- Harper assumes command at FRC East
- First 3D-printed aircraft component takes to skies at FRCSE
- Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
- FRCSW Shop Saves Navy Thousands in Tooling Costs
- The F-35: A Big Mistake or Wonder Weapon?
- The Legacy Of Better Buying Power: DoD’s Gambit To Reform Acquisition ‘From Within’
- Did China Just Make ALL Stealth Fighters (Think the F-22 and F-35) Obsolete?
- Navy Opens New ‘Digital Warfare’ Office, Aiming To Exploit Advances In Data
- Defense Services Contractors Brace For Pentagon Spending Shakeup
- Info Warfare’s Biggest Challenge: The Crowded Chaos Of Cyberspace
- Industry offers multiple authentication tech for SIPRNet
- Latest-generation Chinese combat drone makes maiden flight
- Navy Drafting 30-Year Research-And-Development Roadmap
- Fleet Commanders View ‘Innovation’ As A Challenge To Operate Smarter
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and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ
Harper assumes command at FRC East
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – As the guidon passed from the hands of Col. Vincent E. Clark to those of Col. Clarence Harper III, so too did the command authority and accountability of Fleet Readiness Center East during a change of command ceremony here Feb. 24.
Nearly a thousand people gathered to witness the change in the “premiere aviation maintenance and overhaul” organization’s history as Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, commander, Fleet Readiness Centers – subsumed under Naval Air Systems Command – presided over the ceremony that also culminated Clark’s 29-year military career.
Clark was retired by the U.S. Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters. Walters reflected on Clark’s impeccable career by highlighting his achievements and sharing comments made by other senior officers.
“Your impact on the Marine Corps has been tremendous,” said Walters.
Clark, who took charge of the command Jan. 31, 2015, led the organization during a period when the NAVAIR was confronted with the challenge of remedying an insufficient inventory of ready-based aircraft that hindered fleet readiness.
While Clark was at the helm, in 2015 FRC East cleared 14,000 excess components to meet the newly defined daily component work in progress level standard of 8,000 components. FRC East increased the number of H-53 airframes available to the fleet by seven aircraft, reducing work in progress from 16 to nine aircraft while improving turnaround time and on-time delivery rates.
Zarkowski highlighted other achievements by the FRC East workforce under Clark’s command that included:
. Reinstituting the Theory of Constraints, Critical Chain Project Management methodology that accounts for variability and resource sharing across projects;
. Standing up capabilities for the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning depot modifications as it reached its initial operational capability phase;
. Developing and implementing the first DoD-wide Industrial Connectivity – Engineering Configuration Management – Additive Manufacturing digital network, which is a new COMFRC enterprise standard used to assist other sites and other DoD Services, including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army.
Zarkowski said the achievement is being heralded as a “trailblazing benchmark for fleet readiness centers and other Department of Defense industrial activities.”
The rear admiral also noted that the Data Innovations Negating Obsolescence Team’s (six members of the Propeller Integrated Product Team based at FRC East’s In-Service Support Center) victory in the NAVAIR first Data Challenge in 2016 – beating out 32 other teams for the initiative that focused on improving readiness by using NAVAIR data source – is a “reflection of his leadership.”
“Their win is a reflection of the culture promoted by FRC East leadership – one of empowerment, collaboration and desire to continuously provide value to the fleet,” said Zarkowski.
Zarkowski welcomed Harper, who has served as the FRC East executive officer since June 2015, into his new role of commanding officer.
“You are taking over a command that is core to the readiness of Naval Aviation,” said Zarkowski, explaining that it is the only source of repair within the continental United States for several jet and rotary wing engines, as well as turbofan vectored thrust engines. “You have some challenges to overcome as we get the CH-53 Sea Stallions, F/A-18 Hornets and V-22 Ospreys back to readiness health. I know that your training and experiences as a Marine and as FRCE’s executive officer have more than prepared you for what lies ahead.”
Harper, a native of Eatonton, Georgia, is the 34th officer to command the organization since its establishment in 1943. Before his assignment to the position at Cherry Point, he was the director for Warfighter Integration at the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office in Arlington, Virginia. His previous command assignments include Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons 14, which provided aviation logistics support to forward deployed elements of Marine Air Group 14, and MALS-40 in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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First 3D-printed aircraft component takes to skies at FRCSE
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -Military pilots have to stay cool under pressure, and the first 3D-printed component at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast will help them stay that way.
The forearm-length piece of air duct tubing, constructed with a composite material known as Ultum 1085, marked a major step forward for the Navy command that is charged with maintaining, repairing and overhauling aircraft.
“This is an awesome milestone for our facility,” said FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart. “It shows the innovative approaches our artisans and engineers incorporate to help support the U.S. military every day.”
The facility’s first 3D printer became operational in June 2014. Since then, artisans and engineers have put it to good use making parts for support equipment, for prototypes to save on costly material and for tooling – but never before for an actual piece of an aircraft.
That all changed in January when Matthew Hawn, an aerospace engineer at the facility’s trainer aircraft program, sought help from the manufacturing department after the original manufacturer of the T-44 Pegasus exhausted its supply of a piece of air duct used to circulate air throughout the plane’s cockpit. Randy Meeker, a tooling maker at the facility who runs the 3D printer, put forth another option.
“We went over to manufacturing and took a look at making a vacuum form of the tube, which is how the original part was made,” Hawn said. “Then Randy brought up the possibility of 3D printing the part.
“From there, the cost analysis between the two showed 3D printing was cheaper and offered a better material.”
Not only did Meeker replicate the piece using the 3D printer, he improved on the design.
“The original piece was made out of two pieces of clear plastic tubing that had a flange all the way down its length,” he said. “I redesigned it to work better than the plastic model.
“It didn’t need to be two pieces when I could print it as one piece.”
Meeker, who works as a pit crewman on a racing team, said some teams have begun printing parts for race cars. However, the process for an aircraft demands a bit more caution because the plane most likely won’t be on the ground if a part fails.
“There is a lot of responsibility on the engineer for these parts that are actually used in aircraft,” he said. “It’s a whole new world of technology, and it’s their responsibility to make sure it can be used safely.
“That’s why this particular project was a good first candidate because it’s not a flight-critical part, but it’s a step forward in incorporating 3-D printed parts into aircraft.”
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Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017
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 for 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 expending more labor hours and material costs, but now that we have the level 3 capability with the hangars, we can prep them for storage
with minimal labor and material costs and store them indefinitely or until they are pulled back in for repairs,” Guilbert noted.
“Overall, the new level 3 preservation process takes about 50 hours per aircraft per year. That is a much better deal than the 350 that we were currently executing for level 2,” 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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FRCSW Shop Saves Navy Thousands in Tooling Costs
From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017
Would you want to pay $200 to replace one drill bit or $500 for a new reamer? No? The Navy doesn’t want
Many of the artisans at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) routinely use a variety of drill bits,
reamers and cutting tools in the course of their work.
