FRCSW / COMFRC Clips for Week of May 22

LOCAL COVERAGE

FRCSE Artisan Finds Family Link to Fallen Soldier in Dusty Shoebox

Capped: Head injuries to zero since implementing PPE wear policy

Innovation Challenge to kick off at FRC East

H-53 Super Stallions Get Super Service at FRCSW

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

New Defense Budget Poised To Meet Lower Expectations

HASC Chair Thornberry Introduces Latest Defense Acquisition Reform Plan

Expect A Lot Of Modernization Spending In The Next Few Years: Gen. Dunford

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Set To Answer Lingering Navy Acquisition Questions

Trump Budget Fails To Live Up To ‘Historic’ Defense Promises, Analysts Say

Navy’s 2018 Budget Addresses Readiness Through Maintenance, Spares, Infrastructure Improvements

Amid $52 Billion Plus-Up, DoD Looks To Trim Spending On Service Contracts, Health Care

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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FRCSE Artisan Finds Family Link to Fallen Soldier in Dusty Shoebox

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST PUBLIC AFFAIRS 23 MAY 17)

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As dawn stretched its fingers across the frozen banks of the Sûre River near the town of Gilsdorf, Luxembourg, the idyllic landscape was exploded by the crash of German 88mm artillery rounds.

 

It was Jan. 18, 1945, and the German army’s last-gasp attempt – known to history as the Battle of the Bulge – to throw back the allies’ inexorable march to their homeland, was in its death throes.

 

Gen. George Patton’s Third Army had broken through the German lines to relieve the 101st Airborne at Bastogne, and was now headed north to cut off any Wehrmacht soldiers remaining in the bulge the German’s advance had created in allied lines. To do that he had to cross the Sûre River, just five miles west of the German border.

 

Among the group of U.S. Army combat engineers on the south bank was Pfc. Leroy Thomas.

 

“I never knew who Leroy Thomas was,” said Fleet Readiness Center Southeast sheet metal worker Dale Holt. “But my mom, whose health is failing, told me the other day ‘I have something that was my mom’s that I want you to have.’

 

“She broke out this little box, and here was this little letter she handed me.”

 

The box contained two yellowed, faded letters and a photo of a grinning, auburn-haired young soldier in his class-B uniform.

 

“The letters were from her stepbrother Leroy Thomas, when she was about 10 years old,” Holt said. “She told me she wanted me to have them because my grandmother kept them until she passed away, so they obviously meant something to her.”

 

All that his mother knew, Holt said, was that Thomas had been killed in the war. The details were fuzzy – if ever known completely – but involved a boat, and what the family thought was an underwater mine.

 

“The body never came home,” Holt said. “My mom told me they had a few friends come by with food and condolences, but they never had a funeral.”

 

Holt wanted to know more about the family member he’d never known, and immediately began to examine the letters.

 

The first was dated March 31st, 1944. The 7th Combat Engineer Battalion, to which Thomas belonged, was still in Northern Ireland for training. In the letter to his father, Thomas sent the photo of him in uniform, and asked for candy, gum, magazines and a lighter. He also noted the fact he was engaged to be married.

 

He mentions the Japanese, perhaps believing they would be his future opponent, with the bravado characteristic of soldiers before they see combat.

 

In closing, he also had a special request for his stepmother, Holt’s grandmother, to send some makeup.

 

“Tell Mable to put a tube of lipstick, rouge and a box of powder in it,” Thomas wrote. “I would like to doll my girlfriend up a little to see how she looks.”

 

The contrast in the second letter is striking.

 

After fighting his way across France for the last six months, his mood was melancholy. Written using the Victory Mail or “V-Mail” system, Thomas’ longing for home bleeds through in the letter to his parents that is post-marked Jan. 10, 1945.

 

“I haven’t heard from you in quite a while, it can’t be you have forgotten your son all the way over here,” he wrote. “It seems that nobody writes me any more, not even my best girlfriend.”

 

Whether his lack of mail was due to a failure in the postal system to keep up with Patton’s blistering pace during those months is unknown. Yet Thomas clearly noticed, like any service member, the decrease in mail. He also acknowledged his own failure to write home.

 

“I know I hardly ever write, but that can be explained,” he wrote. “Not now, but when I come home.

 

“Seems like I’m getting tired of being over here.”

 

From the letters and photo, Holt now had a starting point to look for more. He knew Thomas’ name, unit and that he served in Europe. Armed with that information, he brought the heirlooms to show his coworkers – one of whom is Todd Taylor.

 

Taylor, a Gold Star father himself, is familiar with digging into military records, and immediately went to work on his home computer.

 

There, he found a website dedicated to the 7th Engineers created by George Baldwin, who served in the unit in Vietnam. The site featured first-hand accounts of 7th Engineer soldiers.

 

Astonishingly, one of the men who contributed an account, Tom Tucker, was there that freezing January morning in 1945 on the banks of the Sûre River.

 

“At daylight the Germans started shelling the crossing site,” Tucker wrote of that morning. “The ground was frozen so it was impossible to dig in.”

 

The engineers had moved elements of the 5th Infantry Division across the river in boats in the pre-dawn hours. Several of them had been instructed to stay with the boats in case reinforcements or supplies were needed.

 

“There were large trees at the edge of the river so we were getting some tree bursts,” Tucker said. “There was a small stone building at the edge of the river that we used for cover.”

 

As the shells rained down fatal shrapnel, Tucker made a dash for the building and saw Thomas.

 

“I was almost in the door of the building but looking in his direction,” Tucker said. “He had hit the ground, there was a tree burst, he stood up and shouted ‘I’ve been hit,’ ran about three steps dragging one leg, then collapsed.

 

“The shelling lasted only a few minutes, but when we reached Thomas he was dead.”

 

Holt’s mother was right. Leroy Thomas never made it home to tell his parents about what he’d seen and what he endured.

 

Holt learned Thomas was buried, along with more than 5,000 of his fellow soldiers, in the Luxembourg American Cemetery in Luxembourg City. Eleven months later, he would be joined by his commanding officer, Gen. George Patton, when he succumbed to injuries suffered in a car crash in Heidelberg, Germany.

 

“It means a lot to me to know what happened to him,” he said. “If my mother hadn’t given me those letters, I’d have never known she lost a brother in the war.

 

“I think it’s important to remember these guys. Otherwise, their sacrifice is lost to history.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6544

 

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Capped: Head injuries to zero since implementing PPE wear policy

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST PUBLIC AFFAIRS 25 MAY 17)

 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Fleet Readiness Center East has noticed a significant drop in head injuries since directing artisans to wear caps when performing work in its aircraft production spaces.

 

Safety officials are crediting the wearing of bump caps with the report of zero head injuries since implementing the bump cap mandatory-wear policy Dec. 20, 2016.

 

“They’re actually working,” said Luc Desilets, FRC East Safety director. “There have been about 15 to 20 incidents of people bumping their heads reported to the safety specialists in the application areas, but no injuries have resulted. Supervisors and work leaders are taking note that the bump caps are working.”

 

The organization recorded 45 head injuries from Oct. 1, 2014 to Oct. 6, 2016. In 2016, alone, the organization recorded 17 – 37.8 percent – of the head injuries in the safety application areas pertaining to its F-35 production line. The reported injuries resulted in a variety of work restrictions, which translated to production time lost. The significant amount of head injuries reported among the F-35 production line led safety officials to do a trial with the bump cap in 2016. The results of the trial drove the command to implement the wear of bump caps on all production lines.

 

According to Desilets, wear of the bump cap is preventing injuries such as cuts or lacerations, scraps, bruises, and nicks that were resulting from the various incidents of artisans bumping their heads in the workplace.

 

“It’s expected that there are going to be instances of people bumping their heads when they’re going in and out of the aircraft and putting their heads into tight spaces,” said Desilets. “Wear of the bump cap is intended to stop artisans from suffering those injuries that come as a result of banging one’s head into aircraft structures, sharp surfaces and other equipment common to those areas.”

 

The policy is consistent with the tenet of the commander’s operating policy and pledge to cultivate an atmosphere of total health consciousness by providing a safe workplace for all employees and visitors.

 

“I can’t make you be safe, but I can create conditions for you to work in that gives you the greatest chance to be safe,” said Col. Clarence Harper, FRC East commanding officer, speaking to members of the workforce on various occasions during the first quarter of the fiscal year while addressing matters that were hindering the organization’s throughput rates. “Our mission is to return quality aircraft, components, and engines back to the fleet, and injuries potentially harm personnel, disrupt families, and disrupt production. Safety, just because it’s the right thing to do, will always be my highest priority.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6546

 

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Innovation Challenge to kick off at FRC East

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST PUBLIC AFFAIRS 24 MAY 17)

 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – An Innovation Challenge event will kick off at Fleet Readiness Center East June 14.

 

FRC East has been selected to participate in this first industrial Innovation Challenge in Commander Fleet Readiness Centers. FRC East has a history of successful implementation of innovative ideas with many of those ideas coming from the artisan community. The challenge is being sponsored by Martin Ahmad, deputy COMFRC and Roy Harris, Naval Air Systems Command, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis director.

 

This event is aimed to challenge the workforce to develop innovative ideas that can help improve production within the facility. These ideas could involve changes to a process, or the manufacturing of a tool, device, or even a part. All command personnel can participate, and organizers are looking for workforce members with ideas that can be tried out during the challenge event, or anyone who would like to be a member of an innovation team.

 

The Innovation Challenge will run from mid-June until mid-December when the winning team will be crowned. Innovation teams will have until the middle of July to submit their idea as well as a roster of team members into the new online tool called Spark!.

 

Spark! is a new SharePoint site using discussion board thread functionality – permitting online discussions of proposed ideas. It is designed to help drive innovative thinking by leveraging crowdsourcing to improve collaboration amongst team members, FRC employees, as well as, the COMFRC enterprise. The resource is being developed by NAVAIR and is being rolled out for the first time with the Innovation Challenge.

 

From July through August the teams will develop their ideas which will then be discussed and evaluated via Spark! online. Any employee can go online to Spark! and rate an idea.

 

Sponsors and organizers hope that if more people are evaluating and discussing ideas during an idea formation phase that better idea concepts will be generated for implementation.

 

The teams will be using judging criteria that has been developed and approved to help them understand how their idea will be evaluated by a review panel. The online ratings are part of the judgment criteria that will be used during the Down Select, a point in the competition where the field is reduced to five finalist teams, which will happen in September.

 

After the Down Select each of the teams will focus on further design development and (or) prototyping of their idea into a working concept from September through November. During this final phase of the competition, the teams will assess the overall impact of their ideas and design their presentations to explain their idea and the associated benefits to a panel of judges. The winner will be announced in mid-December with awards presented.

 

Sponsors and organizers encourage members of the workforce to come forward with ideas one thinks will help improve the performance of FRC East and build a brighter future. Individuals who wish to participate, but do not plan to lead a team, should let the organizers know.

 

 

For more information, contact Darren Carpenter, Innovation Challenge site lead, at 464-5816 or darren.carpenter@navy.mil.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6545

 

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H-53 Super Stallions Get Super Service at FRCSW

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST PUBLIC AFFAIRS 24 MAY 17)

 

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. – From its use in the evacuation of the U.S. embassy during the Somalian Civil War in 1991, to the Persian Gulf War and its role today in supporting the war on terror in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter is a staple in the logistics toolbox of Navy and Marine Corps operations.

 

For more than 30 years the Sikorsky-built aircraft has moved personnel and equipment, and it remains the largest helicopter ever built by the Defense Department.

 

Today, about 150 of the helicopters are still in service. Super Stallions are found in naval squadrons on the East and West Coast, and those assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (MCAS) are maintained and repaired by the artisans of Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW).

 

The FRCSW CH-53 program is comprised of approximately 104 employees including production control personnel and planners.

 

“About 60 to 70 of those employees are the artisans on the floor. They include the primary trades of sheet metal mechanics which is the largest group, electricians, and mechanics,” said John Santos, CH-53 production manager.

 

The program operates in two buildings: 333, where fiberglass and component work is done, and 378 where the remaining airframe work is completed.

 

The maintenance schedule of the Super Stallions is based upon a 54-month cycle called the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP).

 

The IMP targets structural repairs to the fuselage, and includes replacing the skin, transition bulkhead, cockpit floorboard, any KAPTON electrical wiring upgrades and corrosion repair throughout the aircraft.

 

The IMP workload standard requires about 16,000 manhours per aircraft.

 

After induction, FRCSW artisans disassemble the aircraft and begin the IMP inspection specifications.

 

“We’ll typically do a lot of metal repairs that require us to disassemble electronic and mechanical components so we can access specific areas to rebuild the aircraft,” Santos noted.

 

The program is a combination of organizational level (O-level), or work handled by the Marine Corps squadrons, and depot-level work.

 

“We’ll also do a lot of troubleshooting,” Santos said. “If our spec says `test the landing gear operation,’ for example, and when we test it the landing gear doesn’t respond, we’re supposed to call the Marines because the landing gear system is maintained by the O-level maintainers. The spec only tells us to test it.”

 

However, the Marines have the option to turn an O-level repair over to the depot.

 

“An In-service Repair (ISR) may get to the type commander (TYCOM) who would grant the hours for the repair. The ISR request still goes through the squadron because they need to cut the planner and estimator request to get it submitted to the TYCOM,” Santos said.

 

Like other aging airframes, recurring areas of the Super Stallion are beginning to show signs of failure.

 

“A fitting toward the back of the aircraft near the base of the ramp have been cracking and we’ve seen issues on both West and East Coast aircraft,” Santos said. “This is a repair that requires the input of mechanics, sheet metal, machinists and non-destructive inspection (NDI) personnel.”

 

To better align the tail drive shaft, Santos said that a new tooling kit was added to the IMP specification.

 

“It’s a surface interim change notice that adds this as a spec, and this procedure will suffice on an interim basis while the aircraft is here,” he said.

 

“When the tail of the aircraft folds, and when it spreads back out, there’s a coupling that connects the tail to the fuselage that has teeth. We’ve been finding that sometimes they are clocked different, so the alignment makes them flush to each other so the power can transfer efficiently and safely from the gear box to the tail rotor.”

 

FRCSW is scheduled to induct 10 CH-53s during fiscal year 2017.

 

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest is commanded by CAPT Craig Owen.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6547

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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New Defense Budget Poised To Meet Lower Expectations

(DEFENSE NEWS 19 MAY 17) … Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta

 

WASHINGTON – Pro-military U.S. lawmakers believe the Pentagon needs a major boost above U.S. President Donald Trump’s budget, but it’s unlikely Congress will oblige this year.

 

Trump’s 2018 budget request is itself a placeholder at $603 billion – $18.5 billion more than the Obama administration projected for 2018. On the high end is the $640 billion target advanced by the House and Senate armed services committee chairmen, which they say is needed to repair a military readiness crisis Obama left behind.

 

But powerful House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, said Thursday that $603 billion for the 2018 defense appropriations bill is “reasonable” and that $640 billion – which exceeds statutory budget caps by roughly $90 billion – won’t be reached “unless something drops from heaven.”

 

“I don’t see how we get to that number this year, though we can get as close as we can this year, and the next year and the next year,” Granger said at a Bloomberg Government event in Washington.

 

Asked for his reaction later on Thursday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told reporters that $640 billion is what’s needed to repair underfunded readiness accounts and “keep the president’s promises.”

 

“These numbers have real-world consequences,” Thornberry said. “Too often we just split the difference. . You have to look at the world and say: ‘What are we willing to live without?’ ”

 

The White House’s $603 billion base budget proposal for national defense, expected to be released May 23, would exceed spending caps by $54 billion and is about $18.5 billion more than the Obama administration projections for 2018. Much of that increase is expected to be eaten up by personnel costs connected to troop pay raises and recent end-strength growth, leaving little headroom to plus-up procurement programs.

 

Comparing Trump’s budget with the early years of the Reagan administration buildup, and others, Katherine Blakeley, a defense budget expert with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said: “This is not a historic increase.”

 

“The political characterization is that we are at the early part, and we should expect an upward drive,” Blakeley said. “We won’t see a lot of that in [the president’s 2018 budget], but they are clearly laying the groundwork for that.

 

“In this budget, you see some trial balloons, like: Can we have an accelerated path to Navy shipbuilding?”

Insiders agree the 2018 numbers are merely planting seeds for future growth, focusing on Defense Secretary James Mattis’ plans to rebuild readiness in the near term, as he described in a January memo. That focus is expected to translate into more training, depot maintenance and flying hours.

 

In other words, it’s a long way from Trump’s campaign promise to build a 355-ship Navy, grow the Army and Marine Corps by 60,000 and 12,000 troops, respectively, and add at least 100 combat planes to the Air Force.

 

And if defense watchers are looking to the 2018 budget submission for Trump’s plan to get there, they may be disappointed. A source familiar with the 2018 Pentagon budget said it’s likely Trump would skip the tradition of including be top-line numbers for the next five years, as those numbers hinge on ongoing internal studies like the Nuclear Posture Review and the National Security Strategy.

 

There was “largely good work” done by the team that started assembling this last year, but this budget reflects awareness that strategic shifts may be coming and seeks to leave some wiggle room for the administration and the Pentagon’s new leadership to color within the lines, the source said.

 

Yet the president’s budget faces a tough path through Congress. Democrats are needed to reach the 60 vote threshold to ease budget caps, and they and others are already objecting to Trump’s plans to pay for defense increases with non-defense cuts.

 

“How in the world can [Republicans] justify the spending – the spending increase for the Department of Defense?” Sen. Richard Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat and the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said Wednesday. “They’ll tell you behind closed doors they’re going to take it out of Medicare and Social Security. Try it, just try it.”

 

High-level congressional Republicans have also expressed skepticism about Trump’s budget plans. Granger, who opposes the administration’s proposal to cut 28 percent of the State Department’s budget, including many foreign aid programs, suggested Congress will reject this part of Trump’s budget.

 

“That’s the president’s budget, not Congress’ budget, I say with a smile, because we do control the purse,” she said.

 

On defense, observers expect Congress will reach a budget deal by meeting somewhere between the Obama and Trump numbers on defense, likely by moving some funds into the emergency overseas contingency operations account, or OCO, which is exempt from budget caps.

 

Though Trump is seeking $54 billion above spending caps, Congress has on average added about $18.5 billion for defense each year, according to Blakeley. “I don’t see an easy path to getting thrice as much,” she noted.

 

“I don’t think there will be as much defense buildup in practice as the budget might lay out,” Blakeley said. “It’s just not there . and the politics are just collapsing more and more every day.”

 

One possibility for more defense spending is that the House Armed Services Committee, with approval from its Senate counterpart John McCain, R-Ariz., drives for a major plus-up in OCO – in defiance of fiscal hawks, and with cooperation from some Democrats, Blakeley said.

 

“There is the space for the defense hawks, who are not only Republicans,” Blakeley said. “It will be substantively difficult for any Democrat to cooperate with the administration, [but] there might be a path to cooperate with Sen. McCain and Rep. Thornberry to say: ‘We the Congress are cooperating on a budget. We’re going to throw out the [president’s budget] when it arrives and keep this in the legislative branch.’ ”

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/new-defense-budget-poised-to-meet-lower-expectations

 

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HASC Chair Thornberry Introduces Latest Defense Acquisition Reform Plan

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 18 MAY 17) … Otto Kreisher

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) unveiled his latest attempt to modernize the defense acquisition process, focusing this time not on the way the military buys its big, expensive weapons but on helping the Defense Department “run more like a business.”

 

The draft legislation, released on Thursday, emphasizes better use of technology to speed up and improve decision making, adopting “E-Commerce” to aid use of commercial off-the-shelf products, and sharpening the auditing of contractor charges. It also seeks to reduce the life-cycle cost of weapons by emphasizing reliability and maintainability early in the development process, requiring early decisions on who controls the intellectual property, or technical data, in proposed systems and strengthening the quality of the acquisition work force.

 

But it does go after one of the chronic causes of weapon systems soaring over budget and falling behind schedule by requiring more developmental testing early in the acquisition of large, complex weapons.

 

“The big lesson we all learned with the F-35 and the [Gerald R.] Ford carrier was we were inventing it as we built it,” Thornberry told reporters in a committee office.

 

This will be the third attempt Thornberry has made to modernize and streamline the notoriously cumbersome defense procurement system, usually in close cooperation with Senate Armed Services Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

 

Thornberry said one of the reasons he has put such a priority on acquisition reform was to get better value for the taxpayers’ money and “to be more agile in the face of technology that changes so fast and threats that change so fast.”

 

But the biggest reason, he said, is that “it is wrong for us to send men and women out on missions unless we provide them the very best equipment, the very best training, the very best support that this nation can produce. And if for some reason there is bureaucracy or outdated technology that prevents us from doing that, I think that’s morally wrong.”

 

He noted that their previous reform efforts focused mainly on the procurement of the major weapon programs.

“This year, we’re not as much going for the bright shiny objects, like aircraft carriers and fighters,” but “to make the Department run more like a business,” he said.

 

One of the key efforts was to promote the use of on-line shopping services, such as Amazon, to enable officials to buy commercial products instead of using the complicated and slow General Services Administration process, which usually has extensive detailed requirements and is more expensive, he said.

 

The items would have to be commercial off-the-shelf such as office electronics and supplies, subject to “a number of safeguards.” It was not clear whether there would be a dollar limit to the buys.

 

The bill also would promote use of technology to improve the ability for department and outside auditors to ensure that the prices contractors charge are fair and to make better business decisions.

 

It also would go after the frequently criticized contracting for services, which consume more of the defense budget than buying the big weapon systems, by forcing the department to collect and analyze data to evaluate and plan for contracted services.

 

Moving to the acquisition of weapons and major equipment, the bill would require greater focus at the beginning of the procurement process on reliability and sustainability, which historically makes up 80 percent of the life-cycle cost of equipment. It also would require program managers to make decisions with the contractors early in the process on what intellectual property the government could own, with the view of allowing the services to either upgrade or repair the equipment themselves or hold a competition for that work.

 

And it would require much more developmental testing to determine whether a proposed major weapon would meet the requirements and could be produced within the projected time and cost. Although such early testing could result in termination of programs after considerable investment, Thornberry said it could prevent moving a complex weapon system into production before the technology was proven, which can result in major changes to equipment already under construction.

 

Production before adequate testing was a major reason the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Ford, the first in a new class of radically different carriers, both ran years behind schedule and far over the predicted cost.

 

Another attempt to improve the acquisition process from the inside would require new programs to improve the training and the career path for acquisition professionals. Attempting to expand and improve the acquisition workforce would be a reversal of congressional actions a decade ago that forced out hundreds of experienced workers, which forced the services to allow the contractors to design their own products and supervise the production.

 

Unlike his previous reform efforts, Thornberry did not ask ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) to cosponsor this bill. But he said he was introducing the measure a month before the committee would seek to approve it, to allow members and others to review it and make suggestions.

 

In a release, Smith said, “while I support some of the proposals it puts forward, I have concerns about others. I look forward to continuing to work with him on these important issues.”

 

HASC Chair Thornberry Introduces Latest Defense Acquisition Reform Plan

 

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Expect A Lot Of Modernization Spending In The Next Few Years: Gen. Dunford

The 2018-21 budgets will be crucial in setting up the U.S. military for the future, says the Joint Chiefs chairman.

(DEFENSE ONE 18 MAY 17) … Marcus Weisgerber

 

The Joint Chiefs have been particularly focused on military readiness of late, so with the Pentagon’s 2018 budget request set to come out next week, I asked Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford about it as we flew home from a NATO meeting in Brussels.

 

“What we began last year, and what I think you’ll see continue next year, is a recognition that we’ve got to start to look to the future as well as meeting our current operational requirements, Dunford said. “I think it’s fair to say that when we went through a period of unstable budgets, particularly starting in 2010, we delayed a lot of modernization that now has to be addressed.”

 

Areas that particularly need investment, he said, include electronic warfare, cyber, space, modernizing the nuclear triad, and maritime requirements.

 

Dunford alluded to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ three-step approach to repairing readiness: first, fill equipment and training holes, then increase the capacity of the military, and finally, grow its lethality.

 

“Readiness is not only getting the equipment that you have ready, not only providing training to the troops, getting the right number of people there, but it’s also recapitalizing and modernizing,” the chairman said. “Now you’re not buying yesterday’s vehicle, yesterday’s aircraft.”

 

Filling equipment gaps does not necessarily mean refurbishing battle-worn weapons. For example, if a fighter jet reaches the end of its life or is destroyed in battle, expect the Pentagon to buy a newer, more modern plane.

 

“I think in ’18, we’ll start to get a little bit closer to that, and really, as we go into ’19, ’20 and ’21, in my judgment, that’s really when we need to make sure that we’re attentive to our modernization requirements because not only then are we talking about readiness, we’re talking about modern capabilities that preserve a competitive advantage for those key areas,” Dunford said.

 

http://www.defenseone.com/business/2017/05/expect-lot-modernization-spending-next-few-years-gen-dunford/137976/

 

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Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Set To Answer Lingering Navy Acquisition Questions

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 22 MAY 17) … Megan Eckstein

 

Since the last Pentagon budget request 15 months ago there’s been a presidential election, a seven-month continuing resolution, a supplemental spending bill, promises from the new administration for a military spending spree, vows from inside the Pentagon to rebuild readiness and multiple studies looking at what a future naval fleet should look like.

 

In the churn leading up to this week’s release of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget request to Congress, questions still remain on the Navy’s acquisition and readiness plans. The following is a list of important policy and acquisition issues that Navy officials have declined to comment on but have assured USNI News and the public that answers would be found in the budget request.

 

Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy

 

President Donald Trump called for a 350-ship fleet as early as last summer – a specific promise at the time, which was later backed up by the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment that called for 355 ships, as well as three separate Future Fleet Architecture studies that generally supported fleets of around that size.

 

With the general consensus being that the Navy needs more ships, the question now is, how will the service achieve that? The Congressional Budget Office looked at various rates of shipbuilding to analyze how much it would cost, and House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) told USNI News he believes the Navy should aim for 355 ships in the next 25 to 30 years.

 

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran told USNI News the Navy may need as $150 billion over the current shipbuilding plan to “jump-start” shipbuilding and get on a trajectory to 355 – helping shipyards make the investments in their workforce and facility needed to build today’s ships faster, and to prepare for new classes of ships that will be central to that 355-ship fleet. And Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told reporters last week that the industrial base could handle 29 additional ships over the next seven years beyond what the current shipbuilding plan calls for. But the question remains, will the Navy actually seek the money it needs to get on that trajectory to 355 as fast as the service and the shipbuilders can handle? And if the Navy does look for a quick buildup, will it focus on the massive “USS” warships already under construction – aircraft carriers, attack submarines, destroyers and amphibious transport docks – or will it rely on some less expensive “USNS” ships, such as the expeditionary mobile base (formerly called the Afloat Forward Staging Base) to help bolster the fleet buildup numbers?

 

While FY 2018 itself isn’t likely to include major investments in shipbuilding – Defense Secretary James Mattis made clear in a Jan. 31 memo that 2018 would focus on wholeness, with acquisition to support a force buildup starting in 2019 – there may be some investments to help shipyards train new employees, build additional indoor work facilities and more to support an upcoming surge in work. And with the 2018 budget submission will come an outline of spending plans for the Future Years Defense Plan that runs through FY 2022, so much about the Navy’s buildup should be revealed this week.

 

Littoral Combat Ship

 

The Navy has planned to transition from its Littoral Combat Ship to a frigate since 2014, but in recent months it has totally revamped its plan for doing so, starting over with its frigate requirements development process and moving from a faceoff between the two LCS builders to an open competition for shipbuilders around the globe.

Program and surface warfare officials vowed in a recent hearing that more details about the new transition plan would be included in the 2018 budget submission.

 

Questions that remain are: how many LCSs will be purchased before the frigate transition takes place? In its 2017 budget request, the Navy outlined a plan to buy two in 2017; one a year in 2018, 2019 and 2020; and then two in 2021. However, Program Executive Officer for LCS Rear Adm. John Neagley said at the recent hearing that the two builders, Austal USA and Marinette Marine, needed the Navy to buy three ships a year to sustain their yards and allow them to compete for the frigate. Lawmakers forced the Navy to buy three in the recent 2017 spending bill, but at the hearing Neagley declined to comment on how many ships the Navy would actually buy in 2018 and beyond, only noting that the industrial base required three a year.

