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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.


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Senior NAVAIR leadership share experience, advice on NLDP


NAVAIR SESs: Relationships top list of reasons to submit NLDP application


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Networking is essential the work of Naval Aviation. One of the best opportunities to establish those relationships in and outside of the command is the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Leadership Development Program (NLDP) Program.


That’s according to four senior executive service (SES) leaders who shared their career histories and advice with potential NLDP candidates and their supervisors during a nationwide Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) workshop panel Nov. 9. Serving on the panel were Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, (AIR-6.8); Martin Ahmad, deputy Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (AIR-6.0D); Tom Rudowsky, director, Air Vehicle Engineering Department (AIR-4.3); and Daniel Nega, director, Cost Estimating and Analysis Department (AIR-4.2).  All four are members of teams that review and score NLDP applications.


NLDP is a three- to five-year program that provides training and educational opportunities to promote personal and professional growth for mid- to senior-level civilians, Sailors and Marines who have demonstrated leadership ability. The application period for 2017 runs from Jan. 17 to March 3.


In addition to NLDP’s required courses, seminars and shadowing opportunities, the panel said developmental assignments, which are six month-long rotations, provide participants with unparalleled personal and professional dividends. “Before I applied, I had no desire to leave the Cost Department,” Harris said.  “My first lesson while in NLDP was how to get out of my comfort zone.  Rotational assignments, turned out to be a career changer for me.  Now, in my present job, I have to figure out how to remove barriers and overcome them.  You do that through networking, by reaching out to your counterparts and working through problems.”


Candidates, they said, must also make their careers a priority. Ahmad advised workshop participants to plan their rotational schedule soon after being accepted into the program.  “It’s never a good time to take rotation,” he said.  “Just as the command needs to invest in the employee, the employees must invest in themselves.”

“Twenty years later,” Nega said, “I still have and use connections I made while on rotation.”


When writing ECQs, potential candidates were advised to take one example from their past experiences that reflected their leadership skills and write a narrative that shows context, challenges, actions and results. “Be sure to set the stage about your experience and convey what the challenge was,” Rudowsky said.  “Communicate to the panel the thought and decision processes you took and why you made the decision to get to the action that is meaningful.”


Examples do not have to be directly related to the military or work at NAVAIR but must be ones that show how changes that were made affected the organization. One of the most impressive applications Rudowsky said he read contained a narrative about challenges an applicant faced while getting a homeowners’ association into solvency.


Having mentors is another component to a successful career and should be tapped as a resource throughout the application process.   “It’s those relationships outside of where you work that benefit you the most,” Ahmad said.  “A mentor will give you an introspective look and cause you to think about your strengthens and weaknesses.


“My mentor told me I needed more business acumen—to think beyond my job and better understand the business of NAVAIR,” he said. “I learned that the better I understand others, the better we can do our jobs.”

The panelist also advised potential candidates to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. “Have the courage to take it when it presents itself,” Rudowsky said. “Many people don’t recognize it.”


Stephanie Rice, who works in Supportability Test and Evaluation (AIR 6.7.4) took those words to heart and decided to submit a package this year based on the panel’s advice. “I attended the NLDP panel discussion and workshop in 2015 but decided not to submit a package after reviewing the ECQ process.  Today, I learned that if I don’t challenge myself and submit an application, I will never know my where my shortfalls are or take the necessary steps to better my career.”


Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division 6.7 competency manager/site lead Mindy Hermann, found the panel’s description of a well-written application revealing. “My goal in going to the workshop was to gather information to help strengthen my employees’ packages,” she said.  “It was very helpful to hear the perspective of the leadership team that rates packages.  I appreciated the panel members taking time out of their schedules to help give the workforce critical information.”


Becoming a leader, Harris said, is about one’s work ethic. “Be good at what you do and be known for being good at what you do,” he said. “Be able to work with people and produce in a collaborative environment.  Focus on goals and be known for producing quality.”


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Kuwait 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

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Israel approves purchase of 17 more F-35s


BY: Arie Egozi


The Israeli cabinet on 27 November approved the purchase of 17 more Lockheed Martin F-35Is, bringing the total number for the Israeli air force (IAF) to 50.


The additional acquisition was made possible following the signing of a new US military assistance agreement with Israel, and the cabinet approval followed a briefing of the IAF command which concluded that two operational squadrons were required, totalling 50 aircraft.


As the delivery date of the first aircraft approaches, the IAF is getting ready to equip it with Israeli-developed systems that are needed to tailor the aircraft’s capabilities to the country’s operational requirements.

Of the 33 on contract, the first two examples are scheduled to land in Israel on 12 December, followed by another six in 2017, and the remaining 25 in the years after that.


The IAF plans to achieve full operational status for its F-35s as quickly as possible, and as part of this effort, technicians from Nevatim air base are due to go to the USA just before delivery of the first aircraft.


They will participate in a series of test flights that Lockheed plans to perform at its Fort Worth facilities, to familiarise themselves with maintaining the aircraft and preparing it for a combat mission.


The “Golden Eagle” squadron technicians will also visit Hill AFB in Utah to see procedures related to operating the F-35.


Immediately after delivery, the Israeli systems that were developed for the stealth fighter aircraft will be installed.


The assistance agreement covering the additional F-35s was signed on 14 September, and sources say that next on the list will be the Boeing KC-46A tanker.


The new 10-year, $38 billion package will come into effect in 2019, and expands the $31 billion deal that has covered the past decade.


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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.


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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


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Canada Plans To Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition In 2017


(DEFENSE NEWS 22 NOV 16) … Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – Canada will explore an interim buy of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing, a blow to Lockheed Martin that kicks a final decision on whether to procure the F-35 further down the road.


“Canada will immediately explore the acquisition of 18 new Super Hornet aircraft to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement arrives,” the Canadian government announced in a release. “Canada’s current fleet is now more than 30 years old and is down from 138 aircraft to 77. As a result, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) faces a capability gap.”


Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada will launch a larger fighter competition next year after it wraps up its defense policy review. But the competition will likely take about five years, which kicks the decision into the next administration. Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had vowed not to buy the F-35 joint strike fighter.


“We have a capability gap. We have selected the minimum number of aircraft to meet this capability gap here. At the same time, we are launching a full competition and making sure that we take the appropriate time, without cutting corners to get the right airplane,” Sajjan said.


Judy Foote, the country’s minister of public services and procurement, said it would start talking with Boeing “immediately” so that the country could amass an interim fleet as quickly as possible. She said Canada’s Ministry of Defence had “some idea” of how much the planes would cost but that the details would be finalized in negotiations.


Despite questions about whether Canadian investments in Super Hornet infrastructure and training could skew a future competition in Boeing’s favor, Foote refuted the notion that the government was “stacking the deck in favor of Boeing.” The government sees it as important to meet its urgent needs, and Canada, an international partner in the joint strike fighter program, will continue its participation in the program, she said.


Boeing was elated by the news, a major win for the company that could help extend the life of one of its fourth-generation fighter jets.


“Boeing is honored to provide the Royal Canadian Air Force with the only multi-role fighter aircraft that can fulfill its immediate needs for sovereign and North American defense,” the company stated in a news release.


“The Super Hornet’s advanced operational capabilities, low acquisition and sustainment costs, and Boeing’s continued investment in the Canadian aerospace industry – U.S. $6 billion over the past five years alone – make the Super Hornet the perfect complement to Canada’s current and future fighter fleet.”


Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin was less pleased with the decision, restating its hope that the Canadian government would ultimately purchase the fighter.


“Lockheed Martin recognizes the recent announcement by the Government of Canada of its intent to procure the 4th generation F/A-18 Super Hornet as an interim fighter capability,” the company said in a statement.


“Although disappointed with this decision, we remain confident the F-35 is the best solution to meet Canada’s operational requirements at the most affordable price, and the F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than 4th generation competitors. The F-35 is combat ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years.”


Further down the road, Lockheed could strip Canadian industrial participation – which totals 110 Canadian firms with $750 million in contracts, according to Lockheed – should the country ultimately opt not to buy the F-35. The company has not signaled whether it would be willing to do so.


Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.


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War is Boring


The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them


Program office cuts development short




When F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots take to the air in coming years, not only will their plane not be suitable for combat, it won’t even be fully developed.


Indeed, performance in multiple essential mission areas will be “unacceptable,” according to the Pentagon’s top weapon testing official.


In a memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, Michael Gilmore, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, warns that the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office has decided to cut short the F-35’s development phase in order to pretend that schedule and cost goals are being met.


Development cuts breed further cost overruns


Contractors, the JPO and Pentagon acquisition officials have failed for years to deliver on their grandiose promises of program success. Now the program appears to be out of money, with lots of development testing and re-engineering left to be done.


Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”

Instead of admitting to these failures, F-35 program officials are kicking the development can into the future by arbitrarily cutting short this process now with the intention of eating into funds set aside for operational testing and production later.


The F-35 Program Office is now belatedly asking for some additional funds to complete development while simultaneously asking Congress to approve its plans to buy increasing numbers of new, incompletely-developed production aircraft they know will require extensive and expensive modifications.


The current block buy plan of 410 aircraft could cost between $34 billion and $54 billion, depending on whether you believe the optimistic public statements of Pentagon officials or the figures released in more subdued fashion.


We now know that there is every possibility the F-35 will not be fully designed before it is placed in active service. Taking incompletely developed F-35s into combat will, Gilmore says, place pilots at “significant risk.”


He also warns that if the Joint Program Office persists in its current plan, there is a high risk the F-35 will fail operational testing. If the F-35 fails, this will require an expensive correction process followed by a repeat of the entire operational test program.


The test rerun alone would cost taxpayers an extra $300 million. Engineering the fixes and installing them on all the production aircraft would cost vastly more.


Following an article on the Gilmore memo published on Bloomberg, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter raising concerns that Pentagon officials had misled the committee about the progress of the program.


He specifically challenged statements from F-35 Program Manager Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan that development would be finished in late 2017. He also questioned Air Force Secretary Deborah James certifying that the program had the funds necessary to complete development on time, since it was clearly refuted by the testing memo.


Given “the troubled performance, continued delays, and persistent cost overruns of this program,” McCain disputed the Department of Defense’s insistence that the current requirement for 2,433 F-35s was realistic and affordable and recommended the Pentagon adjust its buy quantity based on actual costs and schedule.


Rather than completing the development phase, let alone the highly critical combat-realistic operational tests, F-35 advocates on Capitol Hill and in the Pentagon seem to place the survival of their too-big-to-fail program ahead of building a warplane that works in combat.


The current congressional authorization and appropriations bills have increased the F-35 buy beyond the Pentagon’s request. Not satisfied with this add-on, 70 House members want to fund an additional 11 aircraft.


Mission software woes top the list


Though problems in the plane’s structure, aerodynamics, engine, and reliability also abound, the latest schedule delays are largely due to continuing problems in developing F-35 mission system software.


The mission software controls every input the pilot receives regarding threats, targets, weapons, and the mission profile to be flown. As the Air Force has claimed repeatedly, the mission software — if and when it works — is, together with stealth, intended to be the most important advantage of the F-35 over all current fighters.


The early, rudimentary versions of the software now installed in the operational fleet — Block 2B and 3i — enable the F-35 to conduct only basic flight and to fire one radar missile model and one type of guided bomb.

Yet even this rudimentary system software has repeatedly failed developmental tests — and is too limited in combat capability at this point to even enter combat-realistic operational testing.


The new mission systems software needed to perform the plane’s real combat functions — close support of troops, deep strike bombing and air-to-air fighting — is being released in an alphabet soup of software upgrades, increments and block packages.


Each version adds a few extra capabilities and attempts to fix the failures in earlier versions. The version currently in development test, Block 3F Revision5, added a few weapons and was supposed to reduce the frequent computer crashes of the previous version.


These crashes, Gilmore wrote, forced the pilot to shut down and restart the radar in mid-mission.


Developmental Revision 5 will still fall short of the minimum range of combat capabilities the F-35 needs to even begin realistic operational testing. To start those crucial tests, the F-35 needs another upgraded software version, Block 3FR6, which has yet to be developed.


Developmental testing of earlier Block 3F versions found capabilities for Close Air Support, Destruction/Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Offensive and Defensive Counter-Air, Air Interdiction, and Surface Warfare missions were all “unacceptable overall, with significant deficiencies in capabilities and or/performance shortfalls.”


Kicking the can down the road


With a mountain of development test failures, costly fixes and retests staring them in the face, the JPO decided to arbitrarily truncate the developmental test phase and to defer all the unfinished development tests and retests to later operational test phase.


Those developmental tests and retests will be funded by operational test budgets, which don’t yet include money for such testing.


Repeatedly stopping operational tests to fix basic design problems that should have been completed during development will wreck the carefully crafted operational test plan and schedule that have been in place for more than four years, as agreed to by the services and DOT&E.


— Michael Gilmore


Gilmore’s memo warns that this is a highly risky proposition. In useful and realistic operational tests, fully developed weapons systems that have passed their development tests and met their design specifications are put through their paces performing missions in realistic combat conditions.


To begin combat testing a weapon system that still needs engineering development fixes and retests–and to conduct these engineering tests in the middle of the operational test schedule — is courting disaster.


Incompletely developed F-35s undergoing rigorous combat tests will certainly experience new design failures. These must be corrected and tested again, a potentially lengthy process.


Repeatedly stopping operational tests to fix basic design problems that should have been completed during development will wreck the carefully crafted operational test plan and schedule that have been in place for more than four years, as agreed to by the services and DOT&E.


The result will be more delays and increased costs, exactly what critics of Gilmore and defenders of the F-35 say they want to avoid.


When the Pentagon restructured the F-35 program in 2012 it postponed production in order to decrease concurrency in the program, which is overlapping production before development and operational testing is complete, violating the principle of “fly before you buy.” The JPO’s truncation of development is a deliberate increase in the F-35’s concurrency.


The stated purpose of concurrency is to speed up the schedule and save money, but the real motive is to protect an increasing flow of procurement funds against any possibility of slowdown or cancellation due to failure in testing — a practice that has rightly been called “acquisition malpractice.”


Moreover, history has repeatedly shown us that it actually delays programs and adds to costs.


The F-35 still doesn’t have a gun


The F-35A’s internal cannon, a critical weapon both for close support and dogfighting, remains problem-ridden and needs further development. When the cannon’s stealth-preserving door opens, the extra drag on one side turns the plane’s nose enough to spoil gun-aiming.


Engineers hope that flight control software changes can cure the problem, but that remains to be tested.

Far more serious is the fact that the only sight for aiming the gun is the $600,000 Helmet Mounted Display. The very first shooting accuracy tests with the helmet, scheduled for October 2016, have been delayed until 2017 due to the software delays.


There are strong engineering reasons to believe that the helmet sight is incapable of meeting the plane’s gun accuracy design specifications.


Pilots have reported that the helmet’s displayed symbols can lag behind their eye’s movement while they are flying through turbulence or being buffeted during hard maneuvering. Whether the gun is actually combat suitable or not will not be known until realistic operational test results become available in 2020 — at the earliest.


The Navy and Marine Corps F-35 variants will have even more serious gun accuracy problems because both use an external gun pod with an unavoidably less rigid mounting than the internal cannon. Firing this pod creates recoil forces that pull the plane’s nose down, potentially creating worse effects on accuracy than the F-35A’s muzzle door.


A software solution has yet to be completed.


Even if these serious airframe and helmet sight accuracy impediments are overcome, the cannon may still not be able to meet its original design requirements for hitting and destroying targets due to a change in the 25-millimeter ammunition.


The F-35A will now fire a new, non-explosive fragmenting round of untested accuracy and lethality while the F-35B and F-35C will use the older Navy-developed Semi-Armor Piercing High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer rounds. The program office “determined that the specification requirements for gun accuracy could not be met with the new ammunition planned to be used.”


As reported by DOT&E, the JPO is addressing these concerns by deleting all cannon lethality and accuracy requirements from the program’s contractual Operational Requirements Document — without formal approval from either the services or OSD. The contractor now has no contractual responsibility for air-to-air or air-to-ground accuracy and lethality.


Should the F-35 cannon prove incapable of hitting or destroying targets, in test or in combat, no one can be held accountable nor can the program be stopped until a fix is found.


Weapons test delays jeopardize operational testing


Before proceeding to combat-realistic operational testing of the F-35’s weapons capabilities, the developmental weapons delivery accuracy tests must establish, for each air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon, that the F-35 can accomplish its “find-fix-identify-track-target-engage and-assess” functions according to specification.


Only after these functions are verified can more stressful and combat-realistic testing of the same “kill chain” be operationally tested. It is pointless to do these complex, expensive operational tests with a weapon that fails to see and or hit targets under benign engineering test conditions.


The F-35 has had occasional successes in developmental accuracy tests so far, but according to DOT&E the overall results are not promising. During several events, testing officials had to resort to “control room intervention” to make tests appear successful.


As an example, the memo describes how a recent test of the long-range AIM-120 radar air-to-air missile required the controllers on the ground to tell the pilot when to fire because the F-35’s radar and computer system failed to display any enemy target cues.


Moreover, 13 of the scheduled developmental weapons accuracy tests have yet to be performed. JPO has not stated whether these will be ignored, completed during the development phase, or kicked down the road into the operational testing phase.


These incomplete weapons tests could not be flown because program managers had to fix and retest numerous failures uncovered in earlier tests, thereby using up the available test range time and money.


Gilmore warns that unless these weapons accuracy tests are rescheduled, funded, and completed during the F-35’s development phase, they will have a major disruptive effect on the operational test phase. This would result in more schedule slippages, cost overruns and possibly even jeopardize any ability to assess the combat suitability of the F-35.


Simply following the agreed test master plan to complete all weapons developmental testing before operational testing starts is, technically and ethically, clearly the right thing to do.


Unfortunately, that requires JPO and OSD official to admit to more cost and schedule growth, refuting their ongoing narrative that all problems are being solved, the program is on track, costs are going down, and the concurrent production of scores more F-35s should not just continue but accelerate.


Truncating testing and declaring success


As we reported earlier this year, the current F-35 program is at significant risk of never being ready for combat. That assessment was based on an official Air Force internal review of its own testing data.


On the day the Air Force declared the F-35 ready for combat, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said, “Today’s declaration of IOC is an important milestone on the road to achieving full warfighting capability for the F-35A.”


He said that at the precise moment when the testing process was falling further and further behind. According to the latest DOT&E memo, as of the end of September 2016 the program had only completed 65 percent of the scheduled flight test points, 1,120 short of the 3,189 planned.


Rather than redoubling their testing efforts to catch up, the JPO decided to terminate flight testing scheduled for early 2017, arbitrarily declaring development of the Block 3F software to be finished by then.


A number of the combat capabilities that were expected to be completed for the F-35A’s August IOC date have only recently entered developmental flight testing. Others haven’t even made it that far, thereby rendering the planned 2017 date for startup of operational flight testing wildly premature.


Gilmore warned that JPO officials, perhaps deliberately, have not scheduled and funded enough operational test-ready aircraft to conduct the planned combat tests.


Inadequate preparations for IOT&E


An immature design is not the only factor imperiling useful operational testing of the F-35’s combat suitability. Gilmore warned that JPO officials, perhaps deliberately, have not scheduled and funded enough operational test-ready aircraft to conduct the planned combat tests.


The number of operationally typical, production representative F-35s required is one of the key criteria for starting operational testing. The Test and Evaluation Master Plan agreed to by both DOT&E and the F-35 Joint Program Office required that 18 aircraft, each with the necessary flight test instrumentation installed and tested, were needed to begin the testing program.


But the F-35 Program Office is not even pretending to go through the motions of executing the operational test program they agreed to. F-35 program officials have yet to plan or contract for the necessary test aircraft, despite knowing for seven years they were required to do so.


In contrast, they have been diligent in making sure taxpayers were on the hook for $6.1 billion to buy more incomplete, untested F-35s.


The Program Office has repeated that same pattern of neglect in managing the other essentials for completing the operational testing of the F-35, including verified, fully realistic, man-in-the-loop mission scenario simulators and fully tested threat electronics simulators for the test ranges.


Without these essentials, it is impossible to test the full capabilities of the F-35.


As an example, no one is going to fire a missile at an F-35 during testing to see if the stealth capabilities and counter-measures will work. The only way to test many of the F-35’s capabilities is in a virtual simulated environment because the test ranges cannot accurately replicate the full spectrum and quantity of threats the jets would confront.


It is on this point of neglecting to acquire the planes needed to start operational testing that Gilmore issues his most stinging rebuke of the F-35 Joint Program Office:


“Expecting DOT&E to allow IOT&E to start without a full complement of fully production representative aircraft, as agreed to and documented for years, is a recipe for a failed test, especially in light of the aircraft availability issues mentioned later. Failure to meet the TEMP entrance criteria means not only that the program is unready for operational test — it means JSF is not ready for combat and, therefore, certainly not ready for a Block (i.e., Multi-Year) Buy or full-rate production.”


Enhancing the political effectiveness of the F-35


Politics, particularly election year politics, is always a factor in any large weapons program. The F-35 is certainly no exception.


From the very beginning, the plane’s program managers have diligently worked to ensure the F-35 is bulletproof — or, more accurately, that its funding is bulletproof. Components of the aircraft are built in 45 states.


By evenly spreading F-35 subcontracts across the United States, the defense industry has ensured the F-35 has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.


With members of Congress serving as boosters for the F-35, there is little doubt that program officials in the Pentagon are feeling the pressure to keep the F-35 budgets growing as rapidly as possible.


Many of these friends banded together recently to convince their colleagues of the need to buy more F-35s.

A letter, signed by 70 members of the House Joint Strike Fighter Caucus, urged members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to support the Senate’s plan to add $100 million for advanced F-35 procurement.

The advanced procurement funds would allow the Air Force to buy some of the parts for new F-35s in 2017 so they can be built and delivered in 2018.


This spreads out the cost of these F-35s over at least two years. It would also conveniently commit taxpayers to buying these planes now, long before the operational tests have a chance to determine whether or not the F-35 is effective in combat.


This fact was somehow omitted from the lawmakers’ letter.


Not surprisingly, an analysis of campaign donation data by the Center for Responsive Politics shows most of the letter’s signers benefited from defense industry campaign contributions in the 2016 election cycle.


The co-chairs of the Caucus, Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and John Larson (D-CT) received $144,300 and $43,150 each, respectively, in contributions from major contractors and unions with a stake in the program.


With members of Congress serving as boosters for the F-35, there is little doubt that program officials in the Pentagon are feeling the pressure to keep the F-35 budgets growing as rapidly as possible.


Digging a deeper hole


Despite the desperate state of F-35 development and testing now and for the foreseeable future, the JPO is planning to award contracts to develop the expanded and presumably more expensive Block 4 “full capability” aircraft in 2018.


The specifics of Block 4 remain undefined, and these contracts for new planes may well be signed before the currently planned IOT&E of Block 3 planes has even begun.


There is no telling how many new F-35 problems will be discovered as the program limps to the initial operational test finish line. The JPO and its co-advocates throughout the Pentagon and Congress steadfastly defend staying with the present unworkable schedule to buy more F-35s guaranteed to have a plethora of known and yet-to-be-discovered-deficiencies.


Attempting to design and produce a large number of Block 4 F-35s now, when the program management avoids completing or testing the Block 3 F-35s, is the aeronautical equivalent of a construction company deliberately building an inadequate foundation yet continuing to build a skyscraper on top of it.




The F-35 program has been a 15-year saga of performance failures, schedule delays, and cost overruns.

When Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop the aircraft just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the company promised that the Air Force and Marine Corps would be flying brand new fully capable new fighter jets in 2008, with the Navy following suit in 2010. They planned for 2,866 F-35s for just under $200 billion.


But here we are in 2016 with the revised plan of 2,457 aircraft for just under $390 billion, which means we are paying double the unit cost, ultimately adding up to almost $200 billion more for 409 fewer aircraft.


Frank Kendall, the current undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics famously described the practice of buying F-35s before the aircraft has been fully developed as “acquisition malpractice.”


He was certainly right in 2012 when he said that, but since then has taken few steps to lessen, much less end, that malpractice.


Gilmore’s message is very clear. The F-35 will not be effective in combat and will place American military lives in danger unless drastic measures are taken now.


By proceeding with the current plan to truncate F-35 development testing and to not fund — or underfund — the operational test aircraft, instruments, mission simulators and urgently needed threat simulators, Congress and the Pentagon are in effect sabotaging any realistic testing of the combat suitability or unsuitability of the F-35.


Underfunding these efforts increases the likelihood of failing to identify and correct preventable problems in testing and leaves pilots having to address deficiencies in combat.


The new president, new Congress and new secretary of defense need to exercise the oversight necessary to stop this bureaucratic sabotage. As a first step, they need to stop expanding the annual F-35 buy.


Those savings should be transferred to finish F-35 development and development testing as originally planned.


Thorough, truly realistic operational testing of the F-35 must be fully funded and overseen by a director of Operational Test and Evaluation tough and honest enough to get that difficult job done.


The men and women who will risk their lives taking these fighter jets into combat deserve nothing less.

Dan Grazier is the Jack Shanahan Fellow at the Project On Government Oversight, where this article originally appeared.


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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.


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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





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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.


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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.”


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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)


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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)


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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.”


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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


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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.”

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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.

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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.


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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





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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.


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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.


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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



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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.”


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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.”


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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.


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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.



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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.






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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.


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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.


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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.”


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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.


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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.


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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,

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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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


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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?




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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.”


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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.


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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.”


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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.


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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.


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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


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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


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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.”


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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.


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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.


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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.”


FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of September 6, 2016


New capabilities, programs bring hiring blitz to FRCSE

Fair winds and following seas: Meier leaves legacy of inspiration, mentorship

FRC East worker honored for 63 years

Zarzaca adds capability to Air-6.0, named employee of quarter

Countering the Readiness Challenge



F/A-18 Crashes Rise Rapidly As Budget Constraints Have Led To Overused Planes, Undertrained Pilots

Miramar Fighter Pilots Aren’t Flying Enough, Reps. Warn

Military jet crashes on rise as some cite training and fleet issues

Almost A Million Expected To Opt For ‘Blended’ Retirement

Pentagon: “Play Hardball” Against Ryan Plan

Budget Hell: Kendall Prays For 3-Month CR, Fears 6

Better Buying Power 4.0 Would Focus On Sustainment





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New capabilities, programs bring hiring blitz to FRCSE

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 01 SEP 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


Though Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) has been the U.S. Navy’s aviation mechanic since the bi-plane era, the facility is growing at a clip not seen in decades.


With its headquarters at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FRCSE can at times fly under the radar of many civilians. Yet the word is getting out.


“I’m totally blown away,” said Army veteran Jim Rice, originally from Belfast, Maine. Rice was recently hired as a sheet metal worker.


‘I’m not blowing smoke, this is a great environment,” he said. “It’s only been a little more than a month, but everything is going really well.”


Rice is not alone. With ground-breaking work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s avionics systems – along with the facility’s current work on F/A-18 fighters, H-60 helicopters, P-3C patrol planes, trainer aircraft and the possible assumption of maintenance duties for presidential helicopters – FRCSE has expanded its civilian workforce to 3,155 civilian employees. That’s more than 500 people in the last two years.


FRCSE is already the largest industrial employer in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, but is looking for more. Positions still being sought include sheet metal mechanics, aircraft mechanics, aircraft painters, machinists, non-destructive inspection (NDI) technicians, as well as aeronautical, industrial and electrical engineers, among others.


The new faces hail from all corners of the country. Some are just out of school, while others have decades of experience.


FRCSE sheet metal worker Sam Arulraj, 29, was attending Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Airframes and Power Plant (A&P) Program at Cecil Commerce Center, when FRCSE general foreman Buster Hathcock and human resources supervisor Ponhara Po visited the class.


“As an A&P mechanic, you can go anywhere around the world,” the Hilliard, Florida native said. “So I did have that option. I also had an option to go to a civilian employer and I turned that down. FRCSE picked me up and I said, ‘Hey, this is the best thing going on in Jacksonville and that’s what I’m going to do.’


“So for my family, my future, my career, I wanted to make this my full-time, forever thing.”


Leonard Timms, a recently hired sheet metal mechanic at FRCSE, is now back where his naval career began more than two decades ago. Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Timms spent 21 years on active duty, which culminated in a tour as a crew chief with the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.


“I wanted to work on Hornets. These are like my babies since they’re what I worked on during my active duty time,” Timms said in his southern drawl. “At one point, I’d been on every carrier except the USS Kitty Hawk.”


After a Navy career that included four deployments and a tour with the Blue Angels, he was ready to spend more time with his family. But something else contributed to his interest in FRCSE.


“I wanted to keep working for my country,” he said. “I want to keep getting these back to the fleet to my brothers and sisters.”


Though sheet metal mechanics, machinists and other tradesmen are essential to FRCSE, the facility also employs a slew of employees like chemists, engineers and business professionals.


John Lowe, a recently hired business management specialist at FRCSE, spent 23 years in the Army. Wounded while serving in Afghanistan, Lowe retired and earned a bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a master of business administration from the College of William & Mary.


“I’m happy to be here,” Lowe said. “It’s going to be nice to be able to serve my country in a different way.”


Hathcock, the general foreman of the facility’s P-3C Orion production line, has the perspective of 36 years at FRCSE. He joined the facility fresh out of four years of service as an Army paratrooper. He now visits colleges and attends job fairs to bring in the next generation of FRCSE employees.


“I came here in 1980 as an apprentice making $4.88 per hour,” he said. “I’ve worked my way up and now I’m a general foreman.


“That’s what I try to tell these young guys out here: Get in here, come to work every day, do what you’re supposed to do and keep learning. It’s a great career. It’s been good to me.”


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Fair winds and following seas: Meier leaves legacy of inspiration, mentorship

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 31 AUG 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Air-6.0 Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — After 36 years of government service, Toni Meier, director of Logistics Management Integration (AIR 6.6), Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), bid farewell to her colleagues and friends at a retirement luncheon here Aug. 23.


“I’ve been blessed to have a career supporting our warfighters,” Meier began, “and am honored to have worked with all of you. Thank you for all that you do to improve our processes, create national support contracts, develop training and keep providing excellent support to our warfighters. ”


As AIR 6.6, Meier guided its approximately 1,300 employees in integrated logistics support for 3,900 naval aviation aircraft and weapons programs. Meier managed an operating budget of $100 million that directly influenced $1.3 billion of program logistics acquisition budgets.


Meier began her career as a GS-1 shipment clerk at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, and credits mentors and participation in professional development programs for directing her path to the Senior Executive Service (SES).


She is known for being a strong advocate of mentoring and served as a champion for the NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG), one of three sub-teams operating under NAVAIR’s Executive Diversity Council, a senior leadership group that provides guidance, advocacy and support in areas related to workforce diversity and inclusion.


“One of my favorite activities since becoming an SES has been acting as a champion for the WAG,” Meier said. “I have enjoyed watching this group of women and men work to make sure that women working for NAVAIR feel they are valued members of the team and are encouraged to seek whatever opportunities they desire.”


Meier was also a regular participant in AIR 6.0 speed mentoring events and was the inaugural guest speaker for the WAG’s “Breaking through Barriers: Entry-Level Women” group. The group, whose meetings are open to all, seeks to address ways to help new employees assimilate into the military-civilian culture at NAVAIR.


Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander, AIR 6.0, spoke to Meier’s knack for encouraging her workforce in their career progression. He noted that more than 70 percent of her workforce is registered in the Talent Management Dashboard (TMD), a self-help tool for employees to voluntarily track their professional development and to manage their careers.


“This is not because of her ‘pushing’ them to do so,” Balazs said, “but because she has inspired them to take charge of their careers.”


“Toni leaves behind a legacy of talented logisticians that are ready to manage the challenges facing Naval Aviation in the future,” he said.


Prior to taking the helm of AIR 6.6 in December 2011, Meier served as technical director for NAVAIR’s Naval Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department. Her past assignments include assistant program executive officer (PEO), Tactical Aircraft, Logistics; product support team leader for the P-3; and H-60 director of logistics.


Asked what she will miss most, Meier doesn’t hesitate to answer: “All of the great people that work at NAVAIR. I know they do their best to support our warfighters, and I am proud to have worked with all of them.”


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FRC East worker honored for 63 years

Dawkins has been a part of federal service since 1953

(HAVELOCK NEWS, 08 SEPT 16) . Drew C. Wilson


Freddie J. Dawkins, a pneudraulics systems mechanic at Fleet Readiness Center East at Cherry Point, was lauded as a national treasure Wednesday.


Dawkins, 81, of New Bern, received the Department of the Navy Career Service Award signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at a ceremony honoring his 63 years of service in the armed forces and as a civil servant.


Dawkins joined the Air Force in 1953 and worked with the Tuskegee Airmen. He served for 26 years plus time as a reservist. After working at Alameda Naval Air Station from 1981 to 1995, Dawkins came to Fleet Readiness Center East in January, 1995. He has been there ever since.


In presenting the award, Col. Vincent E. Clark, commanding officer of FRC East, called Dawkins a “national treasure.”


“It is not something that is being given to you,” said Clark. “You earned that.”


“You are a piece of history too,” Clark said. “You continue on. The standards you have set, the longevity, you persistence, your perseverance, you are quite the gentleman and quite the professional and quite the example for all to emulate. It takes the personal commitment on a personal and a professional level. It takes the individual commitment and the individual initiative, the drive, the endurance. I can go on and on. You are a shining example, Mr. Dawkins, for all.”


Supervisors and coworkers alike had encouraging words about Dawkins and his service to the nation, but also for bringing a personal touch to the FRC East team around whom he worked.


“When I found out about this day, I had to be here,” said Cynthia Hargett-Hill, G manager. “I had the privilege of being Mr. Fred’s PC (production controller) starting in 2012. There is one thing I can say about Mr. Fred that I will always remember: You never knew that when you brought your cards and when you brought your flowers and when you brought your candy, you never knew that your gift to some of us was the only gift we received on that day, and I want you to know that you touched my heart, and I will always remember that. When Mother’s Day came, when Valentines came, when Christmas came, and even when birthdays came, us ladies didn’t have anything to worry about.”


He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and had 125 combat missions while serving in the Vietnam War. Dawkins also served in the Korean War.


“That was an early part of my career and we had to be a qualified engine mechanic to qualify for the flying missions,” said Dawkins.


“I’m proud to serve. I would do it again and in the same token, I am really, really appreciative of being given the opportunity to serve and being allowed to serve,” Dawkins said. “That’s my heart.”


“The only thing I would do different is more of it,” said Dawkins, who doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.


Clark said it was “unspeakable” the honor of awarding Dawkins for his years of service to the country.


Dawkins said his most important accomplish in his career was flying.


“Flying and being in Vietnam and supporting the mission and doing the job that I came into the military to do,” said Dawkins. “That’s the highlight, from day one. I am a military man and I love it.”


Dawkins offered advice to young workers to set them on the right track for their careers.


“You’ve got to set a goal. You have got to really want to be able to do it,” said Dawkins. “I went to a military school, so I knew when I came out of that school I was going into the military one way or the other. I would advise them to start right now. When you come out of high school, make up your mind. It’s a good career. It’s good to you and it’s good for you. That’s all I can tell a youngster to do. Go in the military.”


Dawkins said it has been “wonderful and beautiful” to be involved with all the FRC East workers he has had the opportunity to know through the years.


“When I first got here, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Dawkins. “I came here to do two years and 21 years later I’m still here. It has just been a beautiful experience for me here at the FRC.”


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Zarzaca adds capability to Air-6.0, named employee of quarter

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 07 SEPT 16) . Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Ten years is a long time, and that’s how long Naval Air Systems Command has been without the organic capability to manage training systems plans. One NAVAIR logistics professional is working to change that and, for his efforts, was named the Air-6.0 employee of the quarter for the second quarter of 2016.


Joseph Zarzaca, Navy Training Systems Plan (NTSP) program and operations manager in the Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department (Air-6.7), has established an internal government capability for managing NTSPs for NAVAIR previously provided by contractors. He and his 12-member team manage the complete administrative tracking of activities, including NTSP development tasks, schedules and funding for more than 200 aviation platforms and systems.


Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations, said the new capability helps increase NAVAIR’s credibility to its customers.


“When the fleet wants to know how to do something, they can call NAVAIR because that’s who they can trust, and we can support that warfighter,” he said.


Humble for being selected to the award, Zarzaca credited his team for providing support on the program.


“It’s easy coming to work each day when your team is like family,” Zarzaca said. “Hopefully I’m making them look good and making their jobs easier.”


Tracy Moran, Air-6.7 director, praised Zarzaca’s management skills in her award nomination letter.


“His wealth of subject matter expertise and sharing of corporate knowledge drastically improved the overall performance of the NTSP team,” she wrote. “By his efforts, he established an organic team of professional NTSP product developers, a workforce construct that has not been in place for over 10 years.


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Countering the Readiness Challenge

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 08 SEPT 16) . Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Keeping mission-capable aircraft on the flightline for pilots to be ready for tasking, also known as Ready Basic Aircraft (RBA), is a never-ending challenge for logisticians and maintainers. And for a variety of factors, there are many aircraft on flight lines that are not available to fight tonight.


Logisticians from across Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River gathered in the installation theater Aug. 24 to talk about countering the RBA challenge and some of the planning tools available to get more aircraft accessible to pilots.


The forum was part of a regular discussion series of hot topics for logisticians to discuss challenges and share solutions.


“The Marine Corps has . one third of its aircraft that are down that should be flying,” said Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander of Air-6.0. “The Navy has between 10 and 11 percent down. We have a problem.


“The pilots who need to maintain proficiency can’t do so if their aircraft are down,” he said.


The logisticians heard from guest speaker Brian Scurry, executive director of Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF), U.S. Pacific Fleet. CNAF is responsible for the Navy’s 11 aircraft carriers, 3,800 Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and more than 100,000 professionals supporting naval air forces.


“We don’t have all the funding and resources we need and we don’t have as many aircraft on the flightline that are mission capable, so about 10 years ago we started a tiered readiness concept,” Scurry said.


Tiered readiness calls for squadrons to typically reduce training and increase maintenance following deployments. However, with the lack of RBA and as squadrons lose aircraft to maintenance, repair, overhaul, or other reasons, the ability to keep pilots and crews proficient is reduced.


“When they get ready to deploy, pilots have this ‘Mount Everest’ slope (of proficiency) to get back up on to get ready to go,” Scurry said. “We have noticed the performance . is noticeably lower than it was five, 10 years ago. We directly attribute this to the reduction of RBA.”


Toni Meier, NAVAIR director of Logistics Management Integration, talked about some of the lines of effort her division is undertaking to address the RBA shortage.


Some of the initiatives including building RBA playbooks to help achieve and sustain fleet operational capability requirements, understand and communicate current and forecasted weapon system availability and identify the funding necessary to execute the plans.


“We’re trying to pull all this together and put it in the plan and figure out how much will it cost to get there,” she said.


Meier said one funding solution includes finding ways to decrease the time needed for funding maintenance and materials by using a portfolio of Navy-wide, multiple award contracts for the acquisition of aviation industrial support.


Tracy Moran, director of the NAVAIR Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department, said among other initiatives, her department is working to improve Bills of Materials (BoMs), which are lists of parts or components that are required to build a product.


“BoMs build the (spare parts and supplies) forecast,” Moran said, which helps ensure materials are available when needed.


The Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis division, led by Roy Harris, is working to understand trends to help better address the RBA gap by being more proactive with readiness and resource analysis.


“In the past we had monthly snap-shots of data that was looking in the rearview mirror,” Harris said. “It was good information, but it was maybe not as effective as we wanted.”


The new initiatives with “allow us to get ahead of issues in enough time to where we can wholly impact what happens on the flight line,” he said. “Stopping aircraft from going down before they go down, that is the ultimate end-goal.”


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F/A-18 Crashes Rise Rapidly As Budget Constraints Have Led To Overused Planes, Undertrained Pilots

(STARS AND STRIPES, 01 SEP 16) … Tara Copp


WASHINGTON – A year ago, Navy and Marine Corps leaders gave a dire warning to Congress: Budget cuts have hurt nondeployed units and could cost lives during a major conflict.


The losses happened, but not in combat. Pilots died training at home.


Since May, four F/A-18 Hornet or F/A-18E/F Super Hornet crashes involving nondeployed units killed two pilots and destroyed five planes.


The crashes are the latest in a sharp increase in military aviation accidents overall for nondeployed squadrons, which have absorbed the bulk of budget cuts through reduced training and delayed maintenance at home so the best aircraft and personnel can be used on the front lines.


In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act that instituted automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration. By March 2013, the across-the-board cut to all spending programs started to take effect.


The Defense Department’s operations and maintenance account, which pays for flight training and repairs on aircraft, lost $20.3 billion that year, according to the Government Accountability Office.


Two workhorse aircraft of military aviation – the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet – were affected.

Since 2012, the number of major Navy and Marine Hornet and Super Hornet accidents – incidents causing at least $50,000 in damage and in some cases leading to injury, death or the loss of the $60 million aircraft – skyrocketed 44 percent, according to data collected by the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va.


“It’s extremely clear what’s happened,” said California-based Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilot Lt. “Versace,” who asked to be identified by his call sign only because he was not authorized to speak on the issue. “These aircraft have reached their life span and they continue to extend their life spans for another few thousand flight hours, which hasn’t worked for them due to significant budget decreases. Yet they continue to run these jets that have caused catastrophic incidents.”


After the most recent F/A-18 Hornet crash Aug. 2 at Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada, some experts who watch military readiness said Navy and Marine aviation is in trouble.


“I believe naval aviation is at risk of eventual systemic failure,” said retired Navy Cmdr. Chris Harmer, now a senior naval analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington. “Either funding needs to be significantly increased in order to restore airframe availability and pilot proficiency and support current operations, or operational tempo needs to be drastically reduced.”


Recent Accidents


The Navy and Marines rank their aviation accidents as mishaps, with the top three most damaging as Class A through C. Class A is the highest level of crash and means a pilot was killed or permanently disabled or the aircraft sustained at least $2 million in damage.


Since sequestration, the number of Class A through C mishaps involving Hornets or Super Hornets has climbed from 57 in fiscal year 2012 to 82 as of Aug. 2 of this fiscal year, according to data from the Naval Safety Center.


Not only Hornets or Super Hornets have been affected. Across the board, the number of Navy and Marine aircraft lost in accidents has doubled during the first 11 months of fiscal year 2016 compared to the same time in 2015. Twenty aircraft had been destroyed as of Aug. 29, compared to 10 aircraft during the same time in 2015, according to Naval Safety Center data obtained by Stars and Stripes.


But attention has focused on the Hornets after a recent string of crashes.


On Aug. 2, a Navy pilot safely ejected after the F/A-18C he was flying experienced an engine fire at Nevada’s Naval Air Station Fallon. Flights are required to test aircraft after having certain engine or cockpit repairs or if the plane hasn’t been flown in 30 days, according to the Navy.


Marine pilot Maj. Richard Norton was killed July 28 when the F/A-18C he was flying crashed near Twentynine Palms in California during a nighttime training mission.


A crash in June of another F/A-18C during a Blue Angels practice flight killed Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss.


Two Super Hornet F/A-18/F aircraft collided in May during a training mission off the coast of North Carolina. The four crewmembers ejected and were rescued.


The Role Of Flight Hours


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for Marine Corps aviation, told lawmakers in July that the spike in Class A mishaps involving the Hornet looked worse than it is because the service was flying fewer hours.


“It’s actually kind of on par where it has been in the past,” he said. But with a smaller number of flight hours, “every mishap makes this bump up a lot.”


However, the Marines and Navy have seen their overall number of flight hours – deployed and home training – stay relatively the same during the past few years, according to data from the Naval Safety Center.


Combat demands on aircraft remain high and are the priority, the Navy and Marine Corps said. Since Operation Inherent Resolve began in late 2014, aircraft from the Navy’s carrier strike groups have taken on an increasing amount of the combat load. When the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt ended its deployment to the Middle East in late 2015, it had set a record for the number of bombs it had dropped against the Islamic State group. When the USS Harry S. Truman took its place, the Truman set new records again, not only in bombs dropped but in total flight hours.


That means even fewer hours available at home.


“Regrettably … you’re going to see [nondeployed] pilots that aren’t flying very much,” Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, director of Navy air warfare, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April.


Manazir told committee members that the minimum number of hours a Navy pilot can fly each month to stay safe is 11.


“We call that the tactical hard deck,” he said. “Studies have been done by the safety center that say, ‘If pilots fly less than 11 on a regular basis, there is a chance that mishaps will go higher.'”


Versace said he’s noticed the difference in the amount of time that he gets to fly.


“A lot has changed since I first started flying with the Navy,” he said. “Budgets are taking a significant toll on many military personnel. Many aviators have had their hours decreased. Personally, since flying the F/A-18E/F for 41/2 years, my flight hours have annually decreased by 15 percent.”


The Marines saw its low point for F/A-18 Hornet flight hours last summer, when it averaged 8.8 hours per month per pilot for nondeployed squadrons, Davis said. Increased funding and an emphasis to improve readiness has upped that average to 11.1 as of August 2016, said Capt. Sarah Burns, a spokeswoman for the Marines.


Naval Air Forces Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker said at a recent defense forum that the average flight hours for the Navy for the nondeployed squadrons is 12 to 14 hours a month.


“That’s the average, there some who are down in the probably single digits and there are some who are flying above that … squadron [commanding officers] are managing that,” he said.


What It Means For Pilots


An average flight is about 1.2 to 1.4 hours, said retired Col. John Venable, who piloted F-16s for the Air Force for two decades and is now a senior defense fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.


Eleven hours means each pilot is only flying about twice a week. Venable said getting enough hours is key to being ready to fly.


“Flying is very volatile,” he said. “Your ability to not have to think about the task at hand was all related to how often you flew.”


Venable said a pilot needs to fly at least three times a week to maintain readiness. Twice a week isn’t enough.

“If you fly me three times a week, I sustain,” he said. “If you fly me two times a week, I am going to lose something.”


A lack of flying time does add to the rise in accidents, said Seth Cropsey, a former Navy officer who served as the deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.


“When you send pilots up there who haven’t had time in the planes – [that is] what you get,” he said.

“Something has to give.”


Lack Of Aircraft


Reduced funding at a time when the Navy and Marine aircraft are required for many missions has dropped the number of aircraft available to pilots, members of Congress and the military have said.


“Intense budgetary pressures and years of high levels of ongoing operations have created a situation where the Navy and Marine Corps do not have enough ready basic aircraft for our aviators to fly,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said at a Senate hearing in April.


Increased use of aircraft has required more repairs on them or aged them to the point of no longer being useful, the Navy and members of Congress said. The budget cuts in 2013 forced layoffs at depots where the work was being done, Naval Air Forces Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld said. The rate of repairs has still not recovered.


In April, Davis said those pressures have specifically affected the Hornets and the pilots who fly them. He cited a report showing that of the Marines’ 276 Hornets, only 87 were available for missions.


“Out of those 87 airplanes, I put 30 airplanes in the training squadron and 40 airplanes for deployment. There’s not [enough] left for the units to train with during the day,” he said.


Of the Navy’s 259 Hornets, 55 were mission-capable, or able to perform “at least one and potentially all of its missions” as of July 28, Groeneveld said.


Of the Navy’s 544 Super Hornets, 290 were mission-capable, she said.


Working On A Fix


The Navy planned to stop buying Super Hornets in anticipation of the arrival of the F-35C, its version of the new Joint Strike Fighter.


As the F-35 program faced delays and setbacks, it was unable to relieve pressure from the F/A-18. It is expected to reach initial operational capability in mid-2018.


As a result, the older Hornets are reaching the end of their service life faster, and newer Super Hornets are aging more quickly than the Navy planned.


To address that, the Navy is pushing the aircraft to last 8,000 hours of flight time, Groeneveld said. In some cases, the planes are being overhauled to squeeze 10,000 hours out of them, she said.


“The F/A-18 Hornet was originally designed for a 6,000-hour service life,” Groeneveld said.


The Navy is considering buying extra Super Hornets to fill any gap between the time that the current jets wear out and the F-35 is finally ready. In May, USNI News reported that the Navy was seeking $1.5 billion to buy 14 extra Super Hornets to ease some of the strain on the current fleet. The extra aircraft are meant to serve as a bridge until the Navy’s version of the F-35 is ready. The aircraft, the F-35C, is finishing its final flight tests aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington this month, and the Navy is expected to declare initial operational capability for it next year. The Marine Corps and Air Force have declared their versions initial operational capable, but neither has been used in combat roles.


Without ready replacements, there is not another option, Groeneveld said.


“Despite its age and high-utilization rates, we continue to depend on the Hornet to be combat-ready,” she said. “We have an extensive ongoing effort to monitor, assess and repair, to safely extend some of our Hornet aircraft to a 10,000-hour service life,” she said.


But a fix won’t be quick, as the Navy and Marines deal with the limitations caused by funding cuts.

“It will take time to recover from the significant challenges we have faced in recent years,” she said.


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Miramar Fighter Pilots Aren’t Flying Enough, Reps. Warn

The aging F-18 fleet is stuck in deep maintenance and aviators aren’t spending enough time training, House member say

(SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 01 SEP 16) … Joshua Stewart


OCEANSIDE – A maintenance backlog of Marine Corps F-18 Hornets is so extensive that pilots aren’t getting enough flight hours to keep their skills well-honed, bipartisan members of Congress said Thursday.


“They’re flying very far below what we would consider an adequate level of training,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista. “We don’t have enough aircraft to get them to 16 or 20 hours (flying the F-18 per month), even if the fuel or assets were available.”


Issa and Reps. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, toured Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Thursday and were briefed on efforts to extend the life of its Hornets, the only fighter jet Marines fly from aircraft carriers.


“They’re really struggling with the age of the F-18 fleet,” Peters said at a news conference before the group headed off for a tour of Camp Pendleton.


The Department of the Navy is overhauling the Hornets, an aircraft that was designed to last 6,000 flight hours, to last up to 10,000 hours. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan kept the jets in heavy use, and delays in development and testing of the F-35 Lightning II meant that the debut of the Hornet’s replacement got pushed back.


That created a situation where the Navy and Marine Corps workhorse fighter jet was wearing itself out before the next generation F-35 could enter the fleet.


“With the slippage on that, we’ve have had to get more time out of our F-18s, for example, at Miramar,” Sanchez said. “So there are two issues there. There’s the whole (spare part) supplier network who thought at some time that they would be ramping down and be getting ready for the F-35 and of course that hasn’t happened. And some of them went out of business, got out of business, and it’s difficult to now get the parts.

“And secondly … the longer you have those airframes, of course, it’s like anything else, the more wear and tear you have on something, the more maintenance you have to do.”


That maintenance means that more planes are in hangars being fixed and not in squadrons where they can be used for training. A current count of the number of aircraft in the Marine Corps inventory that are mission-capable was not readily available. In April , Deputy Commandant for Marine Corps Aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, said that just 87 of the 276 in the service’s inventory were ready for missions, and the Corps was well short of the 174 mission-capable aircraft it’s required to have on hand.


This has a major impact on the work of the Corps’ mechanics as well as pilots and flight officers, Sanchez said. The number of Marines maintaining the aircraft hasn’t grown, so they’re doing more work than normal. With fewer aircraft available to fly, aviators are getting less time in the air.


Younger pilots, Sanchez said, aren’t getting the training they need with their squadrons and could be weaker during future missions.


Earlier this spring Issa, a pilot himself, rode in the back seat of a Miramar F-18A that already had been overhauled. Despite the aircraft’s age, it performed under extreme physical strain from its maneuvers with no unusual risk, he said.


Issa said that with the recognition of problems facing the F-18s, “Congress needs to ask for more of a strategic plan for how these aircraft are going to last until 2030 safely.”


Sanchez organized the tour and Issa said his flight in the F-18 prompted the delegation’s visit. They also visited BAE Systems’ and NASSCO’ shipyards, and planned to tour Camp Pendleton later on Thursday.


Turner, Sanchez and Peters are all members of the House Armed Services Committee.


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Military jet crashes on rise as some cite training and fleet issues

(FOX NEWS, 02 SEPT 16) . By Lucas Tomlinson


Marine Maj. Sterling Norton, 36, was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet crashed on July 28 during a live-fire nighttime training accident in Southern California.


Less than a week later, another F/A-18 from the same squadron crashed outside Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev. The pilot ejected safely – but it was the squadron’s third F/A-18 crash since October – two of which were fatal.


The Marine Corps, in response, conducted a one-day safety stand-down.


But such accidents are becoming more frequent – amid concerns that insufficient training and an aging fleet hobbled by a shortage of spare parts are contributing factors. A Fox News investigation reveals that, overall, the entire U.S. military saw a 48 percent increase in non-combat aviation crashes in 2014 and 2015 compared with the two prior years, based on press reports.


“They are going up partly because they are not getting the training they should get. They’re going up because maintenance is harder and harder to accomplish. They are going up because the airplanes are getting older and older,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, in an interview with Fox News.


Maj. Norton deployed in combat to Afghanistan in 2012. His commanding officer called him one of his best pilots. According to the Washington Post, a Marine who witnessed the crash said Norton’s jet “broke apart in midair” while in a dive preparing to fire weapons.


“I want to wait for the investigation report. However, these jets are too old and should not be flown anymore,” Norton’s mother, Mary Anne Vanderhoof, told Fox News.


She added that her son was an elite Top Gun graduate and weapons tactics instructor.


On Capitol Hill in July, the head of Marine Corps aviation seemed to share her concern.


“I worry about my young aviators that aren’t getting the number of hours they need to. And so it’s the mishaps that loom over the bow that we don’t see coming just now . Will they have the experience to keep that bad thing from happening?” said Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis.


So far in 2016, there have been nine military aircraft crashes. Four involved Navy F/A-18 Hornet jets. There were 33 total across all branches in 2014 and 2015 – up from just 23 in 2012 and 2013.


The admiral in charge of Navy aviation denies a link between the crashes and the age and readiness of their planes.


“I wouldn’t characterize it as a crisis. I get the question a lot of, do you tie it to readiness or a lack of proficiency . and in review of those mishaps, I can’t make that connection,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, speaking in Washington last month.


According to statistics provided by the U.S. Navy, only 21 percent of its early model Navy F-18 Hornets can fly — and only half of its newer Super Hornets can as well. Over 100 Super Hornets are not flying due to shortages in critical spare parts.


The Navy’s fleet of MH-60 helicopters is not much better. Only 57 percent of its 412 helicopters can fly.


The Navy, like the Marines, is having a hard time finding available jets for its pilots to fly and train in – amid more than $100 billion in defense cuts since 2009, a steady tempo of combat missions, and a delay of the F-18’s replacement, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.


Training is another concern. Right now, the Navy is averaging 12-14 flight hours a month for its pilots, according to Shoemaker. The Navy is buying more Super Hornets and hopes to increase that average to 15 hours by December 2017, according to a Navy official who shared a forecast model with Fox News.


Following a Fox News investigation into Marine Corps aviation in April, an interview with the head of Marine Corps aviation reveals some gains, but many problems persist.


Today, only two of the Marine’s 12 F-18 Hornet squadrons meet their flying hours, Davis told Fox News. He said they are averaging 11.1 flight hours a month per Marine pilot right now. While it was 8.8 back in March, he said his pilots should average 16 hours a month.


“Our model is all squadrons ready to go,” he said. When asked why his pilots were not getting enough hours in the air he replied, “Not enough airplanes to fly, it’s a simple physics problem.”


Right now, of the Marines’ 273 F-18s, only 91 can fly; 88 are waiting for parts.


Thornberry said President Obama has effectively sent more U.S. troops into harm’s way without paying for the increase in costs.


“When the president sends more people to Afghanistan more people to Iraq, he doesn’t ask for more money. The costs just come out of the training, the maintenance and the readiness of our force. The problem is getting worse,” he told Fox News.


The Pentagon disagrees.


Lt. Col. James B. Brindle, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement, “Ensuring that the force is well-equipped and well-trained to execute critical missions is a priority. We have looked at our data and have not observed an overall trend in the increase of mishaps due to reduced training hours. Annual mishap totals vary for a variety of reasons. Any increases we have observed are too small, and over too short a duration, to categorize.”


Marine and Navy F-18s were originally designed for 6,000 flight hours, but they were refurbished and extended to 8,000 hours while waiting for the new Joint Strike Fighter. Some jets may even reach 10,000 hours, according to Navy and Marine Corps officials.


In 2015, the Marine Corps’ aviation mishap rate was three times the Navy’s.


The Air Force, while not suffering from the same shortage of parts, is short 700 pilots, and the secretary of the Air Force said last month it will grow to 1,000 “in just a couple of years from now.”


When asked how quickly the Marine Corps can get more Joint Strike Fighters into the fleet to replace 24-year old F-18s, Davis replied, “I am buying as many as we can afford. The money is not there.”


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Almost A Million Expected To Opt For ‘Blended’ Retirement



More than 740,000 currently serving active duty members and 176,000 drilling Reserve and National Guard personnel are expected to opt in to the new BRS, or Blended Retirement System, when the choice becomes available in 2018 to military members with fewer than 12 years’ service.


The opt-in estimates are the product of a “dynamic retention” computer model developed by RAND Corporation and used to predict how personnel will react to a new retirement choice. The BRS was designed by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission and approved by Congress last year after lawmakers tweaked a few features.


The number of current members who will opt to leave their “High-3” retirement plan, with its higher lifetime value for the near-term rewards and flexible features of the BRS, is important to Department of Defense Board of Actuaries.


The three-member board is responsible for ensuring the Defense Department’s Military Retirement Fund is properly valued and actuarially sound. It held its annual meeting July 15 and accepted RAND’s estimate that a total of 916,754 active and reserve component members will opt into the BRS starting 16 months from now. That estimate is roughly half of the 1.8 million active duty, Guard and Reserve members eligible to make the choice.


A transcript of that July meeting, however, shows the board and department actuaries embraced RAND’s numbers only reluctantly, as flawed approximations but also the best available. To understand why the number experts grumbled, we first need to review major features of the BRS.


The new plan is called blended because it combines an immediate but also smaller annuity after 20 or more years of service with a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) enhanced by government matching of member contributions of up to four percent of basic pay plus an automatic one percent government contribution for all BRS participants, whether they contribute or not to TSP.


This 401(k)-like nest egg toward retirement is a portable benefit on leaving service. Veterans can roll the account into an employer 401(k) or continue to make contributions whether they served two years or 40 years in the military. Because this feature will benefit the great majority of members who leave service short of retirement eligibility at 20 years, the blended plan is expected to be a popular option, particularly with younger folks on their first or second enlistment and officers completing initial service obligation.


Committed careerists, however, are likely to stick with High-3 retirement, which will pay 20 percent more in lifetime annuities if full careers are a realistic goal. The blended plan has two other features High-3 doesn’t.


By current law, BRS participants are to receive a one-time “continuation payment” at the 12-year mark that, at a minimum, must equal two-and-half months of basic for active duty members who agree to serve four more years or one-half month of active pay for reserve component personnel who make the same deal.


Defense pay officials wanted the continuation payment to be used solely as a retention tool. So they asked Congress this year to lift all restrictions on amounts paid, when paid and to whom. Both the House and Senate declined to grant such flexibility in their separate versions of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill. But both chambers did vote to relax the timing of this feature so continuation pay can be offered from the 8th to 12th year of service in exchange for serving a minimum of three more years.


The last key feature of BRS allows those who reach retirement to receive in a lump sum 25 percent or 50 percent of their pre-old-age retirement annuities. In other words, here would be cash to help buy a home, start a business or pay off debts in return for reducing military annuities by one quarter or one half until age 67.


What bothered the Board of Actuaries about the RAND forecasts for number of members who will opt for BRS is that no one has calculated yet how attractive the lump sum feature will be. Another term for the missing ingredient is “personal discount rate.” Without that rate, which the board characterizes as a policy decision, RAND was forced to assume that no BRS member would elect the lump-sum distribution.


Because many will, however, the actuaries know the BRS opt-in estimates and, therefore, projected costs to properly fund the new military retirement option, are not precise enough to be acceptable. The board so advised Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a mid-July letter providing the board’s annual status report on the Military Retirement Fund.


“Although we are unable to opine on the analytical model used to produce RAND’s opt-in assumptions, we have approved [the Office of Actuary’s] reliance on these assumptions, produced by that model, because we have no better basis for projecting opt-in behavior,” the board advised.


“However, the significant uncertainty surrounding the opt-in process (for example with respect to the financial training to be provided to service members) and other aspects of BRS means the opt-in and other assumptions are likely to change as more experience and information about the new system (e.g., the discount rate to be used for lump sums) become available.”


Members who enter service on or after Jan. 1, 2018, have no choice; BRS will be their retirement plan. Another group with no choice are members with 12 or more years of service by Dec. 31, 2017. They will be grandfathered under current High-3 retirement.


Congress rejected not only the department’s idea to eliminate the minimum continuation payment but three other changes sought to the BRS to save an estimated $5.4 billion on retirement through fiscal 2021. Defense officials wanted TSP matching to start in the fifth year of service rather than the third year. That would have dampened the value of the plan substantially for participants after their first enlistment.


Officials also wanted TSP matching to continue until retirement rather end at 26 years of service, as the law now requires. Lawmakers decided this change would have benefitted primarily senior officers, and rejected it.


DoD also asked to raise maximum government contributions to TSP under the blended plan from five percent basic pay to six. Congress balked at the added cost and also reasoned the match should stay at five percent for parity with federal civilian TSP participants. Defense officials argued it’s not parity to match five percent of federal salaries against five percent of basic pay, ignoring that military folks get a large portion of pay as allowances.


Almost a Million Expected to Opt for ‘Blended’ Retirement


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Pentagon: “Play Hardball” Against Ryan Plan

(POLITICO 05 SEP 16) … Austin Wright and Jeremy Herb


The Pentagon has crafted a secret plan to play “hardball” against House Speaker Paul Ryan’s defense spending proposal, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO that calls for pitting the House and Senate against each other, capitalizing on the “discomfort” of one key Republican lawmaker and finding ways to undermine the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.


The five-page strategy blueprint also suggests possibly enlisting top military brass to help make the case that the Republican speaker’s budget “gimmick” would weaken the nation’s defenses.


The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary Bob Work, reads at times like an intelligence assessment of congressional leaders. It provides an unusually clear window into the tactics the Defense Department’s top officials are using in an increasingly partisan feud over their budget – particularly striking for an agency that seeks to avoid the perception of involvement in election-year politics.