Instead of replacing these tools as they become dull or buying new ones vice modifying to a specific task, FRCSW turns to toolmakers Luis Quiambao and Henrico Fulgencio in the cutter and tool grinder shop in Building 379 for sharpening and adapting the command’s tools to meet the artisans’ needs.
A department of the command’s jig and fixture shop, the cutter and tool grinder shop is a sprawling area containing about a dozen grinding and milling machines where Quiambao and Fulgencio handle 200 to 500 tools quarterly.
“Both of us were machinist repairmen while serving in the Navy. We had been to Machinery
Repairman ‘C’ School, grinding school, and we were able to revive this shop and start accepting jobs from different production shops here,” Quiambao said.
Both toolmakers were previously assigned to the production shop in Building 94, repairing F/A-18 Hornet wings. Quiambao left in December 2014 and Fulgencio joined him in the cutter and tool grinder shop this past January.
“In the wing shop you could be told that you need to work from a half inch to five thousandths or until you remove enough corrosion from the surface so a new bushing could be installed. Since you don’t have that exact size of reamer, you would send them to this shop for modification to a new dimension specified by engineers,” Quiambao said.
In grinding reamers and cutters the work is typically within ½ of a thousandth tolerance; the thickness of copier paper is roughly 4 thousandths of an inch.
The shop recently completed work on 87 reamers for FRCSW Site Yuma, Fulgencio noted.
Another recurring customer is the production shop in Building 472 that consistently requests sharpening of milling cutters. Milling cutters are tools normally used in milling machines that remove material by movement
within the machine. The production shop’s handheld teardrop cutters that are used to cut finished machining metals are also routinely modified.
“We can get an urgent request for a two or three day turnaround time. I have an urgent call now from FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton for a reamer to fix a helicopter panel. For modifying reamers we use about four different machines, one step at a time. We have each machine setup to cut a certain way so we don’t have to re-set
for each step,” Quiambao said.
“Before, these were contracted out for sharpening. But Louis noticed that the company that sharpened the reamer did it at the wrong angle, which is why it wouldn’t cut properly. So the command decided to save money and bought the diamond wheels and started having us provide that sharpening service,” Fulgencio said.
The F/A-18 canopy shop in Building 250 routinely sends its one-pass drill bits to the shop for sharpening and adjustment. The bits, made of carbide, are solely used by artisans to ream holes in the Hornet canopies.
In addition to carbide, the shop also modifies and sharpens tools and bits made of high speed steel and cobalt, saving FRCSW tens of thousands of dollars annually in replacement costs.
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The National Interest
The F-35: A Big Mistake or Wonder Weapon?
Perhaps apocryphal, the story goes that a senior US Air Force officer on the Joint Strike Fighter Program found himself sitting next to a Chinese general. ‘I like your aeroplane,’ the General said. That’s nice,’ said the American, How many would you like?’ The general smiled and raised a single finger. ‘Just one,’ he said.
While China has long been concerned enough about the JSF’s capabilities to have plundered its plans in cyber files in the hope of reverse engineering it, critics in Australia have created the broad impression that the aircraft, now officially named the F-35 Lightning ll, is a ‘dog’. That criticism was loud enough to trigger a parliamentary inquiry  into whether the RAAF should buy the JSF.
The Senate inquiry, concluded that ‘. the F-35A is the only aircraft able to meet Australia’s strategic needs for the foreseeable future, and that sufficient progress is being made in the test and evaluation program to address performance issues of concern.’ Its report also said that ‘in light of the serious problems that led to a re-baselining of the F-35 program in 2012, and the ongoing issues identified by the US Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, the committee retains a healthy skepticism towards assurances by Defense regarding cost, schedule and capability outcomes of the F-35A.’
That reflected the long held view of the director of ASPI’s defense and strategic program, Dr Andrew Davies, that while the early years of the JSF program were plagued by cost overruns and schedule slippages it had performed much better since action was taken to tighten it up. Costs were now coming down  and the production schedule was stabilising.
The committee gave little credence to more extravagant assertions the JSF was outdated and would be outperformed by potential rivals.
It’s often claimed that the RAAF would be better off with the US F-22 Raptor, a bigger, twin-engine cousin of the F-35 produced in the 1990s. In reality, the F-22 is an air superiority fighter very good at clearing the skies of enemy aircraft but not designed to do other tasks as well as the JSF can. It was expensive to buy and operate and the assembly line closed years ago.
The JSF is a multi-purpose aircraft, designed for many roles, from achieving air superiority to sinking enemy warships, attacking targets on the ground and providing close air support for troops. It is, in the words of Group Captain Glen Beck who heads the RAAF’s Air Combat Transition Office, an all rounder-‘a flying batsman/bowler’. The head of the RAAF’s JSF Capability and Sustainment Group, Air Vice Marshal Leigh Gordon, says the Raptor is ‘a wonderful, dated aeroplane which we couldn’t have even if we wanted it.’ The JSF is much more sophisticated with about 8.5 million lines of computer code compared to fewer than 2 million in the F-22.
Donald Trump caused consternation by suggesting that, to wind back Lockheed-Martin’s cost overruns, he’d ask Boeing if it could produce an alternative. But within days, the new Defence Secretary, James Mattis, told a US Senate hearing ‘the JSF is critical for our own air superiority’  because of the jet’s electronics which magnifies its capability. Mr Trump just wanted to bring the price down to get ‘best bang for the buck’, General Mattis said. In truth, the decisions needed to reduce the price were made years ago .
Various prices have been claimed for the RAAF’s JSFs, ranging up to $300 million each. The head of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Project Office, US Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, said in Australia this week  that he was confident the price of each jet-we have 72 on order-would come down to $80 million each. That’s close to the price tag of a much-less sophisticated fourth-generation fighter.
In 2010, alarms rang in the US bureaucracy because the project was running well over budget and two years late. It was ‘rebaselined’ and largely brought under control.
The project is staggeringly complex and it is still having issues but the Americans and the RAAF are confident the fighter will work very well. One recent problem was that the designers had to abandon the guided weapon intended to hit moving ground targets  because it was a form of cluster munition which the US no longer uses. A replacement is being worked on.
As well, there’s a delay in producing a suitable anti-ship missile for Australia’s needs. One is being worked on by the Norwegians and Australian defense scientists are developing a sensor for it.
Gordon says the problems are being solved as they emerge and he’s confident the RAAF’s JSFs will meet the new schedule, with the first aircraft arriving in December 2018 and three squadrons and a training unit fully operational in 2023.
It was suggested recently that women (or slighter men) won’t be able to fly the JSF because the helmet was so heavy  it would break their necks if they ejected. The RAAF says that’s been resolved by making the helmet lighter, modifying the ejector seat head support panel and slightly slowing the opening of the parachute.
Several countries have increased their JSF orders in recent months after thoroughly examining its capabilities. Israel, which spends defence dollars very carefully, says it’s very pleased with its purchase and it could buy 75 aircraft.