 

As for the frigate, when will the Navy complete its requirements development and begin to compete design contracts to industry? When does it believe it can award construction contracts? How much will the frigate cost? Some or all of these questions may be answered in the Navy’s outline of the FYDP.

 

Attack Submarines

 

Perhaps the number-one thing the Navy wants to do if more funding is available for a fleet buildup is to buy more Virginia-class submarines. The Navy is facing a massive submarine shortfall in the next decade, at the same time it is facing an increase in work for the two submarine shipbuilding yards due to the introduction of the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine and the Virginia Payload Module addition to the SSNs. The Navy originally intended to buy two SSNs in years without a SSBN, and one of each during SSBN acquisition years. In 2015 then-acquisition chief Sean Stackley said the Navy was looking at industrial base capacity to build two SSNs every year, regardless of the Columbia subs. Then perhaps each SSN would have a Virginia Payload Module built in, to give it extra missile-carrying capacity, rather than just one VPM a year. And then some lawmakers wondered if perhaps industry could build three SSNs a year. This budget submission should reveal how the Navy intends on handling the massive workload for General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding through FY 2022.

 

LPD to LX(R) Transition

 

Budgeting plans surrounding the LX(R) amphibious dock landing ship replacement program, and the LPD amphibious transport dock the LX(R) is based on, have changed multiple times in the last couple years. Previous budgets had the final LPD bought in FY 2016 and LX(R) beginning in FY 2020, which would have left a production gap at Ingalls Shipbuilding and may have risked the yard having to lay off workers, only to try to rehire them again. So in FY 2016 lawmakers cobbled together funds for an LPD-28, a 12th ship in the class, as a bridge from LPD to LX(R), as well as a small sum of money to begin accelerating the LX(R) design.

 

This year’s final FY 2017 spending bill, just passed by Congress this month, both adds nearly $1.8 billion for a 13th ship, LPD-29 – the production line is moving so efficiently at Ingalls that even LPD-28 was now expected to leave a production gap – and more than $25 million funding to accelerate LX(R) development. The 2018 budget should reveal new details about the updated transition schedule, as well as whether the LX(R) will be included in the Navy’s fleet buildup or whether the service will allow the program some time to prove itself ahead of looking at speeding up production.

 

Aircraft Carriers

 

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier may take the longest of all the Navy’s ships to build, but service leadership hopes to include the carriers in the fleet buildup effort as well. The Navy currently buys carriers one every five years, a rate that is less efficient for sole builder Newport News Shipbuilding and has led the service to dip below the congressionally mandated 11-carrier fleet. Industry has long been pushing for three- or four-year centers on the aircraft carriers, and CNO Richardson said last week that his shipbuilding acceleration would include a quicker carrier construction rate. This budget document is likely to reveal just how fast the Navy thinks it and its industry partners can build a carrier.

 

Cruiser Modernization

 

The Navy and Congress have been at odds over how to approach the modernization and life extension of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers. The Navy in 2013 suggested decommissioning half the fleet to deal with sequestration, arguing it didn’t have the money to man and operate them, let alone modernize the full class of ships. Congress in FY 2015 mandated that two cruisers a year be inducted into the modernization program, which led to the 2/4/6 plan – in which two ships a year would be inducted into the modernization program, for no longer than four years each, with no more than six ships laid up at any given time. The Navy has continued to push back against that, including in both its FY 2016 and 2017 budget requests, arguing it could save billions of dollars if it laid up all the remaining cruisers and modernized them only as older cruisers begin to decommission. This week’s budget will show whether the Navy will this year go along with the 2/4/6 plan or push back again to save money on the remaining five or so cruisers yet to be inducted into the modernization program.

 

Super Hornets v. Joint Strike Fighter

 

The Navy’s plans for its future air wing have long centered around having the fourth-generation F/A-18E-F Super Hornet and fifth-generation F-35C Joint Strike Fighter operating side-by-side. One a stealthy battle management tool and the other a lethal bomb truck, the Navy never intended to compete them against one another, until President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2016, suggested in a tweet that Boeing could develop a Super Hornet variant “comparable” to the JSF for a lower cost. As a result, Defense Secretary Mattis ordered a review of the two aircraft in a Jan. 26 memo. The budget should indicate how the Navy intends to move forward.

 

Hypoxia Concerns

 

The Navy has a growing problem with breathing-related issues for fighter jet pilots – both hypoxia, in which pilots cannot get enough oxygen or receive contaminated oxygen from their masks, and cabin pressure issues that can lead to decompression sickness. The number of so-called physiological episodes is increasing at an increasing rate and affecting all the Navy’s jets: legacy F/A-18 Hornets, F/A-18E-F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and T-45C Goshawk trainers. Navy leadership has vowed to address this in a resource-unconstrained manner, taking whatever steps are necessary to find the root of the problem, so this budget could give some indication of how the Navy intends to do that.

 

Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Set to Answer Lingering Navy Acquisition Questions

 

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Trump Budget Fails To Live Up To ‘Historic’ Defense Promises, Analysts Say

(DEFENSE NEWS 22 MAY 17) … Aaron Mehta

 

WASHINGTON – The first Trump administration budget plan fails to live up to the president’s claims of a “historic” defense increase, and will likely meet stiff resistance on the Hill for what analysts say are unrealistic plans for cuts to non-defense spending.

 

Details of the fiscal year 2018 budget, released to reporters Monday evening, also confirm an increase in nuclear weapons funding and changes to foreign military aid, as previously reported by Defense News.

 

The budget – which includes $603 billion earmarked for national security issues, including defense – certainly reflects a major attempt at reshaping the social safety net. But when it comes to defense, the planned increase is fairly pedestrian, or as House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Monday, “basically the Obama approach.”

 

Todd Harrison, a budgetary expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote Monday that the real numbers don’t match up to the rhetoric from President Donald Trump that his spending plan will rebuild the military.

 

Harrison notes that the budget plan represents only the ninth-largest increase in the past four decades for defense spending, While the budget request features $54 billion for defense above the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps in place for FY18, that’s only $19 billion more than was planned for this year by the Obama administration.

 

Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, called the defense plan “middle of the road, vanilla stuff. It’s a budget that is in line with recent historical precedent and is nothing extraordinary or historical.”

 

The budget documentation notes in a footnote that defense spending in the future will be based on the results of several major strategic reviews now underway, including the National Security Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review. That was echoed by a source familiar with the defense budgeting process, who told Defense News that the budget is largely a placeholder until those decisions can be made.

 

There was “largely good work” done by the team that started assembling this last year, the source said, but this budget reflects awareness that strategic shifts are coming and was designed to leave wiggle room for the administration and DoD’s incoming leadership to color within the lines.

 

Instead, this budget focuses on doing repairs where needed – something that leaves Eaglen skeptical about major shifts coming in the future.

 

“They’re going to try and spin it that they will get the rebuild next year. I’ve seen that movie. Anytime you try to do things the next year, it just becomes the next year,” she said.

 

DOA On The Hill

 

Eaglen sees the fingerprints of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney all over the document, even more so than Trump.

 

“This budget is Mick Mulvaney’s dream. He had a lot of discretion in terms of what choices were made. There is some Trump stuff here – no cuts to Social Security, new paid parental leave – but this is a Mulvany budget through and through,” Eaglen said.

 

And like Mulvaney’s budget plans when he was a member of the House Freedom Caucus, this plan will likely be dead on arrival on the Hill, due to the budgetary tradeoffs it relies on.

 

In the budget documentation, the administration expresses plans for an annual 2.1 percent growth for defense discretionary spending, accompanied by an annual 2 percent reduction in non-defense discretionary spending – not just for FY18, but for the next decade.

 

“As we’ll see with the ’18 budget, the one defense dollar up and one non-defense dollar down trade will never, ever have enough votes to pass, period,” Eaglen said, noting that Democrats will never agree to such a tradeoff. “So this notion that for the next 10 years it will happen is kind of crazy.”

 

Asked about the budget’s chances on the Hill, Harrison said, “Dead on arrival is an understatement. The cuts to non-defense discretionary spending in the out years may even spook some fiscal conservatives.”

 

Interestingly, the documentation also calls for keeping budget caps in place through 2027, despite the caps associated with the BCA set to expire in 2021. Aside from a few members of Mulvaney’s Freedom Caucus, there is zero appetite on the Hill for continuing mandatory budget caps after they expire, Eaglen said.

 

Speaking to reporters Monday, Mulvaney acknowledged that Congress will have its say, but defended the budget plan as one required to meet the vision laid out by the president.

 

“Do I expect them to adopt this 100 percent whole-heartedly, without any change? Absolutely not. Do I expect them to work with the administration on trying to figure out places where we’re on the same pages?

 

Absolutely,” Mulvaney said. “I don’t think it invalidates the importance, the credibility of the president’s budget, just because they’re not going to fund it wholeheartedly.”

 

OCO’s End?

 

As a House member, Mulvaney made targeting the use of overseas contingency operations (OCO) a signature issue. At first glance, that appears to be reflected in the budget, as the 10-year plan calls for the dialing down of OCO funding to almost nothing.

 

Harrison isn’t impressed, noting that a footnote in the budget document says the OCO numbers are based on several assumptions that simply may not happen.

 

“The Obama admin used to do this, too. It’s just a placeholder and not a proposal,” Harrison said. “Obama’s OMB had talked about phasing out OCO, as well. Nothing happened.”

 

OCO remains popular on the Hill, where it has served as a useful vehicle for supporting DoD despite the BCA-imposed restrictions on spending. The wartime fund is exempt from the budget BCA caps.

 

Speaking Monday at the Brookings Institution, Thornberry reiterated a call for defense spending to reach $640 billion in base dollars, with an additional $60 billion in OCO. The chairman told the crowd he was not trying this year to change the longstanding practice of parking base budget costs in OCO – but it was something he was open to.

 

“It does not accomplish that goal,” he said. “I think that is a worthwhile conversation to have. What concerns me is if there are transfers from OCO to the base budget and people call it a defense increase, it will not be accurate. It will not tell you the facts, which is you have not really increased anything at all. You’ve just changed the label on the money.”

 

Putting base requirements into OCO, Thornberry said, “makes it very difficult to plan and that that we are not spending it as efficient as it could be, and yet, we have become very dependent on that.”

 

Foreign Financing Changes

 

Mulvaney confirmed that changes would be coming to the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing programs, including details, first revealed by Defense News, that Pakistan’s military aid will be slashed compared with previous levels.

 

The OMB director also confirmed that several countries would have their FMF financing changed from grants to loans, although he noted Israel and Egypt would be exempt from such changes.

 

“Our argument is instead of giving somebody $100 million, we can give them a smaller number with a loan guarantee so they can actually buy more stuff,” he said. “State still has some flexibility to come up with the final plan on that, but writ large, we have proposed to move several countries from a direct grant program to a loan guarantee program.”

 

Foreign Military Financing has largely taken the role of a grant given to U.S. allies to allow them to buy defense equipment. With the exception of Israel, all countries that receive FMF have to spend it on goods made in the United States, a boost for the domestic defense industry.

 

Analysts have questioned whether countries which receive FMF grants now will be able to take on the costs of a loan program, and whether those nations may instead look to buy cheaper goods from competitor nations such as Russia or China.

 

Nuclear Plus-Up

 

According to the budget materials, the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) will receive a $1.4 billion increase from 2017 levels, a roughly 11 percent increase on the agencies budget. That will certainly be welcome from NNSA head Frank Klotz, a retired Air Force general who has expressed a desperate need for funding to help balance out a backlog of maintenance projects at nuclear facilities.

 

However, the funding is expected to largely come in the form of NNSA’s weapons accounts, according to a budget leak from the Third Way group revealed last week. A recent Government Accountability Office report warned that NNSA’s weapons development funding was too small to meet requirements for the coming decade.

 

Andrew Webber, who served from 2009 to 2014 as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical & Biological Defense Programs, believes that plus-up to NNSA accounts reflects that Trump is following through on his stated desire to modernize America’s nuclear weapons.

 

“The big spike in weapons activities must mean that Trump is accelerating his new nuclear weapons like the LRSO,” Webber said, referring to the new nuclear cruise missile project that some Democrats on the Hill have tried to delay.

 

Joe Gould in Washington contributed to this report.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/trump-budget-fails-to-live-up-to-historic-defense-promises-analysts-say

 

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Navy’s 2018 Budget Addresses Readiness Through Maintenance, Spares, Infrastructure Improvements

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 23 MAY 17) … Megan Eckstein

 

THE PENTAGON – 2018 may be the Navy’s opportunity to dig out of a massive readiness hole found in its aviation enterprise and at the public shipyards, with the Pentagon’s budget request focusing on maintenance and readiness spending.

 

Though acquisition spending is down compared to last year, the service is requesting $51.3 billion for its operations and maintenance budget, compared to $48.2 billion in 2017 and $46.9 billion in 2016. That 6.5 percent increase includes $2.5 billion more for air operations and $4 billion more for ship operations.

 

On the ship side, the Navy is looking to increase is public shipyard workforce from 33,850 full-time equivalent workers to 34,988, or a 3.4 percent increase, “to increase shipyard throughput,” the Navy’s budget highlights book notes.

 

“Additionally, to help reduce [naval shipyard] workload and better align workload to capacity, FY 2018 funds planning for private sector submarine maintenance to reduce the impact to follow-on maintenance work. These efforts minimize the more expensive future execution of deferred maintenance work, maximize utilization of private and public maintenance capacity, and support [the Navy’s Optimized Fleet Response Plan],” the book reads, referring to persistent backlogs of work at the public yards that have left multiple attack submarines unable to get into the yards for work.

 

This increase in shipyard personnel and assistance from the private sector will contribute to the Navy being able to conduct 71 ship maintenance availabilities, or 10 more than last year, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Brian Luther told reporters during a budget rollout briefing today. Those availabilities will help chip away at the $3.5 billion in deferred maintenance the Navy faces, he added.

 

Ship maintenance is funded at 100 percent of required levels through both base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations funding, for a total of $11.8 billion.

 

On aviation, the Navy and Marine Corps looked to address support accounts that contribute to ongoing readiness challenges – spare parts, logistics and other flight line readiness enablers.

 

“FY 2018 funding supports the maximum executable requirements of deployed units, units training in preparation to deploy, and of non-deployed units for sustainment and maintenance readiness levels,” according to the Navy budget highlights book.

 

“The primary driver of the increases in FY 2018 funding in comparison to FY 2017 is the increase in cost-per-flight hour for various Type/Model/Series in repairable parts, consumables, and maintenance contracts.”

Luther expanded on the topic of aviation readiness, noting that “aircraft depot maintenance is funded to capacity, which is 89 percent of the requirement. This is an increase from last year, where we funded the air depot maintenance to 85 percent. Capacity is limited for different reasons at our fleet readiness centers. Some are limited by the hiring of civilian personnel, others by physical space and aging tools and materials. In all cases, we are investing to correct those limitations.”

 

Despite those limitations, “aviation spares is funded to the highest level in the last 14 years, at 91 percent,” Luther said.

 

“The aviation logistics support has increased 6 percent to a high of 87 percent of the requirement. These logistics contracts for the F-35, KC-130J and MV-22 and E-6B are funded at an all-time high,” he added, making clear that “executing the training and deployed flight hours requires more than just the flying and depot maintenance funding; it requires sufficient funding for enabling accounts such as aviation logistics, aviation support and . aviation spares.”

 

The Pentagon also sought to address readiness through weapons procurement, which U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris discussed last month in congressional hearings. Harris told lawmakers that “we’re short on things like small-diameter bombs. These are not exciting kinds of weapons, these are mundane sort of weapons, but they’re absolutely critical to what we’re trying to do not only against North Korea but also in the fights in the Middle East. So we have a shortage of the small-diameter bombs throughout the inventory, so the stockpile of the small-diameter bombs that PACOM has, for example, we send them, and rightfully so, to CENTCOM, Central Command, and AFRICOM. That’s a fight we’re in and they need them, so we send them there and they use them.”

 

As a result, Defense Secretary James Mattis created a “preferred weapon” status within the FY 2018 budget request, John Roth, acting as the Pentagon comptroller, told reporters today.

 

“As we closed out this budget over the last two or three weeks in particular, a great deal of concern was being raised with current inventory levels and, particularly given some of the [weapons] expenditures in the CENTCOM area of operations as we talk, and so the secretary mandated and insisted that we fully fund to the maximum extent possible the full production capability for certain selected preferred munitions – things like the Hellfire, things like the JDAM and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System,” Roth said.

 

Preferred weapons include the Hellfire air-to-surface missile, Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, small-diameter bomb, Advanced Precision-Kill Weapon System, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and Joint Direct Attack Munition.

 

Though still taking risk in shore infrastructure to help pay for operational fleet readiness, the Navy and Marine Corps are making some major investments in military construction that directly help the readiness rebuilding effort. These MILCON projects – $73 million for the Ship Repair Training Facility at Naval Support Activity Norfolk; $62 million to improve the Paint, Blast and Rubber Facility at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; $61 million for an F/A-18 Avionics Repair Facility replacement at Naval Air Station Lemoore; and more – pushed the services to a 13-percent higher “major construction” budget request than last year, and 11.6 percent higher MILCON budget overall.

 

Despite the emphasis on restoring readiness – with 100 percent of the ship readiness requirement being funded and about 90 percent of the aviation readiness requirement being funded, which are higher than historical averages, the Marine Corps is only funding its ground equipment depot maintenance at 79 percent of the requirement.

 

Overall, Luther said of the Navy and Marine Corps budget request, “it is important to note, however, the effects of multiple years of insufficient resources cannot be corrected by the increases of one budget year. The department will require stable, predictable funding over multiple years to achieve sustained and positive results.”

 

Navy’s 2018 Budget Addresses Readiness Through Maintenance, Spares, Infrastructure Improvements

 

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Amid $52 Billion Plus-Up, DoD Looks To Trim Spending On Service Contracts, Health Care

(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 24 MAY 17) … Jared Serbu

 

As expected, the final 2018 Defense budget the Trump administration submitted to Congress Tuesday calls for $640 billion in military spending, $52 billion more than the current year and breaking the current budget caps by the same amount.

 

But even amid a healthy plus-up in the top-line amount, the Pentagon says it’s found some modest ways to produce “efficiency” savings in 2018. Officials billed the budget as a fulfillment of two commitments Defense Secretary James Mattis made when he took office in January: rebuilding the military’s readiness and reforming its business operations.

 

“There are a number of ongoing activities that we continue to pursue,” said John Roth, the career senior executive who’s currently performing the duties of DoD comptroller. “We’re continuing to look at the major headquarters and to reduce them by 25 percent. We continue with acquisition reform, particularly with Better Buying Power 3.0. We continue to take a hard look at our service support contracts and make sure that they’re appropriate.”

 

The department said the largest chunk of the savings – $1.2 billion – will come from changes to business processes in the headquarters of the military services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

 

Its budget document does not identify all of the ways in which DoD expects to reach that total, but offers a few examples:

.               From now on, the Pentagon’s deputy chief management officer will have to sign off on any new business IT investments that cost more than $1 million over five years. DoD expects that change to save $77 million in 2018 alone.

.               The department says it will save $120 million with a change to travel policy, using the “lowest acceptable” airfare in GSA’s City Pair program as the default option for domestic flights.

.               DoD expects to save $382 million by eliminating “redundant” service contracts. That process will be led by the department’s Service Requirement Review Boards, a process DoD set up last year to begin forcing Defense organizations to justify their use of support contractors.

.               The budget proposes modest increases in staffing levels at the Defense Contract Audit Agency, the Defense Contract Management Agency and the DoD Inspector General’s office to increase oversight over contracts.

 

The Pentagon also hopes to glean some savings from military compensation.

 

The 2018 budget proposes a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilians and 2.1 percent raise for military members, lower than the 2.4 percent increase federal employees would otherwise receive based on the Employment Cost Index. The department projects the lower raise would save about $200 million in 2018.

 

The spending plan would also require some of DoD’s health care beneficiaries to pay more for their own treatment. While active-duty service members would continue to be cared for at no charge, the budget would introduce enrollment fees and deductibles for family members and retirees.

 

Congress already allowed for those fees in the 2017 Defense authorization bill, but only applied them prospectively – to service members who join the military after January 2018.

 

“What that did, in effect, is pretty much wipe out any to near-term savings and created what we think is an awkward two-tier system. Some people will be under one system and some people will be under another for the next 50 years,” Roth said. “We’re going to ask the Congress if they would consider eliminating the grandfathering. We’d like to exempt the medically retired and family members of those who die on active duty.

 

We think that’s just a tweak in a law that perhaps the Hill has overlooked. And we continue to look at efforts to rely on telehealth, nurse advice lines, those kinds of things to try to improve the beneficiary’s experience with the process.”

 

The cost-share changes would be most impactful for retirees and their families. Within that group, the department estimates an average family of three’s out-of-pocket medical costs would rise from about $1,500 a year to $2,000 if the proposal is approved.

 

The department also pressed for what it said would be a “simplification” of the TRICARE health insurance system. Currently, beneficiaries can choose between TRICARE Prime, a managed-care option with low-to-no co-pays and TRICARE Standard, a more flexible plan that does not require enrollment but involves more out-of-pocket costs. The budget proposal would merge the two into a single plan that more closely mirrors private-sector health plans, with “in-network” providers costing beneficiaries less than out-of-network providers.

 

Another new element: beneficiaries would have to take active steps to take part in the health system during an annual open enrollment period, similar to what’s required for civilian employees in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. As of now, under TRICARE Standard, beneficiaries need only show their DoD ID card at a health care provider’s office to get TRICARE coverage.

 

Apart from the $2 billion in efficiency savings in 2018, the Trump administration believes DoD could save another $2 billion per year in perpetuity if Congress allows it to conduct another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), a request DoD has made in every budget proposal since 2012, but which Congress has rejected each year.

 

The latest proposal would initiate a BRAC round in 2021, making it the first since 2005. The Pentagon’s rough calculations show it’s currently paying to maintain 22 percent more base capacity than what’s militarily useful.

“The sum-total of the five rounds we’ve had since the 1990s has resulted in approximately $12 billion a year in savings. It’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Roth said. “All we’re asking for at this stage is the authority: we can’t even do the detailed analysis under current law. What we have is a parametric estimate. If that number is anywhere near correct, we are forgoing a very significant opportunity to get some savings. [BRAC] is a very structured, systematic, rigorous process that ultimately, Congress has the final say on. We think we’re getting some signals from at least a couple of committees that are more amenable to it and so we will be pushing that pretty hard.”

 

At the same time, the budget proposes to spend more on improvements to existing infrastructure than DoD has put forward in the last several years.

 

A multi-year maintenance backlog has led to one out of every five Defense facilities falling into “failing” condition; the 2017 budget provided only enough funding to conduct 74 percent of the military’s needed facility upkeep. The 2018 version would add several billion dollars to preventative maintenance and military construction accounts – about 25 percent more than last year.

 

“This is an area where when you get constrained budgets and you have lower top-lines, you tend to take risk and you tend to defer. You’re going to wait to fix that window until the next year as long as the roof’s not leaking,” Roth said. “We’ve had pretty anemic military construction facilities budgets over the last four-or-five years, but there’s a readiness nexus with this. So we’re investing in operational and training facilities and maintenance and production facilities in particular.”

 

Roth said getting the Defense Department in a position to pass a financial statement audit is also one of Secretary Mattis’ top reform priorities.

 

Per a congressional mandate, DoD is supposed to declare itself “audit-ready” by September. Roth said that means the department will continue with its previous plan to begin subjecting itself to full-scale audits in 2018, but that no one should expect a passing score in the first year.

 

“One of the reasons we are where we are is for about 20 years, no one really cared. That’s why we didn’t move the ball,” Roth said. “In the last six or seven years, it became a high priority for the entire department. This isn’t something that only a comptroller and financial manager can do, it needs a buy-in from the entire enterprise.

 

We’ve made an enormous amount of progress getting, quote ‘ready,’ but we’re not going to get to a clean audit in one year. But we won’t know until we start the audit. We’ll get some good audit opinions and frankly, we’ll get some bad audit opinions. Those will lead to remediation efforts in terms of either changing business processes or changing accounting processes and the like. But we have to start, and that’s the importance of 2018.”

 

Amid $52 billion plus-up, DoD looks to trim spending on service contracts, health care

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of March 6, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

  1. FRCSE mustang makes leap at Mayport commissioning
  2. FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey
  3. FRCSW, FRCSE Collaborate on JASDF E-2C Requirement

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

  1. USAF and Navy could team up on E-6 recap
  2. Marine Corps considers opening Hornet maintenance to industry
  3. Foreign Cyber Weapons ‘Far Exceed’ U.S. Ability To Defend Critical Infrastructure, Defense Panel Says
  4. Commentary: The looming crisis for US tritium production
  5. A Pilot Explains All of the Amazing Reasons Why the F-35 Is a Stealth Super Weapon
  6. Three Chinese Air Force Officers Scout AFA Show — In Civvies
  7. Defense Services Contractors Brace For Pentagon Spending Shakeup
  8. Trump Is Right To Spend More On Defense. Here’s How To Do So Wisely
  9. FY ’17 Defense Spending Bill Slams F-35 Program; Air Force, Navy Programs Get Boosts
  10. Pentagon Advisers Want Cyber ‘Tiger Teams,’ More Authorities For Cyber Command
  11. Embracing Creativity: A Leadership Challenge
  12. Enabling Leadership From The Bottom

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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FRCSE mustang makes leap at Mayport commissioning

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ruby Richey choked-up as tears welled in her eyes when asked how she felt watching her son be commissioned as chief warrant officer in U.S. Navy on March 1.

 

She raised CWO2 Daniel Richey and his four siblings on her own in Aliceville, Alabama by working in factories and restaurants to make ends meet.

 

“I just did what I needed to do as a mother,” she said. “It’s a very proud moment for me.”

 

CWO2 Richey’s wife, daughter, son and brother were also on hand for the ceremony, along with detachment Mayport Sailors and officers in charge both past and present.

 

Cmdr. Claude Taylor, Richey’s former officer in charge at the detachment came to Mayport from his new command at Naval Air Station Patuxent River to be the guest speaker.

 

“He’s a man of the highest integrity and embodies the virtues of honor, integrity and commitment,” Taylor said of Richey. “He’s a godly man, and he walks that same walk whether he’s at work or at home.”

 

Richey joined the Navy out of high school in 1996, but left active duty in 1999 for the Navy Reserve. But by 2001, he wanted back in.

 

“I missed it, to be quite honest with you,” he said. “You get out, assuming the civilian world is just like the military, then you quickly realize it is not.

 

“I missed the camaraderie, and just missed the people.”

 

With a renewed focus, Richey threw himself into his work. Then an encounter with a division officer, who was a prior-enlisted Sailor and then warrant officer, planted a seed of ambition that grew to fruition with the ceremony Wednesday.

 

“It felt like he really understood the issues that junior sailors were facing,” he said. “The more I learned of what that position was about, it really made me want to become a warrant officer.

 

“I’ve been tracking ever since.”

 

Unfortunately for detachment Mayport, Richey’s promotion means he’ll be leaving for his new position with the “Skinny Dragons” of Patrol Squadron four at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington in June.

 

“I’ve valued PRC Richey’s leadership and assistance since I came to this detachment last year, and I’m sorry to see him go,” said detachment Mayport Officer in Charge Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Tindell. “But I know that CWO2 Richey will be a valuable asset for his new squadron and the United States Navy.”

 

The bittersweet emotions ran both ways.

 

“I love the Sailors, the leadership and the opportunities this command afforded me,” Richey said. “FRC detachment Mayport is the best command I’ve ever been a part of, hands down.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6497

 

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FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

All roads lead to the paint complex in Building 466, where Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) aircraft

products are concerned.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

22’s strip and paint operations.

 

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

 

Logistics preparations continued throughout the year with stakeholder meetings that included materials lab engineers; deputy IPT leads; production control; production managers; planning department; paint crew leaders and artisans; supervisors; financial; safety office; and business office personnel. These critical preparations

ensured the right materials were ordered along with the appropriate source documentation, and solutions to concerns were tailored to successfully assist the paint complex.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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FRCSW, FRCSE Collaborate on JASDF E-2C Requirement

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

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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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Flight Global

 

USAF and Navy could team up on E-6 recap

 

BY: Leigh Giangreco

 

The US Navy is looking at recapitalising its airborne command and control fleet, which could produce a joint venture with the US Air Force.

