FRCSW/COMFRC News Clips for the week of June 10

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

Lawmakers Could OK Block Buys For V-22, F-35 Parts

Lawmakers Want More Troops, New Criminal Penalties In Defense Budget Proposal

Trump’s Pick For No. 2 Pentagon Job Faces Tough Questions During Confirmation Hearing

Policy Experts Urge Congress To Back New Round Of Base Realignments And Closures

Hypoxia Worries ‘Top Issue’ For Boeing Defense CEO; Cobham Tech Unveiled

Dunford Touts F-35 as ‘Not Just a Better F-18 or Bomb Truck’

PARIS: NAVAIR Exploring Shorter Test Schedule For CH-53K

Republican Lawmakers Set To Introduce Legislation Calling For A 355-Ship Navy

Lockheed grows closer to F-35 block buy deal with US, international customers

Navy Integrates New F-18 Infrared Sensor

 

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Ready, Set, Innovate: NAVAIR leaders launch Industrial Innovation Challenge

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST PUBLIC AFFAIRS 20 JUN 17)

 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Innovators at Fleet Readiness Center East are off to the races now that the 2017 FRC East Industrial Innovation Challenge is underway to harvest ideas, strategies and products to improve Navy Enterprise readiness.

 

Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Deputy Martin Ahmad and Naval Air Systems Command Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Director Roy Harris made the official launch June 14 during a whistle stop tour here, challenging visionaries to develop and deliver ideas that enable the Navy to outpace its competitors.

 

“The Innovation Challenge is about giving you the opportunity to come with ideas to help change the game,” said Ahmad to the FRC East workforce during the visit. “Whether it’s about improving quality . ensuring safety . or improving turnaround time or cost efficiency. Any of those things will have an impact on getting aircraft out the door and systems in the field.”

 

According to Ahmad, comments delivered by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to leaders earlier in the year are the impetus for such a challenge. That commentary expressed the urgency for a force more innovative that will increase Navy and Marine Corps readiness, warfighting capabilities and America’s resolve.

 

“We can’t rest assured that we are number one,” said Ahmad. “In the end, whoever wins the conflict is the country that can get the equipment on the field and aircraft in the air, and that’s what we’re challenged to do.”

 

The COMFRC leader acknowledged some of the issues the workforce encounters in getting good ideas to the enterprise. “In many cases you’re handicapped by policy, systems, processes, tools,” Ahmad said, encouraging the workforce to leverage the competition as a permitted departure from traditional methods. “We want to do what we can to break out of that.”

 

“Innovation doesn’t come out of the leadership telling the workforce what it will do,” Ahmad added, “innovation comes from the workforce . ideas that percolate up to the top.”

 

Harris extended the official invitation to FRC East employees.

 

“We want to give you all time to do some things. To figure out a better way of doing things,” he said, highlighting the use of the mobile fabrication lab as a resource to be used.

 

He took an informal survey of the audiences to learn: “How many of you have ever had an idea that seemed to hit the stops or died on the vine . or asked ‘why do we do it this way?’ ” The resulting show of hands validated the NAVAIR leader’s concerns.

 

Harris laid out the format for the challenge. He said teams, of no more than eight individuals, could start submitting ideas immediately. By Sept. 1, ideas will be validated and the top five teams selected. Between September and December, the selected teams will be given a few hours during the work week to further develop ideas and prove concepts. The contest will culminate in December when awards are presented.

 

Harris also explained the new NAVAIR crowdsourcing tool, Spark! would be incorporated in the challenge. It is designed to accelerate innovation through collaboration. It will enable participants to collaborate, shape and vote on ideas until concepts reach a required threshold for implementation.

 

Col. Clarence Harper, FRC East commanding officer, further encouraged participation from the workforce answering the question of would be participants: “What’s in it for me?”

 

“You get to take your idea or concept . use the tools that NAVAIR and FRC East make available to you – the Fab Lab, the digital technology – and you get a voice,” he said. “You get a chance to get your voice out there. And we’re carving out a couple or three hours a week, maybe more, maybe less. You’re going to get paid to go flesh out your idea. How cool is that?”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6568

 

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Navy to Recognize FRCSE Scientists, Engineers with Award at Pentagon

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST 16 JUN 17)

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A trio of triumphs by a team of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast scientists and engineers has earned them a trip to the Pentagon, where they will be presented with the Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers Award for 2016 next month.

 

The team saw the culmination of years of hard work in 2016 that will result in better quality products being delivered to warfighters more quickly.

 

“The award is for the group category, so I think it symbolizes how well we all work together,” Lead Materials Engineer Jack Benfer said. “We really stress and challenge the team to work as a group and not as individuals, because we’re more effective that way.”

