- FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter
- Senior NAVAIR Leadership Share Experience, Advice on NLDP
- Kuwait to Buy 28 US F-18 jets
- Israel Approves Purchase of 17 More F-35s
- F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now
- No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill
- Canada Plans to Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition in 2017
- The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them
- The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts
- New Insider Threat Regulations to Hit Contractors Hard
FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter
NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) recently selected Seaman Deserae Kimber as its fiscal year (FY) 2016 Blue Jacket of the Quarter, fourth quarter.
Kimber, who is assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), is also the command’s FY 2016 Blue Jacket of the Year.
“I was shocked in winning the COMFRC of the quarter award. It made me open my eyes to what I’m doing and how it can benefit me as a Sailor in branching out to help other people —- the good influence I could have on other senior E-3s and other junior Sailors who come to this command,” she said.
A native of Hudsonville, Mich., Kimber joined the Navy in 2015 and, accompanied by her uncle, enlisted in Tampa, Fla.
“My uncle Rudy retired from the Navy in 2014 as an aviation ordnanceman. He was a recruiter, and actually took me to his recruiting station in Tampa, which is why I enlisted there,” Kimber said.
“I joined the Navy to better my life and to make bigger opportunities for myself. I wanted to go a different route than just going to college; I wanted to do new and refreshing things instead.”
Kimber’s uncle is not the only family member with a history of naval service. Her husband, Scott, is currently a Seaman assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 stationed aboard Naval Air Station North Island.
After graduating from Naval Training Center, Kimber, who is 20 years old, reported to FRCSW and was appointed to the Support Equipment (SE) shop in Building 767.
The shop performs periodic maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs to equipment used to support aircraft, including pneumatic and hydraulic systems and liquid oxygen systems. Its primary customers are squadrons assigned to Naval Base Coronado.
“I’d like to stay in my field of aviation support,” Kimber said. “And for now, I plan on staying in the Navy but maybe not the full 20 years.”
Meanwhile, in addition to her work in the SE shop, Kimber stays busy handling command and collateral duties as an auxiliary security force (ASF) member and an assistant command fitness leader, which is a second class petty officer billet. She is also a member of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) and an MWR volunteer.
“I like the comradery and teamwork in the Navy,” she said. “It’s a lot different than being on the outside and it’s something I’d miss if I left.”
Kimber is awaiting orders to her next duty station and is schedule to rotate out in October 2017.
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Senior NAVAIR leadership share experience, advice on NLDP
NAVAIR SESs: Relationships top list of reasons to submit NLDP application
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Networking is essential the work of Naval Aviation. One of the best opportunities to establish those relationships in and outside of the command is the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Leadership Development Program (NLDP) Program.
That’s according to four senior executive service (SES) leaders who shared their career histories and advice with potential NLDP candidates and their supervisors during a nationwide Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) workshop panel Nov. 9. Serving on the panel were Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, (AIR-6.8); Martin Ahmad, deputy Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (AIR-6.0D); Tom Rudowsky, director, Air Vehicle Engineering Department (AIR-4.3); and Daniel Nega, director, Cost Estimating and Analysis Department (AIR-4.2). All four are members of teams that review and score NLDP applications.
NLDP is a three- to five-year program that provides training and educational opportunities to promote personal and professional growth for mid- to senior-level civilians, Sailors and Marines who have demonstrated leadership ability. The application period for 2017 runs from Jan. 17 to March 3.
In addition to NLDP’s required courses, seminars and shadowing opportunities, the panel said developmental assignments, which are six month-long rotations, provide participants with unparalleled personal and professional dividends. “Before I applied, I had no desire to leave the Cost Department,” Harris said. “My first lesson while in NLDP was how to get out of my comfort zone. Rotational assignments, turned out to be a career changer for me. Now, in my present job, I have to figure out how to remove barriers and overcome them. You do that through networking, by reaching out to your counterparts and working through problems.”
Candidates, they said, must also make their careers a priority. Ahmad advised workshop participants to plan their rotational schedule soon after being accepted into the program. “It’s never a good time to take rotation,” he said. “Just as the command needs to invest in the employee, the employees must invest in themselves.”
“Twenty years later,” Nega said, “I still have and use connections I made while on rotation.”
When writing ECQs, potential candidates were advised to take one example from their past experiences that reflected their leadership skills and write a narrative that shows context, challenges, actions and results. “Be sure to set the stage about your experience and convey what the challenge was,” Rudowsky said. “Communicate to the panel the thought and decision processes you took and why you made the decision to get to the action that is meaningful.”
Examples do not have to be directly related to the military or work at NAVAIR but must be ones that show how changes that were made affected the organization. One of the most impressive applications Rudowsky said he read contained a narrative about challenges an applicant faced while getting a homeowners’ association into solvency.
Having mentors is another component to a successful career and should be tapped as a resource throughout the application process. “It’s those relationships outside of where you work that benefit you the most,” Ahmad said. “A mentor will give you an introspective look and cause you to think about your strengthens and weaknesses.
“My mentor told me I needed more business acumen—to think beyond my job and better understand the business of NAVAIR,” he said. “I learned that the better I understand others, the better we can do our jobs.”
The panelist also advised potential candidates to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. “Have the courage to take it when it presents itself,” Rudowsky said. “Many people don’t recognize it.”
