Category Archives: Uncategorized

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 9, 2017


  1. FRCSW Returns Fire-Damaged Super Hornet to Fleet



  1. Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump
  2. After Ratings Change Backlash, Effort To Reform Navy Jobs Moves Ahead
  3. Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says
  4. America’s Military Has A Big Problem: It’s Dead Broke
  5. France Bids To Take NATO Leadership Role From Britain
  6. The Pentagon Needs Its Own Google For All Its Data, Says Eric Schmidt
  7. Pentagon Successfully Tests World’s Largest Micro-Drone Swarm
  8. Pentagon Tester: F-35 Program Rushing Tests, Delays Still Likely
  9. Navy Adds Helicopter Electronic War Anti-Ship Missile Defense
  10. US Army Looking to 3D-Print Minidrones in 24 Hours
  11. CNO Vs A2AD: Why Admiral Richardson Is Right About Deconstructing The A2/AD Term
  12. DARPA drone flew for 56 hours and landed with over half its fuel so looks close to achieving 7 days without refueling
  13. The Navy’s F-35 May Need New Landing Gear





Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






FRCSW Returns Fire-Damaged Super Hornet to Fleet


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, CA – Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) returned its first fire-damaged F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter to the fleet on Dec. 8, 2016.


The aircraft, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron One Two Two (VFA-122), a training squadron, made an arrested landing in August 2009 at Naval Air Weapons Systems China Lake after suffering an in-flight engine fire.

There were no injuries.


FRCSW F/A-18 planner and estimator Mark Thaidigsman said that the fire occurred in the aircraft’s right engine bay and that at the time of the incident, the Super Hornet had only 2,183 flight hours on it.


“The aircraft was disassembled in China Lake and sent on a flatbed truck to North Island in April 2010,” he said. “The door 68 was burn damaged. The aft nozzle skin was burn damaged and there were a couple of stiffeners on the center keel that needed to be replaced. We also had to replace the fire bottle, fire warning elements and some other burnt wiring.”


Overall, about 11,000 manhours were devoted to the repairs and servicing of the aircraft. Structural repairs alone totaled 2,500 manhours and included fitting of a new door 68 and replacement of the nozzle skin and burnt stiffeners.


The remaining manhours were devoted toward reassembly, shipping, preservation, engineering, troubleshooting and functional testing and inspection of the aircraft’s systems.


“The most challenging thing was getting the material to repair the aircraft. The long lead times made it difficult to coordinate the staffing and tooling that were needed to perform the repairs. It also created a substantial cost to preserve the aircraft while it was waiting for parts, and there was a late discovery of damage (to the aircraft) that occurred during shipping,” Thaidigsman said.


FRCSW is currently repairing two other fire-damaged Super Hornets: one that also suffered an engine fire and the other a fire in its aircraft mounted accessory device (AMAD) bay. The aircraft are slated for completion in July and September, respectively.


(return to top)






Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump


(BREAKING DEFENSE 11 JAN 17) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON – Sure, the Navy needs more ships, but first and most urgently, it needs to fix the ships it already has. That’s what Navy leaders are telling Donald Trump.


“When the transition team came around to all of us in the building and asked us what we could do with more money right now, the answer was not to buy more ships,” Adm. William Moran, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, told the Surface Navy Association yesterday afternoon. “The answer was to make sure the 274 we have were maintained to provide 274 ships’ worth of combat power. Then we’ll start buying more ships. They heard that loud and clear, I hope.”


“The first thing we need to do is reinforce the foundation, which is our readiness, the maintenance of the ships we have today,” Moran said.


The Navy even has a specific figure for how much additional readiness money it needs to get its repair yards working at maximum capacity, although Moran wouldn’t disclose it. “We know precisely how much money we need in our readiness accounts to be able to execute the full magnitude of what our yards can handle for ship maintenance and modernization for ’17 and ’18. That number’s pretty well understood,” Moran said. “Any money that comes on top of that, we can start looking at how we would contract out for (new) ships (that) yards and contractors are ready to start building this year or next.”


So while readiness comes first, “that doesn’t mean we don’t need more ships. It’s all connected,” Moran emphasized. “Too small a Navy means we drive optempo (operational tempo) higher,” wearing out the fleet. Since 2001, the fleet has shrunk from 316 ships to 274, but high demand from commanders around the world means the number of ships deployed at any given time has stayed the same, so each ship is now deploying more. That pace increases wear and tear on both hulls and crews at the same time it decreases time to rest and refit. Over time, deferred maintenance leads to unexpected breakdowns that take ships out of service, forcing the rest of the fleet to work even harder.


More maintenance funding will slow down this vicious cycle in the short term, but in the long term the only solution is to buy more ships. Said Moran, “we need a bigger Navy so we can continue to meet demand without driving the current force, the smaller force, into the ground.”


Mabus Agrees – But…


“Bill Moran and I have had this conversation,” Ray Mabus, the outgoing Navy Secretary, told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast this morning. “I don’t think that it’s an either/or here. One of the readiness problems that we do have is we don’t have enough ships.” Cutting shipbuilding budgets to fund near-term readiness just makes the problem worse in the long term, he warned repeatedly.


But if you’re adding dollars to the Navy budget, as Trump has pledged, Mabus went on, then yes, the next dollar needs to go to maintenance, not shipbuilding. “[For] the very close in of the ’18, ’19, budget, (given) the shipbuilding plan that we were on, if you’ll stick to that, then … take those marginal dollars and put them into today’s readiness.”


That’s a remarkable admission from Mabus. The Navy Secretary prides himself on building more ships than his predecessors: 86 ships put under contract during his eight-year term, versus 41 in the previous seven, as he says at every opportunity. Mabus even got into a public fight with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter over shipbuilding funds in the 2018-2022 budget plan.


“We were ordered to cut $16 billion and instead I added $35,” Mabus said with satisfaction. (Carter & co. have told the Navy to spend less on new ships and more on upgrading the ships it has with modern weapons). Since the 2018 plan will be finalized and submitted by the Trump administration, which has promised much higher funding for defense, Mabus considered Carter’s cuts “a useless exercise,” he said bluntly. “This was at best symbolic, and if you’re going to put in a symbolic budget,” he said, why not lay out what the Navy really needs? “To say, nah, fewer ships, just makes no sense,” Mabus said, “and it undercuts one of the central requirements of this administration.”


“The ships that I put under contract will get us to 308 ships by 2021,” said Mabus, but, he emphasized, that’s the Navy’s old goal, calculated in 2012, before Russia seized Crimea or China built artificial islands in the South China Sea. The new Force Structure Assessment just completed calls for 355.


That’s almost exactly the figure Trump called for in the campaign, 350 ships. Some skeptics call the closeness suspiciously “convenient,” said Adm. Moran, but “I assure you our analysis has been going on for more than a year.” It also lines up with older studies that called for a fleet in the “mid-300s” and with three independent studies ongoing of fleet architecture, he said: “All three of those, independently, without any collaboration or guidance from OPNAV (Navy HQ) staff, came up with roughly the same number.”


Getting consensus on 355 ships is a good start, but getting funding for 355 ships will be much harder, Moran warned: “We can’t get overly excited about the potential for that much money coming our way.”


Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump


(return to top)




After Ratings Change Backlash, Effort To Reform Navy Jobs Moves Ahead


(STARS AND STRIPES 11 JAN 17) … Wyatt Olson


JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – The Navy has backed off on a controversial decision to scrap job-oriented titles, but the effort to reform how those jobs are attained and offered is moving forward, a top Navy official said Tuesday.


“Now that we’ve got the distraction of the naming issue put aside, we’re focusing on things of substance that we wanted to tackle – the rating modernization – as well as Sailor 2025,” Vice Adm. Robert Burke, chief of Naval Personnel, told a media roundtable in Hawaii.


Sailor 2025, an overhaul of the Navy’s personnel system, is intended to modernize policies, operating systems and training.


The service announced in September it would end the 2-century-old job-ratings system that identifies sailors by occupation and rank, though many vehemently opposed the change.


“Our sailors have many allegiances,” Burke said of the backlash. “They have allegiance to their ships, to their warfare designations, to their squadrons and to their tribe. Ratings are another tribe, and there’s tradition associated with it. I think there’s that aspect of it.”


At least for now, a yeoman first class will remain a yeoman first class, he said, adding that “everything else in the project is continuing forward.”


“We fundamentally haven’t changed our personnel system since the draft went away [44 years ago],” Burke said.


The Navy oversees a massive and sprawling personnel pool, with roughly 40,000 sailors entering the service each year and the same number heading out. There are about 90,000 annual permanent-change-of-station moves for operational and rotational tours alone, he said.


The Navy is hoping to attract and retain sailors through the modernization effort designed to reduce the cost and toll of turnover.


Part of that reform is aimed at increasing flexibility so sailors don’t find themselves at career dead ends. Too many “proven performers” aren’t promoted because their job specialties are “over-manned,” he said.


The modernization would create more flexibility by managing personnel by career tracks. For example, a dental technician could qualify to be an X-ray technician after an additional month of schooling, Burke said.


The Navy is working on identifying and categorizing similar jobs.


“That’s what the rating modernization is about: identifying that DNA that defines that career track he’s in and looking at the differences for the DNA that’s required to do different jobs and just training them on those different elements,” he said. “That’s the goal.”


Burke said the sailors he’s talked to have liked the proposal to change the way advancement exams are structured. For example, he said there are 40 classifications within the corpsman rating that run the gamut from dental and X-ray technician to mortician and aerospace medical technician.


A corpsman is tested on all 40 classifications when taking an advancement exam, Burke said. A worthy goal would be to advance sailors based on testing of their individual skill sets rather than the “the whole larger set,” he added.


“Sailors really like that idea,” Burke said.


However, increased job flexibility as the norm could cause the Navy to revisit the naming issue, he said.

“For example, if you come in as a cryptologic technician and you later become an electronics technician, what do we call you?” he said.


During an all-hands call Monday at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, several sailors suggested that the first rating a sailor assumes in the Navy will be “for life,” Burke said.


“We’ll get the sailors’ ideas on it and bring them to bear on what we call each other,” he said. “We can cross that bridge later.”


(return to top)




Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says


(DEFENSE DAILY 11 JAN 17) … Marc Selinger


The U.S. Navy, which recently concluded that it needs to buy dozens of more ships than planned, expects it will require more aircraft to support those vessels, though how many and what kind is unclear, according to the service’s top official.


“Clearly, you’ll need aircraft to man those ships,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Jan. 11. But determining the number and types of those aircraft is less urgent than ships because “you can dial up aircraft in a much shorter period of time than you can [with] ships.”


The Navy announced last month that based on a year-long study, or force structure assessment, it needs to expand its fleet size to 355 ships, up from the 308 ships it is currently slated to grow to by fiscal year 2021. The 47-ship increase includes one more aircraft carrier, 18 more attack submarines, 16 more large surface combatants and four more amphibious warfare ships.


Mabus, who spoke to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C., and later addressed a Surface Navy Association conference in Arlington, Va., defended the study against those who assert it would overspend on shipbuilding. He insisted the Navy does not have enough ships to meet combatant commander requirements and is overtaxing its fleet.


Critics say “the Navy is focused too much on shipbuilding and not enough on the weapons that go on them,” Mabus said. “How are they going to get these advanced weapons there if we don’t have the ships? We have to be forward-deployed.”


Mabus said shipbuilders have become more efficient due to recent increases in shipbuilding, and he expressed confidence that they could build enough additional ships to meet the Navy’s needs. “Even today with the number of ships we’re building, there are troughs,” he said at a Surface Navy Association conference. “We need to not have those troughs.”


Mabus has not seen interest in building new shipyards. “I’m a big fan of competition,” he said, but industry “would need to be convinced that it’s a profitable enterprise, and I’ve not seen a big line to do that.”


Brian Cuccias, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, said Ingalls, which is currently building 10 ships for four Navy and Coast Guard programs at its 800-acre facility in Pascagoula, Miss., could build more because it is using only 70 to 75 percent of its capacity.


“I can probably produce the ships faster” than the Navy can provide funding, Cuccias told reporters at the conference. “We are positioned right now to accelerate today.”


Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says


(return to top)




America’s Military Has A Big Problem: It’s Dead Broke


The Pentagon has made big plans for which it lacks the money.




Bank Examiner Carter: “I trust you had a good year?”


George Bailey: “A good year? Uh, well, between you and me, Mr. Carter, we’re broke.” – It’s a Wonderful Life

“We’re broke.” In essence, that’s the message Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work delivered to Defense-Secretary-in-Waiting James Mattis at the December 5 Future Strategy Forum.


Mr. Work admitted that DoD has breathtaking liabilities – as much as $88 billion a year – that ought to be addressed before procuring a single additional plane, ship or tank. Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than that.


Military leaders have testified to the problems caused by five straight years of budget cuts and how these cuts, combined with an extraordinarily high operational tempo, have resulted in a smaller, less capable military force.


What has received less attention is the degree to which the Pentagon’s future plans bank on questionable assumptions and budgetary sleight-of-hand to balance the books for 2018 and beyond. These gimmicks include: relying on rosy future estimates for the cost of labor, fuel and currency exchange; pushing the costs of large modernization programs like the nuclear triad into the ill-defined “out years,” and using Overseas Contingency Operations funds to help cover normal DoD operating costs. Taken together, these liabilities, combined with the administration’s decision to submit budgets in excess of the Budget Control Act caps, constitute about $100 billion dollars per year of unbudgeted liabilities or risk – a staggering sum that will severely limit the new administration’s ability to quickly rebuild the U.S. military.


In October 2016 a Pentagon spokesman publicly acknowledged, and Secretary Work confirmed, what many have known for some time: that as much as half of the money requested in the DoD Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding is planned to go to normal Pentagon operations such as training soldiers, steaming ships or flying planes – not the extraordinary wartime operations which OCO was designed to cover.


The President-elect’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, (R-SC), has decried such misuse of OCO funds, calling it a “backdoor loophole” in the budget process. Considering that comment, if Congress and the country want DoD’s normal operating costs captured in the appropriations process versus the wartime funding mechanism, this $30 billion annual cost must be eventually covered in the base budget, further adding to DoD’s liabilities. And while it may be a worthy goal to move these enduring costs into the base appropriation it’s important to note that this shift by itself won’t do anything to restore military capabilities.


Here are some other liabilities Secretary Work didn’t mention:


Future Costs of Labor


Section 1009 of Title 37 United States Code requires military pay raises to equal the Economic Cost Index (ECI), a common measure of the cost of labor, unless the president invokes his authority to request an alternative pay raise. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in August that “the ECI will grow by more than 3 percent a year, on average over the next several years.” However, in its budget request, DoD has planned on much smaller raises than CBO forecasted. The 2017 DoD budget projects pay raises of only 1.6 percent for 2017-2019, and 1.8 percent and 2.1 percent for 2020 and 2021, respectively.


From 2014-2016 President Obama used his authority to lower the requested pay raises, and Congress complied. After three years of smaller than prescribed pay raises, this year Congress disregarded the president’s recommendation and set the pay raise at 2.1 percent in the 2017 NDAA, matching the growth in ECI.


Because the DoD has banked on being able to lowball military and civilian pay raises for the next five years, the liability incurred by Congress’ inconvenient compliance with law this year, and potentially in the future, will run to the tens of billions of dollars. Just next year’s change in pay will cost DoD about $800 million in 2017 than planned.


Hopeful Fuel Cost Assumptions


The DoD budget estimate projects that fuel costs for fiscal year 2017 will drop 8.2 percent from 2016. For future years, DoD used planning assumptions that reflected minor increases ranging from 4.8 percent in 2018 to only 1.8 percent in 2021.


However, the latest forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts crude oil prices will gradually rise, not fall, next year. And future year energy estimates vary widely, with high end price per barrel of crude oil reaching $150 by 2020. If energy costs grow at even a modest rate of 5 percent annually, the Pentagon will be short billions of dollars compared to its plan.


Living Large In an “Out-year”


Former Secretary of the Army John McHugh famously commented that he always wanted to “live in an out-year.” In Pentagonese, “out-years” fall outside the rigid five-year planning window; they are, consequently, years in which unrealistic procurement plans magically come to fruition and normal budget rules don’t apply.


DoD is notorious for planning to acquire major systems such as planes, submarines and ships in quantities that are patently unaffordable in the next five years, but will be brought on-board when the money somehow materializes in an “out-year.”


This Pentagon has double-downed on that technique. In addition to the unpaid bills associated with the recapitalization of the nuclear triad mentioned by Secretary Work, the replacement for the Ohio class submarine and many other major systems are also all awaiting an out-year deus ex machina to save the day.


For example, the Navy’s current, approved 30-year shipbuilding program only gets them to 308 ships – even though they just announced they need 355, nearly matching the president-elect’s promise to get to 350 ships. Yet when the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the Navy’s 308-ship plan, they found it would cost $3-5 billion dollars more per year than what was budgeted.


In an excellent study of the out-year issue, CSIS’s Todd Harrison suggested that just to execute the DoD’s planned modernization programs would require approximately 7 percent more funding – around $40 billion per year – than was budgeted. This includes nothing of the re-building that President-elect Trump has promised.


Other problems lie ahead. DoD has made optimistic assumptions about foreign currency exchange rates, counting on them to remain near where they are today, which is very favorable for the United States. Another liability includes Pentagon requests for changes to military health care programs that the 2017 NDAA did not fully support.


At the Bottom of a Very Deep Hole


The Pentagon has made big plans for which it lacks the money. The liabilities described above will build to about $100 billion a year over time, seriously complicating matters for a president-elect who has pledged to rebuild our depleted military.


The Pentagon can save some money through efficiencies, base realignment and closure, restructuring and better business practices, and some of these efforts are already underway. But those savings won’t be nearly enough to close liabilities of this magnitude. It’s unfortunate this critical information hasn’t been part of a national discussion by our nation’s leaders, including the president, prior to the imminent transition.


In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey’s financial problems were solved with a crowdfunding solution among the residents of Bedford Falls. General Mattis won’t be so fortunate. It’s among the many challenges that the new administration’s leaders will have to grapple with in their first hundred days to begin the necessary restoration of our military.


Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr (U.S. Army, retired) is the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense. He served as the Army’s Director of the Office of Business Transformation from 2013-2016.


(return to top)




France Bids To Take NATO Leadership Role From Britain


(LONDON TIMES (UK) 10 JAN 17) … Deborah Haynes


Britain could lose its leading position within NATO after Brexit under options being discussed by member states.


The tradition that a British officer holds the No 2 military post in the alliance is under threat as other European countries eye the coveted role, the Royal United Services Institute think tank indicated. The move would represent a loss of prestige for Britain, which has filled the post of deputy supreme allied commander almost continually since Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery in 1951. The alliance has always been led by an American.


Defence sources identified France as most likely to exploit Britain’s exit from the European Union to improve its military standing within NATO. Last autumn Paris sent an unofficial delegation to Washington to lobby U.S. officials, claiming that French armed forces were better placed than their British counterparts to be America’s special ally in Europe after Brexit, The Times understands.


The French team, including a naval captain and a senior official at the defence ministry, “were at pains to point out how useful the French military could be as an ally and their track record in getting things done in trouble-spots where the U.S. was not as strong as it wished to be”, said a source with knowledge of the September mission.


“They also pointed out that, after Brexit, they would be the only EU country with this capability.” A number of NATO member states are understood to be informally talking about whether a British officer should retain the title of the alliance’s No 2 military commander. The post is held by General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, who will hand over to Lieutenant-General Sir James Everard in March.


A key role for the commander is to lead certain EU military missions, including a force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Countries have raised questions about whether a British officer should be allowed to play that role once Britain has left the EU.


Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general at the institute, addresses the issue in a briefing paper on Britain’s foreign and security policy after Brexit, published today. The document cautions Theresa May against using Britain’s role as the leading military power in western Europe as a “bargaining chip” in Brexit negotiations. This approach could undermine the principle of collective defence that NATO relies upon to ward off attack, Mr. Chalmers says.


Referring to the post of deputy commander, he writes: “There is already some discussion of the possibility that the assignment of the position … might have to be transferred to a NATO member that is a member of the EU.”


Britain could fill the role of chief of staff, the third most senior title in the NATO chain of command. Another solution could be to re-create a second deputy command post – a job that was held by a German officer between 1978 and 1993 but disbanded after the end of the Cold War, Mr. Chalmers said. The second deputy could relieve the British commander of all EU-related tasks.


“Whatever the outcome, the substantive consequences of such changes are likely to be relatively limited,” Mr. Chalmers said. “Even so, the fact that they are being raised is a clear message that the UK’s role and influence within NATO cannot be entirely ring-fenced from the consequences of Brexit.”


Sir Adam Thomson, who stepped down as Britain’s ambassador to NATO in November, said he doubted that Britain would lose its deputy command status but said it was likely that the EU element of the job would be stripped away. “Politically, sticking with a Brit to command EU missions seems unlikely given Brexit,” Sir Adam said.


A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We will continue to play a leading role in European security. This includes providing NATO’s deputy supreme allied commander for Europe.”


(return to top)




The Pentagon Needs Its Own Google For All Its Data, Says Eric Schmidt


A giant Defense Department data warehouse would give the military Google-like capability, and create the richest intelligence target ever conceived.


(DEFENSE ONE 09 JAN 17) … Patrick Tucker


The U.S. military needs an entirely new system for storing and managing data if they want to make it searchable and actionable for front line soldiers as easily as any of us can search Google, according to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, legendary Google CEO, and chair of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board.


The innovation board is a panel of technology giants such as Jeff Bezos and Neil deGrasse Tyson that the Defense Department has recruited to help the United States military. During a meeting of the board on Monday, Schmidt discussed the creation of a data storing and delivery system that sounds uncannily Google-esque.

The pitch came in the form of a new interim recommendation. [The Defense Innovation Advisory Board voted “yes” on its previous 11 recommendations.]


Though no individual board member contributes specific recommendations, Schmidt was clearly personally connected to this one. He explained that the new recommendation rose from the group’s international discussions about future artificial intelligence capabilities and discussions with commanders across the U.S. military.


“In our meetings with the senior leadership, they talk about this thing called ‘data fusion.’ The fantasy goes something like: we’re going to have all these different signals; the signals will be automatically detected; the immediacy … will enable to warfighter to make a better decision,” he said.


It would work sort of the same way Google crawls the web for the most relevant and recent web pages related to specific subject areas and then presents them on demand when people type queries. The proposal would require a single network that allows any operator in the world to access any and all Defense Department data with a quick query, (and based on appropriate permissions levels.) Need to pull up drone footage over Kenya two days ago? Hunting for the design specs on a particular IED? If the DOD has it, it should be findable and mineable at scale, but that requires putting the data in fewer places, making it findable.


Of course Google relies on data that people around the world contribute to the open Web and Google itself doesn’t have to worry about hosting the information, just indexing it.


The Defense Department can’t just send its information to the open Web. But, says Schmidt, if the Pentagon could figure out a more centralized storage scheme, its leaders and commanders could take advantage of search capability at a variety of levels.


“There’s no place in the military where the data is centrally aggregated and a lot of organizations either hide the data, don’t know they have the data, lose the data or don’t care about the data,” said Schmidt. “The problem … is that the signals aren’t available and they aren’t minable. So, [data fusion is] a great strategy but you have no way of implementing it. The reason we wanted to bring this idea up and then work it through the bureaucracy or whatever else you call it is that without some kind of data repository, set of data repositories … you are not going to be able to achieve that vision. It’s a clear bug in the strategy.”


Centralizing data would allow future machine learning and AI programs to mine the information, capable (at least in theory) of discovering new correlations and patterns. It’s the sort of thing that today takes analysts years. In theory, if streaming data on, say, fuel costs, weapons production, mission milestones, casualties etc. were all in one place, leaders would have a much more detailed, accurate, and timely understanding of the global conflict environment, how much they were ahead or behind.


Schmidt, however, cautioned that the centralization process should be gradual. “In practice you would never do such a broad release to the whole military for security reasons. So … you would not have one big database. But the principle is the same,” he said.


Of course, centralizing Defense Department data would also create new information target that could put the nation at unfathomable risk if those targets were ever compromised, Schmidt acknowledged. “Now, before we get too excited about databases here. The databases have to be secure. These are secret, secret information, secured by all the computer scientists that we hire.”


But security is more a matter of will and implementation than miracle work, said Schmidt. “Having worked with and done this for a long time, the algorithms to provide absolute security exist. They just simply have not been implemented. This is a computer science problem. Basically, if you use 2048 bit-encryption [which would take more than a million a years to break using a standard desktop machine] you use two-factor authentication, your information is not going to be leaked except by illegal activity by humans.”


(return to top)




Pentagon Successfully Tests World’s Largest Micro-Drone Swarm


(MILITARY TIMES 09 JAN 17) … Shawn Snow


U.S. military officials in California have conducted a test launching more than 100 micro-drones from three F/A-18 Super Hornets, the largest-ever test for the cutting-edge “swarm” technology, defense officials said.


The swarm consisted of 103 Perdix micro drones, which are small, low-cost, battery-powered devices, launched from three separate Super Hornets. The exercise was conducted at China Lake, California, by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, working with Naval Air Systems Command.


The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as “collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing,” according to a Defense Department statement Monday.


“This is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that will keep us a step ahead of our adversaries. This demonstration will advance our development of autonomous systems,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who created the SCO in 2012, said in the statement.


The test was conducted in October and aired on Sunday’s CBS News program “ 60 Minutes,” according to a Defense Department (DoD) press release.


Perdix are low-altitude micro drones, capable of autonomously conducting intelligence collection and surveillance operations.


“Due to the complex nature of combat, Perdix are not pre-programmed synchronized individuals. They are a collective organism, sharing one distributed brain for decision-making and adapting to each other like swarms in nature,” said SCO Director William Roper. “Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to drones entering or exiting the team.”


Developed by engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department; Perdix drones were eventually modified for military application at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in 2013.


Previous successful demonstrations have included an air-drop from F-16 flare canisters by the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 2014; and in 2015, roughly 90 Perdix missions were undertaken during U.S. Pacific Command’s Northern Edge exercise in Alaska, an exercise that witnessed the first successful swarm test of 20 Perdix drones.


The SCO plans to partner with the Defense Industrial Unit‐Experimental (DIUx), an organization announced by Carter to promote and facilitate technological development for the U.S. military in 2015, in order to produce a thousand units this year.


(return to top)




Defense One


Pentagon Tester: F-35 Program Rushing Tests, Delays Still Likely


By Patrick Tucker


The F-35 program office’s rush to make an August test deadline will increase risks yet still leave the effort well behind schedule, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester said in a report released today.


That verdict, from the Office of Operational Testing and Evaluation, came as no surprise, though it is another black eye for Donald Trump’s least favorite combat jet.


The report did note some progress, such as the completion of important ship-integration tests and steps toward fixing a dangerous ejection seat.


However, most of chief tester Michael Gilmore’s report focuses on what still needs to be done. And it’s plenty. OTE has noted some “276 deficiencies in combat performance” as part of the most recent rollout of improvements. The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, the company that makes the planes, have been working on them, but their plans for the next block of improvements, Block 3FR6, will address fewer than half of the deficiencies.


As for Block 3F, the most recent set of upgrades, the report notes “significant, well-documented deficiencies resulting in overall ineffective operational performance…hundreds of which will not be adequately addressed with fixes and corrections verified with flight testing within the system [development and demonstration phase].”


The report also concludes that “the current schedule-driven program plans to close out [for development and demonstration] testing in 2017 do not include enough time to fix these key deficiencies, nor time to verify corrections in flight test.”


The risk is that the program, out of a sense of urgency, may look to verify fixes in the lab rather than in actual flight tests. This is, a huge safety concern “because the labs proved to not always be representative of the actual aircraft for detecting problems or verifying fixes for stability problems.”


The most important items on the to-do list: fix the plane’s 25mm gun and its analytics and diagnostic software.


While the office did complete ground firing tests for the gun on all the variants of the F-35, only the A model has completed initial flight testing with the notoriously troublesome weapon. Testing has revealed problems in display that the pilot sees in the helmet (when trying to target the gun). The report suggests a “high likelihood” of additional discoveries about the gun as more testing takes place, causing further delays, according to the report.


The biggest problem by far remains the complex Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, which monitors the health of the plane’s parts and tells operators and maintainers what’s happening with the jet. It’s probably the most infamous piece of software in the military, having earned a short spot on “60 Minutes” in 2014. The plane does not need it to fly, but does need it for maintenance.


To accelerate the roll-out of improvements to ALIS, the program office has begun delivering smaller software upgrades, not just big block upgrades.


“Service packs are developed, tested and fielded on a much quicker timeline than our larger increments of ALIS,” Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan testified in March.


The Air Force deadline for conduct important operational tests (also called initial operational test and evaluation, or IOT&E) has slipped to fall 2017. The report suggests it could slide further.


(return to top)




Navy Adds Helicopter Electronic War Anti-Ship Missile Defense


(SCOUT WARRIOR 11 JAN 17) … Michael Fabey


To provide better sea-surface electronic warfare capability, Lockheed Martin is marrying enhanced sensors with MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters.


The company is developing an EW pod for both MH-60 R/S Sea Hawk versions to help provide anti-ship missile defense as part of Lockheed’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), says Joe Ottaviano, company EW director.


Called the Advanced Offboard Electronic Warfare (AOEW) system, the airborne sensor and links will extend the range over the horizon and offer some electronic attack potential, Ottaviano said Jan. 9 during a Lockheed briefing in advance of the Surface Navy Association annual conference.


The system can be used for more than just surveillance, he says, and provides the Navy with a first-look capability out on the seas. “You can sense and see long before the enemy know you are there,” he says. But, he adds, he cannot provide any more detail about potential offensive EW measures the system can provide.


Currently, according to the Navy and the Pentagon, only Boeing EA-18G Growlers provide airborne electronic attack.


With a contract award in December, he says, the program is on a fast track that the Navy wants to accelerate. “We have been challenged to go faster,” he says.


Under the SEWIP’s Block 2, the AOEW helicopter pod will be linked with the ships’ SLQ-32 system.

Senior Navy officials have said that upgraded SEWIPs were being acquired for many of the Navy’s forward-positioned ships in strategic locations such as Japan and Rota, Spain.


The USS Bainbridge went through operational testing several years ago as the Navy acquired its first 24 Block 2SEWIP units.


“SEWIP is the Navy’s continued push to keep electronic warfare excellence ahead of the threat. It is an incremental set of upgrades to the SLQ-32 which was designed in the late 70s and deployed in the 80s. It gives the Navy the ability to upgrade and outpace the threat. It provides the ability to quickly upgrade processing as new threats come online and become more complex without overhauling the antenna,” Ottaviano said a in an interview several years ago with (from Kris Osborn)


The Block 2 SEWIP advancements include upgrades to the antenna and digital receiver, Ottaviano said. Block 2 upgrades also include the addition of new software engineered to ensure the system is equipped to recognize new, emerging threat signals.


“It provides the digital architecture so it can quickly upgrade and provide additional capability as threats increase in capability,” Ottaviano added.


The Navy plans to configure including carriers, cruisers, destroyers and amphibs, among others.


The hardware to the system consists of above and below deck components including a display screen and processing technology, he added.


The hardware may be configured differently depending upon the structure of a given ship, Ottaviano explained.


For example, the EW antenna on the Navy’s new destroyer, the DDG 1000, is conformed to align with the ship’s hull.


Following SEWIP Block 2, the Navy plans to develop and acquire a Block 3 SEWIP electronic attack technology, Navy and Lockheed officials said.


In addition to “listening” or passive electromagnetic detection, Block 3 will include the ability to transmit signals and potentially jam or disrupt enemy signals.


Under the SEWIP operational concept, the MH-60R already plays a role with its multi-mission AN/ALQ-210 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system, That system provides proven situational awareness and threat warning with Electronics Intelligence quality measurement accuracy in complex and dense electronic battlefield scenarios, Lockheed says.


The system is currently in full rate production for the U.S. Navy and International customers.


The AN/ALQ-210 ESM system autonomously scans the environment allowing for a high probability of detection and accurate identification, the company says. The system operation is tailorable through mission data loads which can be reloaded in flight for adapting to each specific geographic region.


(return to top)




Defense One


US Army Looking to 3D-Print Minidrones in 24 Hours


By Patrick Tucker


Imagine a squad of Army Rangers prepping to capture a high-value subject barricaded inside a three-story building. The Rangers decide send in a small camera drone to check for IEDs — but there’s a problem: the enemy has begun putting its booby-traps on the ceiling, where the downward-facing drones can’t see them. If only those little gizmos had cameras on the top…?


A new project by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and Georgia Technical Institute just might help. It aims to give soldiers the ability to 3D-print swarms of mini-drones to specific specifications within 24 hours. Its creators call this approach “aggregate derivative approach to product design,” or ADAPT.


“A soldier with a mission need uses a computer terminal to rapidly design a suitable [drone],” says a poster by project chief engineer Zacarhy Fisher. “That design is then manufactured using automated processes such as laser cutting and 3D printing. The solution is sent back to the soldier and is deployed.”


Fisher says the drone itself could be fabricated in less than a day, with total turnaround time of less than three days.


In their research paper on the design approach, they lay out a four-step process: requirements analysis, which is figuring out what type of drone you need for the mission; architecture selection, selecting among a variety of standard and custom parts to build it; interface design, making sure it all fits together; and concept refinement.


The trick is to limit the number of potential build options around one of the four different tasks a soldier might need a small drone for. Previous research from Georgia Tech has identified those as perimeter surveillance and defense, reconnaissance for inside buildings, reconnaissance for inside caves, and jungle reconnaissance. Depending on the mission type, you know if you need a video camera, target designator, light detection and ranging and other pieces.


The authors describe the basic approach as inspired by Lego.


“The on-demand approach is succinctly explained via an analogy to Lego?,” they write. “Lego? bricks contain a number of modular parts that can be constructed into different models depending on what outcome is desired. Instructions are provided to help the user build different systems out of the same set of components.” At the beginning of December, the researchers performed a demonstration on several of the drones at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.


Future capabilities could include combining 3D printing, drones, and artificial intelligence, an of research being led by Kyrre Glette at the University of Oslo, who in 2014 demonstrated the first steps in program to allow robots to 3D-print themselves.


(return to top)




CNO Vs A2AD: Why Admiral Richardson Is Right About Deconstructing The A2/AD Term


(THE NAVALIST 10 JAN 17) … Sam J. Tangredi


Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson’s desire to minimize use of “A2/AD” made no headway with the rest of the Department of Defense (DoD). In particular it bumped up against Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, who has used the term A2/AD for over 15 years and thinks that it most excellently captures our main warfighting challenge. However, the CNO has a valid point, even if it was not completely articulated. His remarks in his National Interest article (“Deconstructing A2/AD,” October 3, 2016) remain a necessary corrective for “deconstructing” an artificial term that indeed appears to mean too much to some and too little to others.


He is right that “A2/AD is a term bandied about freely, with no precise definition, that sends a variety of vague or conflicting signals, depending on the context in which it is either transmitted or received.” But there is more to it than that.


As those who have read my book Anti-Access Warfare: Countering A2/AD Strategies know, I am no fan of the A2/AD acronym. To most Americans it sounds like a character from the Star Wars movies (R2-D2, CP-3O, etc.), and it is never in the long-term interest of DoD to confuse the public. It would not have appeared in the title of my book if the publisher hadn’t insisted. The problem is that A2 and AD are two distinctly separate concepts that represent different levels of warfare and require differing forms of analysis to be understood.


In short, A2 (anti-access) is a strategy in which combat operations are but one part. In contrast, AD (area denial) represents tactics that can be used to achieve A2 objectives in a military campaign, but are largely indistinguishable from “standard” land warfare or sea denial operations. AD can support an A2 strategy, or can support another strategy. If an opposing force needs to apply area denial (AD) tactics in a combat situation – particularly on land – then we have already won the A2 phase of a protracted conflict.


An anti-access strategy is a plan for keeping a strategically-superior military away from one’s region. It is intended to either deter interference by an outside power while achieving a regional military conquest, or if deterrence fails, achieve a quick victory while avoiding a force-on-force contest. The fear of the nation (or armed group) adopting an anti-access strategy is that if the strategically superior power is allowed to build up its force in the region it will win. They would face the same situation that Saddam did in the Gulf War of 1991; he could capture Kuwait, but could never hold it if opposed by the U.S. and the coalition. The objective is to convince the “outside” power to go away and accept the de facto results. Since nations and non-nations rarely start a war intending to lose, adopting an anti-access strategy when a stronger force may intervene makes logical sense.


Anti-access warfare was the strategy of Imperial Japan in World War II. Japan was determined to conquer the Dutch East Indies, as much of China as possible and everything in between. Since the Philippine and Guam were in between, that would bring it in conflict with the U.S. Admiral Yamamoto and the other Japanese strategists who were not blinded by “racial superiority” knew that in a protracted war, Japan would lose. The U.S. could out-produce every nation in terms of weaponry, and was thus the strategically superior power. Yamamoto specifically stated that he could only guarantee victory for six months. His vision was that if he could destroy the U.S. fleet, both in Asian waters and at Pearl Harbor, and sever the line of communication with Australia, the U.S. government would consider a negotiated agreement since it would be too costly in lives and treasure to fight its way back into the region.


This strategy had some logic; one must recall that Yamamoto traveled the United States before the war and knew the isolationist sentiment that appeared to prevail. Since Britain was fighting for its life, and France and the Netherlands had fallen to Germany, the U.S. was the sole power who could threaten the expansion and control of the Empire. (The Soviet Union could threaten possessions in northern China, but not Japan at sea.)


Of course, the Pearl Harbor attack had the opposite effect. Yamamoto et al. lost the gamble. The anti-access “great wall” of Pacific islands was breached at Midway, and U.S. forces – primarily the Navy and Marine Corps – took it apart brick by brick. American forces faced and defeated the most determined anti-access strategy in its greatest naval war. Admiral Richardson is certainly correct in saying that A2/AD “is not a new phenomenon” and that “history has much to teach us about maintaining perspective.”


Fast forward to today. Given current military and diplomatic capabilities (Soviet military planners would have called it the “correlation of forces”), a force-on-force conflict between the U.S. joint force and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), along with its naval component, fought in some theoretical “neutral” zone away from the Chinese mainland – the Iraqi desert for example – would almost certainly result in a U.S. victory. A force-on-force engagement in Southeast Asia could also result in a U.S./coalition force victory, particularly in conjunction with a Chinese revolt against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). If U.S. land and air forces were firmly entrenched in Taiwan – as well as in place as it is today in Japan, Korea and throughout the “second island chain,” Chinese military power would be constrained in the region it considers its own. A force-on-force confrontation would be a gamble the CCP would be unlikely to take. The logical strategy in any Chinese military expansion would therefore be to attempt to drive forward U.S. forces out of the region (diplomatically if possible, militarily if necessary) and prevent them from coming back in. The primary battlefield would obviously be maritime. Similar situations exist in other parts of the world.


The problem with the A2/AD term is that conflates strategy with tactics in a way that neglects the non-military aspects of anti-access warfare, minimizes the role of deterrence, and focuses us “like a laser beam” on tactical analyses on how particular opposing weapons systems will perform.


How does all this relate to Admiral Richardson’s preference for a different description of the potential situation the Navy and U.S. joint forces might face in East Asia? The problem with the A2/AD term is that conflates strategy with tactics in a way that neglects the non-military aspects of anti-access warfare, minimizes the role of deterrence, and focuses us “like a laser beam” on tactical analyses on how particular opposing weapons systems will perform. Indeed, we do need to analyze how weapons systems will perform. But that does not equate to an analysis on the strategic requirements for defeating an anti-access strategy. I would argue that most national security planners are not analyzing the strategic requirements because we they are too busy debating about Chinese DF-21 missiles versus aircraft carriers. AD has driven our attention away from A2. And, as the CNO maintains, from the tactical perspective “the A2/AD problem is currently well understood – challenging, but understood.” I would also argue that the strategic requirements to counter A2 are not as well understood – particularly in the area of economics – and must be analyzed with the same fervor as the missiles versus carriers debate.


The CNO also claims that our current concept of A2/AD is “inherently oriented to the defense.” Whether one agrees or not with that depiction, and many of the A2/AD scenarios discussed within DoD do include offensive operations, breaking the “great walls” of anti-access strategies requires an offensive orientation, which, by its existence, could provide a greater deterrent effect in East Asia than our concentration on defense. Yamamoto’s goal was to sink U.S. strategy, not just U.S. ships. By separating A2 from AD, perhaps we can begin to truly analyze and understand the big picture as well as the details. For this, A2/AD must indeed be “deconstructed.”


So what should be done? A2/AD is not going to be replaced anytime soon. It has been used too long, was created by the dominant defense-issues think-tank (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments), and there is not a good alternative term. However, it is an operational term and should only be used when discussing DF-21s, aircraft carriers, or other specific hardware. When discussing strategy, which should include political, diplomatic, and economic efforts, not just military, anti-access is the term that captures the concept.


Dr. Sam J. Tangredi is Professor of National, Naval and Maritime Strategy at the Center for Naval Warfare Studies of the U.S. Naval War College.


(return to top)




Next Big Future


DARPA drone flew for 56 hours and landed with over half its fuel so looks close to achieving 7 days without refueling


A DARPA-backed small business effort broke boundaries for long-endurance flight this month by launching a uniquely designed, combustion-powered unmanned aircraft that stayed aloft for more than two days and two nights. The flight was terminated several days ahead of schedule because of incoming weather. But the craft—built by Vanilla Aircraft of Falls Church, Virginia—landed safely with more than half its fuel still onboard, suggesting it is capable of setting additional records for powered flight in its weight and power class and could ultimately offer important new capabilities to ground forces and others.


Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an increasingly important means for military forces—especially small dismounted units—to bring extra communications or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the field. Current designs, however, offer relatively limited range and flight endurance; additionally, their need for frequent refueling, specialized launch and recovery equipment, and regular maintenance often limit them to flying from fixed bases close to the front lines. Vanilla’s propeller-driven VA001 is designed to carry a 30-pound payload at 15,000 feet for up to 10 days without refueling.


The VA001 started its historic flight on the morning of November 30, 2016 at New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center near Las Cruces International Airport. For nearly 56 hours, the plane flew at an altitude between 6,500 feet and 7,500 feet above sea level, averaging 57 knots before landing on the afternoon of December 2.


A representative from the National Aeronautic Association—the organization that verifies and tracks flight-related world records—certified the flight as achieving the world duration record for combustion-powered UAVs in the 50 kg-500 kg subclass (FAI Class U-1.c Group 1). Moreover, the flight was the fourth-longest for any unmanned airplane and the 11th-longest for an airplane of any type (manned or unmanned, solar or fuel-powered).


“This record-breaking flight demonstrated the feasibility of designing a low-cost UAV able to take off from one side of a continent, fly to the other, perform its duties for a week, and come back—all on the same tank of fuel,” said Jean-Charles Ledé, DARPA program manager. “This capability would help extend the footprint of small units by providing scalable, persistent UAV-based communications and ISR coverage without forward basing, thereby reducing personnel and operating costs. We’re very pleased with what the Vanilla team has accomplished.”


(return to top)




Popular Mechanics


The Navy’s F-35 May Need New Landing Gear


Changes to the aircraft carrier or the landing gear itself could be in the cards.


By Kyle Mizokami


A group within the Department of Defense has recommended fixes for the landing gear naval version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Should they fail, the team recommends a redesign of the F-35C’s landing gear to address issues, something that will push back delivery of the already delayed and over-budget aircraft.


Inside Defense reports that carrier takeoff and landing testing done on the USS George Washington last year exposed an issue with the aircraft during takeoffs. The aircraft makes a sudden jarring motion that “is not only uncomfortable but the Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD) and oxygen mask push up and down against the pilot’s jaw.” This results in an unreadable HMD during and after launch, presumably until the pilot can readjust the helmet.