 

The award, established in 2006 in honor of the former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisitions), is bestowed to the Navy’s top scientists and engineers for outstanding achievements in their fields.

 

The award recognizes the group of five, including Benfer, Senior Chemist Ruben Prado, Engineer Technician Rodney Williamson, Materials Engineer Peter Sheridan and Chemical Engineer Luzmarie Youngers, for three outstanding achievements in 2016.

 

The first accomplishment to be implemented was a new chemical milling line. For many aircraft parts, removing material with chemicals instead of traditional mechanical milling is faster and more precise.

 

“Before we had the chemical milling capability, many components couldn’t be fabricated here at the plant,” Benfer said. “They had to go to outside sources with a lengthy turnaround time.

 

“Now with chemical milling we’re able to get that work performed here, and get it completed much faster.”

 

Chemical milling “eats” away metal until the affected areas reach a desired thickness. However, two of the team’s biggest accomplishments were in new ways to prevent the environment from doing the same thing through corrosion.

 

“With our new anodize line, we’re going to see a three-fold improvement in corrosion resistance,” Prado said. “That means a more durable metal for the guys out flying and maintaining these aircraft.”

 

Though the new anodizing process will better protect aircraft aluminum, the process was sparked 12 years ago by a quest to find an alternative to the hazardous materials involved with the old process.

 

“This all began by looking for environmental benefits,” Prado said. “We’re always looking for ways to eliminate any processes that use harmful materials, and it really paid off this time.”

 

Third and finally, the team also introduced a new zinc-nickel plating line for steel aircraft components.

 

The “active” coating works by releasing electrons in the event a steel part is scratched or nicked, to keep the component from corroding. Parts outfitted with the new coating are currently deployed on a Navy aircraft carrier to confirm its durability.

 

“We think that, not only will it be safer than cadmium plating, it will also be more durable,” Prado said.

 

Chemical milling, advanced anodizing and zinc-nickel plating will not only benefit FRCSE. The work done here can now be used to benefit commands across the Navy.

 

Benfer said the team has been effective because of its alignment with the needs of the fleet: improving the availability of aircraft and components, and delivering them with greater speed.

 

“We’re aligning our goals with the top priorities that NAVAIR has expressed to us through policies and command initiatives – we focus the team on those,” he said.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6565

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Lawmakers Could OK Block Buys For V-22, F-35 Parts

(DEFENSE DAILY 20 JUN 17) … Dan Parsons

 

The House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces wants to authorize the Pentagon to buy aircraft and spare parts in bulk to save money on future purchases of both the V-22 Osprey and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

 

In its draft mark of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the subcommittee provides authorization for the secretary of the Navy to enter multi-year contracts of up to seven years when purchasing Bell/Boeing V-22s for the Navy and Marine Corps. It also provides for common configuration-readiness and modernization (CCRAM) upgrades for the aircraft. Bell is division of Textron.

 

A recent Independent Range Review (IRR) of the MV-22 program showed that heightened demand for the aircraft required on-the-fly modifications to the design as they came off the production line, resulting in 77 different configurations of the aircraft being rushed into combat zones. When every fourth aircraft is substantially different from the previous three, maintenance and support logistics are complicated, so the Marine Corps is working through CCRAM to bring all of its 263-plus V-22s to a common configuration.

 

As the aircraft – oldest to youngest – proceed through scheduled depot maintenance, they will be reconfigured into a common variant by Marine Corps, Bell and Boeing maintainers. The work will be done during incremental preventive maintenance prescheduled for each aircraft.

 

“The committee encourages the Department of the Navy to execute a procurement profile for this multiyear in order to acquire the aircraft at economic order quantity levels that most efficiently acquire the aircraft and fully procures the programmed acquisition objective aircraft for the Department of the Navy,” the subcommittee’s draft, released June 20, reads.

 

Bill language does not authorize multi-year procurement of Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 aircraft, but would allow economic order quantities (EOQs) for long-lead-time materials for the jets. The materials and equipment must have completed hardware qualification testing and used in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, according to the mark. That would involve F-35 low-rate initial production lots 12, 13 and 14, through which international program partners are paying up front for multiple production years, according to subcommittee aides.

 

The U.S. government is not authorized to enter multi-year contracts with Lockheed for the F-35, though the idea has been floated by the program office as a cost-reduction measure. Congress has been unwilling to authorize the Defense Department to make such a move, but the subcommittee mark would allow the Pentagon to piggyback on the international multi-year by buying certified parts in bulk.

 

The subcommittee also would limit the value of such contracts for fiscal year 2018, or any year thereafter, to $661 million. The secretary of defense also would have to notify Congress that an impending EOQ buy meets certain conditions and then wait 15 days before initiating the purchase.