 

The Navy’s E6-B aircraft supports the service’s ballistic missile submarines and allows the USAF to launch missiles from the air should command centres on the ground become inoperable during a nuclear crisis. During an 8 March Congressional hearing, the head of US Strategic Command told lawmakers he directed the Navy to examine the E-6B’s replacement. The service is analysing options, including the possibility of leveraging a common platform with the USAF.

 

The Navy last refreshed the E-6B Mercury in 2002, when Boeing upgraded the 707s with a new flight deck, broadband communications system and battle management, command and control equipment, FlightGlobal reported. Boeing completed retrofits on all 16 aircraft in 2003. That extends the fleet well into the 2030s, but the Navy must attack the recapitalisation now, US Strategic Command head Gen John Hyten says.

 

“We’re only 20 years from 2038, but if you’re going to build large aircraft with huge command and control you need to start thinking about those things right now,” he told reporters. “That’s what the Navy is starting to do, I’ve requested that they start looking at defining what comes next.”

 

The E-6B, which is equipped with an airborne launch control system, can fulfill the legacy E-6A’s ballistic submarine mission or the airborne strategic command post mission. The Navy is considering whether separate aircraft should fulfill those missions or a common aircraft that can complete both, Hyten says.

 

A joint USAF and Navy programme could piggyback off of the air force’s ongoing command and control recapitalisations. The Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System and Boeing E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS), both 707-derived aircraft, are undergoing a protracted replacement. The OC-135B Open Skies aircraft, another close cousin of Boeing’s 707 manufactured in 1962, is experiencing sustainment issues. Subsystem failures aside, the USAF expects to phase out the OC-135 around 2040. Last month, the USAF released a request for information seeking viable options for the Open Skies Treaty aircraft.

 

The E-6B’s 2038 replacement timeline could align with those other 707 aircraft, according to Admiral Bill Moran, vice chief of Naval Operations.

 

“We should look at doing this together because the requirements on the air force side, the size and shape of the airplane, the capacity, the endurance are very similar missions,” he says. “We’re always looking for places where we cannot be duplicative.”

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-and-navy-could-team-up-on-e-6-recap-434963/

 

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Marine Corps considers opening Hornet maintenance to industry

 

Inside the Navy, March 03 | Lee Hudson <https://insidedefense.com/authors/Lee-Hudson>

 

Faced with increased demand, the Marine Corps said the service is considering turning to industry to help maintain legacy F/A-18 Hornets, according to a service official. Bill Taylor, assistant deputy commandant for aviation focused on sustainment, told Inside the Navy that the size of the inventory and the jets’ condition are putting pressure on turnaround time. “It’s like peeling back an onion — you don’t know what you don’t know until you start reworking these aircraft at the depot. As you pull a panel off, you see corrosion; pull another panel off and the corrosion is worse,” he said during an interview at his Pentagon office on March 2. “There have actually been cases where we have inducted aircraft into the depot rework, only to have to turn around and strike the aircraft halfway through the depot repair process because it was not salvageable.”

 

Though Taylor said that example is rare, it makes clear the intensity of the Marine Corps’ challenge. At times, the service must wait months for a particular spare part. It’s difficult for suppliers to forecast demand, Taylor said, because it could be the first time in five years that a particular part needs to be replaced. One option under consideration to address the throughput at Navy depots is contracting out legacy Hornet maintenance to a vendor, he said. Indeed, the Navy has turned to this option in the past.

 

“An example of that is Boeing has augmented the Navy’s organic capability to rework the legacy Hornet down at Cecil Field, [FL],” he said. “They’re under contract to augment that capacity.” The Navy and Marine Corps are also prototyping a new planned maintenance interval to streamline activities at the depots. The initiative consolidates intermediate-level and organization-level maintenance into two PMI events, according to Taylor. “Right now, you could literally turn out an aircraft from the depot, and literally a couple of weeks later put it back into a field event for something different,” he said. “It was illogical. [This] is a logical consolidation of maintenance requirements.” The services kicked off the prototyping period in February and expect it to take about 18 months, Taylor said. Additionally, the Marine Corps is conducting recurring executive support suitability summits (ESS) for each type of model series that has undergone an independent readiness review.

 

To date, the service has conducted independent readiness reviews for the AV-8B Harrier, H-1, H-53, V-22 Osprey and ground mishaps. The service may also perform an independent readiness review for the legacy Hornet, Taylor said. The ESSs are meant to allow the Marine Corps to effectively execute its readiness recovery plan by involving all stakeholders. For example, representatives from the prime contractor, the Defense Logistics Agency, Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Supply Systems Command attend, Taylor said.

 

Two weeks ago, the Marine Corps held three ESSs — for AV-8B, H-1 and V-22 — in Yuma, AZ, he said. The summit for the AV-8B assessed parts obsolescence and forecasting depot maintenance availabilities. For the H-53, the biggest risk for sustainment is basic supply support. Thirty percent of those helicopters are down on the flight line because of spare parts availability, Taylor said. The Marines have a maintainer-to-aircraft issue for the H-1 because of the different configurations. The H-1N is transitioning to the H-1Y, and the AH-1W is transitioning to the AH-1Z, he said.

 

Budget

Taylor detailed four priorities if the near-term budgets allot additional funding for aviation sustainment. The top priority is sending more funding to the flight-hour program, both for fuel and depot-level repair. The second priority for aviation readiness is adding more spare parts to the inventory. Those priorities, Taylor said, are followed by performance-based logistics and procurement.

 

Procurement plays a role in aviation readiness because the service thought it would transition from the legacy Hornet and the Harrier fleet to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter years ago. Since completing an independent readiness review for the Harrier two years ago, the aircraft’s reliability has greatly increased, according to Taylor. Instead of transitioning from three Harrier squadrons to the F-35, the Marine Corps instead selected three legacy Hornet squadrons because the Harrier is having fewer readiness problems, he said.

 

https://insidedefense.com/inside-navy/marine-corps-considers-opening-hornet-maintenance-industry

 

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Foreign Cyber Weapons ‘Far Exceed’ U.S. Ability To Defend Critical Infrastructure, Defense Panel Says

 

(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 07 MAR 17) … Jared Serbu

 

The Defense Science Board’s latest study on the state of cyber defense in the U.S. reaches some worrying conclusions, both for civil infrastructure and for military capability. The panel assesses that even after foreign intrusions into election systems, financial institutions and Defense contractors, the U.S. has only seen the “virtual tip of the cyberattack iceberg.”

 

On the civilian side, the new report warns that for at least the next five-to-10 years, other nations will have offensive cyber capabilities that “far exceed the United States’ ability to defend and adequately strengthen the resilience of its critical infrastructures.”

 

To make matters worse, the traditional weapons systems the military relies on to deter countries from actually launching those attacks are themselves vulnerable to cyberattack, undermining a deterrence policy one Defense official articulated six years ago: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we’ll put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

 

Consequently, the advisory panel says the Pentagon needs to devote “urgent and sustained attention” to making its strike systems immune from cyberattack and make it clear to adversaries that it’s done that. Otherwise, its threats vis-a-vis missiles and smokestacks will rightly be seen as – well, blowing smoke.

 

“To be able to credibly impose unacceptable costs in response to cyberattack by major powers, Russia and China, the U.S. needs its key strike systems – cyber, nuclear and nonnuclear strike – to be able to function even after the most advanced cyberattack,” James Miller, a former undersecretary of Defense for policy and a co-chair of the task force that authored the report, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And this is not a simple task.”

The board gave several examples of complex systems that need urgent attention in order to harden them against cyberattack. Strike platforms like guided missile submarines and heavy weapons bombers are on the list, and the authors advise that that new nuclear weapons systems not be “networked by default.”

 

But so is IT infrastructure for command and control and logistics, because a cyberattack on military systems “might result in U.S. guns, missiles, and bombs failing to fire or detonate or being directed against our own troops; or food, water, ammo, and fuel not arriving when or where needed; or the loss of position/navigation ability or other critical warfighter enablers.”

 

That’s just part two of the report.

 

Part one strongly hints that the federal government doesn’t have a unified national policy on how to deter cyberattacks and says it must develop one, and then implement ongoing, tailored campaigns to deal with the most potentially troublesome attackers, including not just China and Russia, but also countries with mid-level capabilities, like North Korea and Iran.

 

The panel said the U.S needs a pre-exercised, tailored playbook of options that, above all, makes clear that the government will respond to any and all cyberattacks, rather than a piecemeal approach which inevitably lets at least some of them slide.

 

“The question should be not whether we respond, the question should be how,” Miller said. “You have to look at what [another nation’s] leadership values across a range of potential targets that we could hold at risk. The value of campaign planning is you have a sense of what level of response and what specific types of targets might be most appropriate for a given scenario.”

 

The DSB report was, in many ways, concordant with the views of Sen. John. McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who frequently criticized the Obama administration for failing to come up with a coherent cyber policy that, in his view, would help deter future attacks. But McCain also acknowledged that Congress contributed to the problem by dividing its cyber oversight responsibilities among numerous committees.

 

Keith Alexander, who served as the commander of U.S. Cyber Command from its inception in 2010 until his retirement in 2014, agreed that both the executive and legislative branches had a hand in creating dysfunction. Alexander, who frequently championed a “team sport” and “whole of government” approach to cyber while he headed CYBERCOM, said last week that the government’s current approach to cyber suffers from fundamental structural problems.

 

“It’s not working. There are four stovepipes,” he said, referring to the Defense Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community. “If we were running this like a business, we’d put them together. You also have all these committees in Congress looking at all this, and it’s messed up.”

 

Alexander said he and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had, at one time, discussed a proposal to rearrange the government’s cyber defense responsibilities so as to bring a more unified approach to tasks that are now performed by federal law enforcement agencies and DHS; they believed that DoD and the intelligence community were already fairly well-integrated.

 

“I think that’s where we ultimately need to go, but before we do that, I would highly recommend that we get those four groups together and practice: do a couple of exercises with Congress and with the government and potentially with industry and show how this should work. What you have now is agencies acting independently, and with those seams, we will never defend this country. When industry looks at our government, they are quite frankly dismayed. We’re all over the map, and no one can answer who’s responsible.”

 

But if the current state of cyber defense is partly a matter of deterrence and retaliation, it’s important to keep other domestic agencies in mind. The Treasury and Justice departments, for example, have played key roles in prior responses to cyber attacks, including through crippling financial sanctions targeting key leaders of state-sponsored hacks and criminal prosecutions of those officials.

 

“I don’t see duplication of effort, I see gaps in effort. We don’t have an orchestra conductor to ensure that we don’t have those gaps,” said Dr. Craig Fields, the chairman of the Defense Science Board. “On the board, we’ve talked about the National Security Council playing that role, but we’re not completely comfortable with that. It’s an unsolved problem, because we do need a campaign strategy to make this a continuous process, including exercises … We have a long list of execution issues like whether we have the right number of offensive cyber folks or whether the intelligence community is collecting the right stuff at the right time, but unless we have policy and the orchestra conductor and the strategy, we’ll never go where we need to go.”

 

Foreign cyber weapons ‘far exceed’ US ability to defend critical infrastructure, Defense panel says

 

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Defense News

 

Commentary: The looming crisis for US tritium production

 

By: John R. Harvey and Franklin C. Miller

 

Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, is an essential component in all U.S. nuclear weapons and bombs. It is radioactive with a decay half-life of 12 years and, thus, must be replenished in U.S. warheads every few years. Absent timely replenishment, our warheads become duds.

 

The United States, however, will be unable to produce enough tritium in coming years to support the nuclear stockpile. How did this dire prospect come about?

 

Today, the U.S. produces tritium by irradiating special rods in a single light water reactor run by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). This reactor burns low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel and also produces electricity to power homes in the Southeast. To meet demand, a second TVA reactor will begin producing tritium early next decade.

 

U.S. nonproliferation policy generally seeks to separate atomic energy defense activities, including past production of “special nuclear materials” — plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons — from peaceful activities enabling domestic nuclear power.

 

The U.S., however, determined in 1998 that production of tritium in government-owned TVA reactors would be cost effective and consistent with nonproliferation interests so long as the reactors burned U.S.-origin LEU fuel.

 

Unfortunately, the U.S. does not now have a domestic source to produce that fuel. In 2013, its one remaining uranium enrichment plant, the aging and costly-to-operate gaseous diffusion plant in Paducah, Kentucky, was shutdown. Moreover, funding to support a U.S. company seeking to build a centrifuge enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, was terminated.

 

Existing U.S.-origin LEU will run out by mid next decade given the two-reactor production strategy. Reasonably low-cost options are available to extend stocks until 2030 or so. Beyond that, it would force down-blend of HEU now reserved for the nuclear stockpile and naval ship propulsion. This is imprudent from a national security perspective, and wasteful given the initial large cost to highly enrich this material.

 

By the early 2030s, the viability of the entire U.S. nuclear deterrent is at risk from an inability to produce tritium for nuclear warheads. The Trump administration will need to take action soon to manage this long-term problem.

 

Cheap oil and gas today make new enrichment plants uneconomical. There is thus a national security imperative for the U.S. government to either renew subsidies to U.S. firms willing to take on this mission, or do this itself.

 

The Department of Energy estimates many billions of dollars and a decade or more to design and build a U.S.-origin centrifuge plant. Given DOE’s sorry experience in failing to field critical nuclear infrastructure on time and cost — for example, facilities to produce plutonium and HEU parts for nuclear warheads, and for mixed oxide (MOX) fuel — we anticipate these estimates are overly optimistic. Therefore, it is not too soon to start now.

 

Failure to restore domestic enrichment by the early 2030s leaves only one alternative: use of foreign-origin LEU. But there are many drawbacks. Some exporting countries will not sell LEU for tritium production because agreements in place limit use solely for peaceful purposes. Earlier, an international consortium (URENCO) agreed to provide LEU for TVA reactors, whether tritium producing or not, but previous administrations rejected this on the grounds that it further weakened separation of national defense-related and commercial nuclear activities. And, to be clear, because nuclear weapons play such a critical role in U.S. security, and the security extended to allies, our nation cannot rely on global markets, or other countries’ decisions, to provide means to ensure that security.

 

Restoring domestic enrichment capacity offers security benefits beyond a viable nuclear deterrent. HEU reserves to fuel nuclear-powered ships will run out in about 40 years; capability for high enrichment assures the long-term viability of the nuclear Navy. While it may not, in itself, restore U.S. global leadership in shaping the future of nuclear power, building and operating a modern enrichment plant would help reverse declining U.S. technical capabilities in the commercial nuclear arena.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/commentary-the-looming-crisis-for-us-tritium-production

 

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The National Interest

 

A Pilot Explains All of the Amazing Reasons Why the F-35 Is a Stealth Super Weapon

 

Kris Osborn

 

Apart from its individual technologies, weapons, sensors and systems, the F-35 is perhaps best appreciated for its multi-role capabilities, meaning it can perform a wide range of different missions from close-air support and air-to-ground attack to air-to-air engagements and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR.

 

The aircraft’s sensor technologies allow the platform to perform a much greater ISR function than previous aircraft can, giving it a “drone-like” ability to gather and disseminate surveillance information. As part of this, the F-35 can also use a specially engineered data-link to communicate in real-time with other F-35s and other aircraft and fighter jets.

 

“With the data-link’s network interoperability, we can talk to each other and talk to fourth-generation aircraft as well,” Canterbury explained.

 

The F-35A can function as a reconnaissance aircraft, air-to-air fighter, air-to-ground fighter or stealth aircraft engineered to evade enemy air defenses, Canterbury explained.

 

The Air Force’s new F-35A multi-role, stealth Joint Strike Fighter brings an unprecedented ability to destroy targets in the air, attack moving enemies on the ground and beam battlefield images across the force in real time, an Air Force pilot told Scout Warrior in a special interview.

 

The stealth fighter makes it much easier for pilots to locate, track and destroy enemy targets across a wide range of combat circumstances — including attacks from farther ranges than existing fighters can operate, the F-35A pilot said.

 

Speaking to Scout Warrior as part of a special “Inside the Cockpit” feature on the F-35A, Air Force Col. Todd Canterbury, a former F-35 pilot and instructor, said the new fighter brings a wide range of new technologies including advanced sensors, radar, weapons for attack and next-generation computers.

 

Although he serves now as Chief, Operations Division of the F-35 Integration Office at the Pentagon, Canterbury previously trained F-35 pilots at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Canterbury is uniquely positioned to know the F-35’s margins of difference because he has spent thousands of hours flying legacy aircraft such as the service’s F-15 and F-16 fighters.

 

“The F-35 is a dream to fly. It is the easiest airplane to fly. I can now focus on employment and winning the battle at hand as opposed to looking at disparate information and trying to handle the airplane,” Canterbury told Scout Warrior.

 

Canterbury was referring to an often-discussed technological advance with the F-35 called “sensor fusion,” a system which places radar, targeting, navigation and altitude information on a single integrated screen for pilots to view.   As a result, pilots can rely upon computer algorithms to see a “fused” picture of their battlespace and no longer need to look at different screens for targeting coordinates, air speed, mapping and terrain information, sensor feeds or incoming data from a radar warning receiver.

 

The F-35s Electro-Optical Targeting System, or EOTS, combines forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track sensor technology for pilots – allowing them to find and track targets before attacking with laser and GPS-guided precision weapons.

 

“I can turn my head and look left or right. There is an aiming cross on my helmet, an aiming symbology that tells me how to get there. The system will swivel over to the point on the ground I have designated,” Canterbury described.

 

The EOTs system is engineered to work in tandem with a technology called the Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, a collection of six cameras strategically mounted around the aircraft to give the pilot a 360-degree view.

 

“I can look through the airplane and see the ground below me. I can look directly below me without having to obscure my vision,” Canterbury said.

 

The DAS includes precision tracking, fire control capabilities and the ability to warn the pilot of an approaching threat or missile.

 

The next increment, Blocks 3i will increase the combat capability even further and Block 3F will bring a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

 

The Air Force plans to reach operational status with software Block 3i this year. Full operational capability will come with Block 3F, service officials said.

 

Block 3F will increase the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF as well, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, Air Force officials said.

 

Canterbury also talked about how Air Force engineers and experts were making progress building a computer library in the aircraft called the Mission Data Files.

 

“Experts are working feverishly to catalogue all of the threats we might face,” he said.

 

Described as the brains of the airplane, the mission data files are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats in known areas of the world where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations, he explained.

 

Consisting of hardware and software, the mission data files are essentially a data base of known threats and friendly aircraft in specific parts the world. The files are being worked on at reprogramming laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Air Force officials have said.

 

The mission data packages are loaded with a wide range of information to include commercial airliner information and specifics on Russian and Chinese fighter jets. For example, the mission data system would enable a pilot to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

 

The mission data files are being engineered to accommodate new threat and intelligence information as it emerges. For instance, the system might one day have all the details on a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter or Russian T-50 PAK FA stealth aircraft.

 

The first operational F-35A fighters have already been delivered to Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and Air Force leaders say the service has launched some small mini-deployments within the US to prepare the platform for deployment.

 

The F-35 is also engineered with an Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar which is able to track a host of electromagnetic signals, including returns from Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR. This paints a picture of the contours of the ground or surrounding terrain and, along with Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI, locates something on-the-move on the ground and airborne objects or threats.

 

The F-35’s software packages are being developed in increments; the Marine Corps declared their Short-Take-off-and-Vertical-Landing F-35B with software increment or “drop” 2B.

 

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B enables the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile), JDADM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU 12 (laser-guided aerial bomb), JSF program officials have said.

 

Apart from its individual technologies, weapons, sensors and systems, the F-35 is perhaps best appreciated for its multi-role capabilities, meaning it can perform a wide range of different missions from close-air support and air-to-ground attack to air-to-air engagements and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR.

 

The aircraft’s sensor technologies allow the platform to perform a much greater ISR function than previous aircraft can, giving it a “drone-like” ability to gather and disseminate surveillance information. As part of this, the F-35 can also use a specially engineered data-link to communicate in real-time with other F-35s and other aircraft and fighter jets.

 

“With the data-link’s network interoperability, we can talk to each other and talk to fourth-generation aircraft as well,” Canterbury explained.

 

The F-35A can function as a reconnaissance aircraft, air-to-air fighter, air-to-ground fighter or stealth aircraft engineered to evade enemy air defenses, Canterbury explained.

 

“While stealth is important in the early phases of warfare to knock out integrated air defenses and allow fourth-generation fighters to fly in, we don’t need stealth all the time,” Canterbury said. “I can use my stealth and electronic attack to see an adversary well before he sees me.”

 

For instance, the F-35A is well-suited to loiter over an area and provide fire support to units on the ground in a close-in fight. In order to execute these kinds of missions, the F-35 will have a 25mm Gatling Gun mounted on top of the aircraft operational by 2017.

 

The F-35 has 11 weapons stations, which includes seven external weapons stations for bombs or fuel.

 

“If we don’t need stealth, I can load this up with weapons and be a bomb truck,” Canterbury explained.

 

Eventually, the Air Force plans to acquire more than 1,700 F-35As.

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/pilot-explains-all-the-amazing-reasons-why-the-f-35-stealth-19683

 

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Three Chinese Air Force Officers Scout AFA Show — In Civvies

 

By Colin Clark

 

ORLANDO: Three PLA Air Force (PLAAF) were identified by a senior defense official roaming this year’s Air Force Association conference here.

 

The exhibit floor here boasts scale models of a wide array of America’s highest tech weaponry. Just outside the main hall, for example, is a large scale model of Boeing and SAAB’s offering for the Air Force’s T-X trainer competition.

 

The senior defense official, who clearly wanted reporters to note the Chinese presence, was sanguine about their attendance but a bit miffed they were walking around in civilian clothes. After all, it makes such folks harder to spot. Many of their colleagues from other countries wore uniforms. (They may all have, but we can’t confirm that).

 

The PLAAF officers were spotted by the senior defense official who knew at least one of them from a previous encounter. One of the PLAAF officers may have been a J-20 pilot. Folks manning the booths at the show said they had seen the PLAAF officers taking photos all around the floor. Those who’ve read Nick Eftiamedes’ groundbreaking book, Chinese Intelligence Operations, and the occasional reports by American counterintelligence on foreign espionage know how prevalent this behavior is. The FBI mounts serious counterintelligence efforts at some events to discourage, or at least monitor and complicate, the lives of foreign intelligence and military officers.

 

Foreign militaries are welcome at the conference, but the great majority come from allied and partner nations — America’s friends, in other words. Foreign military get a special rate to attend the conference. Military and intelligence industry events are notorious centers of espionage by both friendlies and what we can smilingly call our competitors: Russia and China et al.

 

I heard about these gentlemen too late in the day to get a chance to find and interview them. Here’s hoping they got better photos than they could download from defense company websites (or this reporter could shoot) and didn’t overhear any unguarded hallway conversations.

 

Three Chinese Air Force Officers Scout AFA Show — In Civvies

 

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Defense Services Contractors Brace For Pentagon Spending Shakeup

 

(POLITICO 01 MAR 17) … Ellen Mitchell

 

President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated pitch to expand the Army and Navy and invest more in the nuclear arsenal and missile defenses is also expected to spell a big boost for defense services like equipment maintenance and training.

 

But at the same time it could lead to cuts in other areas of the vast services market that accounts for more than half of what the Pentagon buys each year and its own advisers say is ripe with waste and fraud.

 

I would not say that a rising tide lifts all boats,” said Doug Berenson, managing director of Avacent, a defense consultancy. “There will be some categories of services that will do better, and I think that there are some categories of services that clearly will not.”

 

For example, he said, “some professional and administrative services related to headquarters will not. In certain categories of professional and administrative services you probably will see a near-term decline.”

 

Defense services are the connective tissue of the military, covering everything from basic needs like base air conditioning, food service, construction and snow removal to more complex tasks such as providing IT and cybersecurity services, compiling studies for Pentagon offices and even running many military headquarters.

On the campaign trail Trump pledged to help pay for a military buildup by initiating a Pentagon audit and “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”

 

“Everybody remembers Trump talking about increasing the military during the campaign; nobody seems to remember that he said he was going to cover a lot of those costs by cutting Pentagon waste,” Loren Thompson, another defense industry consultant.

 

Trump first trumpeted those defense spending cuts on NBC’s Meet the Press in October 2015.

 

“I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less,” Trump said.

 

Shortly following his inauguration, Trump set out to do just that, initiating an executive memorandum on Jan. 27 that directs Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to conduct a 30-day review of military personnel, training, equipment and maintenance, the nuclear triad and missile defenses.

 

The memo notably calls for “reducing commitments not directly related to the highest priority operations, in order to make resources available for training and maintenance.”

 

The document did not offer specifics on which commitments will be reduced, but Trump’s campaign promises – including expanding the Army to 540,000 troops, building a 350-ship Navy, and increasing the number of Marine Corps battalions to 36 and the number of fighter aircraft to 1,200 – are likely to take precedent over services that don’t support such efforts.

 

Following the memorandum, Mattis issued guidance for reviewing the Pentagon’s budget proposals. In it, he acknowledges that directing new dollars to the Pentagon this year could lead to cuts in “lower priority programs.”

 

CACI International chief executive Kenneth Asbury told POLITICO he expects such Pentagon changes to possibly put the IT services firm at a disadvantage.

 

“Changing a program that we’re working on today – somebody decides they want to go in a different direction and somebody’s got a better mouse track to that – that could have an impact,” Asbury said. “It’s a potential threat as somebody changes the priority about something.”

 

One lower priority area likely on the chopping block is what Thompson refers to as “term papers,” the numerous and constant stream of studies that recommend various improvements to the Pentagon, its personnel and its weapons systems.

 

Firms that generate the studies “could be in for a rough ride,” he said.

 

“The department spends a lot of money on studies and the fact of the matter is that there’s not going to be a whole lot of money for growing the military,” Thompson said. “I think at some point here Mattis and the new administration are going to ask themselves whether a lot of these studies – and the other sort of intellectual products that get generated out of the service sector – will be needed.”

 

There are other reasons to be concerned.

 

Service contractors have reason to fear Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney who is eager to slash and shape federal spending levels, including the Pentagon’s budget. Company lobbyists may find it difficult to defend their projects thanks to a turbulent change of administration at the Pentagon.

 

Trump still must appoint and have the Senate confirm about 50 DoD positions. So far only Mattis has made it through the confirmation pipeline.

 

“The transition is not far enough along for companies to know precisely who they should be lobbying,” Thompson said. “So far this seems very much like a Trump-centric administration and so companies like Lockheed and Boeing have gone directly to [Trump] to plead their case. But if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, then it’s not clear yet who you should be talking to underneath him because nobody is in place yet.”

 

Thompson added that the response to the administration’s goals has been mixed. “Among the companies that have indicated what they’re doing it’s a pretty diverse approach; everybody is not on the same sheet of music.”

As one defense services industry official phrased it, “we’re kind of in some uncharted territory here. D.C. is in a frenzy.”

 

One potential way to stay on the new administration’s good side: Advertising.

 

IT services giant CSRA launched a new marketing campaign following Trump’s inauguration. The date was “not entirely a coincidence,” said George Batsakis, the chief growth officer of the Falls Church, Va.-based company.

Batsakis said the campaign – which he insisted would be running regardless of who was elected – conveys “the position of CSRA versus the competition and the value of things we bring to the government,” with advertisements strewn across the Pentagon Metro station starting Jan. 30 and broadcast on local radio.

 

The company, which holds $1.5 billion in defense contracts – a third of its portfolio – also ran two local 30-second ads in the DC area during the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

 

The forecast for service contractors is not all doom and gloom, however.

 

In addition to a boost for training, logistics and maintenance support contracts needed to increase the size of the military, Leidos CEO Roger Krone told POLITICO the government-services company is also readying itself to pick up work as a result of the Trump’s Jan. 23 directive to freeze federal hiring.

 

The military is exempted from the order’s constraints, but the Pentagon’s civilian workforce is not.

 

“I would think that once [Trump] better understands his priorities that they will continue hiring in some of the agencies, but in the short term, if those agencies have an expanded scope of work they will have to rely on contractors,” Krone said. “I think we’re going to do OK.”

 

https://www.politicopro.com/defense/story/2017/03/defense-services-contractors-brace-for-pentagon-spending-shakeup-146438

 

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Trump Is Right To Spend More On Defense. Here’s How To Do So Wisely.