Stephanie Rice, who works in Supportability Test and Evaluation (AIR 6.7.4) took those words to heart and decided to submit a package this year based on the panel’s advice. “I attended the NLDP panel discussion and workshop in 2015 but decided not to submit a package after reviewing the ECQ process. Today, I learned that if I don’t challenge myself and submit an application, I will never know my where my shortfalls are or take the necessary steps to better my career.”
Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division 6.7 competency manager/site lead Mindy Hermann, found the panel’s description of a well-written application revealing. “My goal in going to the workshop was to gather information to help strengthen my employees’ packages,” she said. “It was very helpful to hear the perspective of the leadership team that rates packages. I appreciated the panel members taking time out of their schedules to help give the workforce critical information.”
Becoming a leader, Harris said, is about one’s work ethic. “Be good at what you do and be known for being good at what you do,” he said. “Be able to work with people and produce in a collaborative environment. Focus on goals and be known for producing quality.”
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Kuwait to buy 28 US F-18 jets
KUWAIT: Kuwait will buy 28 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to replace a fleet of earlier versions of the US fighter jets, a top official said yesterday.
The value of the deal is not expected to exceed $5 billion, the KUNA state news agency reported the head of armament and procurement at Kuwait’s defense ministry as saying. Maj Gen Lafi Al-Azmi said the deal stipulates the supplier will repurchase the old Hornet fighter jets from Kuwait.
He added that details of the sale would only be disclosed after it is officially signed. “Given Kuwait’s proximity to turbulent locations, we certainly need effective military equipment,” he was quoted as saying.
The US State Department this month said it has authorized the deal, as well as the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Kuwait’s Gulf neighbor Qatar at an estimated value of $21 billion. In April, Kuwait signed a contract with Italy’s Finmeccanica for the purchase of 28 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes for under €8 billion ($8.5 billion). The National Assembly in March approved spending an additional $500 million as an advance payment for the jets.
That funding came on top of $10 billion additional defense spending already approved by parliament in January to upgrade the country’s military. Kuwait is a member of the US-led coalition bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq, and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Last year, it bought 24 Caracal military tactical transport helicopters and French light armored vehicles.
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Israel approves purchase of 17 more F-35s
BY: Arie Egozi
The Israeli cabinet on 27 November approved the purchase of 17 more Lockheed Martin F-35Is, bringing the total number for the Israeli air force (IAF) to 50.
The additional acquisition was made possible following the signing of a new US military assistance agreement with Israel, and the cabinet approval followed a briefing of the IAF command which concluded that two operational squadrons were required, totalling 50 aircraft.
As the delivery date of the first aircraft approaches, the IAF is getting ready to equip it with Israeli-developed systems that are needed to tailor the aircraft’s capabilities to the country’s operational requirements.
Of the 33 on contract, the first two examples are scheduled to land in Israel on 12 December, followed by another six in 2017, and the remaining 25 in the years after that.
The IAF plans to achieve full operational status for its F-35s as quickly as possible, and as part of this effort, technicians from Nevatim air base are due to go to the USA just before delivery of the first aircraft.
They will participate in a series of test flights that Lockheed plans to perform at its Fort Worth facilities, to familiarise themselves with maintaining the aircraft and preparing it for a combat mission.
The “Golden Eagle” squadron technicians will also visit Hill AFB in Utah to see procedures related to operating the F-35.
Immediately after delivery, the Israeli systems that were developed for the stealth fighter aircraft will be installed.
The assistance agreement covering the additional F-35s was signed on 14 September, and sources say that next on the list will be the Boeing KC-46A tanker.
The new 10-year, $38 billion package will come into effect in 2019, and expands the $31 billion deal that has covered the past decade.
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F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now
By: Aaron Mehta
WASHINGTON – The compromise version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act protects the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) from elimination, but requires the Pentagon to report on alternatives for the management of the joint strike fighter by the end of March.
The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA, rolled out in May, included language that would disband the JPO after the F-35 reaches full-rate production in April 2019. At that time, control of the plane would devolve to the Air Force and Navy, in essence ending joint control of the jet and turning it into another traditional program.
However, the House rejected that proposal in conference, and instead put in language requiring “the Secretary of Defense, no later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on potential options for the future management of the Joint Strike Fighter program.”
JPO spokesman Joe Dellavedova said the office “appreciates the support of Congress” for the program.
The committees do want to get input from the Pentagon on how the JPO could eventually be wound-down in the coming years, senior congressional aides told reporters on Tuesday. But for now, there were no changes to the F-35 program structure, although some reporting requirements were altered.
For example, the conference report requires that the Comptroller General of the United States shall provide an assessment of the eventual F-35A IOT&E report, and submit that assessment to the committees within 90 days of the IOT&E report being finalized. That report will include an assessment on whether those conclusions were comprehensive and sufficiently detailed, as well as a list of any concerns with how the report was handled.
In addition, the NDAA also contains language preventing funds from being used to retire the A-10 Warthog, a move in line with previous years. In 2013, the Air Force began a serious push to retire the A-10 in order to free up funds and maintainers for the F-35, but ran into a blockade in Congress. While the service has backed off the idea for now, Congress remains wary of future groundings.
The compromise language did not include an extra 11 F-35 jets that had been proposed by the House Armed Services Committee, although HASC chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Wednesday he hoped president-elect Donald Trump would add those planes back in.
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No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill
By: Oriana Pawlyk
The U.S. military doesn’t get extra fighter jets in the compromise version of the 2017 defense authorization bill.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives had supported funding for 11 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and a total of 14 F-18E/F Super Hornets made by Boeing Co. “to address a critical fighter shortage,” according to language approved earlier this year.