 

The fiscal year 2018 Defense Department budget submission includes $10.8 billion for a total of 70 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

 

The subcommittee is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m., Wednesday to markup its section of the House version of the NDAA.

 

Lawmakers Could OK Block Buys For V-22, F-35 Parts

 

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Lawmakers Want More Troops, New Criminal Penalties In Defense Budget Proposal

(MILITARY TIMES 20 JUN 17) … Leo Shane III

 

WASHINGTON – House lawmakers in their annual defense authorization bill will push for a boost in military end strength, new punishment for troops who share nude photos, and more lenient consideration for troops dismissed from the ranks because of underlying health problems.

 

The measure, part of Congress’s annual budget plan for the military, still does not yet have a total price tag, leaving a host of questions about whether all the policy and strategy changes can become law. House Armed Services Committee officials are expected to release additional funding details on the legislation next week.

 

But in a preview of key portions of the measure released Tuesday, members of the committee’s military personnel panel unveiled plans for a 2.4 percent pay raise for troops and an end strength boost of nearly 28,000 servicemembers.

 

President Trump had already requested a boost of about 4,000 sailors for the Navy and another 4,100 airmen for the Air Force in his budget request last month.

 

Lawmakers have agreed to aim for those same end strength levels, and to boost the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard by 1,700 personnel and the Naval Reserve by another 1,000 sailors.

 

But the House panel goes further. After a 16,000-soldier jump in Army personnel last year, White House officials were content to leave the service’s end strength at fiscal 2017 levels. The House panel, citing requests in the Army’s unfunded requirements list, will look to fund another 10,000 active-duty soldiers, 4,000 guardsmen and 3,000 Army Reservists.

 

Combined with the higher pay raise, the extra personnel costs are likely to drive the military budget for fiscal 2018 well above the president’s proposed $603 billion level, which already sits well above spending caps mandated by law.

 

Committee officials declined to offer specifics on the exact price of the measure.

 

The bill also includes a host of specialty pays and bonus reauthorizations, and the second year of an extensive overhaul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

 

Among the biggest changes to that initiative is the inclusion of new language that specifically prohibits the non-consensual sharing of nude photos, in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal in the Marine Corps earlier this year. The language is based on a measure sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., that the full House passed last month.

 

Lawmakers also have drafted language to allow troops with other-than-honorable discharges to submit outside medical documents (from the Department of Veterans Affairs or private physicians) as evidence in reconsidering their dismissal status.

 

The move comes after years of lobbying from advocates who say tens of thousands of troops may have been improperly kicked out of the military because of undiagnosed medical issues like post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. The new rules would require review boards to give “liberal consideration” to the outside medical evidence when weighing a discharge upgrade.

 

House members are proposing a $500 stipend for spouses of troops to cover credentialing and licensing fees associated with interstate moves, in response to concerns about the difficulties those military assignments can have on family members’ careers.

 

And the authorization bill clarifies that service academy graduates must complete their full military commitment prior to participating in professional sports. The issue has become national news in recent years, with a spate of academy standouts being considered by professional sports teams immediately upon graduation.

 

The authorization bill draft is scheduled to be marked up by the full committee next week, and considered by the full House before the end of July. The Senate must also pass its own version before lawmakers can reconcile the two and send it to Trump to become law, a process that is expected to take until sometime this fall.

 

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/hasc-ndaa-end-strength-first-draft

 

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Trump’s Pick For No. 2 Pentagon Job Faces Tough Questions During Confirmation Hearing

(WASHINGTON POST 20 JUN 17) … Dan Lamothe

 

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s choice to take the No. 2 job at the Pentagon had a rocky confirmation hearing Tuesday, with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., at one point threatening to withhold his nomination from a vote and other lawmakers questioning how he will overcome his lack of experience in the Defense Department.

 

Patrick Shanahan, a vice president at the aerospace company and defense contractor Boeing, who was nominated in March to be deputy defense secretary, also faced questions about how he will manage day-to-day operations in the Pentagon while recusing himself from all decisions with a tie to Boeing. Shanahan has worked for the defense behemoth since 1986, with stints overseeing civilian airliner programs and military equipment.

 

McCain needled Shanahan early in the hearing about his prepared answer to a question about the U.S. potentially supplying weapons to Ukraine to face Russian-backed separatists. Shanahan wrote that he would have to look at the issue.

 

“In your questions that were submitted to you, one of the questions was providing the Ukrainians with legal, lethal defense weaponry with which to defend themselves,” McCain said. “Inexplicably, you responded by saying you have to look at the issue. It’s not satisfactory, Mr. Shanahan.”