The F-35’s $400,000 HMD uses LCDs to overlay aircraft and sensor data onto the pilot’s field of view, prompting F-35 supporters to describe it more as a “workspace” for the pilot than the traditional pilot helmet. This however adds to weight—the F-35 helmet weighs 5.1 pounds, creating an “elevated risk” for pilots under 136 pounds to sustain neck damage. Work is underway to reduce helmet weight to a safer 4.8 pounds or less.


The takeoff issue is so serious that in 105 catapult shots, pilots reported 74 instances of “moderate pain” and several more cases of “severe pain”.


The “red team”—typically a group created within an organization to challenge existing assumptions with new ideas—recommended a slate of actions with short, medium and long-term timelines. Short and medium term options range from changing the restraint system for pilots to modifying the nose landing gear. Longer term options include modifications to the aircraft carriers themselves or a redesign of the F-35C’s landing gear, which would take one to three years to complete.


Nobody knows whether or not the long term options will actually be needed. The matter could be solved by relatively quick fixes. But if those fail, a major landing gear redesign will be a major spanner in the works for the Navy’s F-35. The F-35C is currently projected to be initial operations capable—that is, ready for combat—between August 2018 and February 2019.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 2, 2017


  1. NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool

NAVAIR Blog:  What does empowerment look like?  (link)

  1. Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results
  2. NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award
  3. PHOTO RELEASE: FRCSW, NAS North Island join to support Toys for Tots
  4. The NAVAIR Mentoring Program: “Mentoring: Millennial Matters”
  5. AIR-6.0 LOGTALK – The Importance of Maintenance Planning with SES Tracy Moran, AIR-6.7 Department Head (link)



  1. Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators’ safety
  2. What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness
  3. Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness
  4. China’s air force is becoming very powerful
  5. New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones
  6. Big data, software continue to stump defense programs
  7. F-35’s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights






Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — NAVAIR’s lead business financial manager (BFM) of the year, Denise Mallett, was also recognized by acquisition chief Frank Kendall at the Pentagon Dec. 8 for creating a database that revolutionized the way the command performs acquisition financial management.


After prototyping and proving the concept in the H-1 U.S. Marine Corps Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276), where Mallett served as the lead BFM, she passionately explained her vision to NAVAIR leadership, resulting in the go-ahead to develop a SQL-server based tool that could be used across NAVAIR to manage all appropriated funds. In October, Mallett moved to the Industrial and Logistics Competency as the lead BFM.


Her tool—originally called the spend plan database, now NAVAIR’s Common Spend Plan Tool (CSPT)—integrates all program office financial planning information, connects the data with Navy ERP and standardizes financial processes across every program office. Before her tool, financial plans were stove-piped in hundreds of disconnected and standalone spreadsheets—now her planning tool seamlessly integrates more than $68.1 billion and almost 800 budget accounts, providing unprecedented visibility, insight and speed.


“I had just started as the lead BFM in H-1 and was having trouble getting my arms around everything I needed to do because each integrated program team (IPT) had their own different workbook, and each BFM even within each IPT had a separate workbook for their ledger and their documents with the comptroller. I was struggling to get all of that data into one place,” Mallett said.


The H-1 program office is co-located with the Presidential Helo program, and it was there that lead BFM Matt Aley introduced Mallett to the Microsoft Access database he used.


She took a two-day Access training course, then spent evenings and weekends programming it herself. Once developed for the H-1 program, other program managers asked if she could show it to them and share it. While Mallett was able to share the database on a disk, any improvements or new functionality could not be passed along easily, she said.


“I didn’t have a training package, a help desk or reference guide, or any mechanism to distribute changes, so it has been hard to share, but now that we have the common tool centrally managed and supported by the command, it has become a common process tool,” Mallett said.


The tool offers several advantages for program managers and BFMs.


BFMs now spend less time on data redundancy, manual re-entry and looking for the data, she said. “Now you can just cut to the chase, get the data, do the analysis, make the decision and go. For example, if leadership calls and wants to know how much money your whole program sent to a particular contractor, open the tool, filter your criteria, and you have your answer.


“It also saves time for lead BFMs, who now have access to data with consistent field names, making data easier to find and consolidate. Within a minute you can have the answer instead of spending hours gathering it,” she said.


“Without Ms. Mallett’s vision and persistence, CSPT would not exist in its current state,” said Capt. Aaron Traver, director of operations for the Program & Business Analysis Department. “We have been able to roll out CSPT to over 1,000 users in 2016, with more users being added daily.


“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and this is a testament to the countless hours invested by Ms. Mallett to ensure CSPT would be useful, intuitively simple and flexible enough to accommodate everyone in this very complex and dynamic organization,” Traver said.


Mallett was first recognized for her planning tool in October, when she was named NAVAIR’s BFM of the Year, starting what Todd Washington, director, Program & Business Analysis Department, envisions as an annual award.


“It’s most impressive that Denise supported the CSPT development while also continuing her stellar performance as the PMA-276 Lead BFM,” Washington said. “Her ability to manage both of these significant, dynamic and complex responsibilities—without negative impact to either—was a testament to her commitment and dedication to the Navy and NAVAIR.”


Earning NAVAIR’s first BFM of the Year validated Mallett’s work ethic, she said.


“Being selected for the Department of Defense-level award has been exponentially even more flattering. It is definitely a great advertisement for the support that NAVAIR leadership at all levels has for this tool, recognizing that it saves time and adds value to the operation and mission that we are all doing in the DoD.”

To Mallett, it is more of a team award.


“There were many people working alongside me and contributing to its fruition, from the developers, the programmers and especially my BFM team. They embraced the change and dealt with the learning curving when sometimes they felt like the new database was so much harder than their old spreadsheets. They really did hang with it, along with the program managers and the IPT leads who gave it a chance to succeed,” she said.

Mallett is proud of the role BFMs play.


“We do more than data entry, write checks and create funding documents; we are a very supportive team that serves as the financial conscience of NAVAIR and are the subject matter experts helping to facilitate the decisions made by the command.”


(return to top)




Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.—Thomas McClay, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Total Asset Visibility (NAWCAD 6.8.3) competency manager, received the 2016 Daniel L. Nega Excellence in Logistics Leadership Award at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, Dec. 19.


Established in 2014, the award recognizes a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) national civilian or military employee annually for excellence in commitment and dedication to the people, mission and professionalism of AIR-6.0.


During the award’s eligibility period, McClay and his team implemented process changes critical to improving NAVAIR’s enterprise asset visibility, reutilization and audit readiness. The work included deploying an Item Unique Identification Data (IUID) marking capability at Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) to resolve obsolescence and information technology challenges associated with the legacy system. Mandated by the Defense Department, IUID is a system of marking items with a globally unique item identifier, or UII, to distinguish them from all others.


If implemented properly, McClay said, the IUID marking capability enables the automatic capture of data for inventory and engineering purposes; improves FRCs’ ability to trace parts; reduces data-entry errors; and is an effective anti-counterfeit management and accurate source for property and equipment valuation and accountability. The IUID marking is used on all new acquisitions on items the government currently owns and on government furnished property that meet specific criteria.


McClay also led the team in the transitioning of NAVAIR’s Central Kitting Activity (CKA) located in Orange Park, Florida, from a legacy stovepipe computer system into the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, supporting NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Paul Grosklag’s guidance for asset accountability. In less than a month, the team conducted a wall-to-wall inventory at the CKA Assembly Plant—an endeavor involving more than 23,000 unique items/parts with a total inventory count of 14 million pieces—and entered 19,661 parts valued at over $473 million into Navy ERP.


“This action addressed the risks associated with incomplete or inaccurate inventory records,” McClay said. “This activity ensured parts are readily available when needed to build kits that directly support readiness, affordability and speed to the fleet by ensuring inventory accuracy, increased asset visibility and reduced costs.”

Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0), acknowledged McClay for his leadership that drove solutions forward, stating “The time and effort you are dedicating to improving our established processes and developing your workforce is impressive and reflected in your division’s support to the warfighter.”


McClay’s focus on advancing the careers of the AIR 6.8 workforce and his drive to personally recruit and mentor five wounded warriors caught the attention of the award board as well. To better facilitate these efforts, he updated the Talent Management Dashboard and Career Guidebook portions associated with the Total Asset Visibility (TAV) division—work critical to ensure tools are available to employees seeking to advance their careers.


McClay said he values the approaches that people from different backgrounds, races, ages, military experiences and education levels bring to a team and especially wanted to harness the skills and abilities of veterans. He credits that outlook to his Navy career, from which he retired in 1999 as a data processing chief petty officer. “I believe in leadership by example, especially in areas of ethics, diversity and personnel development,” he explained. “Each and every person is unique and contributes their perspectives and experiences.  Wounded warriors especially bring viewpoints and insights that are not ordinarily found.”


The award’s namesake, Daniel Nega, director of the NAVAIR Cost Estimating and Analysis Department, said McClay’s “commitment and leadership stood out amongst all nominees. He clearly came out on top and exemplifies the leadership the award was created to commend.”


McClay said the successes recognized by the award reflect the empowerment of the team members and credited their initiative. “I believe that responsibility should be delegated when appropriate and not to micromanage the work,” he said.  “Not every decision or communication is required to come through me.  My employees choose solutions and courses of action while I observe. Although my name is on the award, the spotlight is theirs.”


(return to top)




NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) In-Service Support Center (ISSC) North Island, Advanced Aircraft Technologies Team recently earned a 2016 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) Far West Regional Award.


Located at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, the NAVAIR ISSC won the award in the “Outstanding Technology Development” category for its F/A-18 Hornet Landing Gear Strut Operational Readiness Monitoring (STORM) System.


The FLC is comprised of more than 300 federal laboratories, research facilities and their parent commands. Its goal is to streamline partnership prospects for federal labs, and to promote resulting federal technologies in the marketplace.


STORM acts as a pressure gauge for F/A-18 landing gear, which endures about 150,000 pounds of force when landing, and was created in view of aircraft mishaps attributed to faulty or improperly serviced shock absorbers.

As an engineering representative to the Naval Safety Center’s Aircraft Mishap Board, NAVAIR aerospace engineer Chrys Starr has analyzed numerous incidents where shock absorbers were suspect catalysts in mishaps.


Starr also serves as the landing gear advisor to a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program targeting airframe and landing gear fatigue damage to multi-mission P-8 Poseidon aircraft.


The SBIR encourages private business participation in federal research and development projects that may have the potential for commercialization. The P-8 SBIR project is held in conjunction with ES3, a small San Diego-based engineering firm.


STORM is a portion of the P-8 SBIR.


Starr realized that STORM could be adapted to other existing military and civilian airframes, and formed a team of other aerospace engineers to develop the system for F/A-18 use.


The team collaborated with the P-8 technical point of contact, NAVAIR SBIR, the F/A-18 Program Office and Science and Technology Lead to establish another SBIR with ES3 to develop STORM for the Hornet airframe.

Monitoring landing gear strut oil levels cannot be performed while an aircraft is sitting “weight on wheels.”


Consequently, aircraft need to be removed from service for an extended period while maintenance is performed.

To avoid taking the aircraft out of service, the maintenance plan had been to pump nitrogen into the strut system. An inert gas, nitrogen does not corrode or react with landing gear components. However, its use in place of oil has become a leading cause of landing gear mishaps.


STORM will work much like the oil light in a car, providing a simple means of monitoring the landing gear oil levels of the Hornet. A red-yellow-green lighting system positioned in the wheel well of the aircraft will allow maintenance personnel easy access during routine inspections.


The system will measure temperature and pressure of the shock absorber while the aircraft is in flight, at landing and stationary. Its software is based upon “Boyle’s law,” which states that the pressure and volume of gases are inversely proportional under constant temperatures.


The relationship with SBIR and FRCSW began about one year ago; the project is in Phase 2 of its development where the software is being optimized for the F/A-18 application. SBIR is projected to have a proto-type ready for Phase 3, an implementation phase, by early 2018.


(return to top)






Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators’ safety


San Diego Union-Tribune, By Amy Schafer


The collision of two Marine jets off the coast of Southern California in November gave San Diego a front-row seat to the life-or-death consequences of delaying maintenance and denying training hours to Marine Corps aviators. The lack of funding for these core elements of the USMC mission — due mostly to Congress’ self-inflicted wound of sequestration — constitutes a breach of faith with the men and women who risk their lives serving our nation.


Sequestration’s toll on the core “man, train, and equip” missions now has a body count, and United States Marine Corps aviation is the canary in the coal mine.


The recent removal of USMC Fighter Attack Squadron 232’s commander is the fourth involuntary change in aviation leadership in 2016, a phenomenon underscoring a much broader deterioration in the quality of USMC aviation. Facing untenable budgetary instability and frequent deployments, readiness has plummeted and crashes have increased precipitously. Department of Defense accountability may come via an inspector general report in 2017, but that is too little, too late.


Pilots are not being given enough flight time to safely perform their duties, creating unnecessary and deadly risk for pilots and their crews. After a Sept. 2, 2015 CH-53E Super Stallion crash, USMC aviation deaths were already at a five-year high. Less than five months later, two more Super Stallions collided off the coast of Hawaii, with 12 more Marines lost in the crash. The investigation cited pilot error, based on “low aircraft readiness that led to inadequate pilot proficiency.” Following these devastating losses, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller testified to Congress, “our aviation units are currently unable to meet our training and mission requirements,” also noting, “when you don’t have enough airplanes to fly, then your flying hours go down and it becomes difficult to maintain your currency.”


In the wake of these accidents, the Marine Corps Times highlighted the endemic problems facing USMC aviation; the mandatory sequester — followed by budget caps — has limited flight training hours, the maintenance and upgrading of platforms, and the purchase of new systems, plaguing readiness and corresponding with a marked increase in aviation accidents. In the wake of these accidents, USMC spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns confirmed there are 85 F/A-18s available for training, less than half the 171 required.


The aviation community is hamstrung and struggling to prepare to fight future conflicts, all while facing increasingly dangerous training conditions at home. With a high operational tempo, aging equipment, and a shortage of funding, it is nearly impossible to rectify the deadly cocktail of slashed training hours, equipment that hasn’t received on-time maintenance and prioritization of deploying squadrons. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for USMC aviation, has acknowledged that not only is the situation dire, but “we’re in a deep hole and have a ways to go to climb out.”


After Gen. Neller’s March testimony, the USMC began investigating whether there was a “linear correlation” between the lack of training hours and increase in aviation accidents. As part of debate over the National Defense Authorization Act in April, Lt. Gen. Davis testified to issues arising with the F/A-18 Hornet, noting the operational tempo and overutilization had led to a “low flight time and short training progression” for pilots.


Since the beginning of the summer of 2016, there have been seven “legacy hornet” crashes or incidents involving U.S. forces, three of which have killed their pilots. On Oct. 26, an F/A-18 crashed on a training flight, and two weeks later two F/A-18s collided midair, while in June a Blue Angels pilot was killed in a crash, and on Dec. 17, Naval aviation grounded all F/A-18s in response to yet another problem.


Without change, armed forces aviation will be defined by maintenance failure and deadly training accidents. The USMC stand-down on all nondeployed aviation over the summer played well with critics, and is a first step in re-evaluating the safety with which aviation can function at these low levels of funding, but does not go far enough. The problem is so dire that a single safety review is a drop in the bucket of deferred costs.


Aviation has always been a high-risk endeavor and even in the best of operating environments, accidents do happen. However, the inexcusable degradation of readiness at the hands of an irresponsible Congress is simply unacceptable. This should be a bipartisan issue. Those suffering at the hands of sequestration are our men and women in uniform. It is imperative that Congress remove the danger inherent in allowing aviation to degrade by providing robust funding increases and further safety measures. “It’s a dangerous business” is no longer a sufficient explanation.


Schafer is a research assistant for the Military, Veterans & Society program at the Center for a New American Security.


(return to top)




What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness


Task & Purpose, Dec. 30 | Carl Forsling


On Dec. 13, when a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey landed in the water just shy of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, it became yet another high-profile incident for an aircraft that has had more than its share. The aircraft is notorious after four high-profile mishaps during its development phase, including one that claimed the lives of 19 Marines in 2000.


After that disaster, the Osprey program was revamped and the aircraft substantially redesigned. It became the mainstay of the Marines’ vertical lift and Air Force special operations. As a 20-year Marine aviator, I started my career in the Osprey’s predecessor, the CH-46E Sea Knight. I felt safer in the V-22 than I did in the CH-46. Its mishap rate is comparable to any other platform in the inventory, but I worry that my successors are not as safe though – not because of the aircraft, but because the system is not giving them enough time to train.


What most stories about the accident in Okinawa do not pay sufficient attention to is that the aircraft struck an aerial refueling drogue with its proprotors – in other words, it hit part of the refuelling equipment trailing the tanker with its propellers. The underlying reasons that happened will be the subject of a detailed investigation.


Undoubtedly that investigation will describe a laundry list of causal factors ranging from the flight schedule to the unit’s operating procedures to how much sleep the pilots had the night before to what they had for breakfast. The story here is almost certainly some form of human error on the part of the aircraft’s crew. Those human errors are a lot more likely when pilots don’t get enough practice. A well-practiced crew can usually overcome the friction points that happen in military aviation, be that weather, fatigue, or personal stress. One that isn’t is a lot more likely to have severe problems when events go astray. What’s very unlikely is that the aircraft itself was to blame. That the V-22 Osprey was involved should not be the takeaway from this story.


The most important takeaway is that this incident is very similar to others across the Marine Corps recently. There has been an alarming trend in Marine aviation – a high rate of mishaps, many, if not most, involving aircrew error. Four Marine F/A-18s have been involved in Class A mishaps (involving $2 million, loss of aircraft, or death) just since this October, two due to a mid-air collision. This March, 12 Marines died in a midair collision involving two CH-53Es. Another CH-53E recently suffered severe damage after striking a building. The mishap rate in the first three months of this fiscal year is an astonishing 11.26 per 100,000 flight hours. For the last 12 months, it’s been 5.0. There are well above historical norms, though the Naval Safety Center optimistically rates fiscal year 2017 thus far as the “36th best year in history at this rate.” 36th? Time to celebrate! The Corps’ message should have been to highlight the readiness and training problems that Marine aviation as a whole is experiencing.


This latest incident should serve as another warning that Marine aviation training has reached a dangerously poor level. These accidents were not the result of enemy action, but occurred during normal operations and training. No Marine aircraft is a deathtrap. Or rather, any aircraft can be a deathtrap if you only get to fly it a few times a month, then have to perform demanding missions in order to pack in required training for an upcoming deployment. Even tasks that are the bread-and-butter of military flight operations, like the aerial refueling that claimed the Osprey in Okinawa, are extraordinarily dangerous by civilian standards. They are only made safe by continuous practice.


The Marines are known for doing the extraordinary so often that it has become routine. When pilots don’t get sufficient stick time to be confident in the fundamentals, the extraordinary isn’t routine, it’s pushing one’s luck. According to a Marine Corps source, as of Spring 2016, Osprey pilots were getting an average of 15.3 of 16.2 hours required to maintain proficiency in required skills. CH-53E pilots were getting 10.7 of 15.1. Hornet pilots were getting a truly abysmal 8.8 of 15.7. Fifteen hours a month is the minimal acceptable level to safely fly military aircraft. At least 20 are required to become confident and proficient.


Over the course of my 20-year career, I personally saw my flight time go from an average of 25 per month at the beginning to less than 20 by the time I left in 2015. Now it’s sunk even lower, except that today’s aviators don’t have a foundation of years of consistent flying. Many have known nothing but sporadic training, interrupted by brief periods of frenetic operations while deployed. Even when the average number of flight hours per pilot reaches the minimum of 15, it doesn’t mean that the aviation community is safe, because that distribution is heavily skewed.


A current squadron commander I spoke with told me he is forced to triage his pilots. His key instructors and flight leaders who will fill key roles on the next deployment get what they need, but everyone below that gets whatever is left over, and is barely enough to keep the squadron qualified to fly its assigned mission sets. His squadron “hog board” of pilot flight hours showed his top five senior instructors averaging a decent 24 hours a month. His bottom five, mostly lieutenants, all had less than five hours a month. At five hours a month, every flight is just relearning what one forgot since the last time. Those lieutenants are going to have to step up soon.


Ironically, his top five are planning on leaving the Corps in the near future. Their replacements will come from among those getting less than five hours a month of training. This isn’t getting better until more aircraft are ready to fly. The budget squeeze brought about by the continuing sequester plus the demands of continuing deployments have brought aircraft readiness dangerously low. The new aircraft, like the MV-22B, the UH-1Y, and the AH-1Z don’t have enough parts and maintainers to keep them flying. The old ones, like the F/A-18 and CH-53E, are just worn out.


According to the head of Marine aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Corps is making efforts to bring readiness back to healthy levels, but that depends greatly on the success of acquisitions like the F-35 and CH-53K. President-elect Trump says he has plans to increase the Corps by 8,000 to 12,000 Marines. Hopefully within that plan is one to restore readiness in what the Corps already has first. Otherwise, we’re just sending players into varsity games after attending JV practice.


No pilot goes to fly giving anything other than his utmost. The ones who died bet their lives on the fact that the Corps gave them sufficient training to extricate them from almost any situation. That their training was insufficient to do so is not their fault, but ours.


(return to top)




Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness


(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 03 JAN 17) … Col. H. Wayne Whitten, USMC Retired


President-Elect Donald Trump has called for hard-hitting initiatives to be included in a first-100-day thrust to make America strong again. Hoping to be included in that effort are some common-sense, low-cost changes to our land-based expeditionary electronic warfare (EW) force posture that would immediately improve operational readiness and have a positive economic effect to boot.


These changes would delay, if not cancel, the ill-timed phase-out of Marine Corps EW aircraft; retaining the highly-trained aircrews; and a geographic realignment of the Navy’s expeditionary squadrons. These are proactive force posture changes that would signal a higher priority for warfighting readiness without increasing deployments abroad.


As the combatant commanders know – and our adversaries respect – this is about the frontline force they call upon to support warfighters engaged in operations across the spectrum of conflict. EW aircraft and their powerful electronic attack systems were initially designed to counter sophisticated air defenses but now support ground and special operations forces engaged in conventional and asymmetric warfare. These versatile assets are fully integrated into the battlespace command and control architecture to provide commanders unparalleled situational awareness and targeting to support battle management decisions. With an ever-evolving array of offensive EW weaponry that now extends to PSYOPS and on to cyber warfare, they are well equipped for sowing chaos in keeping with a strategy espoused by secretary of defense nominee retired-Gen. James Mattis.


Today EW forces may be tasked to counter improvised explosive devices and communication devices used by ISIS and the Taliban, or target frontline Russian-supplied surface-to-air missiles in Syria that they may be tasked to jam later on. In the Pacific, they stand ready to take on the sophisticated Chinese air defense systems protecting made-made islands as part of their anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategy.


Since the retirement of the U.S. Air Force EF-111s in the mid-1990s, the expeditionary EW mission has been entrusted to the Navy and Marine Corps. That meant the Navy began sharing a mission pioneered by the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and performed with distinction in the Persian Gulf and Balkan campaigns. For many years both services employed the EA-6B Prowler, initially designed to counter integrated air defense networks but quickly modified during the Iraq War to provide direct support to U.S. and coalition ground and special operations forces. Those efforts came in time for the Prowlers to support Marines engaged in the bloody fight for Fallujah in 2004.


The Navy has now retired its EA-6Bs and is transitioning both its carrier-based and expeditionary squadrons to the EA-18G Growler, a hybrid variant of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Standup of the Navy’s expeditionary squadrons is not complete, with about 40 new production EA-18Gs yet to be delivered. The expeditionary and carrier-based squadrons are all to be homeported at NAS Whidbey Island, WA.


In a departure from the Navy’s aircraft modernization strategy, the Marine Corps some years ago chose to pass on the Super Hornet and Growler in favor of awaiting development of the F-35B, the V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter. Unlike the Navy, the Marines saw the promise of the stealthy fifth-generation F-35B with its integrated EW systems as obviating the need for external support in high-threat environments. That premise resulted in the decision not to replace their aging EA-6Bs with new production EA-18Gs. Instead, their VMAQ squadrons are to be phased out in favor of a system-of-systems concept designed around non-dedicated platforms including UAVs to support the ground combat element. The first of four squadrons has already stood down and the second is scheduled to sunset in June 2017. Overall this plan stands down 50 percent of the joint expeditionary EW force and drops a Marine aviation capability that dates back to the Korean War.


These changes are still taking place as scheduled despite major delays in fielding the F-35B and its as-yet unproven capabilities to penetrate emerging air defense radar networks. It will be well over five years before half of the Marines F/A-18 Hornet aircraft that heavily depend on EA-6B support are replaced, and at least three years before the system-of-system concept bears fruit.


There is no planned back-up reserve capability.


The resulting three- to five-year gap in expeditionary EW capability impacts Marine Corps and joint force readiness and must be dealt with quickly by the new administration. Suspending the retirement of the VMAQs and retaining their highly trained and career-oriented EW officers is an obvious first step. They remain a vital component of the force that must be able to “fight tonight” and contribute to joint warfighting requirements. Given the circumstances, this should garner Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller’s support, as it is in keeping with his recently stated priorities to beef up the Marine Corps’ cyber/EW capabilities.


Luckily the former chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, an avowed EW advocate, committed the Navy to taking additional EA-18Gs funded by a far-sighted Congress to support both carrier-based and expeditionary requirements. This will help bridge the capability gap but raises operational readiness issues given that all the EA-18Gs are destined to be homeported at NAS Whidbey Island. It’s noble in intent but highly questionable from a roles and mission standpoint that all land-based EW aircraft will be owned by the Navy, the service with the least natural ties and expertise in ground combat operations.


To compound that issue is the imbalance in cross-training afforded joint forces if the entire expeditionary EW force is based on the Northwest coast. The inherent logistical advantages of single-site basing must be secondary to restoring joint force operational readiness and improving joint force warfighting capabilities, two key stated objectives of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. It is also counter to warfighting doctrine which calls for synergistic training of all combatants under train-as-you-will- fight scenarios. Bear in mind over half of the Army, Marine Corps, SOF and tactical Air Force units are in the eastern U.S. Additionally, DoD has a sizable investment in East Coast ranges that continue to be under-utilized for EW training.


Given the increasingly unsettled Middle East and NATO commitments, a realignment of expeditionary forces would send a message to Russia, its Syrian cronies and Iran that the pivot to the Pacific is not an open door for adventurism elsewhere in the world. Achieving a geographic balance by establishing an East Coast homeport for the EA-18Gs is consistent with long-held Navy policy. Eventual re-commissioning of a reserve squadron on the East Coast should also be considered, as there was an EA-6B squadron based at Joint Base Andrews before the transition from Prowlers to Growlers began. Again, the timing is right, as new production deliveries will support standup of EA-18G squadrons on the East Coast.


Finally, the regional economic benefits must not be ignored. Ironically, the increase in aircraft loading at NAS Whidbey Island has created an environmental impact even as the draw down in EA-6Bs at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, and delays in the F-35B deliveries are causing serious economic concerns. One would think North Carolina officials would see now is the time to put aside fears that questioning the EA-6B drawdown would somehow be viewed as threatening the F-35B. In fact, they should be making the case to homeport the Navy expeditionary EA-18Gs at MCAS Cherry Point.


For the first time since the Reagan years the Pentagon’s table of change is set and invitations sent from the new commander-in-chief. For the Marine Corps, this may mean more Title 10 missions “such as the President may direct.” No regrets please, the joint warfighters now more than ever need you to bring your proven EW assets to the table.


Col. Whitten flew nearly 200 combat missions over North Vietnam before going on to a career that spanned operations, requirements, acquisition and testing of EW aircraft and systems. While on the HQMC staff, he worked closely with President- elect Reagan’s DoN transition team, and later served in the Navy Secretariat as Special Assistant for Marine Corps Programs.


(return to top)




China’s air force is becoming very powerful

But Suffers from One Super Fatal Flaw


(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 03 JAN 17) … Dave Majumdar


Will the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E be the last jet fighter that China imports? The Chinese government’s official media certainly seems to believe so. “With the commissioning of the J-20, the Su-35 will soon lose its value in the Chinese market,” the People’s Daily states.


It is certainly possible that the advanced Russian-made jet will be the last fighter aircraft that Beijing imports, however, China will likely be dependent on Russia for subsystems such as engines for some time to come. Beijing has made tremendous progress with developing its own combat aircraft and the avionics needed to equip those machines, but China continues to be hampered by its inability to develop and produce reliable jet engines.


Indeed, China has demonstrated progress with developing not only stealthy new airframes such as the J-20 and the FC-31, but also seemingly with the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, electro-optical/infrared sensors and electronic warfare systems, data-links and even the cockpit displays that are typical of fifth-generation fighters.


At the Zhuhai airshow last November, the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation exhibited a video of the FC-31 showing off capabilities such as a distributed aperture system (DAS) and an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) similar to those mounted on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aircraft is also reputed to feature a KLJ-7A AESA radar that is being developed by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology.


However, it remains to be seen if China has come close to mastering “sensor fusion” – which is to tie all of those myriad sensor and data feeds into a single coherent picture. That’s a capability found onboard the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35, but it has taken years of effort and billions of dollars to master (and in the case of the F-35, it’s still a work in progress). Beijing will eventually get there in time, but it’s hard to say how long that will take.


Engines, however, continue to remain a weak spot for Chinese industry. But jet engines are inherently difficult to develop and produce. Indeed, only a handful of advanced industrial nations have the technological capacity to independently develop and build their own working and producible jet engines – the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. Almost every other power is dependent on others to develop propulsion technology.


China is determined to close that gap, but it has not yet succeeded in doing so. Last year, Beijing setup the Aero Engine Corp. of China (AECC) as part of its efforts to solve the problem. The firm has $7.5 billion in capital and 96,000 employees. According to a CNN report, Beijing’s most recent five-year development plan states that developing and producing indigenous engines is one of China’s most important goals.


China has the money and the willpower to develop its own aerospace engine industry. It’s just a matter of time before Beijing masters jet engine technology and starts developing and mass-producing its own propulsion systems. When that day comes, China will be independent of Russian engine technology and might indeed become a major aerospace industrial power in its own right.


Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest.


(return to top)




New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones


(NAVY TIMES 02 JAN 17) … Emily Cole


As Naval aviation continues to transition to its future force, 2017 milestones and transitions may bring a new supercarrier, the first unmanned patrol squadron and improved aircraft including the stand-up of the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron.


The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be commissioned in 2017, improving upon the Advanced Arresting Gear and engineering efficiencies. “A new nuclear propulsion and electric plant on the Ford class will generate almost three times the electrical power over the Nimitz class,” Naval Air Forces spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld said.


Two squadrons will debut in the coming year, the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-125, and the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19. F-35C Lightning II will stand up at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California as a critical addition to carrier strike groups. The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft squadron held a commissioning ceremony on Oct. 28 and will begin training in mid-2017 with the intention of achieving safe-for-flight status in 2018.


The transition process to the P-8A Poseidon from the P-3C is also scheduled to complete in 2017. To date, six of the 12 fleet squadrons have transitioned, and two more squadrons (VP-4 and VP-47) are scheduled to complete their transition in the next calendar year. The permanent duty station will change from NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.


The Navy will increase its inventory of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye squadrons to three, including VAW-126 which recently completed their transition, and VAW-124 in late 2017, Groeneveld said.


On the technology side, Naval Air Forces completed delivery in 2016 of the landing software Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, thankfully shortened to Magic Carpet. The final version of the software is targeted to begin installation in late 2017.


“The Magic Carpet capability significantly reduces pilot workload both by causing the aircraft to default to a stable glideslope on approach to landing, requiring only minor inputs to adjust glide path, and by accounting for the motion of the carrier in the display, allowing the pilot to much more easily judge the expected point of touchdown,” Groeneveld said.


In 2017, Naval aviation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Naval Air Station North Island, also known as the birthplace of Naval Aviation. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway will also be commemorated. The battle marked not only a turning point in the Pacific during World War II but an important moment in naval aviation history.


(return to top)




Big data, software continue to stump defense programs


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 20 DEC 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


A struggling effort to upgrade Air Force combat operations centers speaks to larger problems that continue to dog information-technology programs across the Defense Department.


Buzzwords like “data fusion” and “open systems” are part of the lexicon in most big-ticket acquisitions of defense technology, but bringing that vision to life has been difficult at best.


The latest illustration of this challenge is an Air Force project to modernize command centers that are deployed in strategic parts of the world to plan and execute air warfare operations. The three-year-old program suffered a major setback last month as it became clear that the upgrades are going to take much longer and cost far more than expected.


The project, known as air operations center, or AOC 10.2 is a complex “system-of-systems” made up of least 45 different third-party software applications. The improvements are intended to give commanders modern decision-making tools, including real-time intelligence and data to make targeting faster and more accurate. That requires considerable software integration and machine-to-machine data transfer to produce more timely data and reduce human error. Making this effort even tougher are stringent cybersecurity requirements to protect highly sensitive information.


AOC 10.2 appeared to be sailing smoothly after the Pentagon signed off on a preliminary design review in 2013. After that Milestone B decision, prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded a new contract option to continue the development.


But after discovering significant problems over the past year, the Air Force in November submitted a “critical change” report to Congress concerning AOC 10.2. It indicated that the program – considered a “major automated information system” – would need more time and money to reach its goals, doubling development cost from the original estimate.


The critical change report was required due to a schedule delay of Milestone C – production and deployment phase – of more than one year from the original plan, said Air Force spokesman Capt. Michael Hertzog.


Air Force leaders had conducted an in-depth evaluation of the AOC 10.2 program, which led to the revised plan, Hertzog said in a statement. The AOC 10.2 needs to fix “point-to-point integration and cybersecurity shortfalls of the currently fielded version, AOC 10.1.”


Many of the troubles involved converting the legacy AOC environment into a “modular open systems architecture,” which the Pentagon now requires of all its information systems. A modular, open architecture is the Holy Grail in defense systems because it allows the Pentagon to insert new software and keep technologies up to date more easily.


“It improves the Air Force’s ability to integrate similarly modular and modernized application updates or new applications as they become available,” explained Hertzog. That also applies to cybersecurity, as the Air Force seeks to “improve system security more easily as threats continue to evolve.”


The new target for Milestone C is January 2019.


The Pentagon’s top weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore reported that major cybersecurity problems in AOC 10.2 were identified in August and September 2015. “The severity and quantity of the functional and cybersecurity deficiencies identified during the test resulted in the Air Force issuing a cure notice to the prime contractor.”


Northrop Grumman spokesman Brandon “Randy” Belote referred specific questions to the Air Force. In a statement he said the company is working to “ensure that the AOC 10.2 successfully provides for the security of the system including against future threats it will face. While there have been some challenges on the AOC 10.2 program, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force have forged a strong partnership that is working together to address the issues.”


The critical change report submitted to Congress projects the development of AOC 10.2 will cost $745 million, compared to the original $374 million estimate, Bloomberg News reported. The report said the Air Force had underestimated the complexity of integrating numerous third-party software applications and ensuring the networks were sufficiently protected from future cyber intrusions.


The Air Force Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, first issued a request for proposals in December 2010 for the AOC upgrade, estimating the value of the program at more than $800 million over the next eight years.


The modernization of air operations centers has been a long-term pursuit by the Air Force, noted retired Gen. Charles F. (Chuck) Wald, a former air war commander and now vice chairman of Deloitte Services.


The integration and interoperability of equipment at the AOC has “always been an issue,” Wald told National Defense. “How do you make sure you have feeds from the various intelligence sources and monitoring sources, and how do you apply that capability to an air tasking order?” he said. Open architectures and data fusion, if executed properly, are “game changers.”


During an industry conference more than a year ago, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering Stephen P. Welby spoke about the difficulties in developing modular open systems. One of the obstacles is a lack of “technical insight” by government program officials. “These designs will increase demand on DoD engineering competence, capability and capacity.”


Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva recently called out contractors for not being forthcoming about the challenges of building open systems. “For those of you in industry that are in this room, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked the following question, ‘Will your widget subscribe to an open architecture?’ Answer is always, ‘Oh sir, of course,’” Selva said in October at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In reality, though, it’s an “open architecture but only inside of our company or only inside of our proprietary IT that’s in the system,” he said. “We really have to find a resilient open architecture to which all of our systems can subscribe and we’ve only scratched the surface on that.”


The Defense Department’s top weapons buyer Frank Kendall said the idea of modular designs and open systems goes back decades. “It’s been part of my initiation since day one,” he said. “How do you basically keep those systems modern? Well, you do it through modular designs. Modular design gets you the ability to take something out, put something else in,” Kendall said. “Industry always tells us that they like open systems, but they give us a lot of designs that aren’t open. There’s no secret about this. You basically want to retain market share and one way you do that is you have proprietary intellectual property that allows you to do that. It makes hard for people to come in and displace you.”


The Pentagon has to “work hard at this and the devil is in the details,” Kendall added. “That’s the only way we’re going to have technology refresh on reasonable cycles relative to the pace at which technology is moving.”


(return to top)




F-35’s $400K helmet still blinds pilots on night flights


(DOD BUZZ 20 DEC 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


A software fix designed to make the F-35 Joint Strike fighter’s state-of-the-art helmet easier to use for Navy and Marine Corps pilots landing on ships at night is still falling short of the mark, the program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office said Monday.


One discovery made as the F-35C Navy carrier variant and F-35B Marine Corps “jump jet” variant wrapped up ship testing this year was that the symbology on the pricey helmet was still too bright and distracting for pilots landing on carriers or amphibious ships in the lowest light conditions, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told reporters.


During the final developmental test phase for the F-35C aboard the carrier George Washington in August, officials told they were testing a new software load specifically designed to address this “green glow” problem, which can make it difficult for pilots to detect outside light sources and the cues they need to land their aircraft safely.


While testers were hopeful at the time the problem was solved, Bogdan said officials are not yet satisfied.

“The symbology on the helmet, even when turned down as low as it can, is still a little too bright,” he said. “We want to turn down that symbology so that it’s not so bright that they can’t see through it to see the lights, but if you turn it down too much, then you start not being able to see the stuff you do want to see. We have an issue there, there’s no doubt.”


Bogdan said the military plans on pursuing a hardware fix for the helmet, which is designed to stream real-time information onto the visor and allow the pilots to “see through” the plane by projecting images from cameras mounted around the aircraft. But before that fix is finalized, he said, pilots of the F-35 B and C variants will make operational changes to mitigate the glare from the helmet. These may including adjusting the light scheme on the aircraft, altering how pilots communicate during night flights, and perhaps changing the way they use the helmet during these flights, he said.


“We’re thinking in the short term we need to make some operational changes, and in the long term we’ll look for some hardware changes,” Bogdan said.


The window for making such adjustments is rapidly closing. The first F-35B squadron is expected to move forward to its new permanent base in Japan in January ahead of a 2018 shipboard deployment in the Pacific. The F-35C is also expected to deploy aboard a carrier for the first time in 2018.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – December 12, 2016



  1. FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey
  2. Game-Changing Analytics Tool Nets Dennis Recognition




  1. Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending
  2. Navy Working Early Integration of MQ-25 Drone onto Aircraft Carriers
  3. China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank
  4. Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says
  5. MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22
  6. Trump Targets F-35, but Aircraft Means Jobs in 45 States
  7. Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It
  8. Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35





Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – All roads lead to the paint complex in Building 466, where Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) aircraft products are concerned.


Most recently, that road was traveled by the first MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to undergo painting at the command. The Osprey was inducted in November and flown from its Planned Maintenance Interval-2 (PMI-2) event that was completed at FRCSW Site Miramar.


This course of events was quite unique: FRCSW Site Miramar completed the PMI-2 earlier in the year, returning the aircraft to the Marines of Marine Medium Tilt-rotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161) for build-up and testing before flying it to FRCSW for final painting and weight/balance as part of the PMI-2 process.


Final paint at FRCSW is typically applied before the build-up and testing of the aircraft prior to delivery to the customer; however, adequate paint facilities and the proper certifications are not available at Site Miramar, and so, required a different flow of events.


Preparation for the MV-22 paint event began more than a year ago when two journeyman, crew leader David Powers and painter Charles Broadnax, traveled to FRC East (FRCE) at Cherry Point to receive training on the MV-22’s strip and paint operations.


While FRCE’s operations and facilities differ from those of FRCSW’s, the team learned the unique differences and challenges involving the removal the aircraft’s original coatings, preparing the surfaces for painting, and applying the new Type IV paint, including the required stenciling and markings.


Logistics preparations continued throughout the year with stakeholder meetings that included materials lab engineers; deputy IPT leads; production control; production managers; planning department; paint crew leaders and artisans; supervisors; financial; safety office; and business office personnel. These critical preparations ensured the right materials were ordered along with the appropriate source documentation, and solutions to concerns were tailored to successfully assist the paint complex.


As an airframe, the MV-22 is a unique configuration both in its body and its large nacelles and subsequently massive 38- foot propellers.


The propellers require appropriate masking for sanding, and then separately for paint operations to include rotation during the painting process. Planning when to rotate the propellers, as well as the stenciling/marking of the areas, was critical due to the need to raise or lower the aircraft’s struts to allow clearance in the dual-bay operation.


The V-22 fuselage and empennage are comprised of aluminum, carbon/epoxy composite, and carbon/epoxy composite overlaid with 5 thousandths-of-an-inch copper mesh. The wing and nacelles are comprised of carbon/epoxy composite and fiberglass.


This mix of substrate materials and subsequent treatments fell under the expertise of materials engineer Esther Chan. Her dedication was critical in the timely success of the project, as she became respirator-certified and suited up to provide the necessary guidance to the artisan team.


Pre-training on the copper mesh (Astro-Strike) and the new primer and Type IV paint were stepping stones to success for the paint complex. Powers and Chan developed a training regimen consisting of an eight-hour education and lab environment for the artisans.


Using donated aircraft surfaces from the composite shop so as not to damage the Astro-Strike surface, the artisans learned new sanding techniques with new sanding materials, as well as painting with the new Type IV paint.


After induction of the MV-22, artisans and materials lab engineers overcame their first objective: fitting the new fall protection stands to the airframe under the instruction of FRCSW safety specialist Javier Trujillo.

FRCE crew leader James Kanuck and materials lab engineer Ryan Glembocki provided direct support and guidance to the FRCSW crew leaders and team members. The experience of the FRCE members translated directly to the paint artisans, reducing a potential 30-day estimated turn-around-time to a 14-day delivery from the paint complex to the weight/balance team.


The MV-22 paint process requires hand/scuff sanding of the entire surface of the airframe; and with such a large aircraft, the paint complex team needed to ensure enough members were trained. The aircraft was swarmed, creating a “leopard” pattern look on the airframe without sanding into the Astro-Strike.


Wiping the aircraft down following sanding, the artisans masked it for painting the tri-color paint scheme. The stenciling and marking of the aircraft with several hundred stencils of various sizes was another challenge, as well.


Since FRCE and FRCSW are the only FRCs to provide paint services to the fleet for this aircraft and with a growing population of MV-22s on the horizon that includes Navy models, it is anticipated that FRCSW will paint upwards of 15 units per year.


Currently, the paint complex is scheduled for three units in fiscal year 2017, with a goal to reduce the TAT through experience gained from this and future evolutions.


The success of FRCSW’s first MV-22 paint operation may be attributed to excellent logistics integration planning and good material sourcing. But success is also truly rooted within the people involved: the artisans, engineers, logisticians, P/Cs, QAs, and other members who take pride in their work, teaming together, determined to succeed for the fleet.