But their counterparts in the Senate didn’t sign off on the plan for extra fighter jets.
Thus, the compromise version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which sets policy and spending targets for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, would authorize funding in keeping with the Defense Department’s original budget request.
The Pentagon asked for $10.5 billion for 63 of the F-35 fifth-generation fighters — including 43 A models for the Air Force and 16 B variants for the Marine Corps and four C models for the Navy — as well as $185 million for two of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F fourth-generation fighters.
The legislation also dropped a provision to shift management of the nearly $400 Joint Strike Fighter program — the Pentagon’s largest acquisition effort — to the Air Force and Navy. But lawmakers still want to study different ways to manage the program.
They opted against dissolving the F-35 Joint Program Office, headed by Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, as previously proposed by Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the requirement to disestablish the JPO and require the Secretary of Defense, no later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on potential options for the future management of the Joint Strike Fighter program,” states a report accompanying the bill.
Interestingly, conferees also opposed treating the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program as a separate acquisition effort — but agreed it should have similar reporting requirements.
“The Senate bill contained a provision (sec. 1087) that would require the Department of Defense to treat the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program as a separate Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP),” the report states.
“The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the requirement to treat the Follow-on Modernization program as a separate MDAP and require the Secretary of Defense, not later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the basic elements of an acquisition program baseline for Block 4 modernization,” it continues.
The bill is expected to go to the House for a vote as early as Friday and the Senate is expected to follow suit next week.
— Brendan McGarry contributed to this report
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Canada Plans To Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition In 2017
(DEFENSE NEWS 22 NOV 16) … Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON – Canada will explore an interim buy of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing, a blow to Lockheed Martin that kicks a final decision on whether to procure the F-35 further down the road.
“Canada will immediately explore the acquisition of 18 new Super Hornet aircraft to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement arrives,” the Canadian government announced in a release. “Canada’s current fleet is now more than 30 years old and is down from 138 aircraft to 77. As a result, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) faces a capability gap.”
Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada will launch a larger fighter competition next year after it wraps up its defense policy review. But the competition will likely take about five years, which kicks the decision into the next administration. Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed not to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.
“We have a capability gap. We have selected the minimum number of aircraft to meet this capability gap here. At the same time, we are launching a full competition and making sure that we take the appropriate time, without cutting corners to get the right airplane,” Sajjan said.
Judy Foote, the country’s minister of public services and procurement, said it would start talking with Boeing “immediately” so that the country could amass an interim fleet as quickly as possible. She said Canada’s Ministry of Defence had “some idea” of how much the planes would cost but that the details would be finalized in negotiations.
Despite questions about whether Canadian investments in Super Hornet infrastructure and training could skew a future competition in Boeing’s favor, Foote refuted the notion that the government was “stacking the deck in favor of Boeing.” The government sees it as important to meet its urgent needs, and Canada, an international partner in the joint strike fighter program, will continue its participation in the program, she said.
Boeing was elated by the news, a major win for the company that could help extend the life of one of its fourth-generation fighter jets.
“Boeing is honored to provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with the only multi-role fighter aircraft that can fulfill its immediate needs for sovereign and North American defense,” the company stated in a news release.
“The Super Hornet’s advanced operational capabilities, low acquisition and sustainment costs, and Boeing’s continued investment in the Canadian aerospace industry – U.S. $6 billion over the past five years alone – make the Super Hornet the perfect complement to Canada’s current and future fighter fleet.”
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin was less pleased with the decision, restating its hope that the Canadian government would ultimately purchase the fighter.
“Lockheed Martin recognizes the recent announcement by the Government of Canada of its intent to procure the 4th generation F/A-18 Super Hornet as an interim fighter capability,” the company said in a statement.
“Although disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors. The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years.”
Further down the road, Lockheed could strip Canadian industrial participation – which totals 110 Canadian firms with $750 million in contracts, according to Lockheed – should the country ultimately opt not to buy the F-35. The company has not signaled whether it would be willing to do so.
Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.
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War is Boring
The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them
Program office cuts development short
by DAN GRAZIER
When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed.
Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.
In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.
Development cuts breed further cost overruns
Contractors, the JPO and Pentagon acquisition officials have failed for years to deliver on their grandiose promises of program success. Now the program appears to be out of money, with lots of development testing and re-engineering left to be done.
Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”
Instead of admitting to these failures, F-35 program officials are kicking the development can into the future by arbitrarily cutting short this process now with the intention of eating into funds set aside for operational testing and production later.
The F-35 Program Office is now belatedly asking for some additional funds to complete development while simultaneously asking Congress to approve its plans to buy increasing numbers of new, incompletely-developed production aircraft they know will require extensive and expensive modifications.
The current block buy plan of 410 aircraft could cost between $34 billion and $54 billion, depending on whether you believe the optimistic public statements of Pentagon officials or the figures released in more subdued fashion.
We now know that there is every possibility the F-35 will not be fully designed before it is placed in active service. Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”
He also warns that if the Joint Program Office persists in its current plan, there is a high risk the F-35 will fail operational testing. If the F-35 fails, this will require an expensive correction process followed by a repeat of the entire operational test program.
The test rerun alone would cost taxpayers an extra $300 million. Engineering the fixes and installing them on all the production aircraft would cost vastly more.
Following an article on the Gilmore memo published on Bloomberg, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter raising concerns that Pentagon officials had misled the committee about the progress of the program.
He specifically challenged statements from F-35 Program Manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan that development would be finished in late 2017. He also questioned Air Force Secretary Deborah James certifying that the program had the funds necessary to complete development on time, since it was clearly refuted by the testing memo.