The US Marines say their pilots love the JSF and want them as fast as they can be delivered.
One of Australia’s most experienced military aviators, Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson, is a RAAF instructor teaching pilots from a range of nations, including the US, to fly the JSF. Jackson is one of two Australians who are flying the F-35s from the US to the Avalon air show in Victoria over the coming days. He says it’s vastly better than any fighter he’s flown. ‘This aircraft will give fighter pilots a level of situational awareness that far exceeds legacy platforms,’ Jackson says. ‘Experiencing this level of capability first hand is something every pilot dreams of.’
This first appeared in ASPI’s The Strategist.
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The Legacy Of Better Buying Power: DoD’s Gambit To Reform Acquisition ‘From Within’
(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 28 FEB 17) … Jared Serbu
Frank Kendall is not a fan of “acquisition reform.” By that, he mostly means the instinct that seems to be triggered on Capitol Hill every few years, when members of Congress come to believe they can remedy the Pentagon’s procurement problems with wisely crafted legislation.
Instead, during his nearly eight-year tenure – first as the deputy undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics and then the undersecretary – he argued the best thing would be to let the acquisition workforce work with one consistent set of policies for more than a couple years at a time so it was possible to tell what was working and what was not.
“Reform,” he argued, would have to come from within.
It turns out he may have been onto something.
The Pentagon’s internal improvement plan, known as Better Buying Power, coincided with several consecutive years of declines in the rate of cost growth for the Pentagon’s major weapons systems, from more than 9 percent in 2011 to 3.5 percent in 2015, the lowest level since 1985. For the first time since 2000, the Pentagon in 2015 recorded no substantive breaches of the Nunn-McCurdy Act, a law that requires DoD to notify Congress when a weapons systems’ costs balloon well beyond its previously-planned baseline. By comparison, there were eight separate breaches in 2009, including seven “critical” ones.
“Cost overruns have been coming down significantly for several years. It’s an important outcome, and we shouldn’t ignore it as we think about acquisition reform,” Kendall said a few weeks ago during his final public address as undersecretary. “Given the results we’ve achieved, we should be reinforcing the things that are succeeding, not trying to take a fundamentally different direction.”
Over seven years and three separate iterations, Better Buying Power encompassed dozens of separate initiatives organized around several main themes, such as controlling costs in major weapons systems (including an insistence on not starting programs without a clear plan to make them affordable), creating incentives for industry to cut costs and deliver more innovation, boosting the training of the acquisition workforce, increasing competition and boosting DoD’s “tradecraft” in buying professional services, not just products.
The blueprint did not fix all that is wrong with Defense acquisition. Indeed, DoD weapons procurement retained its inauspicious place amid the list of a handful of “high-risk” government programs the Government Accountability Office identified in the biennial update it released on Feb. 15.
And Kendall admitted Better Buying Power didn’t do nearly enough to tackle long-term sustainment costs, which are far-and-away the most expensive aspect of any major system’s lifecycle.
But even GAO acknowledges that Better Buying Power represents exactly the sort of management attention the Defense Department must apply if it ever plans to remove itself from the high-risk list.
“I think these initiatives have helped a lot in changing the way the department is buying these big systems. As far as leadership commitment to these issues, we consider that complete,” said Michael Sullivan, GAO’s director for acquisition and sourcing management, referring to one of five criteria the office uses to determine whether a government program should graduate from its high-risk status. “That could change, of course. It could go back down because this leadership is out, we’re going to get new leaders. We’re going to have to see how the continuity works and how the agendas change, but for now, things look very good. Things have been trending in a positive light in terms of cost and schedule.”
Beginning in 2013, DoD began publishing detailed data in an aptly-named annual volume, “Performance of the Defense Acquisition System.” The department acknowledged that its own figures purporting to show positive results from Better Buying Power are drawn from extremely “noisy” data since the acquisition system is influenced by numerous factors, including year-to-year budgets and the deployment demands placed on the military.
But Andrew Hunter, the director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said his think tank’s own analysis of DoD contract data largely support the conclusion that Better Buying Power succeeded in driving costs down.
“It’s pretty clear that there’s been an actual improvement that you can measure in several ways. That’s no small achievement,” said Hunter, a former House Armed Services Committee staff member who also served in the Defense Department for several years, including as Kendall’s chief of staff. “Ten years ago, when Congress told DoD to measure its performance, a lot of people considered it an impossible thing to do. But we now have measures that show us things are getting better, and I give a lot of credit for that to things like ‘should cost’ management and affordability caps.”
By “should cost,” Hunter was referring to a Better Buying Power initiative that required all of DoD’s program managers to deliver the best possible value by hunting down and eliminating cost-drivers specific to their own programs, rather than managing them according to independent Pentagon cost estimates that generally assume prior cost growth will lead to future cost growth.
The idea goes back to the first iteration of Better Buying Power in 2011, and Kendall said it had been embraced by the vast majority of DoD’s roughly 50 program executive officers.
“I still got a few that said, ‘I’m fine, I’m under my budget.’ But that’s not the definition of success,” he said. “The definition of success is you’ve set targets for yourself that will actually reduce costs and you’ve done something to achieve that. I think if there’s any one thing we’ve done in terms of cultural change, in terms of a consistent set of policies that affects outcomes, that’s it.”
Areas Where Better Buying Power Fell Short
But in myriad other areas of the Defense acquisition system, the effects of Better Buying Power fell short of their goals – or, at least can’t be measured as easily as the development cost of major weapons systems.
David Berteau, who has been a student of acquisition reform since his tenure as the executive secretary of the Packard Commission, the Reagan-era blue ribbon panel on Defense management that laid the ground for Goldwater-Nichols Act, said principles like should-cost worked well for the systems the Pentagon already knows how to manage: tanks, bombers, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
“But the larger questions of how you translate that into something for the services industry, for logistics, for sustainment – that’s much tougher, and we’re further away from seeing real results in terms of knowing how you’re getting real value for money,” said Berteau, who is now the president of the Professional Services Council. “Better Buying Power never really got at the services end, the logistics end, the sustainment end. The next undersecretary is probably going to have to pick that one up.”
Indeed, services now make up the lion’s share of what the Pentagon buys. In 2016, it spent $119 billion to procure products and $156 billion on services ranging from lawn care to complex information technology integration projects.
It’s not as though Better Buying Power completely ignored services. Through the initiative, DoD ordered each of the military services to assign a senior leader to oversee all of their contracted services. Eventually, in 2016, it established “contract courts” to weed out unjustifiable contracts as part of its first-ever formal instruction on managing service acquisition. The same guidebook included provisions that categorize service procurements and set oversight roles and checkpoints according to their size – much in the same way large weapons programs are managed.
But Hunter acknowledged services did not receive as much attention as they could have during the time he served in the Pentagon and was helping to draw up the Better Buying Power guidance.