The strategy it lays out will come to a head as Congress returns Tuesday, and will probably spill into the lame-duck session, as the House and Senate decide whether to include an extra $18 billion in war funding in the final defense authorization and appropriations bills they send to President Barack Obama.


The White House strongly objects to Ryan’s proposal to boost the Pentagon’s budget without increasing domestic spending, both of which are under tight caps imposed by a 2011 spending deal.


“We should attack” Ryan’s plan “and be prepared to play hardball opposing it,” says the May 13 memo, which calls for applying both “public and private pressure” on lawmakers to ensure the House Republican proposal doesn’t become law. That includes appealing to “media commentators” to help make the department’s case and possibly having Carter lobby congressional Democrats at one of their caucus meetings – a step that it acknowledges “risks the appearance of partisanship.”


In assessing the motivations of House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, the memo says the Texas Republican is “still smarting” from tactics the White House used in last year’s bout with Congress over defense spending.


Asked to respond to the memo, a Republican aide to Thornberry’s panel said it was striking “how cynical it is.”

“This isn’t a game of poker – this is national security,” said the aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


“They see the chairman’s legitimate oversight concerns and policy concerns that he is trying to address in the bill as nothing more than a talking point.”


Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said he would not discuss “internal department deliberations” but added the department’s “strong opposition to the House proposal should not be a surprise.”


“Secretary Carter and other senior leaders have repeatedly made clear their deep concerns with a proposal that raids $18 billion in war funds at a time of war, in order to buy force structure that the department has not requested and may be unable to support in the future,” Cook said. “In addition, the proposal also undermines the bipartisan budget agreement that has allowed the department to responsibly plan for the future in our budget proposal.”


The memo is more evidence of frayed ties between Congress and the Pentagon’s civilian leaders. Key lawmakers and their aides have been complaining for months about their toxic relationship with the Pentagon under Carter.


“We have less communication than any secretary of defense that I’ve ever been associated with,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told POLITICO before the long summer congressional recess. “Even when I wasn’t chairman we had more than this.”


Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute and former Senate aide, said Carter’s relationship with Congress has been rocky from the beginning.


“When I talk to the senior staff of those two committees, they will tick off on both hands multiple examples of slights,” she said. “He clearly sees no tangible negative impacts, or at least ones worth changing his behavior over.”


The Pentagon has shown some public signs that it is following the playbook outlined in the memo. In July, for example, it took the rare step of announcing the department’s lengthy objections to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act in a so-called “heartburn” letter, rather than the usual practice of quietly sending such concerns to the committees as part of the negotiations on the final bill.


The 23-page letter tore into the bills passed by both the House and Senate, with Carter writing he was “surprised and disappointed about the extent to which provisions in the bills could adversely affect our enterprise.” Cook announced the letter at a press briefing, saying that “Congress needs to join the department in making the tough budget choices that are necessary in this environment.”


The newly obtained strategy memo spells out the Pentagon’s tactics in greater detail.


The blueprint – written by Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord and legislative affairs chief Stephen Hedger, both former congressional aides – describes Obama’s threat to veto this year’s defense policy and spending bills as “the principal weapon at our disposal.” But it also says Carter might have to take an “all in” approach to opposing the House GOP plan.


At times, the memo appears to step up to the edge of what tactics are considered acceptable for the Pentagon as it lobbies Congress. In discussing its efforts to keep outside experts “informed” about its opposition to Ryan’s plan, for example, it adds that “the department cannot advocate that such individuals take any specific actions.”


At issue is a move by House leaders this year and last year to use a supplemental war spending account, called “Overseas Contingency Operations,” to increase overall defense spending while leaving other federal agencies under strict congressional budget caps. The Defense Department’s base budget is subject to these caps, but its war-spending account is not – so Republicans have sought to game the system by using overseas money to fund base programs.


This year they’ve gone even further, seeking to fund operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for only half of the next fiscal year. The House budget would shift money from the overseas contingency account to pay for base programs, forcing the next administration to seek supplemental war funds.


Obama vetoed the first draft of last year’s defense authorization bill over the issue – seeking to preserve a spending balance in Congress between the defense budget, which is a priority for many Republicans, and the domestic budget, a priority for Democrats.


Carter has sought to bolster the White House’s position by saying he doesn’t want extra money at the expense of other federal agencies if doing so would undermine “bipartisan stability,” as he told reporters in May. The legislative blueprint makes clear his public statements are part of a much broader lobbying campaign.


Among the suggested Pentagon tactics, according to the memo:


A bid to play the Senate, which did not include the extra overseas funding, against the House: “The secretary should also meet with or call Senators McCain and [Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad] Cochran who have both said they would not include the OCO gimmick in their bills and urge them to hold firm in conference.”


An assessment of House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (lack of) support for Ryan’s plan: “Importantly, we believe HAC-D Chairman Frelinghuysen may be less enthused about following the OCO gimmick format from the HASC bill, but has been directed to do so by the Speaker.


Capitalizing on his discomfort could help prevent the gimmick from surviving.”


An appraisal of Thornberry’s resolve: “We believe that Chairman Thornberry is still smarting from the veto sustaining vote that the FY2016 NDAA received the first time it was on the floor last year and has vowed to do everything in his power to ensure he gets a strong vote this year.” The memo notes that Thornberry’s “savvy inclusion” of Democratic priorities, such as a New Balance shoe provision and more submarines, “means he will probably achieve that strong vote.”


A plan to use the brass to bolster the department’s position: “Of the three or four aspects of opposition the department has already communicated, the idea that the gimmick gambles with war funding might resonate the loudest in Congress and the public. If that is the case, then the various courses of action described below should include significant senior military leader involvement.”


An effort to lobby Democrats, necessary to back up the veto threat, by having Carter appear at one of their caucus meetings: “This engagement can be crucial in convincing Democratic members, particularly in an election year, to take a potentially difficult vote in opposition to a defense bill. Appearing at these meetings does impact votes, but it also risks the appearance of partisanship.”


A move to enlist the support of outside sources: “The department can also ensure outside influencers, such as former secretaries, former military leaders, think tank leaders and media commentators are fully informed about the department’s concerns. The department cannot advocate that such individuals take any specific actions, however.”


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Budget Hell: Kendall Prays For 3-Month CR, Fears 6

(BREAKING DEFENSE 07 SEP 16) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


NATIONAL PRESS CLUB – The Pentagon’s top buyer is praying that Congress will only be three months late enacting a 2017 budget, instead of six. Frank Kendall’s frank comments made clear that on-time is off the table.


Kendall’s got cause for concern. Just yesterday, the Senate failed for the third time to pass a defense funding bill.

“The election coming up is obviously drawing a lot of attention,” Kendall said this morning at the annual Common Defense (ComDef) conference. “We have to get past that, and then I hope we can resolve whatever differences there are (between House and Senate). It may have to go into the next administration.”


The timeline looks ugly. The fiscal year begins October 1st, while the elections happen November 8th, more than a month later. Clinton or Trump won’t be sworn in as president until January 20, almost three months later. If Congress can’t pass a final funding bill in the next three weeks – or if it does but then President Obama vetoes it – the only options are a government shutdown or a stopgap Continuing Resolution.


“The best I think we can see is they will pass a continuing resolution … that will fund the government until sometime in December,” said budget analyst Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, speaking at ComDef after Kendall.


A CR which basically puts spending on autopilot at the previous year’s levels, with little to no leeway to adjust funding, let alone to start new programs or terminate old ones. You waste millions continuing things you want to cancel and delay new starts by months. A three-month CR – which, remember, is both Kendall and Harrison’s best case – is painful enough. A half-year CR – which some in Congress are considering – would be sheer agony.

“I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail and we’ll get three months,” Kendall said.


Harrison thinks three months is more likely than six. “We’ve never had a resolution that spans a change between administrations,” he said. “Even if Congress passed it, why would the president sign it?” A six-month CR would punt the decision to the next President, so Obama’s signature on it would be a death sentence on his own influence, Harrison said: “if he signs a continuing resolution that extends past January 20th, he’s basically given up.”


But there are many time-consuming hurdles before we can get a proper budget passed. Even once the Senate passes its appropriations bill, the draft legislation must be reconciled with the very different House version. The House would shift $18 billion from current combat operations – the Overseas Contingency Operations account – to broader readiness and acquisition needs, which the administration has denounced as an irresponsible fiscal gimmick. “They’ve funded the war for (only) half the year,” Kendall scoffed.


The same $18 billion gap exists between the House and Senate policy bills, aka the National Defense Authorization Act, which must be reconciled in parallel to the appropriations. “There’s not an instance in modern history where congress has failed to pass an NDAA in a presidential transition year before the new president took office,” Harrison reassured the ComDef audience. “It would be unprecedented.”


But there have been plenty of unprecedented events in recent years, from the 2013 sequestration to the rise of Trump, and Congress keeps getting more dysfunctional. Last year Obama vetoed the first version of the NDAA to pass Congress, using it as leverage for a deal on the Budget Control Act (aka sequestration). This month, a leaked Pentagon memo made explicit the administration’s plan to exploit the House-Senate divide to get what it considers a more responsible budget – but all this debate takes time.

“There are conference negotiations going on now (on the authorization bill); we’re talking to both sides at the staff level,” Kendall said. “There are a lot of things we need to get adjustments on” in both the authorization and appropriations bills. Kendall particularly denounced the House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which he called the longest NDAA draft ever, for its “micromanagement” of the Pentagon as well as the $18 billion gimmick.


Funding is fundamental, Kendall made clear. There’s been a lot of talk about innovation and excitement about new ideas – the Third Offset Strategy, the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Defense Innovation Unit (Experimental) – but actually realizing new ideas costs money.


“We are at risk of obscuring the resource problem by talking about innovation,” Kendall said. “We have may have created a (misperception) that our problem is a lack of innovation … The problem we have fundamentally is a lack of resources.”


“it’s good to have options. It’s better to have actual future investments,” he said.


Meanwhile, while Kendall waits on Congress, he’s working on the fourth iteration of his Better Buying Power initiative, BBP 4.0, to make the most of whatever funding the Pentagon does get. Whereas earlier BBP roll-outs focused on cost control, professionalism, and innovation, 4.0 will look specifically at service contracts and sustainment costs. The years or decades of operations, maintenance, and upgrades which dwarf the up-front costs of actually buying a weapon.


Kendall plans to make some progress on sustainment before Obama leaves office, but a full-up BBP 4.0 package will take into the next administration – if it decides to do it at all. “A year from now,” Kendall said to laughter, “people may not care at all what I think about anything.”


Budget Hell: Kendall Prays For 3-Month CR, Fears 6


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Better Buying Power 4.0 Would Focus On Sustainment

(DEFENSE NEWS 07 SEP 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, knows time is running out on the Obama administration, but he hopes to set the table for the next round of his Better Buying Initiative.


Speaking at the Common Defense forum Wednesday, Kendall was asked what a fourth iteration of his Better Buying Initiative – perhaps his signature series of policies – could look like.


Kendall zeroed in on a single word: “sustainability.”


“I’ve already started some work on this,” Kendall said. “We had done a lot of work under the early revisions of Better Buying Power on service contracting in particular. It was something we had in 1.0, we kept working and refining in 2.0 and 3.0. The thing we have not put a full court press on is the sustainment part.”


Kendall said there were “a few things I want to kick off” in that regard as the year winds down, but held up the idea of factoring in sustainment costs to source selections as one concept he is thinking about.


“It’s hard to do that because the costs are a long way away,” Kendall acknowledged, “but I think we need to do a better job about that. So sustainment to me is sort of the thing we have not put enough scrutiny on, we have not done enough about. So if I’m here to do a 4.0, even if I’m not, I think that is where we should look to next from a point of efficiency.”


Better Buying Power 3.0 was rolled out in April 2015, with a focus on bringing commercial technology into the Pentagon. At the time, Kendall said he had no idea what a 4.0 iteration could look like.


Speaking Wednesday, Kendall added that the Pentagon “should continue all the things we’re doing on cost conciseness.” But in an interview with Defense News, he stressed that being aware of costs has never been about cutting profits for the big defense firms.


“Profit margins have stayed flat or gone up a little bit in the last several years. So I think we have kept our commitment to industry to not have a ‘War on Profit,'” Kendall said. “Sales have come down because budgets have come down, but I think we have worked with industry to craft win-win business deals where they maintain profitability but we also got better results, and that is what our goal was.”

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips for the Week of August 22



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 top news clips for the week of Aug. 22:



Owen Assumes FRCSW Skipper’s Chair

FRCSW Manufacturing Increases Throughput



Air Boss: Navy Aviation Is Short On Readiness, But Not In Crisis

Congress Ponders A Future Without OCO

Lawmakers to Navy: Leave Marine One upkeep in Connecticut

V-22 Experiment On Carrier Shows Increased Flexibility Over C-2 In COD Mission

Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up A Runway

Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35

We Asked The U.S. Navy: What Will Replace The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet And EA-18G Growler?

Officer Selection Boards will no Longer Display Full-Length Photographs

Navy OK’s More Lenient Early Retirement Rules For Officers

Small Camera Saving Military Big Bucks




Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






Owen Assumes FRCSW Skipper’s Chair

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 24 Aug 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. Capt. Craig Owen relieved Capt. Timothy Pfannenstein as Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) commanding officer Aug. 11 in ceremonies held at the new FRCSW helicopter maintenance facility in Building 325 on Naval Air Station North Island. Capt. Owen previously served as the command’s executive officer.


Following the arrival of the official party and national anthem, Capt. Pfannenstein opened the ceremony with welcoming remarks and introduced the presiding officer Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, commander, Fleet Readiness Centers and guest speaker, Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force.


During his remarks, Rear Adm. Zarkowski spoke of the continued demand upon naval aviation forces and the crucial role the Fleet Readiness Centers play in providing assets to the warfighters.


“Across naval aviation the goal remains the same: Improving readiness of aircraft currently in the fleet by becoming more predictive, less reactive; improving the affordability and speed of delivery of these capabilities to our Sailors and Marines,” he said.


Zarkowski turned his focus to Pfannenstein’s tenure as FRCSW’s commanding officer and efforts to improve readiness and service to the fleet.


“Capt. Pfannenstein achieved breakthrough results in plant operations and overall throughput of depot repair modifications,” he said. “He leveraged intra-service logistic support to expand the scope of FRCSW’s support to the fleet, and led efforts to expand maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services with joint international agencies, and to identify new partnership opportunities within the Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force.”


Addressing the command’s employees, Zarkowski said: “The lines of effort you are pursuing here provide critical support to our warfighters, you extend the service life our platforms, you perform in-service repairs forward deployed and you are our back force multiplier.”


After his concluding remarks, Zarkowski introduced Rear Adm. Sohl.


Under Pfannenstein’s leadership, Sohl noted, FRCSW earned the fiscal year 2015 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Aviation Safety Award and the CNO’s FY 2015 Environmental Award for Sustainability, Industrial Installation.


“Capt. Pfannenstein made workforce development a priority,” Sohl said. “He began or jumpstarted numerous professional training and development initiatives including reinvigorating the command apprenticeship program in partnership with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.”


Addressing Level Two achievements during Pfannenstein’s leadership at North Island and FRCSW Site Point Mugu, Sohl noted their selections as the CNO’s nominee for the Secretary of Defense’s Phoenix Award for field-level maintenance performed by a medium-sized organization.


He pointed out that the Level Two shops repaired 37,500 components worth $442 million, and achieved an overall ready-for-issue (RFI) rate of 91 percent, and a 100 percent RFI rate for T-56 and T-700 engines and axillary power units.


Following Sohl’s remarks, Zarkowski presented Pfannenstein with the Legion of Merit Award for outstanding achievement as FRCSW commanding officer.


In his farewell remarks, Pfannenstein referenced the hosting site of the ceremony — the command’s 100,000 square-foot helicopter maintenance facility that was completed on January 21.


“This building represents the future of naval aviation. It is an impressive facility and it is where our vision of 2020 and beyond will take us in the FRC and NAE enterprise,” he said.


Afterward, he thanked the command’s artisans and support staff for not only their steadfast work during his tenure, but also for their support in creating a successful safety program which has pervaded the workplace culture.


He also noted the professionalism and personal conduct of the Sailors who served under his command.


After the reading of orders and the exchanges of salutes and during his opening remarks, Owen pointed out the rarity of civilian FRC workers in the nation’s workforce.


“In the United States the entire labor force is approximately 160 million people,” he said. “Compare that 160 million to the less than 4,000 civilian employees of the FRC. The FRC employees make up .007 percent of that total labor force of our country.”


“Our employees are masters and doctors of their trades, and what these professionals do every day for the Naval and Marine Corps aviation is truly remarkable,” he added.


Owen then turned his attention to the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) and said that continuing successful NAE operations must rely upon the application of the existing 12 Integrated Product Support Elements (IPS).


The IPS is comprised of three management categories with four subcategories each that target production processes from infrastructure to technical support.


“We must understand all 12 elements and execute them in our everyday business,” he said. “And by following the 12 elements, we will solve many of our challenges.”


Also contributing to the ceremony were the FRCSW Color Guard and the Navy Region Southwest Band.


Pfannenstein assumed command of FRCSW on August 8, 2014. His next assignment will be as the 6.0B logistics head for Naval Air Systems Command.


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FRCSW Manufacturing Increases Throughput

AIRSpeed Tools Garnish Significant Gains

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST ALMANAC) . Jim Markle, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


Since fiscal year (FY) 2013, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) manufacturing in Building 472 has managed to increase its production throughput by 345 percent. How? By using AIRSpeed – The continuous process improvement program that has been in use throughout the naval aviation enterprise for almost 10 years.


AIRSpeed offers a “toolset” of Lean, Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints to increase production efficiencies and reduce turnaround times.


`Lean’ is a move to identify waste (time, material, etc.) in a production process; while Six Sigma increases production improvement by eliminating variation in a process; and Theory of Constraints identifies restrictions to processes that interfere with the flow of production systems.


“We aren’t afraid to challenge older processes,” said Arnel Canja, integrated process team leader for FRCSW manufacturing. “And with our level of communication between planning, programming, our shops and lab engineers, everybody is heard. So when someone has a concern, we address it as a team.”


Canja leads a team of 36 artisans including sheet metal mechanics, welders and heat treaters that provide mostly structural parts for Navy and some Air Force aircraft. They work with an array of metals including aluminum, steel, titanium and composite laminated materials.


“The composites are a mixture of resins and are used for insulating electrical wires, cables or conduits running through the aircraft. We’ll bolt those on the side of the aircraft to keep them from chafing,” said sheet metal mechanic supervisor Charlie Greer.


The code’s artisans also manufacture hydraulic tubing for aircraft. Many of the products are critical safety items (CSI) for the aircraft which undergo stringent processes to meet CSI requirements.


For CSI, FRCSW manufacturing looks to quality assurance and engineering for support. The code also works in conjunction with many of the command’s processing shops including paint, blasting, plating, NDI and production control.


To ensure a steady production stream, Canja said that communication improvements were targeted first, followed by a review of tooling requirements.


“Because of the lack of proper tooling, our setup time took longer,” Canja said. “So we had to substitute tools which could potentially compromise our programs, or, not run our jobs at all.”


To resolve the issue the code coordinated with the Defense Logistics Agency and the central tool room to establish pre-expended bins, which ensure that the tools and hardware needed for specific tasks, are readily available to the artisans.


To maintain organizational readiness and to compensate for the effects of attrition to its high-end skilled artisans, Canja said that positions were established to enable artisans to move into computer numerically controlled (CNC) programmer and model maker billets.


“The model makers are a hybrid,” Canja said. “They are highly skilled machinists who can program as well as operate and run the CNC machines.”


“We established a quick response area: Our model makers would handle the parts that didn’t require an extended amount of time in terms of programming. They would program it and run it from beginning to end; so we eliminated the hand-off from the programmer to the machinist because the model maker does it all.”

The code recently added two new CNC 5-axis machines which are used to manufacture complex parts including LM2500 engine components, and form dyes for the foundry.


“We get a critically accurate part from that (CNC) process. Our customer feedback has been very good because the parts we manufacture bolt right into place, as opposed to making adjustments to fit,” Greer said.


“We’ve made form guides for aircraft skins and E-2/C-2 airframe hatch channels (an extension joint on the aircraft where two major surfaces join), which is a part we’ve never made before. We tried to outsource those, but couldn’t find a buyer. So we took on the challenge and were able to do it.”


Improving customer service and increasing throughput on sheet metal products required a shift from manufacturing customer requested oversized parts to blueprint-specific parts only.


“They wanted oversized parts so they could trim them on the plane (during installation),” Canja said.


“Customers were happy with that sometimes and sometimes they were not, and we would get that rework. So by going to blueprint specs the customers were happier, and we didn’t have to rework the parts. This increased our throughput because we eliminated that rework time.”


To increase overall production, Canja said a move to identify defective work orders in processes in and outside of manufacturing was established.


“We implemented process improvement steps whether to adjust, or create a rapid improvement event or a project. And we collaborated with our support groups in terms of eliminating or mitigating problems that we were having. That helped increase throughput by parts monitoring, damage and lost parts,” he said.


Canja stressed that achieving production goals and milestones through the application of AIRSpeed tools lies in communication and collaboration.


“We work as a cohesive unit. Sometimes to get a job done, one person has to be an expert in multiple trades. Our lines of communication are open; so if one area can’t do it, then we help that area or code out. It’s one team, one effort here. If one person is falling short, then we’re all falling short.”


From 2013 to 2014, FRCSW manufacturing garnished a throughput increase of approximately 8,000 parts and 6,000 more through FY 2015. FY 2016 throughput is projected to exceed more than 30,000 parts.


“But our process improvement is still ongoing; we’re still identifying areas and we’re still in the infancy of where we want to be. We hope within three years to double or triple our throughput,” Canja said.


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Air Boss: Navy Aviation Is Short On Readiness, But Not In Crisis

(NAVY TIMES, 18 Aug 16) … Meghann Myers


It’s been a rough year so far for deadly crashes in the Navy and Marine Corps, but the Navy’s aviation boss believes that the two are unrelated.


The Navy is not in a crisis, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said Thursday at the Center for Security and International Studies at Washington, D.C., but it is struggling to stay trained up and well maintained on its tight budget.


Quoting Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., the pace is burning out ships, aircraft and sailors, Shoemaker said. That is particularly apparent in squadrons’ post-deployment and maintenance phases, when there aren’t enough ready aircraft to keep pilots in the air and not enough money to fix the grounded planes.


“What we’ve seen over the last – since we’ve come through a heavy use period and recovering from sequestration – we’re not able to fully execute those accounts,” he said of their yearly target flight hours. “Those accounts have not been resourced to meet the flight-hour account.”


The pain is felt most in the strike fighter and E-2 Hawkeye communities, which can be frustrating for aviators who want as much experience as possible to stay competitive. But, Shoemaker said, the deficit is manageable.


“Right now it’s below what we target for maintenance phase, and it’s below our tactical hard deck,” he added.


Still, the well-known lack of readiness has raised questions as to whether the Navy’s mishap rates are connected.


There were 20 and 19 Class A mishaps between the Navy and Marine Corps and fiscal years 2014 and 2015, respectively, meaning they resulted in a death or permanent total disability and/or more than $2,000,000 in damage.


With six weeks left in this fiscal year, the services are on track to do slightly better, with 15 mishaps. Deaths, however, are up this year, including three strike fighter pilots killed in the span of eight days this summer – all three Marines, one a member of the Blue Angels.


But so far, Shoemaker said, it doesn’t look like any of those tragedies were the fault of inexperienced pilots.

“Trying to make a tie to readiness or proficiency, in every case, that’s not there,” he said.


Total Overhaul


All but two communities in naval aviation – the recently transitioned EA-18G Growler and the E-6B Mercury – are in the midst of testing and introducing new aircraft, Shoemaker said.


This summer has seen strides for both the strike fighter and carrier on-board delivery communities, with a third and final round of carrier testing for the F-35C and three initial “battle experiments” for the MV-22 Osprey.


The plan is to hit initial operational capability for the F-35C in late 2018, Shoemaker said. With 30 total F-35Cs and one operational squadron – Strike Fighter Squadron 101 – the next steps are to stand up the VFA-125 fleet replacement squadron next year to train new pilots and to wait for software upgrades that will flesh out the F-35’s ability to carry out Navy missions.


The CMV-22B Osprey, as the Navy will call it, is still five years from hitting the fleet. For now, the focus is on figuring out how the tilt-rotor craft will integrate as a transport vehicle to the carrier, as the job has been done by the C-2A Greyhound propeller plane for the past 50 years.


The Osprey has had a sketchy but improving safety record, though Shoemaker said he wasn’t hearing worries from the fleet. Beyond that, there are some concerns about its ability to carry as much cargo and as many passengers as the Greyhound.


It’s true that the Osprey has less space than its predecessor, Shoemaker said, but the plan is to make up for it with a more flexible aircraft. Seats can be added or removed in the Osprey to accommodate cargo, he said, and because the Osprey can land at night – which was never done with the Greyhound – that could mean a third daily supply run during a deployment.


The Osprey is also less work for the carrier’s crew, he said. It takes about six people to launch and recover the helicopter-like vehicle, rather than 40 or so to operate the catapult and arresting gear required to launch and recover a C-2.


“Although we give up a little bit in people and cargo, I think the flexibility Osprey brings will be good,” Shoemaker said.


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Congress Ponders A Future Without OCO

(POLITICO, 18 Aug 16) … Connor O’Brien and Jeremy Herb


As Congress haggles over tapping the Pentagon’s war account, some lawmakers want a new way for the Defense Department to plan and pay for its everyday operations and military contingencies.


In interviews with POLITICO, several lawmakers said they’re interested in overhauling the way the Pentagon’s war budget is funded after repeated fights over using it to increase overall defense spending, which led to a veto of the National Defense Authorization Act last year.


The special Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which is exempt from the spending caps set by the Budget Control Act, has been derided by members of both parties as a “slush fund” that finances far more than immediate wartime needs.


“That would be an honest and transparent way to go back to funding the military, the way we have for decades,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That is: You put it all in the budget, and you’re held accountable in the same way you’re held accountable for the rest of the budget.”


Eliminating OCO funding – or as much of it as possible – would effectively limit the number of tools Congress has to evade the budget caps and increase spending without offsets.


But lawmakers and experts on both sides of the issue concede eliminating the special account would be nearly impossible politically and logistically. And efforts to remove all or parts of war funding in defense policy and spending bills have so far fallen flat.


“There’s a very easy way to do it. You eliminate the Budget Control Act and you increase domestic spending by the same amount as the defense budget,” said Gordon Adams, a former budget official in the Clinton administration who’s now a professor at American University. “That’s technically not complicated at all. But politically – forget about it.”


While a major shift in the defense budget process may be politically difficult, that camp could find a significant ally in a potential Clinton administration in Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.


The war fund is “now used the wrong way” and can’t be counted on more than one year at a time, he says.


“We’ve just moved to this position where OCO is the end-run around the budget caps that Congress foolishly put in place,” Kaine told POLITICO in an interview before Clinton tapped him as her running mate. “I definitely think we ought to reform the budget, if not eliminate OCO, try to pull as much into the base as we can.”


For others, America’s post-9/11 military engagement, including the nearly 15 year-long war in Afghanistan, are so enduring that the Defense Department should be able to factor it into its normal budgeting process.


“I’ve said in committee, I have said in subcommittee and elsewhere that I don’t believe OCO should exist at all,” Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, the top Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said during a hearing last year.


“I believe the world circumstances we face today are the new normal and the administration, whoever it is, ought to anticipate that in their budget,” he said.


Still, any effort to eliminate OCO entirely, skeptics say, would require the unlikely repeal of the budget caps, which has proven politically impossible since the Budget Control Act was enacted in 2011.


“It’s not going to happen because the majority of both parties in both branches want and need it to continue.” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It’s just that simple, because everybody can say that their position prevailed and they’re right.”


“As long as we have the budget caps in effect, we are going to have OCO funding, irregardless of what’s going on in the world, because OCO funding has become the grease, the lubricant that makes the wheels of the budget process turn,” added defense budget expert Todd Harrison at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


To help cover a projected shortfall in the Pentagon’s base budget for the coming fiscal year, the House defense policy bill maintains the president’s defense topline, including $59 billion in OCO funding, but allocates $18 billion from the war account to cover base budget spending.


The maneuver funds a slew of politically popular items, including a higher military pay raise, thousands more active-duty troops in the Army and Marine Corps and more fighter jets, ships and helicopters.


Designed to force a supplemental funding request from the next president, the approach has drawn a veto threat from the White House, which said it would create “a dangerous level of uncertainty” for overseas operations. But House appropriators nevertheless followed suit, dedicating nearly $16 billion in war funds to pay for base priorities.


The Senate defense policy and spending bills don’t tap OCO to backfill the base budget, though Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) unsuccessfully pushed to increase the defense topline by $18 billion, proposing to use war dollars to pay for many of the same big-ticket items funded by the House.


Criteria for designating OCO funding issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2010 have largely been adhered to with “notable exceptions,” said former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale, now an adviser at the giant consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.


He points to newer programs like the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund and the European Reassurance Initiative – a combined $4.4 billion request for next year – as line items that could arguably be housed in the base budget.


“Ideally, though, you would get rid of everything in OCO that isn’t reasonably closely related to wartime needs,” Hale said. “And clearly, there are a number of items in there now that are not.”


While far from perfect, Hale contends OCO is preferable to the emergency supplemental appropriations bills previously used to fund the wars, which the former comptroller said were often poorly timed and executed and cut congressional authorizers out of the process.


“It has allowed the Department of Defense to fully meet the needs of warfighters … in a period of enormous budgetary turmoil,” he said. “I mean, think of what we went through and I think it is because of OCO, or at least largely so, that we were able to meet all their needs, and that’s very important.”


“So, it’s got some things going for it,” Hale added. “I don’t think you want to go back to emergency supplementals.”


The ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, who has been a vocal critic of the broadened use of OCO, said he’d be open to an “intelligent way” of winding down the war fund, but doubts it’s possible.


“It would very, very hard to simply build it into the base,” he said.


“I see the wisdom of that. I certainly see that OCO has been abused,” Smith explained. “But it just has fluctuated so much that it’s hard to build it into a base budget when you don’t know what’s going to be happening.”


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Lawmakers to Navy: Leave Marine One upkeep in Connecticut

(The Associated Press, 22 Aug 16)


HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s congressional delegation is urging the U.S. Navy to suspend any possible plans to shift maintenance of the Marine One presidential helicopter fleet from Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford to a facility in Florida.


Members of the state’s all-Democratic delegation sent a letter Monday to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus urging him to hold off on any relocation pending a “thorough review of all direct and indirect costs” of a possible relocation.


The delegation says no other facility has the expertise to maintain the helicopters. They say the fleet has been supported and maintained by about 85 workers in Stratford over the past four decades.


Sikorsky was acquired by Maryland-based Lockheed Martin in 2015.


Negotiations concerning the Marine One contract between Lockheed Martin and the Navy recently fell through.


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V-22 Experiment On Carrier Shows Increased Flexibility Over C-2 In COD Mission

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS, 18 Aug 16) … Megan Eckstein


Using the MV-22 Osprey as the basis for the Navy’s new Carrier On-Board Delivery (COD) is poised to add significant operational flexibility and reduce flight deck manpower requirements, the Navy’s Air Boss said today.