Given “the troubled performance, continued delays, and persistent cost overruns of this program,” McCain disputed the Department of Defense’s insistence that the current requirement for 2,433 F-35s was realistic and affordable and recommended the Pentagon adjust its buy quantity based on actual costs and schedule.
Rather than completing the development phase, let alone the highly critical combat-realistic operational tests, F-35 advocates on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon seem to place the survival of their too-big-to-fail program ahead of building a warplane that works in combat.
The current congressional authorization and appropriations bills have increased the F-35 buy beyond the Pentagon’s request. Not satisfied with this add-on, 70 House members want to fund an additional 11 aircraft.
Mission software woes top the list
Though problems in the plane’s structure, aerodynamics, engine, and reliability also abound, the latest schedule delays are largely due to continuing problems in developing F-35 mission system software.
The mission software controls every input the pilot receives regarding threats, targets, weapons, and the mission profile to be flown. As the Air Force has claimed repeatedly, the mission software — if and when it works — is, together with stealth, intended to be the most important advantage of the F-35 over all current fighters.
The early, rudimentary versions of the software now installed in the operational fleet — Block 2B and 3i — enable the F-35 to conduct only basic flight and to fire one radar missile model and one type of guided bomb.
Yet even this rudimentary system software has repeatedly failed developmental tests — and is too limited in combat capability at this point to even enter combat-realistic operational testing.
The new mission systems software needed to perform the plane’s real combat functions — close support of troops, deep strike bombing and air-to-air fighting — is being released in an alphabet soup of software upgrades, increments and block packages.
Each version adds a few extra capabilities and attempts to fix the failures in earlier versions. The version currently in development test, Block 3F Revision5, added a few weapons and was supposed to reduce the frequent computer crashes of the previous version.
These crashes, Gilmore wrote, forced the pilot to shut down and restart the radar in mid-mission.
Developmental Revision 5 will still fall short of the minimum range of combat capabilities the F-35 needs to even begin realistic operational testing. To start those crucial tests, the F-35 needs another upgraded software version, Block 3FR6, which has yet to be developed.
Developmental testing of earlier Block 3F versions found capabilities for Close Air Support, Destruction/Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Offensive and Defensive Counter-Air, Air Interdiction, and Surface Warfare missions were all “unacceptable overall, with significant deficiencies in capabilities and or/performance shortfalls.”
Kicking the can down the road
With a mountain of development test failures, costly fixes and retests staring them in the face, the JPO decided to arbitrarily truncate the developmental test phase and to defer all the unfinished development tests and retests to later operational test phase.
Those developmental tests and retests will be funded by operational test budgets, which don’t yet include money for such testing.
Repeatedly stopping operational tests to fix basic design problems that should have been completed during development will wreck the carefully crafted operational test plan and schedule that have been in place for more than four years, as agreed to by the services and DOT&E.
— Michael Gilmore
Gilmore’s memo warns that this is a highly risky proposition. In useful and realistic operational tests, fully developed weapons systems that have passed their development tests and met their design specifications are put through their paces performing missions in realistic combat conditions.
To begin combat testing a weapon system that still needs engineering development fixes and retests–and to conduct these engineering tests in the middle of the operational test schedule — is courting disaster.
Incompletely developed F-35s undergoing rigorous combat tests will certainly experience new design failures. These must be corrected and tested again, a potentially lengthy process.
Repeatedly stopping operational tests to fix basic design problems that should have been completed during development will wreck the carefully crafted operational test plan and schedule that have been in place for more than four years, as agreed to by the services and DOT&E.
The result will be more delays and increased costs, exactly what critics of Gilmore and defenders of the F-35 say they want to avoid.
When the Pentagon restructured the F-35 program in 2012 it postponed production in order to decrease concurrency in the program, which is overlapping production before development and operational testing is complete, violating the principle of “fly before you buy.” The JPO’s truncation of development is a deliberate increase in the F-35’s concurrency.
The stated purpose of concurrency is to speed up the schedule and save money, but the real motive is to protect an increasing flow of procurement funds against any possibility of slowdown or cancellation due to failure in testing — a practice that has rightly been called “acquisition malpractice.”
Moreover, history has repeatedly shown us that it actually delays programs and adds to costs.
The F-35 still doesn’t have a gun
The F-35A’s internal cannon, a critical weapon both for close support and dogfighting, remains problem-ridden and needs further development. When the cannon’s stealth-preserving door opens, the extra drag on one side turns the plane’s nose enough to spoil gun-aiming.
Engineers hope that flight control software changes can cure the problem, but that remains to be tested.
Far more serious is the fact that the only sight for aiming the gun is the $600,000 Helmet Mounted Display. The very first shooting accuracy tests with the helmet, scheduled for October 2016, have been delayed until 2017 due to the software delays.
There are strong engineering reasons to believe that the helmet sight is incapable of meeting the plane’s gun accuracy design specifications.
Pilots have reported that the helmet’s displayed symbols can lag behind their eye’s movement while they are flying through turbulence or being buffeted during hard maneuvering. Whether the gun is actually combat suitable or not will not be known until realistic operational test results become available in 2020 — at the earliest.
The Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants will have even more serious gun accuracy problems because both use an external gun pod with an unavoidably less rigid mounting than the internal cannon. Firing this pod creates recoil forces that pull the plane’s nose down, potentially creating worse effects on accuracy than the F-35A’s muzzle door.