“Part of the reason for that is that the department always tends to focus more on the signals it’s getting from the media and from Congress, and the focus is almost always on the weapon systems side,” he said. “It was the same when I was on the Hill: we always told ourselves, ‘Next year’s going to be the year when we tackle services.’ We were classic procrastinators. But I do think the new DoD guidance was a substantial effort, even if it was a little late. It’s not done by any measure of the imagination and it’s going to take a lot more work, but it was a serious effort.”
Some Areas Difficult To Measure
Hunter said there are many other aspects of Better Buying Power that may have had a positive impact but can’t yet be seen in data that can be presented on simple charts, mainly because of the long lifecycles involved in Defense procurement.
“Perhaps the latest F-35 contract is an example of that,” Hunter said, referring to President Donald Trump’s claiming of credit for having reduced the strike fighter’s per-unit price through a few conversations with Lockheed Martin executives and the F-35 program manager, seemingly ignoring multiple other factors like previously-planned larger quantities and years of difficult work by Lockheed and the acquisition workforce to reduce the program’s cost.
“I think it’s great that an incoming administration can claim credit for work that was done by their predecessors, but our research shows that when any new policy is implemented, it takes a minimum of two years to see any measurable effect,” Hunter said. “So when objectives were set to, for example, change small business goals, to reduce the number of competitions where the department only receives one bid, some of those had an impact.
But it took years for the impact to really show up in the data. That’s a tough situation, because in Washington, people are looking for immediate results. That demand is hard to satisfy in the world of acquisition.”
Better Buying Power also sought to make changes in DoD’s acquisition workforce, and the results from those initiatives are not only lagging indicators, it’s probably impossible to plot their results on a chart or in a report to Congress.
DoD framed the initiative’s second iteration, in 2012, around the acquisition workforce as “a guide to help you think.” Kendall’s wanted to send the message that no two programs are alike and that the department’s acquisition professionals should use their skills and training to tailor their strategies within the Better Buying Power program’s principles, as long as they have the technical skills to understand the program they’re trying to build. Kendall emphasized at the time that he wanted to avoid the mistakes of previous acquisition leaders who indicated a blanket preference for, for example, fixed-price contracts.
“I don’t start with the DoD instruction on acquisition and a specific set of milestones that I then have to fit my program into, I start the other way around,” Kendall said. “I start with the product. What’s the most efficient way to develop this product? Everyone is unique in terms of the complexity, the urgency, the amount of risk the government is willing to take.”
Kendall re-wrote DoD instruction 5000.02, DoD’s main guidebook for acquisition in 2015. It offered several possible templates for structuring a potential program depending on what sort of product the department was buying, but emphasized that managers would need to tailor it to their needs.
Stacy Cummings, the program executive officer for Defense health management systems, said that philosophy turned out to be pivotal to the main project in her portfolio, MHS Genesis, the $4.3 billion commercial-off-the-shelf replacement for DoD’s aging electronic health record systems.
DoD awarded the contract for the system in July 2015, and it went live at its first site, Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington earlier this month, a rapid turnaround that probably could not have been achieved without top-cover and encouragement from senior Defense management to combine the acquisition authorities the department already has in more creative ways.
“Our program is very tailored,” she said. “There are certain DoD acquisition processes we were able to leverage to tailor this program in a way that let us do a lot of things concurrently, as opposed to a traditional acquisition program where you’d have to do a lot of things in serial. It allowed us to implement this quicker, to get it out to the users quicker, and we’re going to learn so much more by putting it out in a military treatment facility than if we didn’t have that firsthand experience. That’s the best thing that’s come out of our implementation of Better Buying Power.”
Cummings is a career DoD acquisition professional who took a brief hiatus from DoD to work at the Department of Transportation in 2011 – about the time Better Buying Power started – and returned to lead the electronic health record project in 2016, after the initiative was well into the third iteration, which focused on technological superiority.
She said one takeaway from that before-and-after experience was that DoD has recognized that acquisition is a team sport that doesn’t only include government positions that are traditionally coded or thought of as members of the acquisition workforce.
“There’s always been a focus on making sure our workforce is certified and trained, but I think there’s a recognition that there’s a broader group of people in a program office that need to work together as part of an integrated team if you’re going to successfully deploy a program,” she said. “And the openness to encourage tailoring based on the needs of the program, good decision making, getting our requirements right, the focus on affordability – I think all of that messaging was coming through much more loud and clear from AT&L than I recall from my past.”
From its inception, DoD intended Better Buying Power’s audience to primarily be the department’s own acquisition workforce. But Defense officials also emphasized from the beginning that they wanted input from industry, particularly in the areas that most impacted defense contractors, such as the initiative’s focus on reducing the particular bits of bureaucracy that add to cost and schedule without producing any meaningful value.
Defense vendors at first welcomed what seemed like might have been a unique opportunity to help influence acquisition policy. But they quickly realized that the department’s request for input was far from a guarantee that their concerns about the acquisition process would be addressed as part of Better Buying Power.
A prime example is an alleged overuse of contract competitions that DoD awards on a lowest-price technically acceptable (LPTA) basis.
Within the Defense industry, the common view is that the first version of Better Buying Power’s emphasis on lowering costs led the acquisition workforce to interpret the guidance as a preference for LPTA contracts whenever possible. Although DoD has largely denied that the problem exists, defense vendors and trade associations say it persists to this day.
“Their subsequent attempts to modify or make clear what they really meant still haven’t turned that ship around, and many, many contracting officers within DoD still use LPTA as their default method for selecting solutions,” said David Drabkin, a former deputy chief acquisition officer at the General Services Administration, who now runs a private consulting firm. “That’s not to say that the government shouldn’t try to negotiate the best price it can get, but the government should want to get value. [LPTA] denies the department the opportunity to take advantage of the values that a slightly more expensive but more technically advanced solution might deliver. In today’s environment, there’s no telling what something that you buy today might be adapted to in the future, and in today’s marketplace, no commercial company wants to get into a bidding war just to do business with the government despite the fact that they might have an excellent product.”
Hunter said DoD was well aware of industry concerns like LPTA and other complaints such as the thresholds at which companies would have to submit certified cost and pricing data throughout the Better Buying Power policy development process.
At various intervals, Kendall tried to address them, including through a March 2015 policy memo in which he admonished contracting officers that LPTA contracts are a poor choice when the government is asking industry to deliver innovative products or services.
“Industry was not always satisfied about how much of their input was taken into consideration. I think that changed in the later iterations of Better Buying Power, but it’s a fair critique,” he said. “But it bears mentioning that LPTA was not ever a Better Buying Power initiative. It’s not something the department’s leadership was pushing. You won’t find it in any of the guidance, it was never there. The tricky part is that nobody quite agrees on what an LPTA-type solicitation is. The department didn’t want to fall into the trap of telling people, ‘Never use LPTA,’ and then ending up with a bunch of competitions where best value was winning where there really wasn’t a significant difference between the competitors. That can give you a lot of trouble in the bid protest world.”