 

(WASHINGTON POST 02 MAR 17) … Michèle Flournoy

 

In his address Tuesday to Congress, President Trump promised to make sure that the U.S. military gets what it needs to carry out its mission by securing “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.” More funding would surely be a good thing, although the issues of how much and what for are complicated. No one should be under any illusions that a higher Defense Department topline guarantees a more capable armed forces.

 

Trump is reportedly seeking $54 billion over the sequester caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which would bring 2018 defense spending to $603 billion. While Trump may view this proposal as historic, it’s only 3 percent more than President Obama’s final budget request. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has called for a much larger increase – to nearly $640 billion.

 

And as the post-9/11 defense buildup taught us, throwing more money at the Pentagon is not a panacea. What matters is how the money is spent. So what should we look for in the president’s budget request?

 

First, how is spending allocated across readiness, force structure and modernization?

 

There is broad consensus in the Pentagon and Congress that the most urgent priority is addressing readiness shortfalls that affect the military’s ability to respond quickly to crises and other near-term demands. Every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has highlighted readiness problems – such as inadequate training time and maintenance and replacement of equipment – as a source of accumulating risk. While Congress’s willingness to provide war funding – “overseas contingency operations” funds – above baseline defense spending has helped, it has not solved the problem.

 

The larger challenge will be striking the right balance between building a bigger force and building a better one. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has rightly defined his priority as building a “larger, more capable, and more lethal joint force” to contend with a more challenging international security environment and increasingly capable adversaries. But there are tradeoffs between paying for additional personnel and force structure vs. investing in the technology and capabilities necessary to prevail in more contested air, land, maritime, cyber and space domains. Although some increases in force size may be warranted, such as a larger Navy fleet and modest increases elsewhere, the dramatic across-the-board hikes in force structure that Trump proposed during his campaign are both unaffordable and unwise.

 

The bulk of any additional defense investment must focus on maintaining and extending our technological and warfighting edge, including in cyber, electronic and anti-submarine arenas, unmanned systems, automation, long-range striking and protected communications. U.S. military leaders should moderate their appetite for a bigger force today to protect critical investments in cutting-edge capabilities that will determine whether we succeed on the battlefield tomorrow.

 

Second, are deterrence and alliance capabilities being strengthened?

 

Critical to the United States’ ability to deter aggression and prevent conflict in regions where we have vital interests is deploying U.S. military forces forward and helping allies and partners build their own defense capacity. Some of these costs, such as those associated with routinely deploying naval forces around the world, reside in the base defense budget. Others, such as the European Reassurance Initiative, will be covered by annual overseas contingency funding. Still others, such as helping Israel field more robust missile defense systems, are enabled by the State Department’s foreign military financing. These investments, although relatively small in dollars, are disproportionately important to reducing the risk of more costly U.S. military engagements.

 

Third, does the budget keep faith with the men and women who serve? Any budget that claims to strengthen the U.S. military must put people first. Doing so requires reform. For example, does the budget adopt sensible reforms to military health care to improve quality while reining in costs? Does it improve education and professional development? Does it enable more flexible career paths to retain the best and brightest? Does it include a round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) to shed the 30 percent of infrastructure the service chiefs say they no longer need, enabling savings to be reinvested in better training and equipment for those we send into harm’s way?

 

Fourth, how will we pay for the increase in defense spending? The Trump administration has promised dollar-for-dollar cuts in non-defense programs, reportedly targeting State Department and USAID funding for cuts of 30 percent or more. This would create an even more imbalanced national security toolkit limit on our ability to prevent crises through diplomacy and development and result in an overreliance on the military. As Mattis said while head of the U.S. Central Command, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Furthermore, this approach is unlikely to fly in Congress. Absent a larger budget deal that includes tax reform and reins in non-discretionary spending on Social Security and Medicare, the most likely result is a larger deficit.

 

Finally, if this defense spending increase isn’t part of a larger budget deal providing predictable spending levels for the next several years, it won’t have the desired impact. If the Pentagon is forced to operate under the threat of sequestration, it will not have the predictability necessary to make smart multiyear investments in the capabilities on which our security will hinge.

 

Trump is right to raise the need for more defense dollars, but Congress should scrub his request carefully to ensure that the money is spent wisely and not at the expense of non-defense programs that are critical to U.S. national security.

 

Michèle Flournoy, chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, was undersecretary of defense for policy from 2009 to 2012.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-right-to-spend-more-on-defense-heres-how-to-do-so-wisely/2017/03/01/ca776f74-fe8e-11e6-8f41-ea6ed597e4ca_story.html

 

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FY ’17 Defense Spending Bill Slams F-35 Program; Air Force, Navy Programs Get Boosts

 

(DEFENSE DAILY 02 MAR 17) … Pat Host

 

The fiscal year 2017 defense appropriations bill released Thursday slams the F-35 program, accusing it of, among other things, allegedly not contracting for the proper number of aircraft in each year as appropriated by Congress.

 

The bill, drafted by the House Appropriation Committee (HAC), said four F-35s included in the FY ’15 Defense Appropriations Act and 13 aircraft included in the FY ’16 Appropriations Act were not part of their respective low rate initial production (LRIP) contracts to the contracting strategy of F-35 Program Executive Officer (PEO) Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan. Specifically, the bill said, only four F-35Cs were included on LRIPs nine and 10, rather than the 10 F-35Cs enacted the fiscal years 2015 and 2016 National Defense Authorization acts, impeding production efficiencies.

 

The bill directs the F-35 PEO to use a contracting approach that would award all aircraft included in each appropriations act on the respective production contract for that fiscal year. The agreement includes funding for 74 F-35 aircraft. The F-35 PEO is also directed to brief the congressional defense committees no later than 45 days after the enactment of the bill on the contracting strategy of the aircraft.

 

The F-35 is being developed and produced by Lockheed Martin.

 

The bill also accuses the F-35 program of providing insufficient justification and incomplete information in an untimely manner. It said the potential alternative management structures for the F-35 program being reviewed by the defense secretary will provide an opportunity to improve communication between the F-35 PEO, the military services and the congressional defense committees to ensure the program’s funding requirements are fully understood, communicated and justified. The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) did not return a request for comment by press time Thursday.

 

The bill provides $578 billion, an increase of $5.2 billion over the FY ’16 enacted level and $1.6 billion more than the request by the former administration of President Barack Obama. This includes $516 billion in base funding, an increase of $2 billion above current levels, and $62 billion in overseas contingency operations (OCO), or wartime, spending.

 

Andrew Hunter, director of the defense-industrials initiatives group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington, said Thursday appropriations bills providing more than authorized amounts happen from time to time. He said usually the authorizers will retroactively authorize the money in the following year’s bill to retain the notional authority to authorize, but it doesn’t have a substantive effect.

 

Hunter said the only defense accounts where the lack of an authorization has a material effect is military construction and intelligence programs. Multi-year procurements, he said, also have to be authorized.

 

When combined with the $5.8 billion in supplemental funding enacted in the continuing resolution (CR) passed in December, the total defense funding for FY ’17 is $583.7 billion, an increase of $10.9 billion over FY ’16. The current CR expires April 28. The appropriations bill will be considered on the House floor next week, according to a HAC statement. CSIS defense budget guru Todd Harrison said on Twitter because the spending bill doesn’t include military construction and family housing, it is not the full DoD budget.

 

Among Air Force programs, the bill bans obligating or expending funds made available by the legislation for pre-milestone B activities after March 31, 2018, for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS). The bill provides $4.6 billion for the F-35 program, an additional $414 million more than the roughly $4.2 billion authorized by the FY ’17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It also provides $2.6 billion for the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, roughly $200 million less than authorized by the NDAA.

 

Among Air Force programs, the bill provides $4.6 billion for the F-35 program, $414 million more than the roughly $4.2 billion authorized by the FY ’17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It also provides $2.6 billion for the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, roughly $200 million less than authorized by the NDAA. Boeing is developing the tanker.

 

The bill provides $93 million for the UH-1N helicopter replacement effort, roughly $75 million more than authorized by lawmakers. The bill also provides more than twice the amount of money authorized for the Lockheed Martin-built C-130J program. The bill provides $306 million, which includes two additional aircraft for the Air National Guard. But only $146 million was authorized by the NDAA.

 

Among munitions, the appropriations bill funds to authorized levels the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM – $432 million), The Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM – $60 million) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB – $92 million). But the bill provides slightly less than authorized for Raytheon-built Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM). The bill provides $337.8 million, roughly $1.5 million less than authorized. The bill also provides $291 million for the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), nearly $7 million less than requested.

 

For space programs, the bill funds to authorized levels the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) program at $646 million and the Global Positioning System III (GPS III) space segment at $34 million. The bill provides $717 million for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) capability program, $26 million less than the authorized amount. The bill cites a change to acquisition strategy for the program. The bill funds to the authorized amount of $536 million for the EELV space vehicle program.

 

In Navy programs, the bill funds the CH-53K heavy lift helicopter program at $332 million, $17 million less than the nearly $349 million authorized. The bill provides roughly $1.4 billion for the V-22 program, $143 million more than authorized. The bill funds the P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft program with $1.8 billion, roughly $43 million less than requested.

 

The bill also funds $1.3 billion for the Navy’s F-35C carrier variant, providing two additional aircraft for the Navy and two more for the Marine Corps. The $1.3 billion is $421 million more than authorized in the FY ’17 NDAA. The bill funds roughly $2.3 billion for the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) portion of the F-35 program, $255 million more than authorized.

 

For Navy ships, the bill provides $3.6 billion for the DDG-51 program, reducing two ships from the amount requested for FY ’17. The $3.6 billion funded for DDG-51 is roughly $300 million more than authorized. The bill also provides the $3.2 billion authorized for the Virginia class submarine program. It funded $1.7 billion for the CVN refueling overhaul, roughly $44 million less than authorized.

 

The bill provides $150 million in advanced procurement funding for the Navy to buy long-lead time material for the lead ship of an affordable polar icebreaker. The bill directs the Navy and Coast Guard to refine requirements and an acquisition strategy for procurement. This collaboration, according to the bill’s explanatory statement, continues to refine program costs and requirements in an effort to award a detailed design and construction contract for the lead ship in FY ’19. No funding was provided for this in the Obama administration’s request.

 

FY ’17 Defense Spending Bill Slams F-35 Program; Air Force, Navy Programs Get Boosts

 

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Pentagon Advisers Want Cyber ‘Tiger Teams,’ More Authorities For Cyber Command

 

Pentagon advisers: We need more infrastructure cybersecurity. Congress: We want more election-hacking security.

 

(DEFENSE ONE 02 MAR 17) … Patrick Tucker

 

U.S. critical infrastructure and military responsiveness is at such high risk to Chinese and Russian hacking that Pentagon advisors are recommending a special task force, or “an offensive cyber capability tiger team,” to help the military acquire new weapons of cyberwar. But the real worry for senators on the Armed Services Committee, who hear from Defense Science Board members Thursday, was not how to respond to Russia shutting off the lights but how to respond to an attack like the DNC hack and John Podesta hack – attacks on sovereignty that are not necessarily an act of war.

 

While the group came to warn Congress about attacks to things like the U.S. electric grid and other “vital U.S. interests,” Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., quickly brought the discussion to the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was using spearphishing campaigns to destabilize elections, both in the U.S. and abroad. “If an enemy or an adversary is capable of changing the outcome of an election, that’s a blow at the fundamentals of that country’s ability to govern,” said McCain. “The election is a system of democracy … if you destroy it then you have basically dealt an incredible blow to the country, which is far more severe than shutting down an electrical grid.”

 

“Describe the range of options the U.S. has for deterrence?” against that sort of thing demanded Warren.

 

Jim Miller, a member of the Defense Science Board and a former under secretary of defense for policy, squirmed a bit at the question. “One thing we want to do is deny the benefits” of that sort of operation, he said. “Getting that information out earlier would have been very helpful.”

 

The board is a group of civilian experts who advise the Department of Defense on technical matters. On Thursday they presented a new report on cyber deterrence.

 

The military conversation about cyber capabilities and threats (at least the conversation that the public hears) is typically big on buzz words and small on substance. The most recent report breaks somewhat from that tradition. “Major powers’ (Russia and China) have significant and increasing ability to hold U.S. critical infrastructure at risk or otherwise use the information domain to harm vital U.S. interests, and their more limited but growing capability to thwart our military response through cyberattack.”

 

The proposed tiger team would “develop options and recommendations for improved and accelerated acquisition of scalable offensive cyber capabilities, including additional authorities to USCYBERCOM, and the establishment of a small elite rapid/special acquisition organization.”

 

The idea echoes what U.S. Cyber Command head Adm. Michael Rogers has said he wants to do with CYBERCOM in the years ahead. Rogers would structure Cyber Command teams much more like special operations forces and give commanders more license to use offensive cyber weapons, the same way you would use regular weapons largely determined by the guy with the gun or his immediate superior.

 

“At the moment, we tend to differentiate between the offense and defense,” Rogers, said last month at the AFCEA West conference, in San Diego. “Offensive cyber in some ways is treated almost like nuclear weapons in the sense that their application outside of the defined area of hostility is controlled at the chief executive level and not delegated down. What I hope to see in the next five to seven years is can we engender enough confidence in our decision makers and policy makers … you should feel comfortable pushing this down to the tactical level.”

 

Rogers means he wants fast reaction cyber-squads answering to combatant commanders and outfitted with better tools. On the defensive side, he stressed a need for “machine learning at scale,” using robust artificial intelligence methods applied to detecting and understanding what the enemy is doing and what new tools the enemy is working with. On the offensive side, Rogers said he wants to go to industry for more.

“In the application of [conventional] weapons, we go to the private sector and say, build us a JDAM [a Joint Direct Attack Munition]. On the offensive side [in cyber] to date, we do all of our development internally … is that a sustainable model?” he asked.

 

The newly released Task Force report sounds a similar note to Rogers. “Rapidly establishing and sustaining an array of scalable offensive cyber options, including strategic cyber options, will require a different approach to acquisition … Because target systems and software can change, sometimes unexpectedly and at a moment chosen by the adversary, a quick reaction capability with flexible acquisition authorities will be essential.

 

Needless to say, throwing lots of money at private outfits to develop break-in tools for adversarial networks, databases, devices, etc. will likely prove controversial since civilians and may use similar networks and devices. If you find the perfect hack against, say, a Cisco networking product, can Cisco sue you for damages? Can Cisco customers sue you if an outside party then uses the access tool you developed to steal their data? It’s one reason why following the rules of armed conflict becomes much harder when the battle terrain is, in part, other people’s phones and equipment and not physical space.

 

Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One.

 

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/03/pentagon-advisers-want-cyber-tiger-teams-more-authorities-cyber-command/135861/

 

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Embracing Creativity: A Leadership Challenge

 

(CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL MARITIME SECURITY 08 MAR 17) … David Andre

 

In January 2017, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, released the Navy Leader Development Framework, outlining how the United States Navy will develop future leaders capable of meeting the challenges of a rapidly changing and complex world. The framework recognizes three values that are integral to developing leadership  –  compliance, creativity, and character.

 

Of the three values, creativity represents the biggest challenge to naval leadership. It is challenging because it defies easy characterization and represents a divergence from the traditional values associated with developing Naval leadership. While there is an institutional framework and culture that develops, values, and supports compliance and character from seaman to admiral, the same cannot be said of creativity. Certainly creativity has always existed within the Navy, but until recently, it was not recognized as an integral value of leadership. Placing it on the same level as compliance and character requires change. And balancing the tension that exists between these values is one of the biggest challenges facing the Navy.

 

Creativity is More than just Being Different

 

In order to effectively harness creativity leaders must clearly understand what creativity is and how it differs from more traditional naval leadership values. Naval leaders are accustomed to dealing with issues of compliance and character. These values are well-defined within the Navy’s core values and evaluation process and feature prominently throughout a sailor’s career, regardless of rating or community. Naval culture views compliance and character dichotomously  –  one has either complied or not; one either has good character or not. In both instances, success and failure are easily identifiable. Leaders and followers feel comfortable using these metrics as ranking tools.

 

Creativity  –  using imagination or original ideas to create something  –  defies such simple characterization. Creativity is different; it is subjective and exists on a spectrum not seen with compliance and character. Creativity courts risk, is not easily manageable, and often results in failure. It follows that creativity will likely be costly in terms of resources and egos  –  there’s rarely an immediate payoff in any tangible terms. However costly, creativity and the innovation it sparks holds the key to developing future leaders that are adaptable. The creative mind holds multiple perspectives simultaneously. As such, creative decision-making produces more options, thereby increasing the likelihood of success. This idea is the bedrock for the SECNAV’s Naval Innovation Network, which seeks to bring together disparate ideas from across the ranks in the hopes of fostering creativity.

 

Establish a Direct Relationship with Creativity

 

While acknowledging the importance of creativity is important, leaders need to take concrete actions that encourage and make effective use of that creativity. The difficulty for today’s leaders is how to cultivate that creative environment for leaders and followers within an organization that traditionally measures success and failure objectively. Doing so requires adjustments to the way in which the organization reacts to failure and the way compliance and character are typically measured. These changes need to occur vertically as well as horizontally because, like character and compliance, when properly cultivated creativity is infectious.

 

Making creativity an effective part of the Navy’s leadership model presents some practical challenges. These challenges range from the bureaucratic to the operational and vary from community to community. While forward-leaning leaders speak of thinking outside the box, enlarging the box, or thinking like there is no box, the words can be difficult to translate into action. That is primarily because these well-intentioned challenges to become creative thinkers rarely address the practical limitations that box sailors in every day. From evaluation cycles and ranking boards to tour lengths and qualifications, the personnel organization of the Navy was not designed with creativity in mind. The bureaucracy, when coupled with operational tempos, stifles creativity; sailors simply don’t have the time or luxury to be creative. However, creativity must have time and room to flourish.

 

Creating this time and space within the disciplined constraints of the Navy is the primary issue facing today’s deckplate leaders. To meet this challenge, these leaders need to move beyond encouraging creativity and provide defined pathways through the bureaucracy and operational tempo. To create these pathways, it is essential that leaders first acknowledge the limitations and potential of creativity. Acknowledging limitations and potential allows leaders to adopt the CNOs line of effort toward High Velocity Learning, whereby leaders strive to accelerate learning through the adoption of the “best concepts, techniques, and technologies.” In doing so, leaders can set aspirational goals while ensuring that creativity yields results and is not wasted time.

 

Foremost, leaders need to identify where and when to tolerate creativity within their particular missions. A sailor performing a Planned Maintenance System (PMS) check is not an acceptable time for encouraging creativity. Yet, a junior officer conducting Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) activities or an Information Systems Technician identifying systems installations onboard a new platform could flourish in a creative environment. Making these differences clear to subordinates will set the stage for creativity to become an effective tool. Meanwhile, adapting processes outlined in the model of high velocity learning that embolden innovation and creativity will leave sailors feeling confident in exercising their creativity, while leaders will feel confident encouraging creativity.

 

Along with creating an environment conducive for creativity, leaders need to establish a balance between creativity and compliance. In many practical ways, creativity opposes the Navy’s concept of compliance. By its nature, creativity eschews following the standard rules as it searches for new and innovative ways to achieve something. Resolving the tension that exists between these values will involve sustained involvement from leadership. The CNO’s guidance makes specific mention of the tension created when the notions of competence and character meet the principles of creativity and compliance. Within this tension lies the potential for failure.

 

There’s an immediate danger in too much creativity and not enough compliance, but there’s a long-term danger in too much compliance and not enough creativity.

 

Moving Past the Fear of Failure

 

Perhaps the greatest impediment to embracing creativity is the potential for failure. Fear of failure does more to stifle creativity than any bureaucracy or operational tempo ever can. The fear manifests itself in two distinct ways: individual and institutional. There is the individual fear that people have of failure and the repercussions of failure. And then there is the institutional fear that comes from the reticence that peers and leaders have of acknowledging failure in others. While each begets the other, it is important not to conflate the two because they come from different places and, thus, need different solutions. Institutional failure is abstract, while individual failure is personal. Studies show that followers who fear failure focus on that fear rather than the task, while leaders who fear failures tend to ignore the failures. In both instances, people lose the ability to learn lessons.

 

Therefore, mandating reforms to foster an institutional environment that embraces failure is only one part of the equation. The individual must also be convinced of the need to accept and learn from failure, which involves a more nuanced approach. To change the attitude sailors have toward failing the Navy must introduce the concept of failureship. Like the name implies, failureship is the ability to fail; and like leadership, it is a learned concept. Considering the relationship that people have with failure, learning to fail constructively is an important lesson for new sailors. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson that the Navy spends little time teaching.

 

Navy culture encourages success at every stage, and rightly so, because lives often depend on that success. The Navy cites historical examples of battles won and lost, each replete with astounding examples of sailors overcoming staggering odds and arduous circumstances to rise to the occasion. The CNOs Professional Reading Program is replete with these stories of heroism. Often overlooked within these stories are examples of creativity – sailors taking chances when there’s nothing else to lose. While these tales illustrate that creativity can lead to success, there’s a deeper, less obvious lesson. That is, too often creativity is treated as a last-ditch effort, that failure is an acceptable outcome when there’s nothing else to lose. It is time to recognize that, in the proper context, creativity and failure will promote success. Creativity does not need to be reactive; it has a preventative dimension. It’s time to move failure to the forefront.

 

To promote this thinking, the discussion needs to move beyond mere acceptance of failure. It needs to move into a realm where leaders encourage failure and followers embrace the lessons of failure. Instead of getting over failure we need to rally around failure. As the aphorism goes: someone who’s never failed has never tried.

 

Discussions of failure need to move from the posters and books and into wardrooms, messes, and galleys. This involves a paradigm shift in how the Navy treats failure. Unlike success, where we champion and personalize the effects, we take a distanced approach to failure. Failure, when accepted, is something that happens to others.

 

Aside from these cultural biases, failure has psychological limitations – people have a tough time dealing with failure. For some, anonymity may encourage creativity, for others, the motivation to be creative may come from the promise of rewards. Despite these differences, the underlying premise remains the same – leaders must look for ways to foster creativity within themselves and their subordinates.

 

Conclusion

 

For good reason, the Navy has long promoted successful execution over thoughtful rumination. However, global forces are at work today that require a paradigm shift in the way the Navy develops future leaders. To remain on the cutting edge, keep the brightest talent, and sustain the element of surprise, the Navy needs to cultivate a culture that believes in the value of failure, adopts an organizational behavior that encourages creative minds, and balances the application of creativity with its practical limitations. After all, creativity embodies the Navy’s core values: it takes honor to try, courage to fail, and commitment to overcome failure.

 

While incorporating creativity into leadership development presents challenges, the good news is that the Navy already possesses many strengths and initiatives to leverage the creative spirit. From traditional concepts like intrusive leadership to new proposals like career sabbaticals and the Tours with Industry program, the Navy is well poised to begin developing creative leaders. The diversity of the Navy’s workforce is another key component that will bolster creativity through exchanging ideas and experiences. As the Navy strives to innovate and overcome, developing and sustaining creative thinkers will determine the future course.

 

Lt. David M. Andre is a former Intelligence Specialist, has served as an Intelligence Officer and Liaison Officer assigned to AFRICOM and is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School. He is currently serving as N2 for COMDESRON Seven in Singapore.

 

Embracing Creativity: A Leadership Challenge

 

 

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Enabling Leadership From The Bottom

 

(CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL MARITIME SECURITY 07 MAR 17) … Jacob Wiencek

 

As a junior enlisted Sailor in the U.S Navy, developing as a leader is one of the crucial, overarching aspects of my new naval career. As someone on the lower rungs of the ladder I often think about how I can currently develop my leadership capabilities and how I am capable of leading from where I am now.

 

While we should all strive to develop as a leader, to grow, rise up the ranks, and become a senior leader, what we do now can have a profound impact in how we act as we move further up the chain. What I often see neglected is not so much “How do I improve and move on to the next rung of leadership?” but rather “How can I be a leader now?”

 

After reading through the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) new Navy Leadership Development Framework I see many positive ideas to grow and modernize the Navy as a whole. As we adapt to the needs of the 21st century and the challenges we face, it is important to be engaged in these discussions moving forward. The decisions agreed on today will shape not only our Navy in how it operates, but also in our individual outlooks on leadership, and we how we fit in together within the framework of the Navy.

 

Always an Opportunity to Lead

 

I would argue that junior Sailors can provide more than what the framework envisions. While it is very important for us to be engaged in our own professional leadership development, as both junior Sailors and junior leaders, we can provide unique insight and perspective not available to some levels of leadership. From working on the lower rungs of the leadership ladder we can provide not only a unique view into how things are operating, but also provide our experiences to new Sailors, peers, and superiors that can help better shape informed decision making.

 

Anyone can be a leader at any time, no matter where they are in the chain of command. Even though I am a junior enlisted Sailor at the moment, there are still those who are below me that I can benefit from my example and experiences. I am not far removed from being a Seaman, and I can freshly recall the challenges I experienced as I began my naval journey. From working on qualifications at my first duty station, learning the ropes of my job, and adjusting to Navy life, these are just some of the many challenges I faced starting out. While I have overcome many of these challenges, some still remain, and my experiences are recent enough to where I can provide assistance to those who are also on their journey to develop their naval careers. Experience enables leadership.

 

To those Seamen who are just arriving at my command and to my peers as well, my experiences in meeting these challenges can provide a resource to overcome similar challenges. Having recently completed the processes of becoming qualified in my positions, and having stood them for some time now, I can provide that type of on-the-job training that would help ease the path of others who will come after me. Furthermore, this experience would also translate into helping new Sailors qualify for their positions more rapidly. There is little sense in making each sailor reinvent the wheel to learn their particular job. While I am respectful of the issue that each person should at some level be able to independently learn and operate their tasking on their own, as leaders, even a junior ones, we should seek new ways to pass on what we have learned from our particular experiences, to build on the past experiences of others with our own, and to pass that collective knowledge and development onto the next sailor who can continue to add to that.

 

I am particularly encouraged by how the Navy seeks to reform enlisted occupational training and development. “A” School and subsequent “C” schools are obviously important in not only establishing an initial and basic understanding in the many Navy rates we can join, but it also provides the continuing education piece to where skills are refreshed or augmented by new developments in our particular career tracks. Focusing on my own personal development as a leader, these new changes are highly encouraging and positive in helping chart the path to my career growth and success.

 

Leadership is not just a top-down process where my peers and I provide guidance and assistance to those under us. We can also be leaders to those superior to us and use our experiences and knowledge to help those new higher ups who come to our commands. For instance, my experiences at the command can be drawn from by those above me as they adjust to the new structure of the command. Having that kind of understanding can aid those leaders above me as they work to integrate successfully into the command. My on-the-job knowledge can provide workplace experience in how to navigate the department and division while my direct expertise on the mission itself can better help those above me make better decisions and present them with a greater underlying awareness of the mission itself.

 

Conclusion

 

This new Navy Leadership Development Framework is an important step in growing all levels of the Navy in different ways for senior and junior leaders. As a junior Sailor I am encouraged by the positive developments regarding continued rate education development and the steps outlined that can lead to personal improvement as well. Implementing these changes and developments will no doubt increase the overall operational effectiveness and professional development of the service and I am excited that I can add my voice and perspective to the ongoing conversation. Moving forward, I hope more attention can be paid to how junior leaders in the Navy are already leading and how our experiences can enrich our continuing leadership development as a whole.

 

Jacob Wiencek is a Petty Officer Third Class in the United States Navy and currently stationed with Navy Information Operations Command, Hawaii.

 

Enabling Leadership from the Bottom

 

 

 

 

 

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of February 27, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

  1. Harper assumes command at FRC East
  2. First 3D-printed aircraft component takes to skies at FRCSE
  3. Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
  4. FRCSW Shop Saves Navy Thousands in Tooling Costs

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

  1. The F-35: A Big Mistake or Wonder Weapon?
  2. The Legacy Of Better Buying Power: DoD’s Gambit To Reform Acquisition ‘From Within’
  3. Did China Just Make ALL Stealth Fighters (Think the F-22 and F-35) Obsolete?
  4. Navy Opens New ‘Digital Warfare’ Office, Aiming To Exploit Advances In Data
  5. Defense Services Contractors Brace For Pentagon Spending Shakeup
  6. Info Warfare’s Biggest Challenge: The Crowded Chaos Of Cyberspace
  7. Industry offers multiple authentication tech for SIPRNet
  8. Latest-generation Chinese combat drone makes maiden flight
  9. Navy Drafting 30-Year Research-And-Development Roadmap
  10. Fleet Commanders View ‘Innovation’ As A Challenge To Operate Smarter

 

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and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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Harper assumes command at FRC East

 

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – As the guidon passed from the hands of Col. Vincent E. Clark to those of Col. Clarence Harper III, so too did the command authority and accountability of Fleet Readiness Center East during a change of command ceremony here Feb. 24.