A software solution has yet to be completed.
Even if these serious airframe and helmet sight accuracy impediments are overcome, the cannon may still not be able to meet its original design requirements for hitting and destroying targets due to a change in the 25-millimeter ammunition.
The F-35A will now fire a new, non-explosive fragmenting round of untested accuracy and lethality while the F-35B and F-35C will use the older Navy-developed Semi-Armor Piercing High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer rounds. The program office “determined that the specification requirements for gun accuracy could not be met with the new ammunition planned to be used.”
As reported by DOT&E, the JPO is addressing these concerns by deleting all cannon lethality and accuracy requirements from the program’s contractual Operational Requirements Document — without formal approval from either the services or OSD. The contractor now has no contractual responsibility for air-to-air or air-to-ground accuracy and lethality.
Should the F-35 cannon prove incapable of hitting or destroying targets, in test or in combat, no one can be held accountable nor can the program be stopped until a fix is found.
Weapons test delays jeopardize operational testing
Before proceeding to combat-realistic operational testing of the F-35’s weapons capabilities, the developmental weapons delivery accuracy tests must establish, for each air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon, that the F-35 can accomplish its “find-fix-identify-track-target-engage and-assess” functions according to specification.
Only after these functions are verified can more stressful and combat-realistic testing of the same “kill chain” be operationally tested. It is pointless to do these complex, expensive operational tests with a weapon that fails to see and or hit targets under benign engineering test conditions.
The F-35 has had occasional successes in developmental accuracy tests so far, but according to DOT&E the overall results are not promising. During several events, testing officials had to resort to “control room intervention” to make tests appear successful.
As an example, the memo describes how a recent test of the long-range AIM-120 radar air-to-air missile required the controllers on the ground to tell the pilot when to fire because the F-35’s radar and computer system failed to display any enemy target cues.
Moreover, 13 of the scheduled developmental weapons accuracy tests have yet to be performed. JPO has not stated whether these will be ignored, completed during the development phase, or kicked down the road into the operational testing phase.
These incomplete weapons tests could not be flown because program managers had to fix and retest numerous failures uncovered in earlier tests, thereby using up the available test range time and money.
Gilmore warns that unless these weapons accuracy tests are rescheduled, funded, and completed during the F-35’s development phase, they will have a major disruptive effect on the operational test phase. This would result in more schedule slippages, cost overruns and possibly even jeopardize any ability to assess the combat suitability of the F-35.
Simply following the agreed test master plan to complete all weapons developmental testing before operational testing starts is, technically and ethically, clearly the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, that requires JPO and OSD official to admit to more cost and schedule growth, refuting their ongoing narrative that all problems are being solved, the program is on track, costs are going down, and the concurrent production of scores more F-35s should not just continue but accelerate.
Truncating testing and declaring success
As we reported earlier this year, the current F-35 program is at significant risk of never being ready for combat. That assessment was based on an official Air Force internal review of its own testing data.
On the day the Air Force declared the F-35 ready for combat, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said, “Today’s declaration of IOC is an important milestone on the road to achieving full warfighting capability for the F-35A.”
He said that at the precise moment when the testing process was falling further and further behind. According to the latest DOT&E memo, as of the end of September 2016 the program had only completed 65 percent of the scheduled flight test points, 1,120 short of the 3,189 planned.
Rather than redoubling their testing efforts to catch up, the JPO decided to terminate flight testing scheduled for early 2017, arbitrarily declaring development of the Block 3F software to be finished by then.
A number of the combat capabilities that were expected to be completed for the F-35A’s August IOC date have only recently entered developmental flight testing. Others haven’t even made it that far, thereby rendering the planned 2017 date for startup of operational flight testing wildly premature.
Gilmore warned that JPO officials, perhaps deliberately, have not scheduled and funded enough operational test-ready aircraft to conduct the planned combat tests.
Inadequate preparations for IOT&E
An immature design is not the only factor imperiling useful operational testing of the F-35’s combat suitability. Gilmore warned that JPO officials, perhaps deliberately, have not scheduled and funded enough operational test-ready aircraft to conduct the planned combat tests.
The number of operationally typical, production representative F-35s required is one of the key criteria for starting operational testing. The Test and Evaluation Master Plan agreed to by both DOT&E and the F-35 Joint Program Office required that 18 aircraft, each with the necessary flight test instrumentation installed and tested, were needed to begin the testing program.
But the F-35 Program Office is not even pretending to go through the motions of executing the operational test program they agreed to. F-35 program officials have yet to plan or contract for the necessary test aircraft, despite knowing for seven years they were required to do so.
In contrast, they have been diligent in making sure taxpayers were on the hook for $6.1 billion to buy more incomplete, untested F-35s.
The Program Office has repeated that same pattern of neglect in managing the other essentials for completing the operational testing of the F-35, including verified, fully realistic, man-in-the-loop mission scenario simulators and fully tested threat electronics simulators for the test ranges.
Without these essentials, it is impossible to test the full capabilities of the F-35.
As an example, no one is going to fire a missile at an F-35 during testing to see if the stealth capabilities and counter-measures will work. The only way to test many of the F-35’s capabilities is in a virtual simulated environment because the test ranges cannot accurately replicate the full spectrum and quantity of threats the jets would confront.