For FRCSW aircraft, all roads lead to paint: Taking the “Pain” out of Paint, leaving the “T” for on target delivery!


(return to top)




Game-changing analytics tool nets Dennis recognition


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Aubrey Dennis, Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Aviation Logistics and Maintenance Analysis Division (AIR-6.8.2) division head, was presented with a DoN Superior Civilian Service Award Dec. 6 for his work on Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that moves Naval Aviation closer to predictive capability.


Vector pulls from more than 20 maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems, providing analysts, providers and other Naval Aviation stakeholders with a single source analytical tool which depicts actionable data, reducing the time to identify readiness degraders from several months to minutes. Dennis, who headed the team that created Vector, was recognized for his tenacity in pursuit of funding to incorporate future enhancements and instruct more than 1100 military and civilian users across the NAE on its use. Additionally, he and his team trained the Type/Model/Series teams of over 600 personnel in two months on the tool and its uses.


Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, NAVAIR (AIR-6.8), said Vector was a game changer for the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). “With little staff and no money, Dennis and his team created Vector, which is now the go-to tool for not only program managers at NAVAIR, but also for [type/model/series] leads and others in the fleet who need to see the status of their platform at any given moment,” he said.


Harris also commended Dennis on his vision and foresight before Vector was released in July 2016. “Before this summer, Vector was known as ILSMS [Integrated Logistics Support Management System] and was primarily being used by program managers at NAVAIR. Dennis believed that others in the fleet could use the same aggregated data to better manage their readiness.


“He pursued funding through a NAE Future Readiness initiative to make Vector accessible through the web so that everyone in the enterprise could have visibility,” he said.


“But he didn’t stop there,” Harris said. “Dennis travelled to the fleet to personally train them on Vector and to ensure its proper implementation and use.”


Dennis’ foresight also extended beyond today’s use of the analytic tool. Its components are modular, Dennis said, so that updates can be incorporated by section.  “This way, the entire tool does not have to be recreated as technology updates.”


Vector is scheduled to incorporate other reporting databases over the next three fiscal years from supply, engines, support equipment, weapons and the P-8 Logistics Cell, a cross-functional collaborative organization.


Later this month, Dennis will be taking on a new challenge as the National Director of 6.3 (Industrial Operations Management Department) at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. Dennis said while he was the one recognized with service award, the success of Vector is a reflection of the teamwork and creativity residing in AIR-6.8.2.  “I didn’t do this alone,” Dennis said.  “This award is just as much theirs as well.”


(return to top)






Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending


(BLOOMBERG 13 DEC 16) … Sangwon Yoon


It’s not just President-elect Donald Trump who’s bent on military build-up.


From Europe all the way to China, the next decade will be marked by an increase in global defense spending amid rising feuds and pockets of instability, according to IHS Jane’s latest annual Defense Budgets report.


Global defense expenditures rose to $1.57 trillion this year from $1.55 trillion in 2015 as Asian nations act on growing nervousness around the South China Sea, said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at the London-based defense and security analysis firm. Fenella McGerty, another analyst at IHS Jane’s, expects spending levels to return to pre-2008-2009 financial crisis levels by 2018. Here is a breakdown by regions.




– China’s defense budget will nearly double from $123 billion in 2010 to $233 billion in 2020, according to the report, which forecasts defense expenditure for 105 countries. That is four times what the U.K. spends and more than the combined expenditure of Western Europe.


India has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the fourth-largest spender in the world. If the pound continues to weaken, India will spend more on defense than the U.K. by 2018, according to IHS Jane’s.




EU members boosted their combined budget to $219 billion in 2016, with Western Europe leading the charge, the report said. The only things holding back future increases are economic constraints in the south – take Greece, for example – and the question marks hanging over Brexit.


Russia cut its budget for the first time since the late 1990s to $48 billion this year. Despite a hit from the dramatic drop in oil prices, the Middle East as a whole is not expected to dramatically reduce expenditures considering regional instability, Caffrey added.




At $622 billion in 2016, the U.S. is still the world leader in defense spending, with its budget accounting for about 40 percent of the global total, according to the report.


The Pentagon’s “investment levels going forward were to decrease by 1.1 percent in real terms, but with the election of Trump, the expectation is that both investment and readiness will receive injections of much needed funds,” said Guy Eastman, a senior analyst.


(return to top)






Navy working early integration of MQ-25 drone onto aircraft carriers


By: Mark Pomerleau


The Navy is working to integrate the MQ-25 Stingray drone onto aircraft carriers.


The much anticipated UAV will be a tanker for aerial refueling. This, senior leaders said, would allow highly reliable aircraft, some with specifically tailored capabilities such as the premier aerial electronic attack aircraft, the EA-18G Growler, increase its range in the face of anti-access, area-denial environments, which seek to push adversaries farther away.


With this announcement, the Navy must ready itself from an integration standpoint to support the new UAS platform – building upon the successes of the X-47B demonstrator aircraft tests. At this early stage in the program, which will encompass many Navy system commands, one official is pleased by the coordination taking place.


“I was just with Capt. [Beau] Duarte, [ program manager for PMA-268, or the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office], Tuesday up in [Patuxent] River and what was really encouraging about the discussion was that Capt. Duarte and his PMA were still really aligned to ensure that the integration of all the capabilities on the MQ-25 was being coordinated with fellow SYSCOMS like SPAWAR and NAVSEA to include PEO C4I,” Capt. Andy Gibbons, the program manager for Carrier and Air Integration at PEO C4I, told C4ISRNET on Dec. 9 on the sidelines of the C5ISR Summit, hosted by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association.


“We’re all still all in the game with [PMA-]268 and their way forward. . Definitely a win-win in moving forward with that program,” he said, regarding the teaming across the Navy and contracting community.


In terms of integrating a new aircraft onto the carrier platforms, Gibbons noted various challenges, saying that with a “a tremendous capability coming to an aircraft carrier that not only has to be designed from an aircraft perspective to be on a carrier . the carrier has to be designed to support that airframe.”


Gibbons noted that from a C4I perspective, he’s working with the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office to ensure that there are modernization efforts for the carriers to support the timeline for the new airframe to be on the carrier. “The good news is that we’re able to do that with current budgets . as it pertains to our fielding plans. That’s where my focus is,” he said. “We have to expand and ensure that the networking, the command and control, the ISR capabilities that we normally field are fielded in such a way that they all arrive in time for MQ-25. Right now we’re on [a] path to do that.”


Gibbons declined to get into any specifics regarding the acquisition aspects of the MQ-25 given that it is not in his lane. A NAVAIR spokeswoman told C4ISRNET that there have not been any recent acquisition updates to the program.


There has been some discussion about whether MQ-25 will also serve some ISR capacity in addition to aerial refueling, which will come down to the final requirements. The NAVAIR spokeswoman said an RFP will be released in summer 2017 for the platform itself as well as the requirements component.


However, Gibbons expressed that within his lane, he is working the ISR component as it applies to overall integration of the aircraft into the carrier. This includes not only the pipes down to the ship, “but the pipes off the ship to the wider team as it were,” Gibbons said. “I want to reemphasize, that’s the good teaming with [PMA-]268, they really came to us early in the process to make sure that what we were doing on the carrier aligned with their program. So we’re able to make the necessary moves, and again, no cost to the program to make sure that we’re all in concert with that delivery.


Moreover, from an ISR and integration perspective, Gibbons noted he doesn’t need to be concerned with the pilot – or in this case, lack thereof.


“From a C4I perspective, I don’t necessarily need to know if it’s got a man in it or it doesn’t . for me it’s another air platform,” he said. “From a C4I perspective, what we like to look at it as another node extending the network to the air domain. So whether that’s piloted by a human or if it’s unmanned, we’re still going to work on it and make sure its interoperable with the carrier.”


(return to top)




China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank


(REUTERS 15 DEC 16) … David Brunnstrom


WASHINGTON – China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported, citing new satellite imagery.


The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings, made available first to Reuters on Wednesday, come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.


China said on Thursday that, while its construction on islands and reefs in the South China Sea was mainly for civilian use, it was “legitimate and normal” for it to take steps to defend its territory.


AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.


“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs,” it said citing images taken in November.


“This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs.”


Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.


Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.


AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.


“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” it said.


“Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases.”


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing that he “did not understand” the situation referred to in the report.


“The Nansha islands are China’s inherent territory. China’s building of facilities and necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own territory is completely normal,” he said, using China’s name for the Spratlys.


“If China’s building of normal facilities and deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own islands is considered militarization, then what is the sailing of fleets into the South China Sea?” he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. “freedom of navigation” patrols in the waters.


Philippines Says “Big Concern”


The Philippines, one of several countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, said it was still verifying the report.


“But if true it is a big concern for us and the international community who use the South China Sea lanes for trade,” said Defense Minister Delfin Lorenza during a visit to Singapore with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area which is not good.”


Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


AMTI director Greg Poling said AMTI had spent months trying to figure out what the purposes of the structures was.


“This is the first time that we’re confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there,” he told Reuters.


“This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it’s only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.


“They keep saying they are not militarizing, but they could deploy fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles tomorrow if they wanted to,” he said. “Now they have all the infrastructure in place for these interlocking rings of defense and power projection.” The report said the installations would likely back up a defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms like the HQ-9 system deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, farther to the north in the South China Sea.


It forecast that such a deployment could happen “at any time,” noting a recent Fox News report that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.


“Ready Your Slingshot”


Singapore-based South China Sea expert Ian Storey said he believed the move would help ready the facilities for the probable next step of China flying jet fighters and military transport planes to its new runways.


“From the outset it’s been quite obvious that the artificial islands were designed to serve as military outposts in the South China Sea,” said Storey, of the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.


“Even while tensions are at a relatively low ebb, I think we can expect to see military flights to the Spratlys in the coming months – including the first jet fighters,” Storey said.


The United States has criticized what it called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.


U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has also criticized Chinese behavior in the South China Sea while signaling he may adopt a tougher approach to China’s assertive behavior in the region than President Barack Obama.


The State Department said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but spokesman John Kirby added:

“We consistently call on China as well as other claimants to commit to peacefully managing and resolving disputes, to refrain from further land reclamation and construction of new facilities and the militarization of disputed features.”


China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its microblog on Thursday that it was “legitimate and lawful” for it to place defensive military installations on islands where it said Beijing had “indisputable sovereignty.”


“If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?” it said.


(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Karen Lima, Greg Torode, My Pham, Manuel Mogato, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Alistair Bell, Lincoln Feast and Alex Richardson)


(return to top)




Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says


(DEFENSE DAILY 13 DEC 16) … Pat Host


President-elect Donald Trump might focus on managing cost-plus defense development programs as a way to extract better deals for taxpayers, according to an adviser to Trump’s transition team.


“I see this as a deal making proposition,” former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.) said at the Eilene Galloway space law symposium in Washington. “My guess is you’re going to see him do that.”


Trump’s Monday tweet calling F-35 costs out of control came on the heels of another attack against a high-profile defense program: the Air Force’s Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR), or new Air Force One, program. Walker said Trump’s Twitter call for the Air Force to cancel PAR was a declaration that the administration will not have cost-plus contracts extend out the cost of programs in unacceptable ways. Boeing [BA] is the prime contractor for PAR.


The federal government is liable for cost overruns in cost-plus contracts while the contractor is liable for overruns in fixed-cost contracts. Complex defense development programs like the F-35 are traditionally cost-plus contracts. Lockheed Martin [LMT] spokesman Michael Rein said Tuesday that the F-35 program, of which Lockheed Martin is serving as prime contractor, has been working on fixed-price contracts since the award of low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 4 contract in fiscal year 2010. An exception is the Air Force’s KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, which is hurting Boeing’s bottom line due to development issues.


A leading defense analyst believes it is too soon for investors to react to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent online attacks on a pair of big-budget defense programs. Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners in Washington said Tuesday while concerns over whether the next administration could be hostile to the defense industry are legitimate, investors should wait and see who Trump names to key second- or third-level Pentagon positions like deputy defense secretary and acquisition czar. Once those positions are filled, Callan said investors will have better information to guide investment action.


Callan said history doesn’t show that emphasis on fixed-price defense contracts necessarily brings decreased costs and improved program performance. He said there was a lot of emphasis on fixed-price contracts for development work in the late 1960s and early 1980s and that he didn’t think winners could be declared from such an effort.


“It’s just not clear from the data that fixed-price contracts have necessarily developed complex technological systems on a lower cost schedule,” Callan said.


Callan said investors could see a markdown in defense stock prices and an increase in portfolio risk if the new administration does pursue an emphasis on fixed-price contracting. It may not happen immediately, he said, but would happen when a big “blowup,” or a big writeoff on a program, takes place. Callan said a blowup gets investors to question contractor margins and cash flows and that blowups happened on the C-5, C-17 and P-7 programs.


Callan said if Trump follows through on Walker’s prediction of getting involved in deal-making for large cost-plus defense programs, it would break precedent. He said he couldn’t remember the last time over the past couple administrations where a president got involved in cost issues on specific defense programs.


Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says


(return to top)




MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22


Breaking Defense | Richard Whittle Marines in Afghanistan with V-22


When V-22 Ospreys full of Marines take to the skies 10 years from now, they could be escorted by armed high-speed drones called MUX.


That’s become the Marine Corps plan because drones let you do things differently. Doing without a pilot inside makes it possible to build unorthodox aircraft that would work poorly carrying tender humans. You can also test unmanned aircraft more quickly, because you don’t have to validate pilot safety features, and because crashes don’t cost human lives. So the Marines figure they can get the MUX – a new armed, ship-based, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone – four to seven years before the Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) project starts replacing existing helicopters with advanced, far speedier manned VTOL aircraft.


The Marine Corps’s rotorcraft requirements director, Col. John Barranco Jr., told me after a CSIS panel Friday on FVL that his service wants the drone first because “we have a gap that the Army does not have.” Specifically, the Corps needs an armed escort for its V-22 Osprey tiltrotor troop transports, which at 250 knots (287 mph) cruise more than twice as fast as its AH-1Z Cobra gunships. The Army doesn’t have that problem because the Army transports troops in conventional helicopters.


Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team are building manned technology demonstrator aircraft under the FVL umbrella – the V-280 Valor and SB>1 Defiant, respectively – that will be required to fly fast enough to escort an Osprey. First flights are scheduled next year. But no production FVL aircraft are expected until the early 2030s.


By contrast, “we’re trying to accelerate MUX and field it in 2026,” said Barranco, using the acronym within an acronym adopted for the sea-based drone. (MUX stands for MAGTF Unmanned eXpeditionary; MAGTF, in turn, stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force). For manned aircraft, Barranco said, “we have a lot of testing requirements. A lot of the burden in test is really related to aviation life support systems, air crew survivability, which we don’t have in an unmanned system. Crashworthiness. G-(force)-compliance for the air crew.” Since that won’t be needed for a drone, he said, “MUX could fill that gap, temporarily, to escort the Osprey.”


Obligingly, Barranco then posed and answered a pertinent question: “Why temporarily? Why not permanently?” Because, he explained, “You have to escort to the objective area and from the objective area. (That’s) kind of defeating some of the purpose and advantage that an unmanned system gives you, which is overhead persistence in the target area.”


Tern, DARPA’s proposed ship-launched drone.


Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy Marine commandant for aviation, has said the Corps wants the MUX to do everything the Air Force’s fixed-wing MQ-9 Reaper drone can do and more. The Reaper, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ derivative of their MQ-1 Predator, offers airborne endurance in the 20-hour range; carries sensors to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and is typically armed with four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and four 500-pound guided bombs.


Barranco said what the Marines primarily want the MUX to do is, when an assault is being mounted, “go ahead of you, get over the target area, show you that picture, stay there once troops are on the ground, and when you have to go back, be there when you come to resupply, be there when you come back, to do close air support, give you that persistent SA (situational awareness).” Escorting Ospreys to and from objective areas would sacrifice the ability to loiter over the target area, he said, but the MUX “can be a gap-filler temporarily for the seven or eight years until FVL starts coming on line to be our manned solution to provide escort in support of our Ospreys.”


Davis has said a relay of MUX could also serve as an airborne “picket line” around ships, which is one reason Bell Helicopter has named a tiltrotor drone it is offering for the job “V-247,” pronounced “vee-twenty-four-seven” to emphasize the potential for round-the-clock operations. Other contenders for MUX include a tail-sitter flying wing called Tern, which is being developed by Northrop Grumman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and a Karem Aircraft tiltrotor called Swift.


The powerful Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approved moving ahead with the MUX on Oct. 27 and the Marines will conduct an official Analysis of Alternatives next year. The JROC has also approved the much larger FVL program.


Barranco and two Army colonels on the FVL panel at CSIS indicated the services are gradually coming to agreement on broad requirements for the first aircraft to be developed, known for now as “Capabilities Set 3,” or as insiders say it, “cape set three.” In the past, Army leaders have been a lot less enthusiastic than the Marines about paying more for faster aircraft, since they generally operate over shorter distances. But Army Col. Erskine Bentley, Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for FVL, began his remarks by noting the strategic and tactical advantages faster VTOL troop transports could offer his service.


“The three panelists highlighted the broad support of the Army, Navy/Marines and SOCOM (Special Operations Command) for FVL within their services,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “There’s also growing support in Congress for FVL and accelerating it. Advocacy in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill is going to need to be strengthened for that to happen.”


Maybe they could speed things up


MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22


(return to top)




Trump targets F-35, but aircraft means jobs in 45 states


AP | Richard Lardner


WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to corral the “out of control” cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But congressional Republicans and Democrats, aware of the tens of thousands of jobs the aircraft generates in 45 states, will be wary of any plans by Trump to cut the program. A Monday morning tweet from Trump targeting the F-35 doesn’t explain exactly how he’ll save billions of dollars in military purchases while also honoring a campaign vow to rebuild the armed forces. Once Trump is in office, he can propose deep cuts to the F-35 or even elect to cancel the program altogether. But Congress, not the president, controls the government’s purse strings and makes the final decisions about the budget.


Built by defense giant Lockheed Martin, the nearly $400 billion price tag for the F-35 makes the program the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition ever. Despite the huge cost, the program has strong bipartisan support in Congress, where lawmakers view the aircraft as essential to national security.


Lockheed Martin’s stock tumbled after Trump’s tweet, wiping out nearly $2 billion of the company’s market value. The company’s shares fell $6.42, or 2.5 percent, to close at $253.11 Monday.


The F-35 program made up 20 percent of Lockheed’s total 2015 revenue of $46.1 billion. U.S. government orders made up 78 percent of its revenue last year.


“Whoever has this airplane will have the most advanced air force in the world. That’s why we’re building the F35. That’s why it’s important to not only the U.S., our partners and our partners like the Israeli Air force to have this airplane,” said Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, at a base in Israel.


Israel and several other U.S. allies are also buying the F-35, expanding the program’s international footprint. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Israel on Monday as Tel Aviv received the first two next-generation F-35 fighter jets that will help preserve the country’s military edge in the volatile Mideast.


The F-35, which uses stealth technology to avoid being detected by radar, is being built in different configurations to be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy’s version, for example, is designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.


Current plans call for the United States to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s. Close to $13 billion will be needed annually between 2016 and 2038 to hit that procurement number, according to the Government Accountability Office.


While the F-35 had massive budget overruns early on, the cost has stabilized and even dropped a bit following tough negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, according to Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


“Trump is unlikely to squeeze more blood out of this rock,” Harrison said.


Lockheed said that it has worked to lower the price of the F-35 by 60 percent and expected the aircraft to cost $85 million each in 2019 and 2020. But the company’s estimate appears to omit the price of the engine and the cost of development. When those elements are added in, the cost per F-35 in current-year dollars is closer to $138 million, according to Harrison.


Companies from 45 states are involved in the F-35’s production, with Texas, Georgia, California, Arizona and Florida playing the leading roles in testing and manufacturing the jet fighter. The company is teamed with more than 1,250 domestic suppliers to produce thousands of components ranging from highly sophisticated radar sensors to parts of the aircraft’s fuselage, according to Lockheed Martin.


Overall, the F-35 program is responsible for more than 146,000 U.S. jobs, the company said.


The Lockheed Martin plant where the F-35 is being built is located in Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger’s district. She’s vice chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, represents the district next door to Granger’s.


In a statement Monday, Granger hailed the F-35 delivery to Israel, calling the aircraft “what we need to keep our two countries safe in these dangerous times.”


Thornberry’s committee has supported buying more F-35s than the Obama administration had asked for in its budget request. The F-35 will replace an aging inventory of U.S. aircraft that many lawmakers believe are becoming increasingly unsafe to fly.


Claude Chafin, a committee spokesman, said Thornberry “shares the president-elect’s determination to have the Pentagon get weapons in the hands of our troops faster, while being better stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”


The tweet on the F-35 marks the second time in a week Trump has blasted U.S. aircraft spending. Last week, he tweeted that costs to build new presidential planes by Boeing Corp. were “out of control” and ended the tweet with “Cancel order!”


(return to top)




Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It


(WASHINGTON POST 12 DEC 16) … Robert J. Samuelson


Any reporter who’s written about the federal budget knows that there’s a surefire solution to every problem. It’s called “fraud, waste and abuse.” You want to end budget deficits? Just eliminate all the “fraud, waste and abuse” in the $4 trillion budget. The same is true for cutting taxes or raising spending. Attacking fraud and waste is virtuous and dispenses with the hard political work of making unpopular choices.


It’s a fantasy, of course. There isn’t enough “fraud, waste and abuse” – or we can’t get at it – to evade the difficult choices. But we cling to the mythology because it makes us seem “responsible” and reduces the budget problem to purging sloth and policing misdeeds.


I was reminded of this last week when The Post published a fascinating front-page story headlined “Pentagon hid study revealing $125 billion in waste.” The article, meticulously reported by Bob Woodward and Craig Whitlock, disclosed that a Defense Department study had found that the Pentagon was “spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.”


These jobs need doing, but it seems that the generals are being overwhelmed by accountants and property managers. If we could squeeze $125 billion out of the Pentagon’s annual budget, there’d be plenty of money to spend on true military needs. Indeed, the report asserts that the savings could cover the costs for 50 Army brigades. It sounds straightforward.


It isn’t. On inspection, it turns out that the estimated savings of $125 billon are spread over five years, from fiscal 2016 to 2020. This changes the numbers dramatically. Instead of annual savings of 22 percent of the defense budget ($125 billion out of $580 billion), the plausible cuts are closer to 4 percent ($125 billion out of the roughly $3 trillion projected in defense spending from now until 2020).


The confusion over whether the estimated savings apply to one year or five is the weak spot in an otherwise excellent piece of reporting. Whitlock and Woodward do say that the savings occur over five years, but they don’t emphasize the point. Moreover, there are mixed messages. Much of their discussion of costs focuses on the annual budget. A prominent graphic shows the annual defense budget and then claims that the Pentagon report “identified a way to save $125 billion.”


What would a “reasonable reader” conclude from the muddled evidence? By “reasonable,” I mean curious and intelligent readers who are not experts and are somewhat casual in their reading. These people, I think, might get the wrong idea. They’d come away thinking that the potential annual savings are enormous and that reducing waste would ensure an adequate military.


Of course, we should do everything possible to reduce waste, and the incoming Trump administration should take a second look at the report. But some outside budget experts are unimpressed. “It’s a somewhat speculative study,” says Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. The targets for savings are more “back-of-the-envelope calculations” than detailed road maps for change.


Some “waste” reflects complexity. A few years ago, the Army tried to replace its Bradley Fighting Vehicle; it abandoned the project as too complicated, after spending $18 billion, recalls Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The new study complains that the Pentagon has more than 700,000 civilian and contract workers to support 1.3 million active-duty troops. But these workers, says Harrison, are often the cheapest way to get a job done.


Like O’Hanlon, Harrison doubts that the study’s full savings can be achieved. Many proposals would founder on congressional opposition and management practicality. “Can you do the same work with fewer people?” he asks. “If so, who should be cut? The study doesn’t answer that.”


These questions are obviously more than academic. The Pentagon says it needs more spending than the existing budget ceilings allow. Some experts agree. O’Hanlon argues that defense spending should increase by nearly $50 billion annually over existing levels. How should we respond to the various threats: terrorism, cyberwarfare, Russia, China?


Whatever the answer, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the contradiction can be resolved by eliminating vast amounts of waste. If we wish to reduce defense spending, we have to cut the military’s size and capabilities. If we wish to expand the military, we need to pay for it.


The underlying struggle pits the Pentagon against the welfare state. Over the decades, national priorities have shifted dramatically. As late as 1990, defense spending constituted 24 percent of the federal budget and 5 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). In 2015, defense was 16 percent of the budget and 3 percent of GDP – and these figures were declining. This is one war the Pentagon is clearly losing.



(return to top)




Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35


(ARES (AVIATION WEEK) 01 DEC 16) … Lara Seligman


Donald Trump left the collective defense community quaking in its boots last week after he threatened to cancel Boeing’s new Air Force one. Now he’s going after another massive aerospace firm, slamming Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for “out of control” costs.


“Look at the F-35 program with the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump said on Fox news Dec. 11. “It’s out of control.”


If the president-elect is looking to cut costs or send a message to defense contractors, the $100 million-a-copy JSF is a huge target. The program has succeeded in bringing costs down for the past few years, but is still haunted by a critical cost breach in 2010. The Pentagon’s most recent estimate pegs the cost to operate and sustain the F-35 fleet over its 60-year service life is just over a trillion dollars.


Trump also appeared to double down on his recent proposal to ban defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon acquisition officials, criticizing the industry’s revolving door.


“The people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies,” Trump said on Fox. “You know, they make a deal like that and two or three years later, you see them working for these big companies that made the deal … they should have a lifetime restriction.”

Trump first floated the potential lifetime ban during a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week, according to Reuters.


Trump’s remarks come just days after Northrop Grumman named recently retired Gen. Mark Welsh, who served as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff last year when it selected the company to build the next-generation stealth bomber, to its board of directors.


There are rules restricting what government employees can do if they move to industry, but they do not prohibit Welsh from joining Northrop, says Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. Welsh had no involvement in the source selection process for the new bomber or the decision to award the contract to Northrop, she stressed.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – December 5, 2016

Below are the FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of Dec. 5:



  1. Leaders Discuss Logistics Challenges, Solutions during 2016 DOD Maintenance Symposium
  2. Government Leaders Talk Depots at DoD Maintenance Symposium


  1. Marine One Maintenance Jobs Not Coming to Jacksonville
  2. The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 Was Something Extraordinary
  3. Misleading F-35 Answers Drafted by Pentagon, Testing Chief Says
  4. Air Force Seeks Virtual Elements in Flight Exercises to Heighten Realism, Complexity
  5. U.S. Navy Aims to Buy More Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: Source
  6. Innovation Drive Essential to DoD’s Future
  7. Defense Market Facing Major Transformation
  8. Pentagon Hid Study Revealing $125 Billion In Waste
  9. Post Expose on Pentagon Waste Draws Mixed Reviews
  10. $125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith



Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






Leaders Discuss Logistics Challenges, Solutions during 2016 DOD Maintenance Symposium


Albuquerque, N.M.-Readiness is the number one priority in Naval Aviation today, but aging aircraft, lack of resources and other challenges are inhibiting effective air operations across the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Supply, maintenance and logistics leaders outlined some of the problems and discussed the mitigating actions and potential solutions Dec. 7 at the 2016 DoD Maintenance Symposium.


As part of a panel of service component leadership entitled Senior Logisticians Roundtable, Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), pulled no punches in outlining the severity of the issues facing naval aviators and the support personnel striving to keep them airborne.


“We have a readiness gap across the TMSs [type/model/series],” Zarkowski said. “Every TMS has its own challenges and its own story. I will tell you, the challenges that we deal with every day at COMFRC are to try to close those gaps, to get those ready basic aircraft out of the depot and get them on the flightline.”


Depot personnel are looking for ways to reduce the time aircraft spend undergoing in-service repairs (ISRs), trying to find quicker and more agile solutions. In keeping with total enterprise deployment, COMFRC leadership wants to ensure inclusion of the appropriate Level II Shore Maintenance Facilities.


On the journey toward those goals, several issues must be addressed. Zarkowski laid them out: chronic underfunding of enabler accounts; integrated resource management and training for artisans at the depot level and for Sailors and Marines on the flightline; increasing ISRs on aging aircraft; lack of technical data and structural repair manuals to effect repair at different levels; facilities degradation and lack of resourcing; inaccurate bills for material that cause delay to turnaround times at the depot; degraded material condition of aircraft; and supply issues.


COMFRC also has identified several concerning trends. One is the demand to push the aging F/A-18 A-D series aircraft to 6,000, 8,000 and even 10,000 flying hours. It takes extensive engineering analysis and workload planning to extend that life. In the meantime, because of the current gap in availability of those platforms as they transit through the depot pipeline, a more growing concern is the increase in utilization of F/A-18 E-F aircraft, resulting in logisticians and engineers looking at service life extension plans for that platform much earlier in its lifecycle then previously planned.


The same challenges exist on the Marine Corps side of Naval Aviation with the H-53. Because not enough inventory is available for missions, the B-22 is pushed into additional service. “The hours and material condition of those aircraft as they come into the depot are causing us concern, and we’re experiencing increased turnaround time in our depot events because of usage and condition,” Zarkowski said.


To get after the issues, COMFRC has introduced two methodologies. One, a Jonah methodology, takes teams from COMFRC and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) 6.0 and deploys them to Navy and Marine Corps flightlines to better understand undesirable effects. That approach has allowed for increased agility and a decrease in turn-around time while addressing immediate issues and improving readiness.


On the depot side, COMFRC personnel are returning to Critical Change Program Management. In the two years since roll out of this production management system, they have seen signs of success with increasing throughput and ready for training aircraft.


While the two methodologies address the tactical-level needs, COMFRC has strategic vision. Big-picture-wise, the sustainment system in Naval Aviation maintenance is behind the best business practices of today. The 30- to 40-year-old system has seen only marginal improvements. Zarkowski explained that while much has been done with Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and Theory of Constraints to improve efficiency, the field needs an overhaul.


“We need visibility,” he said, adding that some initiatives underway involve supply optimization in which requirements come from a pull not a push. Other needs involve condition-based maintenance and big data. “We have 19 data sets right now, just at NAVAIR, that don’t talk to each other . Lastly, we see this working very successfully at TRANSCOM [U.S. Transportation Command], [we need] an operations center where the right folks are empowered to make decisions with the right information” Zarkowski said.


Naval Aviation overall has already made strides in applying the use of some innovative tools and processes, such as additive manufacturing, to advance and sustain readiness and maintain its technological edge. Naval Aviation marked its first successful flight with a 3-D printed, safety-critical part in July 2016, when an MV-22B Osprey completed a test flight with a 3-D printed link and fitting assembly.


Now and in the future, the success of Naval Aviation demands an enterprise-wide participation from around the Navy, Marine Corps, wider government and the private sector.


Rear Adm. Vincent Griffith, director of the Defense Logistic Agency’s (DLA’s) operations (J3), also spoke on the panel, explaining how his organization is seeking improvements in support to the military services. One of the major efforts is the improvement of cost recovery. Every dollar DLA doesn’t spend on overhead, service branches can spend on buying what they need from the agency such as tools, services and fuel.


Griffith said the way to get better is through collaboration, so DLA has a number of programs in place with its service partners as they look to become more efficient. To speed up processes, DLA is pushing the Time to Award initiative that uses LSS to reduce the time it takes to get a requirement onto contract.


All the efforts planned by other service components and Naval Aviation to improve readiness rely on finding the right people to fill the right jobs. Naval Aviation has made it a priority to attract, retain and develop members of its workforce (civilian and military) as well as to partner with industry. The private sector has a big role to play in continued 3-D efforts, as aviation leader’s work toward putting greater 3-D printing capability into the hands of warfighters-giving them the ability to print required parts where they need them, when they need them.


Regardless of methodology or metric, the measure of success for all efforts across Naval Aviation will be readiness on the deckplates and on the flightlines.


The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


For more information about the Naval Aviation Enterprise, please visit


For more news from Naval Aviation Enterprise, visit


For more information, visit, or


(return to top)



Government Leaders Talk Depots at DoD Maintenance Symposium


Albuquerque, N.M.-The health of depots is crucial to our nation’s sustainment and readiness, but lack of funding, confused requirements and ineffective communication among stakeholders is threatening them, according to a panel on Title X funding held Dec. 5 at the DoD Maintenance Symposium.


Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), stressed early on during the event that partnerships are going to be key to keeping depots on track.


“Whether you’re uniformed, whether you’re civil service or whether you’re a contractor (or OEM [original equipment manufacturer]), these are the three legs of our milking stool that have been providing readiness in defense of this country most especially since 2001 and beyond,” he said.


COMFRC’s mission is to produce quality airframes, engines, components and support equipment, and provide services that meet the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s aircraft ready-for-tasking goals with improved effectiveness and efficiency.


Successful partnerships among Navy organizations, the wider government and the private sector are helping to ensure the various FRCs are able to meet their mission requirements. Private partnership is especially important at the depot level, with up to half of all work done by contractors. Naval Aviation is partnering closely with industry to solve readiness challenges, using readiness on the deckplates and flight lines as its driving measure of success.


To stay on track, COMFRC has set two strategic initiatives: Be ready to fight tonight; and keep our mind on the future. The Navy has many readiness challenges and gaps across its enterprise. Addressing the gaps requires adequate sustainment planning as well as the use of innovative tools and processes to advance readiness and sustain readiness, ensuring Naval Aviation maintains a technological edge. To complicate matters, personnel are dealing with aging facilities and aircraft while simultaneously having to keep the most technically advanced aircraft in history up and running.


“If the balloon goes up tonight, do we have enough aircraft with enough hours to answer the call?” Zarkowski posed to the attendees.


Fellow panelist Mark Van Gilst, director of logistics, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Logistics and Product Support, had some words of wisdom to impart to his Navy and other colleagues. The U.S. Air Force is the only service branch to violate Section 2466 (also known as the50/50 rule, a U.S. Code that mandates not more than 50 percent of each military department’s annual depot maintenance funding can be used for work done by private sector) twice. To avoid ever going through that pain again, they’ve made what Van Gilst called a “sea change.”


To start, the Air Force consolidated two departments and placed them under the Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. “If we’re not in compliance, the Secretary of Acquisition has to go talk to Congress,” Van Gilst said.


Program managers are now at the center of compliance, and planning is done upfront, a major change for the Air Force. Sustainment conversations have moved from the back third of all briefs to the front third, underscoring how it has grown in importance. The Air Force also worked to become more efficient. For example, resource expenditure is sometimes measured in dollars, sometimes in hours, depending on the policy driving certain measures. But the same number of hours in different aircraft can have very different costs. At the same time, through their earlier mistakes, “one lesson we also learned is when you get close to a violation, it’s very hard to turn the Titanic,” Van Gilst explained. “So you end up doing things that aren’t smart.” To compensate, The Air Force is making more decisions from a total business perspective.


However, being efficient is challenged by cumbersome regulation. Panelist Vickie Plunkett, a House Armed Services Committee professional staff member told the audience that the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has more than 3,000 pages and 100 new acquisition provisions, not including several for small businesses.


“For every reporting requirement that we repealed, we probably added two more,” Plunkett said.

The NDAA does leave depot statutes in place, which she explained means Congress is willing to bear the cost of sustaining and supporting these facilities, but the challenge lies in determining the sufficient level of funding.


Legislators, and the military, also grapple with ensuring policy keeps up with technology and the ability to sustain adequate depot capabilities so that they remain a ready and controlled source of repair. The 50/50 is meaningless without funding. “Fifty percent of nothing is nothing,” Plunkett said. Later adding that, “Setting and validating requirements for depot-level maintenance and other sustainment needs has always been a weak link in the process.”


Congress has started to pay more attention, but there is still work to be done to convince some members that planning for sustainment should be done earlier in the process. The Defense Department hurts its own cause in some cases by not providing clear objectives, milestones and resources for items such as the product support manager career path. Even the delineation of program manager responsibilities versus those of product support managers is murky.


What is clear is that a skilled, competent workforce is critical to depot success, so the Fiscal Year 17 NDAA provides several new direct-hire authorities. Not everyone is convinced this will help the manpower shortage, but Plunkett believes there are areas of untapped recruitment among unemployed or underemployed skilled workers in various trades. Through all the methods available to it, Naval Aviation is committed to attracting, retaining and developing members of its maintenance workforce.


She also believes the military must better communicate policy needs to other stakeholders in the sustainment community, with access to technical data rates playing a key role in the sustainment life cycle. Explaining that all the changes in the new NDAA are very complicated, Plunkett closed by sharing that some options for sustainment are no longer available, and having everyone on the same page is important because history has shown how “foregone conclusions” have been extremely costly.


The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


For more information about the Naval Aviation Enterprise, please visit


For more news from Naval Aviation Enterprise, visit


For more information, visit, or

(return to top)






Marine One Maintenance Jobs Not Coming to Jacksonville


Jacksonville, FL – The Navy will not be moving Marine One helicopter maintenance duties to Jacksonville.

For months, it’s been reported that maintenance for Marine One would be moving from Sikorsky in Connecticut to the Fleet Readiness Center at NAS Jax.


However, First Coast News has learned that move will not happen.


“Lockheed Martin and the Navy came to an agreement to keep the SPAR (Special Progressive Aircraft Rework) work with Sikorsky in Stratford, Conn.,” said Paul Jackson, a spokesman for Sikorsky.


According to Jackson, talk about moving the maintenance contract to Jacksonville happened after Sikorsky failed to reach an agreement with the Navy in July.


Negotiations to keep the work in Connecticut continued between the Navy and Lockheed Martin.


“While those discussions were ongoing, NAVAIR still needed to ensure that regularly scheduled SPAR maintenance would continue without interruption, so they pursued a parallel plan to conduct SPAR work at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast,” Jackson said.


Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, has worked on the presidential chopper for the past 4 decades according to congressional leaders who fought to keep the maintenance contract in the northeast.


Some of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Rich Blumenthal (D-Conn) who service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy on August 22.


“We strongly urge you to suspend any relocation until a thorough review of all direct and indirect costs of any relocation are made,” the letter said.


The letter says there were 85 workers who performed maintenance on the fleet described as “difficult and costly to maintain.”


Days later though, the Fleet Readiness Center told our news partner The Florida Times Union on September 5th they were getting ready for Marine One.


“We are definitely in preparations to take on the work load, so that’s the intention and if we are chosen then we will be performing that maintenance,” said Terresa White.


On November 7th, more than two months later, Sikorsky and the Navy agreed to a new maintenance agreement for the Presidential helicopter fleet.


(return to top)



The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 Was Something Extraordinary


2016-12-06 By Todd Miller


Statistics, Milestones, Capabilities, Flight characteristics, Test protocols, Cost, Software blocks. It is easy to get lost in the complexity of the F-35 program.


The combined F-35 fleet now has over 75,000 flight hours, yet for many there remains a lack of understanding. Much of this can be expected given many of the F-35s capabilities are classified.


This is compounded by the reality that many do not grasp the war the F-35 was designed to deter – or fight.


Aerial warfare of the 21st century is not anticipated to consist of within visual range (WVR) dogfights, but rather the prevailing aircraft will dispatch its adversary without even being detected. 21st Century Warfare is defined by new terms; “Information Dominance,” “Full Spectrum Dominance,” “Distributed Lethality,” “The Kill Cloud/Kill Web.”


This warfare has about as much in common with wars of the past as your 1970’s land line has to your smartphone.


It is in this battlespace that the F-35 is designed to fight and to do so with a distinctly unfair advantage.

To understand the significance and value of the F-35, and whether “it works” or not, cut through the complexity and noise. Simplify.  Put aside the politicians, the ideologues, the self-proclaimed experts and listen to the voice of the pilots.


The pilots will take the aircraft into combat, their own lives in the balance as they penetrate contested space and are likely to be outnumbered by adversary aircraft.


Second Line of Defense and a handful of journalists recently had the opportunity to visit with four such pilots during a “Proof of Concept” demonstration on the USS America, November 19, 2016.


The four pilots are some of the most experienced F-35B pilots in the United States Marine Corps (USMC);

George “Sack” Rowell, Commanding Officer (CO) of VMX-1 (Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron).


Prior to the F-35, Rowell spent appx. 3000 hours over 18 years of flying the F/A-18 Hornet. Previously the CO of VMFA(AW)-533 Col. Chad “Mo” Vaughn, CO of VMFA-211. Prior to the F-35, Vaughn spent a couple 1000 hrs over 13 years in the F/A-18A-D Hornet, as well as time in the F-16A-B Fighting Falcon/Viper and F/A-18 Super Hornet at NAS Fallon.


Col. Rich “BC” Rusnok, slated to become the CO of VMFA-121 in March 2017. Prior to the F-35, Price spent appx. 7 years flying the AV-8B Harrier II with additional time in the F/A-18 Hornet.


Col. John “Guts” Price, slated CO for VFMA-122 (2018). Prior to the F-35, Price spent appx. 1200 hrs and 10 years flying the AV-8B Harrier II, and has about 400 hrs in the F-35 over the past 3 years.


The comments have been edited for readability with best efforts made to maintain context and integrity of intent.


As you look at the F-35s combat capabilities, what two things really mark it as either a superior or inferior weapon compared to what you have previously flown?


Mo: The closer you get to the airplane, the more positive you are about it.


The airplane provides awareness of what is going on around you. All around you. It is second to none.

I tell people this all the time.


I cannot tell you how awesome the sensor suite is, combined with the survivability of the airplane.


It’s not just that it is a stealth airplane, it is everything rolled into one.


It makes it unlike any other plane anywhere in the world right now.


BC: Stealth works.  Low observability is not a fallacy.


You see it in the airplane and realize what a powerful capability it is.


None of the airplanes we flew prior had that capability.


To echo what Mo said, the situational awareness (SA), the fusion piece of it stands out.


In Gen 4 aircraft the pilot is the fusion engine, what’s in between your ears is what’s making that fusion happen.

To some degree that’s still true, the human is a major part of this weapons system.


However, the aid that the fusion system gives a pilot to make high level decisions, coupled with situational awareness well beyond what was had before – that’s what makes it a game changer.


Guts: Situational awareness and the freedom of maneuver that stealth brings.  The workload required to have that unprecedented SA is greatly reduced over previous platforms.


I’m getting all this information, I have freedom to maneuver, and I work significantly less than I did in a previous platform to have that level of information.


That frees up my processor to be able to fight the battle vs. each individual part that I used to have to put together.


The workload is reduced in all aspects of flight, and that enables me to focus on the fight at hand.


Mo: The aircraft allows me to be a tactician, rather than worry about physically manipulating sensors to get information I need.


I have a good picture that I can execute tactically.


It is almost like a chess game.


I can make sure the moves I make in the cockpit are the best moves not just for me, but for everybody out there.

Can you talk a little about the AEGIS Integration?


BC: The synergistic effects of other platforms, especially powerful platforms like the AEGIS combat system not only makes us that much more effective, they have phenomenal SA, phenomenal power and a phenomenal weapons suite.


Sometimes we may not be in the right position, or be the best shooter – but now we can work synergistically with AEGIS and figure out that big picture.


Then we can share all that onboard information to other platforms that may or may not have the same capabilities. The integration makes us that much more effective.


We came in with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Industry, Big Navy to perform a demonstration in September out of White Sands, NM. The F-35 performed an engagement with that combat system through a gateway that allowed us to talk via Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) to the AEGIS combat system and engage the target.


We talked electronically to the AEGIS combat system, like a remote sensor, and AEGIS engaged the airborne target successfully.


And when I say engaged successfully, it was a metal on metal engagement from a significant range. I’d say more than a tactically significant range.  It was a very, very impressive shot.