 

The nominee, asked whether he wanted to amend his answer, quickly responded that he supported the idea. But McCain continued his line of questioning, saying he found Shanahan’s answer “very disappointing to me,” especially considering his years of work on weapons programs with Boeing.

 

“That’s not good enough, Mr. Shanahan,” McCain said. “I’m glad to hear you changed your opinion from what was submitted, but it’s still disturbing to me. It’s still disturbing to me after all these years that you would say that you would have to look at the issue. Have you not been aware of the issue? Have you not been aware of the actions of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin?”

 

McCain said that if Shanahan chose not to respond directly to a question again, he would not bring his nomination to the committee for a vote. Shanahan responded that he was “very clear” about that.

 

“I think the Russians are adversarial,” Shanahan said. “I think through the whole of government, we need to deal with their [actions] – whether we call it aggression or their disruption to our interests. I, at this point, don’t have any specific recommendations. If confirmed, I will spend a significant amount of time dealing with Russia.”

On his lack of experience in the Defense Department, Shanahan said he has worked in a variety of organizations and thinks his technical and management experience “will prepare me to be able to quickly assimilate the knowledge and expertise to properly interface.”

 

Shanahan answered questions in greater detail about weapons acquisition and procurement, saying that “this is an area where I’ve had some fairly good success” and that rather than try to overhaul the entire system, he would focus on specific problem areas. By scrutinizing how technology prototypes perform in testing, “we could demonstrate what works” and then replicate the process, he said.

 

“It’s in doing those prototypes that you can get a quick win,” he said. “And then you also find out where the real limitations in the system are.”

 

Shanahan was introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., whose state is home to numerous Boeing facilities.

 

She lauded his past efforts to drive change at Boeing and said his attention to detail will prove invaluable in the Pentagon.

 

“He is also fearless,” she said. “He understands what our country is up against when it comes to the Russians and the Chinese and the North Koreans, and it won’t faze him. He focuses on big, game-changing innovation in science and technology and won’t be deterred by the bureaucracy of DOD.”

 

Shanahan said his experience in industry and innovation has prepared him to contribute as deputy defense secretary and will help him complement Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whom he called a “master strategist with deep military and foreign policy experience.”

 

Added Shanahan: “I bring with me a formula for leadership that has a record of delivering affordable high-performing business systems and operations under adverse conditions. Leadership casts a long shadow, and strong leadership can create teams that achieve ambitious change of scale.”

 

If confirmed, Shanahan will replace Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, a retired Marine colonel who held the position under former president Barack Obama and was asked by Mattis to stay on for several months in the new administration.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/06/20/trumps-pick-for-the-no-2-pentagon-job-faces-tough-questions-during-confirmation-hearing/?utm_term=.78868144d137

 

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Policy Experts Urge Congress To Back New Round Of Base Realignments And Closures

(STARS AND STRIPES 19 JUN 17) … Dianna Cahn

 

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of policy experts issued an open letter Monday urging members of Congress to drop their opposition to what would be the first round of base realignments and closures in more than a decade, saying it could save billions of Pentagon dollars and offset spending on other military needs.

 

The call comes just weeks after President Donald Trump released his 2018 proposed spending plan that called for a new round of base or facility shutdowns to trim excess overhead. The document urges Congressional approval for a base realignment and closure, or BRAC, in fiscal year 2021.

 

No BRAC has been enacted since 2005. A new round is currently barred by law, with lawmakers fearing potential economic harm to their communities.

 

“It is understandable that discussions about closing military facilities can be controversial,” said the letter, signed by 45 experts from think tanks including Cato Institute, Center for American Progress, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Center for a New American Security, Brookings Institution and Concerned Veterans for America.

 

“To be sure, the closing of a military base is disruptive to surrounding communities,” it said. “Evidence shows, however, that most communities recover and some do quite rapidly.”

 

The Pentagon has been insistent that another round of BRAC is necessary, and says it will have more than 22 percent excess infrastructure by 2019. The Army carries the greatest excess overhead at 33 percent, and the Air Force has 32 percent, according to a recent Pentagon review. The Navy and Marine Corps overage is at 7 percent.

 

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 13, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said a “properly focused base closure effort” could generate $2 billion or more annually – enough, over a five-year period, to buy 300 Apache attack helicopters, 120 F/A-18 Super Hornets or four Virginia-class submarines.

“I recognize the careful deliberation that members must exercise in considering this,” Mattis said. “But BRAC is one of the most successful and significant efficiency programs we have.”

 

The letter noted that the surplus projections are not based on military personnel cuts that Trump appears to be reversing, and said that even if Trump builds up personnel to levels he stated during the campaign, the Pentagon will have more overhead than it needs “well into the 2020s.”