Commander of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said a recent Fleet Battle Experiment to begin integrating the V-22 tiltrotor into fixed wing cyclic operations on an aircraft carrier went very well.


In January 2015 the Navy chose to replace its decades-old C-2 Greyhound with a version of the Osprey dubbed the CMV-22B – which will be the Marine Corps’ Osprey, plus an extended range fuel tank, long-range communications and a public address system for passengers in the back. The decision raised several concerns about the cargo-carrying capacity of the Osprey, the range and altitude at which the tiltrotor could fly, and how a vertical-landing aircraft replacing a fixed-wing plane would affect flight deck operations.


Shoemaker, speaking at an event cohosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Naval Institute, said there is no reason for concern.


By the end of the experiment, the crew of USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) had figured out how to land and unload the Osprey in about 20 minutes for passenger delivery missions and about 30 minutes for cargo delivery missions. That fits within the flight deck’s natural cycle, in which the plane might launch a number of aircraft at once, and recover a number of aircraft perhaps an hour or more later.


More than just being able to land and unload the cargo quickly, Shoemaker said using the V-22 instead of the C-2 greatly reduced the manpower burden on the ship. Because the Osprey lands and takes off like a helicopter instead of requiring the steam catapult launcher and the arrested landing gear like a fixed-wing plane, “it takes about six folks to launch and recover an Osprey. It would take about 40 or so to man up the ship to bring in the (current) COD. So that’s some unique operating benefits that I think come with the Osprey.”


Additionally, the Osprey can land on the aircraft carrier at night whereas the C-2 does not perform nighttime carrier landings. So the V-22 could land day or night, and even on days when the rest of the airwing is not flying and therefore the catapult and arresting gear isn’t running.


Shoemaker acknowledged that the inside of the V-22 is slightly smaller than the C-2, meaning the plane can deliver a bit less cargo or a couple fewer people, “but I think the way you do the reconfiguring of seats inside the Osprey gives you some opportunity to do passenger/cargo mix and quickly reconfigure in a way we didn’t have with the C-2.


“I think when we put in the extended range package that will be part of the CMV-22, it will be at C-2 range, comparable to that or even actually beyond, around 1,100-plus miles for legs,” the Air Boss added.


In total, “although we gave up a little bit in people and cargo, I think the flexibility the Osprey brings will be good,” he said.


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Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up A Runway

(DOD BUZZ, 18 Aug 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


Before seven of the Navy’s carrier-variant F-35 Joint Strike Fighters embarked aboard the carrier USS George Washington for its third and final round of developmental testing, they completed a required ashore training period, practicing landings at Choctaw Naval Outlying Field near Pensacola, Florida. The landings went well – maybe a little too well.


“They were landing in the same spot on the runway every time, tearing up where the hook touches down,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of Naval Air Forces, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Thursday. “So we quickly realized, we needed to either fix the runway or adjust, put some variants in the system. So that’s how precise this new system is.”


The new system in question is called Delta Flight Path, a built-in F-35C technology that controls glide slope and minimizes the number of variables pilots to monitor as they complete arrested carrier landings. A parallel system known as MAGIC CARPET, short for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, is being developed for use with the Navy’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. Together, these systems may allow carriers to operate with fewer tankers, leaving more room for other aircraft, Shoemaker said. reported on the implications of this new landing technology from the carrier George Washington earlier this week, as the first operational pilot-instructors with Strike Fighter Squadron 101, out of Oceana, Virginia, began daytime carrier qualifications on the aircraft. On Thursday, Shoemaker had an update on the ongoing carrier tests.


Of about 100 F-35C arrested landings completed on the carrier, he said, 80 percent engaged the 3-wire, meaning the aircraft had touched down at the ideal spot. As of Monday, there had been zero bolters, when the aircraft misses an arresting wire and must circle the carrier for another attempt.


“I think that’s going to give us the ability to look at the way we work up and expand the number of sorties. I think it will change the way we operate around the ship … in terms of the number of tankers you have to have up, daytime and nighttime,” he said. “I think that will give us a lot of flexibility in the air wing in the way we use those strike fighters.”


Tankers, or in-air refueling aircraft, come into play because they as required to be at the ready when aircraft make arrested landings in case they run low on fuel during landing attempts. Fewer bolters means, prospectively, a reduced tanker requirement.


“Right now we configure maybe six to eight tankers aboard the ship,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t think we need to that many. That will give us flexibility on our strike fighter numbers, increase the Growler numbers, which I know we’re going to do, and probably E2D [Advanced Hawkeye carrier-launched radar aircraft] as well.”


The F-35C’s last developmental testing phase is set to wrap up Aug. 23. MAGIC CARPET is expected to be introduced to the fleet in 2019, officials have said.


Navy F-35C Landed So Precisely, It Tore Up a Runway


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Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35

(INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY, 18 Aug 16) . Gillian Rich


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Navy plans to “continue to modernize” Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 Super Hornets, said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, calling newer versions “4.5-generation” fighters.


During a talk Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Shoemaker said he isn’t minimizing the need for Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) F-35, a fifth-generation fighter. Instead, he sees a role for both of them.


“We absolutely need the F-35 as soon as we can get it,” he said. “We want to pair those two up together.”


Shoemaker said the two jets could be flown in tandem to take advantage of the planes’ “very good complement of high-low mix.”


Boeing shares rose 0.2% to 135 in the stock market today. Lockheed shares fell 0.1% to 255.42. Northrop Grumman (NOC), a major F-35 contractor, was down 0.2% to 218.14


It’s unclear how many more Super Hornets the Pentagon will buy. Without additional orders, Boeing faces the end of its production run. Currently, the Navy has money in its budget for two Super Hornets in 2017 and 14 in 2018.


But the service could purchase even more Super Hornets as part of its unfunded spending request, and Congress seems keen to keep the production line open. Boeing has said it needs 24 orders per year to keep the production line alive past 2020.


A deal between Boeing and Kuwait for 28 Super Hornets, with an option for 12 more, is facing political roadblocks, so Kuwait recently ordered Eurofighter Typhoons instead.


Meanwhile, Shoemaker said that, despite some setbacks with the F-35’s development, the Navy has plans to declare the new fighter ready for combat in late 2018. The Navy still needs the new 3F software update on the plane, however.


The Air Force declared initial operational capability for its version of the F-35 earlier this month, and the Marine Corps declared its version combat-ready last year.


Navy To Modernize Boeing Super Hornets To Fly With Lockheed F-35



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We Asked The U.S. Navy: What Will Replace The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet And EA-18G Growler?

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST, 23 Aug 16) … Dave Majumdar


The U.S. Navy’s analysis of alternatives (AOA) for its next generation replacement for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet is well underway. The AOA will be roughly a year-and-half long, but the process is its infancy. While the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program will aim to fill the gap in the carrier air wing when the Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft retire, the service does not yet have any concepts emerging from that on-going analysis.


“There are no concepts yet that have come up,” Rear Adm. (Upper Half) DeWolfe Miller, the Navy’s director of air warfare told The National Interest during an interview in the Pentagon on Aug. 23. “So myself and deputy undersecretary of the navy for airwarfare – DASN (Air) [Gary Kessler] – are the two co-chairs of that AOA.”


The Navy’s AOA is looking at a broad range of concepts that would fill the void left by the Super Hornet and Growler in the 2030s using “set-based design methodology,” Miller said. The Navy and the Air Force will conduct two separate AOAs for their respective sixth-generation fighter efforts that will likely develop two separate solutions for their respective missions. That being said, the two jets could share technology and they will be able to operate together seamlessly. “We will leverage each other on the technology and we’ll leverage each other on the interoperability,” Miller said. “So we’ll be informed of what each others’ efforts are doing.”


Indeed, the Navy is examining family of system approaches, individual system approaches, manned and unmanned as well as optionally manned capabilities. “It’s going to be very broad reaching,” Miller said. “What it’s going to look at are the capabilities in the 2030 timeframe – take a look at the capabilities the air wing needs to have to win in that 2030 timeframe.”


The process that the Navy is using essentially projects the carrier air wing out to the future using its current design. To examine the gap left by the F/A-18-series airframe, the Super Hornet and Growler would be removed from the air wing, Miller explained. “What they’ll do is take our air wing of that timeframe and they’ll remove the Super Hornets and they’ll remove the Growler, and they’ll say: ‘OK, what are the capabilities that we need to provide. That’s when they’ll start to come up with various options that they’ll bring forward to us.”


While the NGAD will be a “follow-on” to the Super Hornet and the Growler, it will not simply be a new version of the F/A-18E/F aircraft, Miller said. The Navy will have to understand exact what capabilities the air wing needs, what the carrier strike group needs and what the overall U.S. military’s joint forces need from the new fighter.


As such, it is not possible to address questions of stealth, performance or weapons at this stage. “They’re going to take look at what the air wing needs and how that air wing fits into the overall joint fight,” Miller said, adding.


“It’s in the embryonic stages here of starting.”


Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.


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Officer Selection Boards will no Longer Display Full-Length Photographs

(CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL, 23 Aug 16) . Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs


WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced today in NAVADMIN 186/16 that officers’ full-length photographs will no longer be displayed during promotion selection or administrative boards, starting with the Active-Duty O-8 selection board in the fall of 2016.


After a review, it was determined that removing photos, which do not provide significant value to the selection board process, will lessen an administrative burden. Officers will still be required to have a current full-length photo as part of their official personnel record.


“During selection boards, hundreds of records are reviewed in a short period of time by board members,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke. “By enacting this change, it is our belief that we will help selection board members more closely focus their attention on the entirety of Sailors’ documented performance records.”


Additionally, officers’ records fully capture physical fitness assessment and body composition metrics.


More information on the full-length photograph requirement for officers can be found in NAVADMIN 103/07 and MILPERSMAN 1070-180.


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Navy OK’s More Lenient Early Retirement Rules For Officers

(NAVY TIMES, 23 Aug 16) … Mark D. Faram


Navy personnel officials are tweaking the rules for commanders and captains wanting to retire in their current grade and punch out up to a year early.


Since 2008, the Navy has allowed O-5s and O-6s with at least 24-months time-in-grade to request a waiver and retire sooner than the 36 months normally required. In addition, the requests no longer need final approval by the chief of naval personnel. The new rules give community managers more leeway to OK routine early retirement requests.


Now, only cases where officials feel they can’t support the early out will the request reach CNP’s desk for a final determination.


So far this fiscal year, 29 officers from six officer communities have gotten permission punch out under the old rules and officials say these recent tweaks, announced in NavAdmin 182/16, released Aug. 16.


Navy officials allow up to 50 takers each year, but insist there’s no quotas that must be filled.


And community health in the officer corps is good enough that a lack of applicants won’t force the Navy into mandatory cuts or selective early retirement boards, officials say.


“Approval of a time-in-grade wavier is based on each community’s inventory compared against requirements,” said Sharon Anderson, spokeswoman for the chief of naval personnel. “In the last few years, the number of requests has not exceeded the goal, therefore community managers and strength planners do not anticipate receiving a large number of requests that approaches the goal number.”


Under current policies, the Navy secretary can approve retirement in grade with as little as 24 months served in highest grade and that authority has been delegated down to CNP and now the community managers.


However, by law, such waivers can be granted with as little as six months time-in-grade, but those requests require presidential approval, Anderson said.


For those who can’t get community waivers to retire early at their current paygrade, because they can’t meet the 24-month minimum time in grade, the program allows officers to take a reduction in grade and retire.


The NavAdmin says that officers willing to take this cut in grade – and with it reduced retired pay – if their time in grade wavier is denied should include a next lower grade waiver request in their package that will be considered if their original request to retire early in their current grade is denied.


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Small Camera Saving Military Big Bucks

(HAVELOCK (NC) NEWS 24 AUG 16) … Drew C. Wilson


A small video camera is saving the Navy and Marine Corps big money.


A new initiative to use video borescopes to inspect engine blades for damage is saving millions of dollars, officials say. In the last year, 35 Marines have gained certification in a common video borescope class for the AV-8B Harrier F-402 Pegasus engine.


“Right now, we have actually saved six to seven engines on wing this year alone and by just a couple engines have saved the Marine Corps millions and millions of dollars’ worth of headache and resources,” said Charles Dowdle, a Rolls Royse field service representative teaching the class.


The Pegasus engine is one of the most complex used by the Navy and the Marine Corps, he said.


“Our engine is very unique. It has the least amount of forward object damage allowed on any of the Navy and Marine Corps engines, so we had to come up with the best possible criteria to actually have a safe aircraft,” Dowdle said.


The two-week, 84-hour course teaches Marines how to locate evidence of impacts on each of the 657 blades in the high-pressure compressor of the engine. They use a miniature camera on the end of a rod to make photographs and measure imperfections between five-thousandths of an inch all the way up to 25-thousandths of an inch. Their measurements must be within three-thousandths of an inch, which is less than the thickness of a dollar bill.


“Since we’ve started doing this, we have made all of the Marines fully award of FOD, the Forward Object Damage on the flight line, on their parking spaces, and they have been very hyper aware of inspecting their low pressure compressors, the blades, where they can actually see inside the intakes,” said Dowdle.


Such inspection is critical to making sure the jets are safe to fly, but the monetary savings is real,” Dowdle said.

“It saves money,” he said. “It’s about $1.5 million to actually change an engine out and 750 man hours.”


The cost per engine is between $3 million and $4 million, which includes shipping, labor and parts.


Marines trained in the operation of the camera system are using it now.


“We have successfully employed them and we have saved six engines so far out in the fleet through this last year,” said Dowdle. “It wasn’t until we got enough qualified Marines in the squadrons that we were actually able to use it. Now they have been employed to Bahrain and on the boats successfully and have utilized the borescope correctly and they have saved engines through our training and they have saved lives.”


The blades on the engines are required to be inspected every 30 hours of flight. Major damage requires replacement of the engine, but minor impacts can be “blended.”


“If it’s really bad, then we’ll go ahead and get the Rolls Royce bore blend team out to their aircraft to blend it out and save the $1.5 million and keep the aircraft in the warfighting shape, or if it is bad, we will go ahead and issue them another engine and keep them safe and flying,” said Dowdle.


He said the process of inspection can take three to five hours, depending on the experience of the Marine.


“So if they have 10 aircraft and each aircraft flies 30 hours, that means they have to do 10 inspections in a month, so if they do that over a year, that’s quite a lot of inspections so they need to be good at inspecting,” Dowdle said.


Stewart Hassell, an aerospace engineer who supports the F-402 engine, said the video borescope first proved its worth in 2013. He said four spare engines were sent to the USS Kearsarge, and upon inspection with the camera, three were rejected with pre-existing damage.


“So that brought this need to light,” said Hassell. “We saw the need for some training to get people certified on how to correctly measure the damage inside the engine.”


Marines in the course have to take three pictures per impact and make measurements. Their accuracy is checked against a master book of all the known impacts on each engine blade.


Cpl. Kyle Rettinger, from Marine Attack Squadron 223, said the work is challenging and tedious.

“You just have to be real precise because they are such small measurements,” said Rettinger.


Cpl. Nolan Brewer, also with VMA-223, said the training was a good learning experience.


“It’s something that I won’t just use in the Corps,” Brewer said. “I plan on doing aviation when I’m out, and this is a nice step for me, a nice learning experience.”


Because of the program, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 has 14 engines ready for inspection and ready to go out anywhere in the world.


“It is the first time in 20 years that we have had so many engines ready to go at any one time than we have had in the history of Harrier aviation just because of this CBS class, hyper awareness of forward object damage on the flight line and the formal class that we have taught from our FST engineers to our Marines,” said Dowdle.


“This is a legacy engine and we don’t make any more of them, so we have to take care of them.”










FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of August 15, 2016


New fall protection on the rise at FRCSE

Town halls boosting 6.0�s comm efforts

Fault Detection System Will Improve Hornet GCU Service

Sikorsky loses Marine One repair work; about 85 jobs to be affected

Navy Engineers explore the world of Additive Manufacturing



Newest P-8A Poseidon Upgrade Includes ‘Minotaur’ Software

GOP, Dems Dig In For Defense Fight

GAO And Pentagon Disagree On Budgeting For Operations And Maintenance

The Budgetary Game Of ‘Chicken’ Needs To End

Navy F-35s Begin Final Round Of Sea Trials Aboard USS George Washington

Navy Pilots Describe How The F-35�s Brains Will Change Air Warfare

Pilots To Test Fix For F-35 Helmet �Green Glow� Problem

F-35’s New Landing Technology May Simplify Carrier Operations

F-35C Back At Sea For 3rd Round Of Carrier Tests

The Pentagon Is Closer To Extending A Generous New Benefit To Millions Of Veterans

USMC Outlines Super Stallion Fleet Overhaul Plans

The Military�s Real Readiness Crisis; Petraeus & O�Hanlon Are Wrong

Navy Announces Adjustments to Time-In-Grade Waiver Policy

Navy Weighs E-Cigarette Ban Amid Safety Concerns

Q&A: Outgoing Navy Chief Talks Submarines, F-35s And His Legacy

Private Sector To Fill Gaps In Military Aviation Training





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New fall protection on the rise at FRCSE

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 12 Aug 16) � Fleet Readiness Center Southeast


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. � Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) artisans on the P-3 line now have protection from above.


Though they�re made of metal, the P-3 line�s new fall protection devices could prove to be a Godsend if anyone ever falls. In addition to the B-4 stands that provide a walking platform around the massive, four-engine patrol planes, FRCSE engineers and safety personnel purchased 18 Tuff Built �cubes� with telescoping arms that can reach up to 41 feet. The arms, like a crane�s arm, reach yards above the artisans and attach to their harnesses via a cable. If someone slips, the cable locks like a seatbelt.


�These provide more safety while the artisans are working on the aircraft more than four feet off the ground,� said FRCSE process engineer Marc Saint-Fleur. �So if they fall off the aircraft, there�s something that can catch them before they land and are possibly injured.�


On Aug. 4, sheet metal mechanic Sam Arulraj was attached to one of the devices while he walked about, working on a P-3 wing. FRCSE program management specialist Joe Lubarsky looked on from below.


�These flow with the artisans a lot better,� Lubarsky said. �Some of them have used systems similar to this that either put a constant tug of tension on them, or lock up too easily. They seem to think this system is much easier to use.


�Now our artisans can hook up their harnesses, go up in the lift and walk directly out on the wing and start working.�


Not only are the units safer, they�ll also clear-up room in the hangar.


�It will increase hangar bay floor space, because we can remove most of the B4 stands,� Saint-Fleur said. �We�re not going to get rid of all of them, but the ones we do keep won�t be considered fall protection.


�They�ll be stands to help the guys put up props or equipment onto the aircraft.�


The journey from idea to reality for the new equipment began two years ago.


�Our safety office determined there was a big need for fall protection, especially on the P-3 line,� said FRCSE safety and occupational health specialist Don Waters.


After months of testing, acquisition and certification, the cubes are now in-use.


�Nothing is perfect, but these are the closest things to it,� Waters said.


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Town halls boosting 6.0�s comm efforts

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST READINESS READER, Aug 2016) � Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs


�Why did the leadership stop doing town hall meetings � Come talk to us where we are,� was the appeal managers and supervisors made to leaders during a gathering in the spring. And AIR 6.0 Logistics and Industrial Operations Group Head Robynn Storm responded by taking the action to interact with artisans on the production floor.


�By the end of this year, I will have talked to every 6.0 employee out there,� said Storm, to a group of logisticians in a town hall assembly May 4 at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Theater to kick off the campaign of grassroots assemblies.


The group leader � who has oversight of more than 2,600 employees � has been conducting town hall gatherings with members of its numerous shops at the rhythm of about two to three per week since mid-May, and has other meetings scheduled up to November. During the recent gatherings, Storm updated the workforce on FRC East business as well as Naval Aviation Enterprise news. The recent updates included topics such as safety concerns, the organization�s mission statement and ongoing efforts to realize its strategic goals, the aviation maintenance professional�s credo, ready basic aircraft crisis, net operating results and the need for accurate clocking, career planning, and news that the results are in from the organizational assessment survey, which was administered in the fall of 2015.


�While I trust my managers and supervisors to get such information to the workforce, I think hearing it from the group leader puts emphasis on where we should be focusing our energy and resources,� she said.


Storm said the small assemblies are old school approaches to stimulate dialogue among 6.0 leaders and the largest portion of the FRC East workforce.


�I like when we interact, because I want to hear what you are saying,� said Storm to a portion of the workforce July 22 during an afternoon town hall in Building 133. �These are opportunities for the workforce to talk to me face-to-face. What are your issues that may be impacting production?�


And as the effects of the approach are yet being gauged, some (who asked to remain anonymous) offered various opinions regarding the engagements.


�I think this should happen as often as possible.� �I�ve been here more than a year now and this is the first time I�ve seen our leadership.�


�The employees really liked it. It helped put a face with a name.�


�It was like a shot to the vein. It made the workforce feel like their issues were being heard by someone who could do something about it.�


�Sometimes it�s easier for a person to understand your concerns when they come down and see it for themselves. Coming to the floor helps put things into context � the concerns we have, and gives a visual that an email or a drawing can�t do.�


Though the initiative is mainly driven by Storm, the group head is spurring other leaders in the competency to get in on the action.


�I�m pushing the competency managers to get out and walk the floors, too,� she said, acknowledging the value in seeing things firsthand and the overall benefit it is to the organization.


Storm is also making informal walkthroughs of the work areas to see up close the faces of the workforce and to see firsthand the work being performed, with hopes of strengthening the organization�s communication dimension.


�I want the workforce to feel like they have access to its leaders. We�ve had communication issues, and I�m trying to fix part of that by doing more of this,� she said. �I believe it will have big payoffs for FRC East.


As Storm continues to schedule the town hall meetings and looks to make more time to conduct impromptu walkthroughs, she encourages the workforce to keep the lines of communication open, especially about ways to improve processes.


�Don�t get stuck on the escalator � keep climbing,� she said, making a reference to a video skit featuring Naval Air Systems Command leaders encouraging process improvement initiatives.


Storm reiterated to the workforce to use the structured chain for voicing concerns. In cases where issues are not getting the attention necessary to be resolved, individuals can send her an email.


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Fault Detection System Will Improve Hornet GCU Service

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST ALMANAC) � Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


To increase the reliability and readiness of F/A-18 Hornet fighter avionics products it provides to the fleet, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) recently purchased an Intermittent Fault Detection and Isolation System (IFIDS).


The IFDIS is solely applicable to the Hornet airframe�s Generator Converter Unit (GCU) chassis. It checks the connection points in the GCU harness, ensuring that all circuitry lines are free of intermittent shorts or opens.

The Hornet GCU is used in the powering of the aircrafts electrical systems.


�If there�s a short open it will highlight that path for you � and tell you from which point to which point is bad. And you can do a node mapping which shows all of the different connection points to that one pin, so you can actually see the different paths to where the failure is,� said Moses Simms, electronics integrated systems mechanic and IFDIS operator.


Electronics integrated systems mechanic Moses Simms readies the Intermittent Fault Detection and Isolation System (IFDIS) to test the Generator Converter Unit (GCU) chassis of an F/A-18 Hornet in Building 463. The IFDIS not only checks the connection points in the GCU harness for intermittent shorts or opens, but also has the capability to simulate the flight stresses and conditions which Hornet aircraft are exposed.


Simms and FRCSW engineer Michael Chang completed a one-week training program conducted by the IFDIS manufacturer, Universal Synapsis.


�It�s a very simple system to use,� Simms said. �It�s very user friendly so there�s not a lot of training as far as how to test something. Most of that training should have been received before reaching this point because there�s a certain order to the procedures involved. If someone didn�t actually build a GCU, they�d have a hard time; they�d probably end up doing the setup wrong costing more time than what is needed.�


Located in the avionics components section in Building 463, the IFDIS features an environmental simulation compartment that emulates the flight stresses and conditions which Hornet aircraft are typically exposed.

The simulator can vary temperatures from 350 F to -100 F and produce vibration levels to more than 2,200 pounds of force.


�In the vibration portion of the test, it looks for and measures any intermittent failures in the harness, which is something that we can�t really simulate here. And in the temperature testing, we have ovens to do that, but we can�t actively test in the oven. You can freeze and test while it�s cold, and heat and test while it�s hot, but where it�s actively checking while it�s freezing or heating, we�ve never had that available to us,� Simms said.


�IFDIS combines different parts of active testing and puts them together. That�s what makes it good. So instead of doing the individual sections of testing, we can test everything at the same time. That will save time in a lot of aspects.�


The system has internal and external connection points to the GCU chassis and is controlled through a central computer with monitor displays that inform the operator as to what points are being checked and when an intermittent failure is detected. Another monitor indicates whether there is a short or an open.


The system also stores the wiring configuration of a good GCU chassis and based upon that, will detect wiring issues when testing subsequent units.


The FRCSW Advanced Aircraft Technology Team (AATT) researched the IFDIS at Ogden Air Force Depot in Utah six years ago where the system was being used to test F-16 fighter radar. When the AATT tested five ready-for-issue GCU chassis, IFDIS detected and located intermittent circuitry activity in 80 percent of the units.


Prior to IFDIS, artisans used digital and analogue multi-meter testers to identify opens and shorts. However, multi-meters cannot locate intermittent failures in circuitry.


�Overall, it�s a great system,� Simms said. �We have something now that shows the possible issues upfront. It could take five or six hours to find one line with a multi-meter, where you could spend an hour or so to find all of the possible leads with the IFDIS. This is why people have to start embracing new technologies.�


The number of GCUs to be analyzed through the IFDIS annually has yet to be established because GCU harnesses are typically replaced when damaged beyond the point where they can be fixed in a reasonable amount of time.

�But when modifications come out for the new GCUs, it would probably benefit us to test each harness because they�re already completely torn down prior to reassembly,� Simms noted.


Another future use of the system may include testing of other weapons replaceable assemblies, or `boxes� which hold the circuit cards that comprise an avionic function, like radar or certain cockpit displays.


�The potential for this to shine is there. It�s just a matter of us applying it to the best of our ability,� Simms said.

FRCSW is the only FRC operating the IFIDS tester.


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Sikorsky loses Marine One repair work; about 85 jobs to be affected

(NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 15 Aug 16) � Luther Turmelle


Repairs to the current fleet of Marine One helicopters, which transport the president of the United States, no longer will be done in Connecticut after negotiations between Sikorsky Aircraft and the U.S. Navy fell through.


Repair work on the fleet will be transitioned to the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Florida, said Paul Jackson, a spokesman for Sikorsky Aircraft, which is owned by Lockheed Martin. About 85 unionized Sikorsky employees handle the repairs of the Marine One helicopters at the company�s Stratford plant and Jackson said company officials will work with Teamsters Local 1150 to adjust the size of the workforce.


The company will try to reassign some of the workers to other jobs within Sikorsky and will offer voluntary separation agreements, he said. Such agreements typically are what the general public thinks of a corporate buyout package, in which workers are offered certain incentives to leave the payroll.


�At this point, we do not yet know the number of job reassignments, how many employees will opt for the (voluntary separation agreements), and how many involuntary reductions ultimately will be required,� Jackson said.


Officials with Teamsters Local 1150 did not return phone calls made by the New Haven Register about the potential loss of jobs.


U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, said in a statement that the Navy has decided to do the Marine One maintenance work internally in order to cut costs.


�We believe this decision is short-sighted on the part of the Navy,� DeLauro said. �Sikorsky has proudly built and supported this aircraft fleet for more than 40 years, and I feel that Sikorsky is best equipped and prepared to perform this work. I have asked the Navy (in a letter dated July 6) to update me on the status of this program and work, and I am still awaiting a response.�


U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the Navy�s decision �misguided.�


�I am pressing Lockheed and the Department of Defense for more information and will fight to overturn this decision if possible,� Blumenthal said. �I remain very concerned about a decision to take this important and integral work away from its historical home in Connecticut. Presidential helicopter maintenance work should remain within Sikorsky�s control and the care of the Connecticut workers who have supported this critical capability.�


Jackson said the loss of the maintenance contract does not impact separate contracts that Sikorsky has with the Navy to design and build a new version of the Marine One helicopter.


News of the loss of the Marine One helicopter maintenance contract comes a month after officials at Lockheed Martin said an unspecified number of Sikorsky workers would be laid off at the end of August.


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Navy Engineers explore the world of Additive Manufacturing



Engineers and scientists at NAVAIR’s Fleet Readiness Center Southwest in Coronado, Calif. are excited to be exploring the various capabilities of Additive Manufacturing–developing and testing the various ways that this revolutionary technology will support our warfighters. “It’s remarkable to think that you designed something in CAD that didn’t exist before and then you just print it out of something that was just a liquid at one point,” said David Price. Hear from these remarkable engineers as they share their passion and insight on how 3D printing will impact our future and make life easier for our warfighters. Additive manufacturing is innovation at its best!



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Newest P-8A Poseidon Upgrade Includes ‘Minotaur’ Software

(FLIGHTGLOBAL, 11 Aug 16) … Leigh Giangreco


WASHINGTON � The latest contract for Boeing�s P-8A Poseidon includes a new software capability for the U.S. Navy�s aircraft that will automatically correlate data from sources including sea search radars and electromagnetic spectrum sensors.


The USN awarded Boeing a $60.8 million contract as part of the Increment 3 Block 2 improvements for the Poseidon on 5 August. The aircraft�s third increment is expected to reach initial operational capability by 2020, and would improve Poseidon�s ability to detect submarines and surface vessels.


The newest modification matures the Block 2 capabilities and includes multi-static active coherent enhancement, new computing and security architecture, common data link upgrades and a new software upgrade known as the Minotaur Track Management and Mission Management system.


Developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Minotaur ingests data from various sensors and disseminates the information to aircraft, a Naval Air Systems Command spokesperson tells FlightGlobal. The software�s baseline capabilities includes surface radar tracking, sensor bias correction, data correlation, mission replay, sensor control, sensor display and track management. Minotaur has already been fielded on other U.S. Navy, Air Force and Customs and Border Patrol aircraft.


Minotaur was designed to integrate sensors and data into a comprehensive picture, and will allow multiple aircraft and vessels to share networked information.


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GOP, Dems Dig In For Defense Fight

(THE HILL 14 AUG 16) … Kristina Wong and Rebecca Kheel


Democrats and Republicans in Congress are digging in for a fight on defense spending that is unlikely to be resolved until after the election.


House Republicans are seeking $18 billion in additional funding for the Pentagon. Democrats and the Obama administration reject that hike, arguing it would unravel a larger budget deal that links defense spending to non-defense spending.


A final resolution is likely impossible until Congress and the White House can reach a deal on spending for the entire government for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.


�I don’t think they can reach a resolution on that $18 billion difference in funding until they reach some sort of a budget deal on the overall federal budget,” said Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said.


Little is likely to happen until after November.


Democrats, confident voters will deliver Hillary Clinton to the White House and a Senate majority for their party, expect they�ll have more leverage if they wait.


�I think there�s a small chance (but still a chance) that an NDAA conference report could be done in September and get vetoed by the President, but I think the final [NDAA] and defense appropriations [bill] will all get finalized after the election,� said Justin Johnson, defense budget expert at The Heritage Foundation.


�That�s not how it should be done, but that�s what the political landscape looks like to me,� he said.