That was not something we did here at sea, [it was done in September] that was a developmental test, a proof of concept, but it gives us an idea of what we can do to plug the F-35 into the bigger picture.


Can you talk about the interface for that kind of targeting?


BC: It is super simple.


It is targeting the way we target any of our own weapons and it is passed off.


There is really no difference, it is just a battle management issue as to who is going to engage.


Can you describe what the F-35 allows you to do from a tactical perspective that the 4th Gen platforms could not do?


Mo; The sensors on the airplane are our center of gravity.  Our ability to know what’s going on around us in the battlespace and then push that to everybody we are working with.


Not just air to air (A2A), but air to ground (A2G) as well. Add our ability to operate in areas that we have never been able to before such as contested environments.


Physically flying the airplane is extremely easy, that’s the beauty of it, so you just focus on the tactical employment.


It makes you much more lethal.


Is it fair to say that your missions can become more dynamic than with Gen 4 platforms, such as loiter, gather information, be more flexible as a pilot with your mission?


Mo: The F-16 and F/A-18 are extremely capable platforms and they do the swing role /multi role mission very well.


However, they are going to struggle vs Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) or IADS, and in those cases they will be on a dedicated mission. We do have a lot more flexibility to flip flop missions, and we do it a lot in training.  We will escort a package on a strike mission and then we will break off do some A2G, or suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), perhaps some Combat Air Patrol (CAP) or dynamic targeting in the target area – then we’ll rejoin the package and come out with everybody.


Especially along with the F-22, we’ll open the door, wait while everyone else comes in and completes their mission, then come out with the package and close the door behind us.


We do some different things.


As Marines we are on call for a number of different missions, close air support (CAS) etc. that we could not have done in one airplane.


The Marines are writing the CAS Manual for the F-35. How are you finding the F-35 in that role compared to what you have now?


Price: In the CAS role it is performing well.  Being a new aircraft there are some capabilities we’d like to continue working on, but the basic execution of CAS is “On Time, On Target.”


The jet is more than capable to execute that.


The unique capability it brings is executing CAS in the presence of a wide range of threats (something I could not do with previous platform).


Can you give me an example?


Traditionally (Gen 4) if we are executing CAS and a medium range surface to air missile (SAM) pops up on the battlefield, we are done with CAS.


We immediately transition into a SEAD, destruction of enemy air defense (DEAD), or reactive SEAD mindset. With the F-35, we may continue to execute CAS because of freedom of maneuver (stealth) and the SA I have about the threat, its location and its nature.


I may advise the forward air controller (FAC) that a threat has appeared, but it won’t impact mission execution. If the situation gets more threatening, I have the organic capability to go deal with the threat and then roll right back into CAS.  Previously I would have to call in another platform, potentially call in our Prowlers or call in other combined arms to take care of the threat.


The F-35 enables a wide array of CAS execution in a wide array of environments, so from the low-end threat spectrum to the high-end threat spectrum I am capable of executing any of those missions.

Mo: We have greater all weather capability.


The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) maps give the capability to see through weather and deploy ordinance through the weather from a significant stand-off distance (or in proximity).


The ability to employ ordinance through the weather with high quality targeting is impressive.


I know every guy up here and myself included, we take a lot of pride in the fact of our CAS.


There’s been much said about the airplane in the CAS role, some good, some bad, but to us it’s important that a lot of that goes back to the man/woman in the cockpit and the fact that it says Marines on the back of the airplane.


It means the guys in need of CAS are going to get a level of support consistent with what they’ve had out of the Hornets, Harriers and all the airplanes we’ve flown before.


We all take pride in that.


We’re going to give you a lot more capabilities, but it is the fact that we are Marines, and Marines is written on the aircraft – that makes it very important to us up there.


Thinking about the electronic warfare (EW) suite and its ability to detect waveforms and come up with countermeasures.


How do you interface with that as a pilot, is it something you make decisions about, or is automatic?

Mo: Without getting into the technical details it is very, very simple for us.


The way the jet is set up, we make a move to execute electronic attack and the jet will take care of it.


On a personal level as pilots, coming from other platforms and stepping into the F-35, do you have an “aha” moment that you can share?


Guts: My first “aha” moment was a seemingly simple thing.


I was executing a familiarization flight near MCAS Yuma. I was coming back to the airfield and I basically just turned the jet and pointed its nose at Yuma.


Immediately the jet is providing me the information of all the traffic that is out there in the airspace.

When I talk to approach for the first time they are telling me about the traffic that is out there that I already know about and I see it.


I can tell who everybody is that he is talking about and the jet also saw traffic that ATC hadn’t seen yet and I asked about it. And I thought, “holy cow,” here I am coming back to the field from a simple familiarity mission and my jet is telling me everything about the operational environment I am about to go into.


In this case, something very simple, the traffic pattern coming back there, but I didn’t have to do anything to have that level of SA.


I can start making decisions about what altitude I wanted to go to, if I wanted to turn left or right, speed up or slow down.


There’s somebody coming up next to me, I want to get in front of them – or whatever.


It is a very simple example, but I thought WOW this is amazing that I see everything and can do that.


The other was the first time I vertically recovered the airplane. The flight control law that the airplane has is unbelievable and I always tell the anecdote.  Flying AV-8B Harrier IIs, I only had one specific aircraft I felt like I could kind of go easy on the controls and it would sit there and hover.


I love the Harrier, love flying that aircraft, but there was work involved to bring it back for a vertical landing. The very first time I hovered an F-35B I thought, I am the problem here, and I am just going to let the jet do what it wants to do.


The F-35 was hovering better than I could ever hover a Harrier without doing a thing. That’s back to that workload comment I said earlier.  I am performing a vertical landing, and I have the time to look around and see what is taking place on the pad and around me. It is a testament to the jet.


BC: I was conducting a strike mission and Red Air was coming at me.  In a 4th Gen fighter you must do a whole lot of interpretation.  You see things in azimuth, and you see things in elevation.  In the F-35 you just see the Gods eye view of the whole world.  It’s very much like you are watching the briefing in real time.


I am coming in to perform the simulated weapons release, and Red Air is coming the other direction.


I have enough situational awareness to assess whether Red Air is going to be a factor to me by the time I release the weapon. I can make the decision, I’m going to go to the target, I’m going to release this weapon.


At the same time I pre-target the threat, and as soon as I release the A2G weapon, I can flip a switch with my thumb and shoot the Red Air.


This is difficult to do in a 4th Gen fighter, because there is so much manipulation of systems in the cockpit.

All while paying attention to the basic mechanics of flying the airplane and interpreting threat warnings that are often very vague, or only directional.


In the F-35 I know where the threats are, what they are and I can thread the needle. I can tell that the adversary is out in front of me and I can make a very, very smart decision about whether to continue or get out of there.  All that, and I can very easily switch between mission sets.


Mo: I was leading a four ship of F-35s on a strike against 4th Gen adversaries, F-16s and F/A-18s.

We fought our way in, we mapped the target, found the target, dropped JDAMs on the target and turned around and fought our way out.


All the targets got hit, nobody got detected, and all the adversaries died. I thought, yes, this works, very, very, very well.


Never detected, nobody had any idea we were out there.


A second moment was just this past Thursday. I spent a fair amount of my life as a tail hook guy – [landing F/A-18s on US Navy Supercarriers] on long carrier deployments.


The last 18 seconds of a Carrier landing are intense. The last 18 seconds of making a vertical landing on this much smaller USMC Assault Carrier – is a lot more relaxed.


The F-35C is doing some great stuff. Making a vertical landing [my first this week] on the moving ship, that is much smaller than anything I’ve landed on at sea – with less stress, was pretty awesome.


Sack: It was my first flight at Edwards AFB Jan ’16.  I got in the airplane and started it up.  I was still on the deck and there were apparently other F-35s airborne – I believe USAF, I was not aware.  I was a single ship, just supposed to go out and get familiar flying the aircraft.


As the displays came alive there were track files and the SA as to what everyone else was doing in the airspace, and I was still on the ground. I mean, I hadn’t even gotten my take-off clearance yet.


I didn’t even know where it was coming from. It was coming from another F-35.  The jet had started all the systems for me and the SA was there.  That was a very eye opening moment for me.


The second one, took place when I came back from that flight. In a Hornet you would pull into the line and had a very methodical way in which you have to shut off the airplane and the systems otherwise you could damage something.


So you have to follow a sequence, it is very methodical about which electronic system you shut off. In the F-35 you come back, you do a couple things then you just shut the engine off, and it does everything else for you.  Sounds simple, even silly – but it is a quantum shift.


The voice of the pilots is clear.


The F-35 is a platform with the ultimate level of sophistication, made simple.


And therein lay the beauty of the F-35, and just why it will be so deadly: it’s simple.


The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 was Something Extraordinary


(return to top)





Misleading F-35 Answers Drafted by Pentagon, Testing Chief Says


by Anthony Capaccio


Pentagon officials have been preparing a misleading assessment of progress on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons program, the Defense Department’s chief tester warned.


“If not changed, the existing responses would at best be considered misleading and at worst, prevarications,” Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation, wrote in an internal memo criticizing the draft response to questions about F-35 testing from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.


Gilmore’s memo is the latest example of his vocal doubts about the F-35’s performance in key tests. His critiques are at odds with the Pentagon’s narrative that the program is on course after earlier problems. President-elect Donald Trump and his defense secretary — he’s nominating retired General James Mattis — will have to decide next year whether to increase F-35 production to 70 in fiscal 2018 from 63 this year, as requested by the Defense Department.


Trump, who on Tuesday complained that the cost of thenew Air Force One being built by Boeing Co. “is totally out of control,” has also raised some questions in the past about the F-35. In an October 2015 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump criticized the fighter’s cost and said he heard “that it’s not very good” and that “existing planes are better.”


McCain’s Disappointment


In a Nov. 3 letter to departing Defense Secretary Ash Carter, McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he was “extremely disappointed to learn of another delay” in the $57 billion development and demonstration phase of the F-35 “with an associated cost overrun that may be upwards of $1 billion.”


Several of the answers in the draft response to McCain “ignore acknowledged facts, are ambiguous and misleading and if signed and sent as-is” could “generate substantial issues with the Congress,” Gilmore wrote to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, in the Nov. 28 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.


The draft answers should “be revised to provide clear, accurate and complete answers,” said Gilmore, who also raised concerns about the F-35 in a Nov. 18 letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


Gilmore “has shared his concerns” with Kendall who “has them for advisement in his response to Senator McCain,” spokesman Mark Wright said in an e-mail. Navy Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work, said in an e-mail that Gilmore’s information “was and continues to be used to help senior leaders make informed decisions.”


Assertions Challenged


Gilmore challenged passages in the Defense Department’s draft response to McCain that assert:


.The F-35’s development phase is due to end in “early 2018.” Gilmore said the department should “state clearly that development flight testing will not complete — at the earliest” — until mid-2018.


.Operational combat testing that all weapons systems must pass will start in mid-2018 and be completed a year later. Gilmore labeled that “false.” Instead, he said the tests will commence “no sooner than late 2018, or, more likely, in early 2019 but could be as late as 2020.”


.An Air Force certification to lawmakers that F-35s delivered in fiscal 2018 will have full combat capability remains “valid.” Gilmore said that is “highly unlikely” because of delays in testing the critical final version of the plane’s software and correcting 276 pending deficiencies.


Live-fire testing of the jet’s gun system for attacking ground targets and in dogfights against enemy jets faces new delays, Gilmore said. In flights last month, symbols on the helmet display used by pilots to aim air-to-ground attacks were “unusable and unsafe to complete the planned testing.”


F-35 Office’s Comment


Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, said in an e-mail that “there have only been a couple of flights” where the stability issue “was apparent, and the flight test data is still under review to determine root cause.” Additional improvements were incorporated in a software update released in November, and pilot evaluations are planned.


Concerning the development phase’s status, DellaVedova said the program office and Lockheed continue “to drive toward the completion of the test program, including solutions” for the issues cited by Gilmore. The program intends to complete all the flight-testing of the most capable software by late 2017, with delivery of the capability to deployed aircraft from late 2017 to spring 2018, he said, although the schedule could slip about three months.


Wingtips, Helmets


The Navy’s version of the plane, the F-35C, also has inadequate wing strength, Gilmore said. Its wingtips aren’t strong enough to carry the AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, a primary weapon, at some altitudes and airspeeds. Testing on a fix is under way.


“This is a serious deficiency that would have restricted” F-35C flight with the missile, Army Major Roger Cabiness, Gilmore’s spokesman, said in an e-mail. The initial defect reports on the structural weaknesses surfaced in 2013 “so the Navy is not just learning about it, but the proposed fixes are just now being implemented,” Cabiness said.


In addition, “excessive F-35 vertical oscillations,” or shaking, in catapult launches from aircraft carriers must be resolved, Gilmore said.


The Navy has identified the shaking as a “must-fix deficiency” but “the program waited so long to take action that it is unlikely a solution can be implemented within” the development phase “unless a quick fix is developed soon,” Cabiness said.


Rear Admiral Roy Kelley, director of the Navy’s F-35C integration office, said in an e-mail that “we are confident that the program will address discrepancies found and aggressively pursue the fixes.” Kelley said the development phase “has identified a few F-35C specific discrepancies, to include the load limitations for carriage of AIM-9X, as well as the vertical oscillations during catapult launch.”


A potential fix for the wingtip limitations “has already been implemented with the modification of the outer wing panel on F-35C,” Kelley said.


(return to top)




Defense News


Air Force Seeks Virtual Elements in Flight Exercises to Heighten Realism, Complexity


By: Valerie Insinna


ORLANDO, Fla. – With live training alone unable to provide the complex scenarios meant to push the F-35 to its limits, the US Air Force is banking on a suite of cutting-edge technologies that will fuse virtual and constructive elements into live exercises.


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is about halfway through the technology demonstration phase of the Secure Live, Virtual and Constructive Advanced Training Environment (SLATE) program, which will secure the technologies needed to give pilots as close of an experience as they can get to an actual battle.


The program is set to begin demonstrating the system aboard F-15E Eagles and Navy F/A-18s in 2018, but the technology probably won’t be ready for the F-35 and other fifth-generation aircraft until the mid 2020s, said Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFRL commander.


“We’ve learned over the past that our training systems are not up to the task that we have,” he said during a Nov. 29 keynote speech at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education (I/ITSEC) conference in Orlando. “The cost of bringing live training environments and exercise environments to the level of fidelity that we really need to simulate what we would expect to be a conflict environment is probably cost prohibitive.”


Live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training has become a buzzword in the simulation industry over the past couple years, but SLATE is not about merely developing the capability for LVC assets to train together, said Dave “Moses” Noah, SLATE program manager at AFRL. A true LVC environment uses virtual and constructive elements to make live training as realistic as possible, enabling highly complex and advanced scenarios.


When the Air Force conducts live training today, there are elements of make believe that keep the pilot from having a truly immersive experience. For instance, an F-15E flying against an F-16 functioning as an aggressor aircraft will still see an F-16 on its radar shooting American weapons, he told Defense News.


But once SLATE is integrated into the fleet, that F-15E will be able to see the F-16 as a MiG-29, or any other adversary aircraft, on all of its sensors and displays. The idea is to more accurately replicate the conditions of battle, including simulating various environments, adversary weapons and other systems not in the US inventory.


“When we take off, go around the area and point at each other, I have the radar cross section signature of a MiG-29, I have all of the radar emissions of a MiG-29, so when I lock him up, he doesn’t see on his radar warning receiver a symbol for an F-16. He sees a MiG-29,” Noah said.


“The first time that he knows that I’m not a MIG-29 is finally, at let’s say 2.1 miles, gets a visual on me,” he said. “Up until then, he doesn’t know.”


AFRL is overseeing the development of three key technologies for the program: a radio waveform that can manage the unprecedented throughput of data between the different LVC assets, high-level data encryption that keeps sensitive information like radar signatures from proliferating, and a multi-level security system that allows different data to be passed to US and international assets depending on the level of classification.


The waveform, called the Fifth Generation Advanced Training Waveform (5GATW) has been fully developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and performed final flight tests in September, Noah said. During the tests, Lincoln Labs stressed the waveform by passing as much data as possible between ground stations and two aircraft, an L-29 and Dassault Falcon 20 owned by the labs.


Cubic is responsible for the rest of the system, including creating the encryption and security architecture as well as manufacturing a software-defined radio about the size of a smartphone capable of managing and processing the 5GATW, said Mike Knowles, vice president of air ranges. It’s also making the ground support system that will provide connectivity between the LVC elements.


Over the upcoming months, the company will integrate those technologies – along with an antenna, power amplifier and a processor – together into a pod that will be attached to fourth-generation aircraft.


“Inside our labs as systems integrator in San Diego, we’re already putting together the software-defined radio, the waveform we integrated, the multi-level secure architecture and the ground station,” he said. “So in our lab now, we’re at the point where we can do simulated connectivity of the system, so we can test out and verify the communications. The encryption system is already under the NSA [National Security Administration] process for certification.”


During I/ITSEC, the company showcased some of the systems that will be encapsulated into the pod, which will be about the size of an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. For fifth-gen jets like the F-35 and F-22, more engineering will be required to internally install the capability, preserving its low observability. That’s not a part of SLATE’s technology demonstration phase and will be done later on when the service starts an acquisition program, but Cubic has proposed some ideas to AFRL on how the core systems could be integrated into the joint strike fighter (JSF).


“For JSF, it’s not going to be that hard. [For] a lot of the SLATE components, the hardware is designed to be able to be able to port into JSF in the future,” said Tim Cockerham, a senior principal systems engineer for Cubic. For instance, some of the technologies used for SLATE could replace older processors or other subsystems that are larger in size.


The Air Force has committed $49 million for the technology development phase, and the Navy plans to add about $20 million of its own funds.


AFRL and Cubic are going to continue testing and developing SLATE over the next year. Three two-week demonstrations at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which will include Navy participation, are planned in 2018, Noah said.


The first demo, planned for March, involves a couple F-15Es and F/A-18s interfacing with some virtual and constructive players.


“We’re just making sure we have connectivity out on the range at Nellis,” he said.


Another demonstration in May increases the number of actors and the influx of data being exchanged. The capstone event in October will take it up yet another notch: up to 16 live aircraft acting as blue forces, additional live aggressor forces, and then “a classified number” of virtual and constructive forces.


“But it’s going to be a lot because we want to show how much the system can handle,” he said.


Future Acquisition


Once technology development ends, it will be up to the service to spin SLATE into a competitive program of record. That’s not exactly an easy thing to do in this fiscal environment for a capability that will cost billions, and possibly tens of billions, Noah said. However, the service’s Life Cycle Management Center, the acquisition arm of Air Force Materiel Command, has designated employees to help ensure a smooth transition.


“They come to work in our building just to be joined at the hip with what AFRL is doing with SLATE,” he said.


AFRL is already engaged in regular meetings with Air Combat Command – which has been designated the lead command for LVC platforms – and with Lynda Rutledge, the program executive officer for the agile combat support directorate, who is in charge of acquiring simulators.


The acquisition strategy has not been finalized, but “this is going to be multiple programs of record because LVC is so huge,” he said.


(return to top)




U.S. Navy Aims to Buy More Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: Source


(REUTERS 4 DEC 16) … By Andrea Shalal | SIMI VALLEY, Calif.


The U.S. Navy plans to divest its older model Boeing Co (BA.N) F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in coming years and hopes to buy dozens of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to deal with a shortfall of strike fighters aboard its carriers, a Navy official said.


The plan, which is still being finalized, could be implemented as early as part of the fiscal 2018 budget, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.


“To decrease the strike fighter shortfall and to best prepare future air wings for likely threats we will soon divest from legacy Hornets, look to buy several squadrons worth of Super Hornets and continue with efforts to bring on the F-35 carrier variant,” said the official.


The Navy also plans to field and deploy a new unmanned carrier-based refueling plane, the official said.

Sources familiar with Navy plans say delays in the fielding of the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet, longer-than-expected maintenance times for older model Hornets, and higher usage rates have left the Navy facing a shortfall of about 70 fighter jets in coming years.


If implemented, the plan would provide dozens of new orders for Boeing and keep its St. Louis production line running for several more years.


“We would welcome an opportunity to develop a plan, with the Navy, that would allow us to continue providing the robust capabilities of the Super Hornet well into the future,” said Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher.


The company had suffered a setback last month when Congress failed to include 12 Super Hornets in the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, opening a potential gap in the Boeing production line until several foreign orders for Kuwait and Canada are finalized. The $618.7 billion bill was passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.


Navy officials say the jets could still be added to the fiscal 2017 budget as part of a supplemental budget that lawmakers are urging Republican President-elect Donald Trump to submit after he takes office.


Republicans, who will control both houses of Congress and the White House after Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, see good prospects for raising military spending levels and scrapping a 2010 law that imposed mandatory cost caps on defense spending.


The older model Hornets could be transferred to the Marine Corps, which has faced its own maintenance issues, including a lack of spare parts.

(return to top)




Innovation Drive Essential to DoD’s Future


(DEFENSE NEWS 05 DEC 16) … Secretary Ash Carter


At my swearing-in ceremony as secretary of defense, I said the Pentagon had to “think outside this five-sided box,” and since taking office, opening the Defense Department to new ideas and stoking its innovative culture has been one of my top priorities. I have made it my mission to innovate because if we are to remain the finest fighting force in the world, treading water won’t get it done. We’ve made important progress on multiple fronts, implementing changes I believe will serve my successors for years to come.


Innovation is all the more necessary in today’s dynamic security environment. We are currently addressing five major, unique, and rapidly evolving challenges: countering Russian aggression and coercion, especially in Europe; managing historic change in the Asia-Pacific, the most consequential region for America’s future; strengthening deterrence and defensive capabilities against North Korea; checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf; and accelerating the certain and lasting defeat of ISIL. At the same time, the Pentagon also must prepare for challenges we can’t anticipate.


To take on these challenges and stay ahead of our competitors in an increasingly complex international landscape, DoD is changing and adapting how we invest in technology, how we fight, how we operate as an organization, and how we attract and nourish talent.


To ensure that our military continues leading change technologically, we are pushing the envelope on research and development. The last budget we proposed called for $72 billion in research and development in the next year alone — more than double what Apple, Intel, and Google spent last year on R&D combined. Beyond that, we’ve made progress in building, and in some cases rebuilding, the bridges between the Pentagon and America’s technology community. I created our Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to connect with startups and other commercial technology firms innovating in Silicon Valley; Boston; Austin, Texas; and everywhere in between.


Those DIUx outposts are already producing new ideas that will help our warfighters. We’re pursuing these new initiatives while still looking to the innovative companies in our traditional defense industrial base to help us accomplish our mission as only they can. America’s defense contractors will need to keep us on the cutting edge in the years ahead.


Of course, technological innovation and operational innovation go hand-in-glove. As a result, the Defense Department is reinvigorating training across the military branches to return to full-spectrum readiness, and re-thinking how we operate to find new advantages against potential adversaries. We have fundamentally revised our core contingency plans to account for changes in potential adversaries’ capabilities, to apply innovation to our operational approaches, and to better counter emerging threats such as cyberattacks. These updated plans will ensure we have the agility and ability to win the fights we are in, the wars that could happen today, and the wars that could happen in the future.


Innovation in technology and operations are necessary, but insufficient, because at the pace today’s world demands, the Defense Department can only succeed as a flexible institution that nurtures innovation in all its forms. We cannot afford to be bureaucratic, too slow to act or risk-averse, nor to discourage thinking differently. One effort to encourage innovative thinking is the Defense Innovation Board, which I established this year. The board, led by Alphabet and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, has already provided its first set of recommendations on how to apply America’s wider innovative culture to military problems. One recommendation I’ve already accepted is the establishment of a chief innovation officer position to act as a senior adviser to the defense secretary on innovation.


Of course, people are the bedrock of our military superiority – that’s always been the case and always will be. While we can acquire the best technology, and employ the soundest operational and organizational concepts, we are nothing without our people. So as our country and young citizens change from generation to generation, so must our methods for attracting and retaining the smartest, hardest working, and most talented among them. That’s why I launched the Force of the Future initiatives, to ensure that our people will always remain cutting-edge. In total, these initiatives span the career of a uniformed service member and DoD civilian, from recruiting men and women to join, to caring for, retaining, and developing them, and then to helping successfully transition those who want to move on.


From outreach to the tech community and innovative ecosystems across the country, to operational and organizational innovation, to building the Force of the Future, the thread that connects all these efforts is that their real payoff will come down the line. Just as I’ve benefitted from actions by my predecessors, I am confident the Defense Department and its future leaders will benefit from these initiatives for years to come as each ensures our military remains the strongest, most capable, most innovative force on Earth.


Ash Carter is the U.S. secretary of defense


(return to top)




National Defense


Defense Market Facing Major Transformation


By Jon Harper


Multiple factors are set to compel a major transformation in the makeup of the defense market in the coming years, according to an industry executive who previously held the number two position at the Pentagon.


Since the outset of World War II, the U.S. defense industry has undergone two major pivots, said William Lynn, a former deputy secretary of defense, who is now CEO of Leonardo North America and DRS Technologies Inc.

The first occurred when the United States moved from a government-run arsenal system to one where the defense industry comprised large conglomerate manufacturing companies that had defense-focused divisions such as General Motors, IBM and GE, he said.


The second one followed the famous “Last Supper” at the end of the Cold War when then-Secretary of Defense William Perry gathered defense industry leaders and told them that the Pentagon no longer had the capacity to support the breadth of industry that existed at the time, Lynn noted.


“We ended up with the structure we have today which moved really from conglomerates to specialists,” Lynn said Dec. 1 during a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


For most of the major defense industry players today, 60 to 80 percent of their revenue comes from defense, he added. “We’ve gone from 40 or 50 major players of size in the defense market to a half a dozen.”


Another major sea change is on the horizon, he argued. “We’re at the cusp of a third pivot in terms of the structure of that market,” he said. Several trends will drive the transformation, according to Lynn. One is consolidation.


“At the platform level, the numbers of major platforms that the department is buying is getting narrower and narrower,” he said. “As a consequence, the number of competitors in that space is narrowing down to two and in some cases one” company.


There is only one prime contractor that builds aircraft carriers, and only two that build the Navy’s submarines, he noted.


“Tactical aircraft is moving in that direction,” he said. “You still have Boeing and Lockheed but at some point we will stop making . [Boeings] F-18s and F-15s and we’ll center on the [Lockheed-built] F-35. How do you keep a competitive structure in that?”


A second driver of change is the internationalization of the industrial base.


“You see it very definitely now in terms of the supply base of all of the major defense companies,” Lynn said. “It’s a global supply base, whereas if you look even 20 years ago it was heavily an American supply base. And now it’s very global [and] they go for the best technology, the best prices. I would argue that that’s going to start to shift to the prime level as well, and it has already started.”


The third and perhaps the most important force leading toward another structural change is the source of technology, he said. In previous decades, research-and-development spending by the Defense Department was a key driver of innovation that later spilled over into the commercial sector, he noted, citing the development of GPS and the internet as examples.


But today, much of the cutting-edge innovation is happening outside of the Pentagon and the federal government including areas such as 3D printing, autonomy, material science and nanotechnology, Lynn said.


“The weight of the R&D is more on the commercial side. And so one of the big challenges for defense is how do you pull that technology now into the defense industrial base and operationalize it for military uses?” he said. “It’s a different model.”


“All of those forces are pushing us toward a different type of defense structure. I think the most important thing for the new [Donald Trump] administration is to think about how they want to shape it,” he added.


The new Pentagon leadership needs to focus on improving the agility of the acquisition system and incentivizing R&D spending, Lynn argued. The uncertainty surrounding the defense budget in recent years is making it difficult to do the latter, he said.


“It’s very hard to ask companies to make significant investment in R&D if they don’t know what the department is going to buy even 18 months from now,” he said.


Embracing the commercial sector will also be critical, he noted.


“Probably the most important [question is] . how do you have a structure that allows defense companies to import commercial technologies or allows commercial companies to compete directly?” Lynn said. “The department I think has a strong interest in making sure that the defense market is permeable to those commercial structures.”


(return to top)




Pentagon Hid Study Revealing $125 Billion in Waste


(WASHINGTON POST 06 DEC 16) … Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward


The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.


Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.


The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.


The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.


The data showed that the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people – 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel – to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.


The cost-cutting study could find a receptive audience with President-elect Donald Trump. He has promised a major military buildup and said he would pay for it by “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”

For the military, the major allure of the study was that it called for reallocating the $125 billion for troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.


But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.


So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.


“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money. We proposed a way to save a ton of money,” said Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, a private-equity investor from Jacksonville, Fla., who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board.


Stein, a campaign bundler for President Obama, said the study’s data were “indisputable” and that it was “a travesty” for the Pentagon to suppress the results.


“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he added.


The missed opportunity to streamline the military bureaucracy could soon have large ramifications. Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Pentagon will be forced to stomach $113 billion in automatic cuts over four years unless Congress and Trump can agree on a long-term spending deal by October. Playing a key role in negotiations will probably be Trump’s choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.


The Defense Business Board was ordered to conduct the study by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking official. At first, Work publicly touted the efficiency drive as a top priority and boasted about his idea to recruit corporate experts to lead the way.


After the board finished its analysis, however, Work changed his position. In an interview with The Post, he did not dispute the board’s findings about the size or scope of the bureaucracy. But he dismissed the $125 billion savings proposal as “unrealistic” and said the business executives had failed to grasp basic obstacles to restructuring the public sector.


“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” he said. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that … I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”


Work said the board fundamentally misunderstood how difficult it is to eliminate federal civil service jobs – members of Congress, he added, love having them in their districts – or to renegotiate defense contracts.


He said the Pentagon is adopting some of the study’s recommendations on a smaller scale and estimated it will save $30 billion by 2020. Many of the programs he cited, however, have been on the drawing board for years or were unrelated to the Defense Business Board’s research.


Work acknowledged that the push to improve business operations lost steam after then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was replaced by Ashton B. Carter in February 2015. Carter has emphasized other goals, such as strengthening the Pentagon’s partnerships with high-tech firms.


“We will never be as efficient as a commercial organization,” Work said. “We’re the largest bureaucracy in the world. There’s going to be some inherent inefficiencies in that.”


‘Dark Matter’


Work, a retired Marine officer, became deputy defense secretary in May 2014. With the military budget under the most pressure since the end of the Cold War, he sought help from the Defense Business Board, an advisory panel known for producing management studies that usually gathered dust.


Work told the board that the outcome of this assignment would be different. In a memo, he directed the board to collect sensitive cost data from the military services and defense agencies that would reveal how much they spent on business operations.


Pentagon officials knew their back-office bureaucracy was overstaffed and overfunded. But nobody had ever gathered and analyzed such a comprehensive set of data before.


Some Defense Business Board members warned that exposing the extent of the problem could have unforeseen consequences.


“You are about to turn on the light in a very dark room,” Kenneth Klepper, the former chief executive of Medco Health Solutions, told Work in the summer of 2014, according to two people familiar with the exchange. “All the crap is going to float to the surface and stink the place up.”


“Do it,” Work replied.


To turn on the light, the Pentagon needed more outside expertise. A team of consultants from McKinsey was hired.


In a confidential August 2014 memo, McKinsey noted that while the Defense Department was “the world’s largest corporate enterprise,” it had never “rigorously measured” the “cost-effectiveness, speed, agility or quality” of its business operations.


Nor did the Pentagon have even a remotely accurate idea of what it was paying for those operations, which McKinsey divided into five categories: human resources; health-care management; supply chain and logistics; acquisition and procurement; and financial-flow management.


McKinsey hazarded a guess: anywhere between $75 billion and $100 billion a year, or between 15 and 20 percent of the Pentagon’s annual expenses. “No one REALLY knows,” the memo added.


The mission would be to analyze, for the first time, dozens of databases that tracked civilian and military personnel, and labor costs for defense contractors. The problem was that the databases were in the grip of the armed forces and a multitude of defense agencies. Many had fought to hide the data from outsiders and bureaucratic rivals, according to documents and interviews.


Information on contractor labor, in particular, was so cloaked in mystery that McKinsey described it as “dark matter.”


Prying it loose would require direct orders from Work. Even then, McKinsey consultants predicted the bureaucracy would resist.


“This is a sensitive exercise conducted with audiences both ‘weary’ and ‘wary’ of efficiency, cost, sequestration and budget drills,” the confidential memo stated. “Elements of the culture are masterful at ‘waiting out studies and sponsors,’ with a ‘this too shall pass’ mindset.”


Overstaffed Chow Hall


From the outset, access to the data was limited to a handful of people. A $2.9 million consulting contract signed by the Pentagon stipulated that none of the data or analysis could be released to the news media or the public.


Moreover, the contract required McKinsey to report to David Tillotson III, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer. Anytime the Defense Business Board wanted the consultants to carry out a task, Tillotson would have to approve. His office – not the board – would maintain custody of the data.


“Good news!” Work emailed Tillotson once the contract was signed. “Time to cook.”


In an Oct. 15, 2014, memo, Work ordered the board to move quickly, giving it three months to produce “specific and actionable recommendations.”


In a speech the next month, Work lauded the board for its private-sector expertise. He said he had turned it into “an operational arm” of the Pentagon leadership and predicted the study would deliver transformational results.


In an aside, he revealed that early findings had determined the average administrative job at the Pentagon was costing taxpayers more than $200,000, including salary and benefits.


“And you say, hmmm, we could probably do better than that,” he said.


The initial results did not come as a surprise.


Former defense secretaries William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates and Chuck Hagel had launched similar efficiency drives in 1997, 2010 and 2013, respectively. But each of the leaders left the Pentagon before their revisions could take root.


“Because we turn over our secretaries and deputy secretaries so often, the bureaucracy just waits things out,” said Dov Zakheim, who served as Pentagon comptroller under President George W. Bush. “You can’t do it at the tail end of an administration. It’s not going to work. Either you leave the starting block with a very clear program, or you’re not going to get it done.”


Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine general and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said lawmakers block even modest attempts to downsize the Pentagon’s workforce because they do not want to lose jobs in their districts.


Without backing from Congress, “you can’t even get rid of the guy serving butter in the chow hall in a local district, much less tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.


‘Time To Hunt!’


The Defense Business Board assigned five members to conduct the study alongside consultants from McKinsey. Scott Rutherford, senior partner at McKinsey’s Washington office, declined to comment.


The team ran into resistance as several Pentagon offices delayed requests for data, according to emails and memos. Work and Tillotson had to intervene to get the data flowing. At one point, more than 100 people were feeding data from different sectors of the bureaucracy.


Laboring under its tight deadline, the team hashed out an agreement with Pentagon officials over which job classifications to count in their survey. The board added a sixth category of business operations – real property management. That alone covered 192,000 jobs and annual expenses of $22.6 billion.


On Christmas Eve, Klepper emailed Work and Tillotson to thank them for putting their muscle behind the project. Without it, he said, “this would all have been DOA and the naysayers would all have been right.”

He hinted the board would make some eye-catching recommendations and expressed relief its work had not been torpedoed.


“I have to admit, with all the caution, negative reaction and pushback,” Klepper said, “I had a bit of concern at the end of the analysis some form of censorship would stop us from showing the true opportunity.”

Work replied that he could not be happier.


“Time to hunt!” he said in an email, adding that he was “very excited about 2015” and ready to make “some bold moves.”


The year kicked off with promise. On Jan. 21, 2015, the Pentagon announced Stein, the private-equity investor, had been reappointed as the board’s chairman and praised him for his “outstanding service.”


The next day, the full board held its quarterly public meeting to review the results of the study. The report had a dry title, “Transforming DoD’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” and was packed with charts and jargon. But it began plainly enough.


“We are spending a lot more money than we thought,” the report stated. It then broke down how the Defense Department was spending $134 billion a year on business operations – about 50 percent more than McKinsey had guessed at the outset.


Almost half of the Pentagon’s back-office personnel – 457,000 full-time employees – were assigned to logistics or supply-chain jobs. That alone exceeded the size of United Parcel Service’s global workforce.


The Pentagon’s purchasing bureaucracy counted 207,000 full-time workers. By itself, that would rank among the top 30 private employers in the United States.


More than 192,000 people worked in property management. About 84,000 people held human-resources jobs.

The study laid out a range of options. At the low end, just by renegotiating service contracts and hiring less-expensive workers, the Pentagon could save $75 billion over five years. At the high end, by adopting more aggressive productivity targets, it could save twice as much.


After a discussion, the full board voted to recommend a middle option: to save $125 billion over five years.


Hordes Of Contractors


Afterward, board members briefed Work. They were expecting an enthusiastic response, but the deputy defense secretary looked uneasy, according to two people who were present.


He singled out a page in the report. Titled “Warfighter Currency,” it showed how saving $125 billion could be redirected to boost combat power. The money could cover the operational costs for 50 Army brigades, or 3,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, or 10 aircraft-carrier strike groups for the Navy.


“This is what scares me,” he said, according to the two people present. Work explained he was worried Congress might see it as an invitation to strip $125 billion from the defense budget and spend it somewhere else.


A few weeks later, Carter replaced Hagel as defense secretary. Carter sounded as though he would welcome the kind of revolutionary change the board was urging.


“To win support from our fellow citizens for the resources we need, we must show that we can make better use of every taxpayer dollar,” Carter said in an inaugural message in February 2015. “That means a leaner organization, less overhead, and reforming our business and acquisition practices.”


In briefings that month, uniformed military leaders were receptive at first. They had long groused that the Pentagon wasted money on a layer of defense bureaucracies – known as the Fourth Estate – that were outside the control of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Military officials often felt those agencies performed duplicative services and oversight.


But the McKinsey consultants had also collected data that exposed how the military services themselves were spending princely sums to hire hordes of defense contractors.


For example, the Army employed 199,661 full-time contractors, according to a confidential McKinsey report obtained by The Post. That alone exceeded the combined civil workforce for the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.


The average cost to the Army for each contractor that year: $189,188, including salary, benefits and other expenses.


The Navy was not much better. It had 197,093 contractors on its payroll. On average, each cost $170,865.

In comparison, the Air Force had 122,470 contractors. Each cost, on average, $186,142.


Taking Fire


Meantime, the backlash to the $125 billion savings plan intensified.


On Feb. 6, 2015, board members briefed Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer. Kendall’s operations were a major target of the study; he oversaw an empire of purchasing agents and contractors that were constantly under attack from Congress for cost overruns and delays.


Kendall put up a stiff fight. He challenged the board’s data and strenuously objected to the conclusion that his offices were overstaffed.


“Are you trying to tell me we don’t know how to do our job?” he said, according to two participants in the meeting. He said he needed to hire 1,000 more people to work directly under him, not fewer.


“If you don’t believe me, call in an auditor,” replied Klepper, the board’s restructuring expert. “They’ll tell you it’s even worse than this.”


In an interview, Kendall acknowledged he was “very disappointed” by the board’s work, which he criticized as “shallow” and “very low on content.” He said the study had ignored efforts by his agencies to become more efficient, and he accused the board of plucking the $125 billion figure out of thin air.


“It was essentially a ballpark, made-up number,” he said.


Still, Kendall knew that lawmakers might view the study as credible. Alarmed, he said, he went to Work and warned that the findings could “be used as a weapon” against the Pentagon.


“If the impression that’s created is that we’ve got a bunch of money lying around and we’re being lazy and we’re not doing anything to save money, then it’s harder to justify getting budgets that we need,” Kendall said.

More ominously, board members said they started to get the silent treatment from the Pentagon’s highest ranks.


Briefings that had been scheduled for military leaders in the Tank – the secure conference room for the Joint Chiefs of Staff – were canceled. Worse, the board was unable to secure an audience with Carter, the new defense secretary.


Stein, the board chairman, accused Carter of deliberately derailing the plan through inaction. “Unfortunately, Ash – for reasons of his own – stopped this,” he said in an interview.


Peter Cook, a spokesman for Carter, said the Pentagon chief was busy dealing with “a long list of national security challenges.” He added that Work and other senior officials had already “concluded that the report, while well-intentioned, had limited value.”


The fatal blow was struck in April. Just three months after Stein had been reappointed as board chairman, Carter replaced him with Michael Bayer, a business consultant who had previously served on the panel and clashed with Stein. Bayer declined to comment.


A few weeks later, Klepper resigned from the board. The $125 billion savings plan was dead.


In an interview, Tillotson, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer, called the board’s recommendations too ambitious and aggressive. “They, perhaps, underestimated the degree of difficulty we have in doing something that in the commercial sector would seem to be very easy to do.”


Yet he acknowledged that its overall strategy for scaling back the bureaucracy was sound and that, given more time, it would be possible to realize huge savings.


“If we had a longer timeline, yes, it would be a reasonable approach,” he said. “You might get there eventually.”


Ending The Debate


Frustration, however, persisted in some corners over the Pentagon’s unwillingness to tackle the inefficiency and waste documented by the study.


On June 2, 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He complained that 20 percent of the defense budget went to the Fourth Estate – the defense agencies that provide support to the armed forces – and called it “pure overhead.”


He singled out the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency, which together employ about 40,000 people, as egregious examples.


When a reporter in the audience asked whether he thought the agencies should be abolished, Mabus resisted the temptation to say yes.


“Nice try on getting me into deep trouble,” he replied.


But trouble arrived in Mabus’s email the next day.


“Ray, before you publicly trash one of the agencies that reports through me I’d really appreciate a chance to discuss it with you,” wrote Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer, whose management portfolio included the Defense Logistics Agency.


He said that if Mabus had a complaint, he should raise it directly with their mutual bosses, Carter and Work, and copied the email to both.


In his interview with The Post, Kendall said he was “completely blindsided” by the Navy secretary’s criticism, “so I sent him what I thought under the circumstances was a pretty polite note.”


Mabus did not back down. In an emailed retort to Kendall, he referred to the ill-fated Defense Business Board study.


“I did not say anything yesterday that I have not said both publicly … and privately inside this building,” he said. “There have been numerous studies, which I am sure you are aware of, pointing out excessive overhead.”

That prompted a stern intervention from Work.


“Ray, please refrain from taking any more public pot shots,” Work said in an email. “I do not want this spilling over into further public discourse.”


Evelyn Duffy contributed to this report.


(return to top)



Post Expose on Pentagon Waste Draws Mixed Reviews


(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 06 DEC 16) … Charles S. Clark


With the words “exclusive” and “Bob Woodward” on top of its story, The Washington Post’s Tuesday expose on a “buried” Pentagon study that identified an $125 billion in waste over five years drew considerable attention.


Several lawmakers, the Defense Department’s chief union and at least one anti-waste advocacy group greeted the story as vindication of their past critiques of military contacting bloat. But the department itself and former officials told Government Executive that the alleged value of wasted money was overstated.


Woodward and veteran investigative reporter Craig Whitlock’s story, headlined “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” described a McKinsey & Co. study commissioned by the Defense Business Board at the behest of Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


A version was released in January 2015, but only after officials attempted to hide the data from the public – efforts the Post documented. The study, which was covered at the time by Defense News and other major defense publications, “revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management,” the Post wrote.


The data showed that Defense is “paying a staggering number of people – 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel – to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940,” the reporters wrote, supplying new numbers such as 457,000 in supply chain and logistics and 207,000 people in acquisition and procurement.


The response on Capitol Hill on Tuesday was quick. Armed Services Committee chiefs Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, joined in a statement calling the findings “not a surprise … We have known for many years that the department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”


Which is why, they continued, the committees over the past two years have mandated a 25 percent cut in the Pentagon’s administrative support and headquarters staff, along with a 12 percent reduction in flag officers and civilian Senior Executive Service employees.


Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who in January will become the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, reacted more strongly. “If this is true, the Pentagon played Congress and the American public for fools,” she said. “It would mean that while some in Congress were busy debating cuts to vital services, furloughing employees, and threatening working people’s’ pensions, the Department of Defense literally knew it could save the American people billions and billions of dollars in bureaucratic waste, and instead, they buried it. I vow to get to the bottom of this.”