 

Nearly a thousand people gathered to witness the change in the “premiere aviation maintenance and overhaul” organization’s history as Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, commander, Fleet Readiness Centers – subsumed under Naval Air Systems Command – presided over the ceremony that also culminated Clark’s 29-year military career.

 

Clark was retired by the U.S. Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters. Walters reflected on Clark’s impeccable career by highlighting his achievements and sharing comments made by other senior officers.

“Your impact on the Marine Corps has been tremendous,” said Walters.

 

Clark, who took charge of the command Jan. 31, 2015, led the organization during a period when the NAVAIR was confronted with the challenge of remedying an insufficient inventory of ready-based aircraft that hindered fleet readiness.

 

While Clark was at the helm, in 2015 FRC East cleared 14,000 excess components to meet the newly defined daily component work in progress level standard of 8,000 components. FRC East increased the number of H-53 airframes available to the fleet by seven aircraft, reducing work in progress from 16 to nine aircraft while improving turnaround time and on-time delivery rates.

 

Zarkowski highlighted other achievements by the FRC East workforce under Clark’s command that included:

.               Reinstituting the Theory of Constraints, Critical Chain Project Management methodology that accounts for variability and resource sharing across projects;

.               Standing up capabilities for the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning depot modifications as it reached its initial operational capability phase;

.               Developing and implementing the first DoD-wide Industrial Connectivity – Engineering Configuration Management – Additive Manufacturing digital network, which is a new COMFRC enterprise standard used to assist other sites and other DoD Services, including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army.

 

Zarkowski said the achievement is being heralded as a “trailblazing benchmark for fleet readiness centers and other Department of Defense industrial activities.”

 

The rear admiral also noted that the Data Innovations Negating Obsolescence Team’s (six members of the Propeller Integrated Product Team based at FRC East’s In-Service Support Center) victory in the NAVAIR first Data Challenge in 2016 – beating out 32 other teams for the initiative that focused on improving readiness by using NAVAIR data source – is a “reflection of his leadership.”

 

“Their win is a reflection of the culture promoted by FRC East leadership – one of empowerment, collaboration and desire to continuously provide value to the fleet,” said Zarkowski.

 

Zarkowski welcomed Harper, who has served as the FRC East executive officer since June 2015, into his new role of commanding officer.

 

“You are taking over a command that is core to the readiness of Naval Aviation,” said Zarkowski, explaining that it is the only source of repair within the continental United States for several jet and rotary wing engines, as well as turbofan vectored thrust engines. “You have some challenges to overcome as we get the CH-53 Sea Stallions, F/A-18 Hornets and V-22 Ospreys back to readiness health. I know that your training and experiences as a Marine and as FRCE’s executive officer have more than prepared you for what lies ahead.”

 

Harper, a native of Eatonton, Georgia, is the 34th officer to command the organization since its establishment in 1943. Before his assignment to the position at Cherry Point, he was the director for Warfighter Integration at the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office in Arlington, Virginia. His previous command assignments include Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons 14, which provided aviation logistics support to forward deployed elements of Marine Air Group 14, and MALS-40 in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6492

 

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First 3D-printed aircraft component takes to skies at FRCSE

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -Military pilots have to stay cool under pressure, and the first 3D-printed component at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast will help them stay that way.

 

The forearm-length piece of air duct tubing, constructed with a composite material known as Ultum 1085, marked a major step forward for the Navy command that is charged with maintaining, repairing and overhauling aircraft.

 

“This is an awesome milestone for our facility,” said FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart. “It shows the innovative approaches our artisans and engineers incorporate to help support the U.S. military every day.”

 

The facility’s first 3D printer became operational in June 2014. Since then, artisans and engineers have put it to good use making parts for support equipment, for prototypes to save on costly material and for tooling – but never before for an actual piece of an aircraft.

 

That all changed in January when Matthew Hawn, an aerospace engineer at the facility’s trainer aircraft program, sought help from the manufacturing department after the original manufacturer of the T-44 Pegasus exhausted its supply of a piece of air duct used to circulate air throughout the plane’s cockpit. Randy Meeker, a tooling maker at the facility who runs the 3D printer, put forth another option.

 

“We went over to manufacturing and took a look at making a vacuum form of the tube, which is how the original part was made,” Hawn said. “Then Randy brought up the possibility of 3D printing the part.

“From there, the cost analysis between the two showed 3D printing was cheaper and offered a better material.”

Not only did Meeker replicate the piece using the 3D printer, he improved on the design.

 

“The original piece was made out of two pieces of clear plastic tubing that had a flange all the way down its length,” he said. “I redesigned it to work better than the plastic model.

 

“It didn’t need to be two pieces when I could print it as one piece.”

 

Meeker, who works as a pit crewman on a racing team, said some teams have begun printing parts for race cars. However, the process for an aircraft demands a bit more caution because the plane most likely won’t be on the ground if a part fails.

 

“There is a lot of responsibility on the engineer for these parts that are actually used in aircraft,” he said. “It’s a whole new world of technology, and it’s their responsibility to make sure it can be used safely.

 

“That’s why this particular project was a good first candidate because it’s not a flight-critical part, but it’s a step forward in incorporating 3-D printed parts into aircraft.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6494

 

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Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

We have a mishmash of full birds and darts in here,” said Tim Guilbert as he walked between the F/A-18

legacy and Super Hornet aircraft stored in a cavernous new tension fabric aircraft hangar at the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Test Line.

 

The “full birds” have wings, the “darts” don’t.

 

About 115 feet in width and almost as long as a football field, the hangar is well lit, ventilated and climate-controlled by two gas and electric units located outside of the building to regulate the humidity inside.

 

“Our optimum health and humidity for is 35 percent relative humidity plus or minus five. We want to be in the 30 to 40 percent range,” Guilbert said.

 

The production line manager and preservation supervisor and Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) aircraft preservation manager, Guilbert oversees the FRCSW preservation program.

 

And thanks to Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) the program recently received two hangars to help the command manage its F/A-18 preservation program.

 

Costing approximately $2.5 million each and able to accommodate up to 16 full Super Hornets, or 36-40 legacy “darts,” the hangars’ sole purpose is for storage. They are not outfitted for repairs or maintenance

activity. Construction took about eight months.

 

The fabric “skins” are made of flame-resistant polyester pulled over a framework of steel. The materials can last five to 10 years, dependent upon environmental factors.

 

“The new hangars will minimize the cost of our level 2 preservation maintenance cycles,” Guilbert said. “We had 60 plus aircraft, and at one time we had almost 90 Hornets in level 2.”

 

There are four levels within the preservation program.

 

Level 1, not applicable to FRCSW, is preservation at the squadron level.

 

Level 2 occurs upon an aircraft’s induction, and encompasses the preservation procedure which includes fuel system preservation, caps and plugs. Aircraft in a level two preservation are typically seen wrapped with a laminated metal foil to prevent moisture contamination at intake openings.

 

Aircraft may remain in a level two state for up to one year. “After one year you have to refresh them and do the whole thing over again. In the meantime, there are maintenance schedules that include daily inspections, seven-day, 28 and 56-day inspections all with different requirements. And there are heavy weather inspections where we inspect any wrapped areas and check for water intrusion,” Guilbert said.

 

“The goal of level 3 is if the shelter is there, the aircraft are put into a `dynamic level three,’ which means to take the whole aircraft and put it in a climate-controlled environment,” he said.

 

Level 4 signifies when the aircraft have reached an overhaul or Planned Maintenance Interval (PMI) cycle, a time when the requirements for a stringent level two or three can no longer be met.

 

If parts are unavailable during the analysis of overhaul or PMI, work must stop and the aircraft may revert back to a level 3 preservation state depending upon the parts arrival date.

 

“If it was level 2 (under this scenario) we would have to wrap them back up expending more labor hours and material costs, but now that we have the level 3 capability with the hangars, we can prep them for storage

with minimal labor and material costs and store them indefinitely or until they are pulled back in for repairs,” Guilbert noted.

 

“Overall, the new level 3 preservation process takes about 50 hours per aircraft per year. That is a much better deal than the 350 that we were currently executing for level 2,” he said.

FRCSW is currently slated to receive a third tension fabric aircraft hangar at its test line in late June 2017. It will exclusively store H-60 Seahawk helicopters.

 

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FRCSW Shop Saves Navy Thousands in Tooling Costs

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

Would you want to pay $200 to replace one drill bit or $500 for a new reamer? No? The Navy doesn’t want

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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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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The National Interest

 

The F-35: A Big Mistake or Wonder Weapon?

 

Brendan Nicholson

 

Perhaps apocryphal, the story goes that a senior US Air Force officer on the Joint Strike Fighter Program found himself sitting next to a Chinese general. ‘I like your aeroplane,’ the General said. That’s nice,’ said the American, How many would you like?’ The general smiled and raised a single finger. ‘Just one,’ he said.

 

While China has long been concerned enough about the JSF’s capabilities to have plundered its plans in cyber files in the hope of reverse engineering it, critics in Australia have created the broad impression that the aircraft, now officially named the F-35 Lightning ll, is a ‘dog’. That criticism was loud enough to trigger a parliamentary inquiry [3] into whether the RAAF should buy the JSF.

 

The Senate inquiry, concluded that ‘. the F-35A is the only aircraft able to meet Australia’s strategic needs for the foreseeable future, and that sufficient progress is being made in the test and evaluation program to address performance issues of concern.’ Its report also said that ‘in light of the serious problems that led to a re-baselining of the F-35 program in 2012, and the ongoing issues identified by the US Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, the committee retains a healthy skepticism towards assurances by Defense regarding cost, schedule and capability outcomes of the F-35A.’

 

That reflected the long held view of the director of ASPI’s defense and strategic program, Dr Andrew Davies, that while the early years of the JSF program were plagued by cost overruns and schedule slippages it had performed much better since action was taken to tighten it up. Costs were now coming down [4] and the production schedule was stabilising.

 

The committee gave little credence to more extravagant assertions the JSF was outdated and would be outperformed by potential rivals.

 

It’s often claimed that the RAAF would be better off with the US F-22 Raptor, a bigger, twin-engine cousin of the F-35 produced in the 1990s. In reality, the F-22 is an air superiority fighter very good at clearing the skies of enemy aircraft but not designed to do other tasks as well as the JSF can. It was expensive to buy and operate and the assembly line closed years ago.

 

The JSF is a multi-purpose aircraft, designed for many roles, from achieving air superiority to sinking enemy warships, attacking targets on the ground and providing close air support for troops. It is, in the words of Group Captain Glen Beck who heads the RAAF’s Air Combat Transition Office, an all rounder-‘a flying batsman/bowler’. The head of the RAAF’s JSF Capability and Sustainment Group, Air Vice Marshal Leigh Gordon, says the Raptor is ‘a wonderful, dated aeroplane which we couldn’t have even if we wanted it.’ The JSF is much more sophisticated with about 8.5 million lines of computer code compared to fewer than 2 million in the F-22.

 

Donald Trump caused consternation by suggesting that, to wind back Lockheed-Martin’s cost overruns, he’d ask Boeing if it could produce an alternative. But within days, the new Defence Secretary, James Mattis, told a US Senate hearing ‘the JSF is critical for our own air superiority’ [5] because of the jet’s electronics which magnifies its capability. Mr Trump just wanted to bring the price down to get ‘best bang for the buck’, General Mattis said. In truth, the decisions needed to reduce the price were made years ago [4].

 

Various prices have been claimed for the RAAF’s JSFs, ranging up to $300 million each. The head of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Project Office, US Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, said in Australia this week [6] that he was confident the price of each jet-we have 72 on order-would come down to $80 million each. That’s close to the price tag of a much-less sophisticated fourth-generation fighter.

 

In 2010, alarms rang in the US bureaucracy because the project was running well over budget and two years late. It was ‘rebaselined’ and largely brought under control.

 

The project is staggeringly complex and it is still having issues but the Americans and the RAAF are confident the fighter will work very well. One recent problem was that the designers had to abandon the guided weapon intended to hit moving ground targets [7] because it was a form of cluster munition which the US no longer uses. A replacement is being worked on.

 

As well, there’s a delay in producing a suitable anti-ship missile for Australia’s needs. One is being worked on by the Norwegians and Australian defense scientists are developing a sensor for it.

 

Gordon says the problems are being solved as they emerge and he’s confident the RAAF’s JSFs will meet the new schedule, with the first aircraft arriving in December 2018 and three squadrons and a training unit fully operational in 2023.

 

It was suggested recently that women (or slighter men) won’t be able to fly the JSF because the helmet was so heavy [8] it would break their necks if they ejected. The RAAF says that’s been resolved by making the helmet lighter, modifying the ejector seat head support panel and slightly slowing the opening of the parachute.

 

Several countries have increased their JSF orders in recent months after thoroughly examining its capabilities. Israel, which spends defence dollars very carefully, says it’s very pleased with its purchase and it could buy 75 aircraft.

 

The US Marines say their pilots love the JSF and want them as fast as they can be delivered.

 

One of Australia’s most experienced military aviators, Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson, is a RAAF instructor teaching pilots from a range of nations, including the US, to fly the JSF. Jackson is one of two Australians who are flying the F-35s from the US to the Avalon air show in Victoria over the coming days. He says it’s vastly better than any fighter he’s flown. ‘This aircraft will give fighter pilots a level of situational awareness that far exceeds legacy platforms,’ Jackson says. ‘Experiencing this level of capability first hand is something every pilot dreams of.’

 

This first appeared in ASPI’s The Strategist.

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-f-35-big-mistake-or-wonder-weapon-19629

 

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The Legacy Of Better Buying Power: DoD’s Gambit To Reform Acquisition ‘From Within’

 

(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 28 FEB 17) … Jared Serbu

 

Frank Kendall is not a fan of “acquisition reform.” By that, he mostly means the instinct that seems to be triggered on Capitol Hill every few years, when members of Congress come to believe they can remedy the Pentagon’s procurement problems with wisely crafted legislation.

 

Instead, during his nearly eight-year tenure – first as the deputy undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics and then the undersecretary – he argued the best thing would be to let the acquisition workforce work with one consistent set of policies for more than a couple years at a time so it was possible to tell what was working and what was not.

 

“Reform,” he argued, would have to come from within.

 

It turns out he may have been onto something.

 

The Pentagon’s internal improvement plan, known as Better Buying Power, coincided with several consecutive years of declines in the rate of cost growth for the Pentagon’s major weapons systems, from more than 9 percent in 2011 to 3.5 percent in 2015, the lowest level since 1985. For the first time since 2000, the Pentagon in 2015 recorded no substantive breaches of the Nunn-McCurdy Act, a law that requires DoD to notify Congress when a weapons systems’ costs balloon well beyond its previously-planned baseline. By comparison, there were eight separate breaches in 2009, including seven “critical” ones.

 

“Cost overruns have been coming down significantly for several years. It’s an important outcome, and we shouldn’t ignore it as we think about acquisition reform,” Kendall said a few weeks ago during his final public address as undersecretary. “Given the results we’ve achieved, we should be reinforcing the things that are succeeding, not trying to take a fundamentally different direction.”

 

Over seven years and three separate iterations, Better Buying Power encompassed dozens of separate initiatives organized around several main themes, such as controlling costs in major weapons systems (including an insistence on not starting programs without a clear plan to make them affordable), creating incentives for industry to cut costs and deliver more innovation, boosting the training of the acquisition workforce, increasing competition and boosting DoD’s “tradecraft” in buying professional services, not just products.

 

The blueprint did not fix all that is wrong with Defense acquisition. Indeed, DoD weapons procurement retained its inauspicious place amid the list of a handful of “high-risk” government programs the Government Accountability Office identified in the biennial update it released on Feb. 15.

 

And Kendall admitted Better Buying Power didn’t do nearly enough to tackle long-term sustainment costs, which are far-and-away the most expensive aspect of any major system’s lifecycle.

 

But even GAO acknowledges that Better Buying Power represents exactly the sort of management attention the Defense Department must apply if it ever plans to remove itself from the high-risk list.

 

“I think these initiatives have helped a lot in changing the way the department is buying these big systems. As far as leadership commitment to these issues, we consider that complete,” said Michael Sullivan, GAO’s director for acquisition and sourcing management, referring to one of five criteria the office uses to determine whether a government program should graduate from its high-risk status. “That could change, of course. It could go back down because this leadership is out, we’re going to get new leaders. We’re going to have to see how the continuity works and how the agendas change, but for now, things look very good. Things have been trending in a positive light in terms of cost and schedule.”

 

Beginning in 2013, DoD began publishing detailed data in an aptly-named annual volume, “Performance of the Defense Acquisition System.” The department acknowledged that its own figures purporting to show positive results from Better Buying Power are drawn from extremely “noisy” data since the acquisition system is influenced by numerous factors, including year-to-year budgets and the deployment demands placed on the military.

 

But Andrew Hunter, the director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said his think tank’s own analysis of DoD contract data largely support the conclusion that Better Buying Power succeeded in driving costs down.

 

“It’s pretty clear that there’s been an actual improvement that you can measure in several ways. That’s no small achievement,” said Hunter, a former House Armed Services Committee staff member who also served in the Defense Department for several years, including as Kendall’s chief of staff. “Ten years ago, when Congress told DoD to measure its performance, a lot of people considered it an impossible thing to do. But we now have measures that show us things are getting better, and I give a lot of credit for that to things like ‘should cost’ management and affordability caps.”

 

By “should cost,” Hunter was referring to a Better Buying Power initiative that required all of DoD’s program managers to deliver the best possible value by hunting down and eliminating cost-drivers specific to their own programs, rather than managing them according to independent Pentagon cost estimates that generally assume prior cost growth will lead to future cost growth.

 

The idea goes back to the first iteration of Better Buying Power in 2011, and Kendall said it had been embraced by the vast majority of DoD’s roughly 50 program executive officers.

 

“I still got a few that said, ‘I’m fine, I’m under my budget.’ But that’s not the definition of success,” he said. “The definition of success is you’ve set targets for yourself that will actually reduce costs and you’ve done something to achieve that. I think if there’s any one thing we’ve done in terms of cultural change, in terms of a consistent set of policies that affects outcomes, that’s it.”

 

Areas Where Better Buying Power Fell Short

 

But in myriad other areas of the Defense acquisition system, the effects of Better Buying Power fell short of their goals – or, at least can’t be measured as easily as the development cost of major weapons systems.

 

David Berteau, who has been a student of acquisition reform since his tenure as the executive secretary of the Packard Commission, the Reagan-era blue ribbon panel on Defense management that laid the ground for Goldwater-Nichols Act, said principles like should-cost worked well for the systems the Pentagon already knows how to manage: tanks, bombers, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

 

“But the larger questions of how you translate that into something for the services industry, for logistics, for sustainment – that’s much tougher, and we’re further away from seeing real results in terms of knowing how you’re getting real value for money,” said Berteau, who is now the president of the Professional Services Council. “Better Buying Power never really got at the services end, the logistics end, the sustainment end. The next undersecretary is probably going to have to pick that one up.”

 

Indeed, services now make up the lion’s share of what the Pentagon buys. In 2016, it spent $119 billion to procure products and $156 billion on services ranging from lawn care to complex information technology integration projects.

 

It’s not as though Better Buying Power completely ignored services. Through the initiative, DoD ordered each of the military services to assign a senior leader to oversee all of their contracted services. Eventually, in 2016, it established “contract courts” to weed out unjustifiable contracts as part of its first-ever formal instruction on managing service acquisition. The same guidebook included provisions that categorize service procurements and set oversight roles and checkpoints according to their size – much in the same way large weapons programs are managed.

 

But Hunter acknowledged services did not receive as much attention as they could have during the time he served in the Pentagon and was helping to draw up the Better Buying Power guidance.

 

“Part of the reason for that is that the department always tends to focus more on the signals it’s getting from the media and from Congress, and the focus is almost always on the weapon systems side,” he said. “It was the same when I was on the Hill: we always told ourselves, ‘Next year’s going to be the year when we tackle services.’ We were classic procrastinators. But I do think the new DoD guidance was a substantial effort, even if it was a little late. It’s not done by any measure of the imagination and it’s going to take a lot more work, but it was a serious effort.”

 

Some Areas Difficult To Measure

 

Hunter said there are many other aspects of Better Buying Power that may have had a positive impact but can’t yet be seen in data that can be presented on simple charts, mainly because of the long lifecycles involved in Defense procurement.

 

“Perhaps the latest F-35 contract is an example of that,” Hunter said, referring to President Donald Trump’s claiming of credit for having reduced the strike fighter’s per-unit price through a few conversations with Lockheed Martin executives and the F-35 program manager, seemingly ignoring multiple other factors like previously-planned larger quantities and years of difficult work by Lockheed and the acquisition workforce to reduce the program’s cost.

 

“I think it’s great that an incoming administration can claim credit for work that was done by their predecessors, but our research shows that when any new policy is implemented, it takes a minimum of two years to see any measurable effect,” Hunter said. “So when objectives were set to, for example, change small business goals, to reduce the number of competitions where the department only receives one bid, some of those had an impact.

 

But it took years for the impact to really show up in the data. That’s a tough situation, because in Washington, people are looking for immediate results. That demand is hard to satisfy in the world of acquisition.”

Better Buying Power also sought to make changes in DoD’s acquisition workforce, and the results from those initiatives are not only lagging indicators, it’s probably impossible to plot their results on a chart or in a report to Congress.

 

DoD framed the initiative’s second iteration, in 2012, around the acquisition workforce as “a guide to help you think.” Kendall’s wanted to send the message that no two programs are alike and that the department’s acquisition professionals should use their skills and training to tailor their strategies within the Better Buying Power program’s principles, as long as they have the technical skills to understand the program they’re trying to build. Kendall emphasized at the time that he wanted to avoid the mistakes of previous acquisition leaders who indicated a blanket preference for, for example, fixed-price contracts.

 

“I don’t start with the DoD instruction on acquisition and a specific set of milestones that I then have to fit my program into, I start the other way around,” Kendall said. “I start with the product. What’s the most efficient way to develop this product? Everyone is unique in terms of the complexity, the urgency, the amount of risk the government is willing to take.”

 

Kendall re-wrote DoD instruction 5000.02, DoD’s main guidebook for acquisition in 2015. It offered several possible templates for structuring a potential program depending on what sort of product the department was buying, but emphasized that managers would need to tailor it to their needs.

 

Stacy Cummings, the program executive officer for Defense health management systems, said that philosophy turned out to be pivotal to the main project in her portfolio, MHS Genesis, the $4.3 billion commercial-off-the-shelf replacement for DoD’s aging electronic health record systems.

 

DoD awarded the contract for the system in July 2015, and it went live at its first site, Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington earlier this month, a rapid turnaround that probably could not have been achieved without top-cover and encouragement from senior Defense management to combine the acquisition authorities the department already has in more creative ways.

 

“Our program is very tailored,” she said. “There are certain DoD acquisition processes we were able to leverage to tailor this program in a way that let us do a lot of things concurrently, as opposed to a traditional acquisition program where you’d have to do a lot of things in serial. It allowed us to implement this quicker, to get it out to the users quicker, and we’re going to learn so much more by putting it out in a military treatment facility than if we didn’t have that firsthand experience. That’s the best thing that’s come out of our implementation of Better Buying Power.”

 

Cummings is a career DoD acquisition professional who took a brief hiatus from DoD to work at the Department of Transportation in 2011 – about the time Better Buying Power started – and returned to lead the electronic health record project in 2016, after the initiative was well into the third iteration, which focused on technological superiority.

 

She said one takeaway from that before-and-after experience was that DoD has recognized that acquisition is a team sport that doesn’t only include government positions that are traditionally coded or thought of as members of the acquisition workforce.

 

“There’s always been a focus on making sure our workforce is certified and trained, but I think there’s a recognition that there’s a broader group of people in a program office that need to work together as part of an integrated team if you’re going to successfully deploy a program,” she said. “And the openness to encourage tailoring based on the needs of the program, good decision making, getting our requirements right, the focus on affordability – I think all of that messaging was coming through much more loud and clear from AT&L than I recall from my past.”

 

From its inception, DoD intended Better Buying Power’s audience to primarily be the department’s own acquisition workforce. But Defense officials also emphasized from the beginning that they wanted input from industry, particularly in the areas that most impacted defense contractors, such as the initiative’s focus on reducing the particular bits of bureaucracy that add to cost and schedule without producing any meaningful value.

 

Defense vendors at first welcomed what seemed like might have been a unique opportunity to help influence acquisition policy. But they quickly realized that the department’s request for input was far from a guarantee that their concerns about the acquisition process would be addressed as part of Better Buying Power.

A prime example is an alleged overuse of contract competitions that DoD awards on a lowest-price technically acceptable (LPTA) basis.

 

Within the Defense industry, the common view is that the first version of Better Buying Power’s emphasis on lowering costs led the acquisition workforce to interpret the guidance as a preference for LPTA contracts whenever possible. Although DoD has largely denied that the problem exists, defense vendors and trade associations say it persists to this day.

 

“Their subsequent attempts to modify or make clear what they really meant still haven’t turned that ship around, and many, many contracting officers within DoD still use LPTA as their default method for selecting solutions,” said David Drabkin, a former deputy chief acquisition officer at the General Services Administration, who now runs a private consulting firm. “That’s not to say that the government shouldn’t try to negotiate the best price it can get, but the government should want to get value. [LPTA] denies the department the opportunity to take advantage of the values that a slightly more expensive but more technically advanced solution might deliver. In today’s environment, there’s no telling what something that you buy today might be adapted to in the future, and in today’s marketplace, no commercial company wants to get into a bidding war just to do business with the government despite the fact that they might have an excellent product.”

 

Hunter said DoD was well aware of industry concerns like LPTA and other complaints such as the thresholds at which companies would have to submit certified cost and pricing data throughout the Better Buying Power policy development process.

 

At various intervals, Kendall tried to address them, including through a March 2015 policy memo in which he admonished contracting officers that LPTA contracts are a poor choice when the government is asking industry to deliver innovative products or services.

 

“Industry was not always satisfied about how much of their input was taken into consideration. I think that changed in the later iterations of Better Buying Power, but it’s a fair critique,” he said. “But it bears mentioning that LPTA was not ever a Better Buying Power initiative. It’s not something the department’s leadership was pushing. You won’t find it in any of the guidance, it was never there. The tricky part is that nobody quite agrees on what an LPTA-type solicitation is. The department didn’t want to fall into the trap of telling people, ‘Never use LPTA,’ and then ending up with a bunch of competitions where best value was winning where there really wasn’t a significant difference between the competitors. That can give you a lot of trouble in the bid protest world.”

 

Also, despite Kendall’s repeated and consistent insistence that competition was the single best tool at the Defense Department’s disposal to drive costs down and achieve better results, the results from Better Buying Power are, at best, mixed on that front. He deserves credit for collecting and publishing data on how Defense components have been doing in fostering more competition in their contracts, but the latest results showed that by some metrics, DoD is getting worse, not better: in 2016, less than half of the department’s contract spending went into meaningful competitions where there were two or more bidders.

 

Whatever deficiencies from which Better Buying Power suffered, many of its attributes are certainly worth carrying forward into the new administration, GAO’s Sullivan said.

 

“The stuff that they’ve done that helps to create a better business case at the outset of a program are the things that we think have really made a change in the investments they’re making,” he said. “But also, in our ‘quick look’ reports every year, we always look at how they’re doing with should-cost, and they’ve been able to capture $21 billion in savings. I think it’s been a positive thing.”

 

That said, any internal acquisition improvement initiatives that endure into the tenure of Kendall’s successor will almost be certainly called something different.

 

“The history of changes in administration is that everything has to look new,” Berteau said. “You don’t pick up names and nomenclature from the prior administration, but the initiatives will probably maintain themselves. The idea of performance-based logistics, for instance – if the government can define the performance it’s trying to achieve and then figure out what the right value of that is and produce better outcomes for less cost over time – that’s an objective that I think will survive well into the next administration.”