Congress must approve a new government-funding bill before the end of September to keep the government open. Most expect a short-term resolution, either into December or next year.


�We’re going to start the fiscal year, October 1st on a continuing resolution. It will be at least until December,� said Harrison.


Harrison thinks GOPs and Dems will likely work out a new budget deal that raises defense and non-defense spending.


�I think after the election, folks will come back to Washington and they will cut a deal, and this will all get resolved in the lame duck session,� he said.


Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, predicts the omnibus will include additional money for defense in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), or war fund, which isn’t subject to spending caps.


�More OCO is going to win,� she said. �Period. Take it Vegas. It�s done. It won�t be as high as the GOP is hoping, but it�s going to be more.�


Gordon Adams, a professor at American University who oversaw national security budgets at the Office of Management and Budget in the 1990s, agrees that more defense money will be stuffed into OCO as with previous years.


�This is no longer a process they are concealing,� he said. �It�s as open as a house of ill-repute with a red light in front. They�ll avoid the question of caps and sequester by simply adding more money in OCO.�


The sequester would introduce new budgetary caps on defense and non-defense spending that would cut into projected spending by $100 billion over four years, something both parties would like to avoid.


Pentagon leaders and Democratic lawmakers have warned that without raising non-defense spending, too, the 2015 budget deal will unravel and sequester would come back automatically.


But experts say despite those dire warnings, it is doubtful that sequestration will happen.


Harrison says sequestration can only be triggered if a bill appropriates more than the budget levels reached in the 2015 deal allow, and since the Republicans would take the $18 billion from OCO, which isn’t subject to caps, it wouldn’t happen.


Even if sequestration were to come to fruition, the Pentagon will find a way to live within its means, Eaglen said.

�We saw it in 2013,� she said. �It�s not ideal, but it�s not devastating.�


Johnson said he doesn’t think there will be a new budget agreement like the one in 2015, and agrees a boost in the overseas account that would give the Pentagon more money overall is more likely.


He suggests the final deal will also include more money for non-defense spending as a concession to Democrats.

�Unfortunately, it probably won�t be enough and it will probably be paired to some degree with non-defense spending as well,� he said.


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GAO And Pentagon Disagree On Budgeting For Operations And Maintenance

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 17 Aug 16) … Charles S. Clark


Under pressure to fund overseas combat operations, the Defense Department has �realigned� monies to and from day-to-day operations and maintenance accounts without fully explaining the numbers to Congress, a watchdog found.


One result of transferring some $149 billion over the past five years, said a Government Accountability Office report released on Tuesday, is a shortfall averaging 5.6 percent of what was obligated for base operations and maintenance.


Pentagon budget planners, however, balked at GAO�s proposed solution.


Operations and maintenance is the department�s largest category of appropriations � it accounts for some 43 percent of President Obama�s request for a defense budget of $582.7 billion in fiscal 2017, GAO noted in a report to the Armed Services Committee chairmen and ranking members. That category consists of 32 accounts, earmarked for each service and some departmentwide missions, including overseas contingency operations in war zones.


Enacted funding for operations and maintenance generally has increased over the past six years (2013 was an exception, when sequestration kicked in). But during GAO’s review, the effects of the realignments � of which Congress is notified above set amounts � �on base obligations were not readily apparent because DoD did not report its O&M base obligations to Congress separately from its O&M overseas contingency operations,� auditors wrote.


In fiscal 2015, a Senate Appropriations Committee report stated that the panel did not have a clear understanding of enduring activities funded by the OCO budget, posing �potential for risk in continuing to fund non-contingency-related activities through the OCO budget.� The committee directed the department to submit a report last February showing the transfers of OCO funding to the base budget for fiscal year 2016.


The Pentagon comptroller�s office told GAO that such a report has not been written because �the evolution of threats in U.S. Central Command�s area of responsibility creates uncertainty over its enduring missions.�


Meanwhile, GAO auditors were left to calculate the impact of money transfers on Operations and Maintenance program needs by comparing data from the Defense Department tables on future-spending and five-year plans. Comptroller officials interviewed by GAO approved of the methodology.


But in the end, Pentagon planners disagreed with GAO�s recommendation that the department help Congress apply budget oversight by revising its guidance on preparing budget materials and execution reports to break down operations and maintenance by account. Defense cited �the inability of its current financial systems to easily distinguish base obligations,� the report noted.


Many of the Pentagon�s active financial accounting systems �cannot distinguish between O&M base and OCO obligations easily, and that due to limited resources as a result of headquarters reductions, the requirement to manually identify these obligations in O&M budget justification materials and quarterly O&M execution reports will be extremely labor-intensive,� Defense said.


Once outdated financial systems are replaced, such reporting would be feasible, its response said.


GAO stood by its recommendation.


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The Budgetary Game Of ‘Chicken’ Needs To End

(THE HILL 16 Aug 16) … Fred Ferreira


On July 6, 2016, President Obama announced that the United States will leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan instead of the previously planned 5,500. He says that this troop level of 8,400 will be achieved by the end of the Obama administration and it will be inherited by the next president. Regardless of the wisdom of the President�s Afghanistan strategy or the troop level, one important aspect of this decision will play a major role when Congress comes back in session: how to pay for these troops.


It has been reported that the same game of chicken that Republicans and Democrats have been playing for the past five years is going to take place again. Since the Budget Control Act of 2011 divided the discretionary budget into defense and non-defense, defense hawks have been trying to increase the defense portion of the budget, while big government advocates will only accept defense spending increases with increased non-defense spending.


This very point has been publicized as a part of a �Statement of Administration Policy� by the White House. It reads �it is critical that the Congress adhere to the principle that any increase in funding must be shared equally between defense and non-defense � a central tenet of last fall’s budget agreement.� Regardless of need or ability to properly leverage increased resources on either side of the discretionary spending budget, if one side gets an increase the other side is required to get one as well.


This equitable increase tenet means that for the past five years, budget agreements have been brokered between defense hawks and big government supporters. Both sides get increases and the federal government goes a bit farther into taxpayers� pockets or a little bit more into debt, keeping us on the same track towards insolvency or bankruptcy. The real loser is the American public who get to experience yet another increase in the size of government through a charade that has no end in sight.


The divide between defense and non-defense spending in the budget process was initially created to incentivize both parties to reach a compromise in spending reductions after the Budget Control Act to avoid sequestration. Instead it has incentivized both sides to agree to increase government spending equally. The model has failed to achieve the savings that its proponents anticipated. This coming fall we will get a chance to observe it at work again with the increased troop level request.


According to estimates published by Politico, the additional troops are expected to cost $3 billion to $6 billion. Congressional politics guarantee that whatever the real number is to keep those additional troops in Afghanistan, it will likely double by the time that the bill comes due. Because the increased troop level was not included in the original budget submission for fiscal year 2017, the funding source still needs to be determined and will require extensive, and likely heated, discussions.


One can hope that this coming arguments will be enough to turn the attention of lawmakers to a first step in fixing how the federal government budgets: passing a long term continuing resolution, allowing the 115thCongress develop a new budget process that works.


By passing a long term continuing resolution, lawmakers will avoid one crafted during a lame duck Congress, when retiring politicians commit taxpayers to more spending and debt. This better option will leave the 115th Congress, with newly elected � and accountable � legislators, responsible for spending decisions in 2017 and beyond.


Fred Ferreira is a policy analyst at Concerned Veterans for America.


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Navy F-35s Begin Final Round Of Sea Trials Aboard USS George Washington

(NORFOLK VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 15 Aug 16) … Courtney Mabeus


ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � For Navy pilot Lt. Graham �Boss� Cleveland, landing the Navy�s new Joint Strike Fighter aboard a moving aircraft carrier was a relief.


That relief came not because landing the Navy�s new fighter is more difficult � it comes with a program called Delta Flight Path that functions as a sort of cruise control for the aircraft, which can help to make that crucial step easier � but because this day has been a long time coming.


Cleveland, a landing signal officer who transitioned from the F/A-18C, was aboard for the first two phases of developmental testing of the F-35C Lightning II as the Navy commenced trials in 2014 and 2015. This week, he was at the controls for what�s expected to be the third and final phase of sea-based developmental testing as the Navy puts the aircraft through some of its most rigorous tests yet.


�It�s kind of something I�ve been working toward for quite some time,� Cleveland said.


Cleveland was among 12 pilots from Strike Fighter Squadron 101 �Grim Reapers,� a fleet replacement squadron based at Florida�s Eglin Air Force Base, to complete carrier qualifications as part of this round of testing. The Navy�s Patuxent River-based Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 will spend the next two to three weeks working through other capabilities, including taking off and landing with external simulated weapons and asymmetrical loading.


The F-35 is the military�s next generation fighter. The Navy�s jet is one of three variations, and includes greater internal fuel capability, larger wings and more robust landing gear for carrier settings. The single-engine stealth fighter will replace the Air Force�s A-10 and F-16, the Navy�s F/A-18 and the Marines� AV-8B Harrier jets.


The Air Force declared its version combat-ready earlier this month. The Marine Corps, which uses the short takeoff/vertical landing variation, said its was operational in July 2015. The Navy�s version is expected to join the fleet in 2018.


Tom Briggs, the Navy�s civilian acting chief test engineer aboard the Washington, said crews will work through about 500 test points to develop instructions for launching and recovering under different conditions.


�We�re going to take off, we�re going to land. We�re going to evaluate the handling qualities,� Briggs said. �We�re going to evaluate the compatibility with the ship with those weapons underneath.�


The Navy�s previous rounds of carrier testing, including a stint in October with the Norfolk-based USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, have looked at deck handling, hangar bay operations, internal weapons loading and other high-risk exercises designed to test the F-35�s limits for a safe launch.


Operating 100 miles off the Virginia coast, Monday�s blistering heat and humidity combined with the blast of the F-35�s jet engine proved no competition to pilots� excitement about the aircraft, which has become one of the military�s most controversial and anticipated in recent years as the program became mired in cost overruns and delays.


�It�s just easy,� Cmdr. Ted �Dutch� Dyckman, a test pilot with the VX-23, said Monday. �It�s really easy to fly.� � s-begin-final-round-of-sea-trials/article_e05966e9-0509-528c-a9b9-e2f80a5b1a3d.html


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Navy Pilots Describe How The F-35�s Brains Will Change Air Warfare

Navy Pilots gave the F-35 rave reviews during a show-and-tell at sea, but questions remain about its troubled software.

(DEFENSE ONE 16 Aug 16) … Patrick Tucker


ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � Navy pilots say piloting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on to the flight deck of U.S. aircraft carrier is almost like flying a plane that flies itself. The software aboard the new fighter could enable the military to train pilots faster and, in the event of a major conflict, possibly fly more sorties against the enemy. Pilots would spend less time throttling and figuring for flight conditions and more time coordinating with other aircraft, working with huge volumes of data, and managing complex missions against ever-more sophisticated adversaries.


It all was on display Monday as the Navy sought to convince the public that America�s most advanced fighter jet is almost ready for action. The Navy variant of the jet is expected to reach initial operating capability in 2018.


�The aircraft does a lot of stuff that, before, I would have to fight the aircraft,� said Marine Major Eric Northam with the VX-23 test squadron. The jet�s Delta Flight Path software, created by F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin has changed all that. �If I want to capture the barrier altitude that I�m climbing to … I dial in the altitude; it will climb up and capture it. If I want to capture the heading I can just use the pedals to dial in a new heading. I can keep my hands on the controls where I need to and then redirect the aircraft as required.�


(The F-18 will also soon feature a sophisticated pilot software suite called MAGIC CARPET but it�s not on all the planes yet.)


Those additional cruise control features will allow pilots to coordinate with each other, the ground, and air units to execute smarter attacks. The plane�s data synthesizing software plays a key role there.


�You�re taking in [forward looking infrared data] the radar, the other sensor data. It fuses it all together and gives me a display. Not only that but I can take [data] from a carrier strike group, or [the Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft]. They can pump that data in from other aircraft in the strike package. The aircraft can synthesize all that other information and pump it back out as a node, if you will, to all the other aircraft,� he said. �Basically, it�s very clear to see a picture of who is a good guy, who is a bad guy. We can send everybody down range to execute whatever attack we deem appropriate at the time.�


In the future, small drones launched from C-130, a development program called Gremlins, could also contribute coordinating data. The objective is to essentially out-sense and outsmart every potential adversary.


�I can take off, type in an altitude, type in a heading, and just let the jet go out to fly,� said Lt. Graham Cleveland of the VF 101 �Grim Reaper� squadron, who said that pilots would probably keep the software engaged 99 percent of the time while flying, taking off, and landing. �Teaching the very basics will be easier … There�s still a man in the box. But it is safer, more efficient, easier to train to.�


The commander said the F-35�s software should allow pilots to learn how to takeoff and land from aircraft carriers sooner than was required in earlier fighter jets. �I think it will dramatically decrease the amount of flight hours needed to get to the boat,� he said.


�The F-35 is a lot easier to fly and a lot more difficult to operate,� than the older F-18 Super Hornet, he said, because of the immense amount of data fusing required. Manufacturers and others hope that data load will be easier to manage with the eventual release of the newer, so-called block 3F software.


In the meantime, the augmented piloting capability was on display aboard the George Washington. Cleveland said that Delta Flight Path would �significantly increase our ability to safely land aircraft … that could lead to more sorties,� he said.


A Stealth Aircraft The First Week Of The War


In a major conflict, military officials expect the fighter jets flying initial combat missions would need to do more than just destroy air defenses in stealth mode. So the F-35 also features sophisticated artificial-intelligence enhanced electromagnetic warfare capabilities. The jet also has three points under each wing capable of carrying conventional non-stealthy weapons, like GBU-12 Paveway II 12 laser-guided smart bombs.


�Why does a stealth aircraft need external weapons? It�s a stealth aircraft for the first week of the war,� said Thomas Briggs, the lead flight test engineer for the F-35 program. �When you destroy the enemy air defenses. After that, when you need to go out and take as many bombs as you can to prosecute a mission, we can start to strap weapons under the wings and take more ordinance over the target. That�s why that�s there.�


ALIS A No Show


The F-35C had a successful day of testing on Monday, but the overall program has had its share of bad days as well. In 2014, 60 Minutes revealed the aircraft�s Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, the system that keeps track of virtually every part on the plan, was resistant to human override. The military has since said that the problem is fixed. But in February, the Pentagon�s office of testing and evaluation issued a scathing report on the jet, and ALIS: �Each new version of software, while adding some new capability, failed to resolve all the deficiencies identified in earlier releases,� it stated.


ALIS consists of laptop that a pilot would take to the plane to take the bird�s temperature and a large number of servers to hold the program. Those servers are supposed to be on the aircraft carrier. Despite ample room below deck, ALIS was not aboard the George Washington, which relied on shoreside computers. �We are reaching back to ALIS support on the beach for our operations,� said Briggs. �The ship is not outfitted with the final production system. When we need ALIS information … we reach back through a satellite network, touching ALIS.�


He said that ALIS wasn�t important for the sorts of developmental tests that they were conducting. There was supposed to be a deployable version of ALIS aboard the USS Wasp when the Marines declared their version of the F-35, (the F-35B) operational in July of 2015. But there was not.


�The Marine Corps conducted F-35 tests onboard the USS Wasp prior to declaring operational capability in July 2015, including day and night carrier missions and maintenance exercises; however, these tests did not include deployability tests of ALIS. According to the Director of Test and Evaluation, these tests were not operationally representative because of the heavy use of contractor support, and lack of other types of aircraft sharing the flight deck. He also noted that this test used the original, nondeployable ALIS server,� according to the Government Accountability Office.


Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon say that the problems with ALIS won�t ground the fleet, despite GAO warnings to the contrary. But getting ALIS deployed onto carriers is key if maintainers are going do their job.


Basically, if we are at war with China, you don�t want a bunch of aircraft carriers in the pacific streaming terabytes of sensitive maintenance data on all your combat F-35s to Houston. Getting a carrier version of ALIS deployed remains a point of concern for the overall program.


When asked if there was any concern about integrating ALIS onto existing carriers in accordance with the testing timeline (it�s supposed to be aboard the USS America for a second round of tests in October) Rear Admiral Roy Kelly, director of Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration for the Navy, answered �There is. There is.�


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Pilots To Test Fix For F-35 Helmet �Green Glow� Problem

(DEFENSETECH.ORG 16 Aug 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � In coming days, five test pilots here will begin conducting night trials with a new software load for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter helmet that they believe will spell the end to a troubling issue.


Adjustments that decrease the contrast of the Generation III helmet-mounted display should allow pilots of the F-35C to land on aircraft carriers without having their view obscured by the display�s ambient light, said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for the Navy.


The service tried out a different fix on its last round of carrier tests aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in 2015, but test pilots ultimately concluded they hadn�t completely solved the issue.


�You could describe it as looking through a dirty window,� Briggs said. �It�s not so bad on a really bright night.


On a dark night it skewers outside light references for pilots. A pilot cannot pick up the lights on the carrier as well as he�d like to, he doesn�t necessarily pick up non-lighted signals on the ship as he�s taxiing around, he has a harder time picking out aircraft that are flying around.�


At $400,000 apiece, the F-35�s helmet is as high-tech as the aircraft itself, with display features that let pilots �see� through the plane�s skin and receive constantly updated information on the visor. The �green glow� problem with this visor display obscuring the field beyond it in dark conditions was first reported in 2012.


Briggs said two pilots had reported good results in an initial test with the new helmet update and officials were hopeful they have found the right solution. It�s especially crucial that this round of fixes works because the Navy isbeginning to conduct carrier qualifications for operational pilots as well as test pilots on the F-35C, and they won�t be able to complete night qualifications until the problem is resolved.


Capt. James Christie, commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron-101, which had 12 pilot-instructors complete daytime carrier qualifications on the F-35C this week, said he hoped software updates would be approved and close to being retrofitted to all F-35 helmets by the end of the year.


Christie said the decreased contrast setting is likely to help all pilots who operate in especially dark environments, without aid from the �cultural light� of nearby cities. But on carriers out in the middle of the ocean, it was crucial.


�I think we just kind of stomped our feet and said, �we need to have this to be safe around the ship,’� he said.


Briggs said nighttime helmet tests were expected to kick off Aug. 20, during the darkest phase of the moon.


�So we�re going to go out on a really dark night and we�re going to do our final evaluation on the green glow,� he said. �And we think that that problem is solved.�


The third and final round of carrier tests for the F-35C will continue until Aug. 23. The aircraft, which will be used by both the Navy and the Marine Corps for carrier operations, is expected to reach initial operational capability near the end of 2018.


Pilots to Test Fix for F-35 Helmet ‘Green Glow’ Problem


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F-35’s New Landing Technology May Simplify Carrier Operations

(MILITARY.COM 17 Aug 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � Seven Navy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters spent Monday morning in a round robin off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, completing a tight succession of take-offs and arrested landings as pilots with Strike Fighter Squadron 101 completed carrier qualifications on the aircraft.


The dozen instructors with the squadron each completed the required 10 traps and two touch-and-go maneuvers in less than two days. But thanks to an advanced landing system in the fifth-generation aircraft that limits the variables pilots need to monitor when they catch the wire, officers with the squadron said they could have gotten the practice they needed in much less time.


“What has traditionally been required for initial qualifications … that can probably be reduced, because the task becomes mundane after a while,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Kitts, officer in charge of the testing detachment aboard this ship. “You can make corrections so easily.”


The system that makes the difference is Delta Flight Path, developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. with input from Naval Air Systems Command. That system is one of more than a half-dozen F-35C features that are being tested in this third and final round of carrier exercises.


During a 20-day developmental testing period aboard the George Washington that will conclude Aug. 23, pilots will test the aircraft’s ability to fly symmetrical and asymmetrical external weapons loads, execute aircraft launches at maximum weight and against crosswinds, try out a new helmet software load designed to improve visibility in dark conditions, test the capabilities of Delta Flight Path and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, and take out and replace an entire F-35C engine to simulate major maintenance aboard a carrier.


At the conclusion of these tests, officials believe the F-35C will be substantially ready for initial operational capability, a milestone the aircraft is expected to hit in 2018.


But success of the built-in carrier landing technology may have even wider-reaching effects.


Like the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, or MAGIC CARPET, system now being tested on the Navy’s legacy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Delta Flight Path gives the aircraft the ability to stay on glide slope automatically and minimize the number of corrections the pilot must make.


“All pilots are trained, we make corrections for glide slope with the throttle. We practice it when we get to our fleet trainers, and we practice it a bunch each and every time before we come out to the boat,” Kitts said. “So what you’re able to do when you come out here is hopefully spend less time practicing, because the workload on the pilot is extremely reduced.”


That’s important, Kitts said, because time spent in the field and on the carrier practicing landings is time in which pilots are becoming less tactically proficient because they can’t develop and drill other skills.


The commanding officer of VFA-101, Capt. James Christie, said pilots are collecting data as they complete their required takeoffs and landings that could be used to inform a prospective proposal to reduce carrier training and qualification requirements.


“We’re not going to move too quickly; we’re going to ensure it’s the right thing to do,” Christie said. “But as soon as we have the empirical evidence that shows we can safely reduce those numbers, I’ll be all for submitting that to leadership.”


So far, the data looks good. In this round of testing, there have so far been no bolters, when an aircraft unintentionally misses the wire, and no landing wave-offs attributed to aircraft performance or safety issues, said Lt. Graham Cleveland, landing signal officer for VFA-101.


Cleveland said this new technology might enable the Navy to cut ashore training from 16 to 18 field carrier landing practices to between four and six. He said he also envisioned cutting carrier qualification requirements from ten to six traps in the future.


“That’s going to save money, that’s going to save fuel, that’s going to save aircraft life, basically,” he said.

The future aside, getting out to the carrier for the first evolution of testing to involve operational pilots as well as test pilots was its own milestone for many at the fore of efforts to ready the F-35C for the fleet.


“It’s incredibly gratifying to see them come out and really make this aircraft real from the perspective of the fleet,” said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for the Navy. “This is going to be a viable program, a viable aircraft that’s really going to do what it’s designed to do … watching them come out here and do this, it’s goose-bumpy.”


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F-35C Back At Sea For 3rd Round Of Carrier Tests

(DEFENSE NEWS 17 Aug 16) … Chris Cavas


ABOARD USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � Two F-35C carrier variant versions of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) lined up Monday on catapults one and two of this aircraft carrier steaming about 75 miles off the Virginia coast. Blast doors lifted from the deck and the aircraft�s control surfaces wiggled as the pilot ran through final checks. The engine revved, the launch shooter saluted and pointed go, and the jets roared down the cat tracks to leap into the air.

Once airborne, the planes circled left into the approach pattern, a maneuver known as the racetrack for its resemblance to the oval outline. Landing gear down, flaps down, the 35Cs � �Charlies� in Navy parlance � lined up on the angled flight deck and came in for a trap, or landing, aiming to catch the third of fourth arresting gear wires with their tailhook and lurch to a sudden stop.


Once on deck, the tailhook released the wire, the aircraft moved back up to the catapult, and the cycle was repeated. Over and over and over again.


And this was only Day Two of nearly three weeks of expected flight operations aboard the George Washington.

The jets belonged to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23), the Navy�s premier east coast test squadron based at Naval Air Station Patuxent, Maryland, and Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101), the first operational squadron to fly F-35Cs. This is the third series of at-sea deck trials for VX-23 � a series of tests dubbed DT III � meant to establish hundreds of operating parameters for the new aircraft, which won�t enter initial operational service with the Navy until 2018.


The first at-sea tests were held in November 2014 aboard the carrier Nimitz, while DT II took place last October aboard the Dwight D. Eisenhower. DT III is meant to be the final period of at-sea testing for the new jet.


The first tests, said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for DT III, focused on day carrier operations and established launch and recovery handling procedures for the flight deck crew. DT II added in night ops, weapons loading on the aircraft�s internal weapons bay and full-power launches.


DT III will refine maximum power launches from all four of the carrier�s catapults and work to establish operating parameters with external and asymmetric weapons loading on the aircraft�s wings, along with certifying various systems for landing qualifications and interoperability. Logistics is also a feature of DT III, where an aircraft from VFA-101 will undergo an engine switchout.


VFA-101, with five aircraft, was on board to qualify 12 pilots in deck landings, said squadron commander Capt. James Christie. All the pilots will in turn become instructors, as VFA-101�s mission is to become the training squadron for other F-35C squadrons.


�We�re developing a syllabus,� Christie said, that will be used by pilots as they transition both from training aircraft and older F/A-18s into the 35C.


That�s been the mission for VFA-101 since it was established in 2012. As more pilots are trained and aircraft goes operational, unit will become the fleet replacement squadron for active-duty F-35C squadrons.


As on all carriers, pilots perform the duties of landing signal officer (LSO), watching and grading every landing.


One of VFA-101�s LSOs is Lt. Graham Cleveland, who is a veteran of all three F-35C at-sea tests.


Both VX-23 and VFA-101 pilots were handling LSO duties aboard the George Washington. �It takes a village,� he said, as the test and evaluation and operational squadron LSOs mingled and shared opinions and expertise.


Like many of the pilots, Cleveland said the F-35C is a bit easier to fly than the F/A-18s � with a caveat.


�The 35 is a lot more easier to fly and a lot more difficult to operate,� he said. �Basic flying is easy but mission systems are more complex.�


VFA-101 also brought aboard a number of its support sailors, Christie said. About 65 sailors and 15 contractors with the squadron were gaining experience in deck handling and logistics work with the aircraft.


VX-23�s task is detailed and rigorous � even at times tedious � as the squadron�s pilots conduct as many as 500 launch and recovery cycles to establish a wide range of operating parameters. The aircraft�s performance with a variety of weights and loads needs to be established, including how it handles when external weapons are loaded and carried in an uneven fashion.


External weapons, of course, break up the aircraft�s stealth signatures. But, as several pilots pointed out, once an enemy�s initial air defenses are defeated stealth becomes less important, and aircraft are needed to carry heavier weapon loads on as many as three external stores stations on each wing.


But test pilots need to check how the plane handles in many configurations, including heavy weapons on one side but not the other, and different types of weapons loaded on each station.


One issue that rose during the aircraft�s development seems to have been solved. There no longer seem to be any significant problems with the tail hook, which in 2012 was revealed to have a number of reliability issues in catching the arresting wire. A redesign of the hook and its installation appears to have been successful.


Maj. Eric Northam of VX-23, the first Marine to fly the F-35C off a carrier, declared there were no problems with the hook.


�We�ve had a very successful boarding rate,� he said. �One hundred percent so far.�


The carrier did not need special modifications to operate the F-35C, said commanding officer Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, although there were some software upgrades to some operating systems. About 100 crew members, he said, received handling and launch procedure training in the aircraft at the Navy�s carrier flight systems test site in Lakehurst, New Jersey.


While the DT III tests represent the final carrier trials for the F-35C, the JSF program is preparing for another round of at-sea trials for the F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant for the Marine Corps. The new tests, program officials said, are scheduled to take place this fall from the amphibious assault ship America off the west coast.


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The Pentagon Is Closer To Extending A Generous New Benefit To Millions Of Veterans

(MILITARY TIMES 15 AUG 16) … Karen Jowers


Plans are progressing to extend online military exchange shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans, Military Times has learned.


The Defense Department�s Executive Resale Board voted unanimously Aug. 9 to recommend the policy change, sources said. Extended shopping privileges would apply only to the exchange system’s online stores � not brick-and-mortar facilities located on military installations.


The Pentagon did not immediately confirm the’s board move, and its unclear what its next steps will be. Officials have said previously that they’d like to implement the expanded benefit on Veterans Day 2017.


Exchanges operate as discount department stores for the military community. Currently, access is authorized only for active-duty service members, reservists, National Guard personnel, retirees, veterans who are 100 percent disabled and immediate family members. Officials estimate that’s about 10 percent of the nation’s 21.7 million veterans.


If the plan proceeds, the Defense Manpower Data Center would be called on to verify veterans’ status so they can shop at the exchange online.


The idea was proposed in May 2014 by Army and Air Force Exchange Service CEO Tom Shull, who touted it as a way to provide a modest benefit to veterans who didn�t serve long enough to retire from the military, including a number who have served multiple tours in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Navy Exchange Service Command CEO and retired Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi and Cindy Whitman Lacy, director of the Marine Corps Business and Support Services Division, have said they support the idea.


This would also benefit those currently serving, officials have said. Any increase in exchange profits would generate more money for the service’s morale, welfare and recreation programs. According to one analysis, the exchanges could see an increase of $18 million to $72 million if online shopping is extended to all veterans.


Generally, about half of the exchanges’ profits go to MWR dividends, and the rest goes to capital reinvestment in the exchanges, such as renovations and construction.


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USMC Outlines Super Stallion Fleet Overhaul Plans

(FLIGHTGLOBAL 16 AUG 16) … Beth Stevenson


LONDON � All 147 of the U.S. Marine Corps� Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion rotorcraft will be overhauled to address safety and availability issues that have been evident in the fleet since 2014, the service has announced.


Following the fatal crash of a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon variant in January 2014 which resulted from an electrical fault sparking a fire, an investigation concluded that the condition of the aircraft was �degraded,� and the remaining examples will be �reset� to increase the safety and readiness of the fleet.


�What was discovered was that the material condition of the aircraft � both the CH-53E and the MH-53E � was degraded,� says Col Hank Vanderborght, programme manager for the H-53 programme office at U.S. Naval Air Systems Command. �Those helicopters have been around since the early 1980s, so 30-plus years, and we�d been at war for the last 15 years, so the machines had been used pretty hard.�


USMC deputy commandant for aviation Lt Gen Jon Davis said earlier this year that the CH-53E had �probably the worst� readiness rate in the service�s inventory, and noted that the overhaul programme was about to begin.


Each of the heavy-lift aircraft will undergo a 110-day overhaul that will see it stripped and rebuilt, with changes made to any components as necessary.


One aircraft has been completed to date; an example that was used to validate the concept in April at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina. This was returned to operations in June. The USMC notes that this particular example had not been flown for four years, but was granted operational status again after 12 days of functional flight checks following the overhaul.


Five more examples have started to receive the overhaul; three at New River and two at MCAS Miramar in California. There are plans to eventually lift this to 16 being modified at any one time, with seven at each of the sites and two at MCAS Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii.


After the incident in 2014, fuel line replacements and rewiring had been carried out on a large part of the fleet, which increased aircraft availability to 30%, after being only 20% in 2015.


�We only had 30 or so aircraft up last year,� Vanderborght says. �We�re in the 50s now, so we�ve rebounded pretty well from a year ago.�


Preventative work will also be carried out to make sure the fleet does not fall into the same rut, and maintainer training will be a key part of that, Vanderborght notes. The current method emphasises turning around aircraft as quickly as possible, instead of dealing with underlying issues, he says.


�Before 2001, maintainers would troubleshoot the system and take a long time to understand it, so there was a lot of knowledge developed by on-the-job training. We�ve kind of lost all that knowledge. I would say the Marines today � not to their fault � are not as knowledgeable about the aircraft as they were prior to the war,� Vanderborght notes.


The production line for the CH-53E has been shut down, so overhaul is key to keeping the fleet going until it is replaced with the developmental CH-53K variant.