It is on this point of neglecting to acquire the planes needed to start operational testing that Gilmore issues his most stinging rebuke of the F-35 Joint Program Office:
“Expecting DOT&E to allow IOT&E to start without a full complement of fully production representative aircraft, as agreed to and documented for years, is a recipe for a failed test, especially in light of the aircraft availability issues mentioned later. Failure to meet the TEMP entrance criteria means not only that the program is unready for operational test — it means JSF is not ready for combat and, therefore, certainly not ready for a Block (i.e., Multi-Year) Buy or full-rate production.”
Enhancing the political effectiveness of the F-35
Politics, particularly election year politics, is always a factor in any large weapons program. The F-35 is certainly no exception.
From the very beginning, the plane’s program managers have diligently worked to ensure the F-35 is bulletproof — or, more accurately, that its funding is bulletproof. Components of the aircraft are built in 45 states.
By evenly spreading F-35 subcontracts across the United States, the defense industry has ensured the F-35 has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.
With members of Congress serving as boosters for the F-35, there is little doubt that program officials in the Pentagon are feeling the pressure to keep the F-35 budgets growing as rapidly as possible.
Many of these friends banded together recently to convince their colleagues of the need to buy more F-35s.
A letter, signed by 70 members of the House Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, urged members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to support the Senate’s plan to add $100 million for advanced F-35 procurement.
The advanced procurement funds would allow the Air Force to buy some of the parts for new F-35s in 2017 so they can be built and delivered in 2018.
This spreads out the cost of these F-35s over at least two years. It would also conveniently commit taxpayers to buying these planes now, long before the operational tests have a chance to determine whether or not the F-35 is effective in combat.
This fact was somehow omitted from the lawmakers’ letter.
Not surprisingly, an analysis of campaign donation data by the Center for Responsive Politics shows most of the letter’s signers benefited from defense industry campaign contributions in the 2016 election cycle.
The co-chairs of the Caucus, Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and John Larson (D-CT) received $144,300 and $43,150 each, respectively, in contributions from major contractors and unions with a stake in the program.
With members of Congress serving as boosters for the F-35, there is little doubt that program officials in the Pentagon are feeling the pressure to keep the F-35 budgets growing as rapidly as possible.
Digging a deeper hole
Despite the desperate state of F-35 development and testing now and for the foreseeable future, the JPO is planning to award contracts to develop the expanded and presumably more expensive Block 4 “full capability” aircraft in 2018.
The specifics of Block 4 remain undefined, and these contracts for new planes may well be signed before the currently planned IOT&E of Block 3 planes has even begun.
There is no telling how many new F-35 problems will be discovered as the program limps to the initial operational test finish line. The JPO and its co-advocates throughout the Pentagon and Congress steadfastly defend staying with the present unworkable schedule to buy more F-35s guaranteed to have a plethora of known and yet-to-be-discovered-deficiencies.
Attempting to design and produce a large number of Block 4 F-35s now, when the program management avoids completing or testing the Block 3 F-35s, is the aeronautical equivalent of a construction company deliberately building an inadequate foundation yet continuing to build a skyscraper on top of it.
The F-35 program has been a 15-year saga of performance failures, schedule delays, and cost overruns.
When Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop the aircraft just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the company promised that the Air Force and Marine Corps would be flying brand new fully capable new fighter jets in 2008, with the Navy following suit in 2010. They planned for 2,866 F-35s for just under $200 billion.
But here we are in 2016 with the revised plan of 2,457 aircraft for just under $390 billion, which means we are paying double the unit cost, ultimately adding up to almost $200 billion more for 409 fewer aircraft.
Frank Kendall, the current undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics famously described the practice of buying F-35s before the aircraft has been fully developed as “acquisition malpractice.”
He was certainly right in 2012 when he said that, but since then has taken few steps to lessen, much less end, that malpractice.
Gilmore’s message is very clear. The F-35 will not be effective in combat and will place American military lives in danger unless drastic measures are taken now.
By proceeding with the current plan to truncate F-35 development testing and to not fund — or underfund — the operational test aircraft, instruments, mission simulators and urgently needed threat simulators, Congress and the Pentagon are in effect sabotaging any realistic testing of the combat suitability or unsuitability of the F-35.
Underfunding these efforts increases the likelihood of failing to identify and correct preventable problems in testing and leaves pilots having to address deficiencies in combat.
The new president, new Congress and new secretary of defense need to exercise the oversight necessary to stop this bureaucratic sabotage. As a first step, they need to stop expanding the annual F-35 buy.
Those savings should be transferred to finish F-35 development and development testing as originally planned.
Thorough, truly realistic operational testing of the F-35 must be fully funded and overseen by a director of Operational Test and Evaluation tough and honest enough to get that difficult job done.
The men and women who will risk their lives taking these fighter jets into combat deserve nothing less.
Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight, where this article originally appeared.
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The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts
An innovative marking system spots the fakes.
By Kyle Mizokami
A V-22 Osprey, laden with eighteen Marine infantrymen, speeds towards a landing zone under enemy fire. Dodging anti-aircraft tracers, the pilot pushes the aircraft to the limit. Until suddenly the Osprey falls from the sky.
This time, the killer isn’t the anti-aircraft fire. It’s inside the aircraft—a series of counterfeit, substandard bolts holding the engines together.
That’s the nightmare scenario confronting the Defense Logistics Agency, the arm of the Pentagon tasked to ensure the services receive the correct spare parts in a timely fashion. There are 4 million repair parts in the DLA system. In 2011 according to the Washington Post, a congressional probe found at least 1,800 counterfeit parts, with an estimated 1,000,000 or more counterfeit parts hiding in the Pentagon’s global spare parts system, sold by hucksters making a cheap buck.
