts are closer to 4 percent ($125 billion out of the roughly $3 trillion projected in defense spending from now until 2020).
The confusion over whether the estimated savings apply to one year or five is the weak spot in an otherwise excellent piece of reporting. Whitlock and Woodward do say that the savings occur over five years, but they don’t emphasize the point. Moreover, there are mixed messages. Much of their discussion of costs focuses on the annual budget. A prominent graphic shows the annual defense budget and then claims that the Pentagon report “identified a way to save $125 billion.”
What would a “reasonable reader” conclude from the muddled evidence? By “reasonable,” I mean curious and intelligent readers who are not experts and are somewhat casual in their reading. These people, I think, might get the wrong idea. They’d come away thinking that the potential annual savings are enormous and that reducing waste would ensure an adequate military.
Of course, we should do everything possible to reduce waste, and the incoming Trump administration should take a second look at the report. But some outside budget experts are unimpressed. “It’s a somewhat speculative study,” says Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. The targets for savings are more “back-of-the-envelope calculations” than detailed road maps for change.
Some “waste” reflects complexity. A few years ago, the Army tried to replace its Bradley Fighting Vehicle; it abandoned the project as too complicated, after spending $18 billion, recalls Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The new study complains that the Pentagon has more than 700,000 civilian and contract workers to support 1.3 million active-duty troops. But these workers, says Harrison, are often the cheapest way to get a job done.
Like O’Hanlon, Harrison doubts that the study’s full savings can be achieved. Many proposals would founder on congressional opposition and management practicality. “Can you do the same work with fewer people?” he asks. “If so, who should be cut? The study doesn’t answer that.”
These questions are obviously more than academic. The Pentagon says it needs more spending than the existing budget ceilings allow. Some experts agree. O’Hanlon argues that defense spending should increase by nearly $50 billion annually over existing levels. How should we respond to the various threats: terrorism, cyberwarfare, Russia, China?
Whatever the answer, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the contradiction can be resolved by eliminating vast amounts of waste. If we wish to reduce defense spending, we have to cut the military’s size and capabilities. If we wish to expand the military, we need to pay for it.
The underlying struggle pits the Pentagon against the welfare state. Over the decades, national priorities have shifted dramatically. As late as 1990, defense spending constituted 24 percent of the federal budget and 5 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). In 2015, defense was 16 percent of the budget and 3 percent of GDP – and these figures were declining. This is one war the Pentagon is clearly losing.
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Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35
(ARES (AVIATION WEEK) 01 DEC 16) … Lara Seligman
Donald Trump left the collective defense community quaking in its boots last week after he threatened to cancel Boeing’s new Air Force one. Now he’s going after another massive aerospace firm, slamming Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for “out of control” costs.
“Look at the F-35 program with the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump said on Fox news Dec. 11. “It’s out of control.”
If the president-elect is looking to cut costs or send a message to defense contractors, the $100 million-a-copy JSF is a huge target. The program has succeeded in bringing costs down for the past few years, but is still haunted by a critical cost breach in 2010. The Pentagon’s most recent estimate pegs the cost to operate and sustain the F-35 fleet over its 60-year service life is just over a trillion dollars.
Trump also appeared to double down on his recent proposal to ban defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon acquisition officials, criticizing the industry’s revolving door.
“The people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies,” Trump said on Fox. “You know, they make a deal like that and two or three years later, you see them working for these big companies that made the deal … they should have a lifetime restriction.”
Trump first floated the potential lifetime ban during a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week, according to Reuters.
Trump’s remarks come just days after Northrop Grumman named recently retired Gen. Mark Welsh, who served as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff last year when it selected the company to build the next-generation stealth bomber, to its board of directors.
There are rules restricting what government employees can do if they move to industry, but they do not prohibit Welsh from joining Northrop, says Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. Welsh had no involvement in the source selection process for the new bomber or the decision to award the contract to Northrop, she stressed.