 

The biggest obstacle is political will, and the letter’s authors say they perceive a melting of hardline posture on the issue. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in January that they were amenable to examining the potential savings of a BRAC round. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has reintroduced legislation to allow the Pentagon to close excess bases.

 

That new will, combined with the Pentagon’s struggle to keep its forces trained and ready and its equipment well-maintained under budget shortfalls and increased global demand, gave the authors impetus to issue the call, said Chris Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington. Preble co-authored the letter with Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the centrist Center for Strategic and International Studies and Mackenzie Eaglen at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

 

“They are shifting resources and are forced to spend on excess overhead which is frustrating to them,” he said. “Congress is compelling the military to allocate resources in places where the military says are not needed. It’s a problem and I think a number of members of Congress are troubled by that.”

 

Still, BRAC is not a popular action among many lawmakers – particularly in military regions. In a hearing of Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support in February, chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said he supported added spending for defense but remained opposed to another BRAC round.

 

“Our first priority must be rebuilding the force and its readiness,” Inhofe said. “This will require additional funding that we cannot afford to spend on another BRAC. We must also understand what our future force structure will look like-its size and composition, how it will train, and the infrastructure required to sustain it-before we consider another BRAC round.”

 

Preble urged lawmakers to look at how communities that underwent BRACs have fared.

 

There have been five rounds of BRAC since 1998, the most recent and most costly in 2005. The letter stated that the initial Pentagon costs of BRAC are high, but those are offset by savings that last for years. In 1990, the first year of implementation, the Pentagon saved $72 million, but by 1995, the savings had reached $1.5 billion annually. The second round climbed to $3.4 billion annually and the others followed suit, the letter said.

 

“Today, the first four BRAC rounds together are producing annual recurring savings of around $7 billion,” the letter said, noting that even the last BRAC, which was the costliest and focused more on realignment of functions than on closing bases, is producing $5 billion in annual savings.

 

“Congress has blocked closures here at home for over a decade,” the letter said. “The military has been forced to allocate resources away from the training and equipping of our soldiers and toward maintaining unneeded and unwanted infrastructure.

 

“Meanwhile, many tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted,” the letter added. “The time to act is now.”

 

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/policy-experts-urge-congress-to-back-new-round-of-base-realignments-and-closures-1.474376#.WUhVXGgrKUk

 

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Hypoxia Worries ‘Top Issue’ For Boeing Defense CEO; Cobham Tech Unveiled

(BREAKING DEFENSE 18 JUN 17) … Colin Clark

 

PARIS – Boeing Defense’s new CEO, Leanne Caret, told me this afternoon that investigating suspected hypoxia cases is “a top priority for Boeing,” and she is receiving weekly briefings on the issue.

 

Pilots are supposed to be tough physical specimens who can handle 9 Gs and still think fast. But flying at altitude – often in a pressurized flight suit – and breathing cleaned-up air from the engine intake sometimes leave pilots wondering what hit them. The number of such cases has been climbing rapidly in some aircraft recently, especially in the Boeing-built Navy and Marine Corps F-18 fighters and the Navy’s T-45 trainers. Combine that with the recent stand-down of Air Force F-35As at Luke Air Force Base after a rash of five possible hypoxia incidents, and you’ve either got a new systemic problem, a rash of pilots who are experiencing new symptoms or something new and unexpected.

 

Caret says Boeing is “really focused on a root cause” and is taking a rigorous systemic approach to study the issue. They’ve brought in medical personnel and others – whom she wouldn’t describe in detail except as experts – to advise the company. She really started getting involved in June last year.

 

Brig. Gen. Brook Leonard, pilot instructor at Luke and commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, told reporters Friday that commanders at Luke hope they’ll have a path to flight ready Monday afternoon, with the earliest return to flight possible by Tuesday afternoon. But he cautioned that was dependent on pilots demonstrating confidence in the plan for return. The Air Force remembers all too well when two F-22 Air National Guard pilots appeared on the TV show 60 Minutes to announce they were not willing to fly the Raptor because of suspected hypoxia incidents.

 

Leonard said there was a specific altitude at which the symptoms manifested themselves in the F-35A but he was not willing to say what it was to avoid tilting the investigation one way or another. To make sure the pilot community knows what’s happening and has confidence in how the Air Force is handling the issue, Leonard said they held a town hall meeting for pilots’ spouses.

 

He said one of the things the Air Force is considering is monitoring pilot’s blood oxygen levels in flight so they can combined that with the “exquisite data” already available about the plane’s performance. That might allow the service to make decisions with greater confidence.