American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement to Government Executive that the report “confirms what we have known for decades: that the Pentagon is flagrantly wasting taxpayer money by hiring costly and less accountable contractors to do support work that civilians can do for far less. By insourcing much of this work, the Pentagon could free up tens of billions of dollars a year to invest in our troops.”


Cox added, “We are glad that this long-suppressed report has seen the light of day and hope it spurs action in Congress to curb the Pentagon’s wasteful spending on service contracts,” but AFGE actually commented on the report back in January 2015, expressing surprise that the Defense Business Board had changed its past leanings and called for cutting the civilian workforce.


In the Post story, Work highlighted savings reforms already underway at the Pentagon, adding that the Defense board’s reforms for saving $125 billion were “unrealistic on the intended timeline given the defense program, budgeting procedures and the unique impediments facing the department that do not apply in the private sector.”


Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook on Tuesday told the Associated Press that senior managers at the Pentagon concluded that the study, “while well-intentioned, had limited value” because it didn’t take into account existing programs to improve efficiency and because it lacked “specific, actionable recommendations appropriate to the department.”


Also skeptical was Robert Hale, the former Pentagon comptroller who left in June 2014 (before the Defense Board study) and is now a fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton. “There is no question that there is waste and inefficiency at DoD,” he told Government Executive. “And a number of items the board mentioned – such as getting rid of low-priority contracts and optimizing labor contracts – are things the department has tried and has achieved some progress.”


But the projected savings of $125 billion in five years “appears based on some assumed productivity gains, 9 percent savings in the first year, 3 percent to 5 percent per year after that, but in my experience you don’t get those kinds of savings.”


The study’s own private-sector comparisons, he noted, showed that only 17 percent of optimization efforts achieve their full potential. Also, “the department is busy fighting wars, which does take away the time they have to spend” on efficiency reforms, said Hale, who recently laid out his own 10 efficiency recommendations in a paper published by Center for New American Security.


Plus, Defense employees’ “incentives are not the same as in the private sector, where if you save money and keep customers, you’re happy to get a big bonus,” Hale said. “In DoD, some comptroller like me is likely to grab savings for some other purpose.”


Mark Cancian, an alumnus of the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget who is now senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that the Post’s phrasing of the story as “bureaucratic incompetence” will have impact because the paper has influence in Washington. But the study “doesn’t actually specify any actions for savings,” instead calling for “a committed leadership to stand up cross-functional teams that will look at contracts and the workforce and apply the best commercial practices.”


Cancian said he can see why Deputy Secretary Work would be frustrated that the study “threw $125 billion around as if it were on the table,” he said. “You have to talk about specifics, not just paint with a broad brush.”


As a veteran himself, he added, “applying commercial practices that identify specific areas of savings often cause people to recoil and push back.” The example he gave is the often-offered proposal to shut down commissaries.


“No company has its own grocery store, but to many in the military community, they are a symbol of a commitment made to them,” Cancian said. “It’s part of what makes the military culture so distinctive.”


Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, called the Post story “a perfect illustration of the three biggest problems affecting the Defense Department: a contractor workforce that costs too much; a culture of secrecy; and a fear that exposing waste will lead to cuts in defense spending. It and other reports also show there are plenty of opportunities to cut Pentagon spending and the next administration should be skeptical of anyone who tells them otherwise.”


(return to top)




Breaking Defense


$125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON: Want to save $125 billion by slashing Pentagon “waste”? Not so fast. If you take a closer look at the much-touted Defense Business Board study proposing those cuts- which was published in 2015 but went viral after Monday’s Washington Post story saying the Pentagon had “burie[d]” it – and talk to experts, officials, and the top House Democrat on defense policy, the savings turn out to be less of a slam-dunk than advertised.


“I don’t necessarily think the report is overstating the ease with which that savings can be achieved,” said Rep. Adam Smith, the cerebral and snarky ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. “But I certainly think the reporting on the report is overstating the ease with which we can save that $125 billion.”


First, divide by five: A crucial detail the headlines always omitted is that the DBB forecast $125 billion in savings over five years. That makes the annual savings from their proposed efficiencies a still respectable but hardly game-changing $25 billion a year. “That’s [about] 4% of total DoD outlays,” calculates Capital Alpha analyst Byron Callan, “which is well within the types of savings corporations would strive to achieve.”


Why does that figure happen to be well within the norm for private sector cost-cutting practices? It’s because the whole premise of the study, in essence, is to ask how much DoD could save if it followed – all together now – private sector cost-cutting practices.


In fact, the analytical underpinnings of the study seem to have been done by McKinsey & Company, a world-famous private-sector management consultancy. McKinsey has a reputation for hiring bright young things with zero experience, a former director convicted of insider trading, and a client roster that includes Enron, AOL before its disastrous merger with Times-Warner, and many more imploded companies. But, whether following McKinsey & Co.’s advice is wise or otherwise, the study’s 77 pages of publicly released briefing slides don’t say how to apply these private-sector practices to the Pentagon – which rather begs the point.


For example, it says that a “4-8% annual productivity gain for DoD is a realistic goal,” but its only argument for why that’s realistic seems to be that corporations routinely achieve it (slide 9), without saying how well that would translate into the public sector. The study projects “15-40% gains in IT productivity and effectiveness” (slide 19), but it doesn’t say how to realize them, or how hard it might be. To the contrary, the IT goal glosses over the disastrous record of past government information technology mega-projects, even though some of them are cited as case studies in backup slides (49-54). “Even in the private sector, only 17% of fundamental change projects deliver their full potential,” the report admits at one point (slide 26).


Another major area of savings is large-scale early retirements (17-18, 41). While it makes some provision for retention bonuses to keep the most skilled employees (3), the study ignores the looming demographic crisis of too many retirement-age employees leaving the civil service at once, with too few experienced mid-career personnel to replace their institutional knowledge.


“The report lacked specific, actionable recommendations,” Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told me. “Where the study did offer concrete recommendations, the department has taken action. For example, we have implemented service contract review boards that are projected to achieve billions of dollars in savings.” Overall, the department is aiming to save $30 billion over four years from efficiencies, an average of $7.5 billion a year.


That’s hardy $25 billion a year, though. “I think it is probably not a reasonable goal, and the work the DBB did doesn’t provide any basis to set it as a goal,” said Andrew Hunter. As the former head of the Pentagon’s celebrated Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, and now director of defense industrial initiatives at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Hunter knows a thing or two about making defense procurement faster and more efficient.


Where the DBB does provide specific courses of action, they’re not necessarily feasible, either. “Their proposal to renegotiate contracts across the board is impractical,” Hunter told me, “and they don’t appear to have been aware of the significant efforts (already) underway across the services to reduce service contract costs.”


That said, Hunter emphasizes, “they did a nice job of collecting business operations costs across the Department. The value in what the DBB did is if you collect this information consistently over time, you can detect and act on positive and negative trends in business operations.”


Data is vital to accurate analysis, and the Washington Post’s most damning accusation the Pentagon “imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings.” When I asked Pentagon sources about this, though, they weren’t quite sure what the Post meant.


The substantive section of the report – the 77 slides of recommendations and analysis – “has been available continuously online since January 2015,” said Trowbridge. “We understand some members of Congress might be interested in seeing the underlying data, and, as always, we’ll respond to those requests.”


“Data wasn’t classified, but some was marked proprietary,” said another defense official. “If someone wants the info, they just need to ask and DBB will give it out, minus proprietary stuff.” Proprietary in Pentagon parlance specifically refers to the intellectual property of contractors, and one of the major thrusts of the report was negotiating lower contract costs.


“The report was valuable and continues to shape the way the Department is pursuing efficiencies in cross-enterprise business functions,” the official emphasized. But it’s not an executable plan of action on its own, the official continued, and the Pentagon now “has DBB looking at ways to actually achieve the $125B in savings.”


The Washington Post story has certainly turned up the pressure to save. The chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, acquisition reform crusaders Rep. Mac Thornberry and Sen. John McCain, called for all the underlying data to be made public. Their scathing joint statement read (in part), “We have known for many years that the Department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”


But maybe the reason is not so simple. Maybe it’s a complex interaction of a $496 billion-a-year organization – that’s more than Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company – building cutting-edge hardware and operating it in life-or-death circumstances, all under unrelenting scrutiny from 535 members of Congress.


“It’s an enormously important report, and I think it’s something we should look at closely,” said Rep. Smith, speaking to the US Naval Institute’s annual defense conference at the Newseum. “(But) I wouldn’t get overexcited about it – like, ‘wow, $125 million just laid on the table that we can go spend!'”

“I have not yet encountered the human endeavor that does not contain waste, fraud, and abuse,” Smith said.


“There’s waste fraud and abuse at IBM, at Microsoft, at Amazon.” (We just don’t know as much about it because Congress can’t routinely see their books or haul their executives up to testimony). “I think it’s our job in Congress and the job of whoever ends up running DoD to do their level best to get as much of that savings as possible, and I’d be interested in looking at the details of where they think they’re going to get that $125 billion.”


“But,” Smith concluded, “understand it’s not as easy as it might appear.”


$125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith



FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of November 28, 2016



  1. FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter
  2. Senior NAVAIR Leadership Share Experience, Advice on NLDP



  1. Kuwait to Buy 28 US F-18 jets
  2. Israel Approves Purchase of 17 More F-35s
  3. F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now
  4. No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill
  5. Canada Plans to Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition in 2017
  6. The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them
  7. The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts
  8. 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.


(return to top)




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.”


(return to top)






Kuwait Times


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.

– Agencies


Kuwait to buy 28 US F-18 jets

(return to top)


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.


(return to top)


Defense News


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.


(return to top)


DoD Buzz

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


No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill


(return to top)


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.


(return to top)


War is Boring


The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them


Program office cuts development short




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.


(return to top)


Popular Mechanics


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.


(return to top)


National Defense


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.

FRCSW/COMFRC top clips for the week of Nov. 14


  1. Lilly earns Air-6.0 employee of the quarter nod
  2. Production leads, program mangers meet to advance CCPM across all FRCs
  3. Enabling technology is focus of second annual FRC safety meeting
  4. New CMM Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing Capability
  5. Manufacturers association recognizes FRCSE with top award
  6. PHOTO RELEASE: Mazzone honored with Meritorious Civilian Service Award
  7. PHOTO RELEASE: McMichael receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award



  1. F-35 Contract Feud Exposes Rift Over ‘Fair’ Prices
  2. DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value
  3. Defense Sector Post-Election: Caution Sets In
  4. Lawmakers Seek To Boost F-35 Purchases
  5. Marines look for a small UAS to equip Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squads





Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






Lilly earns Air-6.0 employee of the quarter nod


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Handling thousands of maintenance tasks on tight timelines and tighter budgets is something Naval Air Systems Command logisticians do on a regular basis. Developing more than 10,500 maintenance tasks across 26 major systems six months ahead of schedule and at more than $5 million under budget gained one NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) logistician Employee of the Quarter recognition.


Herbert “Gene” Lilly, CH-53K King Stallion Design Interface and Maintenance planning lead (Air-6.7, Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department) received his crystal award Nov. 8 from Todd Balazs, NAVAIR deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) during a PMA-261 Heavy Lift Helicopter Program meeting.


“When you are trying to get ahead of your maintenance planning . you have critical items that need to be identified. Gene has done that,” Balazs said. “He also got his maintenance planning six months ahead of schedule and saved five million dollars. The areas that really suffer are the areas he addressed.”


Lt. Col. James Cooksey, assistant program manager for logistics for PMA-261, nominated Lily for his ability to push innovation and creativity.


“Creatively thinking within the guidelines, he identified critical item management barriers, coordinated the effort between the Fleet Support Team and vendors, to include coordinating appropriate funding, resulting in more accurate Critical Safety Item identification and effective provisioning, ” Cooksey wrote in Lilly’s nomination letter. “Lilly’s knowledge of logistics processes facilitated development of an organic depot capability establishment process sensitive to technical and budgetary factors and allowing early identification of public-private partnership opportunities. His innovative approach eliminated unnecessary linear process delays reducing component pilot repair resource requirements by 30 percent.”


Cooksey further praised Lilly’s efforts to pass along knowledge by developing a course for the NAVAIR College of Logistics and Industrial Operations on integrated product support concurrency management, which training for all PMA-261 logistics elements managers.


“As a result, the technical data assertions process was restructured to integrate Finance, Contracts, Engineering and Logistics with specific procedures and techniques resulting in effective sustainment plans and outcomes,” Cooksey wrote. “Lilly provided input to the CLIO Logistics 101 Course. He ensured logistics and integrated product support were clearly tied to development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment.”


By using the most common form of project management, Lilly said the team quantified what needed to be accomplished and how long they had to work. “We worked backward toward a completion [burn] rate and then worked the tasks, identified barriers, and developed better processes whenever we had to,” he said.  “The most important lesson is that you have to have a set of reasonable goals to work toward and your team has to be invested in the outcomes.”

Lilly said the award not only reflected the teamwork of all that were involved, but emphasized the need for diversity. “Logistics is a team sport.  All around you, there are brilliant ideas, approaches and perspectives that really influence the way we solve problems.”

(return to top)




Production leads, program mangers meet to advance CCPM across all FRCs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Increasing speed to the fleet with the utilization of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) was the main topic of discussion at the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers’ (COMFRC) off-site held at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Maryland, Nov. 2-3. More than 50 representatives from Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) program offices (PMA) and FRC production were in attendance focusing on alignment, standardization and communication.


CCPM, which currently is in place at all three major depot maintenance sites, is a Theory of Constraints-based, project management solution that uses a systems-view approach to account for variability and resources required to execute all maintenance and repairs and de-conflicts resource contentions in the planning stage, COMFRC Aviation Maintenance and Material Director Ann Wood said. “CCPM accounts for variability within projects and uses back scheduling methodology to manage across the entire portfolio of projects, protecting the delivery date to the customer by incorporating project-level buffers.  It provides cross-project solutions to prioritize tasks and resources.”


The meeting, which was held to advance CCPM across all aircraft lines at the FRCs, focused on developing templates and buffers for each type/model/series (TMS) aircraft, gaining consensus and a plan of action on two-year induction and production plans for each TMS, setting the groundwork for a five-year pipeline and a resource planning schedule for each TMS, and engaging the TMSs on the removal of production delays.


Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), who kicked off the two-day offsite, said the business of producing aircraft for the fleet is complex and that COMFRC must communicate with the customer about capability and capacity and execute solutions before readiness gaps emerge. “There are immense requirements in Naval Aviation, for component work, for aircraft and for engines. We must be able to articulate to our customers what our capacity is and what we can do for them in the future.  And where there is a gap, we must work with the PMA and other stakeholders and get industry involved or reach out to the Air Force or Army for additional assistance, if necessary.


“Our responsibility is to communicate and then deliver what the fleet requires.   The steps we are taking today will help answer that,” he said.


2016 saw FRCs make inroads into reducing readiness gaps, Zarkowski said.   “The numbers of aircraft deliveries are up.  And your hard work isn’t only reflected in the number of aircraft we delivered,” he said.  “Many of those airframes had complex fixes.  For example, the F/A-18 A-D Hornets required an additional 1,100 maintenance man-hours on average per aircraft than they did in 2015.”


Using technology, he said, will provide the enterprise with enabling visibility into production and its inherent constraints. He also said that Concerto, a CCPM software solution for managing multiple projects, will be used at all maintenance sites by the end of 2017.  “We use our personal devices to track our purchases and monitor schedules.  In our personal lives, we expect real time information. Why wouldn’t we expect that in the business of Naval Aviation so that it runs efficiently and effectively? With Concerto, we can collaboratively look at near real time status of aircraft. It also highlights where the constraints are and informs leadership on where to move resources across the enterprise.”

Martin Ahmad, who became COMFRC’s deputy in September 2016, also spoke at the event and echoed Zarkowski’s comments on communication and visibility on aircraft readiness across the enterprise. “Naval Aviation readiness is centered at the FRCs.  We are the ones responsible for getting aircraft back on the flight line.  We have to reach out and make sure that we are communicating and working with organizations and entities that affect us that so that resources are available to do the job.”


While CCPM methodologies have been in use at FRCSE for a couple of years, FRC SE Aviation Maintenance/Material Production director Holly Martinez said the meeting ensured that the FRCs and integrated program team (IPT) leads all heard the same message. “Now we all know where we are going in the future,” she said.  “Concerto will get all of us on a level playing field.  It will make data integrity ‘spot on’ and increase our confidence in the real-time data.

“With this, information we will better communicate with the customer on the ‘what and whys’ of production and show them how they can be part of the solution.”

Sandie Brazda, AV-8B IPT lead, agreed. “Pulling together the customer, IMC [Integrated Maintenance Concept] coordinators and the program office is critical to [FRC] throughput,” she said. “We now all have a better appreciation of what CCPM is and how it improves our business acumen.”

(return to top)




Enabling technology is focus of second annual FRC safety meeting


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – More than 25 senior safety officers from eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) sites worldwide and representatives from DoD attended the Annual Safety Director Meeting at FRC Aviation Support Equipment in Solomons Island, Maryland, Nov. 1-3.


Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) Director for Safety and Regulatory Compliance Mitch Bauman said the event was held to provide safety officers with a forum to share ideas and train them on the Safety Management System (SMS)-a safety reporting software recently introduced into the FRCs.


Safety, he said, is an enabler of readiness by precluding the costly impacts of injuring artisans, Sailors and Marines. It will help minimize the costly mistakes in damaging aircraft, engine and components and must be embedded throughout the command, he said. “Using SMS will make reporting easier, increase accuracy and give us actionable data across all of COMFRC.”  Already in use at seven of the FRCs, it is scheduled to be introduced at all FRC sites by the end of the year.  Petty Officer 1st Class Henry Larreynaga, who recently became the lead safety officer for FRC Northwest, welcomed the SMS training.   “SMS hasn’t been introduced to our command yet, so this is new guidance for us,” he said.  “By listening and learning from other FRCs who are already using it, we have a better idea of how to get it running right and properly establish its use.”


One of SMS’s tools, iAuditor, will improve the ease and accuracy of recordkeeping in the FRCs. Dina Geilenkirchen, FRC Mid-Atlantic safety director, said she is looking forward to using this feature. “With iAuditor, we will be able to conduct inspections using tablets instead of on paper.  That not only will help us save time, but be able to get the word out to our workforce and to other FRC safety officers quicker,” she said.

Safety regulations and compliance, COMFRC safety goals for 2017 and common issues across all FRCs were also discussed. “All FRCs have similar challenges,” FRC East safety director Luc Desilets said. “For example, FRC Southwest is looking into stands for V-22 maintenance. FRC East already has them, and we shared our experiences with them.  We have a responsibility to reach out to each other.”


For Larreynaga, one of the most surprising facts he learned at the meeting was the amount COMFRC must shoulder each year due to injuries. “Hearing that injuries cost roughly $10 million a year out of our budgets and that by reducing them by 10 percent could return a million dollars to us really got me thinking,” he said. “I’ll make it a point to educate my command that there is a bigger picture to safety and budgets that they don’t see.”

Efforts to reduce those numbers are paying off. Bauman said that COMFRC is on track to having one of its safest years ever with incident rates well below the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ averages for the Aerospace, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Industry.


Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers, commended the leads in his remarks during the meeting and urged them to stay diligent. “2016 was a good year, but you can never declare victory when it comes to safety and quality. We need to keep that momentum up as we close out 2016 and start 2017,” he said.


He also reminded them that safety and quality must be foremost in every aspect of work and must never be compromised. “Safety is the most critical thing that we do.  It is the beginning of everything,” he said.  “Production is the scorecard and gets us the visibility. But it means nothing if we don’t do it safely.”


No FRC stands alone when it comes to safety, Zarkowski said. “Our goal is enable artisans to have an incident-free career so that they can enjoy the retirement they deserve,” he said.  “At the end of the day, there is only one scorecard we all are responsible for when it comes to safety and readiness.  You play a role in that.”

(return to top)




New CMM Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing Capability


(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 08 NOV 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Precision in manufacturing aircraft parts not only ensures performance as intended, but safe operation under a gambit of stresses and circumstances. Accuracy is paramount.


Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) recently improved the accuracy of its manufacturing measurements to 0.001of an inch by purchasing a new Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) through the command’s Capital Investment Program (CIP).


The CIP invests in new technology equipment that will improve the command’s efficiency.


“This project was to be completed in 12 months; it was awarded in April and completed November 4, so it was ahead of schedule and under budget,” noted CIP project manager Martha Hoffman.


Located in Building 472 and costing approximately $500,000, the CMM will not only help FRCSW meet its demand for manufacturing measurements, but will also allow for measurements of parts manufactured before installation.


Five artisans who are assigned to operate the new measuring machine recently completed a week-long certification class provided by Zeiss, the CMM manufacturer.


“Engineering will send a blueprint and 3-D model (of the part) for us to use,” said machinist Kevin Guittar.


“We program the CMM. It uses a stylus and touches different points on the part, and during the programming we can pull dimensions that will match the blueprint. So using the blueprint, we write a program to make the measurements and it will record those measurements. This will tell us if it’s a good or bad part.”


The bridge-type measuring machine uses computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software with a toolkit, and can be adapted to meet future sensor and software requirements.


“The training is pretty constant as we get more involved and deeper in the software. The goal is to get enough people trained up to run three shifts,” Guittar said. “It has all of the latest and greatest things and the tool kit has all of the accessories we need and more than enough to do the job.”


To ensure a quality product within technical specifications, parts undergo First Article Testing, or testing procedures that oversee production steps.


Guittar said that flight critical parts, like F/A-18 ribs and formers, undergo a 100 percent inspection on every dimension.


Prior to the installation of the new CMM, artisans were using an older measuring machine that was built in the early 1990s.


“And before that,” Guittar noted, “they used a lot of large fixtures for gauges so they could put the parts in and manually check everything; it was very time consuming and took up a lot of space.”


Now, artisans will use the Zeiss CMM which delivers faster results with a greater capacity.


“The new machine runs approximately six times faster than the older one and it can run multiple parts. The older machine required us to write a program and run one part and then set the next one. But with the new one, we can set all of the same parts and run at the same time. So, we can get everything done in one shot,” Guittar said.


Another advantage of the Zeiss model is its advanced scanning head.


“When we’d measure a circle on the old machine you’d take a single point, and the machine would take 8 to 16 points to make the circle. This one takes 1,000 to 3,000 points so you get a true form; if it’s a true circle, an oval, or a trimetric shape. It provides a lot more information that’s important to intricate things, like bushings.”


In the event a measurement is not within required specifications, engineering is notified and the machining modified to increase the accuracy.


The Zeiss CMM is the third measuring machine in the manufacturing department, and a fourth from the reverse engineering department will be added soon, Guittar said.


“We’ll be using all four of them, hopefully across all three shifts. All of this will result in less rework which will save manpower and money and increase readiness,” he said.


(return to top)




Manufacturers association recognizes FRCSE with top award


(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 07 NOC 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


Jacksonville, Fla. – Lake Ray, president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA), named Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) as the recipient of the FCMA Manufacturer of the Year Award at the association’s annual ceremony Oct. 19 in St. Augustine, Florida.


FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart received the award on behalf of the facility, which performs maintenance, repairs and overhauls of aircraft for military and civilian clients – necessitating a large manufacturing capability.


“For FRCSE to be recognized by such a distinguished group of manufacturers who are dedicated to sustaining and improving the local economy is a tremendous honor,” Stuart said. “This award is a testament to the skill, commitment and dedication of our Sailors and civilian employees.”


Formed in 1989, the FCMA is made up of more than 300 companies with a manufacturing presence in Northeast Florida. The association provides workforce training and fosters business and networking relationships.


The Manufacturer of the Year Award is given each year to an organization that embodies a commitment to improving the local economy, environmental protection and providing education for its workforce.


FRCSE achievements cited by the association for the award included the facility’s allocation of more than $7 million over the past five years to construct a full-spectrum training building for the education of its employees. In addition, the manufacturing group also noted FRCSE’s environmental improvements, consisting of reducing its energy footprint, as well as recycling more than 160 tons of used oil.


The last point was of particular importance to Stuart.


“It is extremely important to us to be good stewards of taxpayer resources,” Stuart said. “Running our facility efficiently allows us to do that, as well as get aircraft and components to our military as quickly as possible.”


(return to top)


PHOTO RELEASE: Mazzone honored with Meritorious Civilian Service Award


Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations, Naval Air Systems Command (Air-6.0), right, presents Darlene Mazzone, Aviation Readiness and Resources Analysis Department technical director, a Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work as the assistant program executive officer for Logistics, Tactical Aircraft Programs Nov. 8. Mazzone was instrumental in standing up the Air Warfare Mission Area/From the Air Program Office (PMA-298) which laid the groundwork for all Naval Integrated Fire Counter-Air Programs. (U.S. Navy photo/released)


(return to top)


PHOTO RELEASE: McMichael receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award


Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) (AIR-6.8), right, presents Elizabeth McMichael, Additive Manufacturing Integrated Program Team lead, Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work to incorporate additive manufacturing into Naval Aviation maintenance. Thanks to McMichael and her team, an MV-22B Osprey equipped with a 3-D printed titanium link and fitting inside an engine nacelle flew during a July 29 demonstration at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland. The flight marked NAVAIR’s first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing techniques. (U.S. Navy photo/released)


(return to top)





F-35 Contract Feud Exposes Rift Over ‘Fair’ Prices


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 03 NOV 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Shockwaves rippled across the defense industry following the news that Lockheed Martin is challenging the Pentagon over a $6.1 billion “unilateral” contract awarded to the company to continue building F-35 joint strike fighters for the U.S. military.


The low-rate initial production contract announced Nov. 2 would fund 57 F-35s aircraft. “The LRIP 9 contract represents a fair and reasonable deal for the U.S. government, the international partnership and industry,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer.


The manufacturer disagrees. Lockheed spokesman Michael J. Rein said in a statement that company was “disappointed with the decision by the government to issue a unilateral contract action.”


Officials declined to comment further as the company considers taking legal action. The parties are said to be wide apart on program cost estimates and the contractor fee – which partly is derived from program costs.

Industry sources said this is possibly the largest unilateral contract ever awarded by the Defense Department. The estimated $400 billion F-35 program is the Pentagon’s largest weapons acquisition.


How did it get to this point? Lockheed and the F-35 program office have been negotiating for 18 months over the terms of the LRIP 9 and 10 deals. Under national security provisions in the federal acquisition regulations, the government can at any point stop negotiations and issue a contract. The JPO can assert that these airplanes are urgently needed by the armed forces and that the contractor has to keep producing them even if they haven’t reached an agreement on the price. Lockheed is obligated to continue the work, but faces the choice of either accepting the terms or appealing the decision – either to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, or to the Court of Federal Claims. The company has 90 days to decide.


What led to a collapse in the negotiations was the JPO rejecting Lockheed’s accounting of what it costs to build these airplanes. One industry source said the government did not believe the cost data submitted, which was based on the previous eight LRIP contracts, was reasonable. The JPO also challenged Lockheed’s claims that its fee should recognize capital outlays the company made to pay for parts, factory upgrades and other program-related expenses. This strikes at the core of the defense industry’s business model, in which a company assumes risks upfront but expects to be rewarded later. The dispute also speaks to brewing disagreements in Defense Department programs between what contractors assert something costs, versus what the government believes it “should cost.”


Industry analysts were surprised by the developments even though contracting disputes are not unusual in Pentagon programs. The government “used a very extreme approach to definitize the F-35 LRIP 9 contract,” wrote Roman Schweizer, of the Cowen Washington Research Group. The JPO “used a bazooka on LRIP 9,” which could signal long-term troubles for the program.


Schweizer said “bare-knuckle contracting is nothing new to the F-35 program, and the government and Lockheed have used ‘undefinitized contract actions’ to keep the money flowing and the jets coming together while the nitty-gritty was hammered out.” But after the latest standoff over pricing, the government “decided to break the ice with a colossal sledgehammer.”


“Contract officers can use unilateral actions to adjust or tweak contracts but we’ve never seen it applied this way,” Schweizer noted.


It is still unclear how this will affect a much-anticipated three-year block-buy deal for at least 450 more aircraft for U.S. and international customers in 2018, he added. “We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that if negotiating a two-year pact devolved to this outcome, the prospects for rolling up a deal three times the size may be extremely difficult.”


The LRIP 9 price the government enforced in the contract is a 3.7 percent reduction from the LRIP 8 contract signed in December 2014 and an overall 58 percent price reduction since the LRIP-1 contract, the JPO said in a statement. Once production of LRIP 9 aircraft is completed, more than 250 F-35s would be in operation by eight nations. The LRIP 9 engine contract between the government and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney was signed in April.


Contracting experts speculate that, if Lockheed chooses to take legal action, it will file a claim with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. The ASBCA is a neutral, independent forum that has been in existence for over 50 years. It mostly handles post-award contract disputes between contractors and the Department of Defense, NASA and the CIA.


Under the Contract Disputes Act, contractors can take their case to the ASBCA or to the Court of Federal Claims.

“Contractors often choose the board,” said federal contracting attorney Todd Overman, of Bass, Berry & Sims government contracts practice. “It’s not the same level of formality as the Court of Federal Claims,” he said.


ASBCA allows the agency to stay involved in the case during the fact-finding process. A decision written by a board judge is binding. The next appeal then goes to the federal circuit court. Without knowing the details of the Lockheed case, Overman guessed that the company did its research and likely believes there is “precedent at the board that will be more helpful to them.” ASBCA judges are known to be “very knowledgeable about DoD programs.”


Legal issues aside, the contractual troubles that are now disrupting the F-35 program are largely the product of the Pentagon’s own decisions on how to compensate contractors under cost-plus contracts. “Industry makes its fee on cost-type contract based on the amount of cost it justifies,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. David Dunaway, former commander of Naval Air Systems Command who oversaw multibillion-dollar programs.


“We have a fundamental problem in that we can’t quantify value, therefore we can’t come to a price,” Dunaway told National Defense. When incentive fees are assessed in part as a percentage of cost, “you have a system that doesn’t match the free market,” he said. “We need to value things better. That’s a tough problem. In a cost world that’s the way companies make money. It’s counter intuitive when you want to cut costs.”


One of the F-35’s toughest critics, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the “recent breakdown in F-35 contract negotiations between the Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin is troubling and disappointing. It should be seen, more broadly, as yet another symptom of our flawed defense acquisition system in general and the structure of the F-35 program in particular. To be sure, developing advanced fighter aircraft is extremely complicated. But the decision to produce hundreds of aircraft, on a cost-plus basis, before the technology is developed and completed, and to do all of this, lot after lot, without an actual contract in place between the government and industry, is the height of acquisition malpractice.”


(return to top)




DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value


(DEFENSE DAILY 03 NOV 16) … Pat Host


FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – The Defense Department will ask Congress for additional wartime spending, but leadership hasn’t decided how much more to request, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.


Carter told reporters he’s said since the first Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request was submitted this for fiscal year 2016 that it’s the “nature of warfare” to not know, at the beginning of the year, what everything will cost. The Pentagon is bolstered by what Carter called success in both its counter ISIL efforts and work in Afghanistan.


Bloomberg reported Pentagon comptroller Mike McCord told the publication in an interview the request would be worth more than $6 billion, but Carter declined to put a dollar figure on the request, saying only that he’d submit one.


“We haven’t settled on how much those are worth,” Carter said. “We’re still doing those estimates and assessing the situation.”


Carter spent Tuesday and Wednesday traveling between New York and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He addressed City College of New York and Stand Up for Heroes audiences in Manhattan on Tuesday, discussing new DoD initiatives to better recruit well-qualified prospects and candidates in challenging territories like the northeast.


Carter on Wednesday spent the day here getting briefings on the Army’s munition training and counter-IED efforts and participated in hands-on demonstrations. These included using the hand-held mine detector ANPSS-14, performing a thermal breach of metal using an exothermic cutting rod and Talon robots.


Carter will spend Thursday attending the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) change of command ceremony and will visit the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Air Force Gen. John Hyten replaces retiring Navy Adm. Cecil Haney as the leader at USSTRATCOM.


DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value


(return to top)




Defense Sector Post-Election: Caution Sets In


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 14 NOV 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Investors’ euphoria about rising Pentagon budgets and a lessening of regulations in a Donald Trump administration is giving way to realism and caution.


Defense watchers overwhelmingly agree that military spending will go up under Trump, but warn of caveats. Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of government almost ensures that the current caps on discretionary federal spending will be lifted.


Doubts are growing, however, over whether the administration and Congress will be able to come together around a defense budget plan in the long term. Whereas congressional defense hawks will seek to immediately pour money into areas like equipment modernization and force readiness, Trump has been adamant that any defense boost would have to be offset by reductions in overhead, bureaucratic bloat, fraud and waste in Pentagon programs.


“It’s incumbent on the administration and the Department of Defense to come up with a sensible plan that can be executed,” says Jack Deschauer, a partner at the Washington, D.C. office of Squire Patton Boggs, a lobbying firm.

The Trump White House’s first order of business will be the fiscal year 2017 budget that Congress is unlikely to pass during the lame duck session. Republicans want an $18 billion increase for defense and President Obama has vowed to veto such a measure unless the money is split evenly between defense and nondefense agencies.


“I don’t see any reason why Republicans would compromise on that,” says Deschauer. Since the Republicans do not have the 60 votes to roll over Senate Democrats, the minority will have a say in the process, he notes. But without the threat of a presidential veto, they will not be able to prevent defense budget increases of some magnitude. He predicts the full $18 billion boost for defense will be enacted after Trump takes office.


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 canceled the automatic reductions in discretionary spending for 2016 and 2017. Defense spending was capped at $551.1 billion for 2017. Current law limits defense spending to $549 billion in 2018.

Looking farther ahead, if and when the Budget Control Act spending restrictions are lifted, the Pentagon is going to have to present a reasonable funding plan that addresses “readiness and recapitalization the right way,” he says.

The Pentagon will be pressed to restore credibility with Congress on fiscal responsibility. Over the past decade, it has relied on war budgets known as “overseas contingency operations” accounts to fund basic needs like personnel and weapon systems. “That shows that there hasn’t been any budget discipline in the Department of Defense in a long time,” says Deschauer.


The Pentagon over the years has used so-called budget gimmicks to claim cost savings that never materialized. One of the Obama budget proposals, for instance, included $60 billion in “efficiencies” such as contracting reforms and reductions in administrative overhead. These phantom savings may no longer be acceptable. “It will be the administration’s responsibility to hold the military accountable,” Deschauer says. With a single party in control, it should be easier to reach a compromise, he says, although the White House and the Pentagon will have to “show budget discipline and demonstrate how funding increases contribute to defense.”


On the issue of federal regulations in military procurements, there has been much speculation that Trump might repeal measures that the defense industry claims add unnecessary cost and delays to Pentagon programs. While there may be a push to reconsider Obama’s labor-related executive orders, nobody should expect any sweeping deregulation, says Deschauer. “I don’t think there’ll be any rolling back of defense acquisition policies.”


With Sen. John McCain still at the helm of the Senate Armed Services Committee, there will be continuing pressure to crack down on contractors. “I don’t think they’re going to suddenly give defense contractors free rein or a blank check,” he says. “That’s not going to happen at all.”


Potentially of more significance to Pentagon weapon buyers and defense contractors is whether Trump delivers on campaign promises to withdraw the United States from international trade treaties and adopt protectionist policies. Any anti-trade measures, or even just fears of such actions, would be detrimental to the defense and aerospace business, analysts warn.


“This is a complicated area,” says Luigi Peluso, managing director in the aerospace and defense practice at AlixPartners. The aerospace and space sectors are truly global markets, he says. “They have global customers, global suppliers. They are very intertwined.” If trade relationships fracture in any way, “there are potentially significant risks.”


Aerospace and defense are sectors of the U.S. economy that have thrived in the global market. According to the Aerospace Industries Association, U.S. aerospace and defense companies generated a record $142 billion in exports in 2015. Over the past five years, exports have grown by 62 percent, from $88 billion in 2010. Aerospace and defense accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. exports in domestic goods and is the nation’s third largest exporting industry. This sector generated a trade surplus of $81 billion in 2015. Over the past five years, the industry’s trade surplus has grown by an annualized growth rate of 8.2 percent.


A trade war with China, for instance, could be devastating to aerospace exports as China might retaliate by directing its airlines to buy aircraft from Airbus rather than Boeing, Peluso says. Before the United States initiates a trade dispute, he says, “caution is warranted.”


Could defense companies do business in an anti-trade climate? “It would be very difficult,” he says. “It’s easy to see how you could do a lot of damage on the supplier and customer sides.”


Arms sales, additionally, are a key component of U.S. foreign policy. “We want compatible technology. And it creates U.S. jobs,” says Peluso. He speculates Trump will soften his campaign trade stance as it becomes apparent that it could backfire.


Deschauer points out that every major defense contractor is pursuing international sales. Companies also have to worry about Trump’s pledge to shift security burdens to U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. “If the administration increases allies’ responsibility to pay for their own defense, that could have an effect on how much money they will have to buy American-made equipment.”

(return to top)




Lawmakers Seek To Boost F-35 Purchases




A group of 70 lawmakers is pressing appropriators to fund significantly more joint strike fighters than the Pentagon asked for in its fiscal year 2017 budget request. But a contract disagreement has raised concerns about the future of the program.


The Defense Department requested about $8.3 billion to procure 63 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in 2017. The House defense appropriations bill added 11 joint strike fighters to the planned buy. The Senate version added just four aircraft.


In an Oct. 4 letter to the leaders of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, representatives from both parties prodded them to stick with the House blueprint in upcoming budget negotiations.


“As you head into conference [with Senate lawmakers], we write in strong support of the F-35 joint strike fighter and urge you to continue supporting increased production rates at this critical juncture for the program,” they said.

The letter was signed by 41 Republicans and 29 Democrats.


“Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” they said. “Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”


The lawmakers expressed concern about cuts to follow-on modernization that were included in the Senate bill.


“These cuts would delay critical … capability upgrades needed to ensure the F-35 stays ahead of increasing future threats. We urge the conferees to restore as much of this funding as possible,” they said.


Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and the chief operating officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute, said increasing the production rates would help reverse a negative trend.


“The Air Force has slipped off of its production ramp for F-35, and as a result each plane is going to cost more,” he said. “That is not the way the business plan was supposed to be implemented.”


Thompson believes there is enough support in Congress to fund additional F-35 buys beyond the level requested by the Pentagon.


“The most likely approach would be to take money out of other items” in the budget, he said. One option would be to scale back upgrades of legacy fighters, he noted.


But a contract spat could potentially upend future production of the F-35.


In November, the Defense Department announced a $6.1 billion low-rate initial production contract for 57 F-35s in lot 9. In a statement, Lockheed said it was “disappointed” by the Pentagon’s “unilateral” move, and noted that the contract was “not mutually agreed upon.”


The company could potentially take legal action and appeal the decision. Lockheed executives “will evaluate our options and path forward,” the statement said.


Roman Schweizer, an industry analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a note to investors: “The government’s decision to use a bazooka on LRIP 9 could signal turbulence ahead as the program ramps into a potential block buy.”


The spat could make it more difficult for the Pentagon and Lockheed to reach large production deals in the future, he said.


The next “inflection point” in the program is a potential three-year block buy deal for 450 or more aircraft that would start with international customers in 2018, he noted.


“We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that … rolling up a deal three times the size [of LRIP 9 and the anticipated LRIP 10] may be extremely difficult,” Schweizer said.

(return to top)




Marines look for a small UAS to equip Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squads


Inside the Navy, Nov. 14 | Lee Hudson


The Marine Corps is looking for a small unmanned aerial system to equip each Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad after identifying a gap in a requirements document last year, according to the service.


Maj. Jamie Murphy, MERS capabilities integration officer, told Inside the Navy during a Nov. 10 interview the MERS initial capabilities document was updated last year and identified 16 gaps. “Some of the gaps are starting to be covered,” he said. On Oct. 12, a request for information was released for a vertical-takeoff-and-landing small UAS to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during the day and at night in all environmental conditions. “The system should be rugged, lightweight and ready to use as delivered with minimal logistic, training and support requirements,” according to the RFI.


“The system should provide real-time full motion video via electro-optical and/or infrared sensors.” The Marine Corps is looking for a system that has a man-portable ground control station and has the necessary equipment to monitor the sensor position and status, control its movement and view its video, the RFI reads. Specifically, the ground control station should weigh 20 pounds or less, the UAS should have a minimum range of one kilometer and a minimum endurance of 30 minutes. The system should be of “adequate maturity to be fielded immediately,” according to the RFI. Responses to the RFI are due no later than Dec. 31. Currently, the service has three small UAS in its inventory: the RQ-11B Raven, RQ-20 Puma and Wasp IV. “The VTOL SUAS RFI is specifically to refresh our understanding of what VTOL SUAS technologies are commercially available today,” Lt. Col. Noah Spataro, UAS capabilities integration and requirements officer, wrote in a Nov. 7 email to ITN. Murphy said the Marine Corps may not be able to equip every squad with a Predator or a Reaper but there is some commercially available capability that could be fielded. The service is working closely with the Army on a couple of related projects. Murphy said the Army has the same issues from the perspective of their Squad X program that is equivalent to the Marines’ MERS effort.


(return to top)


FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of October 31, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 clips for the week of Oct. 31:



  1. Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
  2. Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’
  3. New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15



  1. New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns
  2. Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position
  3. Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment
  4. Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes





Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 31 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – “We have a mishmash of full birds and darts in here,” said Tim Guilbert as he walked between the F/A-18 legacy and Super Hornet aircraft stored in a cavernous new tension fabric aircraft hangar at the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Test Line.


The “full birds” have wings, the “darts” don’t.


About 115 feet in width and almost as long as a football field, the hangar is well lit, ventilated and climate-controlled by two gas and electric units located outside of the building to regulate the humidity inside.


“Our optimum health and humidity is 35 percent relative humidity plus or minus five. We want to be in the 30 to 40 percent range,” Guilbert said.


The production line manager and preservation supervisor and Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) aircraft preservation manager, Guilbert oversees the FRCSW preservation program.


And thanks to Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) the program recently received two hangars to help the command manage its F/A-18 preservation program.


Costing approximately $2.5 million each and able to accommodate up to 16 full Super Hornets, or 36-40 legacy “darts,” the hangars’ sole purpose is for storage. They are not outfitted for repairs or maintenance activity. Construction took about eight months.


The fabric “skins” are made of flame-resistant polyester pulled over a framework of steel. The materials can last five to 10 years, dependent upon environmental factors.


“The new hangars will minimize the cost of our level 2 preservation maintenance cycles,” Guilbert said. “We had 60 plus aircraft, and at one time we had almost 90 Hornets in level 2.”


There are four levels within the preservation program.


Level 1, not applicable to FRCSW, is preservation at the squadron level.


Level 2 occurs upon an aircraft’s induction, and encompasses the preservation procedure which includes fuel system preservation, caps and plugs. Aircraft in a level two preservation are typically seen wrapped with a laminated metal foil to prevent moisture contamination at intake openings.


Aircraft may remain in a level two state for up to one year.


“After one year you have to refresh them and do the whole thing over again. In the meantime, there are maintenance schedules that include daily inspections, seven-day, 28 and 56-day inspections all with different requirements. And there are heavy weather inspections where we inspect any wrapped areas and check for water intrusion,” Guilbert said.


“The goal of level 3 is if the shelter is there, the aircraft are put into a `dynamic level three,’ which means to take the whole aircraft and put it in a climate-controlled environment,” he said.


Level 4 signifies when the aircraft have reached an overhaul or Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) cycle, a time when the requirements for a stringent level two or three can no longer be met.