Also, despite Kendall’s repeated and consistent insistence that competition was the single best tool at the Defense Department’s disposal to drive costs down and achieve better results, the results from Better Buying Power are, at best, mixed on that front. He deserves credit for collecting and publishing data on how Defense components have been doing in fostering more competition in their contracts, but the latest results showed that by some metrics, DoD is getting worse, not better: in 2016, less than half of the department’s contract spending went into meaningful competitions where there were two or more bidders.
Whatever deficiencies from which Better Buying Power suffered, many of its attributes are certainly worth carrying forward into the new administration, GAO’s Sullivan said.
“The stuff that they’ve done that helps to create a better business case at the outset of a program are the things that we think have really made a change in the investments they’re making,” he said. “But also, in our ‘quick look’ reports every year, we always look at how they’re doing with should-cost, and they’ve been able to capture $21 billion in savings. I think it’s been a positive thing.”
That said, any internal acquisition improvement initiatives that endure into the tenure of Kendall’s successor will almost be certainly called something different.
“The history of changes in administration is that everything has to look new,” Berteau said. “You don’t pick up names and nomenclature from the prior administration, but the initiatives will probably maintain themselves. The idea of performance-based logistics, for instance – if the government can define the performance it’s trying to achieve and then figure out what the right value of that is and produce better outcomes for less cost over time – that’s an objective that I think will survive well into the next administration.”
Speaking at a conference in San Diego last week, Kendall put his hopes for the future of acquisition rather succinctly.
“At the end of the day, it’s about professionalism,” he said. “You have to have incentives for professionals in government and industry to do the right thing, and you need to have close cooperation with the operators to make sure their requirements are reasonable. It’s not that hard an equation. But the variety of circumstances we deal with is almost infinite. You’ve gotta give people a chance to do their jobs, do them well, and then hold them accountable for that.”
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The National Interest
Did China Just Make ALL Stealth Fighters (Think the F-22 and F-35) Obsolete?
Could Beijing’s quantum radar technology render stealth aircraft obsolete?
While theoretically, if such a radar existed, it would be able to detect and track stealth aircraft with impunity, but it is unclear if China truly mastered such technology. The Chinese defense industry has claimed a breakthrough in mastering quantum radar technology, but Western defense industry officials said that such a system is not likely to exist outside a laboratory. Even then, the quantum radars would be difficult to build and test reliably even in a lab environment. Indeed, it is likely that networked low-frequency radars-which can also detect and track fighter-sized stealth aircraft-are more likely to be a more pragmatic development.
Last year, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) announced it had tested such a radar at ranges of roughly 60 miles. While 60 miles is not particularly huge feat, the fact that such a radar would be able to provide a weapons quality track on a stealth aircraft at those distances is impressive.
Most radars operating in the fire-control bands such X or Ku are only able to paint a low observable aircraft at much shorter ranges. And indeed, Chinese sources claim that the range for an operational version of the quantum radar is likely to be much greater. “The figure in declassified documents is usually a tuned-down version of the real [performance],” a Chinese military researcher told the South China Morning Post  last year.
As the paper describes, quantum radar uses a novel concept in physics, which scientist are only just starting to understand. “Quantum physics says that if you create a pair of entangled photons by splitting the original photon with a crystal, a change to one entangled photon will immediately affect its twin, regardless of the distance between them,” the paper states. “A quantum radar, generating a large number of entangled photon pairs and shooting one twin into the air, would be capable of receiving critical information about a target, including its shape, location, speed, temperature and even the chemical composition of its paint, from returning photons.”
However, even Chinese researchers are skeptical about the CETC development. Nanjing University physicist Ma Xiaosong told the South China Morning Post that in a quantum radar, photons have to certain quantum states-such as upward or downward spin to remain entangled. However, the quantum states could be disrupted-resulting in “decoherence.” Decoherence is a potential limiting factor to the maximum effective range of an operational quantum radar.
According to the South China Morning Post, CETC has made a breakthrough in single-photon detectors. Indeed, once the technology matures, the Chinese believe that it could have a wide range of applications for quantum radar technology.
The fact that Beijing is working hard to counter stealth technology should not come as a surprise.
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Navy Opens New ‘Digital Warfare’ Office, Aiming To Exploit Advances In Data
(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 24 FEB 17) … Jared Serbu
The Navy has just stood up a new “digital warfare” office, prompted by the notion that the service is awash in valuable, but largely untapped data in areas ranging from acquisition, maintenance and audit readiness to the ways it trains and equips its sailors.
In doing so, the Navy says it’s trying to emulate companies, particularly in heavy industrial sectors, who’ve leveraged their own data into new digital strategies to make smarter business decisions, including by feeding raw information from their business units into tools that take advantage of new advances in data science and machine learning.
“An example might be an engine on an aircraft wing,” Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, said in an interview with Federal News Radio. “How do we make decisions on how many hours that engine can fly before it needs to come off and be inspected? In the past, we’ve just used an average. Whether the plane was flown in very harsh or very favorable conditions, they were all treated the same. With the data coming off those engines, you have a better ability to predict failures in blades, etcetera. That’s an industrial example, but there are so many ways to take advantage of the data that we already have. It could be our financial systems, it could be any of our functional areas.”
The digital warfare office won’t have much of a budget nor a large staff, but that’s mainly because most of the legwork involved in implementing the Navy’s new digital strategies will fall to service’s system commands (SYSCOMs) that engineer and acquire new systems and the type commands (TYCOMs) in charge of manpower and training for the Navy’s various functional communities.
Tighe, who will oversee the office, said its main role will be to champion and facilitate smarter uses of data throughout the fleet. It was intentionally set up within the top echelon of the Navy’s command structure – within the staff of the office of the chief of naval operations (CNO) – so that it has the institutional heft to iron out any bureaucratic roadblocks.
“It’s the obstacle-knocker-downer,” she said. “For companies that have taken this journey, one of their biggest lessons on both the IT side and the industrial side is that the only way this works is top-down leadership. You have to have the leader of the organization driving the cultural change necessary to do things differently than we’ve done in the past, and that’s who CNO is. He needs a bit of a staff to pay attention to the trends and what we can learn from industry partners, but it’s mainly the SYSCOM functions. It might be how we do financial management as well, or how we handle the manpower, personnel and training and education side of the house. This is all dealing with large amounts of data. We need to spend less time going and finding the data we need to make a decision and come to a better construct where the machine can gather the information, do some analysis and present it to the person who needs to make the decision.”
In standing up the digital warfare office, the Navy is applying a similar approach to the one it took to cybersecurity two years ago.
There too, top leaders concluded they had a pervasive problem that could only be addressed if the CNO’s office first got the attention of commanders throughout the Navy and made it a priority to drive more cybersecurity rigor into everything they do. A one-year project, Task Force Cyber Awakening, eventually led to an effort called CYBERSAFE that identifies the Navy’s most critical systems and prescribes standards to the system commands to harden them against cyber attack.