 

Also, Leonard did not sound very impressed with the F-35’s On Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), which skims air off the engine intake – an unlimited supply as long as the aircraft keeps flying – then purifies, cools and concentrates it for the pilots to breathe.

 

“We do think the OBOGS system is not as robust as it could be, but it does meet the minimum standard,” he said, without elaborating.

 

Meanwhile, at the Paris Air Show, Cobham will be unveiling a new testing system tomorrow for these so-called physiological events.

 

They’ve already delivered the first Inhalation Gas Sensor to the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, the company says in a release. It’s the first part of a two-stage system that will include an exhalation sensor block. They will capture environmental, oxygen system performance, and pilot physiological data “to help discern root cause of debilitating physiological events that continue to plague aircrew safety and mission readiness.”

 

“To unravel the mystery of root cause, we will start by creating a comprehensive mosaic of information that will simultaneously zero in on how the oxygen source equipment is performing, what the cockpit environmental conditions are around the pilot, and monitor the pilot’s physiological data captured in exhaled breath. This data will then be analyzed for correlations to physiological episodes and hypoxia-like symptoms that may have occurred during flight to ultimately help determine root cause,” Stuart Buckley, VP for business development and sales at Cobham Mission Systems, says in a statement. Perhaps this is the system Leonard mentioned, but I’m not sure.

 

The F-35 Joint Program Office is leading the investigation into the root causes of the suspected hypoxia incidents and is supporting the folks at Luke. The two F-35As slated to perform at the Paris Air Show have arrived safely.

 

Hypoxia Worries ‘Top Issue’ For Boeing Defense CEO; Cobham Tech Unveiled

 

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Dunford Touts F-35 as ‘Not Just a Better F-18 or Bomb Truck’

(DOD BUZZ 20 JUN 17) . Richard Sisk

 

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said Monday that the F-35 is “not just a better F-18” but a “transformational” aircraft that will change the way the U.S. conducts war.

 

“The short answer is it’s a critical program,” Dunford said of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in response to questions at a National Press Club lunch.

 

“I believe it is not just a better F-18 [Super Hornet] or a better bomb truck,” he said, but rather a transformational platform “both in its ability to deliver its ordnance as well as its ability to serve literally as a server in the sky.”

 

“It is going to transform the way we fight,” Dunford said, despite well-documented continuing cost overruns and engineering problems that have slowed its deployment.

 

The general said the cost overruns are less of a problem than they had been.

 

“Frankly, the cost overruns – a bit of that is history because over the past 18-24 months, I think people would agree, and Congress certainly, I think, supports this perspective – that the program manager has done a great job of getting a lot of those cost overruns back in control,” he said.

 

He noted that the vertical takeoff Marine F-35B variant was declared operationally capable in July 2015 on his watch in his previous post as Marine Corps commandant. It was the first F-35 squadron declared “capable of worldwide deployment, and it has subsequently since deployed,” he said.

 

The F-35 will be a main feature for the U.S. at the Paris Air Show this week, as the U.S. attempts to give NATO allies confidence in the aircraft’s future role in the defense of the alliance.

 

Two of the Air Force’s F-35A version are part of the U.S. contingent at the biennial air show, along with a CV-22 Osprey, a C-130J Super Hercules, a P-8 Poseidon, a CH-47 Chinook, an AH-64 Apache, two F-16 Fighting Falcons, and a KC-135R Stratotanker.

 

“The impact of air superiority provided by our F-35s is integral to supporting our warfighters and NATO allies,” Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, said in a statement. “Showcasing our cutting-edge aircraft technology is one of many ways we ensure ready forces while deterring threats from the outset.”

 

Dunford Touts F-35 as ‘Not Just a Better F-18 or Bomb Truck’

 

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PARIS: NAVAIR Exploring Shorter Test Schedule For CH-53K

(FLIGHT GLOBAL 21 JUN 17) … Leigh Giangreco

 

US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is mulling a shorter test schedule for its Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter programme in an effort to save money, Sikorsky’s president said this week.

 

With the CH-53K now in production, Sikorsky believes it could save time going forward by skipping some test points, Dan Schulz tells reporters this week at the Paris air show. Sikorsky will not know how much time skipping test points will save until after testing finishes.

 

The USMC is set to replace its ageing fleet of CH-53E heavy lift helicopters with 200 King Stallions, with four early production aircraft scheduled for delivery this year and initial operational capability slated for 2019. The US Navy estimates the cost at about $87 million per example.

 

The navy laid out the scope of flight tests at the very beginning of the programme and built in areas where testing could be eliminated, says US Marine Corps Lt Col Jonathan Morel, the government’s chief test pilot for the CH-53K. The USMC looks for clues in performance, structures, propulsion and avionics to assess whether the service could skip some test points.