If parts are unavailable during the analysis of overhaul or PMI, work must stop and the aircraft may revert back to a level 3 preservation state depending upon the parts arrival date.


“If it was level 2 (under this scenario) we would have to wrap them back up, but now we have the level 3 capability with the hangars and can hold them for the duration,” Guilbert noted.


Overall, the preservation process takes about 50 hours per aircraft, he said.


FRCSW is currently slated to receive a third tension fabric aircraft hangar at its test line in late June 2017. It will exclusively store H-60 Seahawk helicopters.


(return to top)




Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 31 OCT 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Seven NAVAIR women were recognized for their leadership, technical skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the 2016 Women of Color STEM Conference Oct. 13-15 in Detroit.


Sharon Keith, a mission systems lead engineer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office based out of Arlington, Virginia, won a Technical Innovation – Government Award for her work on the U.S. military’s largest, most complex program and her long career in naval avionics.


“[This award] meant finally knowing, after working 30-plus years in naval aviation, my professional accomplishments were being recognized among such a diverse audience of my peers on a national and international stage,” she said. “My engineering career has given me great pleasure knowing I’ve played a significant role in providing guidance and mentoring to junior engineers and providing our warfighters, servicemen and women the capabilities necessary to protect the U.S. while supporting our international partners as well.”


Keith said her mother inspired her to take on new opportunities and value education. She advises new employees to engage in STEM activities as much as they can.


“Look at ways to develop your critical thinking skills, take advantage of internship programs and look for individuals currently in your field to mentor,” she said.


NAVAIR also had six Technology Rising Star Award winners: Tashara Cooper, Lt. Cmdr. (select) Rolanda Findlay, Nikeya Gibbs, Bethany Harris, Connie Standifer and Kendra Woodruff. Rising Stars are women with fewer than 22 years in the workforce who are helping to shape technology for the future.


Cooper is part of the Human Integration and Performance Division, one of the largest STEM departments at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Florida. Her research helps provide improved, more effective instructional strategies to train warfighters.


She said she feels pride in helping pave the way for other individuals with visual disabilities within the scientific field.


“It means a lot to me to not only change the world for myself – however small or great – but to change the vision of possibility for others,” Cooper said. “Transitioning from the role of management analyst to research psychologist says persons with disabilities can not only serve well in administrative roles, but in technical roles as well.”


Findlay said she decided to become a naval aerospace experimental psychologist because it was a unique career path unlike anything she had previously seen.


“I could use my background in industrial and organizational psychology to make a direct impact in naval aviation,” she explained. “I was intrigued by the possibilities, and it appeared to be a powerful way to use my skillset.” Findlay, who is based out of Orlando, has brought several scientific advances from her field of industrial and organizational psychology into applied selection and training technologies that support mission accomplishment and safety for the aviation community.


Standifer is NAVAIR’s first Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) competency manager to be selected for the Technology Rising Star Award, which she said brings her career full circle.


“My parents taught me and my siblings to always give 100 percent in whatever we set forth as our goal,” she said. “They were right in that you may not hear your name called in the moment, but just keep pushing forward, for greatness never goes unnoticed.”


Recent college graduate Woodruff said the movie “Toy Story” inspired her to pursue a career in modeling and simulation. She works as a computer scientist based in Orlando, where her biggest accomplishment has been integrating the latest electronic learning standard, Experience API, into a previously developed 3-D game-based training course. Her team became the first Navy entity to communicate successfully with two remote learning resource stores owned by the Naval Education and Training Command and the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab.


NAVAIR relies on its STEM professionals to accomplish its major goals and initiatives, such as delivering integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities. In fiscal year 2016, women accounted for approximately 18 percent of all STEM positions at NAVAIR.


Each of the award winners encouraged new and up-and-coming STEM employees to seek out new opportunities and mentoring.


“If it’s your dream to go into any certain field, you must first take fear out of the equation and go for it,” Standifer said. “You can achieve anything you set your mind to; always remain goal oriented, and there’s really nothing you can’t do.”


Cooper advised finding a mentor: “Surround yourself with those who believe in you and your dreams,” she said. “Embrace that it will be really hard at times, and you may fall short here and there, but push through while remaining true to who you are. Know that everything that happens – or does not happen – is all part of a perfect plan for you, so hold steady, because we are all riders on our own unique journey. No two paths are identical.”


At the conference, hosted by Women of Color Magazine and with a theme of “STEM is a Girl Thing,” attendees also participated in workshops, training and networking opportunities.


(return to top)




New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15


NAVAIR teammates,

We know recognizing the talent and commitment our people bring to their work is incredibly important. A pat on the back for a job well done inspires, motivates and makes us feel valued.


The recent NAVAIR Command Climate Survey indicated rewards and recognition as an area needing improvement. Whether big or small, formal or informal, individual, team or peer-to-peer, we need to recognize great work more often.


One of the actions we’ve taken at the NAVAIR command level is to revamp the annual Commander’s Awards.


We’ve changed the award categories to recognize achievements that align directly to our strategic priorities. There are four categories:

–Improving Fleet Readiness

–Increasing the Speed of Capabilities to the Fleet –Business Innovation

–Technical Innovation


Each category will include several winners: first, second and honorable mention.


We’ve also simplified the nomination process (a new 2-3 page write-up replaces the old 14+ page nomination package), and moved the awards ceremony closer to the period of achievement (March 2017). As always, civilian and military teams from all sites are eligible.


This year’s nominations are due to your competency/site awards POC by 15 December 2016. SES/Flag champions will chair panels for each award category and sit on the Awards Board, along with myself and Deputy Commander Garry Newton.


These awards are a great opportunity to showcase people and teams who are adding tremendous value to fleet readiness and capability. I look forward to sharing their stories with you at the 2017 awards ceremony.


If you have questions, please contact the NAVAIR Awards Office at For more information on award criteria and submission guidelines, visit the Awards Toolkit at



VADM Paul Grosklags



(return to top)






New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns

(FLIGHTGLOBAL (UK) 27 OCT 16) … Leigh Giangreco


WASHINGTON – Lockheed Martin will begin studying options for adding a software filter to the system that tracks maintenance and training data for the F-35 fighter as part of an effort to limit the amount of data that gets shared with U.S.-based contractors over concerns about privacy and sovereignty.


The U.S. government intends to award a sole source contract to F-35 prime Lockheed to conduct a trade study for connecting a “sovereign data gateway” (SDG) to the autonomic logistics information system (ALIS), according to a 17 October Federal Business Opportunities website announcement.


Lockheed’s ALIS is programmed to keep track of thousands of operational details about the F-35 fleet, including data from health monitoring systems on board the aircraft as well as the training and flight logs for each of the pilots. As the global data hub, ALIS is supposed to order parts and schedule training as they are needed, saving operators the burden of managing and back-filling spare inventories. For the system to work, the jet must automatically transmit information after and even during each flight by an F-35 to Lockheed’s ALIS hub in Fort Worth, Texas.


But that automated stream of data also worries some of the F-35’s international customers.


To address those concerns, the SDG software will remain within the partner country’s central point of entry and will control the flow of data to the Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU), the F-35 Joint Programme Office says in an emailed response to questions.


The software will allow each partner country to inspect and verify data flowing to and from the U.S. hub, the JPO stays. The software will also be able to block, modify or delay sensitive data. One example of sensitive data are details in the pilot’s training and flight records, which in some countries are protected by privacy laws.


“Most partners have this inspection requirement as a prerequisite to their own certification and approval of ALIS on their national networks,” he says. “An example of SDG’s use could be to enforce regulations in place to protect data containing personally identifiable information, which in some cases is subject to national privacy legislation.”


(return to top)




Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position

(DEFENSE NEWS 28 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – Less than a month after his Defense Innovation Board had its first public meeting, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is moving on a trio of suggestions on how to drive innovation forward for the Pentagon – including the creation of a new chief innovation officer position.


Carter made the announcement during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He did not go into details about when that office would be stood up or who might fill that role.


“Many different organizations have recently embraced this position, and also started to regularly run these kinds of innovation tournaments and competitions – including tech companies like IBM, Intel and Google – and it’s time we did as well, to help incentivize our people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches,” Carter said about creating the chief innovation officer.


The suggestion was first raised by the Defense Innovation Board at an Oct. 5 public meeting. At the time, Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School who has served in various government positions, described the sharing of best practices around the DoD as currently “less than ideal” and noted that the position could act as the umbrella from which funding for low-level projects could flow.


In addition to the creation of that spot, Carter said the Pentagon will launch targeted recruiting initiatives to increase recruitment of computer scientists and software engineers.


“We’ll do this through targeted recruiting initiatives ranging from our Reserve Officer Training Corps to our civilian Scholarship For Service program that’s intended to help build the next generation of DoD science and technology leaders, with the goal of making computer science a core competency of the Department of Defense,” Carter said.


Carter later added that the Pentagon needs to do a better job directly recruiting on college campuses, noting that may require changes to hiring statutes.


College students “don’t want to live a career that’s an escalator where you get on the bottom stair and you wait and it takes you up to the top,” Carter said. “They want a jungle gym where they can get higher by climbing around. We need to recognize that’s the way many people see their lives.”


However, Carter did not go as far as to endorse the “digital ROTC” idea put forth from the board’s public meeting.


Finally, the department is going to invest broadly in machine learning, including the creation of a “virtual center of excellence” that Carter said “establishes stretch goals and incentivizes academy and commercial technology companies [that] have been making significant strides.”


That center of excellence was a direct suggestion from the board, which emphasized, as Carter has in the past, that machine learning will be key to all technologies going forward. Interestingly, the lead here will be taken by Carter’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) group, which will sponsor an initial prize challenge for machine learning issues.


Carter has made innovation a key part of his tenure, and of his legacy in the position. He has also tied those groups closely to his office, which some have speculated could be a problem when a new secretary comes in – an idea Carter dismissed in his speech.


“Going forward, I’m confident that the logic behind everything I’m talking about today will be self-evident to future defense secretaries, as will the value of these efforts – but they also need to have the momentum and institutional foundation to keep going under their own steam and continue to thrive,” he said. “We must ensure they can keep leading the way and keep disrupting, challenging and inspiring the rest of the Defense Department to change for the better.”


(return to top)




Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment

(DEFENSE NEWS 31 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta


Excerpt: Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down. … For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.


Full story:

WASHINGTON – As the Department of Defense focuses on ways to reduce sustainment costs for future programs, it could look to increase the use of services contracts and improve how it handles cost estimates for software upgrades.


Speaking to reporters Oct. 21, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said targeting sustainment costs is the next frontier for getting the price of defense programs down.


Kendall reiterated a statement, first made in September, that a fourth round of his Better Buying Power initiatives should focus on sustainment, noting that development costs average about 10 percent of a weapon system cost, production averages another 40-50 percent, and the rest comes due for upkeep.


“By far most of the cost we bear is in the sustainment phase. We don’t have as good data on it,” Kendall said, adding that officials need to develop “best practices” going forward.


What could that look like? Andrew Hunter, a former Pentagon acquisition official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says one area to look at is how the department treats services.


“There’s a lot of opportunity to do more partnering and rethink what is the critical government role, what’s the inherent government function, and what is something industry can do,” Hunter said. “Especially when you’re trying to get the price of software talent and other technical talent. Are you going to be able to recruit [for the] government or are you better off working more closely with industry?”


In any war on sustainment costs, the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) would likely play a big part. Jamie Morin, the current CAPE director, told Defense News in an exclusive interview that he sees “progress” in current sustainment cost controls, thanks in part to Kendall’s focus on services contracting.


“A lot of the success there really just depends on regular management review of requirements and performance and pricing. That is just blocking and tackling at the individual contract level that has to occur,” Morin explained. “In some cases, you need to pay top dollar because you need a top-dollar service. In other cases, you can drive to the lowest-cost provider because it’s an area where you can afford to take technical or performance risks.”


The Software Challenge


Another area Hunter predicts the Pentagon needs to deal with is how the department performs software-cost estimates. In particular, he wonders if the Pentagon’s estimates for those upgrades are operating on realistic timetables, given that future weapon systems are expected to feature software updates regularly, as opposed to a major system update every few years.


“The idea that I’m going to need to be adding and interacting with new capabilities every six months, as opposed to every five years, that’s where we have the potential to underestimate the extent to which we’re going to need to plan for,” he said.


Morin acknowledged that projecting O&S costs for software upgrades comes with “wider uncertainty” than hardware estimates, but noted that some of the same considerations would apply across the board.


“You say you are going to put, each year, X number of people worth of software engineering and do it to fielding capability. Or you look at programs that have modular and spiral approaches in software that have continued to [be fielded] and you get a sense of what is the annual expenditure associated with that. Then you work it across, balance it across all the differences between the two or the multiple programs.”


At a broad level, CAPE is working to improve how it predicts and handles sustainment costs for new programs – but Morin cautioned that the nature of those costs means analysts won’t know immediately if the new approach is working.


“This is one of those things where our Washington tempo doesn’t really support the adequate distance from the problem to understand it,” Morin explained. “So we are making decisions now on programs as they go through acquisition milestones with much more visibility and rigor in estimating future O&S costs, but those won’t actually be realized, in many cases, for five or ten years.”


“It’s incredibly unsatisfying, but I just have to counsel patience,” he added.


Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down.


For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.


“Are you using a material in building this [system] that you will need to replace with parts on this that is so rare, that the fact that you are buying thousands of this item is going to drive its price to spiral up faster than other commodities? Are you building something that is so software intensive, in a highly specialized way, that you are going to drive up wages among experts in this kind of software more than wages for programmers in general? Those are the things you have to think through a little bit,” he said by way of example.


“The precise numbers, bottom line, are probably precisely wrong, but the process of doing the estimates identifies management levers for you and so can really help you converting broad affordability of the portfolio,” Morin added.


That question of labor rates will apply to high-end software development, Hunter predicted.


“In some specialized areas DoD could be very much driving demand for the workforce and you could find yourself driving up prices in little niche technology areas,” Hunter said.


(return to top)




Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes



The once-maligned, $1.4 trillion Joint Strike Fighter jet program passed another milestone Monday, executing a successful vertical landing on a Navy warship pitched by rough seas.


The latest success of the F-35B aircraft in the Marine Corps’ third phase of testing – plus ongoing mock engagements with American jets like the F-18 Super Hornet – seems to show just how capable the stealthy, fast and menacing “fifth generation” strike fighter has become during a rocky pathway to the fleet.


“The biggest surprise is that I can prosecute a target without him ever knowing that I’m there,” said Marine Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette, a test pilot from Phoenix who previously flew the F-18. “It’s a completely unfair fight. It’s an assassination, that’s what it is.”


Guyette and his fellow test pilots are slated during the next two and a half weeks to finish all remaining sea tests for the F-35B, the Joint Strike Fighter variant for the Corps. The jet can land vertically – either on a rolling flight deck, like that of the San Diego-based amphibious warship America on Monday, or in austere battlefield conditions found in places like Afghanistan.


Two Marine F-35B squadrons in Yuma, Ariz., are now classified as “operational.” The Green Knights of Fighter Squadron 121 are slated to deploy to Japan in January, while the Wake Avengers of Squadron 211 are scheduled for sea duty near the Middle East in 2018.


“Everything we do is geared toward protecting the lance corporal,” said Guyette, referring to troops who make up the core of the Marine force – its infantry.


“The great thing about having Marine test pilots is that we are always agents for the Marine Corps and for that 19-year-old kid with the rifle. Our objective is the clear the sky above and clear the path forward,” the 36-year-old, who served in Afghanistan as a forward air controller directing bomb strikes against the enemy and medical evacuations of wounded Marines, added Monday afternoon.


The Navy’s version of the fighter, the F-35C, lands on aircraft carriers. The Air Force’s F-35A takes off and lands on runways.


Mounting delays in getting these jets to the full operation phase forced the Navy to revamp its aging Hornet strike fleet, pushing those already old aircraft far beyond their anticipated service lives. To keep the Marines’ Harrier II ground-attack planes, the Corps bought scrapped British jets to cannibalize for parts.


Plagued by cost overruns, mechanical gremlins and fears that its high-tech sensors would overload a human pilot’s ability to analyze the aerial battlefield, the F-35 project infamously became known in the Pentagon as “acquisition malpractice.”


But Guyette said the “bucket” of pilot – the capability of aviators to sort out, prioritize and quickly react to vital information flowing to them – is helped, not hurt, by the Joint Strike Fighter because it does most of the work.


He pointed to Sunday night’s tests in “zero illumination” conditions, performed on the America’s churning deck in between bouts of rain.


Marine Lt. Col. Richard M. Rusnok, 40, a former Harrier pilot, said those sorts of conditions used to make for a “scary night,” but the F-35B turned Sunday’s tests into a “fun” ride.


Monday’s exercises took place aboard an America rocked by six-foot waves and whipped by gusty winds about 100 miles off of Southern California’s coastline.


They were delayed by the early afternoon fall of an unnamed male sailor from the warship into the sea. A 2:48 p.m. announcement by Navy Capt. Joseph Olson to all hands indicated that the sailor was safely recovered by a helicopter rescue team and he “was in medical, getting some treatments.” The Navy declined to say how the sailor fell overboard.


The Pentagon has scheduled 19 more days of testing for the F-35Bs aboard the America.


The drills, which run day and night, are meant to examine the jet’s night vision and landing capabilities, the pilot’s high-tech helmet and even the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, aboard the ship. That system constantly monitors the fighter jet to diagnose potential maintenance problems, with the goal of slashing potential downtime.


In an April report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office uncovered “functionality” problems with the $16.7 billion system, which is pronounced like “Alice.”


The agency warned that the Corps failed to prove that it could deploy successfully with the system, largely due to a lack of server connectivity and the ability to generate enough power to run it. The Marines declared their Yuma squadrons to be operational but never proved that ALIS could work in real battlefield conditions, the agency reported.


The Pentagon has since unveiled a new version of ALIS.


Engineers and high-ranking officers connected to the Joint Strike Fighter program said they so far have detected no problems with ALIS during their ongoing tests.



(return to top)





FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of October 17, 2016


New Fleet Support Team at FRCSE looks to make explosive impact

FRCSW Names FY 2016 Civilian of the Quarter

WOC STEM Conference Recognizes FRCSW Employee



Pentagon’s No. 2 Needs To Slash Overhead, Says Defense Business Board

Defense Innovation Unit Announces Contracting Results

USS Zumwalt Commissions In Baltimore; Will Test, Train On East Coast Before Transit To San Diego

Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear Traps First Flying Aircraft

Adm. John Richardson: Improving The Health Of The Navy’s Civilian Workforce

House Lawmakers Push For More F-35 Funding In FY17 Budget

Navy Federal Contacting Customers Eligible For Part Of $23 Million Settlement



Road Closures during the Oct 29-30 NAS Patuxent River Air Expo


From Oct. 28 to Oct. 30, 2016, personnel at NAS Patuxent River can expect increased traffic, selected road closures and restrictions, and selected building closures before and during aerial performances.


On Friday, Oct. 28, restricted access areas include portions of the base between Taxiway Alpha and the intersection of Taxiways Echo and Foxtrot. Employees who present ID and state their destination will be permitted access to this area.


Saturday and Sunday restricted access areas include:

– The entire base with the exception of general traffic routes from Gate 1 to Taxiway Alpha and Gate 2 to Taxiway Alpha. Anyone who needs to leave the general traffic route will need to present valid credentials and a reason at checkpoints.


From noon to 6 p.m. on Friday Oct. 28, Saturday Oct. 29, and Sunday Oct. 30 the following road closures will take place:

– Cedar Point Road between the Test Pilot School and the intersection with Bronson Road

– Bronson Road between its intersections with Cedar Point Road and Taxiway Golf

– Cedar Point Road will be closed between the intersection with Johnson Road and the intersection with Runway 32. NOTE: Traffic will only be permitted to transit this route with expected delays of up to 20 minutes.


NAS Pax River Golf Course patrons during these times will enter Gate 2 and turn right on Buse Road, following it to Cedar Point Road.


No ID will be required to enter Gates 1 and 2 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Gate 3 will be closed to traffic.


If you believe you will be impacted by these closures during working hours, please contact your chain of command.






Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






New Fleet Support Team at FRCSE looks to make explosive impact

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST 13 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new Fleet Support Team (FST) formed at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Sept. 28 will combine jet fuel and armaments in hopes of an explosion – of speed and efficiency.


The FST will help maintain and support bomb racks, missile launchers, external fuel tanks, air-to-air refueling systems and more – whether at FRCSE or anywhere else across the globe. FST members regularly travel thousands of miles to fix problems wherever their aircraft or components might be.


The move is a collaborative effort between PMA-201’s Precision Strike Weapons Program Office and FRCSE.


“The whole move, from cost, to schedule, to performance is all about efficiency,” said PMA-201 Chief Systems Engineer and Technical Director Juan Ortiz. “This is all aligned with speed to the fleet, and trying to get everything to the warfighter faster and cheaper, while still having good technical quality.


“The idea is to consolidate people, functions, resources and proximity so that everything goes to the warfighter more efficiently.”


The move brings what was the Aircraft Armament Equipment (AAE) technical program office from Indianapolis to FRCSE at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax). It puts the FST on the grounds of the largest industrial employer in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. FRCSE performs maintenance and overhauls for the Navy’s aircraft, putting the FST within arms’ reach of massive technical expertise and maintenance capabilities.


The relocation also aligns the Navy’s initiative to move maintenance capabilities closer to the flight line in order to speed-up the process of returning aircraft more quickly to the fleet.


Each of the Navy’s main tactical aircraft has its own FST. Most of these aircraft use the launchers, bomb racks and fuel tanks in which the new FST will specialize.


“One benefit the Navy gets out of the move is many of the FSTs that support platforms that carry the AAE equipment – such as the EA-6B Prowler, P-3 Orion, F/A-18 Hornet, and P-8A Poseidon – are physically located in Jacksonville as well,” said Alexis Padilla, FRCSE’s Systems Engineering Department Director. “The new AAE/FC FST will have direct access to the platform FSTs, thus improving collaboration.”


The new team consists of 26 employees forming the Aircraft Armament Equipment/Fuel Container FST.


“On the engineering side, the FST’s role will be maintaining the health of the components through structures, mechanical systems and electrical avionics,” said FRCSE engineer John Giangaspro. “On the logistics side is sustainment, making sure that we’re able to provide products and services to refurbish that equipment and get it back up to standard.”


The team members are also responsible for updating publications, like repair and maintenance manuals that serve as instructions to the fleet.


“We’ll be providing every aspect of service to make sure we can take care of this equipment, while being conscious of the American taxpayer and doing it as efficiently as possible,” Giangaspro said.


Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for PMA-201’s Precision Strike Weapons program, was a driving force behind the creation of the combined FST.


“People have been looking at combining these departments for more than 20 years,” Engdahl said. “The only way we were able to get this accomplished was because of the teamwork between our program office, NAS Jax and FRCSE.


“I’m extraordinarily proud of how everyone came together to make this happen.”


The move is estimated to save the Navy $1.8 million per year.


(return to top)




FRCSW Names FY 2016 Civilian of the Quarter

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST 13 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) selected William Fields as its Fiscal Year 2016 Civilian of the Quarter, second quarter.


Fields, an acquisition program specialist (commodity lead), was recognized for his work in contracting and purchasing functions in the 6.13 division by FRCSW Commanding Officer Capt. Craig Owen in ceremonies Sept. 30 in Building 94.


“The division 6.13 has only been up and running for about the past two and a-half years. We make sure everyone is in compliance for the acquisitions and contracting outside of the Defense Logistics Agency,” Fields said.


“We’re the liaison between the contract officer, who generally doesn’t understand naval aviation because that’s not their cue, and whoever comes through the door in need of everything from credit cards, to General Services Administration purchases, to labor and facilities contracts.”


A former electrician for Navy contractor AES, Fields worked at Camp Pendleton servicing AH-1 Cobra and UH-1 Huey helicopters before transferring to FRCSW in 2003 and promoting to an electrical planner/estimator for manufacturing the following year.


He has been an acquisition program specialist since 2014.


A paramount concern is keeping the command’s machinery operational to ensure a consistent flow of artisan work within production timelines.


“We’ve only got so much experience on the floor to fix those machines here that break down, so sometimes we need to bring in the vendors or the original equipment manufacturer to come in to repair or overhaul — so we make sure we get the right contracts, so what their requirements are matches up to the compliance, mostly Fleet Logistics Center, to make sure we’re getting what we want,” Fields said.


To further reliable artisan work flow, Fields revised the command’s tool ordering procedures down from an average of nine months to only 30 days, and also provided input to the development of the Government Commercial Purchase Card Request portal.


The variety of his duties and the people he meets, Fields said, are what he enjoys most in his position.


“You never know what requirements will come. But after two years I know some will be repeats, but by the time you have it figured, something new comes in. You don’t get stale here,” he said. “And I get to interact with a lot more people than previous jobs I’d had, and we’ve got some pretty neat people here.”


The father of three, Fields lives in Riverside County with his wife Darilynn.


(return to top)




WOC STEM Conference Recognizes FRCSW Employee

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST 17 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – A Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) employee was honored during the 2016 Women of Color (WOC) Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) conference held Oct. 13-15 in Detroit.


Bethany Harris, an FRCSW engineering technician, was one of six STEM “Technology Rising Star” recipients. She received the award for her work within the command’s facilities organization.


The WOC STEM conference is designed to help and provide women with methods to improve their careers and educational goals.


Harris began her career at FRCSW in 2004 as a wage grade (WG) entry level aircraft mechanic helper.


“Shortly after 9/11, the company I was working for began downsizing so I started applying to the website that is now USAJOBS. I had welding experience from a previous job I had at National Steel and Ship Building Company (NASSCO) and that was the experience that got me the mechanic helper position,” she said.


Her determination to contribute to the command led her to enroll in classes to earn certifications as a collateral duty as an “entry authority,” where she verified that the air and environment of confined spaces, like aircraft fuel cells, were suitable for artisans to occupy.


Eight years later, Harris transitioned to her current general services (GS) position via a 120-day detail that became permanent.


She is assigned to the Production Planning Division where her work targets the management of FRCSW’s facilities and the development of the command’s Facilities Master Plan which strives to efficiently manage, reconfigure and upgrade office spaces, furniture and equipment.


To that end, it was decided to standardize the command’s office spaces for budgetary advantages. Harris was initially assigned as the procurement project manager.


She said she arrived to a program that was lacking established processes, and in need of “.checks and balances.”


“When I got here I was asked to procure furniture for the XO. But then it became bigger, so now I’m in the process of establishing a purchase agreement (with the General Services Administration (GSA)) for furniture not only for our FRC, but for all of the FRCs,” she said.


“In doing this I had to create and standardize the process. Last year, we established the contract for the first procurement; there was no support, so I had to define the requirements for that and come up with a standard process.”


Harris said that the first Broad Purchase Agreement (BPA) for furniture was about $976,000 for one year. After installation, the usable life of furniture is roughly 10 years, depending upon work space requirements.


Harris screens all furniture and appliance requirements to ensure that requests are within standards, energy conscious where applicable and avoid higher-end purchases in order to save the government money.


“Right now we buy furniture through GSA with up to a 25 percent fee for them to handle the process. This new BPA will set the fee at five percent; so whatever we order through this BPA will automatically save the government 20 percent,” Harris said.


The agreement is for one year with a four-year option.


As Harris works to fine tune the BPA and improve the command’s Facilities Master Plan, she also targets her own professional development and that of those around her.


Having earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from National University last year, she continued her educational achievements by completing a master’s degree in organizational leadership just 16 months later, graduating with honors.


Since 2012, Harris has been a member of Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) African-American Pipelines Advisory Team which focuses on career planning, recruitment and retention of members from NAVAIR’s African-American workforce through mentorship and lessons-learned programs.


“We try to identify barriers; including promotion and pay barriers,” she said. “I champion that because a lot of people have problems transitioning from a WG to a GS like I did. There’s no track you can take to get from a WG to a GS — that’s one of the things we’re working on.”


(return to top)






Pentagon’s No. 2 Needs To Slash Overhead, Says Defense Business Board

(DEFENSE NEWS 13 OCT 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – The Defense Business Board is recommending that the next presidential administration run the Pentagon more like a business and turn the deputy defense secretary into a cost-cutting, efficiency-hunting chief management officer.


The board, a DoD advisory committee comprised of private-sector executives, says the role should focus more on reining in overhead and less on substituting for the defense secretary. The board made the recommendation in a recent, 112-page report on the presidential transition, which comes as Congress and the Pentagon are pursuing their own agendas for DoD reform.


“In the past, it has been quite normal for the Deputy to spend significant time away from the Pentagon, either ‘filling in’ for the Secretary or on matters requiring coordination with other agencies, international partners, or the White House,” DBB chair Michael Bayer said in a letter accompanying the report. “The adverse consequence of this has been an insufficient attention to the important primary function of managing the Department. The management challenges of this, the largest institution on the planet, require the full-time attention of a Chief Management Officer.”


The Defense Department is the nation’s largest enterprise, and if its expenditures were gross national product it would be the seventeenth largest nation, the report notes. It is the nation’s largest employer, with more than 1.3 million people on active duty, more than 700,000 civilian personnel and roughly 600,000 contractors. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces, and about 2 million military retirees and their family members receive earned benefits.


The current deputy defense secretary, Bob Work, has championed a vision for a Defense Department that is more technologically agile and globally engaged, and spearheaded its so-called “Third Offset Strategy.” Work also has called for cost cutting, and, pointing to estimates that the department has 22 percent more in installations and real estate than it needs, urged lawmakers to consider a new round of the politically unpopular base-closure process.


As envisioned by the advisory board, the deputy defense secretary would take bold action to tame the costs associated with overhead, personnel, benefits and unnecessary work, all of which Bayer considers necessary for DoD to “swiftly and shrewdly adapt to maintain its superiority over determined adversaries.”


“Without major surgery, our overhead and personnel costs will continue to eat away at our modernization and readiness,” Bayer’s letter reads. “This is not about policy; it is about running the Department like a modern business.”


The report argues DoD must look closely at off-limits budget areas like intelligence, classified programs and their overhead, the combatant commands and the armed services, and bring in specialized expertise to lead a re-structuring review of the Pentagon. This would ultimately cut entire organizations, activities and contracts, as opposed to picking around the edges of the budget.


(return to top)




Defense Innovation Unit Announces Contracting Results

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 13 OCT 16) … Jon Harper


An office established by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to build bridges between the U.S. military and commercial technology hubs awarded $36.3 million in contracts in the last quarter of fiscal year 2016, the director told reporters Oct. 13.


The Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, known as DIUx, is headquartered in Silicon Valley, with additional outposts located in Boston and Austin. The initiative, created last year, is intended to cut through bureaucratic red tape that often plagues the Pentagon’s procurement system, and fast-track contracts with high-tech commercial firms.


“Core to our value and our approach here … is to help non-traditional vendors work with the department so we get access to their technology earlier and more directly than we normally would,” DIUx managing director Raj Shah told reporters during a conference call where he provided the first quarterly update on the initiative since the new leadership team took over.


In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, which ended Sept. 30, DIUx awarded 12 contracts. The average time between solicitation response to contract award was less than 60 days, Shah noted. The $8.3 million initial spend by DIUx was augmented by $28 million that the services and other Defense Department agencies kicked in to support the initiative.


Following a leadership shakeup in May, DIUx launched the “commercial solutions opening” contracting mechanism to provide a shot in the arm to the initiative, which in its early days was criticized for being ineffective.


The mechanism “facilitates fast, flexible and collaborative work between DoD and technology companies that traditionally have not done business with the department. This enables us … to work at the speed of business,” Shah said.


Projects funded to date include prototyping efforts in areas such as high-speed drones, autonomy, cybersecurity and wireless technologies.


An additional 13 projects are moving through the pipeline, according to a DIUx fact sheet. They include multifactor authentication for data access, cyber protection toolkits, micro-satellites and advanced analytics.

“These are things that the private sector is investing hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars towards, and for us to leverage and harness that investment will be critical to our national defense,” Shah said.


The Pentagon requested $30 million for research, development, test and evaluation for DIUx in fiscal year 2017. If Congress approves that level of spending, the office expects to combine it with funds contributed by other Defense Department organizations, he said.


For many small commercial companies, there are several impediments involved in the traditional contracting process that dissuade them from doing business with the Pentagon, he noted.


DIUx has used new authorities granted by Congress in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act to break down some of those barriers.


“It’s not really exclusive to us but we have leveraged it to great use,” Shah said.


The commercial solutions opening mechanism has increased speed and transparency in the contracting process. Upon the success of a prototype, the process enables a “quick translation or transition” into procurement contracts that enable the services or other Defense Department organizations to scale the prototype if it meets their needs, he said.


DIUx also requires less cumbersome accounting standards, and intellectual property and data rights are negotiable on project-by-project basis, Shah noted.


He hopes that other Defense Department organizations will follow his office’s lead when it comes to using new contracting authorities.


“Whenever you try something new there has got to be someone that’s first that goes through the motions and irons out the wrinkles and makes it into a reputable process, so we’re happy to have played that role,” Shah said.


“We’re in fact spending time educating others in the department of how they might use this capability and authority, and I’m very optimistic that others in the department will follow suit,” he added.


The DIUx initiative has been Carter’s pet project. Shah said he’s confident that it will survive well past the Pentagon chief’s tenure, which is expected to end when a new administration takes office next year.


“I’m quite optimistic that … the subsequent secretary and the subsequent secretary after that will see the value of this engagement and will be pleased to have DIUx in his or her quiver of tools to achieve their mission and goals,” he said.


(return to top)




USS Zumwalt Commissions In Baltimore; Will Test, Train On East Coast Before Transit To San Diego

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 17 OCT 16) … Megan Eckstein


The Navy commissioned its most technologically advanced ship this weekend, bringing destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) into the fleet in a ceremony in Baltimore, Md.


Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Tom Rowden at the ceremony called Zumwalt “the most incredible ship of our time” and told namesake Adm. Elmo Zumwalt’s family in attendance that “a ship bearing your dad’s name is long overdue.”


“This ship symbolizes our commitment to remain bold, to remain the world’s preeminent naval force,” he said.


“It has been said that Adm. Zumwalt’s forward thinking brought the Navy kicking and screaming into the 20th century. Indeed, it is only fitting that this ship’s forward design and innovative technology will set the pace for the 21st century as well. And just like Bud Zumwalt, this ship and her crew will remain dedicated to our Navy and our nation in good times and bad and for decades to come.”


The ship will eventually join the U.S. Pacific Fleet and operate out of San Diego. U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris said at the ceremony that “we can’t get this technological marvel to the Pacific fast enough, and it couldn’t come at a more pivotal moment in our nation’s history.”


Naming the many global threats the Navy faces and pointing to North Korea as the most dangerous threat in his area of operations, he said “Zumwalt will play a heavy role in giving us the clear edge in these challenges.”


“We must continue to develop and field combat power like this ship to defend the U.S. homeland and the homeland of our allies,” Harris continued.


“Indeed, it’s fitting that Zumwalt’s motto is Pax Propter Vim, Latin for ‘peace through power.’ … The technology in Zumwalt’s unique hull and the ingenuity of her stalwart crew are powerful guarantors of peace. They are embodiment of America’s determined will. As our newest class of destroyer enters active service, I can’t imagine a ship more like its namesake – Adm. Zumwalt was an innovative visionary and the groundbreaking DDG-1000 delivers not just credible combat power but incredible combat power. Zumwalt will assure our Navy and our entire joint force remain ready to fight tonight.”


Ahead of the commissioning ceremony, the ship’s leadership hosted media on Oct. 13. Ship Commanding Officer Capt. James Kirk told reporters on the pier next to his ship that he was honored to be the first commander of a ship named after former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Zumwalt.


“Adm. Zumwalt was a reformer; he changed our Navy in massive ways,” he said.


“Some that make this ship and the fleet a more potent fighting force, but most importantly he reformed the institution of the Navy to be more just and fair to all its sailors, making sure that all sailors regardless of race or creed, color, faith had an opportunity to serve in whatever capacity that their heart and their passion desired to.


And those reforms we see today manifest in this great Navy that we have that reflects all of the diversity of our country.”


Zumwalt delivered to the Navy in May and left the Bath Iron Works shipyard last month to head to Naval Station Norfolk and eventually to Baltimore for the commissioning ceremony. Kirk said the ship had used that time at sea to continue refining the operating manuals sailors developed, making them clearer, more precise and more effective. For example, he said, “one of the steps in our transfer of our throttle control, we had one of those steps that you really had to know how many seconds to push it, and if you didn’t push it that long it didn’t like that. So we made sure that we’re very specific about that in our procedures, and now we have a very effective procedure that works every time.”


Kirk said the ship would conduct tests, trials and other operations on the East Coast for a bit before heading to San Diego and arriving in its homeport by the end of the year. The ship will then undergo combat systems installation, activation and testing in San Diego before becoming an operational asset for the fleet and preparing for its maiden deployment.


(return to top)




Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear Traps First Flying Aircraft

(DEFENSE DAILY 17 OCT 16) … Marc Selinger


The Navy’s troubled new advanced arresting gear (AAG), which is slated to be the landing system for the first Ford-class aircraft carrier, recently completed its first “fly-in” recovery of a manned plane on land.


The event involved an F/A-18E Super Hornet and occurred Oct. 13 at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, N.J., Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) said Oct. 14. The test followed more than 200 “roll-in” arrestments at the Lakehurst site since late March.


“This milestone test event demonstrates AAG’s capability and signifies a big step forward in getting the system ready for duty on board the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Stephen Tedford, the Navy’s program manager for aircraft launch and recovery equipment.


The AAG, whose prime contractor is General Atomics, has been plagued by technical glitches, schedule delays and cost overruns. But Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, NAVSEA’s commander, said in July that the Navy has a plan to fix those problems so that aircraft flights can start on the carrier deck of the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) in January.


However, the Navy also indicated that it is studying whether the second Ford-class carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), should be equipped with an alternative landing system, such as the Mk 7 arresting system from the existing Nimitz-class carriers. Earlier this year, a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General recommended that the Navy perform “cost-benefit analyses to determine whether AAG is an affordable solution.”


The AAG is one of several systems the Navy is tending to prepare to take delivery of the CVN-78 from shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries. The other systems include the main turbine generators, which have a component that needs repairs, and the dual-band radar, whose three faces need to be synchronized so they can share target-tracking information with each. The ship was most recently scheduled for delivery in November, but the timing is now under review.


Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear Traps First Flying Aircraft


(return to top)




Adm. John Richardson: Improving The Health Of The Navy’s Civilian Workforce



The Chief of Naval Operations is in charge of manning, training and equipping the Navy – and Adm. John Richardson, the current CNO, says that means civilians too. In a bit of an unusual step for a military service chief, he’s issued his own framework for improving the health of the civilian workforce.


The new document calls for each of the Navy’s commands to develop a strategy to make sure their civilian workforce is as healthy and well-developed as the military side – from hiring and training to performance management and professional development. Adm. Richardson spoke with Federal News Radio’s Jared Serbu by phone to talk a bit about the new framework, and what comes next.


(return to top)




House Lawmakers Push For More F-35 Funding In FY17 Budget

(DEFENSE NEWS 18 OCT 16) … Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – The defense-policy and -spending bills are at a standstill on Capitol Hill, but 70 House lawmakers are hoping that when Congress returns after the election, they can press appropriators to boost the total F-35 purchase for fiscal year 2017.


In an Oct. 4 letter to House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ, and the subcommittee’s top Democrat, Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, the lawmakers advocated for F-35 production increases, citing the impact such a move would have on lowering unit costs.


Both the Senate and House appropriations bills increased joint strike fighter procurement over the levels requested in the budget. The House bill added 11 F-35s – five F-35As, four F-35Cs and two F-35Bs – numbers that would satisfy the services’ “unfunded priorities” list. The Senate took a different tactic, opting instead to augment procurement by adding two more F-35Bs and two F-35Cs in 2017 while also increasing F-35A advance procurement by $100 million, a move that allows the Air Force to increase its production rate in 2018.


The 70 bipartisan signatories want the best of both worlds – for appropriators in conference to add 11 F-35s to the budget while also raising advance procurement. The lawmakers also recommended that appropriators reverse cuts to the F-35’s Block 4 modernization program included in the Senate bill.


“Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” they said in the letter. “Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in the numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”


The letter was initiated by the co-chairs of the House Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, Reps. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and John Larson, D-Conn. Both lawmakers represent regions that profit from the F-35, with the Lockheed Martin jet built in Fort Worth and the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine made in Connecticut.


The signatories argued that the services require the F-35 at a quicker rate than current budgets allow.


“Events around the globe continue to demonstrate the urgent need for the F-35’s capabilities,” they wrote. “The program is gaining momentum with the Marine Corps declaring initial operating capability last year and the Air Force declaring IOC this summer. We believe it is essential for Congress to provide the funding necessary to continue increasing F-35 production at a rate sufficient to meet future threats and to reach at least 120 U.S. aircraft per year as quickly as possible.”


As Congress debates how quickly to ramp up F-35 production, the government and Lockheed Martin remain gridlocked on the price of the ninth and tenth lots of aircraft. Lockheed on Monday received a $743 million award, which modifies a previous undefinitized contracting action for the ninth batch of low-rate initial production aircraft. Besides providing additional advance funding to the company, the agreement also establishes not-to-exceed prices “for diminishing manufacturing and material shortages redesign and development, estimated post production concurrency changes, and country-unique requirements.” However, a larger agreement on the production of LRIP-9 and -10 is still in the works.


(return to top)




Navy Federal Contacting Customers Eligible For Part Of $23 Million Settlement

(MILITARY TIMES 19 OCT 16) … Karen Jowers


Think you’re eligible for part of the Navy Federal Credit Union $23 million settlement affecting hundreds of thousands of customers? If you are, you should be hearing from NFCU soon.


“Consumers should know that Navy Federal Credit Union will contact you if you are eligible for compensation under the consent order,” said Moira Vahey, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency that investigated the credit union’s allegedly deceptive debt-collection practices.


Some consumers have contacted Military Times with questions about who to contact for information about whether they might qualify for compensation. If you believe you’ve been overlooked, you can contact the credit union at 888-842-6328, NFCU spokesman Brian Parker said, or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at, according to Vahey.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alleged that the credit union misled its members about its debt collection practices and also unfairly froze customers out of their own accounts without adequate warning, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. In addition to the $23 million in compensation to consumers, the credit union must correct its collection practices and pay $5.5 million to the CFPB civil penalty fund.


Navy Federal officials agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying the allegations, according to the consent order. Officials said earlier in a statement that “where our collection practices have come up short in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s estimation, we have made all the necessary changes. We have cooperated with the CFPB throughout the process.”

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of October 11, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 Top Clips for the week Of Oct. 11. Also, please join me in wishing the U.S. Navy a Happy 241st Birthday!



FRCSW Shop Saves Navy Thousands in Tooling Costs

NADP provides veterans with second careers



McCain agrees to drop veterans hiring preference changes from NDAA

Navy COOL Unveils New Credentialing Program for DON Civilians

Rear Adm. Manazir Speaks On Allied Force Transformation, A2AD

DoN Grapples With Need For Rapid Prototyping Amid Congressional Concerns

Election could bring big changes to the Senate Armed Services Committee

Iwo Jima’s top enlisted says crew is ready for Haiti relief mission

Ford Carrier Problems Worse Than LCS: Navy Secretary Mabus

Mabus: Actions ‘Assure that Our Navy Has Never Been Stronger’




Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at





CNO’s 241st Navy Birthday Message


Team, we’re all proud of our Navy’s 241 years of history and heritage. From 1775 to today, our Navy, with our Marine Corps teammates, has protected America from attack, and preserved our influence in key regions around the world. At and from the sea, we have enhanced safety, security and stability, which has led to American prosperity.