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The Military�s Real Readiness Crisis; Petraeus & O�Hanlon Are Wrong

(BREAKING DEFENSE, 17 Aug 16) � Justin Johnson


It�s no news to Breaking Defense readers that the U.S. military faces a readiness crisis. But retired Gen. David Petraeus apparently disagrees.


Yes, the military�s budget has been cut by 25 percent in real terms since 2011�much of it coming from accounts used to maintain and build combat readiness. Yes, leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have all publicly expressed their deep concerns about readiness levels. And, yes, top brass are publicly discussing �Carter-era� readiness problems and even the prospect of a hollow military.


Still, Petraeus and the Brookings Institution�s Michael O�Hanlon took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal last week to bust the �myth� of a military readiness crisis. I deeply respect both men, but they got this one wrong.


Pentagon leaders�both civilian and military�as well as their overseers in Congress concur that the readiness crisis is real. Many of the details regarding the problems remain (rightly) classified, but enough facts have been made public to remove any doubt that readiness is a wide-spread problem in the military today.


Petraeus and O�Hanlon completely ignore readiness statements from recent and current military leaders. Consider the assessment of Gen. Raymond Odierno, Petraeus� right-hand man during the Iraq Surge. Before leaving his post as Army Chief of Staff last year, Odierno said Army readiness was at �historically low levels.� Current Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley echoed that conclusion. He recently told Congress that he has �grave concerns about the readiness of our force� to deal with a serious challenger like Russia or China.


Instead of responding to current military leaders, Petraeus and O�Hanlon offer �reassuring facts� that are worth further consideration.


First, they point out that today�s defense budget is higher than the Cold War average in inflation-adjusted dollars. This is true, but it offers a very incomplete picture. Petraeus and O�Hanlon would surely agree that our military today is far different than what we had in the Cold War. Adjusting for inflation does not account for the higher cost of better equipment.


Adjusting for inflation, a standard Ford F-150 costs 40 percent more today than it did in 1986. Why? Because today�s F-150 is far more technologically advanced and capable. The same is true for military equipment.


A more complete picture of defense spending appears when we look at defense spending in terms of its percentage of GDP and percentage of total federal budget. By both of these measures, the current defense budget is at historic lows.


Perhaps more significantly, today�s defense budget is well below the minimums agreed to by bipartisan experts. The National Defense Panel, for example, agreed that former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates� last budget (in fiscal year 2012) represented the bare minimum. For 2017, that budget would be $100 billion more than President Obama�s current request.


Second, Petraeus and O�Hanlon point out that the military is on track to spend $100 billion per year to buy new equipment. A nice round number, it bears no relation to what the military truly needs. A strong military is not built by investing an arbitrary number, but by a clear analysis of what threats the nation faces and what equipment the military needs and how big it must be to defend against those threats. The Secretary of Defense has been clear that the military needs significantly more funding over the next few years, particularly to replace equipment that is past its useful life.


Third, they argue that �most [military] equipment remains in fairly good shape.� They admit that Marine Corps aviation is not, but recent testimony shows that aircraft across all four services are in similarly rough shape. And as seen in the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, all the services are laden with equipment that is decades old and difficult to maintain. Across the military, the maintenance and modernization challenges are serious and seem to be growing.


Fourth, Petraeus and O�Hanlon argue that training is improving. This appears to be true, but once again they ignore concerning statements about where our military stands today.


Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has repeatedly stated that less than half of all Air Force squadrons are ready for combat and that the Air Force faces serious shortages of both pilots and mechanics. At the same time, pilot flying hours (i.e. training) have fallen dramatically.


Army units are rotating through training centers, but only one-third of this historically small force are considered ready for high-end combat. Training may be improving in some quarters, but the lack of combat-ready units across the services points to serious underlying problems.


Petraeus and O�Hanlon are right on one point. The U.S. military remains an incredible fighting force. But its readiness for combat has declined precipitously in the last five years.


Today�s men and women in uniform put their lives on the line for our country, but they are doing so with less training, worn out equipment, and fewer brothers and sisters in arms to back them up. With threats rising across the globe, all Americans should be concerned about the troubling state of the U.S. military.


Justin T. Johnson is senior policy analyst for defense budgeting at The Heritage Foundation.


The Military’s Real Readiness Crisis; Petraeus & O’Hanlon Are Wrong


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Navy Announces Adjustments to Time-In-Grade Waiver Policy

(CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL, 17 Aug 16) � Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs


WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced an update to the policy for commanders and captains with at least 24-months Time-In-Grade (TIG) to request a waiver to retire at their current rank before completing their 36 months’ time in grade commitment in NAVADMIN 182/16 Aug. 17.


Rather than a blanket authorization for officer communities to forward a TIG request to the Chief of Naval Personnel for approval determination as outlined in NAVADMIN 371/08, now every officer community will decide if TIG requests can be supported and only forward a request for consideration if community health would allow the early loss of that officer. However, hardship or special circumstance cases may be considered for all communities on a case-by-case basis.


The message also provides guidance on when an applicant should include a next-lower-grade (NLG) waiver request in the TIG waiver application. NLG waivers provide the option to retire at the next lower grade rather than the current rank. Navy Personnel Command (NPC) may authorize an officer to be retired the lower grade if they do not meet the time-in-grade requirement.


A spreadsheet of communities accepting TIG and NLG waivers is posted at, click on Force Shaping Lever Chart to download the spreadsheet. This information will be updated by community managers as needed.


Officers are expected to meet their service obligations unless a TIG or NLG waiver is approved.


Retirement, TIG and NLG waivers requests for active component commanders and captains are made through NPC Officer Retirements Branch (PERS-835) by calling call (901) 874-3180/3183 (DSN 882-3180), or emailing Reserve officers will submit their requests through NPC’s deputy director for Reserve Personnel Administration (PERS-91B) by calling (901) 874-4482/4483 (DSN 882-4483).


For more information, read NAVADMIN182/16 at


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Navy Weighs E-Cigarette Ban Amid Safety Concerns

(NAVY TIMES 17 AUG 16) … David Larter


Sailors vaping on ships and bases may soon be a thing of the past.


A string of incidents since last year has prompted Navy safety officials to recommend putting the e-smoking lamp out fleetwide.


E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat up a nicotine liquid and deliver it to the user as a flavored vapor. In an Aug. 11 memo, the Naval Safety Center detailed growing safety concerns as exploding batteries in the devices have led to a dozen injuries since 2015.


When the lithium-ion batteries overheat, the memo says, the seal surrounding them can fail and turn an e-cigarette into a small bomb.


“The Naval Safety Center concludes that these devices pose a significant and unacceptable risk to Navy personnel, facilities, submarines, ships, vessels and aircraft,” the memo reads, going on to recommend a full ban of the products on Navy property.


The report notes that while laptops and cellphones also run on lithium-ion batteries, extensive testing has shown that they don�t tend to explode when they fail.


The Navy is taking a hard look at the recommendation, which would ultimately have to be implemented by Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet.


�Leadership is reviewing the Naval Safety Center’s recommendation regarding e-cigarettes, weighing both the safety and health-related risks,� said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Marycate Walsh.


The Safety Center recorded 12 incidents between October and May and allowed that there are probably more incidents that were not reported. There were no incidents recorded before October 2015, the memo said.


Seven of the incidents occurred on Navy ships and at least two required the use of shipboard firefighting equipment to extinguish fires. Eight of the incidents occurred while the e-cigarette was in a sailor�s pocket, resulting in first- and second-degree burns.


Two sailors had their e-cigarettes blow up in their mouths, resulting in facial and dental injuries. All told, e-cigarettes have resulted in three days of hospitalization and more than 150 days of reduced duties for sailors, the report said.


Naval Sea Systems Command has issued a partial ban on the lithium-ion batteries at the center of the report. The Safety Center is recommending that the ban be extended to e-cigarettes.


�It is strongly recommended that action be taken to prohibit these devices from use, transport, or storage on Navy facilities, submarines, ships, vessels, and aircraft,� the memo reads. �In conjunction with these efforts, it is recommended that the Navy launch a dedicated safety campaign to inform service members about the potential danger of these products.�


The problem of exploding e-cigarettes hasn�t been limited to the Navy. The report notes that the injury and failure statistics from the civilian sector track with what the Navy is seeing in its data.


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Q&A: Outgoing Navy Chief Talks Submarines, F-35s And His Legacy

(CONNECTICUT MIRROR 17 AUG 16) … Ana Radelat


In a recent wide-ranging interview over lunch, The Connecticut Mirror pressed outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the longest serving naval chief in 100 years, about the future of submarine warfare, delays in the F-35 joint strike fighter program and why the Pentagon wants another round of base closings.


Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Mabus is a former Mississippi governor and ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He has led the Navy and the Marines in the continuing war with Afghanistan and with ISIS and opened the door to the first female submariners in U.S. history. He has made shipbuilding � and sub building � a priority as part of an effort to build back the Navy�s fleet. We learned he has named the nation�s next generation of nuclear ballistic submarines the Columbia class, after the District of Columbia, and that his favorite desert is ice cream.


  1. What is the biggest challenge you�ve had at the Pentagon?


  1. I�ve never thought of it that way. Looking back toward the end, we�ve had, I think, enormous and maybe amazing success in this job, in getting things done. You got a lot of constituencies. You�ve got Congress, you�ve got this building, you�ve got the White House, you�ve got the media, you�ve got the think tanks and the American people. I think the challenge was to get those all lined up, to get them all marching on the same page … The Navy and Marine Corps have a history of tradition and being resistant to change. But overall I haven�t found that that much.


  1. What did you focus on?


  1. One of the things I learned as governor, because I was the governor of the poorest state in the union, is that there were a thousand things every day as governor that would make life better in Mississippi, but if I tried to do all thousand, nothing was going to happen. So I learned you have to focus on a very few things. Almost from the word go I focused on the same things I�m focusing on now, which are the �four Ps.�


Q, The Four Ps?


  1. People � sailors, marines, civilians, how can we manage the force better … Platforms � when I got here the fleet was declining; it was declining precipitously. How do you turn that around? We simply weren�t giving our sailors and marines the tools they needed to get the job done. The third was power � energy, fuel. When I got here oil was about $140 a barrel and we were having to prioritize mission and deployment over training, which made no sense. The Marines were losing a Marine killed or wounded every 50 convoys of fuel that went into Afghanistan. Way too high a price to pay. I had been ambassador to Saudi Arabia. I knew how fuel could be used as a weapon, and I didn�t want that weapon to be used against us. And finally, there are partnerships. I�ve traveled now more than 1.1 million miles to 151 different countries and territories. By the way, I don�t think anyone is close to that in government, and we are doing something with every one of those countries.


  1. You also worked on diversity in the Navy.


  1. A more diverse force is a stronger force.


Q, And you�re talking about women and minorities?


  1. And experience. Diverse experience, diverse backgrounds. Gender diversity. I put women in submarines in 2010. If you get too homogeneous, it�s just not good. There�s a book called �The Wisdom of Crowds� [by James Surowiecki] which says if you�ve got a problem and you bring five experts who�ve spent their lives doing this, whatever the problem is, or you get a group of people with diverse backgrounds, a bigger group, working on it, they�ll be better at solving it.


  1. What are the growing geopolitical challenges to the Navy and the role of submarines?


  1. The role of submarines, the importance of submarines, the importance of undersea warfare, is rising. It�s always been important, but it�s becoming even more crucial. And it�s being recognized not just by the Russians and Chinese but by virtually everybody. The Russians and Chinese are the most visible, but there are not many seagoing countries that don�t have submarines. And with some of the technological advances � independent propulsion diesel submarines have gotten a lot quieter, the weapons they can deploy are more diverse. We still have a big edge there � in a lot of ways that’s only undersea � but it�s not something that you can take for granted. If you quit evolving, if you quit working on it, you quit building, it can go away real fast.


  1. Was there a danger of that?


  1. It was part of the overall fleet decline. We simply weren�t building those ships. Between 2001 and 2008 the Navy only put 41 ships under contract, of all kinds. In that same period, the size of the fleet went from 318 ships to 278 ships. Forty one ships was not enough to keep the fleet from continuing to shrink. And it was not enough to keep our shipyards going. I�ve been here for seven years now, so it�s a pretty exact comparison. I�ve put 85 ships under contract, including the biggest contract the Navy ever signed, for 10 (Virginia-class) submarines. But even building two subs a year, if you look out to the late 2020s and early 2030s, we�re going to have a deficit of submarines … and it�s because 30 years earlier, we did not build enough submarines. If you miss a year building a ship, you cannot make it up … they take so long and the skill set is so precise, and we just don�t have that many shipyards. The capacity to build is limited.


  1. Now the Navy is beginning to start work on the new ballistic-missile submarine, which you have called the �Columbia class,� but where�s the money going to come from for these expensive boats?


  1. The Ohio-class replacement, that�s coming. Starting in 2021 we have to build the first one of those. You have to have 12 of those to maintain the at-sea presence we need for a nuclear deterrence, instead of the 14 we have of the Ohio class, because these don�t need to be refueled. They have a life-of-the-hull reactor, the Ohio class sub you have to refuel at midlife. But if the Navy is expected to pay for [the Columbia class subs] out of the shipbuilding budget, that would take half of the shipbuilding budget for more than 12 years, so it would cut the rest of the budget, including for [Virginia-class] attack submarines.


  1. Are you in favor of the National Sea-based Deterrence Fund, which would pay for these new subs outside the Navy�s budget?


  1. Sure. Every time we�ve built a ballistic-missile defense submarine [we�ve done that.] The first time in the Sixties called �41 for Freedom,� the second time was the Ohio-class in the Eighties. We were given additional resources to do it because Congress recognized, and they do now, that it is a national program, not just particularly a Navy program, and you just don�t want to destroy the fleet in order to get this. You have to have them both. So we�re paying all the bills right now for the design work, engineering work (for the Columbia.) But when the first boat starts being built in 2021, we�ll need money in the fund.


  1. But there�s resistance to the fund. Others support that type of fund for other services. Right?


  1. Well, here�s my reply to that. What you are talking about is the Air Force. We have one leg of the nuclear triad, undersea. Air Force has the missiles and the bombers. If Air Force can make that case, fine. But don�t say, �We�re not going to do it for the Navy.� One of the reasons people get so twisted around about this is that we don�t start building until �21. We don�t need to appropriate money until �21 … but everybody recognizes this bill is coming.


  1. What do you think of what the direction of the Navy would be in the new administration?


  1. We�re on the right trajectory for platforms, ships, planes, systems, But as it�s been shown, it takes a long time to rebuild the fleet. We will get back to 300 ships by 2019; we will get back to 308, which is what our need has been assessed at, by 2021. And this has been building ships at near record rates for seven years. If you miss a year, you don�t get it back. So, whoever comes in, you�ve got to keep that going, you�ve got to. The Navy and the Marines, you�ve got to give America this presence. Around the world. around the clock. Not being just in the right place at the right time but being in the right place all the time, and you�ve got to have enough ships to do that.


  1. You say the Navy and Marines are �America�s Away Team� because, unlike soldiers and airmen, they hardly ever come home.


  1. A ship in port in the United States doesn�t mean much. If a crisis occurs, we give the president the option of what to do. When the president in 2014 made the decision to strike ISIS for 54 days, the only option was an aircraft carrier. And it wasn�t because we didn�t have aircraft in other countries and in other places. They wouldn�t let us take off. We don�t have to ask anybody, we�re sailing on sovereign American territory.
  2. How happy are you with the F-35 version for the Navy�s aircraft carriers, which isn�t� expected to be operational until at least February of 2019?


  1. It�s going to be a great aircraft, the F-35C. But we always want to have two generations on our flight decks. We�re buying more F-18s so we don�t have an aircraft shortage because the F-35 has been delayed.


  1. But there are real problems with the F-35…


  1. The F-35 tried to be a joint aircraft, one version for the Air Force, one version for the Marines, one version for the Navy. There�s not a whole lot of commonality in those aircraft; they have to do completely different things. But the services haven�t been in charge of the program, and because it�s a joint program nobody is accountable. It�s way over budget; it�s way late. Who do you hold responsible? If this was a Navy project, if this were a ship, they would point at me…


  1. You support Sen. John McCain�s efforts to abolish the Air Force�s Joint Strike Fighter office because he says it helped paper over problems with the F-35?


  1. Yes. McCain�s�s point, which I just made, is you can�t hold anybody accountable. I think it�s really important to have some responsibility. I�ve got another example of that. The Ford Class carrier. When the Navy in the late Nineties wanted to build a replacement for the Nimitz, the proposal was to put in a lot of new technology. But because there was so much new technology, their proposal was to put a third of the new technology on the first ship, another third on the second ship and the third would have all the new technology. In 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, �No, we�ll put it all on the first ship.� And because of that, the contract that was supposed to go out in 2004 did not go out until 2007. Costs just ballooned out of control.


  1. Although you�re building up the fleet, you support another round of base realignments and closures, right?


  1. It�s very clear (the Defense Department) as a whole has excess capacity, you need something to shrink that.


  1. The Navy has less excess capacity than the other services, but it would still consider all facilities, including submarine bases, in a new base closing round?


  1. I�m sure we�d have something (on the base-closure list), but I don�t know what that would be. As you pointed out, we have far less excess capacity; the Navy and the Marine Corps have less excess capacity than anybody else.


CT Mirror Note: This Q&A was edited for length and clarity.


Q&A: Outgoing Navy chief talks submarines, F-35s and his legacy


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Private Sector To Fill Gaps In Military Aviation Training

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 17 Aug 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


A confluence of factors is pushing U.S. combat aviation training units to the brink. With deployment commitments on the rise, neither the Air Force nor the Navy has nearly enough fighter aircraft or pilots to sustain training squadrons. It is a problem that has been a long time in the making � accelerated over the past decade by a combination of budget cuts, low pilot morale and a migration of fighter pilots to drone units.


The stressed state of aviation training has alarmed commanders and has compelled both the Air Force and the Navy to consider using contractor-provided aircraft and crews to supplement their own �aggressor squadrons� in live exercises. Also known as adversary or �red� squadrons, they serve as the opposing force in military war games and are expected to provide a realistic foe in combat training.


Aviation companies were briefed in March about the Air Force and Navy�s future �adversary air� support needs.


Both services have since issued �requests for information� from interested contractors. The needs are significant, according to one of the Air Force solicitations: �There is currently a significant gap between combat force-wide training requirements and adversary-air support availability, resulting in a shortage of 30,000 to 40,000 sorties per year.�


The problem is most acute at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which projects a deficit of more than 3,000 sorties for fiscal year 2016. Nicknamed �home of the fighter pilot,” Nellis is the military�s largest and most demanding advanced air combat training base.


The military could start hiring more private companies to fill adversary-air demands as soon as next year. In a sign that the market is poised for growth, one of the most established players in the combat aviation training industry, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, or ATAC, was acquired this summer by Textron.


�What we see is growing interest and need for outsourcing military training tasks,� said Russ Bartlett, CEO and president of Textron Airborne Solutions, a Textron-owned company that was publicly launched in July at a military air show in the United Kingdom.


ATAC was Textron�s first acquisition in this sector, and there could be more as opportunities emerge, Bartlett told reporters during a conference call.


The military for decades has outsourced pilot training but the business is expanding into new areas like tactical live-air support for conventional fourth-generation and more advanced fifth-generation fighter units.


�We created the �outsourced adversary� industry,� said Jeffrey Parker, co-founder of ATAC. The company�s aircraft have racked up more than 25,000 hours as opposing forces to U.S. Navy carrier strike groups, and about 5,000 hours as Air Force adversaries. The industry is �exploding,� Parker said. He is confident the business will grow under Textron ownership. �We were intrigued by Textron�s entrepreneurial approach.�


Parker estimated that the size of the industry will double by 2018 based on newly announced training needs by the Air Force and Navy. �They have a requirement of thousands of hours of training to be outsourced,� he said.


They do not have enough aircraft or pilots to fill this demand. ATAC operators currently fly 6,000 hours a year as adversary forces. The company projects the Air Force and the Navy will each require 3,000 additional hours per year by 2018.


With more F-35 joint strike fighter units projected to start training in the coming years, it is no surprise that the Pentagon is anticipating a bigger demand for opposing forces that can test the capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter. The F-35 creates a �generous appetite for adversaries,� Parker said. �They need robust adversaries to challenge their advanced sensors. It�s not always the most complex equipment that provides the most bang for the buck in training.�


The company�s adversary squadrons fly the F-21 Kfir multirole fighter, the MK-58 Hawker Hunter and the L-39 Albatros jet trainer. ATAC employs 30 former military fighter pilots. Based in Newport News, Virginia, the company both buys and leases aircraft. It charges for its services by the hour, and does not mark up fuel costs. The company is always eyeing the used aircraft market, including Israel�s F-15s, Jordan�s F-15s and F-2s. For electronic warfare training, systems are simulated. �If you can emulate capability electronically with virtual technologies why use an F-15?�


Financially it makes little sense to challenge F-35s with costly F-15s or F-16s that are not able to detect stealthy fighters, Parker said. �Nobody can see the F-35. Why not use good but not expensive aircraft?� Further, fifth-generation fighter units get better training when they are stressed by a large number of enemy aircraft coming at them at once. Ideally, Parker said, there should be 12 bad guys for every two F-35s, which is more than the Air Force now provides.


Bartlett cited recent reports of alarming shortages of Air Force fighter pilots as further evidence that the military will need to rely more on contractors. �The magic of this industry is finding the aircraft that meets the requirement at the lowest possible cost, and provide what you�re getting paid for.�

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of August 1, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 Top Clips for the week of Aug. 1:



NAVAIR marks first flight with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts

Osprey takes to the sky with 3-D printed critical parts

Game-Changing Flight For Naval Aviation: First Flight With 3-D Printed, Safety-Critical Parts

FRCSW Upgrades Super Hornet AMAD Test Stand

FRCSE Sailor anything but blue to join Angels

FRC East supervisor is top federal manager



Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat

Air Force F-35 Hits Drone With Sidewinder Missile In ‘Kill’ Test

The F-35 Is So Stealthy, It Produced Training Challenges, Pilot Says

Navy Schedules F-35C For Third Set Of Carrier Trials

It Could Be Years Before Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is Ready for Combat

Top Marine aviator: F-35B is ready for war

Blue Angels Upgrading To F/A 18 Super Hornets

New Navy Tech Makes It Easy To Land On A Carrier. Yes, Easy

Booz Allen to support Navy IT services

Navy’s Atlantic air force gets a new boss

Decision Coming Soon on Navy Job Title Review, Mabus Says

Marine Flight Readiness Improving .Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?

Marines order 24-hour pause in flight operations for all non-deployed aircraft

White House Launches New Salvo In Troop Funding Fight

Navy, Marines Put V-22 To The Test In Carrier Experiment





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NAVAIR marks first flight with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 29 July 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland – Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) marked its first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques here July 29.


An MV-22B Osprey completed a test flight outfitted with a titanium, 3-D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle. This link and fitting assembly is one of four that secure a V-22’s engine nacelle to the primary wing structure and will remain on the aircraft for continued evaluation. The flight was performed using the standard V-22 flight performance envelope.


“The flight went great. I never would have known that we had anything different onboard,” said MV-22 Project Officer Maj. Travis Stephenson, who piloted the flight.


AM uses digital 3-D design data to build components in layers of metal, plastic and other materials. The metal link and fitting assembly for this test event were printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Prior to this flight, multiple V-22 components built by Lakehurst and Penn State Applied Research Laboratory were tested at Patuxent River to validate performance.


“The flight today is a great first step toward using AM wherever and whenever we need to. It will revolutionize how we repair our aircraft and develop and field new capabilities – AM is a game changer,” said Liz McMichael, AM Integrated Product Team lead. “In the last 18 months, we’ve started to crack the code on using AM safely. We’ll be working with V-22 to go from this first flight demonstration to a formal configuration change to use these parts on any V-22 aircraft.”


Naval Aviation has employed additive manufacturing as a prototyping tool since the early 1990s and in recent years has begun the process of printing non-flight critical parts and tools.


Today’s demonstration is the first time a U.S. Navy aircraft flew with an AM part deemed essential to maintaining safe flight.

Navy officials envision a future where all parts can be made on-demand globally by fleet maintainers and operators, and our industry partners — stocking digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts. Today’s flight is an important step toward achieving that vision.


Including the V-22 link and fitting assembly, McMichael and her team have identified six additional safety-critical parts they plan to build and test over the next year for three U.S. Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms – the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K. Three of the parts will be made out of titanium, while the other three will be stainless steel.


Even with the success of today’s flight, NAVAIR officials advise that there is a lot work to do before deployed aircraft are flying in theater with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts.


“Our AM team has done some incredible work in a relatively short period of time — both internally through its production of aircraft components to be used in flight testing and externally through its liaison with industry and other government organizations,” said Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, NAVAIR commander. “Although the flight today is a great step forward, we are not trying to ‘lead’ industry in our AM efforts, but it is absolutely critical that we understand what it takes to successfully manufacture and qualify AM parts for flight in naval aircraft, which we expect will largely be manufactured by our industry partners.  Where I believe we can ‘lead’ industry is in the development of the AM “digital thread,” from initial design tools all the way to the flight line — securely maintained and managed through the life of an aircraft program.”


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Osprey Takes To The Sky With 3-D Printed Critical Parts

(NAVY TIMES, 1 Aug 16) … Meghann Myers


3-D printed parts have been used in Navy aircraft for years, but they’ve been mostly structural, not the safety parts that could mean the difference between flying and crashing.

That was until Friday, when Naval Air Systems Command held its first flight demonstration of an aircraft – a MV-22 Osprey – with a 3-D printed, metal link and fitting assembly for the engine housing.


“The flight went great,” said MV-22 pilot Marine Maj. Travis Stephenson said in a Navy release. “I never would have known that we had anything different onboard.”


While it’s an Air Force and Marine Corps vertical-lift aircraft now, the Navy has tapped the Osprey as its next carrier on-board delivery vehicle in the 2020s.


The military has dabbled in 3-D printing since the early 1990s, making plastic aircraft flight deck tabletop models and plastic models of medical tools. Critical parts are a new addition.


The process, also known as additive manufacturing, uses plastic, metal or other materials to fashion objects from detailed plans uploaded to a computer. With more facilities and better designs and technology, it could one day allow maintainers to quickly build their own parts rather than having to rely on the parts inventory in the supply system.


The service owns some of its own printers, but, NAVAIR’s boss said in the release, in the future will probably contract for a lot of its 3-D printing needs.


“Where I believe we can ‘lead’ industry is in the development of the AM ‘digital thread,’ from initial design tools all the way to the flight line – securely maintained and managed through the life of an aircraft program,” Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags said.


The parts in the recent test were printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, where the Navy has worked with Penn State Applied Research Laboratory to make non-critical Osprey parts.


“The flight today is a great first step toward using AM wherever and whenever we need to. It will revolutionize how we repair our aircraft and develop and field new capabilities – AM is a game changer,” said Liz McMichael, AM integrated product team lead, in the release.


Over the past year and a half, she added, her team has made major progress in printing critical parts, and there are plans to use the parts on any Osprey.


“Navy officials envision a future where all parts can be made on-demand globally by fleet maintainers and operators, and our industry partners – stocking digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts,” according to the release.


McMichael and her team have plans to build six more safety-critical parts for the Osprey as well as the H-1 Huey and the CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.


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Game-Changing Flight For Naval Aviation: First Flight With 3-D Printed, Safety-Critical Parts

(NAVY LIVE BLOG 02 Aug 16) … Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags


On July 29, an MV-22B Osprey completed a successful test flight while outfitted with a flight-critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing or 3-D printing. The successful use of this technology in a test flight is a first for Naval Air Systems Command and a significant game-changing milestone for naval aviation.


3-D printing works by using digital design data to build components in layers of metal, plastic and other materials. The component used in the V-22 test event – a titanium, 3-D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle – was printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey. This link and fitting assembly is one of four that secure a V-22’s engine nacelles to the primary wing structure and will remain on the aircraft for continued evaluation.


Additive manufacturing technology has the potential to revolutionize naval aviation by putting the ability to build parts into the hands of maintainers and operators in the fleet. The test flight marks a great step forward as we work toward a future where all parts can be made on-demand around the globe and where industry partners can stock digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts.


Think about what this could mean for our warfighters. Rather than having to order a part and wait for it to arrive, a maintainer serving overseas could just print out a required part when it is needed. This not only reduces the supply chain timeline but also reduces the need to store and transport parts – resulting in increased warfighting readiness at the best possible cost.


As we look ahead, the Naval Air Systems Command Additive Manufacturing Integrated Product Team will continue to work with the V-22 to go from the first flight demonstration to a formal configuration change to use the 3-D printed parts on any V-22 aircraft. The team has identified six safety-critical parts, including the V-22 link and fitting assembly, that they plan to build and test over the next year for three U.S. Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms – the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K.


Our additive manufacturing team has done incredible work in a relatively short period of time – both internally through its production of aircraft components to be used in flight testing, and externally through its liaison with industry and other government organizations.


It is absolutely critical that we understand what it takes to successfully manufacture and qualify additive manufacturing parts for use in deployed aircraft flying in theater. Together with industry, we will continue to work toward getting 3-D printing capability into the hands of our warfighters – giving them the ability to print required parts where they need them, when they need them.


Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command


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FRCSW Upgrades Super Hornet AMAD Test Stand

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST ALMANAC) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


Overseeing the maintenance needs of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and its components is one task that is common to many of the Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC). But when the aircraft’s Airframe Mounted Accessory Drive (AMAD) needs repaired or overhauled, all of the FRCs turn to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) to handle the job.


The AMAD is the electrical and hydraulic brain of the F/A-18. It is a gearbox that is mounted to the engine of the aircraft and through engine revolutions, powers the aircraft’s hydraulic pump, fuel pump, generator, and starter. Each Hornet has two AMADs; one on each engine.


FRCSW AMAD work is assigned to the hydraulics shop in Building 379 and is performed by four pneudraulics mechanics.


When an F/A-18 is inducted for maintenance, the AMAD gear boxes are removed and examined.


AMAD units that operate properly and within specifications are forwarded as ready-for-issue (RFI) with flight hour notification sent to engineering.


“On the Super Hornet `F’ models, we’ll do a check-in test. But if it’s an E or F model that comes in for disassembly due to a generator failure, for example, we’ll do a complete overhaul,” said pneudraulics mechanic Brandon Bush.


“Overhaul is to disassemble the entire gearbox and inspect all of the parts. We use our manual to tell us what parts we need to order – like gaskets, seals, bearings and gears. It totals to a couple of hundred parts.”


Non-destructive testing (NDI) is used on the gear boxes to identify cracks or flaws. Worn parts, such as thread inserts, are sent to the machine shop for replacement.


“After that it goes to delay, who orders all of our parts, and then it comes back for reassembly with all new seals and whatever parts we replaced. Then it’s ready for testing,” Bush said.


Like all electronic and hydraulic aircraft components, the AMADs are checked using Automated Testing Equipment (ATE) prior to release as RFI to the fleet.


FRCSW uses two separate ATE to test the legacy and Super Hornet.


“We finished the C and D (legacy) Hornet stand three years ago and just finished installing the upgraded gearbox test stand for the E and F in April,” said Martha Hoffman, FRCSW Capital Investment Program Project Manager.


Hoffman said that the previous system was approximately 12 years old, ran on an older operating system, and often failed during testing procedures making it increasingly unreliable.