 

Speaking at a conference in San Diego last week, Kendall put his hopes for the future of acquisition rather succinctly.

 

“At the end of the day, it’s about professionalism,” he said. “You have to have incentives for professionals in government and industry to do the right thing, and you need to have close cooperation with the operators to make sure their requirements are reasonable. It’s not that hard an equation. But the variety of circumstances we deal with is almost infinite. You’ve gotta give people a chance to do their jobs, do them well, and then hold them accountable for that.”

 

The legacy of Better Buying Power: DoD’s gambit to reform acquisition ‘from within’

 

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The National Interest

 

Did China Just Make ALL Stealth Fighters (Think the F-22 and F-35) Obsolete?

 

Dave Majumdar

 

Could Beijing’s quantum radar technology render stealth aircraft obsolete?

 

While theoretically, if such a radar existed, it would be able to detect and track stealth aircraft with impunity, but it is unclear if China truly mastered such technology. The Chinese defense industry has claimed a breakthrough in mastering quantum radar technology, but Western defense industry officials said that such a system is not likely to exist outside a laboratory. Even then, the quantum radars would be difficult to build and test reliably even in a lab environment. Indeed, it is likely that networked low-frequency radars-which can also detect and track fighter-sized stealth aircraft-are more likely to be a more pragmatic development.

 

Last year, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) announced it had tested such a radar at ranges of roughly 60 miles. While 60 miles is not particularly huge feat, the fact that such a radar would be able to provide a weapons quality track on a stealth aircraft at those distances is impressive.

 

Most radars operating in the fire-control bands such X or Ku are only able to paint a low observable aircraft at much shorter ranges. And indeed, Chinese sources claim that the range for an operational version of the quantum radar is likely to be much greater. “The figure in declassified documents is usually a tuned-down version of the real [performance],” a Chinese military researcher told the South China Morning Post [3] last year.

 

As the paper describes, quantum radar uses a novel concept in physics, which scientist are only just starting to understand. “Quantum physics says that if you create a pair of entangled photons by splitting the original photon with a crystal, a change to one entangled photon will immediately affect its twin, regardless of the distance between them,” the paper states. “A quantum radar, generating a large number of entangled photon pairs and shooting one twin into the air, would be capable of receiving critical information about a target, including its shape, location, speed, temperature and even the chemical composition of its paint, from returning photons.”

 

However, even Chinese researchers are skeptical about the CETC development. Nanjing University physicist Ma Xiaosong told the South China Morning Post that in a quantum radar, photons have to certain quantum states-such as upward or downward spin to remain entangled. However, the quantum states could be disrupted-resulting in “decoherence.” Decoherence is a potential limiting factor to the maximum effective range of an operational quantum radar.

 

According to the South China Morning Post, CETC has made a breakthrough in single-photon detectors. Indeed, once the technology matures, the Chinese believe that it could have a wide range of applications for quantum radar technology.

 

The fact that Beijing is working hard to counter stealth technology should not come as a surprise.

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/did-china-just-make-all-stealth-fighters-think-the-f-22-f-35-19608

 

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Navy Opens New ‘Digital Warfare’ Office, Aiming To Exploit Advances In Data

 

(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 24 FEB 17) … Jared Serbu

 

The Navy has just stood up a new “digital warfare” office, prompted by the notion that the service is awash in valuable, but largely untapped data in areas ranging from acquisition, maintenance and audit readiness to the ways it trains and equips its sailors.

 

In doing so, the Navy says it’s trying to emulate companies, particularly in heavy industrial sectors, who’ve leveraged their own data into new digital strategies to make smarter business decisions, including by feeding raw information from their business units into tools that take advantage of new advances in data science and machine learning.

 

“An example might be an engine on an aircraft wing,” Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, said in an interview with Federal News Radio. “How do we make decisions on how many hours that engine can fly before it needs to come off and be inspected? In the past, we’ve just used an average. Whether the plane was flown in very harsh or very favorable conditions, they were all treated the same. With the data coming off those engines, you have a better ability to predict failures in blades, etcetera. That’s an industrial example, but there are so many ways to take advantage of the data that we already have. It could be our financial systems, it could be any of our functional areas.”

 

The digital warfare office won’t have much of a budget nor a large staff, but that’s mainly because most of the legwork involved in implementing the Navy’s new digital strategies will fall to service’s system commands (SYSCOMs) that engineer and acquire new systems and the type commands (TYCOMs) in charge of manpower and training for the Navy’s various functional communities.

 

Tighe, who will oversee the office, said its main role will be to champion and facilitate smarter uses of data throughout the fleet. It was intentionally set up within the top echelon of the Navy’s command structure – within the staff of the office of the chief of naval operations (CNO) – so that it has the institutional heft to iron out any bureaucratic roadblocks.

 

“It’s the obstacle-knocker-downer,” she said. “For companies that have taken this journey, one of their biggest lessons on both the IT side and the industrial side is that the only way this works is top-down leadership. You have to have the leader of the organization driving the cultural change necessary to do things differently than we’ve done in the past, and that’s who CNO is. He needs a bit of a staff to pay attention to the trends and what we can learn from industry partners, but it’s mainly the SYSCOM functions. It might be how we do financial management as well, or how we handle the manpower, personnel and training and education side of the house. This is all dealing with large amounts of data. We need to spend less time going and finding the data we need to make a decision and come to a better construct where the machine can gather the information, do some analysis and present it to the person who needs to make the decision.”

 

In standing up the digital warfare office, the Navy is applying a similar approach to the one it took to cybersecurity two years ago.

 

There too, top leaders concluded they had a pervasive problem that could only be addressed if the CNO’s office first got the attention of commanders throughout the Navy and made it a priority to drive more cybersecurity rigor into everything they do. A one-year project, Task Force Cyber Awakening, eventually led to an effort called CYBERSAFE that identifies the Navy’s most critical systems and prescribes standards to the system commands to harden them against cyber attack.

 

“There’s also a bit of overlap between the two, insofar as digital strategies can be applied to improve our cybersecurity outcomes,” Tighe said. “But my cybersecurity division has done unprecedented work across multiple systems commands to, first and foremost, create the standards we intend to build the next generation of platforms to or migrate to. For our acquisition programs, we’ve put a line in the sand that says, by this date, you will conform to these standards and we will measure you. If you’re post-Milestone B, you need to be telling us how you’re going to improve in follow-on modernization.”

 

Tighe said the cybersecurity division’s fingerprints were already on one major Navy acquisition program: the future frigate the service plans as a follow-on to its littoral combat ship.

 

“So because of this work, we’ve provided something a program manager can actually use to begin to drive what that future system will look like based on standards we’ve all agreed to,” she said. “There could be some more standards written over time, but it gives our program managers a better ability to anticipate the changing nature of cybersecurity and build that into the structure of their dealings with industry.”

 

Navy opens new ‘digital warfare’ office, aiming to exploit advances in data science

 

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Defense Services Contractors Brace For Pentagon Spending Shakeup

 

(POLITICO 01 MAR 17) … Ellen Mitchell

 

President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated pitch to expand the Army and Navy and invest more in the nuclear arsenal and missile defenses is also expected to spell a big boost for defense services like equipment maintenance and training.

 

But at the same time it could lead to cuts in other areas of the vast services market that accounts for more than half of what the Pentagon buys each year and its own advisers say is ripe with waste and fraud.

 

“I would not say that a rising tide lifts all boats,” said Doug Berenson, managing director of Avacent, a defense consultancy. “There will be some categories of services that will do better, and I think that there are some categories of services that clearly will not.”

 

For example, he said, “some professional and administrative services related to headquarters will not. In certain categories of professional and administrative services you probably will see a near-term decline.”

 

Defense services are the connective tissue of the military, covering everything from basic needs like base air conditioning, food service, construction and snow removal to more complex tasks such as providing IT and cybersecurity services, compiling studies for Pentagon offices and even running many military headquarters.

On the campaign trail Trump pledged to help pay for a military buildup by initiating a Pentagon audit and “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”

 

“Everybody remembers Trump talking about increasing the military during the campaign; nobody seems to remember that he said he was going to cover a lot of those costs by cutting Pentagon waste,” Loren Thompson, another defense industry consultant.

 

Trump first trumpeted those defense spending cuts on NBC’s Meet the Press in October 2015.

 

“I’m gonna build a military that’s gonna be much stronger than it is right now. It’s gonna be so strong, nobody’s gonna mess with us. But you know what? We can do it for a lot less,” Trump said.

 

Shortly following his inauguration, Trump set out to do just that, initiating an executive memorandum on Jan. 27 that directs Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to conduct a 30-day review of of military personnel, training, equipment and maintenance, the nuclear triad and missile defenses.

 

The memo notably calls for “reducing commitments not directly related to the highest priority operations, in order to make resources available for training and maintenance.”

 

The document did not offer specifics on which commitments will be reduced, but Trump’s campaign promises – including expanding the Army to 540,000 troops, building a 350-ship Navy, and increasing the number of Marine Corps battalions to 36 and the number of fighter aircraft to 1,200 – are likely to take precedent over services that don’t support such efforts.

 

Following the memorandum, Mattis issued guidance for reviewing the Pentagon’s budget proposals. In it, he acknowledges that directing new dollars to the Pentagon this year could lead to cuts in “lower priority programs.”

 

CACI International chief executive Kenneth Asbury told POLITICO he expects such Pentagon changes to possibly put the IT services firm at a disadvantage.

 

“Changing a program that we’re working on today – somebody decides they want to go in a different direction and somebody’s got a better mouse track to that – that could have an impact,” Asbury said. “It’s a potential threat as somebody changes the priority about something.”

 

One lower priority area likely on the chopping block is what Thompson refers to as “term papers,” the numerous and constant stream of studies that recommend various improvements to the Pentagon, its personnel and its weapons systems.

 

Firms that generate the studies “could be in for a rough ride,” he said.

 

“The department spends a lot of money on studies and the fact of the matter is that there’s not going to be a whole lot of money for growing the military,” Thompson said. “I think at some point here Mattis and the new administration are going to ask themselves whether a lot of these studies – and the other sort of intellectual products that get generated out of the service sector – will be needed.”

 

There are other reasons to be concerned.

 

Service contractors have reason to fear Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney who is eager to slash and shape federal spending levels, including the Pentagon’s budget. Company lobbyists may find it difficult to defend their projects thanks to a turbulent change of administration at the Pentagon.

 

Trump still must appoint and have the Senate confirm about 50 DoD positions. So far only Mattis has made it through the confirmation pipeline.

 

“The transition is not far enough along for companies to know precisely who they should be lobbying,” Thompson said. “So far this seems very much like a Trump-centric administration and so companies like Lockheed and Boeing have gone directly to [Trump] to plead their case. But if you can’t do that or you don’t want to do that, then it’s not clear yet who you should be talking to underneath him because nobody is in place yet.”

 

Thompson added that the response to the administration’s goals has been mixed. “Among the companies that have indicated what they’re doing it’s a pretty diverse approach; everybody is not on the same sheet of music.”

As one defense services industry official phrased it, “we’re kind of in some uncharted territory here. D.C. is in a frenzy.”

 

One potential way to stay on the new administration’s good side: Advertising.

 

IT services giant CSRA launched a new marketing campaign following Trump’s inauguration. The date was “not entirely a coincidence,” said George Batsakis, the chief growth officer of the Falls Church, Va.-based company.

 

Batsakis said the campaign – which he insisted would be running regardless of who was elected – conveys “the position of CSRA versus the competition and the value of things we bring to the government,” with advertisements strewn across the Pentagon Metro station starting Jan. 30 and broadcast on local radio.

 

The company, which holds $1.5 billion in defense contracts – a third of its portfolio – also ran two local 30-second ads in the DC area during the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

 

The forecast for service contractors is not all doom and gloom, however.

 

In addition to a boost for training, logistics and maintenance support contracts needed to increase the size of the military, Leidos CEO Roger Krone told POLITICO the government-services company is also readying itself to pick up work as a result of the Trump’s Jan. 23 directive to freeze federal hiring.

 

The military is exempted from the order’s constraints, but the Pentagon’s civilian workforce is not.

 

“I would think that once [Trump] better understands his priorities that they will continue hiring in some of the agencies, but in the short term, if those agencies have an expanded scope of work they will have to rely on contractors,” Krone said. “I think we’re going to do OK.”

 

https://www.politicopro.com/defense/story/2017/03/defense-services-contractors-brace-for-pentagon-spending-shakeup-146438

 

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Info Warfare’s Biggest Challenge: The Crowded Chaos Of Cyberspace

 

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 27 FEB 17) … Gidget Fuentes

 

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Unlike conventional warfare, the vast information environment has no boundaries and few rules, but rapid advances in technologies make it even tougher to keep up with cyber threats and ensure warfighting readiness, senior Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps leaders told WEST 2017 conference attendees in several talks and panel discussions.

 

“In a cyberspace event, you see bits and bytes going around. You don’t know if those are coming from one of your partner countries, adversary countries, some other agency,” Coast Guard Vice Adm. Marshall B. Lytle III said Wednesday during a panel discussion on information warfare. “You have to deconflict that as much as you can, but to some extent you have to operate in that environment.”

 

“Cyber warfare is not like football,” with clear lines of offense, defense and rules, said Lytle, the command, control, communications and computers /cyber (C4) director and chief information officer with the Joint Staff.

 

“Cyber warfare is a soccer game with all the fans on the field with you,” Lytle said. “You’ve got the two teams in the fight, trying to win, but you’ve got all the fans mixed in amongst you, and you don’t know who’s who. Nobody is wearing uniforms, but you’re trying to get that mission accomplished.”

 

“There will always be a battle for territory, but now that battle is prepped, shaped and executed far beyond the boundaries of any city, any country,” Lytle added.

 

Other panelists echoed similar concerns about the challenges in operating or fighting in the vast, unregulated and murky world of cyber. “The rules don’t fit,” Brig. Gen. Dennis Crall, the Marine Corps’ chief information officer and director for command, control, communications and computers, told the audience. Cyber “doesn’t behave like other things do.”

 

Limiting authorities and restrictions on activities in the space “in some cases hamstring our ability to do anything at all,” Crall said, “so the rules have to change.”

 

The speed at activity in the cyber world threatens to far exceed how quickly the military services can respond to threats and keep warfighting units ready and up-to-date with the latest in tech. The services must do more to innovate, but the process of procurement and acquisition ” is too slow,” Crall said. “We can’t get there in time.” He advocated “a fast track” that would poise them to get at the adversary quickly.

 

Rear Adm. David Lewis, head of San Diego-based Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, said “innovation is the only way we can stay ahead of the cyber security threat. In our world, we are never going to patch and scan our way out of a cyber security problem. We are going to modernize our way out of a cyber security problem. That’s the only way to do that.”

 

“If we are taking seven, eight, nine, 10 years to modernize our C4I systems, we will fail,” Lewis said, speaking at a Wednesday panel on procuring the future force. “We need to fundamentally change our business in order to stay ahead of the state-of-the-art and the threat.”

 

Along with congressional support, “we need to team with industry soon in the process” from requirements through development and through the life of the program, said Rear Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller, the Navy’s air warfare director (N98).

 

Another panelist, Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, implored industry attendees to help with modernization. “Deliver what you promise in the contract,” said Shrader, who commands Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. “It’s got to be on time. It’s got to be affordable within costs, and it’s got to work. Just those simple things. There is no time for do-overs. We have no time for do-overs.”

 

“The system has got to be easy to operate and easy to maintain,” Shrader said, noting systems will be deployed with Marines.

 

The Marine Corps also likely will want to buy the technology data package, to build “a print to keep the cost down,” he said. An example, he said, is the cost of some ammunition, which has limited suppliers, has spiked by 600 to 700 percent. “The price of ammunition continues to skyrocket,” he added.

 

https://news.usni.org/2017/02/27/info-warfares-biggest-challenge-crowded-chaos-cyberspace

 

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Defense Systems

 

Industry offers multiple authentication tech for SIPRNet

 

By Kris Osborn

 

The Pentagon and industry are exploring adding layers of security and multiple authentication procedures to determine safe access to the U.S. military’s secret network – SIPRNet.

 

A technology called SafeNet Identity and Data Protection Solutions, engineered by Gemalto, uses Hardware Security Modules (HSM) authentication to add another avenue of identification technology designed to improve network security.

 

“If you have a CAC card, you’ve got certificates on there that provide the ID information about who you are, who you work for, and that’s a PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) system. It’s used for authenticating into the network logically or physically to get into the building or whatever,” said Kirk Spring, CEO of SafeNet Assured Technologies.

 

Users plug a card into a machine and enter a PIN, allowing the machine to read the certificate information on the token and then sign in to validate identity, Spring explained.

 

“For SIPRNet, we basically provide our own authentication chip. It is our own product developed in the U.S.,” he said. “Our HSMs provide all the root key protection, so if you think of a master key that protects all the other keys that are in your system, that’s what the HSMs predominantly do.”

 

Gemalto’s SafeNet approach is consistent with what many U.S. military services are currently working on in terms of adding multiple network authentications to increase cybersecurity. Individual validation through various techniques is aimed at both reducing the insider threat and thwarting external cyberattacks.

 

“I believe multi-factor authentication is going to be a trend you’re going to see in the next two to three years, and that’s going to be something they’re going to be using as a layer in defense,” Spring said.

 

While Spring emphasized that Gemalto’s SafeNet offering is by no means a cure-all, it could facilitate more secure interoperability between networks.

 

The idea is to guard a gateway by following rules and policies for what type of data can be shared between two entities, This could include data exchanges between two agencies or secured interoperability between classified and unclassified networks.

 

“Listen, the CAC card was good when we needed it, but now we need to look at the next-generation technology, and a lot of that I believe is around this multi-factor that I’m talking about,” Spring said.

 

Increased movement to cloud technologies could both enhance and complicate these security efforts, Spring said. Government agencies and industry are now addressing this through a Cloud Security Alliance Group which is analyzing the double-edge sword offered by the cloud.

 

In many instances, the cloud reduces the hardware footprint and server infrastructure in a way that can diminish points of entry for various kinds of intrusions such as “phishing” attacks.

 

At the same time, consolidating hardware and IT networks can also widen the aperture for an attacker to do damage if there is a penetration of some kind. Maximizing the advantages of this kind of  phenomenon, while reducing risk, is paramount to emerging multi-factor authentication technologies.

 

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2017/03/01/safenet.aspx?admgarea=DS

 

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Defense News

 

Latest-generation Chinese combat drone makes maiden flight

 

By: The Associated Press

 

BEIJING – China’s latest-generation combat drone has made its maiden flight in what its developer says is a sign that the country is catching up with industry leader the United States.

 

The Wing Loong II that flew for the first time Monday can carry up to 480 kilograms (1,058 pounds) of bombs and missiles, tucking six under each wing, according to information viewed Wednesday on the Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s microblog.

 

The drone has a wingspan of 20.5 meters (67 feet 3 inches), can stay airborne up to 20 hours and fly at a maximum altitude of 9,000 meters (29,500 feet), according to the company known as AVIC.

 

The drone’s successful test flight “allows China to follow the U.S. in producing a new generation of integrated surveillance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles,” the company said in the microblog posting.

 

State media say the drone should become a leading export item for China following the success of the original Wing Loong that has been sold to a number of countries, including several in the Middle East. Along with inexpensive fighter jets and naval patrol boats, drones are a high-tech standout item among China’s substantial exports of more workaday weaponry such as assault rifles and rocket launchers.

 

While both the Wing Loong II’s advertised payload and cruising altitude fall well short compared with the MQ-9 Reaper in service with the U.S. military, it is expected to be highly competitive on price.

 

While AVIC didn’t provide the cost of a Wing Loong II, its predecessor, with a payload of only about 100 kilograms (220 pounds), reportedly sold for about $1 million each, a fraction of the Reaper’s $14.75 million price tag.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/latest-generation-chinese-combat-drone-makes-maiden-flight

 

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Navy Drafting 30-Year Research-And-Development Roadmap

 

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 23 FEB 17) … Yasmin Tadjdeh

 

The Navy’s research-and-development arm is drafting a 30-year plan to help it map out the introduction of new technologies, a service official said Feb. 23.

 

The plan will provide a “framework for aligning and focusing Navy R&D investments as well as technological and engineering efforts to deliver game changing warfighter capabilities over the next three decades,” said Allison Stiller, who is performing the duties of assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition until a permanent replacement is nominated.

 

“Our adversaries are exploiting speed and precision through new technologies to counter U.S. military advantages,” she said during a meeting hosted by the Navy League of the United States in Arlington, Virginia. “Over the next 30 years the department’s R&D investments must develop and deliver dominant warfighting capabilities to outpace emerging and disruptive threats and ensure operational advantage and technological superiority of our U.S. naval forces that make our adversaries ineffective.”

 

The roadmap – which has been in development for the past year – will focus on a number of areas including accelerating the development of promising technologies and engaging with industry and small businesses to better inform them of future Navy plans, she added.

 

The Navy intends to update the document every two years, Stiller said. Critical technology areas include autonomous and unmanned systems, electromagnetic warfare, high-energy lasers, advanced power and energy management and electric weapons, she said.

 

The Navy will have to learn to take risks as it invests in these technologies, she noted.

 

“Some things will work, some may not. But we will leverage lessons learned from those experiences,” Stiller said. “We can’t shy away from what some call failure. We can’t be controlled by the fear of a bad headline or a critical audit or we’ll never be able to move ahead with the speed and innovation the warfighter demands.”

Rapid acquisition is critical for the Navy, she said. Putting technology into the hands of users within a two-year window is ideal, she said.

 

Last year the Navy said it would stand up a maritime accelerated capabilities office to create a speed lane to field technology. The Air Force and Army have recently established similar organizations, though Stiller noted those are set up more as program executive offices.

 

“Inside the Department of the Navy, that’s not how we’re going to approach it. We’re going to approach it program by program,” she said. By doing so, the Navy can leverage support from U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command or Naval Sea Systems Command.

 

“What we will do is look at the program, the maturity of the technology, how much risk there is in the program, figure when we can enter the acquisition process [and then] we’re going to tailor documentation. We’re going to tailor the people that can oversee it,” she said. “For each program it’s going to be a little different.”

 

Stiller noted that specific programs already have been picked and will be announced at a later time.

As the Navy drafts its fiscal year 2018 budget, it hopes it will be able to put money toward rapid prototyping, she added.

 

“We’d like to have money that’s identified for that … [though] we may not be able to say today exactly what we’re going to do,” she said. “There’s a lot of reluctance to have a pot of money unidentified … so we’ve got to work through that and make sure we’re explaining exactly what we’re doing when we make that decision so that money is traceable.”

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=2423

 

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Fleet Commanders View ‘Innovation’ As A Challenge To Operate Smarter

 

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 27 FEB 17) … Megan Eckstein

 

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Amid continued calls for innovation, several current and former fleet commanders say the Navy needs to focus on how it employs the force it already has rather than seeking brand new technologies to fight with.

 

U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris used the old “innovate or die” catchphrase during his speech at the West 2017 conference, where his keynote speech mentioned innovation eight times. While Harris was talking specifically about new hardware, three current and recent fleet commanders said they heard the Navy’s call for innovation as an operational challenge.

 

“Let’s stop thinking about the technology, let’s think about how we fight and be more innovative in how we fight,” Vice Adm. James Foggo, the current Director of Navy Staff at the Pentagon and former U.S. 6th Fleet Commander, told USNI News during a panel question and answer session.

 

Foggo said when he led 6th Fleet – from December 2014 to October 2016 – the steady presence of carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups and submarines he saw pass through his area of responsibility was generous for Phase 0 peacetime operations but not sufficient for Phase 2 operations with sustained strike campaigns in Libya and Iraq and Syria. Given the high demand for forces in 6th Fleet and next-door 5th Fleet, Foggo said the Navy employed some innovative tactics to make the most of the presence the Navy could provide – chiefly, conducting strikes against the Islamic State from either 5th or 6th Fleet and allowing the carrier strike group to carry out that mission from either area of responsibility as conditions dictated.

 

“We saw it last summer when the [aircraft carrier USS] Harry S. Truman both went through the 6th Fleet and into the 5th Fleet and came back out again,” he said, with strikes against the Islamic State conducted from both 5th and 6th Fleet waters.

 

“She continued to do strikes (in Iraq and Syria) while she was in the Mediterranean. And that worked. There were some healthy skeptics there; it took a little bit of innovation, a little creativity, a lot of hard work and some pushups. When the (carrier USS Dwight D.) Eisenhower came through we did the same thing.”

 

“This is distributed maritime ops across unified command lines, seamless integration, and two combatant commanders in one theater supporting one another with an effective strike capability that really made no difference – it’s about the same distance, about the same number of tankers in the air, and about the same number of kinetic weapons delivered during Operation Inherent Resolve,” he continued. This ability to conduct the OIR mission from either 5th or 6th Fleet meant the carrier strike group could go to either location to deter other adversaries or respond to other emerging events as needed, all the while launching planes to go drop ordnance on Islamic State targets.

 

For Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, commander of U.S. 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, the operational innovation he needs is in finding access to targets from Navy platforms that his forces might not be able to target from ashore.

 

“Ships, aircraft, submarines can get to places where ground forces cannot go sometimes, or air forces cannot go. And so we do a lot of creative thinking on how to fight,” he told USNI News during the same event.

 

“For us, the best work that comes out of our command – in terms of new ideas, in terms of how to fight – comes from our cyber teams, comes from our basic level people in their early 20s who are just simply given the charge, ‘give me options that make me gag.’ And so whether or not we actually execute those are a whole different ballgame: we put money against some of them, we experiment with ships, aircraft, UAVs, submarines.”

 

Where technical innovations are needed to support Navy cyber activities, Gilday said he’s trying to look to industry rather than duplicate efforts within the Navy.

 

“We really are trying to leverage things that come out of industry. And I say that because the things that are being developed to solve problems in companies that have legacy networks just like we do have the same solution sets, they’re just applied to different networks,” he said.

 

“So it’s up to us to find those right solution sets, find those right technical solutions, and the ones that are attractive to us are the ones we can scale appropriately.”

 

For Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, U.S. 3rd Fleet commander, the need for innovation comes at the intersection of new technology and the operating force.

 

“Where we need to leverage innovation the most is in preparing these forces to go fight at the highest end they may be required to. So a lot of work has been done in the live, virtual and constructive training world,” she said.

 

“Because we don’t have as many ships, aircraft, submarines at our disposal as we’d like to have to prepare these forces for the highest level of warfighting that they may find themselves in, we have really really got to leverage that live, virtual and constructive training to make sure that we are using it to the best of our ability, because we don’t have 100 [opposing force] ships while a strike group is out there doing workups, we don’t have supersonic missiles that we’re shooting at them, we don’t have three or four spare air wings sitting around that we can use as opfor to prepare these forces to go forward. So I would answer your question that way, that we have really got to make sure that we are being very innovative in using all the technology that’s out there, both on the basic phase and the integrated phase so we can get to that high-end training and preparation of those forces.”

 

https://news.usni.org/2017/02/27/fleet-commanders-view-innovation-as-a-challenge-to-operate-smarter

 

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FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of February 20, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

 

  1. “Slam Stick”T Helps NAVAIR Engineers Troubleshoot Aircraft
  2. FRCSW Engineer Wins 2016 Lasswell Award for Fleet Support
  3. NAVAIR veteran seeks to make a difference for other vets
  4. PHOTO RELEASE: FRCSW Completes PMB Bay Renovations (link)

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

  1. Pentagon Brass Demand Culture Change, Innovations In Buying Weapons
  2. Get To The Fleet Faster – Big Changes Coming To A Schools
  3. Navy Gives Fleet Commanders More Control Over Who Gets Training – And When
  4. Visiting the Prowler: USMC Electronic Warfare Capabilities in Transition
  5. Navy Cyber Chief: Network Protection, Data Assurance Top Priorities; Investments Needed in A.I.
  6. Link Army, Navy Missile Defense Nets: Adm. Harris
  7. DoD Will Create Diverse Teams To Cut Out Duplicate Offices In Military Services
  8. Navy Shifts SeaPower Strategy
  9. Trump’s F-35C Vs. F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Idea: An Interesting Debate … Four Years Ago

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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“Slam Stick”T Helps NAVAIR Engineers Troubleshoot Aircraft

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

The proverb “Good things come in small packages” may very well be the new mantra of the avionics department of Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) In-Service Support Center-North Island.