To succeed in today’s super-complex environment we must be the force that provides our national leadership with thoughtful solutions to tough problems.


We must represent our Navy and our Nation with pride and professionalism. We must look to our core attributes of Integrity, Accountability, Initiative and Toughness as our guide to living by our core values.


Dana and I are proud of each Sailor, civilian and family member. We are blessed to be part of the Navy team. Happy Birthday, Shipmates!


– Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson







FRCSW Shop Saves Navy Thousands in Tooling Costs

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 07 Oct 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Would you want to pay $200 to replace one drill bit or $500 for a new reamer? No? The Navy doesn’t want to either.


Many of the artisans at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) routinely use a variety of drill bits, reamers and cutting tools in the course of their work.


Instead of replacing these tools as they become dull or buying new ones vice modifying to a specific task, FRCSW turns to toolmakers Luis Quiambao and Henrico Fulgencio in the cutter and tool grinder shop in Building 379 for sharpening and adapting the command’s tools to meet the artisans’ needs.


A department of the command’s jig and fixture shop, the cutter and tool grinder shop is a sprawling area containing about a dozen grinding and milling machines where Quiambao and Fulgencio handle 200 to 500 tools quarterly.


“Both of us were machinist repairmen while serving in the Navy. We had been to Machinery Repairman ‘C’ School, grinding school, and we were able to revive this shop and start accepting jobs from different production shops here,” Quiambao said.


Both toolmakers were previously assigned to the production shop in Building 94, repairing F/A-18 Hornet wings. Quiambao left in December 2014 and Fulgencio joined him in the cutter and tool grinder shop this past January.


“In the wing shop you could be told that you need to work from a half inch to five thousandths or until you remove enough corrosion from the surface so a new bushing could be installed. Since you don’t have that exact size of reamer, you would send them to this shop for modification to a new dimension specified by engineers,” Quiambao said.


In grinding reamers and cutters the work is typically within ½ of a thousandth tolerance; the thickness of copier paper is roughly 4 thousandths of an inch.


The shop recently completed work on 87 reamers for FRCSW Site Yuma, Fulgencio noted.


Another recurring customer is the production shop in Building 472 that consistently requests sharpening of milling cutters. Milling cutters are tools normally used in milling machines that remove material by movement within the machine. The production shop’s handheld teardrop cutters that are used to cut finished machining metals are also routinely modified.


“We can get an urgent request for a two or three day turnaround time. I have an urgent call now from FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton for a reamer to fix a helicopter panel. For modifying reamers we use about four different machines, one step at a time. We have each machine setup to cut a certain way so we don’t have to re-set for each step,” Quiambao said.


“Before, these were contracted out for sharpening. But Louis noticed that the company that sharpened the reamer did it at the wrong angle, which is why it wouldn’t cut properly. So the command decided to save money and bought the diamond wheels and started having us provide that sharpening service,” Fulgencio said.


The F/A-18 canopy shop in Building 250 routinely sends its one-pass drill bits to the shop for sharpening and adjustment. The bits, made of carbide, are solely used by artisans to ream holes in the Hornet canopies.


In addition to carbide, the shop also modifies and sharpens tools and bits made of high speed steel and cobalt, saving FRCSW tens of thousands of dollars annually in replacement costs.


(return to top)




NADP provides veterans with second careers

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 06 Oct 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Air-6.0 Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Eight logistics management specialists graduated from the Navy Acquisition Development Program (NADP) in a ceremony Sept. 29 at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) Complex, Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, launching their new careers.


AIR 6.0 Deputy Assistant Commander Todd Balazs, who emceed the event, told the graduates that as much as they have learned from the co-workers and mentors, the NAVAIR workforce also learned from them.   “All of the graduates here have prior military experience,” he said.  “Before you entered the program two years ago, you already had developed leadership skills and passion for supporting the warfighter.  You brought and shared your unique perspective with our workforce.”


One of seven graduates recruited to the program through the NAVAIR Wounded Warrior program, Dwight Laushaw said NADP offered him the flexibility to see what his 32 years working supply in the Marine Corps could bring to logistics. “I took advantage of every rotation because I wanted to learn about the Navy and see how it does things,” he said.  “NADP allowed me to grow, train and meet other Wounded Warriors.”


Retired Navy aircraft controller Christopher League said that before NADP, he had only viewed the process as an end user. “Before, I didn’t know how in depth it was. This was a great program to learn through experience,” he said.


Mario Haddad, also recruited through the Wounded Warrior program while living in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, credited NADP with giving him a second opportunity to contribute the nation’s defense. “How the Navy and Marine Corps handle logistics are completely different than the Army,” the former supply specialist said.  “I got to learn from the experts. I want to thank everyone for believing in me.  That confidence is what motivated me to continue to serve.”


In the next phase of their careers, Balazs said, new graduates should strive to nurture current relationships, build up their networks and seek additional mentors to guide them through their careers. “You will find out that you will cross paths with those whom you have worked with previously,” he said.  “Those connections will always be needed and should be maintained.”


Capt. Timothy Pfannenstein, AIR 6.0 executive director, advised graduates to always keep the importance of their work in focus, especially as they go through difficult times throughout their career. “Capability comes from NAVAIR.  If it is not right here, the fleet can’t do it out there, either,” he said.  “Lives depend on what you do.”


Laushaw, League and Haddad are assigned to Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department (AIR 6.7) at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO); the Logistics Management Integration Department (AIR 6.6) with the Small Tactical Unmanned Air Systems Program Office (PMA-263); and the Logistics Management Integration Department (AIR 6.6) in the Foreign Military Sales Office, respectively.


Jo Hartso-Pretty, Jay Lindsay, Calvin Mack and Doug Olson were also in the graduating class. Hartso-Pretty is assigned to AIR 6.7 in the F-35 Lightning II JPO and Mack is assigned to the Logistics Production Data Division (AIR 6.8.5) for the MQ-4C Triton. Both Olson and Lindsay will work in Logistics and Maintenance Information Systems and Technology Division (AIR 6.8.4).


Sandra German-Vasquez graduated as an associate and will be working in the Logistics Management Integration Department with the Tactical Airlift, Adversary, and Support Aircraft Program Office (PMA-207).


NADP is a management program that trains and develops future Department of the Navy leadership for up to three years in the areas of finance, contracting, logistics, science and engineering. Current civilian employees can participate in NADP’s professional development track as associates.


(return to top)






McCain agrees to drop veterans hiring preference changes from NDAA

(MILITARY TIMES, 06 OCT 16) . Leo Shane III


Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain told veterans groups this week that he’ll oppose controversial plans to limit federal hiring preferences for individuals with military experience, an advantage advocates argue is critical in helping them find employment.


Earlier this year, House lawmakers approved a draft of the annual defense authorization bill which included limiting veterans preference in federal hiring procedures to a one-time use. Veterans who applied for a second federal job or a transfer from their first position would be evaluated by hiring officials as just another civilian federal worker under the plan.


In a letter to the American Legion, McCain — Arizona’s senior Republican senator — said given the opposition from their leadership and other veterans groups, he will work to remove the provision from the final draft of the authorization bill.


His opposition doesn’t guarantee the death of the proposal, but it comes close. The proposal already rankled numerous lawmakers, and McCain’s role as the Senate’s lead negotiator on the legislation gives him significant influence over the final compromise legislation.


Veterans make up almost a third of the federal workforce, up significantly from the 26 percent they totaled in fiscal 2009.


Critics of the veterans preference policy — which include some officials at the Department of Defense — have argued that the hiring advantage is too generous, all but eliminating applicants without military experience from some federal posts.


But the White House and Congress in recent years have pushed veterans employment as a top priority, and said government agencies should set an example in hiring highly skilled, highly desirable veteran candidates.


The authorization bill, which sets a host of military policy and spending priorities, has been stalled in negotiations between House and Senate officials since August. But leaders from both chambers have said they are still confident a compromise can be reached when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill after the November elections.


(return to top)




Navy COOL Unveils New Credentialing Program for DON Civilians

(NAVY.MIL, 04 OCT 16) . Petty Officer 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson, Center for Information Warfare Training Public Affairs


PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) — Department of the Navy (DON) Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) launched a new website aimed at providing certification opportunities for DON civilian employees, Oct. 3.


Just like Navy COOL for Sailors, DON Civilian COOL is a resource tool, mapping certifications and licensure based on formal training and on-the-job experience. The DON COOL website portal at now has a site specifically for civilians that is searchable by federal occupation code or title.


“Our intention, since Navy COOL’s inception, has always been to eventually include DON civilians,” said Michael Talley, assistant program director for Navy COOL. Navy COOL has helped more than 52,000 Sailors obtain civilian credentialing, which can contribute to career development while on active duty and when a Sailor joins the civilian workforce, possibly even as a federal employee.


DON Civilian COOL was developed in partnership with U.S. Fleet Forces Command and is the first of its kind for DOD civilians.


The initial group of 37 federal civilian occupations includes fields such as information technology, human resources, administrative, financial, engineering, education, legal, supply and security careers. It also has information for the cyber security workforce.


Keith Boring, program director for Navy COOL, said his team plans to continue connecting credentialing prospects for more DON civilian occupations by updating the program at regular intervals.


“Civilian COOL provides an expanded opportunity for DON personnel to pursue personal and professional development,” said Boring. “This program sets the foundation for all the other branches of service to offer credential opportunities for their civilian employees.”


Navy employees will find explanations for the different types of credentials and the four-step credentialing process, including costs and possible avenues for funding. DON Civilian COOL does not provide funding for costs associated with initial credential attainment and maintaining and renewing the credential.


Navy COOL may only fund application fees, exam fees and annual maintenance fees for DON civilians in the Navy’s Cyberspace Information Technology/Cyber Security Workforce. For most employees, some costs may be funded by the Navy if an employee’s command approves and budgets for it. In other cases, veterans eligible for the GI Bill may tap into that resource.


The DON COOL program is part of a joint-service initiative to promote civilian credentialing opportunities for military service members and civilian employees. DON COOL reflects the Navy’s ongoing commitment to Sailors, Marines and civilians in providing world-class training, experience and opportunities that will serve them well, whether during active-duty, federal service or post-service civilian careers.


For more information about DON Civilian COOL, visit and for DON COOL, visit


Navy COOL is located with the Center for Information Warfare Training, which delivers trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services, enabling optimal performance of information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.


For more information, visit,, or


For more news from the Center for Information Warfare Training organization, visit,,, or


(return to top)




Rear Adm. Manazir Speaks On Allied Force Transformation, A2AD

(BREAKING DEFENSE 11 Oct 16) … Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake


Recently, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson drove home the point that using the term Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD), was too vague as to be useful to define the effort of US and allied forces to deal with peer competitors.


“The term ‘denial,’ as in anti-access/area denial is too often taken as a fait accompli,” the CNO said, “when it is, more accurately, an aspiration. Often, I get into A2AD discussions accompanied by maps with red arcs extending off the coastlines of countries like China or Iran. The images imply that any military force that enters the red area faces certain defeat – it’s a ‘no-go’ zone!”


But for the CNO not only does A2AD ascribe capabilities to peer competitors that are not demonstrated, but the term suggests an outcome when in fact U.S. and allied forces are being shaped to operate very differently than in the period of the dominance of the land wars.


Richardson is focused as well on the reshaping of the maritime forces to operate in a much more effective manner throughout an extended battlespace. The CNO has crafted a concept which he calls kill webs to describe the way ahead for the maritime and joint force.


We recently discussed the evolving approach to this issue with one of the senior Naval officers charged with translating the approach into combat reality, namely Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9). He is responsible for the integration of manpower, training, sustainment, modernization and procurement of the Navy’s warfare systems.


It is clear that both the Air Force, the Navy and Marine Corps team are focused on shaping the force for the high-end fight against peer competitors. The Army’s main contribution in such considerations is the expanding and evolving role of Army Air Defense and Missile Defense systems. But in so doing, the focus is upon shaping a modular, agile force, which can operate across the spectrum of military operations; not just be honed simply for the high-end fight. It is about shaping multi-mission and multi-tasking platforms into an integrated force, which can deliver lethal and non-lethal effects throughout the distributed battlespace.


Recently, the new Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein, underscored that preparing for the high-end fight was a moral imperative. Given similar language and statements by the Chief of Naval Operations, this raises the question of the evolving working relationship between the Air Force and the Navy and Marine Corps Team.

“We are working closely with General Goldfein through various service interaction groups; most effectively at the highly classified level,” Manazir told us. “The core commonality between the two is that both are expeditionary services. When we get into the battle area, Air Force assets can strike, reset, and strike again.


Naval forces operating in the maritime domain provide persistence. If you combine Air Force and Naval combat capabilities you have a winning combination. If you architect the joint force together, you achieve a great effect.”


A key focus for the changes needed is the kind of command and control for a distributed force to ensure decision-making superiority. The hierarchical CAOC (Combined Air and Space Operations Center) is an aging artifact of nearly 16 years of ground war which assumes the US and the allies had complete air superiority.


Dealing with peer competitors and drawing upon the assets in a distributed approach requires different force configuration, training and operational foci.


Manazir underscored that, “C2 is ubiquitous across the kill web. Where is information being processed? Where is knowledge being gained? Where is the human in the loop? Where can core C2 decisions best be made and what will they look like in the fluid battlespace? The key task is to create decision superiority. But what is the best way to achieve that in the fluid battlespace we will continue to operate in? What equipment and what systems allow me to ensure decision superiority?”


As the technology changes and as the force becomes more effectively in the extended battlespace changes are necessary to shape appropriate rules of engagement for the distributed force. “The rules of engagement (ROE) need to keep up with the technology,” the admiral said. “An F-35 is going to have electronic means that can affect somebody a long way away. We didn’t have those electronic means before, and so the ROE should be able to allow us to employ weapons based on the technology that we have.”


One of the key aspects of changes involves weapons in the kill web. Target identification and weapons delivery will not be necessarily located on the same platform. Indeed, the ability to deliver lethal effect in the electro-magnetic battlespace will be distributed throughout the kill web. Weapons are distributed throughout the kill web and can be fired by platforms also operating throughout the kill web capable of firing weapons not carried by that platform.


Distributed strike will become increasingly significant as well as weapons modernization accelerates and the problem of providing new capabilities to the force, a force that is distributed in operations.


A new capability already in the fleet but whose future has just begun are directed energy weapons. As Manazir put it: “directed energy weapons are part of our overall transformation in the weapons enterprise. Directed energy weapons are fifth generation weapons. Directed energy weapons, coupled with other new types of weapons, are critical to empowering a distributed force.”


Put simply, the 30-kilowatt laser on USS Ponce works right now. But the overall approach is to build from deployed capabilities to more optimal directed energy weapons. Manazir outlined the Navy’ strategy: “In order to have the higher-end kinetic effect, you have to have the space for the weight of the laser itself, the power for it, and then the cooling-wherever the source.


“Obviously, with a ship in the water, you have an unlimited source of cooling water. Then, in order to have a very, very deep magazine for a laser shot, you either have to have a constant source of fairly high electrical power, or you have to have a very large battery. We are not waiting until we have what many see as the ultimate goal, a one-megawatt laser weapon; we would like to build capability incrementally.


“Over time we will be able to field higher and higher power laser weapons. It is about putting it into the fleet and evolving the capability; it is not about waiting until we have the optimal weapon. We need not just the weapon, but the training and the tactics shaped by the fleet to provide inputs to how best to integrate the capability into the force.”


Manazir outlined some of these ideas in a recent presentation at the Williams Foundation Seminar on air-sea integration held in Canberra on August 10. With the Aussies and Brits participating, it was clear these core allies share that the Navy’s focus on kill webs as well. Manazir underscored the importance of the allied-US engagement in force transformation in our interview.


“In effect, when we can operate together in this new environment and work from the same page, we can support core allies or allies can support us in the battlespace,” he said. “We can function as each other’s wingman. We are moving from a platform-centric mindset to a capability-centric mindset.”


The entire kill web approach affects the modernization and acquisition of platforms as well as the high-end training necessary to shape an integrated force.


According to Rear Admiral Manazir, the Navy is focused on innovations in the man-machine interactive capabilities. By so doing, the Navy is focused on leveraging the interactive capabilities of manned and unmanned systems as well as kinetic and non-kinetic ones. In the famous OODA loop the focus is upon finding ways for the machine to work more effectively in delivering the OO part of the OODA loop and innovating in how the combat warriors then can make decisions in the extended battlespace.


According to Rear Admiral Manazir: “The key is continually evolving combinations of capabilities that enhance the defensive and offensive power of the platforms that you put into the kill web. We are very focused on the evolving man-machine relationship, and the ability of manned and unmanned systems, as well as kinetic and non-kinetic systems, to deliver a broader spectrum of capability to the force.


“We are aiming to use the machine for the OO (Observe-Orient) part of the OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) Loop and optimize our human capabilities to do the DA (Decide-Act). Fighter pilots have always been “thinking aviators” but we are adjusting what we expect from them as they become key nodes and crucial enablers in the kill web. Becoming a Top Gun pilot in this world will be quite different than in the legacy one,” Manazir said.


Rear Adm. Manazir Speaks On Allied Force Transformation, A2AD


(return to top)




DoN Grapples With Need For Rapid Prototyping Amid Congressional Concerns

(USNI News, 07 Oct 16) . Megan Eckstein


MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – The Department of the Navy is working with Congress to gain support and trust for prototyping and rapid fielding efforts that help the military keep up with evolving technologies and threats while balancing lawmakers’ need for oversight, the Navy’s acquisition chief told USNI News.


The Navy and Marine Corps have both launched innovation campaigns to identify and address areas where the services can invest in technologies – sometimes commercial off-the-shelf products, sometimes products used elsewhere in the U.S. or foreign militaries – to improve warfighter effectiveness.


And yet, lawmakers have seemed uneasy. This spring a Defense Department reprogramming request – which allows funding to be moved from its original line item into others mid-year, with the approval of the House and Senate armed services committees and defense appropriations subcommittees – was denied. According to documents obtained by USNI News, the House and Senate appropriators denied the request to move $10.2 million into an Advanced Combat Systems Technology budget line in the Navy’s research, development, test and evaluation account.


That money would have paid for “rapid prototype development and experimentation in FY 2016 to transition technology solutions into products that address recently identified emerging warfighting capability needs as defined by the fleet, operational commands, and to include the newly established Naval Warfighting Development Centers,” according to the reprogramming request document. Specifically, $8.7 million would go to developing unmanned aerial vehicles that can perform “long range, persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance – Targeting (ISR-T) and strike” missions for a Surface Action Group, with electronic warfare payloads mentioned in the program description. The other $2 million would develop a “low-cost high-speed precision mortar capability with significantly increased range.”


The Marine Corps’ Assistant Deputy Commandant for Resources Edward Gardiner last week at the Modern Day Marine exposition expressed his frustration in the inability to get money moved around in the year of execution.


“The Congress is getting more and more difficult to deal with in the year of execution. For example, the Department of the Navy sent over a $600, $700 million reprogramming request; a substantial amount of that was not approved out of the committees just because it’s a more contentious environment,” he told a group of most industry representatives.


“So if you come to us with good ideas of what you want to do and you need to do it right now, there’s only so much we can do. I’ve got less money lying around that we can put up on a reprogramming to send to the Congress, and the chances of it getting through the Congress are even less. So we can’t really rely on that anymore. We’ll do it for the commandant’s top priorities, but it will take a lot of resources and time away from the leaders of the Marine Corps to get that through. So for the 50 other great ideas that are out there, I don’t have the resources or the capital to be able to bring that home in the year of execution.”


Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley told USNI News on Thursday that he has engaged with lawmakers to help explain not only the need for flexible funding for prototyping efforts and the need for rapid fielding in some cases, but also how lawmakers can maintain an oversight role outside of the traditional acquisition process.


“We’re spending a lot of time working across the four committees to try to give them clear understanding of what our strategy is and, as specific to the extent we can . provide specifics on these rapid prototype-type projects, because the first go out of the shoot with the budget, they saw the line items, they saw the request, they didn’t fully understand what’s inside of it,” he said of the reprogramming request.


“So we’ve been spending time with them to explain: here’s what’s inside of it; here are the types of projects that we have cued up that come from the fleet, that they have identified as these are important, urgent; and that we would look to go ahead and press forward first with prototyping to understand what the solution is.”


Stackley said that explaining what was in the reprogramming package was step one, as a short-term fix. Step two, to ensure future success when requesting rapid prototyping funding, “is ensuring that they have the degree of visibility and ability to perform their responsibilities as it relates to oversight. And so we want them to understand the process that we’re using, for identifying and prioritizing the needs, these needs that we want to move out on. And not just the process: how do they then monitor that process so they can see how we’re selecting, but equally important, how we’re executing the funds that they entrust with us.”


Lawmakers – led by Houser Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) – began a push for acquisition reform in 2014 with an eye towards simplifying the normal acquisition process to help design, test and field new systems more quickly and cheaply. Still, the military services working entirely outside that traditional acquisition system has caused some unease.


Stackley made clear that the Navy is not trying to use the guise of rapid prototyping to buy major systems. Instead, it’s helped the Navy and Marine Corps buy quadcopters, tablets, 3D printers and other technologies to begin to understand how they could help change the way warfighters operate.


“We’re talking about taking emerging needs and getting those requirements into the hands of our labs, our warfare centers, our engineers, our scientists and industry to start to identify what the technical solution is, what the fix is that will fill the need, so that we can cut time out of the equation.”


The executive and legislative branch will have to agree upon some way to budget money for these prototyping efforts, some of which may not have surfaced as requirements during the months lawmakers and service officials are hammering out a final budget. Stackley noted that relying on mid-year reprogramming requests to fund prototyping efforts as they’re identified would be untenable.


“You don’t want to have to rely on the reprogramming process to deal with urgent types of requirements. It’s not a reliable process – and I say not reliable, you can’t count on it and it’s not necessarily timely,” he said.

“And if you don’t have the ability to count on it and it is not timely, then everything that you’re trying to do in terms of increasing your speed (for fielding technology) is defeated.”


Stackley highlighted the need to get technology development right, in a speech to the Marine Corps Association on Thursday night. He called the new Marine Corps Operating Concept a “call to arms” to develop “those next-generation capabilities that are critical to supporting the operating concept, and we need to do so with a sense of urgency unlike the pattern we are so familiar with as we develop today’s large weapons systems.” While impossible to predict what the next fight would be, he said it would be important to invest in technological superiority in intelligence-collecting, information warfare, air dominance, sea control, logistics and the ability to maneuver in blue water or the littorals.


(return to top)




Election could bring big changes to the Senate Armed Services Committee

(WASHINGTON EXAMINER, 12 Oct 16) . Jacqueline Klimas


Four members of the Senate Armed Services Committee will be on the ballot in November, some in tight races that could see the committee’s membership, and priorities, shift.


In addition to Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the other three up for re-election are Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Richard Blumenthal D-Conn.


McCain’s fate on Election Day likely has the most influence over the future of the committee, since he wields the committee’s gavel, sets its hearing schedule, and invites witnesses to testify. His race against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., is rated “likely R” by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. A RealClearPolitics average of the polls puts McCain ahead by more than 13 points.


Ultimately, not having McCain at the helm of the committee would not necessarily change the broad priorities of making sure the military is ready to meet the threats it faces, but could mean a significant shift in tone without McCain’s big personality and confrontations with the Pentagon, experts say.


If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, but McCain loses, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., would be “the favorite” to take over as chairman, said Justin Johnson, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation. Inhofe has served as the committee’s ranking member when Democrats were in the majority and is still a senior member on the committee.


“He would certainly have at least a different style to Sen. McCain,” Johnson said. “He’d be more collaborative with the Pentagon, less of a headline driver perhaps. At the biggest level, there would still be similar priorities in terms of changing the budget trajectory, focusing on current conflicts and what we need to do to win them and conclude them successfully.”


Roger Zakheim, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said he thinks McCain will keep his seat. But even so, Democrats regaining control of the Senate means McCain could still lose his chairmanship.


In that case, Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., would likely take over as chair, according to Zakheim, who is also a partner at Covington and Burling.


Both analysts agreed that Reed’s leadership style would differ drastically from McCain’s.


“It would definitely be a dramatic change in style of committee leadership. McCain is just a uniquely powerful personality, whereas I think Sen. Reed is a little bit quieter, a little bit more deliberative in his approach to things,” Johnson said.


A leadership change would also mean a change in some priorities. Democrats and Republicans agree defense budgets need to increase, but McCain has pushed for higher military spending alone while Reed, and most Democrats, want nondefense spending increased to match any boost in defense funding. How the committee tackles the next budget could depend on which party is in charge, Zakheim said.


McCain has also placed a heavy emphasis on reform, including changing the acquisition system and the organizational structure of the military created thirty years ago by Goldwater-Nichols. But Johnson said that, while some reform efforts will likely continue under whoever is chair, it won’t be at the top of the priority list for whoever takes over next.


“I would expect the aggressiveness of them to ramp down under basically anyone other than McCain,” he said. “There’d still be reform efforts, whether acquisition or personnel, they’d still be in the mix just not quite as aggressively or as high a priority.”


Other members are also at risk. Whether Ayotte returns to the Senate is a toss-up, according to experts, and a RealClearPolitics average of polls puts the incumbent senator only 1.6 points ahead of Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.


Ayotte has been a vocal advocate on the committee for several key issues, such as keeping the detention center at Guantanamo Bay open and keeping the Air Force’s A-10s flying, despite efforts by the service to retire the planes.


The New Hampshire senator’s absence from the committee would be a loss “felt across the board,” but on the Gitmo fight, Johnson said he predicted other senators would jump in to keep pushing the issue. On the retirement of the A-10s, however, the loss of both McCain and Ayotte could allow the service an opening to begin taking the planes out of service.


“If you were to lose Sen. McCain and Ayotte, two of the strongest voices in the Senate on the A-10 issue, that could certainly put the issue back in play in the Senate next year if the Air Force were to propose retiring them once again,” Johnson said.


The Air Force has tried for several years to retire the A-10s, saying it needs to free up those resources to begin bringing the Lockheed Martin F-35 online. But lawmakers have prevented it because it is roundly considering the best aircraft for close-air support. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and a former A-10 pilot, has been the most vocal ally of keeping the planes flying in the House.


McCain has also spent much energy criticizing performance and cost overruns of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program and the Gerald R. Ford-class of aircraft carriers.


Supporting Donald Trump has hurt both McCain and Ayotte in their re-election bids, but a leaked video of the GOP nominee making lewd remarks about women prompted both senators to revoke their endorsement of Trump.


“I’m a mom and an American first, and I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” Ayotte said in a statement.


It’s unclear how distancing themselves from Trump will impact the outcome of the election. Ayotte said she will write in the name of Trump’s vice president, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and McCain suggested on Tuesday that he would write in Sen. Lindsey Graham, another long-time Senate Armed Services Committee member and close friend of McCain.


If McCain and Ayotte do not return to Washington, it could open a space for new members to become more powerful players in terms of national defense, including two recently-elected members who are also veterans: Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.


“Ernst is probably the top contender for stepping up more into the spotlight,” Johnson said.


Two of the committee members up for reelection are almost certainly returning to Congress in 2017. Lee’s race in Utah is rated safely Republican and one poll has him leading his opponent by 30 points.


Blumenthal, the only Democrat on the committee up for reelection, is also likely to keep his seat. Both the Center for Politics and RealClearPolitics rate the race as safely Democratic with Blumenthal 21 points ahead of his opponent, according to one poll.


(return to top)




Iwo Jima’s top enlisted says crew is ready for Haiti relief mission

(NAVY TIMES, 12 Oct 16) . David B. Larter


ATLANTIC OCEAN, ABOARD THE AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP IWO JIMA – This gator flattop wasn’t planning on getting underway last Wednesday from its Mayport, Florida,nea homeport. Then Hurricane Matthew swirled towards Haiti and the East Coast, the storm’s path becoming more menacing just as the ship sortied on Oct. 5.


The state of Florida issued mandatory evacuation orders for the area the amphibious assault ship calls home. As the crew members’ families prepped for the storm, Iwo, on its way north to avoid the tempest, received new orders – a deployment to Haiti.


Iwo Jima had just been starting its pre-deployment workups. Within three days, Iwo and its crew were in Norfolk, Virginia, on-loading bulldozers, seven-ton trucks, water purification equipment and forklifts and more into its well deck.


As the storm bore down on Virginia’s Tidewater region, the outfitted big deck cut through the difficult Hampton Roads navigation channel amid a 70-knot gale, bound for Haiti.


Loaded with about 650 Marines, four MV-22 Ospreys, four MH-60s Knighthawks and 1,200 sailors, Iwo Jima neared Haiti on Wednesday, where it will pick up 300 more Marines and three more CH-53 helicopters from the amphibious transport dock Mesa Verde.


The ship’s top enlisted said the crew is focused on relief efforts and that the rapid on-load and deployment “validates what we do in training.”


Command Master Chief (SW/AW/IW) William Mullinax – callsign “Swamp Fox” – talked about the ad-hoc deployment, the crew’s families in Mayport, and wider fleet issues in an interview as the ship sailed to Haiti. Questions and answers have been edited for brevity.


  1. What’s the mood of Iwo’s crew right now, how are they feeling given the last-minute nature of this mission?


  1. I think they are excited about the mission. They are wanting to put boots on ground and actually help, so they are excited about that. But there is that piece of anxiety about what’s going on back in Mayport. So they’re saying, ‘Let’s get this done so we can get back to Mayport and take care of our own.’


  1. Have you had any reports of damage to sailors’ homes or any injuries?


  1. We’ve had a little bit, trees falling in the yard, things like that. We’ve been working with the ombudsmen to get the resources they need. But nobody is in dire straits because of the hurricane.


When we left the storm was supposed to track up the coast about but it was supposed to be about 150 miles out to sea. But as it started getting through the Bahamas and shifted over to the west a bit, word started coming out about the evacuation.


The worst that I’ve heard is the houses on the beach took on some water but I don’t know if any of our sailors live right on the beach. We’ve been in contact with our two ombudsmen and with the base to make sure the families have the resources they need.


  1. What’s the value to the crew of throwing a mission like this together at the last minute?


  1. Well, I think it validates what we do in our training. On any given day this platform could be tasked to do flight ops or well-deck ops or whatever the case may be. So obviously the crew has to be well versed, so it validates what we do.


I’ve been here since February of 2014, I would tell you that by far: anything that’s thrown at this crew, they respond without hesitation. Whenever anyone comes on board, I tell people, you’re walking on the best ship in the fleet. I admit I’m biased.


  1. You are a senior leader on this ship and therefore are in charge of executing the Navy’s new move to no longer identify sailors by their ratings. How is that going? What are you doing to make it successful?


  1. Well, it’s a loaded topic right now; everybody is talking about it, not only on this ship, but throughout the fleet. It affects everyone in the enlisted ranks. You know, when you do something for so many years, you get used to doing it that way. And when there is a rudder change in the way we do business, naturally there is going to be push-back, typically from the sailor who’s a little longer in the tooth, who is used to doing things a certain way.


But you know, from my perspective: The Navy has told us this is the way we are going to do business. And what I told my chiefs was, ‘Hey, these are our marching orders and this is what we’ve got to do.’


There are going to be missteps. There will be sailors who say, ‘Hey, DC1,’ and that’s going to happen for a little bit until we get in the rhythm. So you correct and move on.


It’s going to be difficult to get used to but it’s about the way we train. The sailors coming into boot camp now, this will be all they ever know. So it’s going to be a change in the way of thinking.


  1. The Navy is working on improved fire-resistant variant coveralls and they are moving to Navy Working Uniform Type IIIs. Since this is still in the works, any feedback on what you think would help accomplish the mission?


  1. I’ve been in the Navy since 1987 and I’ve seen a plethora of uniforms. So for me, I think where the sailors get frustrated is you get well versed on a uniform, how to wear it, how to keep it, how to make it look sharp. And then when you get there it’s changed to another version or a different type. And it gets frustrating because you have to buy all new uniforms.


Good, bad or indifferent, I think we need to develop the uniform and stick with it. If there are improvements we can make to the uniform, then so be it. Let’s make the improvements.


(return to top)




Ford Carrier Problems Worse Than LCS: Navy Secretary Mabus

(BREAKING DEFENSE, 12 Oct 16) . Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: The $13 billion supercarrier USS Ford and the $500 million Littoral Combat Ship are both suffering engine trouble. But Navy Secretary Ray Mabus took pains today to defend LCS even as he derided Ford as “a textbook example of how not to build a ship.”


Mabus’ determination to draw a distinction says a lot about his preferences and priorities, especially since much of his critique of Ford would apply equally well to LCS. Both programs originated in the era of Donald Rumsfeld’s “transformation,” after then-candidate George H.W. Bush had promised to skip a generation of technology.


“The Ford is a textbook example of how not to build a ship,” Ford told reporters. “(We were) building it while it’s still being designed” – which results in costly do-overs of already-finished components – “(and) trying to force too much new and unproven technology on it” – whose teething troubles result in unplanned delays and costs.


“That was already on fire when I got in,” said Mabus, who became Navy Secretary the year the Ford’s keel was laid. “But we’ve stopped the cost growth.” The carrier’s schedule is still slipping, however, with a November delivery to the fleet postponed indefinitely due to problems in the Main Turbine Generators (MTG).


Meanwhile, however, five Littoral Combat Ships have suffered crippling breakdowns in 15 months. Isn’t LCS also a textbook example of a troubled ship program, I asked Mabus, for much the same reasons as Ford?


“No,” said Mabus. LCS is more an example of typical teething troubles on a new design, he argued.


“Every time you start a new class of’re going to have issues,” he said. “LCS gets a lot of attention, but during the first deployment of an LCS to was ready for sea more than the (US) Pacific Fleet average.”


“It’s got a lot of attention mainly because it looks different,” Mabus said. “It is a different kind of ship.”


In fact, it’s two different kinds of ship. The LCS-1 Freedom class, built by Lockheed to a design inspired by racing yachts, and the LCS-2 Independence, which famously resembles Star Trek’s Klingon Bird of Prey, is built by Austal. Both variants have suffered breakdowns. Both, like Ford, combined multiple untested innovations in ways that greatly complicated their development: the unusual hulls, a high-speed propulsion system unlike anything else in the Navy, and an extremely small crew highly dependent on automation aboard ship and contractors ashore. There was even a last-minute decision to redesign the first ship of each type for greater resistance to battle damage, requiring expensive refits when they were already half-built.


So LCS’s agonies strongly resemble the Ford’s. The crucial mistakes on both ships also predated Mabus’s appointment. “The main issue I had to deal with when I got there was they were just costing way too much, and we’ve driven that down,” Mabus said of LCS.


Why do two programs with similar troubles get such a different reaction from Mabus? It’s especially striking because the carrier program matters much more to naval traditionalists, who often disdain the relatively tiny and lightly armed LCS. But throughout Mabus’s seven years in office – the longest tenure of a Navy Secretary since World War I – he’s measured his success in terms of numbers of ships.


From 2001 to 2008, Mabus said today (as he says in every speech he makes) the US Navy fell from 316 ships to 278 and put only 41 new ships on contract. In the seven years since 2009, Mabus has contracted for 86.


“Quantity has a quality all of its own,” Mabus said – and you don’t get quantity without a small ship cheap enough to build in bulk. In the face of two skeptical Defense Secretaries and sometimes bitter criticism from Congress, Mabus’s commitment to LCS explains a lot about its survival.


On current plans, Mabus said, the Navy will reach 300 ships by 2019 and 308 by 2021. 308 is the current official requirement, but the Navy’s currently reassessing – and almost certainly raising – that number in light of growing Russian and Chinese threats.


“ what we’ve been building to,” Mabus said. “We are undergoing a force structure assessment right now. The CNO (Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson) said during hearings last year that he would bet a paycheck that the number as going up. I’m happy to bet the CNO’s paycheck too.


“Going forward whatever that force structure assessment is, that’s what we’ll have to build for,” Mabus said.


That will be after President Obama and, presumably, most of his officials depart. But the long time scales for developing and building a class of ships don’t respect political deadlines, Mabus made clear.


“Building ships is not the job of one administration, not the job of one secretary. If you miss a year you never get it back,” He said. “And it’s taken from 2009 until 2021 just to reverse it and get it back up to where we thought we needed to be – and we’re pretty much at the capacity of our shipyards now.”


Ford Carrier Problems Worse Than LCS: Navy Secretary Mabus


(return to top)




Mabus: Actions ‘Assure that Our Navy Has Never Been Stronger’

(SEAPOWER, 12 Oct 16) . Richard B. Burgess


WASHINGTON – The secretary of the Navy expressed confidence in the future of the Navy and Marine Corps as he reflected on the Navy Department’s accomplishments over the course of his eight-year tenure as secretary, the longest since that of Josephus Daniels in the early 20th century.


“I will depart in a few months knowing that this administration has taken the necessary steps to assure that our Navy has never been stronger,” Ray Mabus told an audience Oct. 12 during what likely was his last appearance as Navy secretary at the National Press Club. “We are getting the right number of the right kind of platforms to meet our mission; our disciplined and deliberate use of energy has made us better warfighters; we represent the greatest America has to offer, the absolute best in the world; and we continue to provide presence – around the globe, around the clock.”


Mabus chose to focus his remarks on three of his top priorities while secretary: shipbuilding, energy and personnel reforms.


“Among the challenges, when I came into office, we had a shrinking fleet in a very bad economy; we had our hands tied by sequestration, which continues to hang over and limit our ability to plan; oil dependency and volatility threatened operations and training; and bad laws and an antiquated personnel system limited our ability to attract and keep America’s most talented young people,” Mabus said. “All of this, of course, occurring amid increasing threats, a far more complicated world and an ever-increasing demand for naval forces.”


He stressed the importance of maintaining a naval presence, attainable only by having the ships to sustain it.


“That unrivaled advantage – on, above, beneath and from the sea – ensures stability, reassures allies, deters adversaries and gives our nation’s leaders options in times of crisis,” he said. “We are ‘America’s away team’ because Sailors and Marines, equally in times of peace and war, are not just in the right place at the right time, but in the right place all the time. There is no next best thing to being there. In every case, from high-end combat to irregular warfare to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, our naval assets get on station faster, we stay longer, we bring what we need with us, and, because our ships are sovereign U.S. territory, we can act without having to ask anyone’s permission to get the job done.


“To get that presence, you have to have grey hulls on the horizon,” Mabus said. “Quantity has a quality all of its own. To say that a Navy is too focused on building ships is to admit an ignorance of its purpose. So I made shipbuilding one of my top priorities, and we’ve dramatically reversed the decline in our fleet.”


Mabus said the Navy has put 86 ships under contract during his tenure, on track to increase the size of the battle fleet from 278 ships in 2008 to 308 in 2021. He also noted savings of $2 billion in the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program and a similar number in the current Virginia-class submarine contract.


“Essentially, we got a submarine for free,” he said. “It’s like having one of those punch cards: buy nine, get your 10th sub free.”


Mabus also mentioned the 8,000 new manufacturing jobs in the shipbuilding industry that added $37 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product.


He noted the advancements made in unmanned systems, laser weapons and the electromagnetic rail gun.


Mabus also focused on his efforts to wean naval forces off addiction to fossil fuels and to provide alternative forms of energy to power Navy and Marine Corps systems and installations.


“So in 2009, I set a number of specific, ambitious energy goals, the most significant of which was to have at least half of naval energy – both ashore and afloat – come from non-fossil fueled sources by 2020,” he said. “President Obama reiterated the goal ashore of 50 percent or 1 gigawatt in his 2012 State of the Union Address. That is one of the many reasons why I’m particularly proud to say to you today, in my State of the Navy Address, that we surpassed our goal ashore last year – five years early. Today, at our shore installations, we get more than 1.2 gigawatts of energy, of our total requirement for 2 gigawatts, from alternative sources.”


He said the biofuel that is now powering some ships costs only $2.14 per gallon. Oil use by the fleet has declined 15 percent and by the Marine Corps by 60 percent, noting that some of the Marine Corps’ savings has been achieved because of reduction in combat operations.


He also described technologies that are reducing the fuel requirements of the fleet and Marine Corps units, such as hybrid electric drive; kinetic knee braces to power radios; and LED lighting for ships.


Mabus’ third emphasis was on reforms in the personnel programs. He defended his controversial decision to name ships for civil- and human rights heroes in addition to the more traditional military heroes, such as Medal of Honor recipients. He touted his support of increases in the number of female midshipmen at the Naval Academy; opening of all combat positions to women; ending of the ban on the service of gay, lesbian and transgender personnel; and the opening of Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps units at several universities that once had banned such units.


He also started the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative to “foster a professional, supportive and inclusive workplace,” including combating the crime of sexual assault, treating personnel suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome; addressing suicide; increasing child care hours and maternity leave; increased co-location for couples; and providing a three-year career intermission.


Mabus stressed that the Navy and Marine Corps were not lowering their standards.


“But just as there is no good argument to lower standards, there is also no good argument to bar anyone who has met those standards from serving alongside his or her fellow Sailors and Marines – in every clime and place,” he said.


“So looking to the horizon, looking ahead,” he said, “I am confident that the policies we’ve enacted, the decisions we’ve made and the priorities we’ve set guarantee that our Navy and Marine Corps will remain the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known – for as far into the future as the eye can see.”







FRCSW/COMFRC Clips for Week of Sept. 26


Honoring more than six decades of service

FRCSW, FRCSE Collaborate on JASDF E-2C Requirement

Mission mattered most in West’s work for warfighter

FRC East Team DINO wins NAVAIR Challenge



Budget Deal Avoids Government Shutdown, Finalizes Next Year’s VA Budget

Top Marine aviator: ‘Ways to go’ before enough aircraft are flyable

Readiness Worries Deepened By Hill Ineptitude On Budgets

Engine Upgrades For The F-35 Expected In Mid-2020s

Federal Employee Health Premiums To Rise 6.2 Percent On Average

Commentary: Why the military’s controversial F-35 fighter jet is more relevant than ever

Commentary: How Does Military Deal With Acts Of Civil Disobedience?




Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






Honoring more than six decades of service

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 29 Sept 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Freddie Dawkins only planned to be a civil service employee two additional years after relocating from Alameda Naval Air Station, California to Fleet Readiness Center East in 1995.


And now 21 years later he is being honored for more than 60 years of federal service, and he has no plan of hanging it up just yet.


“I’m 81 years old. I might stay until I’m 100,” said Dawkins, who has worked as a pneudraulics systems mechanic – disassembling, assembling, repairing and overhauling various turbine compressor assemblies daily – with Naval Air Systems Command since January 1981. “I feel good that FRC East is still allowing me to serve.”


According to Dawkins, his lengthy federal service career began in 1953 when he enlisted in the United States Air Force in the aircraft and engine mechanic career field.


“I had to do something,” he said, as he talked of growing up in Washington, D.C. in the time leading up to the Civil Rights Movement. He said the job market was scarce for African-American males at that time in the nation, and he had to find a means of earning money.


He said, having attended a military preparatory school, “I always knew, some way or another I was going into the military.” So when his hope of attending West Point and becoming a pilot did not materialize he sought another route into the military.


“I went to the recruiter, and it was a lucky day for me, because only the Air Force and Army recruiters were there,” he said, holding in his mind that his hope of flying might still be realized. “It was an opportune time for me because the Air Force was accepting more African-Americans.”


“I had to really, really talk to my mom about signing me up,” said Dawkins, who was then 17 years old, the older of two children and sensing his mother’s apprehension of the matter, as the U.S. was engaged in the Korean War.


And while the situation in the military was not ideal for people of color, as segregation and prejudice were prominent then, Dawkins’s said he did not let that deter him. “I just wanted to serve,” he said.