Fighting counterfeit parts is a tough job. The sheer number of parts and the many ways fakes can infiltrate the system is daunting. The only solution is to mark each part so its journey through the system can be tracked and verified from factory to fighter plane. But how do you mark a tiny microchip, or a bolt that holds together an aircraft engine, in a way that’s impossible to counterfeit and won’t compromise the part’s performance?
A new marking system invented by Applied DNA Sciences looks to be part of the answer. The system uses botanical deoxyribonucleic acid—that is, plant DNA—to forensically mark replacement parts. The mark, in the form of DNA suspended in a tiny dot of epoxy ink, is applied pneumatically and heat-cured.
The plant-based DNA provides a unique signature that counterfeiters can’t duplicate, and Applied DNA Sciences claims its DNA-based validation system is unbreakable. Sophisticated counterfeiters using DNA sequencers cannot reverse-engineer the mark, as the company claims to have additional levels of security and complexity built into the system. Maybe they’re right. In any case, for fake-makers just interested in selling a mountain of bolts made from pot metal, the mere presence of a DNA marker will be a big enough barrier to entry.
Unlike a barcode, the epoxy dot is tiny and unobtrusive. It can be applied at the factory to the surface of microchips destined for the military supply chain. It can be placed on tiny mechanical parts, such as a bolt face, without worry that it will fall off or interfere with another part. The mark and the DNA inside is tough, capable of withstanding demanding conditions.
Once applied, the mark can be scanned by the end user to verify the part’s provenance in the supply chain. The user can check that the part did indeed pass from the factory through the Department of Defense system.
The technology has been fast-tracked by the military. In 2014, Applied DNA Sciences received a Rapid Innovation Fund award from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to further develop the program. So far 150,000 DLA microcircuits have been marked. The technique will also be used on electrical and electronic components, bearings, vehicle components, engine parts, pipes, tubing, hose and fittings, and hardware and abrasives.
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New Insider Threat Regulations to Hit Contractors Hard
By Daniel C. Schwartz, Andrew J. Schoulder and Jennifer Kies Mammen
The Department of Defense and other government agencies have recognized that competition and innovation from smaller technology companies are critical to overcoming shortfalls in technology and to providing proposed solutions.
At the same time, the country has witnessed an increasing number of successful cyberattacks and insider threats against the U.S. government and the private sector, many associated with state actors.
Federal contractors face a Nov. 30 deadline to begin to implement a number of significant and potentially costly steps to protect against insider threats and outside cybersecurity risks. The new rules are found in conforming change 2 to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, or NISPOM.
Change 2, known as CC2, places a substantial cost burden on contractors, which may not all be reimbursable. Large companies are better able to undertake these costs and to spread them over a wider array of larger contracts. But many small businesses — those the government is trying to attract — will find that satisfying these requirements will strain their technical and personnel capabilities, and their budgets.
The unwelcome result may be a diminution in competition in the classified government contractor space, particularly from smaller, often more innovative entities. For the Defense Department, this means fewer opportunities to develop experimental and innovative solutions through smaller, new contractors and subcontractors, and less creativity in addressing problems.
All of this may not be offset by a significant rise in actual security and may, potentially, result in a diminished ability to protect information.
In May, the Department of Defense issued Industrial Security letter 2016-02 requiring contractors to have a written program plan to implement the insider threat requirements of CC2.
The insider threat program must detail a contractor’s system for gathering, integrating, reviewing, assessing, and responding to information indicative of a potential or actual insider threat. An insider threat is defined in the NISPOM as the “likelihood, risk, or potential that an insider will use his or her authorized access, wittingly or unwittingly, to do harm to the national security of the United States.”
The definition of an “insider” is far reaching, as it encompasses cleared contractor personnel with authorized access to any government or contractor resource, including personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks and systems. Insider threats may include harm to contractor or program information, to the extent that the information impacts the contractor or agency’s obligations to protect classified national security information. Thus, for smaller contractors, this could effectively cover all employees and contracted personnel.
A contractor’s insider threat program must, among other things, establish monitoring of classified computer networks and systems, including monitoring both systems and users and implement certain security controls on classified information systems.
In addition to cybersecurity required by contract and the agency that oversees the contractor’s facility clearance, contractors must now also develop and implement a system security plan. The SSP must include policies and procedures for the contractor to provide information security for the contractor’s information system and reduce the security risks to those systems. It must establish processes for planning, implementing, and evaluating remedial actions to address deficiencies in information systems’ security policies and procedures; and create procedures for detecting, reporting and responding to security incidents.
The SSP must mandate self-inspections of the contractor’s own performance, as well as provide draft formal reports of the inspection findings and written certifications that the contractor’s management has been briefed on the results of the self-inspection and corrective action has been taken to address any issues. Each certification must also include a statement that management “fully supports” the contractor’s security program.
This self-inspection obligation is in addition to a requirement for annual testing of information systems security and auditing processes and procedures to detect cyber incidents.
To add teeth to the requirements, CC2 requires contractors to certify that it has sufficient protections, including the appointment of any necessary personnel, in place as a condition to the government’s grant of an authorization to allow the contractor to process classified information.
Of particular importance is the wide net that CC2 casts over personnel. As part of the insider threat program, the contractor must designate a cleared, senior employee to be the Insider Threat Program Security Official,who will be responsible for establishing and executing the program. Contractors must appoint a properly qualified employee to serve as the Information Systems Security Manager to oversee the development and implementation of the contractor’s security plan. Likewise, all employees who access classified networks must receive appropriate training.