“There’s also a bit of overlap between the two, insofar as digital strategies can be applied to improve our cybersecurity outcomes,” Tighe said. “But my cybersecurity division has done unprecedented work across multiple systems commands to, first and foremost, create the standards we intend to build the next generation of platforms to or migrate to. For our acquisition programs, we’ve put a line in the sand that says, by this date, you will conform to these standards and we will measure you. If you’re post-Milestone B, you need to be telling us how you’re going to improve in follow-on modernization.”
Tighe said the cybersecurity division’s fingerprints were already on one major Navy acquisition program: the future frigate the service plans as a follow-on to its littoral combat ship.
“So because of this work, we’ve provided something a program manager can actually use to begin to drive what that future system will look like based on standards we’ve all agreed to,” she said. “There could be some more standards written over time, but it gives our program managers a better ability to anticipate the changing nature of cybersecurity and build that into the structure of their dealings with industry.”
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Defense Services Contractors Brace For Pentagon Spending Shakeup
(POLITICO 01 MAR 17) … Ellen Mitchell
President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated pitch to expand the Army and Navy and invest more in the nuclear arsenal and missile defenses is also expected to spell a big boost for defense services like equipment maintenance and training.
But at the same time it could lead to cuts in other areas of the vast services market that accounts for more than half of what the Pentagon buys each year and its own advisers say is ripe with waste and fraud.
“I would not say that a rising tide lifts all boats,” said Doug Berenson, managing director of Avacent, a defense consultancy. “There will be some categories of services that will do better, and I think that there are some categories of services that clearly will not.”
For example, he said, “some professional and administrative services related to headquarters will not. In certain categories of professional and administrative services you probably will see a near-term decline.”
Defense services are the connective tissue of the military, covering everything from basic needs like base air conditioning, food service, construction and snow removal to more complex tasks such as providing IT and cybersecurity services, compiling studies for Pentagon offices and even running many military headquarters.
On the campaign trail Trump pledged to help pay for a military buildup by initiating a Pentagon audit and “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”
“Everybody remembers Trump talking about increasing the military during the campaign; nobody seems to remember that he said he was going to cover a lot of those costs by cutting Pentagon waste,” Loren Thompson, another defense industry consultant.
Trump first trumpeted those defense spending cuts on NBC’s Meet the Press in October 2015.
“I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less,” Trump said.
Shortly following his inauguration, Trump set out to do just that, initiating an executive memorandum on Jan. 27 that directs Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to conduct a 30-day review of of military personnel, training, equipment and maintenance, the nuclear triad and missile defenses.
The memo notably calls for “reducing commitments not directly related to the highest priority operations, in order to make resources available for training and maintenance.”
The document did not offer specifics on which commitments will be reduced, but Trump’s campaign promises – including expanding the Army to 540,000 troops, building a 350-ship Navy, and increasing the number of Marine Corps battalions to 36 and the number of fighter aircraft to 1,200 – are likely to take precedent over services that don’t support such efforts.
Following the memorandum, Mattis issued guidance for reviewing the Pentagon’s budget proposals. In it, he acknowledges that directing new dollars to the Pentagon this year could lead to cuts in “lower priority programs.”
CACI International chief executive Kenneth Asbury told POLITICO he expects such Pentagon changes to possibly put the IT services firm at a disadvantage.
“Changing a program that we’re working on today – somebody decides they want to go in a different direction and somebody’s got a better mouse track to that – that could have an impact,” Asbury said. “It’s a potential threat as somebody changes the priority about something.”
One lower priority area likely on the chopping block is what Thompson refers to as “term papers,” the numerous and constant stream of studies that recommend various improvements to the Pentagon, its personnel and its weapons systems.
Firms that generate the studies “could be in for a rough ride,” he said.
“The department spends a lot of money on studies and the fact of the matter is that there’s not going to be a whole lot of money for growing the military,” Thompson said. “I think at some point here Mattis and the new administration are going to ask themselves whether a lot of these studies – and the other sort of intellectual products that get generated out of the service sector – will be needed.”
There are other reasons to be concerned.
Service contractors have reason to fear Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney who is eager to slash and shape federal spending levels, including the Pentagon’s budget. Company lobbyists may find it difficult to defend their projects thanks to a turbulent change of administration at the Pentagon.
Trump still must appoint and have the Senate confirm about 50 DoD positions. So far only Mattis has made it through the confirmation pipeline.
“The transition is not far enough along for companies to know precisely who they should be lobbying,” Thompson said. “So far this seems very much like a Trump-centric administration and so companies like Lockheed and Boeing have gone directly to [Trump] to plead their case. But if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, then it’s not clear yet who you should be talking to underneath him because nobody is in place yet.”
Thompson added that the response to the administration’s goals has been mixed. “Among the companies that have indicated what they’re doing it’s a pretty diverse approach; everybody is not on the same sheet of music.”
As one defense services industry official phrased it, “we’re kind of in some uncharted territory here. D.C. is in a frenzy.”
One potential way to stay on the new administration’s good side: Advertising.
IT services giant CSRA launched a new marketing campaign following Trump’s inauguration. The date was “not entirely a coincidence,” said George Batsakis, the chief growth officer of the Falls Church, Va.-based company.
Batsakis said the campaign – which he insisted would be running regardless of who was elected – conveys “the position of CSRA versus the competition and the value of things we bring to the government,” with advertisements strewn across the Pentagon Metro station starting Jan. 30 and broadcast on local radio.
The company, which holds $1.5 billion in defense contracts – a third of its portfolio – also ran two local 30-second ads in the DC area during the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
The forecast for service contractors is not all doom and gloom, however.
In addition to a boost for training, logistics and maintenance support contracts needed to increase the size of the military, Leidos CEO Roger Krone told POLITICO the government-services company is also readying itself to pick up work as a result of the Trump’s Jan. 23 directive to freeze federal hiring.
The military is exempted from the order’s constraints, but the Pentagon’s civilian workforce is not.
“I would think that once [Trump] better understands his priorities that they will continue hiring in some of the agencies, but in the short term, if those agencies have an expanded scope of work they will have to rely on contractors,” Krone said. “I think we’re going to do OK.”
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Info Warfare’s Biggest Challenge: The Crowded Chaos Of Cyberspace
(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 27 FEB 17) … Gidget Fuentes
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Unlike conventional warfare, the vast information environment has no boundaries and few rules, but rapid advances in technologies make it even tougher to keep up with cyber threats and ensure warfighting readiness, senior Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps leaders told WEST 2017 conference attendees in several talks and panel discussions.
“In a cyberspace event, you see bits and bytes going around. You don’t know if those are coming from one of your partner countries, adversary countries, some other agency,” Coast Guard Vice Adm. Marshall B. Lytle III said Wednesday during a panel discussion on information warfare. “You have to deconflict that as much as you can, but to some extent you have to operate in that environment.”