 

The navy is working closely with the Pentagon’s top weapons tester will work closely on analysing the shorter schedule.

 

“If certain testing was performing as expected over a certain period of time then there would be a chunk of test points that would be considered contingent testing,” he says. “If test points one through seven trend as expected, then we can skip eight, nine and 10.”

 

However, Sikorsky is aware that Lockheed’s decisions to accelerate testing timelines have not always yielded positive results. The F-35’s former programme executive officer Lt Gen Chris Bogdan once called Lockheed’s decision to conduct concurrent production and development “acquisition malpractice”.

 

Schulz emphasises that the CH-53K achieved its milestone C full production approval in April by combining some testing, not by conducting concurrent testing. During normal testing, a service and contractor pilot will conduct flight tests. Combined testing allows one pilot to conduct flight tests where common test points exist, he says.

 

Schulz also used combined testing during his time on the V-22 Osprey programme, which he says worked well.

 

“In order to be more efficient, we’ve been integrating operational test, along with developmental test and contractor testing from the beginning,” Morel says. “In many cases one checkpoint will check three different boxes, so that was the original going in concept of the integrated test.”

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/paris-navair-exploring-shorter-test-schedule-for-c-438684/

 

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Republican Lawmakers Set To Introduce Legislation Calling For A 355-Ship Navy

(DEFENSE NEWS 21 JUN 17) … David B. Larter

 

WASHINGTON – Two key Republican lawmakers are set to unveil legislation Thursday that will make it national policy to maintain a 355-ship Navy, according to a draft of the legislation obtained by Defense News.

 

Sen. Roger Wicker, of Mississippi, who chairs the Senate Seapower Subcommittee, and his House counterpart, Rep. Rob Wittman, of Virginia, are expected to roll out a brief, one-page bill on June 22 that aims for 355 ships “as soon as practicable,” the legislation reads.

 

The fleet goal is subject to Congress appropriating the money for all the new hulls; today’s U.S. Navy stands at 276 ships, according to its status on the Navy.mil website.

 

Both lawmakers have been calling for the buildup, which mirrors the Navy’s recent force-structure assessment that said it needed 355 ships to meet the demands on its forces.

 

In a statement, Wittman said he and Wicker wanted to set the right tone going into the markup of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

 

“My objective as Seapower chairman in this year’s NDAA is to send a strong signal that we intend to grow our Fleet to 355 ships,” Wittman said. “I believe industry is ready to ramp up production to get us there and Congress must do its part and provide the necessary funding for shipbuilding accounts so we get on the proper glide path to 355.

 

“This bill, which I am pleased to have worked on with my counterpart Senator Roger Wicker, sends that strong signal as we head into NDAA mark-up. A fleet of 355 ships will allow us to deter our adversaries, support our allies, and respond to threats and humanitarian challenges around the globe.”

 

Getting to 355

 

In a hearing Wednesday, Wicker pressed the Navy’s top weapon’s buyer, Allison Stiller, and the head of the Navy’s integration of capabilities and resources office, Vice Adm. William Lescher, on how the Navy planned to speed up the timeline to getting almost 80 new ships.

 

Lescher said the Navy was examining taking ships out of mothballs to help move the needle, and was looking at extending the service life of current ships by updating the hulls and the combat systems for longer use.

 

In early June, Naval Sea Systems Command head Vice. Adm. Thomas Moore seemed to cast some doubt on how much impact the mothball fleet could have on a fleet buildup in an interview with Defense & Aerospace Report.

 

Moore said the three cruisers that are sitting in the Philadelphia naval shipyard were probably off the table because they’ve been used as parts lockers. But he added that retired Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates might be of some use, and the conventional carrier Kitty Hawk is still a viable option.

 

“We’ll go look at the [frigates], see if there is utility there,” Moore said. “We’ll look at the combat logistics force, see if there’s utility there. Of the carriers that are in inactive force, probably Kitty Hawk is the one that you could think about. But we studied that when we decommissioned Enterprise, and the carriers are pretty old. So, there is limited opportunity in the inactive fleet, but we’ll look at it ship-by-ship.”

 

Getting to 355 ships is a monumental task that so far seems to have limited support even inside the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has prioritized short-term readiness holes in his 2018 budget, which has aggravated many who wanted to see a much bigger push to grow the fleet – especially since growing to a 350-ship Navy was one of President Donald Trump’s core defense promises on the campaign trail.

 

The job of scrapping it out inside the Pentagon will fall to Navy Secretary nominee Richard Spencer, who faces a confirmation hearing Thursday.

 

Spencer, a former Marine Corps pilot and career investment banker, should resist the pressure to focus too heavily on readiness in the near term at the expense of a larger, more powerful fleet in the long run, said Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and defense consultant with the Ferrybridge Group.