Beyond that, the contractor must provide training for identified insider threat program personnel and awareness for cleared employees, establish procedures to analyze and report personal information regarding cleared employees, and provide for annual self-inspections and reporting of those inspections.
The foremost cost wedge potentially is the requirement for contractors to hold employees responsible for SSP compliance through monitoring measures, the results of which can be used for criminal, security or administrative proceedings. Contractors will need to procure or contract for technology that will enable this level of monitoring. For contractors with tight budgets or contracts with thin margins, the burden could be significant.
As a result of these programs, individual employees may face loss or suspension of their security clearances, and termination of their employment, on the basis of suspicions of not preventing or causing a cybersecurity breach, or being an “insider threat,” as identified through the more proactive, but potentially incomplete, investigative actions by their employers. While those employees may have an opportunity to win back their individual clearances via an adjudicative process, the burden of proof shifts entirely onto the individual to establish that having a security clearance is in the national security interest of the country.
Companies must be careful in reporting suspicious activity about an employee if a loss of that employee’s security clearance results in a loss of employment. The contractor can reasonably expect to hear from that former employee’s attorney with claims of wrongful termination, particularly if the reported activity turns out to be incorrect. In this regard, the contractor must try to avoid actions that could be alleged to be in conflict with civil rights and equal employment requirements, while also complying with the requirement to report all “relevant and credible” information about possible insider threats. Notwithstanding the best efforts of a contractor, that wider net the revised NISPOM casts over employees adds yet another layer of potential compliance costs.
Historically, the NISPOM has required contractors to file reports upon learning of adverse information that could have an impact on a security clearance or the entity’s status as a cleared facility. Similarly, contractors have always been required to report and assist security personnel to assess known compromises of classified information.
To date, these have been largely passive requirements, not requiring a proactive investigative effort in the absence of a reason to suspect that violations of security requirements have occurred. Even then, most sophisticated contractors would employ outside counsel to conduct internal investigations and advise company management or the board, under attorney-client privilege, regarding the likelihood and extent of concern and appropriate actions for the company to take in compliance with existing statutes and regulations.
That practice will change under the tenets of CC2, which requires contractors to undertake an affirmative and continuing investigative role, both as to the activities of their employees and contracted personnel and as to the security of their systems. Under the auditing and reporting requirements of CC2, a contractor must report relevant and credible information within 72 hours. This requirement must be viewed in combination with any other contractual requirements to report cyber or related incidents. The DFARS, in particular, now contain reporting requirements that are potentially more stringent than those set forth in CC2.
Further, CC2 requires contractors to grant Defense Department personnel access to the systems that are the subject of a suspected cyber threat. As a consequence, contractors may not be able to fully assess the nature of a possible breach before the government begins its parallel investigation. While CC2 includes nominal limitations on the level of access a contractor must provide, in practice, the government may attempt to use such demands for much broader purposes.
This demand for access could begin to replace criminal investigative and grand jury subpoenas as the preferred method of initial government discovery. Contractors may choose to negotiate or even resist in court compliance with a government subpoena, invoking Fourth Amendment and privileges protections, but it remains unclear whether any such protections apply to a DoD demand for access to the contents of computer systems under the NISPOM.
Under various executive orders and a DoD Directive issued in 2014, components of the Defense Department and other government agencies were required to establish processes and policies to protect against insider and cybersecurity threats. It is apparent, however, that uniform application of these requirements across the government is expensive and time consuming and are not being met uniformly or quickly. Thus, the government is imposing security requirements on contractors that it has not itself met consistently. Furthermore, there is no real enforcement mechanism within the government to ensure that adequate programs are put in place contemporaneously with the imposition of such requirements on contractors.
As a result, the requirement that a contractor report vulnerability of its personnel or its computer systems to a government agency may simply place sensitive information where it may be no more secure from outsider access than it was in the hands of the contractor, and it may be less secure. Moreover, if the government collects all information about a suggested insider threat or the data that maybe subject to a cyber threat and places it in its own imperfectly secured systems, that centralization may simply increase the possibility that the information will be improperly accessed. This may provide cyber threat actors with a much more lucrative target for attack by focusing on the data from numerous, threatened contractors stored in a single government site, making it unnecessary to attack numerous contractors’ individual systems.
DoD has been candid that there will be substantial costs associated with complying with these requirements. The Nov. 30 deadline only requires contractors to certify written insider threat programs and begin to implement those plans, but the costs to achieve all of the policies, procedures, and programs implicated by such plans are unlikely to be fully realized for some time.
A contractor’s ability to recover those full costs is uncertain. DoD has declined to develop cost recovery models for compliance with these programs, and simply advises that those costs should be treated similar to the costs associated with any other DFARS requirement during proposal preparation. And failure by a government contractor to adequately protect against insider or cyber threats may result in termination of contracts, recovery of costs and damages, and loss of a facility clearance or status as a responsible contractor.
It is of little comfort to the small contractor for DoD to point out that the cost to the nation of lost or stolen protected information is significantly greater than any financial burden placed on contractors. DoD appears to reject any opportunity by small contractors and subcontractors to treat costs for compliance with these required programs in a way that would make them more competitive with larger contractors.
Inevitably, this may disqualify smaller firms from competing for sensitive government contracts unless they combine with other small or larger contractors so the costs imposed by these programs can be spread.
The authors are members of Bryan Cave LLP’s national security practice. Schwartz and Mammen are resident in the firm’s Washington office. Schoulder is resident in the firm’s New York office.