“I overcame the prejudice and discrimination. I was well-aware of it, but at some point you have to progress,” he said, acknowledging a resilient attitude and self-motivation as his internal propellers through a 26-year active-duty military career (and now more than 35 years in civil service). “I believe I can do anything I want to do when I’m ready to do it. I thought, ‘despite what’s going on, I’m going to make me better.’ . I’m kind of stubborn a little bit too, you know.”


Dawkins credits a strong work ethic, “good support systems” and “the man upstairs” for enduring in service. “I didn’t get here by myself,” he said, giving an instinctive nod to family, church, friends, doctors and various social organizations.


He also attributes some of his success to admonishment from an “old sergeant.”


“He said, ‘You’re not going to make it because of what you’re doing,'” Dawkins recalled, telling of how his off-duty activeness, which equaled his work intensity, drew unfavorable attention of his superiors. “I worked hard, but I also partied hard.


“He walked me up to the line. He said, ‘you are very skilled and can do anything, but here is the line that you do not cross.’ I kept myself out of trouble by that resonating in my head.”


Dawkins served in the earlier part of his career in the distinguished Strategic Air Command, noting that while assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing at Turner Field, Ga. he worked some with the historic Tuskegee Airmen. He became a flight engineer after about five years of service. He served a couple of tours in the Vietnam War between 1966 and 1969 where he earned the Air Medal – with five oak leaf clusters, representing 125 combat missions flown – and the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded to him for performing the mission in the Republic of Vietnam.


Dawkins retired from the Air Force in 1979, but he quickly realized he would have to get another job when he saw that he would not be able to partake of benefits the way he did while he was enlisted.


“I rolled up to the clinic and the guy said, ‘Sarge it’s a little different now that you’re not on active duty,” he said.


He used his Montgomery GI Bill to take some classes at a community college, where he studied aircraft and engine maintenance – what he already knew.


He worked with a military contractor, working on C-5 aircraft, for a short while before landing a federal service position at Alameda. The naval air station was on the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission list to close, subsequently displacing much of its workforce around the country. Dawkins received orders to relocate to the Navy Depot at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and started in January 1995.


Through the years his focus has remained resolute on serving his nation.


“Every day I think of the importance of getting the details right for the troops who use these products in the field,” said Dawkins, commenting on his role in generating combat air power for America’s Marines and Naval forces.


According to the man affectionately known around FRC East as Mr. Fred, the reason he has stayed so long is because he has “met such beautiful people here.”


“It wasn’t a perfect journey. It was a rough and rugged road,” he said. “But I liked what I was doing. It’s a collection of good days and bad days; I’ve had more good (ones) than I’ve had bad.”


And for those asking, “When will Mr. Fred retire,” he said, the people and mood around the depot are still pleasant. “When we start bothering each other, I’ll be the first to go,” he said.


The FRC East Commanding Officer Col. Vincent Clark presented Dawkins the Secretary of the Navy Certificate of Service and pin for 60 years of federal service Sept. 7 during a special ceremony in the command Conference Room, honoring his comprehensive military and civilian service, calling him “a national treasure.”


(return to top)




FRCSW, FRCSE Collaborate on JASDF E-2C Requirement

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 23 Sept 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – In a move that exemplifies teamwork and cooperation, Fleet Readiness Centers Southwest (FRCSW) and Southeast (FRCSE) recently joined forces to ensure the timely return of E-2C Hawkeye components to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF).


Work on the JASDF E-2C assets was derived from a 2011 Repair Commercial Services Agreement (CSA) between FRCSW and Aeronautical Systems Incorporated (ASI). ASI provides maintenance, repair, overhaul and logistical support to foreign militaries.


The JASDF operates approximately 13 E-2C aircraft, and was in need of crucial repairs to the nose steering assembly units of eight aircraft to meet mission requirements. Steering assembly units enable pilots to taxi the airplane prior to takeoff and after landing.


Under the terms of the CSA, FRCSW ordered all repair materials through the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and provided the touch labor to service the steering assemblies, said Lee Strother, performance-based logistics program coordinator, who ensured the on-time delivery schedules and cost requirements of the project.


“We do a complete overhaul to these,” said hydraulics/pneudraulics shop supervisor Jack Jackson. “That means we’ll completely disassemble the unit, evaluate, order any outstanding material required; then send it out for cleaning, remove any corrosion, run a non-destructive inspection on them and assemble and test them before they’re sent to paint and returned to the customer.”


The units were inducted into the FRCSW components program in Building 472 last August and September and were returned in less than five months, thanks to cooperative problem solving between the two FRCs.


“As the first few units were nearing completion of repair, ASI was notified that the test bench for the nose steering assembly was down for service,” wrote Carlos Pichardo, ASI director of operations in his April 12, 2016, letter of commendation to FRCSW.


“(Then FRCSW Components IPT Lead) Wade Wendell took initiative to identify solutions for testing. Mr. Wendell worked directly with engineering at FRCSW to see if there was any way to bring the test stand back up, and when it was deemed that it would take a number of weeks, Mr. Wendell identified that there was an active test bench located at FRCSE. This out-of-the-box thinking allowed ASI to work with FRCSW for the repair of the assets and the final testing was performed by FRCSE so that the final delivery made it to the customer within their fiscal year requirement.”


Pichardo noted that “. any items not delivered within the JASDF fiscal year lose funding.”


“ASI has recently sent additional JASDF assets to FRCSW for repair and with the assistance of the Components Integrated Product Team at FRCSW and its management, we look forward to continued success in the support of availability delivered for United States allies,” Pichardo wrote.


The FRCSW test bench used to assess the E-2C nose steering assembly units is currently under an update modification.


In addition to E-2C components work, FRCSW also services legacy Hornet Aircraft Mounted Accessory Drives (AMAD) under its service agreement with ASI.


(return to top)




Mission mattered most in West’s work for warfighter

(FLEET READINESS CENTERS, 21 Sept 16) . Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — Accomplishing the mission by getting capability and capacity to the warfighter was Dennis West’s raison d’etre over the course of his 32-year career.


On Aug. 31, West departed his position as deputy commander, Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and leaves as his legacy a resource sharing organizational system, a competency aligned organization/integrated program teams (CAO/IPTs) in the Fleet Readiness Center (FRCs), a strategic plan for readiness named Vision 2020 and sound advice for the next generation.


West began his career as a General Service-5 aerospace engineer at what was then the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF), Cherry Point, North Carolina, and is now FRC East (FRCE). During the course of his service, he worked in many capacities at FRCE: starting as a pneumatics engineer on the shop floor; production support engineer for aircraft and support equipment; research and engineering group head; director of logistics; and the industrial group head.


“My career has been very, very rewarding,” he said. “Every job I’ve had, I’ve really enjoyed and have enjoyed every subsequent job more than the last one.”


In 2012, West was appointed to the Senior Executive Service and became deputy commander, COMFRC.


Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, Commander, Operations and Test Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR), Norfolk, Virginia, came onboard as COMFRC in Aug. 2013 and served with West through June 2016.


“When I first met Dennis,” Sohl began, “I could tell right then he thought, not from an engineering standpoint, but from an FRC one, and he always had in his mind, ‘What do the fleet and the warfighter need and how can I get it to them?’ There were times you could see him get impatient because some of us were just thinking in terms of getting the warfighters what they needed today. And he was thinking one step ahead, thinking ‘What will they need tomorrow?'”


This forward-thinking led West to lay the foundation for Vision 2020, a strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation and for optimizing capability and capacity. The ultimate achievement of Vision 2020 will be the inception of a global maintenance management system, which will recognize a failing aircraft as soon as it happens and immediately route parts, materials, artisans, equipment — whatever is needed — to the aircraft to fix it in real time.


“We’ve got to progress the sustainment system to operate near real time, like the airlines do, if we’re going to fix the future readiness issues,” West said. “Even though we have readiness issues now, if we don’t fundamentally change the way we’re doing sustainment, we’re going to have a serious problem going into the future.


West considers a few of his accomplishments to be key enablers that have paved the way for a plan such as Vision 2020 to succeed: the FRC resource sharing effort that led to the implementation of the workload management system (WMS), enabling prioritization and task management across sites; the completion of the NAVAIR Depot Maintenance System (NDMS) that ended more than 38 FRC-unique systems and shut down three FRC data centers, going from 484 servers to fewer than 90, resulting in a 34 percent reduction in cost and no degradation in service, thus paving the way for faster upgrades, more consistent maintenance processes and supporting cyber security.


Also important is the implementation of the digital thread infrastructure across the FRCs which allows for the seamless movement of digital data from an engineer’s desk directly to the industrial manufacturing environment, regardless of the site in which either reside. And, a significant accomplishment is the implementation of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), a theory of constraints tool to improve line production, at three of the FRCs, which has increased the speed of F/A-18 Hornet throughput significantly as well as other aircraft lines.


West is also credited with helping to grow the next generation of technical leaders through his personal involvement and professional development events where he shares his philosophy for being successful.


To those just beginning their careers and facing roadblocks, West said you should “recognize that every rule, every process you encounter as a barrier, was written by somebody. The key to your success in removing these barriers and moving forward is to find out who wrote the rule or process that is holding you up, and then have some discussions with that person to try to figure out what you can do. Don’t get stopped dead in your tracks; don’t let it keep you from accomplishing the mission. Some human somewhere wrote it and all you have to do is find out who. Usually, they wrote it for a specific reason, for a specific case, and if yours doesn’t fit, they’re most likely willing to rewrite it so you can do what you need to do.”


West also said managing your own career is vital.


“Do not expect anyone to be wake up every morning trying to figure out how they can help you,” West said. “It’s your responsibility to manage your career and figure out where you want to go and then enlist the help of people who can help you do that.”


To the COMFRC workforce, West offered parting guidance: “Keep up the fight; keep working on cross-site coordination and relationships; and continue to centralize functions where it makes sense and where it benefits the whole. Everyone should continue to work to understand where what they do fits into the mission. ”


West said what he will miss most is “Working with people and working to make sure the mission is successful.”


“I can’t overstate all he has brought to COMFRC,” Sohl said. “He was my close confident at COMFRC, and we were able to talk deeply on a great many and wide variety of topics and not just things in the FRC world. He is a man of great intelligence. All of us will miss him greatly.”


(return to top)




FRC East Team DINO wins NAVAIR Challenge

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 29 Sept 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Sept. 29, 2016) – Six members of Fleet Readiness Center East’s Propeller Integrated Product Team of In-Service Support Center won the first Naval Air Systems Command Data Challenge that culminated in a two-day summit Sept. 13-14 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.


The Data Innovations Negating Obsolescence Team, or Team DINO, consisting of Derrick White, Jonathan Markl, Chris Parry and Andrew Hunter of the Propulsion and Power Engineering Department, and Pam Lawley of the Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, and Glenn Pangburn of the Industrial and Logistical Maintenance Planning Sustainment Department beat out 33 teams for the initiative that focused on improving readiness by using NAVAIR data sources.


“This team was a perfect blend of experienced individuals and recently hired engineers producing a unique level of creativity,” said Mark Meno, Research and Engineering Group (Air-4.0) head.


The initiative began in March, led by Rear Adm. Francis Morley, NAVAIR vice commander, and the Integrated Business Capabilities Team, and sought to create visualizations, algorithms and data manipulation methods that could help identify and predict factors affecting readiness.


After months of collaboration and thousands of hours of work, five teams emerged as finalists who presented their ideas to NAVAIR leadership and data science specialists from private industries at the summit.


“What we discovered during the Data Challenge is that, within NAVAIR, we have all of the personnel and tools to address and mitigate readiness issues, but they are spread out between different teams and sites,” said Markl, an aerospace engineer with Team DINO. “Creating a community centered on data science will hopefully bring some of these ideas to the forefront and allow them to become standard practices within the command.”


Insight from all teams will improve data validation methods and enhance tools implemented in future developments to Vector, a web-based tool that integrates more than 15 data sources and provides visualizations. Vector is the web-based version of the powerful Integrated Logistics Support Management System readiness data analysis tool that each type/model/series team has been using to help identify and manage readiness and cost degraders affecting their specific TMS platforms.


Team DINO focused its efforts on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of Vector. They found that Vector was an effective tool for determining what parts were affecting readiness, but proved ineffective in pinpointing reasons and projecting future action once parts are identified.


The team tackled these questions by incorporating methods used by the Research and Engineering Group, Air-4.0, for root cause analysis and predictive models for component failures. By combining data sources from Vector and incorporating additional data from the Joint Deficiency Reporting System and the Integrated Reliability-Centered Maintenance System, the team was able to automate data scrubbing processes and cross-check sources for validation. Being limited to only those programs available on an Navy Marine Corps Intranet seat, the team developed a spreadsheet tool using Program Management Activity 231 aircraft and maintenance data as a proof of concept. The tool included aircraft level visualization for inventory and flight hour tracking, and component level analysis. The component-level tools included modules for risk assessment, root cause analysis and metric comparison tools by TMS, squadrons and bureau numbers.


Crunching the numbers


Team DINO focused on component level predictive tools that use a Monte Carlo Simulation to project future component failures to address the challenge of improving readiness. Monte Carlo is a mathematical method of using a random number generator with a known distribution to project the likelihood of possible outcomes. Applying this method to a Weibull distribution – a continuous probability distribution that models the life of a component to failure – revealed accurate failure times for a given population. The Monte Carlo method also allows for “what-if” scenarios to be programmed into the outcome to account for factors affecting supply such as aircraft procurements or retirements, overhaul interval changes, component reliability changes, and wartime part use surges.


Application of the knowledge and insights gained throughout the Data Challenge will help NAVAIR PMAs improve platform readiness. The Propeller IPT is using the tool created by Team DINO to quickly diagnose failure causes and supply shortages, and aid the team in providing mitigation. One example was a known supply shortage. The team was able to use the tool to identify the cause of an increase in failures and provide suggestions for mitigation through maintenance awareness training.


“They were able to fully leverage their blended skills resulting in the development of a powerful tool that will undoubtedly provide broad readiness improvements going forward to not just the propeller community but Naval Aviation at large,” said Meno. “We are proud (and in awe) of our Cherry Point teammates.”


Team DINO plans to continue to use and develop their tool to address future readiness issues and to lead the way in moving from reactive to proactive to predictive in the Propeller IPT and beyond.


(return to top)






Budget Deal Avoids Government Shutdown, Finalizes Next Year’s VA Budget

(MILITARY TIMES 28 Sept 16) … Leo Shane III


Congress averted a government shutdown with a rushed budget deal on Wednesday that also settles the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction budget for all of fiscal 2017.


The measure gives VA officials $74.4 billion in discretionary spending next year, a nearly 4 percent increase but about $700 million below what the White House requested in its budget plan. Still, department leaders have signaled support for that level of funding, especially considering more significant cuts proposed by House lawmakers.


It also includes $7.72 billion for more than 200 military construction projects, a decrease of almost 6 percent but nearly $300 million above the president’s request. About $1.3 billion of that is slated for military housing projects scheduled to get underway in coming months.


Those two agency budgets are the only ones to get a full-year spending plan approved before the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.


Lawmakers approved a 10-week extension of federal funding at fiscal 2016 levels for all other government programs, and will need to adopt a long-term budget deal after the November elections are complete.


The move means a delay in new program starts for the first quarter of the new fiscal year, but that is less disruptive than the possibility of a partial government shutdown, which would have started Oct. 1 without a deal.


Senate Democrats and Republicans had sparred in recent days over a budget extension, largely because of the absence of emergency funding to help with drinking water contamination in Flint, Mich.


Early on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was satisfied that issue will be dealt with in the lame duck congressional session later this year.


The final deal passed by a margin of 72-26 in the Senate and 342-85 in the House.


Party leaders will also have to decide in November whether to pass another temporary budget measure, bridging federal funding into the next administration, or simply pass a full fiscal year budget, as Congress often belatedly does at the end of the calendar year.


But VA operations and military construction projects will move ahead regardless. The construction allocation includes $350 million for improvements to military medical facilities, $272 million for upgrades to Defense Department schools and $673 million for Guard and reserve projects.


VA funding, which will top $176.9 billion when mandatory spending is included, features $65 billion for medical programs, including $7.2 billion for medical appointments and treatment outside the VA system. Also, $5.7 billion is set aside for specifically for medical care of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.


The bill also sets aside $675 million for medical and prosthetic research, $535 million for health care specifically for women veteran, and $284 million for traumatic brain injury treatment.


Lawmakers inserted $260 million for continued work on the VA electronic health record system, but restrict access to those funds until certain interoperability benchmarks are reached. Another $900 million is set aside for major and minor VA construction projects.


President Barack Obama is expected to sign the budget bill into law later this week.


(return to top)




Top Marine aviator: ‘Ways to go’ before enough aircraft are flyable

(MARINE CORPS TIMES ONLINE 21 Sept 16) . Jeff Schogol


Engineers and mechanics are working furiously to keep enough of the Marine Corps’ aging planes and helicopters flying longer than originally intended until the service gets new aircraft to replace them.


Years of war and maintenance delays have worn out many Marine airframes. That, combined with delays in the controversial F-35 joint strike fighter program, has left the Marine Corps with a shortage of flyable planes and helicopters.


“Our readiness numbers are ticking up, but they are still shy of what they should be,” Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, told Marine Corps Times. “We’re not satisfied at all. We have a ways to go before we achieve full readiness recovery.”


As of July 31, 465 of a total of 968 Marine aircraft are flyable, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns. The Marine Corps’ plan to boost the number of flyable aircraft and the flight hours that pilots get calls for having 589 out of 1,065 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft flyable by July of 2019, Davis said.


Last month, Davis ordered all non-deployed squadrons to stand down for 24 hours. The move followed three F/A-18 Hornets crashes between June and August. Two Marine pilots were killed in the accidents.


“Enough things came together for me to go: I want everybody to take a knee and tell me what they see from their foxhole,” Davis said. “Everybody did that. We didn’t see anything systemically wrong with that squadron or the F/A-18.”


The Marine Corps’ aviation readiness crisis has gained national attention this year. Marine Corps Times reported in April that only a third of the Corps’ Hornets could fly. Later, the Marines had to take Hornets out of storage from “the Boneyard” in Arizona.


Currently, 90 of the Marine Corps’ 273 F/A-18 Hornets are able to fly, in part because of deep “sequestration” budget cuts that deferred maintenance when depots had to shut down and many civilian artisans who repair Marine aircraft quit.


Under its readiness recovery plan, the Marine Corps expects to have 162 flyable Hornets by mid-2017 or early 2018, depending on how much work the planes need in depot, Davis said. But the demand for Marine aircraft may pick up before then — in January, a new president will take office, and he or she may decide to increase airstrikes over Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere.


Davis said the Marines would send all available aircraft to support an increase in combat operations, but he added, “I think it would stress the system to do that” because the Marine air component has been at war since Operation Desert Storm in 1991.


Keeping score


Davis constantly keeps track of how many planes and helicopters are flying. He has a chart that shows the number of flyable aircraft per month that he shares with members of Congress and Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.


“Gen. Neller, he sees this chart all the time,” Davis said. “This is my scorecard. This is how I’m doing as a [deputy commandant for aviation].”


Of all Marine aircraft, the CH-53E Super Stallion fleet faces the most serious readiness problems, Davis said. About 27 percent of the Marine Corps 146 CH-53Es are unable to fly because they need spare parts. Along with the AV-8B Harrier jump-jet, Marine helicopters like the Super Stallion have the Corps’ highest mishap rates, according to Naval Safety Center data from fiscal years 2011-2015.


Over the next three years, the Marine Corps will repair all of its CH-53Es, he said. The process is expected to yield 16 refurbished helicopters every 110 days. The Marine Corps also plans to replace the CH-53Es with 200 brand new CH-53Ks between 2019 and 2029.


One way the Marine Corps hopes to speed the healing process is by asking Congress for money to buy more F-35s and CH-53Ks per year as part of the service’s unfunded priority list, Davis said.


“If I could buy F-35s faster, I could stand down first Hornet and then Harrier squadrons,” he said. “If I got 53Ks faster, I’d be able to get a little bit faster out of the 53E.”


Davis also wants to make sure that the Marine Corps is keeping its best pilots, aircrew and maintainers, whom he worries could be lured away by the high-paying private sector.


“I see what the airlines are doing,” he said. “They are hiring a lot of folks. Their demand signal for pilots and maintainers is pretty astounding and concerning.”


Overall, the Marine Corps has enough pilots, but certain communities such as MV-22B Osprey squadrons need more enough qualified pilots and maintainers, Davis said.


“We’re actively leaning forward at Gen. Neller’s direction to make sure that we get out in front of a potential problem,” he said. “I worry about everything, but that’s one of the things I worry about a lot.”


While Davis is confident that the Marine Corps will meet its goals of getting more aircraft flyable, he stressed that this push is more than a wing and a prayer.


“I don’t use the word ‘hope,'” Davis said. “If I said ‘hope,’ [you] can slap me around a little bit. Hope is not a method. We have a plan that drives us to that.”


Looking to the future, the Marines are looking at new ways to use the K-MAX remotely piloted helicopter, which was used to move cargo in Afghanistan, Davis said.


Ultimately, the Marine Corps wants to develop a ship-based unmanned aircraft similar to the Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper, which can fire Hellfire missiles at targets, he said.


“I’d actually like to get a better capability than the Reaper but with a vertical takeoff and land capability that we can put aboard a ship,” Davis said. “We’ve got about three prototypes that are in development right now.”


–Staff reporter Meghann Myers contributed to this report


(return to top)




Readiness Worries Deepened By Hill Ineptitude On Budgets

(MILITARY ADVANTAGE BLOG 22 Sept 16) … Tom Philpott


For an eighth straight year, a period spanning the wartime presidency of President Obama, Congress will fail to pass a defense budget on time. It’s a wasteful misstep caused again by bitter partisanship, weak leaders and alarming apathy over the harm being done to military readiness, say senators on the armed services committee.


That harm is deep and widespread, uniformed leaders of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps told the committee last week in urging Congress both to avoid five more years of defense spending caps and to shelve its destabilizing habit of passing late-hour “continuing resolutions,” or CRs, instead of detailed and on-time defense budgets.


Accepting the inevitability of another CR this October, service chiefs still pleaded that it last weeks not months. The fear is that a lame duck Congress in November will decide newly elected lawmakers should cut the next budget deal, delaying approval of a fiscal 2017 defense budget into next calendar year, thus aggravating fiscal uncertainties for a force under stress.


Defense dollars wasted by failure to pass budgets by Oct. 1, start of the fiscal year, are estimated to be enormous. Under a CR, spending is capped at previous year levels, which delays new construction projects and weapon buys, driving up contract costs across the department.


Politic gridlock, therefore, is gobbling up chunks of real budget savings, including from spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and enforced through the mindless tool of sequestration. After a two-year hiatus, BCA caps are set to resume in fiscal 2018.


That threat and uncertainty created by another CR were dominant themes at Thursday’s hearing. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), committee chairman, delivered a scathing indictment of the budget mess Congress has created for the military. Republicans, Democrats and the president should share the blame, he said, and have the “courage to put aside politics” in finding a solution.


Operating on stopgap deals like “continuing resolutions, omnibus spending bills and episodic budget agreements, are a poor substitute for actually doing our jobs…” said McCain. “Is it any wonder why Americans say they are losing trust in government?”


Dysfunction in Washington “has very real consequences for the thousands of Americans serving in uniform and sacrificing on our behalf … Are we serving them with a similar degree of courage? The answer, I say with profound sadness, is: We are not.”


McCain noted how five years ago, to address the nation’s ballooning debt, Congress opted to pass the BCA, which imposed arbitrary spending caps for a decade on discretionary spending including defense, rather than tackle the real issue, “the unsustainable growth of entitlement spending.”


Democrats argue the BCA resulted from the brinksmanship of Republican leaders who threatened to force a default on America’s debt rather than agree to a balanced budget deal that include raising taxes on the wealthy or closing tax loopholes that benefit special interests.


With the current defense budget $150 billion less than in 2011, McCain said, the military is struggling “to sustain higher operational tempo with aging equipment and depleted readiness, and doing so at the expense of modernizing to deal with the threats of tomorrow.”


Meanwhile forces are too small “to train for and meet our growing operational requirements against low-end threats” and still prepare “for full-spectrum warfare against high-end threats.”


BCA spending caps set to resume in the budget Congress will begin work on in February, McCain said, so “we are fooling ourselves, and deceiving the American people, about the true cost of fixing the problem.”


The current five-year defense budget plan already is $100 billion above BCA caps. In addition, $30 billion of annual spending for base defense requirements is buried in the OCO, or Overseas Contingency Operations account, a House gimmick adopted so as not exceed the spending caps.


“What this means is that, over the next five years, our nation must come up with $250 billion just to pay for our current defense strategy and our current programs of record,” McCain said.


“Put simply, we have no plan as of yet to pay for what our Department of Defense is doing right now, even as most of us agree that what we are doing at present is not sufficient for what we really need,” he warned.


The service chiefs said deployed units are fully ready to confront and defeat any adversary. But the tradeoff for keeping frontline units ready using constrained budgets, and after 15 years fighting against insurgent forces, is degraded longer term readiness to confront near-peer powers like China, Russia or even Iran and North Korea.


The Army, said chief of staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, is “more capable, better trained, better equipped, better led and more lethal than any other ground force in the world today.” That said, he added, Army chooses to “prioritize and fully fund readiness” versus needed end strength, modernization and infrastructure. “In other words we are mortgaging future readiness for current readiness,” Milley said.


Milley said he stood by an assessment given months ago that the Army would be at risk of taking unacceptably high casualties if it had to fight two near-simultaneous wars against nation state powers.


Adm. John M. Richardson, chief of naval operations, laid out a “triple whammy” of challenges Navy faces, the first being the high pace of operations for 15 years that has strained ships, aircraft and families.


Number two is budget uncertainty. “Eight years of continuing resolutions including a year of sequestration have driven additional costs and time into just about everything that we do,” Richardson said. “The services are essentially operating in three fiscal quarters per year now. Nobody schedules anything important in the first quarter. The disruption this uncertainty imposes translates directly into risk for our Navy and our nation.”


The third whammy, he said, are spending caps that lowered readiness rates of ships and aircraft that would be needed in a wartime surge.


Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller said Marines are meeting all current force requirements by “pushing risk and the long-term health of the force into the future.” He noted the Corps’ list of unfunded budget priorities totals $2.6 billion, “the largest we’ve ever submitted” to Congress.


“Repealing sequestration, returning to stable budgets without extended continuing resolutions and allowing us the flexibility to reduce excess infrastructure and make strategic trades are essential” to address long-term challenges, said Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff.


The four leaders agreed with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that unless BCA is repealed or suspended, it could do more damage to force readiness than any adversary can, short of war. Graham, unlike most Republicans, will consider tax hikes to get a better budget deal.


Asked if he would too, McCain’s didn’t comment by our deadline.


“Do you want to do revenue to fix it? I’ll do revenue,” said Graham. “But what I’m not going to do is keep playing this silly [BCA] game.”


“If sequestration goes back into effect [after] 2017, are we putting people’s lives at risk” by squeezing available training dollars, Graham asked.


“Yes,” each service chief responded.


Readiness Worries Deepened by Hill Ineptitude on Budgets


(return to top)




Engine Upgrades For The F-35 Expected In Mid-2020s

(DEFENSE NEWS 26 Sept 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – The F-35 joint program office is eyeing the middle of the next decade for when major upgrades to the engines on the joint strike fighter can proceed.


Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, who heads the JPO head, said at last week’s Air Force Association conference that the “mid-2020s” is when the power plant on the joint strike fighter could be refreshed, whether through improvements to the Pratt & Whitney F135 design currently used or through a new engine design from another competitor.


“I would expect … that somewhere in the mid-2020s much of the work being done in the labs right now with our industry partners will find its way onto the F-35,” Bogdan told an audience Sept. 21. “Whether it finds its way onto the F-35 in the current engine or some modified engine remains to be seen, but we do fully expect in the mid-20s to include some advanced technologies on engines.”


The Air Force is currently funding the early stages of the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) competition, with both Pratt and General Electric Aviation participating. The goal of AETP is to see if the companies can successfully add a third stream of air inside the engine. The program’s goal is to “demonstrate 25 percent improved fuel efficiency, 10 percent increased thrust, and significantly improved thermal management,” according to an Air Force statement.


Both companies received contracts worth $1.01 billion over the summer to fund the research under AETP, with a period of performance ending in September 2021.


While the AETP competition will likely be the source of the F-35 power plant of the future, its official focus is whatever the service decides to do with the so-called “sixth generation” fighter development. Theoretically, engine improvements could also be rolled into the B-21 Raider bomber, which is expected to enter production by the mid-2020s. Pratt & Whitney is the engine supplier on the program; and although neither they nor Northrop Grumman, the prime on the B-21, have said what engine is being used, speculation is that some form of the F135 engine will power the bomber.


Bogdan made it clear it is too early to make any decisions about how engine improvements could be rolled into the F-35 program.


“We have to take a look and see if they are 1) applicable and can be integrated into the F-35, and 2) the right time and place to do that,” Bogdan said. “A lot of that comes from the warfighter telling us what he or she needs and wants on the airplane, but relative to engine technology, just like sensor technology, just like materials technology, engine technology is moving along also. And there is a lot of work being done in the labs right now to improve the range [and] capability of our engines, the thrust capability on the size and weight of our engines.”


(return to top)




Federal Employee Health Premiums To Rise 6.2 Percent On Average



The enrollee share of premiums in the health-care program for federal employees and retirees will rise 6.2 percent on average in 2017, an increase about in line with the general trend for employer-sponsored health insurance, the government announced Wednesday.


The announcement of premium rates in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program comes in advance of an annual open season, which this year will run Nov. 14-Dec. 12, during which enrollees may change plans or change types of enrollment for the following year. Also, employees who are not currently enrolled may join the program, although retirees generally may not newly join.


The increase in premiums overall averages 4.4 percent, but because of the way the formula works for setting the government and enrollee shares, the enrollee share on average is increasing by more than the government share. The government pays about 70 percent of the total premium and enrollee pays the rest; the U.S. Postal Service pays a somewhat larger share for its employees, although not for its retirees.


“We are at the lower end of what is being experienced around the country,” John O’Brien, Office of Personnel Management director of health care and insurance, said at a briefing for reporters. OPM said that two outside assessments project increases of 6 to 6.5 percent in private-sector plans.


The FEHBP, the largest employer-sponsored health insurance program in the country, is open to almost all federal employees, while federal retirees can continue coverage if they were covered for the five years before retiring.


About 4 million people, roughly evenly split between active employees and retirees, are enrolled, and about an equal number of family members – spouses and children under 26, with no cutoff for disabled children – have coverage through those enrollments.


The increases in non-postal employee premiums break down to an average of 6 percent for self-only coverage, 5.4 percent for self-plus-one and 6.6 percent for self-and-family coverage. In dollar terms, that’s an average of $5.27, $10.32 and $12.97 biweekly. Retirees pay premiums at the same level, although on a monthly basis; also, unlike active employees, retirees may not pay premiums on a pre-tax basis.


Within the averages there is a wide range of costs and changes in premiums among the plans, a few of which are holding their rates virtually steady or even decreasing them slightly. A total of 245 plans will participate in 2017, 15 of them available nationally, with the rest being health maintenance organization-type plans available regionally.


In the Washington area, a total of 31 plans will be available, officials said.


Rates for non-postal enrollees in the largest plan, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield standard option, will rise by $5.81 to $105.99 biweekly for self-only coverage, by $9.46 to $240.77 for self-plus-one and by $15.99 to $254.23 for family coverage.


The Blue Cross standard option accounts for about 40 percent of all enrollments, while a lower-cost Blue Cross option accounts for another 24 percent.


As in past years, officials attributed the rise largely to increasing prescription drug costs, which make up about a quarter of the total costs in the program, general inflation and the aging of the covered population.


There will be only minimal changes in out-of-pocket costs such as copayments and deductibles, they said.


Full details of each plan’s terms will be in brochures to be released just ahead of the election period. Blue Cross announced Wednesday that it will increase the financial incentives for its enrollees who have diabetes to get a health assessment and monitor and control their blood sugar levels.


The most significant change program-wide will be a standard requirement to cover applied behavior analysis for children on the autism spectrum. Some plans already provide that coverage, but terms vary.


The enrollee share of premiums rose 7.4 percent on average for 2016, following four years of increases in the 4 percent range – what OPM officials called the longest stretch of increases that small on average over six years in the program’s history.


However, several organizations representing federal employees and retirees decried the latest increase.

“Like most other Americans, federal employees and retirees have seen their standard of living decline due to stagnant incomes and cost increases for basic goods and services,” American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. “This is an unacceptably high increase that will force many families to make difficult decisions about how to pay their bills.”


“While the increases in FEHBP premiums for 2017 are relatively modest, they add to already skyrocketing costs incurred by federal retirees,” said National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association President Richard G. Thissen.


Federal employees are in line for a raise averaging 1.6 percent, varying somewhat by location, in January. Federal retirees will learn in late October about a January cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits; with one month to go, the inflation count used in that calculation stands at below 1 percent.


OPM officials added that many enrollees with only one eligible family member could benefit by switching from family coverage to self-plus-one, an option introduced into the program last fall for this year. They estimate that 1 million FEHBP enrollees have just one eligible family member, but about half of them are still in the generally more expensive family coverage.


“We’re hoping that those who have not looked at self-plus-one will consider it,” O’Brien said.


However, in about 40 plans, which account for about 5 percent of enrollments, self-plus-one is more expensive than family coverage. That’s largely due to the overall higher cost of insuring the relatively high percentage of retirees and older employee couples with no eligible children who are most likely to choose self-plus-one, officials said.


The open season also is the annual opportunity to join or change options in a separate program, the Federal Dental and Vision Insurance Program. That program offers federal employees and retirees the choice of a smaller number of vision and/or dental coverage plans with no government subsidy. Rates are increasing 1.9 percent on average for dental plans and 6.3 percent on average for vision plans.


In both the FEHBP and FEDVIP programs, coverage continues year to year, subject to the new premium rates and benefits, unless the enrollee makes a change.


However, a new election is required each open season in the separate flexible spending account program, which allows active employees, although not retirees, to set aside money pre-tax to pay for certain health care and dependent care expenses. The 2017 maximums will remain $2,550 and $5,000, respectively, OPM said.


The announcement comes just ahead of the close of election periods for the two other government-sponsored insurance programs for federal employees and retirees.


In the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance program, active employees can newly enroll or increase existing coverage during an open season ending Friday. Open seasons in that program are rare and such changes otherwise can be made only after experiencing certain life events or on passing a medical exam.


Also, an “enrollee decision period” ends Friday in the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program. That offers enrollees facing premium increases in November averaging 83 percent to restructure their benefits – for example, reducing inflation protection – to soften or eliminate the increase. Most of those affected also can invoke a paid-up provision allowing them to stop paying premiums while remaining eligible for a benefit, although a much-reduced one.


(return to top)




Commentary: Why the military’s controversial F-35 fighter jet is more relevant than ever

(DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 26 Sept 16) . Deborah Lee James and David L. Goldfein


Back in the summer of 2008, “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden wrote a story in the Atlantic magazine detailing how Russian and Chinese military forces were making rapid strides to close the performance gap with American fighter planes and fighter pilots. In a piece bemoaning the Pentagon’s decision to cap production of the high-tech F-22 Raptor at the relatively small number of 183 jets, Bowden noted that some foreign-built fighters “can now match or best” another front-line American fighter, the F-15 Eagle, in aerial combat.


Eight years later, the gap between U.S. capabilities and those of Russia and China has narrowed even more significantly at a time when both nations routinely and provocatively test our air defenses around the world. That’s why a few weeks ago, with the announcement that the Air Force has declared the new F-35 fighter jet combat ready, we reached an important point for our nation’s national security.


In recent months, it has been all too common for Russian and Chinese aircraft and ships to make bold – and in some cases dangerous – provocations as they operate near our warplanes over Europe and in the Pacific. This stands in sharp contrast to the more than 50 years we have been intercepting each other in a professional and predictable manner. The Air Force’s declaration the F-35 has achieved what we call “Initial Operational Capability” could not come at a more crucial time. As the service leading the air campaign in the fight with ISIL, we are stretched thin as we grapple with shortages of pilots and mechanics and damaging sequestration budget cuts as we turn our eyes to these new threats.


The F-35 is what the Pentagon calls a fifth-generation fighter, a stealthy, data-driven jet that will help reverse an erosion of U.S. air dominance that began in the mid-1990s. As recent RAND Corp. study “China Scorecard” showed, the Chinese have made a concerted effort to develop large numbers of anti-aircraft missiles and combat aircraft specifically designed to blunt U.S. advantages in the region. The unclassified 2015 report noted that the Chinese have now achieved near parity with U.S. airpower if we had to go to war in the Taiwan Straits.


The aircraft’s development has not been without controversy, overcoming delays and notable cost increases as the Defense Department struggled to field the F-35 variants for the Air Force, Navy and Marines and our coalition partners, a daunting engineering and logistical challenge. It is the most expensive weapons program in history at $1 trillion and its critics have labeled it an unnecessary albatross. However well-intentioned, those critics are as wrong about the F-35 as they were about the CV-22 Osprey, the F-16 and the F-15, modern-day pillars of American air dominance that were also decried as costly and unnecessary by critics at similar stages in development. By 2019, we expect the cost of an F-35 to fall to $85 million, roughly equal to the price tag for new versions of the much less-capable planes it will be replacing.


While there are no silver bullets or panaceas in the complex world of networked modern warfare, the F-35 will undoubtedly help to tip the scales back toward U.S. air supremacy. How will it do that? Although some of the details are classified, the F-35 will be significantly less visible to tracking radars, much better at jamming those radars and able to sense and avoid threats in ways none of our current fourth-generation fighters can.


The Air Force will soon take possession of its 100th F-35 and we now have a combat squadron ready to deploy should regional military commanders decide its capabilities are needed in global hotspots. We follow the Marine Corps’ declaration of IOC last year and look forward to the Navy bringing its own F-35 fleet online in the next few years.


This highly capable jet will be fielded by many key allies in the near future and the synergy will strengthen ties that benefit us and our many overseas friends and allies. The F-35 will quickly become the quarterback of joint and coalition campaigns as we use big data and a networked approach to combined arms.


This airplane and the rest of our fifth-generation fleet is a means to hedge against potential Russian military resurgence and to assure our Pacific partners that they can continue to count on stability in the region. Make no mistake, advanced Russian and Chinese anti-aircraft missiles are menacing to many of our older fourth-generation fighters such as the F-15 and F-16. In Ukraine, advanced Russian-built fighters were blasted from the sky by these missiles, which have the ability to inflict lethal damage at increasingly longer ranges. The F-35, like its workhorse predecessors did a generation ago, is certain to shift that balance back in our favor.


Deborah Lee James is the secretary of the Air Force.


(return to top)




Commentary: How Does Military Deal With Acts Of Civil Disobedience?

(SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 28 Sept 16) … Carl Prine


The Navy remained mum Wednesday on the fate of Janaye Meishawn Ervin, the petty officer who refused to stand for the national anthem in Pearl Harbor, and she has also clammed up.


That wasn’t her strategy on Sept. 21, when the reservist assigned to North Island’s Navy Operational Support Center posted to her Facebook page that she felt like a “hypocrite” singing about the “land of the free” when those rights were given only to “some Americans.”


Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Ervin said that she “couldn’t answer any questions” and hadn’t hired an attorney.


Public affairs officers on North Island didn’t return messages seeking comment and her command wouldn’t answer multiple phone calls from The San Diego Union-Tribune.


Ervin, who is black, has served in the Navy for eight years and lives in Riverside County’s Moreno Valley.


Historical researchers and activists told the Union-Tribune that her social media dissent is a 21st century spin on a long tradition of protest within the ranks.


It also arrives in the wake of ongoing stadium demonstrations by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who takes a knee when the Star-Spangled Banner is played.


And in early September, an online video surfaced of an unidentified sailor who refused to stand for morning colors when played in early September at Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Fla.


Navy Regulation 1205 requires sailors in uniform to face the flag and stand at attention when the anthem is played. Violating the order could trigger a sailor’s prosecution or separation from the service and the Navy can strip her security clearance.


The 37th Judge Advocate General of the Navy, retired Rear Adm. Donald J. Guter, said that he couldn’t recall a case similar to Ervin’s in his 32 years of service.


“I think it could spread,” said Guter, who retired from the service in 2002 and now helms the Houston College of Law in Texas. “I think that the ideas that this young sailor tried to express are widely felt by others, but the way that she chose to express them becomes the issue.”


Guter said that while service members don’t surrender all free speech rights when they enlist, some Constitutional protections are curtailed to protect good order and discipline in the ranks and ensure that personnel don’t bring dishonor to the military or the nation it defends.


U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, a Marine combat veteran, called for swift action.


“How do you have somebody who serves the country and fights for the flag not salute it? That’s preposterous,” he wrote in an email message to the Union-Tribune. “If somebody is in the military, and he or she chooses not to salute the flag, it’s grounds for removal. The Navy and the taxpayer should be spared the hassle of an investigation.”


Chris Lombardi, a Philadelphia-based author who penned “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore,” a book about civil disobedience within the military, said Ervin’s protest isn’t that unusual.


In the Mexican-American War from 1845-47, more than one out of every 10 soldiers deserted, many after they began to view the campaign as an unjust invasion that spread slavery across the continent, she said.


With his troops facing Jim Crow discrimination aboard a troop transport during World War I, a black colonel refused to embark his all-black regiment at Newport News, Va. In France, however, his doughboys fought with great valor, Lombardi said.


In unit formations during the Vietnam War, GIs drawn to the Black Power movement held up their fists in protest – an image repeated in May when an online photo of graduating black female West Point cadets raising the same sign went viral, Lombardi added.


She also pointed to Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier serving 35 years behind bars for leaking classified information to online activists to protest the Iraq war. Like Ervin, Manning was a junior enlisted intelligence analyst.


“That’s not a coincidence. I think that what you’ll find is that the sailor in San Diego is very intelligent, that she sees protest as a distinct and vital form of patriotism, and that her conscience led her to do what she did,” said Lombardi, whose book is slated for publication in 2017.


According to college records and her online résumés, Ervin holds a 2011 Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. She works a civilian job as a microbiology lab technician in San Bernardino County.


Riverside County Superior Court records reveal Ervin paid $564 in fines and traffic school costs in 2011 after being cited for running a red light, apparently her only previous brush with the law.


“She intentionally made remarks online before she made her protest, so her motive was established in advance. If the government wanted to play hardball, they have a pretty solid case to pursue over good order and discipline,” said Morris “Mo” Davis, a retired colonel who headed the U.S. Air Force Judiciary and served two years as the chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo military commissions.


“But in my 25 years in the Air Force, I can’t remember any case like it, except for service members who made derogatory remarks about the commander in chief during heated elections. And in those cases, we treated them administratively, not through court martial.”


Morris pointed to Jesse Thorsen, the Army reservist who wore his uniform during a fiery address to an Iowa rally for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in 2012, running afoul of military regulations barring partisan political speech.


A corporal, Thorsen wasn’t prosecuted or discharged from the military but he drew a reprimand for violating Army policies.


To former Navy legal ace Guter, Ervin’s moment of dissent could spark a wider discussion within the services between commanders and junior troops over a range of hot-button topics, including race.


He recalled his duty as a young Navy officer in 1970, when sailors protesting discrimination would set fire to ships and race riots erupted at sea. To defuse the anger, he kept his hatch open to enlisted personnel.


“There was this one sailor who treated our talks as an outlet. Talking it out prevented many of the problems that occurred elsewhere in the Navy,” Guter said. “That was a good thing.”