 

An engineering tool called “Slam Stick”T is helping to identify some of the perplexing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) issues NAVAIR engineers face every day. Manufactured by Midé and designed to measure and record vibrations, temperature and air pressure, the lightweight Slam Stick is a sensor that is 3 inches in length and less than 2 inches in width. And with a depth of slightly over one-half an inch, the device can be placed virtually anywhere in an aircraft from the pilot’s shirt pocket, to the least accessible bay.

 

“It has a three axes accelerometer which basically measures acceleration and vibration. It also has a DC

accelerometer which means that it can also account for gravity,” said avionics engineer and Avionics Advanced

Technologies Investment (ATI) Team Lead Brett Gardner.

 

“I saw this technology at a Small Business Innovative Research conference. The device there was just the accelerometer. It didn’t have the pressure or temperature capacity and was a 16 gigabyte model that

was basically useless to us,” he said.

 

To adapt to NAVAIR’s purposes, Gardner contacted the Office of Naval Research in 2012 and secured backing

through a Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF). The RIF program funds innovative technologies that support

warfighters. Modification and development of the Slam Stick took about one year and was held in conjunction with Midé at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW). Cost was approximately $450,000.

 

The device is now available in four different models: 25g, 100g, 500g and 2,000g. Each model is applicable to the range of acceleration to be measured. “We use all models,” Gardner said. “The idea behind these was to give the engineers a way to go out and look at the environment on the aircraft. For example, what kind of G loading is there in the avionics bay? Is there a pressure or a temperature problem?”

 

The Slam Stick is used in a variety of airframes including the F/A-18 Hornet, T-45 Goshawk, F-35 Lightning II, E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound. The maiden use of NAVAIR’s Slam Stick at FRCSW was last year in locating the cause of a vibration reported by a C-2 Greyhound pilot during ground turns at the flight line.

 

Team lead engineer Vu Buu placed nine Slam Sticks throughout the aircraft and after the first application,

ruled out the vibration as being caused by the plane’s engines.

 

A Midé “Slam Stick”T (orange device) is pictured in the engine housing of a C-2A Greyhound. The device was used last year to locate and correct a vibration that prevented the aircraft’s availability to the fleet. The second application led the team to focus on the tail of the airplane where they found a faulty dampener on one of the flight-control surfaces. The dampener muffles the vibrations from the flight control surface to the yoke, or stick of the aircraft. Once replaced, the vibrations stopped.

 

“Graph 1 shows 18 Hz energy in the tail area nearby the outboard vertical fin. Graph 2 is on the control column with the same 18 Hz signature,” said Buu. “The flight control cables/pushrod connects the tail area structure

directly to the crossover tube, which both control columns attached to. Structures in the cockpit and fuselage areas have a very low 18 Hz energy compare to the control column and outboard fin area,” he said.

 

“Graph 3 shows the control column vibration collected at a later ground turn, indicating the 18 Hz power is significantly lower.” Gardner said that locating and correcting the vibration took about two weeks.

 

The Slam Stick is manufactured in either a plastic or metal version. NAVAIR uses both. Because the metal version is stiffer, it has a tighter tolerance on vibration profiles making it more accurate than the plastic model.

 

In addition to initially designing its specifications, Gardner also contributed to the software development of the device. “We had a basic version of the software. The original accelerometer was highly inaccurate and was a three channel device. The one we have now is an eight channel. It has two different accelerometers in it, so that’s six channels and a channel for the temperature and one for the atmospheric pressure,” he said.

 

NAVAIR engineers are currently using Slam Sticks to investigate physiological events in F/A-18 Hornets. Specifically, they are targeting the aircraft’s cockpit pressurization system.  Because the F/A-18 is a closed-loop self-regulating pressure system, measuring cockpit pressure during flight is not possible.

 

“There’s no way to record that data because there’s no computer connection that will allow engineers to record systems behavior. It’s a stand-alone system,” Gardner said. “However, there is a stand-by analogue meter that the pilot can look at to see what the cockpit pressure is, but it isn’t recorded anywhere. And it’s slow and inaccurate.”

 

Slam Sticks may be placed in an aircraft by using two-sided tape. After the flight, the Slam Stick’s data is matched to the aircraft’s file by layering one on top of the other to reveal the profile the aircraft flew and the

profile of the cockpit pressurization system. The data reflects a real time tracing of the factors.

 

“This way we know what the cockpit pressurization theoretically should schedule to and layer that over the top and look to see if there were any anomalies,” Gardner said. This summer Slam Sticks were used to obtain data on F/A-18 Hornets of Strike Fighter Squadron 37 (VFA-37) at Naval Air Station Oceana, and a pilot program targeting physiological events will conclude soon at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 (VMFA-232) aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Data from both events are currently being analyzed.

 

“We’re finding that the aircraft don’t exactly regulate the way we thought they were designed to regulate. There are small anomalies that are probably going to be the new normal,” Gardner said.

 

Downloading and retrieving Slam Stick data currently requires use of a stand-alone computer. To improve the process, Gardner said that efforts are underway to establish research, development, test and evaluation (RDT

and E) network authorization across the industrial/engineering side of the FRCs.

 

“The pilots bring back the aircraft memory unit (MU) and download all of the data by plugging the MU into a PEMA stripping station. We’re in the process of getting the Slam Sticks approved to plug into those stripping stations so the squadrons can upload the Slam Stick data to the servers for the engineers to access directly,” Gardner said.

 

Data compiled from the F/A-18 cockpits is passed to the Environmental Control Systems (ECS) subsystems engineers who are not only responsible for overseeing the processing, but for creating a solution to the problems found, as well.

 

The ECS team created software in a .matlab file which syncs the Slam Stick data to the aircraft file. “Data such as weight off wheels and the cockpit canopy opening and closing allowed measuring of some of the different aircraft events to the duration of the flight. The .matlab program matches up the events to the recorded MU data files and allows engineers the opportunity to fine tune cockpit pressure graphs,” Gardner said.

 

NAVAIR’s F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) purchased ,approximately 160 Slam Sticks to assist with cockpit pressure testing. Overall, approximately $500,000 worth of the devices have been sold, Gardner said.

 

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FRCSW Engineer Wins 2016 Lasswell Award for Fleet Support

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

Brett Gardner, a senior avionics engineer assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), is the recipient of the 2016 A. Bryan Lasswell Award for Fleet Support.

 

Sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), the award recognizes individuals who provide

exceptional support through in-service engineering procedures or technical innovation to Navy, Marine Corps or

Coast Guard forces based in San Diego. Gardner received the Lasswell Award at the NDIA Awards

Program Oct. 25 at the Sheraton Mission Valley Hotel and Conference Center.

 

“I am excited and proud to be chosen (for the award),” Gardner said. “It is an honor to be recognized by industry

peers for my contribution to naval aviation in support of the warfighter.”

 

For the past 23 years, Gardner has worked at FRCSW to ensure the readiness of the Navy’s aircraft. During his second year on the job, in 1995, an F/A-18 Hornet fighter lost its airborne self-protection jammer (ASPJ) system

during flight. The ASPJ is an electronic system used to thwart enemy radar by emitting signals that obscure radar

returns while simultaneously disguising the its jamming signal.

 

Two years later, at a considerable expense, a test-equipped aircraft was used to determine that the ASPJ failure was caused by vibration up the aircraft’s keel during catapult launches. Meanwhile, before the issue was identified and the ASPJ was prohibited for carrier use, fleet-deployed aircraft were experiencing millions of dollars in keel damages.

 

Factors such as vibration, air pressure and temperature not only affect aircraft performance, but safety as well.

While attending a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) forum in 2011, Gardner noticed an accelerometer

manufactured by Midé that sparked his interest. One year later, in partnership with Midé, the Slam StickT

was created-a lightweight sensor and data logger that measures vibration, temperature, and atmospheric pressure.

 

Since, the device has served more than 300 flights, saving approximately $1.5 million vice conventional test flight methods, and increasing the availability and readiness of the Navy’s aircraft.

Gardner said that he is currently working with the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) and Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101) to pilot Slam Stick use at the squadrons to measure cockpit pressure as part of a project to assess physiological events in Hornet aircraft.

 

“We most recently received approval from PMA-265 to download Slam Stick data to F/A-18 AME data strippers,” he said. “This new capability will allow for cockpit pressure data collection around the globe.” Marine Corps Maj. A. Bryan Lasswell was a translator and cryptologist, who in 1942, worked relentlessly to decipher the communications of the Japanese navy. His efforts were instrumental in the American victory at the Battle of Midway Island.

 

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NAVAIR veteran seeks to make a difference for other vets

 

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – It took a few minutes for Ryan Daniels to realize what had happened.

 

The former Marine Corps Staff Sergeant was traveling with a convoy in May 2011 in a restive part of southwestern Afghanistan that had seen plenty of combat action. His mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, had just hit a large, improvised explosive device, blowing off the front end of the massive vehicle, disorienting the crew and pelting them with shrapnel.

 

Moments after regaining consciousness and checking on his fellow Marines, Daniels moved himself to within his vehicle’s turret and began returning fire at the insurgents.

 

“They had an almost machine gun-like fire trained at our vehicle,” Daniels, an eight-year veteran with two combat tours now working as a Naval Air Systems Command Naval Acquisition Development Program intern, said, remembering the event. “The windshield was bulletproof, but the bullets left marks on the windshield. The windshield was covered with marks.”

 

Following treatment for concussions, post-traumatic stress and other injuries, Daniels left the Marine Corps as a Wounded Warrior. But the memories and horrors of war sometimes still visit him in the middle of the night.

 

“I’m trying really hard to make the transition [to civilian life], but sometimes I have my moments,” Daniels said. He said he values the support he receives from his co-workers at the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290), where he is a logistics management specialist, as well as the support of his family.

 

To better help veterans understand the effects military service and combat can have on a successful transition to civilian life, Sonny Fann, NAVAIR Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program Senior Outreach Coordinator, volunteers with a program called Semper Fi Odyssey (SFO) that helps veterans such as Daniels make that adjustment.

 

“We help the veterans with coping skills and help them understand themselves,” Fann said. “We also give them career advice, to include resume tips, interviewing skills and immediate feedback.”

 

Founded by a retired Marine Corps general in 2008, SFO takes place at a former Boy Scouts of America camp near Boswell, Pennsylvania. The six-day, holistic transition-assistance event is designed to prepare participants – mostly post-9/11 combat veterans – for life after military service.

 

Events are held throughout the year, and Fann, a two tour Vietnam War veteran, has volunteered at several of them. Daniels expects to attend an event this year as well.

 

Many of the volunteer team leaders have had the same struggles as the participants, Fann said. Almost all have something in common: They are combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, loss of limbs or other debilitating injuries.

 

“I can say I definitely buried some emotions and issues for some time,” Daniels said. “When I got home from Afghanistan in June 2011, I was getting married and dealing with my physical, medical and emotional issues from the deployment. That all kept me busy and out of my own head for a time. Issues persisted until 2014 when I was convinced to ask for some help. When I found out how messed up I really was, and I was failing in my relationships, that’s what made me start looking into some of these retreats.”

 

SFO offers a variety of tools to teach veterans – broken into groups of three or four people like fire teams – how to make a successful, productive transition from the military to civilian life, despite their illnesses and injuries, Fann said.

 

“The end-game in Semper Fi Odyssey is to help them understand they still have value, despite what has happened to them,” Fann said. “The attributes all veterans have, along with their life experiences, which cannot be replicated anywhere else, makes them valuable assets for the NAVAIR mission.”

 

One thing participants learn is how to write a personal and professional goal-oriented operations order, also known as a Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Command (SMEAC), to set objectives and hold the warriors accountable for their results. The SMEAC at SFO is written based on the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

 

“Everyone in the military understands an op order, so we use something that is familiar for the veterans,” Fann explained.

 

SMEAC helps participants:

.               Analyze their situation.

.               Set their mission.

.               Determine the steps to execute.

.               Administer the steps.

.               Communicate the actions needed to complete their mission successfully.

 

Included in SFO is a trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial in nearby Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

 

“It is important that service members understand the reason that their sacrifices are so important to our nation’s defense and that they are valued. This is where the War on Terror started and why so many veterans wanted to serve,” Fann said.

 

“One of my favorite quotes from President George Washington really encapsulates what drives me to help veterans,” Fann said. “Washington said, ‘The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.'”

 

“I basically just hope to talk about things and get things off my chest,” Daniels said. “I’ve had to deal with some pretty gnarly stuff. So being with people who have been there, who understand, and who care will really make a difference (for me).”

 

“There is no shame in seeking assistance,” Fann said. “Rather, it’s a sign of strength.

 

“This is a tragic lesson learned from Vietnam era veterans and resulted in significant challenges and a high suicide rate, which the SFO seeks to combat,” he said “This program literally saves lives.”

 

NAVAIR wounded, ill and injured veteran employees can contact Fann at sonny.fann@navy.mil if they believe they can benefit from SFO. For more information, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qonrvWTja3I.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6486

 

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Pentagon Brass Demand Culture Change, Innovations In Buying Weapons

 

(SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 23 FEB 17) … Carl Prine

 

When retired Navy Vice Adm. David “Decoy” Dunaway thinks about failures in the Pentagon’s procurement programs, he also contemplates what killed once great civilizations.

 

“They get incredibly bureaucratic. There’s a fair amount of corruption that occurs in their bureaucracies. They get invested in huge amounts of infrastructure that they can’t maintain and sustain, and it’s too expensive to update. And they’re run by a bunch of lemmings,” said Dunaway, the moderator of an introspective gathering of the nation’s top military procurement bosses Wednesday at West 2017.

 

Dunaway’s fears played a minor chord in a lyric that’s buzzed through the halls of San Diego’s Convention Center throughout the course of the annual military convention and trade show: The Navy and Marine Corps need to do more to fix readiness problems as rival nations loom to challenge their military superiority.

 

Military acquisition is the way the service bureaucracies manage the procurement process to buy products and services. Congressional legislation sculpts some of the process, but other regulations stem from the Pentagon itself.

 

While the goal for all the services is to deliver the best weapons for the troops at reasonable prices for taxpayers, in recent years many programs have been plagued by massive cost overruns and long delays, including the much-maligned Joint Strike Fighter program, the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the Zumwalt class of destroyers and the littoral combat ships.

 

A career fighter aviator, the highly decorated Dunaway also served as a test pilot and helmed the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland, so when he called for the services to “blow the culture up” he was taking direct aim at a process he knew intimately.

 

Echoing Dunaway were Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Moore of Naval Sea Systems Command, Rear Adm. David Lewis of San Diego’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Rear Adm. DeWolfe “Bullet” Miller III of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Coast Guard assistant commandant Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer and Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader of Marine Corps Systems Command.

 

Moore pointed to the gutting of the Navy’s ranks of uniformed and civilian design engineers and other technological experts – from 1,300 in 1990 to under 250 in 2005. That forced the service to rely ever more on outside contractors to plan increasingly complex programs such as the littoral, Zumwalt and Ford ships.

 

“While speed and costs are certainly things to concentrate on, the way to not do that is to completely cut the government out of oversight and expertise and throw things over to the defense industry and say, ‘Build me this and send it back to me,'” Moore said.

 

Baffer said the acquisition process often gets “mired in bureaucracy,” where “things take forever.” He stressed that the services’ procurement experts need to become less “risk-averse.”

 

A career aviator like Dunaway, Miller noted that the Navy also has notched procurement wins such as the MQ-25 Stingray drone refueler. That was part of a real cultural shift inside the Navy that led to trimming the fat and delivering weapons that work for the military, he said, but more needs to be done and Congress can help.

 

“Programs right now take too long and they cost too much,” Miller said. “So that realization is there. So what are we going to do about it? Well, we need to change our culture.”

 

Shrader, a Marine who rose from enlisted grunt to flag officer, called for more “disruptive thinkers” in the ranks – service members who can make the system work better. Scanning an audience filled with defense contractors, he told them that they need to deliver what they promise in their contracts because “there’s no time for do-overs.”

 

Shrader said the Marines need weapons that are easy to operate and maintain, and that the services must own the rights to the technology to keep future replacement costs down. He urged wider adoption of 3-D printing, which allows Marine crews to fashion metal parts in hangars and depots instead of depending on logistical chains that can stretch across continents.

 

Lewis said the services could learn a few tricks from the private sector. He pointed to the makers of video games, who understand their customers very well.

 

“That customer expects to be an expert at that game in 10 to 15 minutes,” Lewis said. “If it takes longer than 20 minutes to learn how to play the game, that customer throws it away and tells all their friends that it’s a bad game…

 

“So in that world, there’s a very sophisticated set of engineers who deliver to that requirement, and I think we can do the same thing.”

 

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/g00/military/sd-me-procurement-reform-20170222-story.html

 

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Get To The Fleet Faster – Big Changes Coming To A Schools

 

(NAVY TIMES 19 FEB 17) … Mark Faram

 

The Navy is pulling the trigger on radical changes to the way it trains the entire enlisted force.

 

Gone will be the days of long, upfront technical training known as Class A school: the one that can last up to two years and for many sailors is the only trade-school training they will get during a 20-year career in the Navy.

 

Instead, the new regimen will include a far-shorter stint following boot camp that will be whittled down to just what sailors need to succeed in their first tour. Sailors will get to the fleet far sooner – and with far less preparation – than with traditional A schools.

 

After that, additional training will be spread over a sailor’s career, coming in blocks given each time a sailor returns to sea. The new model will make enlisted training more closely resemble that of officers, who receive professional military education and career-specific training at various points throughout their careers.

 

The Navy’s new training system, which starts this year for several ratings, will involve less brick-and-mortar schooling and more distance learning. It will aim to keep sailors more abreast of the cutting-edge technology impacting their career field. And it will give the Navy more agility to revamp and modernize training for future missions.

 

“We are developing a career-long learning continuum where training is delivered by modern methods to enable faster learning and better knowledge retention at multiple points throughout a career, just as we do for officers,” said Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the chief of naval personnel.

 

The end result, Burke said, will transform what he calls the current “industrial, conveyer-belt-training model” into career-long training where “content is refreshed for changing technologies so sailors are ready to perform on day one at their new units.”

 

The new, truncated A schools will be on average about 30 percent as long as those that sailors attend today. Yet for many career sailors, the new regimen will actually increase the total amount of training and education they’ll receive during a Navy career.

 

The Navy calls it Ready Relevant Learning, and considers it a critical piece of the ratings modernization effort announced last year. That effort included the Navy’s controversial decision to eliminate sailors’ ratings, a move that the top brass reversed in December after months of criticism.

 

Nevertheless, Burke and other top Navy leaders plan to push ahead with structural reforms aimed at a similar goal of making Navy career paths more flexible, which include breaking up traditional A school into a series of training blocks spread over many years.

 

Over time, the Navy hopes the training pipeline will provide customized training and development for individual sailors, allowing sailors to train and qualify in an array of skills outside their own rating’s traditional career path. That, in turn, will open up new duty assignments, advancement opportunities and civilian certifications.

 

The biggest change of all may be the decision to transfer responsibility for most of the training to the fleet. Today training is mostly overseen by Naval Education and Training Command, but in the future, the NETC’s oversight will end after a sailor completes their initial schools on the way to their first sea tour.

 

That’s a big challenge – and potential pitfall – for the fleet, Navy officials say.

 

Who Gets It And When

 

The transformation of the training pipeline has been in the works for a few years, but it wasn’t until the start of fiscal year 2017 in October that the Navy received the funding to set it in motion.

 

The implementation will start this year as sailors in four ratings begin to train in the new system, and 15 additional ratings could get the go-ahead later this year.

 

Another 34 ratings are in the early stages of development and will gradually come online over the next three years Navy officials say.

 

By 2020, a majority of Navy’s 87 ratings will be training sailors under the new format.

 

The seed of the concept has been around for decades and stems from the model the Navy currently uses to train pilots throughout their careers.

 

When aviators and flight officers wrap up shore duty and get ready to head back to the fleet, they go back to flight school for a refresher course to get current not only in flying but in the latest technology as well.

 

Nothing like that happens for most sailors, who might spend three years pushing boots at Great Lakes or recruiting, and are then sent right back to sea with the expectation that they will pick up where they left off.

The time required for them to get back up to speed reduces readiness, top Navy officials say.

 

“The concept is called block learning,” said Rear Adm. Mike White, who commands Naval Education and Training Command and has helped spearhead development of the new custom career paths. “We take today’s curriculum [for each rating] and look at it from that lens of: When would it best be delivered across the first tour and across a career? We will then break it apart and deliver it at the appropriate time.”

 

Sailors will get “block zero” during their initial pipeline training on their way to their first sea tour, White said.

 

Block one would occur during the first sea tour, block two would be their second sea tour and so forth.

 

The individual training blocks completed by sailors will be tracked with a new Navy database that will allow the Navy to have full visibility on its human capital and help detailers to assign sailors in the most effective way.

 

‘We will need to . create a single, authoritative database that captures a sailor’s combination of NECs, experience and proficiency – a snapshot of their DNA,” CNP Burke said.

 

Block Construct

 

As Navy officials draw up new training plans for individual ratings, take a close look at not only what skills sailors will need in the fleet, but also when they will need those skills.

 

For example, one of the first ratings transitioning to the new model this year is logistics specialist. Those sailors are the Navy’s supply clerks, but they’re also responsible for the mail system – collecting, sending sorting and delivering the mail.

 

Currently in A school, all sailors training to be logistics specialists get postal clerk training before entering the fleet. But, “it turns out that most apprentice LS’s will not be a postal clerk for at least a couple of years in the fleet,” White said.

 

“They spend their first couple years mastering their other duties in the rating before they’re assigned to this kind of work,” White said.

 

That’s why the postal clerk training has been pushed out into a block that sailors will receive after they’ve served in the fleet for a while. “We believe it is best if you defer that postal clerk training; and then deliver it after a couple years when they are ready to take on that responsibility,” White said.

 

Deferring that block of training, which in this specific case lasts up to eight days, until later in a sailor’s first sea tour saves time and also ensures that knowledge is fresh and up to date when the sailors take on that duty, White said.

 

Training for tasks that more senior sailors do will be put off to for future blocks of training as they return to sea for second and third sea tours with the same idea of ensuring the skills are fresh and they have been taught the most current information.

 

Right now, White said, about 53 of the Navy’s 87 ratings will fit well into this block training construct. But that leaves 34 ratings to wrestle with how to put their skills into a career-long learning construct.

 

One such rating is air traffic controllers.

 

“They need to come out with essentially their FAA qualification so that they can go be part of an air traffic control team,” White said. “That was not one we could give them half the training up front and half later because they had to leave the schoolhouse ready, so we did not see a way to block that curriculum.”

 

Now, down the road, this effort may give us some tools to help improve the way they learn, but, it just did not fit the mold of the premise of Ready Relevant Learning.”

 

What happens to these ratings, remains to be seen, but officials tell Navy Times the long-term goal is to provide all sailors with career-long training opportunities, though much may need to simply evolve over time.

 

High-Tech Training

 

Today’s junior sailors are used to using technology in all aspects of their lives. That means that the Navy is looking at quite a wide range of possibilities when it comes to delivering training to sailors.

 

This doesn’t mean that traditional brick and mortar schools are going away. Instead, it means that schools could be augmented with high-tech tools that help sailors learn by using gaming and virtual reality along with traditional book study.

 

These high-tech tools could be made mobile, making training available to sailors at the waterfront without having to send them miles away from their homes and commands.

 

To help the Navy develop new and more effective training, White said they’ve turned to the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division out of Orlando, Florida, where Navy officials are already at work developing the next generations of training technology.

 

“They are leading the effort to now visit the classrooms that we teach those ratings in today, and do a little bit of a knowledge capture and analysis of that training – should it continue to be instructor led? Do we have modernized delivery methods with computer simulation, or gamification, or other opportunities that would increase the retention of knowledge?”

 

One such technology is what he calls the Multi-Purpose Reconfigurable Training System, something that’s already in the fleet being used by the submarine community.

 

Simply put, this is a room of large, flat, touch-screen displays, White said. Those displays can simulate a torpedo room on a Virginia Class submarine in the morning and be re-booted in the afternoon to be a submarine radio room.

 

This system can be installed permanently in a schoolhouse or configured as mobile training platform, put into a trailer and drive down the pier to provide the training where the sailors are, he said.

 

In addition, he said, the service is also looking at other options for training, such as applications that can be accessed on personal smart phones and tablets.

 

Already the service has begun to offer such apps that teach some General Military Training topics. But this is expected to expand to other areas in the future, officials say.

 

https://www.navytimes.com/articles/navy-training-overhaul

 

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Navy Gives Fleet Commanders More Control Over Who Gets Training – And When

 

(NAVY TIMES 19 FEB 17) … Mark D. Faram

 

The biggest challenge – and potential risk – for the Navy’s new training program is that the fleet owns it and operational commanders will have a big say in what training sailors get and when.

 

Sure, the Naval Education and Training Command, which has overseen enlisted training for generations, will still be part of the picture.

 

But as the transformation of the Navy’s training pipeline starts to take effect this year, it will be the fleet commanders – both Atlantic and Pacific – who will decide when the sailor gets their next level of training.

“For the ship CO, he gets to decide when that sailor is ready for that advanced training,” said Al Gonzalez, the top personnel and training official at Fleet Forces Command.

 

“It may happen at year one plus one day, or [the CO] may say you need a little more time.”

 

Starting this year, the Navy will be cutting up-front training in ‘A’ school by as much as 70 percent, and the oversight by NETC will end when sailors head to their first duty assignment.

 

Fleet commanders will oversee the bulk of a sailors’ advanced training, that will now be broken up into “blocks” of training and spread intermittently across a sailor’s career after spending time on the job in the fleet.

 

It’ll be up to the fleet commanders to decide exactly what sailors will learn and when.

 

“Once [sailors]have been on the ship for about a year and they have proven their ability to absorb more knowledge in their particular career field . we will give the command an opportunity to get that sailor to block one, which is their next update on their career field.”

 

The changes signal a historic break from the Navy’s long-standing tradition of giving sailors lengthy initial training and teaching skills that sailors might not use for years – if ever.

 

“If we train them on something that they will not use for the next three, four, five years, they lose their skill-set in those areas,” Gonzalez said.

 

“What we are doing is we are looking at all that accession training and figuring out what they need in the first two years that they are going to be on the platform,” he said.

 

In the past, efforts to cut training invariably led to grumbling from the fleet and specifically the deck plates that newly minted junior sailors were arriving at their first duty assignment without the skills to do their jobs.

 

There is some anxiety about how the new regimen will work in practice. Some people in the Navy are wonder whether the shortened A-Schools will provide junior sailors with the skills they’ll need at their first job.

 

And there’s also concern among some senior enlisted officials that commands won’t get their sailors to follow on training – and here, there’s some historical precedent.

 

Fleet commands have traditionally been stingy with sailor’s time, given all the operational commitments, inspections and maintenance required in the fleet today. And the result is, sometimes, that sailors have suffered at the hands of their commands.

 

For example, the Navy has long required sailors to attend leadership training as they advance to the next paygrade. A decade ago, that training was a week-long and was given at training commands. But in some cases, commanders did not prioritize that training and at one point 28,000 sailors who did not have that training were at risk of not being eligible promotion.

 

It took a year and a concentrated effort by personnel officials, including suspending the advancement requirement for the training for a year so the Navy could get more sailors into that training course and whittle down the number of impacted sailors to 10,000.

 

But the problem persisted and within months the training was reworked.

 

But Gonzalez says that this situation will be different from the get go.

 

“That was a very significant point when the fleet became the leader in this particular activity,” Gonzalez. “As we looked at what we were doing to the operating forces, we did not want to put an undue burden on them, and that this effort provides tangible improvement for both the sailor and the ship.”

 

With the fleet running the show, he said, it’s easier for leadership to set the expectations for commanders – as well as setting the rules for ensuring sailors get their follow-on training within set limits.

 

This gives the command the chance to gauge the sailor’s actual performance, Gonzalez says, and to work with him or her on where their skills are lacking – and they can find the right place in the ship’s schedule.

 

“They can remediate a few of the things that they need to so that when he goes back to the training he is all up to speed and he is not going to be behind when he enters that course.”

 

Gonzalez says the rule have been set to help the sailor as well as the command.