Costing $563,000, the upgrade to the test stand includes the data acquisition (DA) system, video system, control and sensor systems, the console computer hardware and operating system, and calibration and test software.


The DA system controls the test cycles and measures and records the test data. The data is stored and displayed for the operator to ensure that the tested unit is within safe operating specifications.


Other portions of the stand simulate varying loads in horsepower for the gearbox so it may be tested at different speeds, load conditions and vibrations.


“It reads the operating temperature and vibrations and provides the specifications. If the unit is out of the range of specifications, it will tell the operator immediately, and by what degree and where it is not responding,” Hoffman noted.


The test stand’s motor and some other equipment were not upgraded.


“We worked with the shop and engineering to customize the stand, so it has three screens,” Hoffman said. “One screen tells the operator if the testing unit is within calibration, the second indicates which tests are being conducted and the outcome, and the third screen is connected to a camera to show the actual AMAD stand.

The test stand also has a joy stick to identify and

query specific areas and tests of the AMAD.”


The system is manufactured by Sytronics and the test program is equipped with a manual intervention option, single-step troubleshooting and an automatic systems shutdown.


Bush said each AMAD undergoes an array of calibration tests on the stand including six tests in break in mode, six tests in calibration and ground maintenance mode, and an air turbine start cycle test.


The tests take about three hours to run per AMAD and an hour each for system setup and breakdown.


“After testing a unit we have to check the gearbox and its magnetic plug to make sure there’s no metal or debris in them or the oil out screen,” Bush said. “Overall, we have a 99 percent pass rate for RFI.”


FRCSW returns an average of 48 Super Hornet and about seven legacy Hornet AMADs to the fleet yearly.


Editor’s note: FRCSW would like to acknowledge the departments that were instrumental in the Super Hornet AMAD test stand upgrade: Engineering in 6.0, the shop personnel, facilities, MetCal engineers and calibration.


From the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Almanac, Vol. 9, Issue 1.


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FRCSE Sailor anything but blue to join Angels

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 29 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


Jacksonville, Fla. – Waynesboro, Georgia is only about 400 miles from Pensacola, Florida, but for Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SW) Aldriick Kittles, it may as well be in another galaxy.


Through hard work and determination, the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Detachment Jacksonville Sailor has made it out of a hard-scrabble upbringing, and is headed to the world’s premier flight demonstration team.


In September, Kittles will join the Navy’s Blue Angels as a maintenance crew chief.


“He’s been inspirational to the other Sailors here,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Mark Sarna, Kittles’ supervisor at Detachment Jacksonville’s 700 Division. “To know where he’s come from, where he’s at and where he’s going is truly amazing.”


By his own admission, Kittles’ childhood in Waynesboro, Ga. was less than ideal.


“It was a bad environment,” he said. “I saw things I shouldn’t have seen and lived with things I shouldn’t have had to live with.”


For a while, it was football that seemed to be his ticket to a better life. As a standout safety, Kittles was part of the 2011 Burke County High School Georgia state championship team. But in his senior year, his close friend and teammate was killed in a car crash.


“We were planning on playing college football together, but I couldn’t play football anymore after that happened,” Kittles said. “College just wasn’t an option for me after that because my mind just wasn’t focused enough at that point.


“But I knew I had to leave. I had to go somewhere.”


“Somewhere” ended up being the United States Navy, where Kittles said he originally planned to serve only four years.


“I joined and I guess I just did everything correctly,” he said. “I wanted to get the most out of it.”


He started out as an undesignated seaman aboard USS Ft. McHenry (LSD-43). The demands of that job set him on a path from which he wouldn’t deviate.


“I had to do everything: paint the ship, bring everything onboard the ship,” he said. “It was 24/7, and I kept that mentality when I came here.”


In Jacksonville, Kittles threw himself into the job. He took on collateral duties and volunteered.


“As soon as he checked in, his motor has been running 150 miles per hour,” Sarna said. “I just tried to point him in the right direction, and he took off.”


His fondness for a fast-paced work environment and a commitment to excellence led Kittles to apply for a position with the Blue Angels. At the end of a week-long interview process in May, Kittles still didn’t know if he’d been accepted. He returned home just in time to make the birth of his first child, a son.


Then the call came.


“At first they messed with me and told me I wasn’t selected,” he said. “Then they asked me if I had my seabag packed.


“I said no, but I’ll pack it now!”


Initially, Kittles will join the Blue Angels at their home base in Pensacola, Florida before leaving for training at El Centro, California in January. It’s a journey he’s looking forward to.


“This is the way I can do the things I want to do in my naval career,” he said. “I want to be an officer one day, and this will help me get there.


“Sometimes I just can’t believe where I’m at in my life now,” he said.


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FRC East supervisor is top federal manager

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 2 Aug 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – A Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East supervisor was selected as the Federal Managers Asso­ciation’s (FMA) Manager of the Year during the organization’s 78th national convention March 14 in Alexan­dria, Virginia.


Sue Thatch, production support logistician (PSL) team supervisor, was honored for demonstrating exception­al leadership, supervisory and communication skills, active involve­ment in the local FMA chapter and contributions to the local community.


“She is trustworthy, honor­able, knowledgeable and effi­cient.and has the ability to communicate on multiple levels by providing an attentive ear of understanding,” said Lori Glass, FRC East program analyst and FMA Chapter 21 president.


In the nomination form, Glass highlighted Thatch’s abilities of organiza­tion, leadership and motivation: “She is firm and fair,” wrote Glass. “Sue is extremely responsive to her employees’ needs, going far out of her way to ensure they have all tools necessary to achieve success. She possesses a calm wisdom that adds to her level-headed processes and infectious posi­tive attitude. This mindset energizes her employees and inspires them to achieve goals beyond expectations. She is a mentor to all, providing encour­aging leadership grounded in common sense and experience.”


Thatch, with 26 years of government service, built and supported the PSL team that she took the reins of as supervisor in 2013. She initiated a new Production Support Module (PSM) at FRC East, and her work with the Production Support Engineering Supervisor gave PSLs a voice and buy-in on the supply health for the shops. The PSM tool made a huge difference in communication, time savings and supportability at FRC East, according to Glass.


Thatch’s involvement in the lo­cal FMA chapter led to the authoring of the Wounded Warrior Fed­eral Leave Act, which provides wounded veterans with 30 per­cent or more disability a bank of 104 hours of sick leave to use within their first 12 months of civil service em­ployment in order to obtain treatment for their disabilities.


In the community, Thatch has initiated coat drives, candy sales and 5K fun runs to support local homeless and women’s shelters. She also leads the local FMA chapter’s annual golf tournament to fund scholarships and stuffed animal drives to support children who have experi­enced various traumas.


“She has a big heart and en­joys donating her time to those in need,” said Glass.


FMA is a professional as­sociation representing the in­terests of the nearly 200,000 managers, supervisors and ex­ecutives serving in today’s fed­eral government. More than 200 regular and associate members are employed at FRC East.


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Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat

(DEFENSE NEWS 02 Aug 16) … Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday declared its first squadron of F-35As ready for battle, 15 years after Lockheed Martin won the contract to make the plane.


The milestone means that the service can now send its first operational F-35 formation – the 34th Fighter Squadron located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah – into combat operations anywhere in the world. The service, which plans to buy 1,763 F-35As, is the single-largest customer of the joint strike fighter program, which also includes the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and a host of governments worldwide.


The Air Force, which follows the Marine Corps in approving F-35s for operations, had a five-month window between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 to proclaim initial operational capability (IOC). After notifying Congress, Air Combat Command (ACC) head Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle signed off on the declaration on Aug. 2.


In a briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Carlisle stressed that although the F-35A is not perfect, the aircraft has significantly improved from the early days of the program. More importantly, its stealth, electronic warfare and sensor fusion capabilities are urgently needed for future conflicts.


“Given the national security strategy, we need it,” he said. “You look at the potential adversaries out there, or the potential environments where we have to operate this airplane, the attributes that the F-35 brings – the ability to penetrate defensive airspace, the ability to deliver precision munitions with a sensor suite that fuses data from multiple information sources – is something our nation needs.”


The service’s top leaders also sounded off in support of the declaration. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James both labeled it “an important milestone.”


“The F-35A brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability and adaptability to joint and combined operations, and is ready to deploy and strike well-defended targets anywhere on Earth,” Goldfein said in a statement.


F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the IOC declaration sends a message to U.S. friends and foes: “The F-35 can do its mission.”


Still, challenges abound. For example, during a recent interim readiness assessment, operational testers found the F-35A’s scope did not always display data in an intuitive manner, necessitating that the pilot hone in on a data point to get more information, Carlisle told reporters.


The Air Force, together with the joint program office, hopes to fix that issue in 2017 with its 3F software, which will give the aircraft its full war-fighting capability, including the ability to launch certain types of weapons such as the Small Diameter Bomb. Other 3F changes, like improved pilot interfaces and displays, will make the plane easier to operate, he said.


To reach the IOC milestone, Hill Air Force Base needed at least 12 combat-ready jets capable of global deployment to provide what officials have termed basic close-air support, air interdiction, and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense missions. Also required were enough pilots, maintainers and equipment to support the squadron.


Asked to spell out what the difference was from the F-35’s basic close-air support capability and a full close-air support capability, Carlisle declined to go into specifics.


“Basically it doesn’t have necessarily all of the attributes” of the A-10, which was built for close-air support, he said. For instance, the airplane was not designed with an infrared pointer.


Getting to the point where the Air Force could meet its IOC requirements was not exactly easy, as the F-35 program hit a few unforeseen snags this year. Bogdan announced in the spring that the joint program office had identified instances of “software instability” that would cause the jets to have trouble booting up and, once the software was running, prompt the random shutdown of sensors.


Then, Lockheed in June disclosed that the latest version of the plane’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, ALIS 2.0.2, would not be available until at least October. ALIS is the F-35’s maintenance backbone, and is used for everything from mission planning to ordering spare parts.


The F-35 appeared to turn the corner after seven planes from Hill deployed to Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. There, pilots and maintainers confirmed they could successfully operate and repair the plane away from home base, even with an earlier version of ALIS. They also demonstrated that Lockheed’s software update had fixed software instability problems, reporting zero glitches during the 88 sorties flown.


After that deployment, Carlisle said the current version of ALIS would not be a “limiting factor” that would keep the F-35 from becoming operational.


The squadron at Hill then completed its own checklist, which included tasks such as ensuring enough pilots were combat-ready and subjecting them to an oral examination. On July 27, members of Hill Air Force Base’s 34th Fighter Squadron told the press they had amassed 12 modified F-35As and 21 combat-mission-ready pilots and completed all the paperwork needed to make an IOC declaration.


Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said declaring IOC is a sign the F-35 program has moved beyond the well-known cost overruns and development issues that marked so much of the fifth-generation fighter’s development.


“I’m sure there will still be kinks that come up in the system in the coming years, but for the most part I think this means the program has stabilized, they’re on a good trajectory, [and] most of the potential for major cost overruns and technological challenges are now behind us,” he said.


Critics of the program have said declaring IOC is more of a marketing move than an actual operational one, as the service set the IOC requirements itself. Harrison acknowledged that view but said IOC is still an important step forward.


“It’s not doing everything they wanted it to do. It’s had all kinds of problems along the way. But they are at the point now where it is stabilizing, so it’s still a milestone of progress.”


The Road Ahead


Carlisle said in July that even though he would feel comfortable sending the F-35 to a fight as soon as the jet becomes operational, ACC has formed a “deliberate path” where the aircraft would deploy in stages: first to Red Flag exercises, then as a “theater security package” to Europe and the Asia-Pacific.


The fighter probably won’t deploy to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State group any earlier than 2017, he said, but if a combatant commander asked for the capability, “I’d send them down in a heartbeat because they’re very, very good.”


The ACC commander reiterated that sentiment Tuesday, stating that he would deploy the F-35 if its capabilities were needed. Deployments to Europe and the Asia-Pacific, which Carlisle would like to see within 18 months, would help boost partner nations’ confidence in the airframe, he said.


Over the next several years, the Air Force plans to stand up two more operational squadrons at Hill. That will entail growing the F-35 maintainer corps from the 222 currently trained personnel to almost 700 maintainers, said Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, deputy commander of the 388th Maintenance Group.


“We’ve got at least another 150 in the training pipeline,” he said last week. “On average, it’s 12 months to take a fourth-gen legacy aircraft maintainer and turn them into a fifth-generation maintainer, so those maintainers that are in the pipeline now will be standing up our next couple squadrons.”


Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont is set to become the second operational base – and the first Air National Guard base – to host the F-35, and will receive 18 joint strike fighters to replace its F-16s, Richard Meyer, the Air Force’s deputy chief of the F-35 system management division, said in a July 29 interview.


Around 2020, Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, will get two squadrons of 24 F-35s. Those aircraft are not slated to replace any fourth-generation fighters at the base and will bring added capability, he said

The Air Force’s first overseas base, RAF Lakenheath in England, will follow about a year afterward. Lakenheath will be home to two F-35 squadrons in addition to the F-15E and F-15C squadrons it already has.


The service is still evaluating which installations to select for the fifth, sixth and seventh operational bases, Meyers said. The fifth and sixth bases will be Air National Guard bases, while the seventh will be one of four reserve bases that currently host F-16 or A-10 squadrons: Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona or Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, which is home to Air Force F-16s.


“You have to do an environmental assessment to ensure the base meets all the requirements of the environment of the new plane,” Meyers said. That assessment entails evaluating whether new military construction is needed and whether existing facilities need any alterations to be able to support the aircraft.

“It just takes a while,” he added.


F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin congratulated the service on meeting the IOC milestone. “With the F-35A, the Air Force now has a fighter combining next-generation radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed, fighter agility and advanced logistical support with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history,” the company said in a statement.


Pratt & Whitney, which produces the F135 engine used in all three variants of the jet, also sent a statement congratulating the service.


Aaron Mehta in Washington contributed to this report.


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Air Force F-35 Hits Drone With Sidewinder Missile In ‘Kill’ Test

(DOD BUZZ 01 AUG 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


The Air Force variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed another key test days ago, deploying an AIM-9X missile while in flight to hit a drone over a military test range, officials with the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office said.


The test with the F-35A was conducted off the California coast July 28, Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova said in a news release.


The Raytheon-made AIM-9X Sidewinder missile was launched from the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft’s external wing in the test. The F-35 was able to complete a series of complex steps to track and target the drone, including identifying the object with mission systems sensors; communicating with the missile; giving the pilot, Air Force Maj. Raven LeClair the change to confirm the targeting information using the high-tech F-35 helmet mounted display, and launching the missile to engage the target, according to the release.


“After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile before destroying the drone, achieving the first F-35 Air-to-Air kill or ‘Boola Boola,’ which is the traditional radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone,” officials said in the release.


During the same exercise, LeClair fired an AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, carried internally, to take out another drone. This was a miss, however, as the drone target was out of visual range.


“It’s been said you don’t really have a fighter until you can actually hit a target and we crossed that threshold with the first air-to-air weapon delivery of an AIM-9X. This successful test demonstrates the combat capability the F-35 will bring to the U.S. Military and our allies,” LeClair said in a statement. “This test represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by combined government and contractor teams. We want to ensure operators will receive the combat capability they need to execute their mission and return home safely – we cannot compromise or falter in delivering this capability.”


The F-35A is is likely just days away from being Initial Operational Capability certified, according to multiple reports. It will be the second F-35 variant to reach IOC, following the Marine Corps F-35B “jump jet” variant, which was declared IOC last July.


The ongoing weapons accuracy testing for the F-35A will include the deployment of small-diameter bombs, joint direct attack munitions and AIM-120C AMRAAMs, according to the release.


Air Force F-35 Hits Drone with Sidewinder Missile in ‘Kill’ Test


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The F-35 Is So Stealthy, It Produced Training Challenges, Pilot Says

(AIR FORCE TIMES 31 JUL 16) … Phillip Swarts


The F-35 Lightning II is so stealthy, pilots are facing an unusual challenge. They’re having difficulty participating in some types of training exercises, a squadron commander told reporters Wednesday.


During a recent exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, F-35 squadrons wanted to practice evading surface-to-air threats. There was just one problem: No one on the ground could track the plane.

“If they never saw us, they couldn’t target us,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, the commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.


The F-35s resorted to flipping on their transponders, used for FAA identification, so that simulated anti-air weapons could track the planes, Watkins said.


“We basically told them where we were at and said, ‘Hey, try to shoot at us,'” he said, adding that without the transponders on, “most likely we would not have suffered a single loss from any SAM threats while we were training at Mountain Home.”


“When we go to train, it’s really an unfair fight for the guys who are simulating the adversaries,” Watkins continued. “We’ve been amazed by what we can do when we go up against fourth-gen adversaries in our training environment, in the air and on the ground.”


Watkins said he can take four F-35s and “be everywhere and nowhere at the same time because we can cover so much ground with our sensors, so much ground and so much airspace. And the F-15s or F-16s, or whoever is simulating an adversary or red air threat, they have no idea where we’re at and they can’t see us and they can’t target us.”


“That’s a pretty awesome feeling when you’re going out to train for combat,” Watkins concluded, “to know that your pilots are in an unfair fight.”


The pilots and crews at Hill have been putting the new fifth-generation fighter through its paces, in preparation for top Air Force brass declaring the plane operationally ready – a move expected within days.


The Air Force’s variant of the F-35 will make its first appearance at the famous Red Flag training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in January 2017, Watkins told Air Force Times. Marine Corps F-35Bs have already reached initial operating capability and participated in the exercise this year.


Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, the 388th Maintenance Group deputy commander, said all the boxes have been checked for Hill F-35s to reach IOC, and that the base will be ready to send six-ship packages of the aircraft wherever they’re needed in the world.


“For most of us, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bed down a new weapon set and make it employable and bring this capability for the defense of our nation,” Anderson said. “Everyone from the youngest airmen on up through our wing commanders is totally invested in this program. We are all excited and very motivated for what we’ve accomplished over the last year and what we’re going to accomplish in the future.”


Hill now has 21 pilots ready to fly, with another three going through final certification training, Anderson said. Some 222 maintainers are also ready, with another 150 in training. The base has 15 F-35s now, with a 16th scheduled to be delivered in late August. Eventually, the base is looking to set up three full squadrons with a total of 72 aircraft by 2019.


Anderson said the base isn’t expecting any problems with getting enough maintainers or pilots to operate the planes.


“We don’t see any shortfalls in our maintenance and pilots right now,” he said. “We can project up to 18 months out to see where our pilots and maintainers are coming from, and we will have enough to stand up this unit. IOC, for us, it’s just getting us out of the starting gate.”


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Navy Schedules F-35C For Third Set Of Carrier Trials

(SEAPOWER 02 AUG 16) … Richard R. Burgess


ARLINGTON, Va. – The Navy’s F-35C Lightning II strike fighter is scheduled to begin carrier qualifications (CQs) for the third and final phase of its developmental test program (DT-III) this week, a Navy spokesman said in an e-mail announcing the planned event.


DT-III will be conducted onboard USS George Washington off the Virginia Capes Aug. 3-23. If the event proceeds on schedule, DT-III will begin with an F-35C landing onboard George Washington on Aug. 3.


“A broad range of elements associated with carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment will be tested during DT-III, including day and night CQs, launch and recovery with external stores, approach handling qualities with symmetric and asymmetric external stores, Delta Flight Path testing, Joint Precision Approach and Landing System testing, crosswind and maximum-weight launches, military-/maximum-power lunches, and night operations with the [Generation] III Helmet-Mounted Display,” said Cmdr. Dave Hecht, public affairs officer for commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.


The F-35C as put through its first set of carrier trials, DT-I, in November 2014 onboard USS Nimitz in the Southern California operations area. The F-35C, operated by Air Test & Evaluation 23, made the aircraft’s first carrier landing on Nov, 3, 2014. The pilots in the event accomplished 33 flights that included 124 catapult launches, 222 touch-and-go landings, and 124 arrested landings.


DT-II for the F-35C was conducted in October off the Virginia Capes onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. This event included catapult launches and arrested landings with internal stores.


The F-35C is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2018, when a full 10-plane squadron will be operational.


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It Could Be Years Before Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is Ready for Combat

(DAILY BEAST, 1 Aug 16) . David Axe


Don’t get too excited about the U.S. Air Force possibly declaring the long-delayed F-35 fighter jet ready for combat-if history is any guide, it won’t be sent into a fight for years.


The U.S. Air Force could declare its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jet combat-ready as early as Monday.


The so-called initial operational capability announcement means the F-35-the Pentagon’s latest radar-evading warplane and the product of history’s most expensive weapons program-can, in theory, deploy overseas to bomb ISIS or deter Russia or China.


“We have achieved all our milestones,” Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, an officer with the Air Force’s Utah-based 388th Wing, set to be the flying branch’s first operational F-35 unit-told Air Force magazine, a trade publication.


It’s up to Gen. Hawk Carlisle-the head of Air Combat Command, which oversees most of the Air Force’s frontline fighter squadrons-to make the formal declaration. Many observers expect Carlisle to make the call no later than Wednesday.


That will be an event 20 years and $100 billion in the making.


But don’t celebrate quite yet. It could take another 20 years and $300 billion for the Air Force-not to mention the Navy and Marines-to get all 2,400 F-35s they currently plan on buying. And even though the JSF technically could deploy to a conflict zone as early as August, it’s likely the Pentagon will hold the plane back for a few more years as it continues to work out its many bugs.


For while the F-35 might be officially war-ready, that doesn’t mean the military and plane-maker Lockheed Martin have solved all the F-35’s problems. Even with the Air Force’s endorsement, the Joint Strike Fighter is still less maneuverable, more complex, less reliable, and more expensive than its developers promised.


In many ways, the F-35 the Air Force will receive in 2016 is not the plane it thought it would be getting just a few years ago.


Originally conceived in 1996 as an inexpensive, multi-purpose warplane-one that could replace almost all the other frontline jet types in Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps squadrons-the JSF proved devilishly complex.


The Air Force, Navy, and Marines all wanted different things from the fighter. The only thing they really agreed on was stealth-the ability to avoid detection by radars and other sensors by way of radar-scattering wing- and fuselage-shaping and special, energy-absorbing skin coatings.


The Air Force wanted its F-35s to be simple, cheap, and maneuverable, with one engine, a small wing and a slim fuselage, all striking the best balance between speed, payload, and turning ability. The Navy preferred the redundancy of a twin-engine plane but, at the very least, needed its F-35s to be able to operate from aircraft carriers at sea-meaning a bigger wing generating more lift at the cost of speed.


Most vexingly, the Marines demanded that their own F-35s have the ability to take off and land vertically so they can fly from the small, carrier-like Navy assault ships the Marines use to launch amphibious assaults. Vertical capability meant adding a downward blasting secondary engine behind the cockpit, which in turn meant a wider fuselage generating more drag than the Air Force was happy with.


To satisfy all three main customers, Lockheed devised three versions of the JSF-the F-35A for the Air Force, the F-35B for the Marines, and the Navy’s F-35C. To keep the cost down, the military and Lockheed wanted the three versions to be as similar as possible. That meant compromises-largely dictated by the F-35B’s extraordinary vertical takeoff and landing ability. The F-35A has a fatter fuselage than it really needs. The F-35C possesses just one main engine, even though most Navy fighters have two.


But the compromises failed to keep the cost down. Indeed, the combination of competing requirements added complexity to the JSF that drove up the cost. In October 2001, when the Pentagon chose Lockheed to build the JSF, officials expected the design and production of about 3,000 F-35s to set back U.S. taxpayers around $200 billion.


A few years later that figure had ballooned to $400 billion, plus another $600 billion for fuel, parts, and pilot-training over another 30 or 40 years of flying. And that was after the Pentagon cut hundreds of F-35s from the production plan as a cost-saving measure. Engineers struggled to accommodate all the competing demands on the F-35-and ran into trouble. In 2004, the government and Lockheed admitted the JSF was simply too heavy and needed a costly redesign.


What followed was a drumbeat of bad news lasting more than a decade, as the various versions of the F-35 slowly took shape and, starting in 2006, began a lengthy period of test-flying.


The F-35’s power system and engine frequently failed. Its pilots’ high-tech helmets were bulky and buggy. For a while, it couldn’t fly near thunderstorms because it lacked the equipment for channeling lightning strikes. The new plane’s gun wouldn’t be fully operational until 2019. Its software was taking too long to write. Its radar often had to be rebooted mid-flight. And sometimes the F-35 just caught on fire while on the ground.


Perhaps most damning, in mid-2015 someone inside the JSF program leaked a test pilot’s official account of a mock dogfight pitting an F-35 against an Air Force F-16, one of the older planes the F-35 is supposed to replace. “The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the pilot wrote. In layman’s terms, that means the F-35 couldn’t match the F-16 maneuver for maneuver.


The military and Lockheed claimed the media took the pilot’s report out of context and insisted that, in combat, the F-35 would never need to engage in a close-range dogfight, anyway, as it would either shoot down enemy planes at long range or merely avoid them.


In the aftermath of the dogfight report’s leaking, the F-35’s boosters went on a public-relations counteroffensive, frequently highlighting the plane’s supposed superior performance during war games. And in July 2015, the Marines declared their first F-35B squadron to be combat-ready with 10 planes-but then scheduled the unit’s first deployment for 2017, all but admitting that the combat-readiness declaration was a P.R. ploy.


The Air Force had predicted it would designate its first dozen F-35s (out of 180 that Lockheed had delivered to the flying branch) operational between August and December 2016-and was clearly determined not to miss that self-imposed deadline.


Indeed, with the F-35’s software development falling farther and farther behind schedule, in 2013 Gen. Mike Hostage, then the top officer in Air Combat Command, had to make a choice-either give the developers an extra couple of years to work on the F-35 or water down the official definition of “operational” in order to suit the new plane’s condition.


Hostage chose to water down the F-35’s requirements, limiting the range of missions the plane would be capable of undertaking and reducing the variety of weapons it would be able to carry.


The decision was politically motivated. The general “began to realize the overall negative repercussions associated with waiting,” according to an official Air Force account of the decision-making process.


Feedback from lawmakers reinforced Hostage’s concerns. “The read on Congress.was that there was more support overall for an early declaration,” the Air Force recalled. “These opinions came from the negative connotation with having over 180 F-35A aircraft parked on runways without [initial operational capability] and also being two years behind the Marines.”


So when Carlisle gives the 388th Wing’s first dozen F-35s the official thumbs-up, don’t get too excited. Even if Carlisle expects you to do so. “The minute I declare initial operational capability, if the combatant commander called me up and said, ‘We need F-35s,’ I would send them,” Carlisle told reporters in July.


But in reality, it could be years before F-35s see combat. The Air Force wanted until 2018 to keep refining the JSF-and it might just take that time despite the official war-readiness nod.


There’s certainly precedent for a delay. The Air Force declared the F-22 stealth fighter-the F-35’s bigger, slightly older cousin-operational in 2006, but waited eight years to finally send the jets into combat.


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Top Marine aviator: F-35B is ready for war

(MARINE CORPS TIMES, 29 July 16) . Jeff Schogol


The F-35B is “ready to go right now” if it is needed to fly combat missions, the head of Marine Aviation told reporters Friday.


Although the F-35B is still being tested, the Marine Corps declared in July 2015 that it was ready to fly operations. The Marine version of the F-35 needs upgraded software and other improvements.


Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the F-35B is ready for combat, just as every other type of aircraft the Marine Corps has, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.


“There were a lot of people out here that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC [initial operational capability] because it would be politically untenable not to do that,” Davis said at an event Friday at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. “IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat.”


Talking to reporters after the event, Davis was asked if the F-35B could be deployed to fight the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.


“If we think we need to do that, we will,” Davis replied. “We’re ready to do that.”


The Marine Corps’ first F-35B squadron is expected to arrive in Japan in January and then go to sea with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the spring of 2018, he said. The service’s second F-35B squadron is expected to go to sea in the summer of 2018.


“Do we keep it on track or do we do something different: That’s up to the national command authorities,” Davis said. “But it’s ready to go right now.”


One of the F-35B’s advantages is that it can carry 3,000 pounds more ordnance than F/A-18 Hornets.


“As Marines, there’s times when we want to carry a lot of bombs and go knock on doors,” he said.


In testing, the F-35B has proved to be “phenomenally successful,” showing that it can easily destroy the most advanced enemy aircraft defenses and fighters, Davis said. In fact, F-35B pilots made a demonstration of the aircraft’s capabilities last month more challenging than Davis had asked for because they did not feel it was difficult enough, he said.


“I watched how they went and did this with two airplanes with pylons and two without,” Davis said. “It was a work of art. That’s not the way my brain works but that is the way their brains are working.”


In little more than five minutes, the F-35Bs destroyed the targets and a surface-to-air-missile site using pictures from a forward air controller that were relayed to the aircraft through the cloud cover, he said.


Davis rebutted critics who claim the F-35B is “too much technology for the Marine Corps,” explaining the Marines’ mission is to be able to fight anywhere at any time against anybody.


To drive his point home, Davis recalled a conversation he had with retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen Jr., the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. The two met before Petersen died in August.


“I said: Well, some people think we’re getting too much technology,” Davis said. “He goes: ‘I was shot down in Korea and I was shot down in Vietnam; never once did I think I had too much technology. Go tell them they’re idiots.'”


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Blue Angels Upgrading To F/A 18 Super Hornets

Upgrading from classic Hornet



Patuxent River, Md. – The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team has begun its transition to the F/A 18 Super Hornet under a recently approved contract with Boeing.


“We are supporting the Navy’s plans to transition the Blue Angels to Super Hornet aircraft from classic Hornets by providing engineering for the necessary conversion modifications. We are proud to continue our association with the Blue Angels as they demonstrate the precision and professionalism of Naval Aviation to millions each year,” Paul Guse, a spokesman for Boeing, said Thursday in an emailed statement.


News 6 partner Florida Today reports that under the $12 million contract, Boeing is expected to finish the work before September 2017.


A spokesman for the Blue Angels referred questions about the conversion to the Navy’s Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland. The command did not immediately return messages seeking additional information about the conversion.


The elite flight demonstration team has flown different models of the F/A 18 Hornet since 1986.


During a community event celebrating the team’s 70-year history earlier this month, Blue Angels solo pilot Lt. Ryan Chamberlin told the crowd that the team would eventually transition to the Super Hornet. Ryan said the conversion would take time because the Super Hornet is a different air frame from what the pilots are accustomed to flying in their tight formations.


The Blue Angels typically receive aircraft after the planes have been flown for years in the regular Navy fleet. The planes are then customized for Blue Angels flying with features including a spring-loaded flight stick, which allows the pilots to maneuver the jets within 18 inches of each other.


Blue Angels pilots do not wear the G-suits worn by other jets pilots. Inflatable bladders in the suits help pool blood in the pilots’ upper extremities to keep them from passing out. The Blue Angels using breathing techniques and abdominal exercises to fight the G-forces because the inflatable bladders in the legs of the suits could interfere with the control of the flight stick.


Blue Angels and other Navy officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether pilots would use G-suits once the team converts to the Super Hornets.


According to a Navy fact sheet, the Super Hornet, which has been in operational use by the military since 2002, has a longer range than the Hornet, aerial refueling capability, and improved carrier sustainability.