“Cyber warfare is not like football,” with clear lines of offense, defense and rules, said Lytle, the command, control, communications and computers /cyber (C4) director and chief information officer with the Joint Staff.
“Cyber warfare is a soccer game with all the fans on the field with you,” Lytle said. “You’ve got the two teams in the fight, trying to win, but you’ve got all the fans mixed in amongst you, and you don’t know who’s who. Nobody is wearing uniforms, but you’re trying to get that mission accomplished.”
“There will always be a battle for territory, but now that battle is prepped, shaped and executed far beyond the boundaries of any city, any country,” Lytle added.
Other panelists echoed similar concerns about the challenges in operating or fighting in the vast, unregulated and murky world of cyber. “The rules don’t fit,” Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, the Marine Corps’ chief information officer and director for command, control, communications and computers, told the audience. Cyber “doesn’t behave like other things do.”
Limiting authorities and restrictions on activities in the space “in some cases hamstring our ability to do anything at all,” Crall said, “so the rules have to change.”
The speed at activity in the cyber world threatens to far exceed how quickly the military services can respond to threats and keep warfighting units ready and up-to-date with the latest in tech. The services must do more to innovate, but the process of procurement and acquisition ” is too slow,” Crall said. “We can’t get there in time.” He advocated “a fast track” that would poise them to get at the adversary quickly.
Rear Adm. David Lewis, head of San Diego-based Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, said “innovation is the only way we can stay ahead of the cyber security threat. In our world, we are never going to patch and scan our way out of a cyber security problem. We are going to modernize our way out of a cyber security problem. That’s the only way to do that.”
“If we are taking seven, eight, nine, 10 years to modernize our C4I systems, we will fail,” Lewis said, speaking at a Wednesday panel on procuring the future force. “We need to fundamentally change our business in order to stay ahead of the state-of-the-art and the threat.”
Along with congressional support, “we need to team with industry soon in the process” from requirements through development and through the life of the program, said Rear Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller, the Navy’s air warfare director (N98).
Another panelist, Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, implored industry attendees to help with modernization. “Deliver what you promise in the contract,” said Shrader, who commands Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. “It’s got to be on time. It’s got to be affordable within costs, and it’s got to work. Just those simple things. There is no time for do-overs. We have no time for do-overs.”
“The system has got to be easy to operate and easy to maintain,” Shrader said, noting systems will be deployed with Marines.
The Marine Corps also likely will want to buy the technology data package, to build “a print to keep the cost down,” he said. An example, he said, is the cost of some ammunition, which has limited suppliers, has spiked by 600 to 700 percent. “The price of ammunition continues to skyrocket,” he added.
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Industry offers multiple authentication tech for SIPRNet
By Kris Osborn
The Pentagon and industry are exploring adding layers of security and multiple authentication procedures to determine safe access to the U.S. military’s secret network – SIPRNet.
A technology called SafeNet Identity and Data Protection Solutions, engineered by Gemalto, uses Hardware Security Modules (HSM) authentication to add another avenue of identification technology designed to improve network security.
“If you have a CAC card, you’ve got certificates on there that provide the ID information about who you are, who you work for, and that’s a PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) system. It’s used for authenticating into the network logically or physically to get into the building or whatever,” said Kirk Spring, CEO of SafeNet Assured Technologies.
Users plug a card into a machine and enter a PIN, allowing the machine to read the certificate information on the token and then sign in to validate identity, Spring explained.
“For SIPRNet, we basically provide our own authentication chip. It is our own product developed in the U.S.,” he said. “Our HSMs provide all the root key protection, so if you think of a master key that protects all the other keys that are in your system, that’s what the HSMs predominantly do.”
Gemalto’s SafeNet approach is consistent with what many U.S. military services are currently working on in terms of adding multiple network authentications to increase cybersecurity. Individual validation through various techniques is aimed at both reducing the insider threat and thwarting external cyberattacks.
“I believe multi-factor authentication is going to be a trend you’re going to see in the next two to three years, and that’s going to be something they’re going to be using as a layer in defense,” Spring said.
While Spring emphasized that Gemalto’s SafeNet offering is by no means a cure-all, it could facilitate more secure interoperability between networks.
The idea is to guard a gateway by following rules and policies for what type of data can be shared between two entities, This could include data exchanges between two agencies or secured interoperability between classified and unclassified networks.
“Listen, the CAC card was good when we needed it, but now we need to look at the next-generation technology, and a lot of that I believe is around this multi-factor that I’m talking about,” Spring said.
Increased movement to cloud technologies could both enhance and complicate these security efforts, Spring said. Government agencies and industry are now addressing this through a Cloud Security Alliance Group which is analyzing the double-edge sword offered by the cloud.
In many instances, the cloud reduces the hardware footprint and server infrastructure in a way that can diminish points of entry for various kinds of intrusions such as “phishing” attacks.
At the same time, consolidating hardware and IT networks can also widen the aperture for an attacker to do damage if there is a penetration of some kind. Maximizing the advantages of this kind of phenomenon, while reducing risk, is paramount to emerging multi-factor authentication technologies.
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Latest-generation Chinese combat drone makes maiden flight
By: The Associated Press
BEIJING – China’s latest-generation combat drone has made its maiden flight in what its developer says is a sign that the country is catching up with industry leader the United States.
The Wing Loong II that flew for the first time Monday can carry up to 480 kilograms (1,058 pounds) of bombs and missiles, tucking six under each wing, according to information viewed Wednesday on the Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s microblog.
The drone has a wingspan of 20.5 meters (67 feet 3 inches), can stay airborne up to 20 hours and fly at a maximum altitude of 9,000 meters (29,500 feet), according to the company known as AVIC.
The drone’s successful test flight “allows China to follow the U.S. in producing a new generation of integrated surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles,” the company said in the microblog posting.
State media say the drone should become a leading export item for China following the success of the original Wing Loong that has been sold to a number of countries, including several in the Middle East. Along with inexpensive fighter jets and naval patrol boats, drones are a high-tech standout item among China’s substantial exports of more workaday weaponry such as assault rifles and rocket launchers.
While both the Wing Loong II’s advertised payload and cruising altitude fall well short compared with the MQ-9 Reaper in service with the U.S. military, it is expected to be highly competitive on price.
While AVIC didn’t provide the cost of a Wing Loong II, its predecessor, with a payload of only about 100 kilograms (220 pounds), reportedly sold for about $1 million each, a fraction of the Reaper’s $14.75 million price tag.
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Navy Drafting 30-Year Research-And-Development Roadmap
(NATIONAL DEFENSE 23 FEB 17) … Yasmin Tadjdeh
The Navy’s research-and-development arm is drafting a 30-year plan to help it map out the introduction of new technologies, a service official said Feb. 23.