 

“[Spencer] should remember who he serves: He is the president’s man,” McGrath said. “The president campaigned on building a larger Navy, and his job is to build that larger Navy. . Trump did not get elected saying he wanted to fill readiness holes; those were Secretary Mattis’ priorities. And so far the Pentagon is off to a slow start in building a larger Navy.”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/republican-lawmakers-to-introduce-legislation-calling-for-a-355-ship-navy

 

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Lockheed grows closer to F-35 block buy deal with US, international customers

(DEFENSE NEWS 19 JUNE 17) . Valerie Insinna

 

LE BOURGET, France – Lockheed Martin is hammering out the details on a F-35 block buy proposal that could shave $2 billion off the total cost of the purchase, the company’s F-35 program manager said.

 

The deal, which could be worth anywhere from $35 billion to $40 billion, would include about 440 aircraft in low-rate production lots 12, 13 and 14, Jeff Babione, executive vice president and general manager, said Monday at the Paris Air Show. The F-35 joint program office has said the United States would pursue an economic order quantity, or EOQ, agreement – which would allow the U.S. military to buy spare parts over multiple years, but not entire aircraft – instead of a block buy.

 

Eleven countries, including the United States, are interested in participating and are nearing a decision, Reuters reported Monday morning. The average price of an A-model would drop to an estimated $85 million as a result.

 

A block buy deal would basically double the total number of F-35s under contract and allow the company to be more efficient in ordering from its suppliers, Babione said during a briefing with reporters. He also acknowledged that the package would include more than just planes, and that he expected a dramatic reduction in price per unit if the deal goes through.

 

“It’s more than just airplanes. You get the spares; you get training. There will be a lot of things that go with that contract, but it will be in that scale,” he said. “This supports the ramp of staff that we have been talking about for some time, growing from about 150,000 worldwide to closer to 200,000.”

 

The block buy idea has been met with some skepticism. In April, the Government Accountability Office cautioned lawmakers about a potential EOQ agreement, saying that it would be premature to approve it as final terms between Lockheed and the government had not been finalized. Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog organization, also condemned a possible buy on the grounds that the F-35 program was not stable enough to meet the criteria for EOQ approval in statute.

 

Arizona Republican John McCain, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, has also been a harsh critic.

 

However, Lockheed may have found a powerful ally in Rep. Kay Granger, a Republican and head of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, who represents the Fort Worth, Texas-area, where F-35s are produced. Babione noted that he had not spoken to Granger about the issue.

 

However, “I have spoken to her staff, and they seem to be very, very supportive of it,” he said. “Again, if you’re going to buy the airplanes, why wouldn’t you put in a construct or an angle to produce and offer those airplanes at the lowest possible price? So we’re encouraged by the support, and I think it’s something that will go forward.”

 

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Navy Integrates New F-18 Infrared Sensor

(DEFENSE SYSTEMS 20 JUN 17) … Katherine Owens

 

Development and procurement of Block II of the Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system for the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jet will now move forward under a $89 million Navy contract with Boeing, according to the Department of Defense (DOD).

 

The IRST system’s passive long-wave infrared receiver (IRR) gives it the unique ability to detect and lock-in targets in situations where electronic warfare measures may be inhibiting to radar activity, according to a report on FY16 Navy Programs. ISRT Block II is specifically intended to provide engineering upgrades, improving the passive long-wave infrared receiver and updating the built-in processors. As such, Boeing is tasked with designing and developing potential new hardware and general technical product support, according to the DOD press release.

 

The IRR is immune to anti-radar electronic warfare because it can sense the electromagnetic, infrared thermal energy signatures of other aircraft. Specifically, those generated by the heat of an aircraft’s engines and sky-on-skin friction. The sensor can rely on its own telemetry, rather than radio signals, to transmit the information to the pilot, according to the FY16 Navy Programs report. Once the IRR fixates on the acquired target, the fighter jet pilot can engage it.

 

As a whole, the IRST system is designed to identify and destroy enemy targets or forces that are beyond visual contract or exist in a radar-denied environment. Aside from the passive long-wave infrared receiver, the system includes an inertial measurement unit and an environmental control unit, all contained within a sensor assembly structure, states a Boeing publication.

 

The sensor assembly structure is attached to the bomb rack of the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, via the fighter jet’s fuel tank. It provides the twin-engine, supersonic jet with enhanced situational awareness of both ground and air threats and targets, reports Boeing.

 

The Block II preliminary design review was scheduled to begin last month, and with this new contract award, Block II of the IRST system is scheduled for completion in April 2020.

 

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2017/06/20/navy-irst.aspx