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New Navy Tech Makes It Easy To Land On A Carrier. Yes, Easy

(WIRED 02 AUG 16) … Eric Adams


For Navy pilots who land jets on aircraft carriers, life is tough. First, there’s the bit about touching down at precisely the right time and position to have the tailhook catch the arresting wire and bring you to a stop before the runway – all 300 feet of it – runs out. And then there’s the fact flight decks don’t stay still. They heave and sway with the sea. In the seconds before touchdown, a pilot typically makes hundreds of small changes to his trajectory.


The U.S. Navy says new tech could make white-knuckle carrier traps a thing of the past. It recently completed testing the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, a software mod that makes a carrier approach nearly as routine as a runway landing. In the Pentagon’s honored tradition of strained acronyms, the Navy calls it Magic Carpet.


According to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland, which led the development of Magic Carpet, the system works with the plane’s autopilot to maintain the approach using what’s called direct lift control. In short, once the pilot sets the glide angle of the approach, it becomes the “neutral” setting for the controls.


The autopilot tracks the position of the deck, adjusting the throttle, flaps, ailerons, and stabilizers to keep the flight path and angle of attack on point. Instead of maintaining continuous pressure on the stick and making myriad inputs before landing, the pilot can relax. Any adjustments he does make are incorporated into the autopilot settings.


During a week of trials last month, test pilots flying F/A-18 Super Hornets conducted nearly 600 touch-and-go landings and many tailhook-arrested landings on the Nimitz-class USS George Washington. They made both highly accurate approaches and deliberately inaccurate approaches, with varying wind speeds and directions.


According to engineers with the Navy and Boeing, the system increased the accuracy and consistency of landings under all conditions. Those landings were less stressful, too: Pilots typically perform 300 corrections to their flight path in the final 18 seconds of an approach. Magic Carpet drops that between 10 and 20.


The Navy is quick to stress that the system is not fully automated, and pilots remain in control. Magic Carpet just simplifies the descent. And because it augments existing flight control systems, it doesn’t require hardware mods. It will take flight on the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the EA-18G Growler, and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, all of which have the digital flight controls needed to work with the system.


The Navy expects to start integrating the system in 2019. Beyond reducing stress, Magic Carpet could minimize the time and effort needed to train pilots for carrier landings, allowing more time for tactical training. It also could reduce the time and money spent maneuvering carriers into ideal landing positions. Fewer aborted landings saves fuel, and fewer hard landings saves wear and tear on aircraft. And you thought Aladdin’s flying carpet was cool.


New Navy Tech Makes It Easy to Land on a Carrier. Yes, Easy


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Booz Allen to support Navy IT services

(C4ISRNET, 29 July 16) . Michael Peck


Booz Allen Hamilton has been awarded a $13.2 million contract option for Navy IT services.


Under the first-year option extension of a previously awarded contract, Booz Allen will provide “enterprise management and technical support to the Navy Information Force’s Shore Modernization and Integration Directorate in the areas of: enterprise architecture and operational transition planning; shore network and communications modernization; information technology service management process standardization; cyber security; and information technology portfolio management support,” according to the Department of Defense contract announcement.


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Navy’s Atlantic air force gets a new boss

(NAVY TIMES,    30 July 16) . Mark D. Faram


ABOARD CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON AT NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. – At a Friday ceremony abbreviated by the sweltering heat, Rear Adm. Bruce “Birdy” Lindsey took over as the Atlantic fleet’s top aviator.


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the head of Naval Air Forces, presided over the ceremony and praised Lindsey and the outgoing Naval Air Force Atlantic boss, Rear Adm. John “JR” Haley.


Haley cited the successes of the Norfolk-based carrier Harry S. Truman, which recently returned from the Middle East after an eight-month deployment where the flattop smashed previous records in attacking ISIS militants.


Watching the successes of the carriers under his purview was the highlight of his time as AIRLANT, Haley said.


“If we do our job right at AIRLANT, we get to see those sailors at the tip of the spear open up a can of whoop-ass on the bad guys,” Haley said in his farewell. “Let me tell you – we love that feeling.”


Haley, retiring after a 36-year career, is a 1980 Naval Academy graduate. His aviation career started when he was first designated a naval flight officer, serving as a bombardier/navigator in the A-6E Intruder. Switching seats, he entered pilot training in 1987 and became a designated pilot in 1989, tallying up 3,500 flight hours and over 1,100 carrier arrested landings. He flew first in EA-6B Prowlers and later transitioned to the EA-18G Growlers and F/A-18E Super Hornets.


Haley also commanded two aircraft carriers, the Theodore Roosevelt and later the George Washington.


Lindsey takes over as naval aviation’s “mini-boss,” working for Shoemaker, the fleet’s top aviator after back to back tours as a strike group commander, most recently the Norfolk-based CSG 4, which trains and certifies Atlantic fleet carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups and well as independent deploying ships.


Prior to that, he commanded CSG-4 aboard carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also commanded the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson during “Operations Enduring Freedom” and “New Dawn.”


Lindsey is a 1982 academy grad. A career naval flight officer designated in 1983, he spent his flying career in S-3B Viking squadrons. He commanded Sea Combat Squadron 29 embarked on the carrier Carl Vinson during the first 72 days of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Lindsey has served in various other leadership positions during his career.


At AIRLANT, Lindsey will be responsible for manning, equipping, and training four nuclear-powered flattops, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft and 50,000 personnel.


Lindsey’s first act as AIRLANT boss was to lead three rousing cheers of “Hip hip, hooray,” for his retiring predecessor.


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Decision Coming Soon on Navy Job Title Review, Mabus Says

(MILITARY.COM, 28 July 16) . Hope Hodge Seck


Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday that he expects a review of Navy job titles to help sailors’ careers, not only within the service, but also when they transition out into the civilian sector.


The Navy in June announced that top brass had decided to expand a review initiated by Mabus to ensure that current job titles were gender-inclusive to also explore the impact of titles on personnel policy and training organization.


The review now could go beyond changing the names assigned to Navy ratings and include updates to detailing policy, reorganization of training pipelines and more.


Mabus said the results of the policy review were going to come out “pretty soon,” though a proposal was not yet on his desk.


“I think it will do two things: It will better describe what people do, and it will make career paths more flexible and more rewarding,” Mabus said. “Two is, when people leave the Navy, it will make the transition easier, because people outside will understand what they did and what their skills are.”


While Navy officials have said that all job titles are under review and haven’t described any specific titles as candidates for special scrutiny, Mabus’ comments may indicate that more antiquated or opaque titles, such as yeoman, for a sailor who performs administrative and clerical work, or aerographer’s mate, for a specialist in meteorology and weather forecasting, may receive consideration for change.


The Marine Corps, which was also commanded by Mabus to review job titles for gender-specific language, announced in late June that the service would change 19 job titles to make them more gender-neutral, while keeping some, such as rifleman, out of respect for tradition.


The job title review is one of a series of measures Mabus has promoted in an effort to minimize distinctions between the genders in the military. He has also worked to overhaul Navy uniforms as the driving force behind new unisex dress covers, “dixie cup” enlisted white hats for women, a female version of the “crackerjack” blues and the prohibition of dress white skirts at this year’s Naval Academy graduation.


Mabus told today that he was proud of his legacy as Navy secretary, even as he broke with service tradition on a wide range of issues.


“Every decision I’ve made, I’ve made with the view of making the Navy and the Marine Corps stronger, better for the future. Better at their jobs, better at what we’re entrusted to do, which is defend this country,” he said. “And I think we’ve done some historic things. … We’ve got the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known.”


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Marine Flight Readiness Improving .Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

(BREAKING DEFENSE, 29 July 16) . Richard Whittle


WASHINGTON: Marine Corps aviation is on a “glide slope” to reaching acceptable readiness levels by 2020, the deputy commandant for aviation said Friday. But today the only units fully ready – with enough spare parts, trained maintainers and air crews, and adequate monthly flight hours for pilots – are two squadrons flying brand new Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jump jets.


“After 15 years of hard fighting, the numbers of aircraft in up status aren’t where they need to be,” Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis told a joint Air Force Association/American Enterprise Institute event. Davis said the Corps now has about 80 more aircraft mission capable than at a similar time last year, when 378 planes and helicopters were down for maintenance or repairs.


The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says he was pleased to hear things are improving, adding he’ll keep pushing to improve readiness. “I continue to be concerned that current restoration plans are too fragile and optimistic because they rely on funding stability and funding levels that we have not seen in recent years. That is why Congress must follow through on the actions we have taken to replace the readiness cuts imposed by this administration,” Rep. Mac Thornberry says in an email.


Asked whether inadequate flight hours or other readiness gaps could explain the Thursday night fatal crash of a Third Marine Air Wing F-18C Hornet near Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Davis said he doubted it.


“We don’t have all the details on it just yet,” Davis said. “I track each and every unit each and every week. The number of flight hours per pilot – this particular unit is doing okay.” He said flight hours per month per pilot vary according to the type of aircraft but the “low ebb” for the Marine Corps F-18C fleet was last summer, when the average was 8.8 hours per month per pilot for the entire fleet. “I do not think we’re unsafe, but we’re not as proficient as we should be, across the spectrum. We don’t let units fly that are unsafe.”


The 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan set 2020 as the goal for the service’s air arm to reach a readiness rate of T 2.0, defined as every unit being able to conduct at least 70 percent of “mission essential tasks at the individual and unit level.”


“We’ve been on that track now for two years to get all of our pilots in every type model series the hours they need,” Davis said. “Last year the only guys that got their hours, and the only T-1 unit I have right now, is the F-35s.” He added: “They’re ready for everything.”


Davis said the Corps was on its way to meeting its readiness goals because, “We’ve had great allies in Congress. They’ve actually helped us out.”


Retired Air Force deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who as dean of the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute think tank co-hosted Davis’s appearance, said readiness problems are being suffered across the armed services, but especially by the Air Force.


“The Air Force has been at war not just since 9/11 but since January 1991,” Deptula said, referring to that year’s Gulf War to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait and various conflicts since then. “That 25 years of continuous combat, coupled with budget instability and lower than planned top lines, has made the Air Force the smallest, the oldest and the least ready in its history.”


Deptula said that compared to 1991’s Operation Desert Storm – an air campaign he planned – the Air Force today has 30 percent fewer people, 40 percent fewer aircraft, 60 percent fewer combat-coded fighter squadrons, and 25 percent fewer aircraft per squadron. “At the height of the hollow force of the 1970s,” Deptula added, the average age of Air Force planes was 12 years. “Today we’re at 27.” Airline aircraft average ages are 10 years, Deptula added.


“We’re operating a geriatric Air Force,” he said. “It’s an absurd situation we find ourselves in.”


Marine Flight Readiness Improving …Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing


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What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?




Q1: What is the Budget Control Act?


A1: The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) was signed into law five years ago on August 2, 2011. It is a resurrection of a much older law, known as Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, originally enacted in 1985. The BCA reinstates budget caps for a 10-year period ending in FY 2021 with separate caps for the defense and nondefense parts of the discretionary budget. For defense, the budget caps represent a reduction of roughly $1 trillion over 10 years compared to what the president had proposed in his FY 2012 budget request earlier in 2011.


The law delayed full enforcement of the budget caps until January 2013 to give Congress time to find an alternative. It also created a bipartisan joint committee, known as the Super Committee, and gave it special one-time authority to propose a deficit-reduction package subject to a simple up-or-down vote in both chambers. This was Congress’s best chance to avoid the cuts imposed by the BCA. In November 2011, however, the Super Committee announced it was unable to reach an agreement, leaving the BCA in effect.


Q2: Why was the BCA enacted?


A2: In early 2011, federal spending was soaring and revenues were plummeting, mainly due to the Great Recession and the stimulus package Congress enacted in 2009. As a result, the deficit was projected to peak at a record level of $1.5 trillion in 2011-although it never actually got that high. Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, had just taken control of the House of Representatives and were refusing to increase the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to dollar-for-dollar cuts in spending. Both sides refused to yield, forcing a fiscal standoff that came to a head in August of that year. The BCA emerged from that standoff as a forcing function for a broader budget deal by ensuring that painful spending cuts would occur if no deal could be reached.


Q3: What is sequestration?


A3: Sequestration is the automatic process of making across-the-board cuts if the budget caps are exceeded. To be clear, sequestration and the budget caps are not the same thing. The budget caps set the level of the budget, and sequestration is the enforcement mechanism. The BCA did not create sequestration-it was part of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and was used several times in the 1980s and 1990s. To better understand how sequestration works, imagine if you had to cut your personal budget by a certain percentage. If given the flexibility to choose how these cuts are allocated, you would probably cut back on nonessential things, like going out to dinner or buying the latest cell phone. But under sequestration rules, you would be forced to cut each item in your budget by the same percentage-even things like rent payments and insurance premiums. That kind of cutting can create a lot of problems and end up costing more in the long run.


Sequestration was triggered in 2013, but it has not been triggered since then. Under current law, sequestration will only be triggered again if the budget caps are exceeded. In other words, Congress would have to appropriate more than the budget caps allow knowing that the additional funds it is appropriating will be automatically cut. Moreover, the president would have to sign this bill into law knowing it would trigger a sequester and all of the problems that come with across-the-board cuts. For these reasons, it is unlikely sequestration will occur again.


Q4: What types of defense funding are exempt from the BCA?


A4: The most notable exception in the law is for war-related funding, also known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Technically, the law says the budget cap is automatically increased by the amount of war-related funding Congress enacts, which means that OCO funding is effectively uncapped. The law does not, however, provide a robust definition of what constitutes OCO funding. In practice, this means that OCO funding is whatever Congress enacts and the president signs into law-a loophole both Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) have used to get around the budget caps since 2013.


Another important exception in the law is for military personnel (MILPERS) funding. MILPERS accounts are used for pay, allowances, and some benefits service members receive. If sequestration is triggered, the president can exempt MILPERS accounts from the automatic across-the-board cuts. Unlike the OCO exception, the MILPERS exception does not reduce the total amount of cuts for defense or alter the level of the budget caps. It merely protects one set of accounts from cuts and causes all other defense accounts to be cut by a greater percentage to compensate. The president exempted military personnel accounts from sequestration in 2013, and if sequestration ever occurs again it is likely this exception would be used.


Q5: Is the BCA still in effect?


A5: Yes, but it has been modified three times since it was enacted. Just before the budget caps went into enforcement in January 2013, Congress passed a last-minute deal known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Among other things, this law raised the budget caps slightly for FY 2013, with equal increases on the defense and nondefense sides of the budget caps. But it paid for these increases in part by lowering the caps in FY 2014.


In December 2013, Congress modified the BCA for a second time with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. This two-year deal raised the budget caps for FY 2014 and FY 2015, again with equal increases for the defense and nondefense sides of the budget. Both Congress and the administration stuck to this deal, appropriating funding at the revised budget cap levels in both years, thus avoiding sequestration being triggered.


As FY 2016 got underway, the budget caps were still at their original level because the previous deals only adjusted the caps through FY 2015. Congress passed a third modification to the BCA in November 2015 known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Like the previous deal, it raised the budget caps for two years (FY 2016 and FY 2017) with equal increases for defense and nondefense. Unlike previous deals, however, it included additional OCO funding as part of the deal. It added $8 billion in OCO funding for defense and $8 billion in OCO for nondefense. The nondefense OCO funding was used primarily by the State Department to offset costs in its base budget, which in turn freed up funding under the nondefense budget caps that could be used by other agencies. As of this writing, the BCA budget caps remain at their original level for FY 2018 to FY 2021, but it is possible Congress will again modify the caps for these future years.


Q6: Why weren’t the effects of the BCA as devastating for defense as some predicted?


A6: In the weeks and months leading up to the budget caps going into full enforcement in 2013, defense leaders described it with increasingly colorful metaphors, such as “a doomsday mechanism,” “a gunshot to the head,” “a goofy meat ax,” and “fiscal castration.” Not to be outdone, many defense companies joined in these warnings by decrying the jobs that would be lost, and one company threated to send out layoff notices just days before the 2012 presidential election. The Aerospace Industries Association projected that more than 1 million jobs would be lost due to the BCA. And in congressional testimony just days before sequestration took effect in 2013, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned “the wolf’s at the door.”


This rhetoric may have led some to conclude that the military was crying wolf. In reality, the effects were never going to be as immediate and visible as these statements implied. One of the main reasons is that the budget caps apply to budget authority-money that Congress has approved but the executive branch has not yet obligated or spent. It takes time for budget authority to work its way through the system-in some cases several years-before it becomes actual spending (outlays) that has an economic impact.


Another important reason the effects of the BCA have not been as severe as originally predicted is that the defense budget has not actually been cut to the level originally prescribed in the BCA. The three budget deals enacted since 2011 have raised the budget caps for FY 2013 to FY 2017. Moreover, Congress and DoD have used the OCO funding loophole to supplement the base budget at a level of roughly $25-$30 billion annually according to my analysis. These last minute deals and budget maneuvers have largely protected defense from the full effects of the BCA.


The mechanism by which the cuts are implemented is also an important consideration. While sequestration was triggered in 2013, the reductions that have occurred since then have not been through sequestration. In FY 2014, FY 2015, and FY 2016, Congress enacted appropriations at the revised budget cap level, so Congress was able to decide how to target reductions rather than the “goofy meat ax” approach of sequestration. Even in 2013 when the budget was actually sequestered, DoD followed up with a massive reprogramming request to Congress that allowed it to move money between accounts to fix some of the problems sequestration created.


Q7: Who’s to blame for the BCA?


A7: Since the BCA was enacted, both sides have attempted to blame the other. For example, during this election season, both parties have included statements on the BCA in their party platforms. The Republican Party Platform for 2016 says, “We support lifting the budget cap for defense and reject the efforts of Democrats to hold the military’s budget hostage for their domestic agenda.” And the Democratic Party Platform for 2016 says, “We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration.”


In truth, the BCA passed with bipartisan majorities in both chambers. In the House,174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it; in the Senate, 28 Republicans and 45 Democrats voted for it; and President Obama ultimately signed it into law. Without bipartisan support, this bill would not have become law. Both sides share responsibility for enacting the BCA-and finding a way out of it.


Todd Harrison is a senior fellow and director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.


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Marines order 24-hour pause in flight operations for all non-deployed aircraft

(MARINE CORPS TIMES, 3 Aug 16) . Jeff Schogol


The head of Marine Aviation has ordered all non-deployed aircraft to stand down for 24 hours following three recent crashes of F/A-18s, two of which were fatal.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told wing commanders on Wednesday that non-deployed squadrons must take “an operational pause” within the next seven business days, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns. The move is different than grounding aircraft, she said.


Commanders can decide which day to take the pause, during which aircraft are typically inspected, Burns said on Wednesday.


Burns could not say what exactly prompted Davis’ decision, which was approved by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.


Three Marine Corps F/A-18s have crashed since June 2, when Blue Angels pilot Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss’ Hornet crashed shortly after takeoff in Smyrna, Tennessee. On July 28, Marine Maj. Richard Norton, a graduate of the Navy’s TOPGUN school, was killed when his F/A-18C crashed near Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.


Then on Tuesday, a Navy pilot safely ejected from an F/A-18C that was on loan from the Marine Corps. The Hornet went down near Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.


Marine aviation is suffering from a perfect storm that has caused the number of flyable aircraft to plunge in the last five years. Budget cuts have postponed maintenance for aircraft that have been flown hard during 15 years of combat and led to a shortage of spare parts, especially for CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.


The service is in the process of transitioning to the F-35 joint strike fighter, but delays in the program have forced the Marine Corps to fly their Hornets, AV-8B Harrier II jump jets and their EA-6B Prowlers longer than anticipated.


Last summer, only 378 of the Marine Corps’ required flightline inventory of 1,065 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft could fly, Davis said at an Aug. 1 event at a think tank in Washington. Since then, roughly 80 more aircraft have become flightworthy, he said.


With fewer aircraft flying, Marine pilots are not getting the flight hours they need, but the service is slowly improving, Davis said. The Marine Corps is trying to get pilots the appropriate number of flight hours by 2020.


At the Aug. 1 event, Davis was asked if Marine pilots’ lives were in danger as a result of the drop in flight hours.


“I do not think we’re unsafe, but we’re not as proficient as we should be,” Davis said. “We don’t let units fly that are unsafe.”


He added that he tracks how many flight hours all units get per week, and Norton’s unit was “doing OK.”


On Jan. 14, two CH-53E helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 crashed off Hawaii, killing 12 Marines. The crash came months after Marine aviation deaths hit a five-year high.


Davis has said the CH-53E helicopter crews had enough training for the mission they were doing, but they probably needed more training before they could fly in combat.


“We don’t know what happened out there – I won’t know until that investigation that comes out,” he told reporters on July 6. “I grieve for every one of the families. That’s the hardest part for me. I’m the deputy commandant for aviation and I lost 12 great Marines. That’s what I think about every day.”


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White House Launches New Salvo In Troop Funding Fight

(POLITICO 03 AUG 16) … Austin Wright and Connor O’Brien


A new battle over how to pay for extra troops in Afghanistan is about to break out on Capitol Hill.


Republicans want to boost the overall military budget to pay for President Barack Obama’s decision last month to leave more soldiers than planned. But the White House now insists any such increase in Pentagon spending must be accompanied by corresponding increases to other agencies and domestic programs.


The administration’s stance, outlined on Wednesday in a statement to POLITICO, is almost certain to anger GOP defense hawks on Capitol Hill who are seeking to use Obama’s troop decision to bolster their argument that the military’s war budget should be larger.


“Together with the Department of Defense, we are actively looking at funding needs related to the revised force posture in Afghanistan the president announced last month,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in an email.


“In the coming months and into the fall,” the office continued, “we will work with the Congress to ensure the necessary funds are available, and we will do it in a responsible way that is consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 by adhering to the principle that any increase in funding must be shared equally between defense and non-defense – a central tenet of that budget agreement.”


A Republican congressional aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reacted with outrage after hearing the administration’s stance.


“The president has ordered additional troops to deploy to Afghanistan, but he is holding their funding hostage to his domestic political agenda,” said the aide. “I would think that when you have an urgent national security need, you would act promptly to take care of that need.”


The president announced last month he was slowing his planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, keeping 8,400 U.S. troops in the country into the next calendar year instead of drawing down to 5,500. But the White House’s budget request for next fiscal year, submitted to Congress in February, was built around the assumption that, on average, the U.S. will have 6,217 troops in Afghanistan.


Obama’s troop decision has become a flashpoint in the larger budget standoff between congressional Democrats and Republicans.


Senior Republicans are calling on the White House to submit an addendum to its war funding request to cover the new troop commitments. GOP hawks argue the administration’s $583 billion proposed budget doesn’t fund war operations at a suitable level given all the global threats.


They want to boost Pentagon spending while leaving other parts of the federal government – including the State Department and other agencies – subject to congressional spending caps. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, insist that increases in the defense budget be accompanied by increases in non-defense spending.


Estimates vary on how much money the military might need to pay for the additional troops in Afghanistan next year.


House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters that “rumblings” inside the Pentagon suggest the department has about $6 billion in higher war costs than it originally planned in its budget request for the coming year due to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.


Budget expert Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies pegs the cost of extra troops in Afghanistan at $3 billion to $4 billion, at a price tag of $1.2 million per troop.


Former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale, now an adviser at defense company Booz Allen Hamilton, said there are several ways the Pentagon could pay for the extra troops.


First, he said, the Pentagon could amend its budget request for fiscal 2017, asking for more money. Second, it could wait until the budget is finalized and then submit to Congress an emergency supplemental request.


The third option, he said, would be for the military to shift money within its fiscal 2017 budget – without increasing overall defense spending. This could come through a reprogramming request and would take funds from other parts of the military’s budget to pay for the extra troops.


“There’s a lot of questions that I think will have to be settled in negotiations during the lame duck session,” Hale said.


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Navy, Marines Put V-22 To The Test In Carrier Experiment

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 03 AUG 16) … Gidget Fuentes


ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS CARL VINSON – Ten days into a two-week fleet battle experiment on this aircraft carrier off the California coast, the Navy is getting a good look at how the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor can fit into flight and deck operations of its carrier fleet. So far, the outlook is promising.


The Osprey is slated to replace the C-2A Greyhound as the carrier onboard delivery aircraft, doing the COD logistics mission of hauling cargo, mail and passengers between aircraft carriers and beach detachments ashore.


After that decision in January 2015, the Navy approved an engineering change for a naval variant of the V-22, and this year is working with the Marine Corps as it supports Osprey operations this summer for the fleet battle experiment (FBE).


The Marine Corps is flying four MV-22B aircraft aboard USS Carl Vinson since the experiment began July 22. Three of the Ospreys belong to Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1) from Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ariz. and the fourth belongs to Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 from Quantico, Va.


This initial “proof of concept” will begin to show how to employ the Osprey, which blends rotary and fixed-wing flight, and see how it affects cycles of launch and recovery operations and overall deck handling on a carrier, officials said. “This is an opportunity to go out and see how this is going to do,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Naval Air Forces commander, speaking with a group of reporters Tuesday before boarding an HMX-1 Osprey for the flight to the Carl Vinson conducting training in the offshore ranges.


So far, it seems, initial tests don’t reveal any glaring problems that time and experience couldn’t smooth out. “I think it’s going very well,” Shoemaker said. Some worries about downwash from the Osprey’s beefy rotors haven’t materialized, perhaps in part from more handling and simple adjustments with pilots moving the nacelles to ease the heat and deflect the exhaust on the flight deck surface. He said the downwash is “comparable” to that of the MH-53 helicopter.


One good thing: Landing and launching an Osprey, which can land and take off vertically like a helicopter, lightens the deck crew load since it requires no wire trap and isn’t catapulted off the deck. Plus, it isn’t limited to just flying during fixed-wing operations. Only five personnel are needed on deck, several Carl Vinson officers told a group of reporters Tuesday, far fewer than the 30 to 50 hands usually on position when the Greyhound is operating on deck.


A concern: Turnaround time to unload or load the Osprey might take longer than the Greyhound, potentially cutting into the deck cycling window between flight operations. That’s because deck crews would offload and load the Osprey while it’s still in the landing and launching spot – spots 6 at the “waist” or 9 by the fantail – rather than outside the landing area where the Greyhound and cargo go when being moved or pre-staged for delivery. Both spots will require different approaches to safely move cargo and passengers.


“It becomes how fast can you offload the Ospreys to get fuel and put the people back on so it can be off the flight deck, and then I’ll deal with the rest,” said Lt. Cmdr. Reynaldo Stanley, the flight deck handler. “The impact is on deck time.” In flight deck control, Stanley briefly described deck operations using a “ouija” board, with silhouette cutouts of each aircraft scaled to the flight deck to help track and position aircraft. He had no cutouts of the Osprey but used those of the now-defunct H-46 Sea Knight tandem-rotor helicopter.


“The C-2 is a big plane … It takes a lot of real estate in the parking area,” Stanley said. “The Osprey takes up a lot of real estate in the landing area.” The V-22 and C-2 have similar-sized footprints (one’s width is roughly the other’s wingspan) when operational so they take up similar space. The V-22 lands but can’t taxi and park with its wings folded like the Greyhound since its engines are shut down when it’s folded up. “When the C-2 lands, the intent is to park,” and then offload, reload and refuel before taxiing for another flight, he said, but most Osprey flights will entail landing and offload followed by any reloading and subsequent takeoff.


Vinson’s flight deck crew got their first familiarization with the Osprey in June when Marines brought several Ospreys for a sea trial of sorts. So far, “I think it’s gone pretty smoothly. But nothing’s happened, that is the key,” Stanley said.


“The most difficult thing we have is the aircraft would be on deck a little bit longer than was expected, which would eat up into the launching of the aircraft,” he said. “The longer it takes to take off, then the longer it takes for us to actually set up for cats (and fixed-wing flight ops) if we’re stuck up here and can’t launch” if the Osprey is on spot 6.


Navy officials cautioned that the experiment is starting to sort out and determine the Osprey’s operations and deck procedures in doing the COD mission. As of Tuesday morning, the carrier had handled 23 flights that moved 598 people and 33,000 pounds of cargo, said Cmdr. Clarke “Cosmo” Cramer, the fleet introduction team leader.


The Center for Naval Analyses is collecting data from flight and deck operations during the experiment, including the timing between flight ops cycles and impacts on moving cargo and passengers.


Cmdr. Lucas Kadar, Vinson’s Air Boss, said the Osprey “brings us flexibility and options. It’s easier from a flight deck point of view to operate with the MV-22 … We don’t have to go into fixed-wing flight ops.” It provides more options, Kadar said, and has the “best of both worlds” since it can conduct flight missions faster than helicopters but also land or launch regardless of the flight deck status and also between launches and recoveries.


A short utility assessment conducted aboard USS Harry S. Truman in 2013 gave the service an initial look at whether the Osprey might fulfill the COD mission when the C-2A is retired. “Our C-2 community is like the masters of global logistics,” Shoemaker said, with detachments supporting ships and ashore units.


“What we’re trying to do is help inform the future,” Shoemaker added. That includes determining “how will we employ this airplane, maybe differently or similar to the C-2.” The Navy hasn’t yet tested flying the Osprey to smaller ships like destroyers or cruisers, although the V-22 could hover over ships’ flight decks. “We are just kind of scratching the surface in how we’ll use this platform,” he said.


Another difference is that unlike the C-2A, the Navy would use the Osprey to carry cargo at night. The V-22B carries a bit less internal cargo than the Greyhound, but it can lift more and haul cargo by sling load. The Osprey has three fewer seats available, 23 compared to 26 in the Greyhound. The C-2A can fly higher, above bad weather, with its pressurized cockpit that the Osprey lacks.


“I think it’s still a very good fit for the mission,” Shoemaker said of the Osprey.


The Navy is looking at how to make cargo handling more efficient, officials said, with specialized metal bins, the Joint Modular Intermodal Container (JMIC), that can be rolled onto the Osprey and also corrugated cardboard boxes and palletized cargo that can shorten the turnaround time. The C-2A has a cage that contains loose items, but containers on the V-22 will allow pre-staging of cargo rather than sailors packing it in “hand over hand, stacking it in where they can,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Miller, Vinson’s principal assistant for logistics.


The testing, done closely with VMX-1, is led by a fleet introduction team from Point Mugu, Calif.-based Airborne Command, Control and Logistics Wing, which manages the C-2 and E-2 fleet. Between October and February, the first group of 77 C-2 pilots, aircrewmen and maintainers will get training with the V-22B and will “start flying the airplane,” said Capt. Val Overstreet, the wing commodore and veteran E-2 pilot. “We are really excited about that.” They will provide the first training cadre and become instructors for follow-on crews at New River Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. They will be followed by helicopter pilots who plan to transition to the V-22, she said.


Shoemaker said the Navy expects to reach initial operational capability (IOC) in fiscal 2021, with the first detachment deployed during 2022. “We’ll do it very similar to how we are set up now with the C-2 community,” he said, with east and west coast-based squadrons providing V-22 dets to carriers. He said he thinks the Navy might, at some point, stand up its own V-22 training squadron.


The Navy’s version of the Marine Corps’ newest rotary-wing aircraft would be designated CMV-22. It would mirror the aircraft that the Marines fly but will include extended range fuel tanks, high frequency radio and a public-address system. Unlike the COD it’s replacing, the Navy’s Osprey variant potentially could operate off other gray hulls.


Navy, Marines put V-22 to the Test in Carrier Experiment