The plan will provide a “framework for aligning and focusing Navy R&D investments as well as technological and engineering efforts to deliver game changing warfighter capabilities over the next three decades,” said Allison Stiller, who is performing the duties of assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition until a permanent replacement is nominated.
“Our adversaries are exploiting speed and precision through new technologies to counter U.S. military advantages,” she said during a meeting hosted by the Navy League of the United States in Arlington, Virginia. “Over the next 30 years the department’s R&D investments must develop and deliver dominant warfighting capabilities to outpace emerging and disruptive threats and ensure operational advantage and technological superiority of our U.S. naval forces that make our adversaries ineffective.”
The roadmap – which has been in development for the past year – will focus on a number of areas including accelerating the development of promising technologies and engaging with industry and small businesses to better inform them of future Navy plans, she added.
The Navy intends to update the document every two years, Stiller said. Critical technology areas include autonomous and unmanned systems, electromagnetic warfare, high-energy lasers, advanced power and energy management and electric weapons, she said.
The Navy will have to learn to take risks as it invests in these technologies, she noted.
“Some things will work, some may not. But we will leverage lessons learned from those experiences,” Stiller said. “We can’t shy away from what some call failure. We can’t be controlled by the fear of a bad headline or a critical audit or we’ll never be able to move ahead with the speed and innovation the warfighter demands.”
Rapid acquisition is critical for the Navy, she said. Putting technology into the hands of users within a two-year window is ideal, she said.
Last year the Navy said it would stand up a maritime accelerated capabilities office to create a speed lane to field technology. The Air Force and Army have recently established similar organizations, though Stiller noted those are set up more as program executive offices.
“Inside the Department of the Navy, that’s not how we’re going to approach it. We’re going to approach it program by program,” she said. By doing so, the Navy can leverage support from U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command or Naval Sea Systems Command.
“What we will do is look at the program, the maturity of the technology, how much risk there is in the program, figure when we can enter the acquisition process [and then] we’re going to tailor documentation. We’re going to tailor the people that can oversee it,” she said. “For each program it’s going to be a little different.”
Stiller noted that specific programs already have been picked and will be announced at a later time.
As the Navy drafts its fiscal year 2018 budget, it hopes it will be able to put money toward rapid prototyping, she added.
“We’d like to have money that’s identified for that … [though] we may not be able to say today exactly what we’re going to do,” she said. “There’s a lot of reluctance to have a pot of money unidentified … so we’ve got to work through that and make sure we’re explaining exactly what we’re doing when we make that decision so that money is traceable.”
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Fleet Commanders View ‘Innovation’ As A Challenge To Operate Smarter
(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 27 FEB 17) … Megan Eckstein
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Amid continued calls for innovation, several current and former fleet commanders say the Navy needs to focus on how it employs the force it already has rather than seeking brand new technologies to fight with.
U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris used the old “innovate or die” catchphrase during his speech at the West 2017 conference, where his keynote speech mentioned innovation eight times. While Harris was talking specifically about new hardware, three current and recent fleet commanders said they heard the Navy’s call for innovation as an operational challenge.
“Let’s stop thinking about the technology, let’s think about how we fight and be more innovative in how we fight,” Vice Adm. James Foggo, the current Director of Navy Staff at the Pentagon and former U.S. 6th Fleet Commander, told USNI News during a panel question and answer session.
Foggo said when he led 6th Fleet – from December 2014 to October 2016 – the steady presence of carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups and submarines he saw pass through his area of responsibility was generous for Phase 0 peacetime operations but not sufficient for Phase 2 operations with sustained strike campaigns in Libya and Iraq and Syria. Given the high demand for forces in 6th Fleet and next-door 5th Fleet, Foggo said the Navy employed some innovative tactics to make the most of the presence the Navy could provide – chiefly, conducting strikes against the Islamic State from either 5th or 6th Fleet and allowing the carrier strike group to carry out that mission from either area of responsibility as conditions dictated.
“We saw it last summer when the [aircraft carrier USS] Harry S. Truman both went through the 6th Fleet and into the 5th Fleet and came back out again,” he said, with strikes against the Islamic State conducted from both 5th and 6th Fleet waters.
“She continued to do strikes (in Iraq and Syria) while she was in the Mediterranean. And that worked. There were some healthy skeptics there; it took a little bit of innovation, a little creativity, a lot of hard work and some pushups. When the (carrier USS Dwight D.) Eisenhower came through we did the same thing.”
“This is distributed maritime ops across unified command lines, seamless integration, and two combatant commanders in one theater supporting one another with an effective strike capability that really made no difference – it’s about the same distance, about the same number of tankers in the air, and about the same number of kinetic weapons delivered during Operation Inherent Resolve,” he continued. This ability to conduct the OIR mission from either 5th or 6th Fleet meant the carrier strike group could go to either location to deter other adversaries or respond to other emerging events as needed, all the while launching planes to go drop ordnance on Islamic State targets.
For Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, commander of U.S. 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, the operational innovation he needs is in finding access to targets from Navy platforms that his forces might not be able to target from ashore.
“Ships, aircraft, submarines can get to places where ground forces cannot go sometimes, or air forces cannot go. And so we do a lot of creative thinking on how to fight,” he told USNI News during the same event.
“For us, the best work that comes out of our command – in terms of new ideas, in terms of how to fight – comes from our cyber teams, comes from our basic level people in their early 20s who are just simply given the charge, ‘give me options that make me gag.’ And so whether or not we actually execute those are a whole different ballgame: we put money against some of them, we experiment with ships, aircraft, UAVs, submarines.”
Where technical innovations are needed to support Navy cyber activities, Gilday said he’s trying to look to industry rather than duplicate efforts within the Navy.
“We really are trying to leverage things that come out of industry. And I say that because the things that are being developed to solve problems in companies that have legacy networks just like we do have the same solution sets, they’re just applied to different networks,” he said.
“So it’s up to us to find those right solution sets, find those right technical solutions, and the ones that are attractive to us are the ones we can scale appropriately.”
For Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, U.S. 3rd Fleet commander, the need for innovation comes at the intersection of new technology and the operating force.
“Where we need to leverage innovation the most is in preparing these forces to go fight at the highest end they may be required to. So a lot of work has been done in the live, virtual and constructive training world,” she said.
“Because we don’t have as many ships, aircraft, submarines at our disposal as we’d like to have to prepare these forces for the highest level of warfighting that they may find themselves in, we have really really got to leverage that live, virtual and constructive training to make sure that we are using it to the best of our ability, because we don’t have 100 [opposing force] ships while a strike group is out there doing workups, we don’t have supersonic missiles that we’re shooting at them, we don’t have three or four spare air wings sitting around that we can use as opfor to prepare these forces to go forward. So I would answer your question that way, that we have really got to make sure that we are being very innovative in using all the technology that’s out there, both on the basic phase and the integrated phase so we can get to that high-end training and preparation of those forces.”
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