 

“What we have done for the ships is a number of things, First we have given them a wide area on which to get the sailor back to the training,” he said.

 

“Two, we give the CO of that ship a guarantee – and in fact it is not even a question – that sailor would be going back to the same unit that he came from when he gets done with the training.

 

And what the command gets is an improved sailor, ready to take the knowledge he gets from that course and apply it immediately to the ship that invested that time in sending him.

 

“So the ship has an investment and a reward coming out of getting that sailor ready for his next block – and then when he comes back they get the benefit of that sailor having a higher level of skillset to perform on the same ship that he left,” Gonzalez said.

 

“The sailor benefits because he does not have to re-qualify on watch stations or warfare qualifications, does not have to move and comes back to the ship knowing that he can do a better job.”

 

https://www.navytimes.com/articles/navy-training-overhaul-sidebar

 

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Visiting the Prowler: USMC Electronic Warfare Capabilities in Transition

 

Second Line of Defense, Feb. 22 | Todd Miller

 

The unmistakable Grumman EA-6B Prowler comes into view on the horizon and streaks low across the hills of southern Virginia.

 

“Dog 31” of the VMAQ-3 Moon Dogs is on a routine low level training mission. The flight ensures pilot and electronic countermeasures officers (ECMOs) realize the minimum designated 15 hours of monthly flight time to maintain proficiency.

 

Additional time is spent training in simulators to address specific threat environments.

 

The Prowler wings by and banks into the late afternoon sun.

 

It is a visual metaphor, as sundown for the Prowler fleet is drawing near.

 

The Prowlers remain one of the premier electronic warfare (EW) aircraft in the services and are planned to cease operations in 2019.

 

Prowler squadron VMAQT-1 the Banshees were decommissioned in 2016, and the current Marine Aviation plan has the remaining squadrons following one per year; in 2017 the VMAQ-4 Seahawks, in 2018 the VMAQ-3 Moon Dogs, and the last Prowler squadron, the VMAQ-2 Death Jesters will be decommissioned in 2019.

 

The 18 currently remaining EA-6Bs are based at MCAS Cherry Point, NC and split among the 3 active squadrons as needs (deployments) require.

 

During this staged sundown, pilots and ECMOs are given options to transition to other aircraft, incoming EW platforms, or pursue new occupational specialties.

 

In many respects the Prowler “sundown” is not a typical “retirement” where a platform with diminished capacity slowly fades away.

 

Today’s Prowler is the most capable variant ever. The aircraft features the improved capabilities (ICAP) III package and will receive Block 7 ICAP III upgrades to improve EW performance and operability through to the end of service life.

 

The aircraft are effective and future deployments are planned.

 

Over 46 years of service Prowlers (USN since 1971 & USMC since 1977) have been involved in scores of critical Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coalition operations. Since 9/11 Prowlers have been deployed near continuously.

 

Recently, the aircraft have provided extensive service (including deployment to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey) over Syria and Iraq to support the coalition in the fight against ISIS. In these theaters, the aircraft jam cell phones and other remote signals that trigger IEDs as well radars that may be tracking coalition air assets.

 

While the aircraft can utilize anti-radiation missiles to strike enemy radar assets, their secondary role in this region is more likely to include intelligence gathering within the electronic spectrum.

 

By 2020, the USMC will have adopted a revolutionary change in how they address electronic warfare.

 

Rather than replace the Prowler with a dedicated platform, the USMC has adopted a distributed strategy, where “every platform is a sensor, shooter and sharer.”

 

This new paradigm brings together both electronic warfare and cyber capability with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) in a structure called the (MAGTF EW).

 

USMC Captain Sarah Burns explains, “Under MAGTF EW the Marine Corps is leveraging emerging technologies and integrating multiple aviation platforms [unmanned, fixed-wing, tilt-rotor, and rotary-wing assets]; payloads; ground-based EW nodes; and cyber capabilities to provide commanders with an organic and persistent EW capability – for every MAGTF – large and small.”

 

Within the MAGTF EW each USMC aviation platform will have the capability to carry its own pods packed with sensors / jammer payloads (such as the Intrepid Tiger II).

 

2nd Lt. Samuel Stephenson indicates:

 

“This integration of manned and unmanned airborne and ground EW capabilities will provide the MAGTF commander with greater flexibility and control of the electromagnetic spectrum and, in many cases, giving the commander a capability where previously they had none.

 

“MAGTF EW assets will be modular, scalable and networked, utilizing an open architecture that is rapidly adaptable and remotely re-programmable at the tactical level to support future Marine Corps warfighting requirements.”

 

The US Navy EA-18G Growler will continue the Prowlers dedicated EW mission.

 

The USMC F-35B & C (replacing the AV-8B, F/A-18A-D and EA-6B) will provide the tactical aviation requirements of the USMC while offering a very robust EW capability. Combined, the two aircraft (EA-18G & F-35B/C) will bring immense EW capability to the Joint Force.

 

As Stephenson indicates, “These aircraft, combined with the assets available in the MAGTF EW, will ensure the Marine Corps will be able to quickly innovate and adapt to the changing EW mission set and the battlefield of tomorrow.”

 

During this time of dynamic change within the USMC, the Prowlers remain at the ready and heavily utilized.

 

The aircraft train out of MCAS Cherry Point and participate globally within exercises of USAF, USN and coalition forces.

 

The Prowler community and aviation enthusiasts have a few remaining years to celebrate the service and enjoy the flight of the Prowler.

 

They can do so knowing this cat is black, and will be on the prowl until the final hour.

 

Visiting 2nd Marine Air Wing: The Role of Electronic Warfare and VMAQ-3

 

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Navy Cyber Chief: Network Protection, Data Assurance Top Priorities; Investments Needed in A.I.

 

U.S. Naval Institute News, Feb. 21 | Gidget Fuentes

 

The military services must deliver information and data to warfighters, from fleet commanders to pilots, that’s timely, accurate, secure and not compromised by the growing threats from network intruders and attacks, the Navy’s top cyber official told a San Diego defense conference on Tuesday.

 

“It’s about assured C2 (command and control). It’s about giving tactical operators the assurance that the data that they are looking at – whether it’s on a computer screen or the cockpit of a Super Hornet – is data that they can trust,” Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, commander of Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet, said in a session with a WEST 2017 conference audience.

 

“If you are in a cockpit, you can be assured that the track that you are going to shoot at is the track you want to shoot at. It’s the same thing for a fleet commander,’ Gilday said. “He has to be assured that the orders he is putting out to the force have not been tampered with.”

 

“Network defense remains our number one priority,” he said. “It’s more important than offensive cyber.”

“Our aspiration is assured C2 in a communications-denied environment,” he added.

 

The goal is to push out analytics “to the tactical edge” and report back to higher headquarters to provide a better cyber COP, or common operating picture, and cyber situational awareness, “which we lack right now,” Gilday said.

 

The Navy is on track with building its Cyber Protection Teams and other cyber forces over the next few years that provide passive and active defense, along the perimeter and at the core of cyber networks. Cyber defense is a 24/7 mission. “Our optempo is a constant 24/7/365,” Gilday said. “We are always on mission.”

 

The Navy retains seven of its 40 Cyber Protection Teams, half which are poised for cyber defense missions while the other half for cyber offense capabilities. They are among the 113 teams that are being formed across the military services. So far, 26 Navy CPTs have reached full operating capability (FOC), and the rest will be fully capable by summer, a year earlier than planned, Gilday said.

 

Already, the Navy has enlisted its 40 teams to support cyber missions to some degree after Fleet Cyber equipped them with initial kits that will be refined and standardized once an ongoing assessment is completed. “The initial push was, get them on a mission,” he said.

 

Much work remains, however, in the critical need to track activity and identify intruders in the network and also determine their intents and impacts. “We’re still challenged with that insider threat,” Gilday said. Attacks on networks move very rapidly, which make it harder to identify threats and respond before damage is done. Offensive cyber “will always have the tactical advantage,” he later said.

 

The cheap availability and rapid evolution of malware, especially those that are stealthy and lethal, aren’t making defenses easy. “I need better tools than the adversaries have,” Gilday told a panel audience later in the afternoon.

 

That might include artificial intelligence.

 

The service is looking at A.I. capabilities to defend the network, help block and fight potential intruders and analyze the “near-second turn” on critical information that warfighters need. “We’ve seen that the adversary moves very, very quickly,” Gilday said. Cyber Command is piloting with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to take a deeper look at its network architecture through various AI subsets “so we can detect that insider threat,” he said. “We need to do better.”

 

“The degree of automation in offensive cyber is spiraling,” Gilday said, and that’s making defending networks more challenging. “Artificial intelligence is where we need to go, and where we need to make an even bigger investment.”

 

One of SPAWAR’s top priorities is bolstering the Navy’s information technology infrastructure, the SPAWAR chief told the conference. That means upgrading systems and incorporating stronger defenses to help identify cyber intrusions, protect networks, defeat the threats and respond to those threats when needed.

 

“Industry has gone that way. We are going that way,” Rear Adm. David H. Lewis, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, said in a morning session. “We don’t make the assumption that our insides are clean.”

 

Lewis equated some network attacks as “smash and grab” burglaries, intrusions that can cripple networks and compromise data and leave sometimes obvious clues or fingerprints as to the source of the crime. But it’s not always the case, though, and sometimes an attack is much of a mystery as it is a mess.

 

“Our adversaries don’t. want us to know that they were there.”

 

https://news.usni.org/2017/02/21/navy-cyber-chief-network-protection#more-23824

 

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Link Army, Navy Missile Defense Nets: Adm. Harris

 

(BREAKING DEFENSE 21 FEB 17) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

 

SAN DIEGO – The Army and Navy must link their missile defense systems into a single network so Navy weapons can hit targets spotted by Army radars and vice versa, the chief of Pacific Command said today. That’s a daunting technical task but, if surmounted, it could dramatically improve defense against North Korean, Chinese, or Russian missile salvos.

 

“I believe that Army missileers should incorporate their air defense systems into the Navy’s integrated fire control – counter-air, or NIFC-CA, architecture,” Adm. Harry Harris told the AFCEA West convention here.

 

“I want them to be able to deliver a missile on target, and I want them to be able to do it interchangeably,” Harris elaborated to reporters afterwards. “In other words, I want the Navy to be able to do the sensing and the Army to do the shooting, or the Army to do the sensing and the Navy to do the shooting.” A Navy E-2D Hawkeye radar plane might spot an incoming missile for a land-based Army Patriot battery, for example, or an Army AN/TPY-2 radar might send targeting data to an Aegis destroyer.

 

Getting data from any radar to any weapon this way is much easier said than done. The Army’s still working on making this happen among different Army systems, let alone with other services. Currently, for example, a Patriot battery gets targeting data from a purpose-built Patriot radar by way of a purpose-built Patriot command post. The Army’s developing a new network called IBCS to connect all its disparate air and missile defense systems, and it’s had some successful tests, but it’s years from entering service.

 

The Navy is further along, having already developed what Harris calls the “unbelievably powerful” NIFC-CA. That system lets high-flying, far-seeing aerial sensors like the E-2 Hawkeye or, in future, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pass targeting data back to destroyers and cruisers. That lets surface ships shoot down incoming missiles before their own mast-mounted sensors could spot them. But NIFC-CA is specifically designed to communicate over a Navy network called CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability), which then feeds data to the Aegis fire control system on Navy ships. Connecting NIFC-CA to the not-yet-complete Army IBCS network will be a very different challenge.

 

“These two systems ought to be talking to each other,” Harris said. “I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a technical guy, so I don’t know how to make it work … How they do it, that’s my challenge to my components, to Adm. Swift (Adm. Scott Swift, commander of Pacific Fleet) and to Gen. Brown (Gen. Robert Brown, commander of U.S. Army Pacific).”

 

Brown in particular is playing a leading role in wargaming out the Army’s Multi-Domain Battle concept, which envisions land-based Army missile batteries firing “cross domain” on targets well out to sea. That includes not just missile defense interceptors but offensive anti-ship weapons as well. “As I’ve already told our outstanding U.S. Army commander, Gen. Bob Brown, before I leave PACOM, I’d like to see the Army’s land forces conduct exercises to sink a ship – in a complex environment where our joint and combined forces are operating in other domains,” Harris told AFCEA. “The multi-domain battle and cross-domain fires concepts are the right approaches we need.. in order to win future battles.”

 

Harris is equally excited about other applications of computer networks to warfare, particularly robotics. At the Super Bowl, “300 quad copters put on light show as an opening act for Lady Gaga – who was terrific by the way,” Harris told AFCEA. “What interests me in these examples is not the drones per se, or even Lady Gaga, for that matter. What interests me is the network that allows a hundred drones or more to fly in formation, to receive new orders, and to report back. That, said there’s a dark side(:) As soon as we figure out how to do this, someone else will try to hack into it.”

 

To help make these visions reality, Harris encouraged the technologists in the audience to pitch their innovations to the Pentagon – not necessarily to his headquarters in Hawaii. “My wallet really is small. The combatant commanders don’t buy stuff except in specialized areas,” he told AFCEA. “You have to, at the end of the day, pitch it to the services, (to) acquisition folks at the various service secretariats and OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense). The combatant commanders can help pull, but you have to push.”

 

Link Army, Navy Missile Defense Nets: Adm. Harris

 

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DoD Will Create Diverse Teams To Cut Out Duplicate Offices In Military Services

 

(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 21 FEB 17) … Scott Maucione

 

The Defense Department is relying on teams with broad expertise to crosscut bureaucratic tiers and clean waste in the Pentagon.

 

A Feb. 17 memo from Defense Secretary James Mattis is taking to heart a task Congress legally required DoD to take up in the 2017 defense authorization act.

 

The memo assigns “cross-functional teams” (CFTs) to consolidate tasks and duties the military services separately perform.

 

“I recognize the military services have unique competencies in the specific operating domains . However, we have sometimes allowed our focus on service uniqueness to extend into business operations, leading to duplications of efforts and costs we can no longer afford,” Mattis wrote in the memo.

 

CFTs are made up of different functional experts all working toward a common goal. A single team may include people from logistics, communications, finance and human resources from all levels of DoD and even from outside the department.

 

The hope is integrate the Pentagon in a more horizontal fashion, where different divisions can work together instead of divisions working vertically in a stovepiped manner.

 

Mattis asked the teams to look into human resource management, acquisition and contract management, logistics and supply chain management, health care management, base services and cyber/IT management.

 

The memo appoints the deputy defense secretary to lead the initiative and to bring decisions forward for consideration during the fiscal 2019 program cycle.

 

DoD has long suffered from inefficiencies and waste.

 

The Defense Business Board issued a 2015 report that stated DoD could save $125 billion over five years purely through administrative measure. Those include cutting back on contractors, streamlining bureaucracies and other improvements. The report stated those savings could be made without laying off any Pentagon staff.

Still, staff is a whole problem in itself.

 

The Joint Staff has burgeoned to more than 4,000 employees, the office of the secretary of defense to 5,000 and the combatant commands have grown to more than 38,000, Flournoy said.

 

They “are ripe for a real scrub in terms of the breadth of their functions and the level of duplication with the joint staff and with OSD,” Michele Flournoy, former DoD undersecretary for policy told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015. “Headquarters have continued to grow even though active duty military has shrunk. In total, if you add in the defense agencies you have 240,000 people, excluding contractors, to a cost of $113 billion, it’s almost 20 percent of the DoD budget.”

 

Many of the areas Mattis targeted for consolidations made an appearance on the Government Accountability’s High Risk List released last week.

 

The report, which points out government issues in need of critical attention, notes that even DoD’s ability to find duplicative programs and offices is a problem in itself.

 

Other areas GAO highlighted were supply chain management, acquisition management, financial accountability and infrastructure issues.

 

But CFTs may be the best way to address the problems.

 

“Part of the issue is that the problems we identify require multiple components of the Defense Department to work together. Many of our recommendations on overlap, duplication and fragmentation have to do with components of DoD itself rather than across government. It’s a very large operation,” said Comptroller General Gene Dodaro during a Feb. 15 congressional hearing.

 

DoD experimented with cross-functional entities last year in the realm of service contracts. The acquisition office created cross-functional units to better its service contracting.

 

“You can’t have the idea that everyone is an expert on everything. So, how do you look at and gain that knowledge and share that and create communities of practice?” said Claire Grady, DoD’s director of defense procurement and acquisition strategy. “A functional domain expert [will] have that cross-cutting look across the community field into how we are buying services. [It] is a critical part of how we are tackling this.”

 

Not everything about CFTs is rosy, however. An August 2016, National Defense University study noted CFTs could create friction with functional leaders as it pursues its mission.

 

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted in his 2017 NDAA heartburn letter that CFTs would result in “increased bureaucracy and a larger, less efficient and less responsive DoD organization.”

 

DoD will create diverse teams to cut out duplicate offices in military services

 

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Navy Shifts SeaPower Strategy

 

(SCOUT WARRIOR 18 FEB 17) … Bryan McGrath

 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has a new idea about how he wants to build the budget and is pushing the Navy to get onboard. He is rightfully concerned about the competition with rising naval powers. He is rightfully concerned that the pace of the competition is quickening. His approach isn’t getting a whole lot of press, and to many it sounds like a whole lot of inside baseball, but to my mind, it is incredibly important stuff.

 

Richardson is reshuffling the deck – and his dealer is the VCNO (Vice Chief of Naval Operations), who is enforcing discipline in the new process. Instead of the resource sponsors being responsible for putting together that portion of the POM (Navy Program Objective Memorandum Budget Process) that corresponds to their “Platforms” – CNO has decreed that POM’s will be built around how the Navy will fight AS A SYSTEM within the various warfighting domains.

 

For instance – the Director of Surface Warfare Programs – RADM Ron Boxall – is no longer just responsible to the CNO for putting together a program that deals with U.S. Navy cruisers, destroyers and frigates. Boxall is now charged with leading a domain-based view of how all platforms – submarines, ships, aircraft, space and electronic warfare systems – that deal with how we confront ADVERSARY ships.

 

That is, he oversees an entire architecture, the Surface Domain, and he must bring to his boss (N9, Deputy CNO for Warfare Systems) a coherent, architecturally-based view of how ALL the capabilities fielded by ALL the resource sponsors relate in this domain. The undersea, air, and Cyber/Space/EW domains are similarly honchoed by a two-star integrator.

 

The theory here is that at some point in the process, this domain-driven approach will then allocate functionality within the domain back to the traditional platform sponsors in a way that is derived from a coherent warfighting architecture, and so their program proposals will spring NOT from whatever community interest they’d like to scratch, but from an efficient and effective view of what is required for dominance within that domain.

 

Why is this important? It is important because as we all know, goodness follows money. And if we begin to think about allocating resources from a domain architecture perspective rather than from a platform perspective, the REQUIREMENTS generation process will ultimately have to ALSO be altered to reflect an architectural – rather than a platform – view.

 

If we are going to begin to budget from a domain architecture perspective, we are going to need to begin THINKING about warfighting from that perspective. We are going to need concept development that looks at the adversary and discerns new ways of neutralizing it, rather than concepts that look at our platforms and discerns new ways of employing them.

 

And if we begin to develop domain-centered concepts, those concepts are going to have to be backed up by coherent, multi-platform systems architectures, architectures that allocate functionality to achieve warfighting desires. After all – what OPNAV (Naval Operations) is doing right now is necessary, but it is NOT sufficient – because even though they are building a budget using a domain approach, they HAVE NOTHING TO CHECK IT AGAINST – that is, these domain systems architectures simply.don’t..exist.

 

And they don’t exist for one very important reason. Up to now, there hasn’t been a general need for them. To be brutally honest, the Navy simply doesn’t have an organization charged with or staffed for doing this kind of work.

 

For the full value and goodness of the CNO’s ABSOLUTELY spot-on approach to work, the Navy will have to up its domain-oriented systems engineering game, and I have a feeling that people in this room will be critical to that effort.

 

So now – let’s leap ahead to twenty years from now and dream out loud for a bit. Let’s assume that the Navy – way back in 2017 – stood up a systems engineering organization that held the whip-hand when it came to architectural compliance in acquisition matters, and for twenty years, Navy acquisition has steadily moved away from the stove pipes of platform capability into the light of domain driven capability allocation.

 

We’ll still need to build ships then, right?

 

So then, what would such an approach VALUE from surface ships? More importantly, if we are going to move in this direction, what should our shipbuilding, naval engineering, and naval architect communities be thinking about TODAY?

 

Well then. This gets to the heart of the matter.

 

It seems to me that in such a domain architecturally-driven view of the world, surface ships will be most valued for flexibility, reconfigurability, interoperability, and capacity. And I think if we’re honest with each other, we’d conclude that this is NOT what we prize in the way we currently build ships.

 

Don’t get me wrong. We build great ships. The AEGIS Destroyer I commanded was the envy of the world. But it was conceived of and built as a “point solution” to a set of requirements that produced a variety of warfighting capabilities. Insufficient thought was given to how it might evolve, and how that evolution could be enabled.

 

My friend and mentor retired RADM Nevin Carr has a pithy way of describing what the surface force should move toward. He talks about “big trucks”, “medium trucks”, and “small trucks”. I’ll build on this simplicity here for a bit, and what I say will be no surprise to most of you who have already been thinking along these lines – but perhaps not from the architecturally-driven perspective that I suggest.

 

Surface ships of the future must be built in order to be able to pace the threat. When a new ARLEIGH BURKE destroyer is commissioned, it immediately begins to decline relative to the threat, which is always upgrading.

 

Ten years or so down the road, at great expense and at a cost of significant operational availability, at least ten year’s worth of technology and capability upgrades are stuffed into the ship. It then rejoins the fleet – again at a high state of readiness – and begins the cycle of decline relative to the threat once again. Perhaps one more time in its remaining service life, it will get another massive modernization period in which it is taken out of service for a year and $150M is poured into it.

 

What if we could build a ship – build all of our ships – in a way in which regular maintenance periods could be used to accomplish major capability upgrades? These more frequent and less intrusive upgrades would accomplish two things. They would ensure that the ship remains in front of the threats it is imagined against, and because the capability upgrades will have arisen from a domain architecture – and a disciplined systems engineering process – the prospects for interoperability with the rest of the architecture are improved.

 

I’m talking mainly about functionality driven by open architecture schemes – -in which the Navy controls the interface and industry creates the applications to meet architecturally driven requirements. Because a coherent systems engineering organization will have been involved from the beginning, where an application for a particular function has already been created – it, or portions of it – can be integrated into the computing platform of the ship. This commonality, this reuse, also contributes to architectural interoperability.

 

But why stop with software? We took a stab at modularity in the LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) class, and while it was a well-intentioned stab, it appears that we may have gotten it wrong. Mission area modularity – to me – makes much less sense than component level modularity. I’ve come to refer to this as “the commoditization of capability”, and how we get there is somewhat like how we get to software architectures. The government – i.e. the Navy – defines the real estate and the support functions – in other words, it defines the physical interfaces.

 

Space, weight, power, and cooling are provided, and industry is asked, “what can you do with this space”? This is why RADM Carr talks about “trucks”. The ship is a truck that carries around commodities, and those commodities are capabilities – capabilities that can be switched out pierside while the enabling software is upgraded over encrypted networks.

 

You know better than I that this approach is not the way we do things now, and you also know better than I that the government almost certainly wouldn’t get it right if it tried to impose such a system on industry.

So why not work together?

 

Why not bring together the various stakeholders in this process and begin the work of creating the future?

 

Why not get the fleet, the requirements community, the acquisition community, and industry together and hash this stuff out?

 

Why not say to industry – “here is where we want to go – can you help us get there?”

 

I believe we can. I know it is worth doing. And I am certain that it will take inspired leadership across a number of years to accomplish.

 

It will certainly not be easy.

 

But if it were easy – the Navy wouldn’t be doing it.

 

Bryan McGrath is a former Navy Captain who Commanded an AEGIS Destroyer. He is a defense consultant, and is the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower. Much of this essay comes from McGrath’s Feb. 15 Presentation to the American Society of Naval Engineers:

 

http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1756022-exclusive-oped-navy-shifts-seapower-strategy

 

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Trump’s F-35C Vs. F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Idea: An Interesting Debate … Four Years Ago

 

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 21 FEB 17) … Richard Aboulafia

 

Since the election, President Donald Trump has been making headlines with his promise to look at more Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He has also discussed asking Boeing to develop an improved Super Hornet as part of this alternative acquisition path. Clearly, Trump has been reading the news about these programs … from 2013.

 

As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has explained, Trump’s comments only affect the F-35C model. Yet the F-35C is easily the weakest member of the F-35 family in terms of customer enthusiasm. The F-35B is needed to make the U.S. Marines’ fleet of amphibious assault carriers work (no, the F/A-18 can’t fly vertically). The F-35A is fully supported by the Air Force as the only plane that meets its needs (and the service has no interest in the Super Hornet, which is optimized for carrier operations). The F-35A has at least ten customers worldwide, while the F-35B has the Marines, the UK Royal Navy and the Italian Navy.

 

By contrast, the F-35C has exactly one customer, the U.S. Navy. Yet the Navy seems less than thrilled with the idea of buying it. Between FY 2013 and 2017, the Navy procured 102 F/A-18E/Fs and EA-18G Growlers. In the same period, the Navy procured 22 F-35Cs. However, some of these were destined for the U.S. Marines, and not big carrier NAVAIR. Thus, the Navy seems to have prioritized Super Hornet acquisition over F-35Cs by a factor of five or ten to one. And last year saw Boeing sign one new firm and one new probable F/A-18E/F customer (Kuwait and Canada, respectively). With Australia, there will now be four Super Hornet operators.

 

By comparison with those 22 F-35Cs, in the same period the U.S. military air arms ordered or requested 205 F-35As and Bs, with scores more ordered by foreign customers. In terms of numbers, the F-35C is simply not a very important part of the Joint Strike Fighter procurement program.

 

Meanwhile, after years of counting on Congress to add Super Hornets to its annual budget, the Navy last year resumed requesting Super Hornets in its base budget. Its current plan calls for it to keep doing so, probably with even higher annual procurement numbers. Trump will almost certainly claim credit for any block orders associated with these purchases.

 

As for Trump’s oft-mentioned interest in an improved Super Hornet as an alternative to the F-35C, this too dates back four years, when Boeing began publicizing its Advanced Super Hornet proposal. See here for Boeing’s announcement, and here for a good technical backgrounder. Since this idea was mooted, Boeing has continued to improve and evolve the idea of an improved Super Hornet, most recently with its Block 3 proposal.

 

Clearly, Trump wants to appear like he’s in charge of military requirements (and F-35 pricing improvements). But to do this, he sometimes needs to take credit for events that took place years in the past.

 

Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. He manages consulting projects for clients in the commercial and military aircraft field, and has advised numerous aerospace companies.

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/trumps-f-35c-vs-f-18e-f-super-hornet-idea-interesting-debate-19522

 

 

 

 

 

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of February 13, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

  1. NAVAIR PSM standouts among peers DoD wide
  2. Pentagon officials get firsthand look at Naval Aviation’s future predictive capabilities
  3. FRCSW Production Shops Step Up to Ensure Fleet Readiness
  4. FRCSW Earns SECNAV Gold Level Energy Award
  5. Photo Release: Professional Development Council guest speakers share experiences, advice on workplace etiquette (Link)

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

  1. F-35A At Red Flag: 90% Mission Capable; Key Systems Up Every Flight
  2. Chinese Weapons Reaching ‘Near-Parity’ With West – Study
  3. Marines Want Their F-35s Up to Five Years Early
  4. Trio of Studies Predict the U.S. Navy Fleet of 2030
  5. Charted: Here’s How The Cost Of Each Version Of The F-35 Is Changing
  6. U.S. Navy Revives Interest In Super Hornet Engine Upgrades
  7. Navy Selects Mayport Naval Station As Location For Drone Squadron
  8. Oops. Using Wrong Lubricant Does Millions In Damages To 3 Navy Planes
  9. Marine Corps Digging Out Of Flight-Hour Deficiency With Higher Aircraft Readiness Rates

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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NAVAIR PSM standouts among peers DoD-wide

 

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – A Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) product support manager (PSM) was recognized as the 2016 Secretary of Defense PSM of the Year, Acquisition Category II, at a ceremony here Jan. 31.

 

Charles Dixon, Aircrew Life Support Systems PSM, was recognized for his contributions to controlling cost growth, addressing long-term affordability, and promoting industry competition and innovation, as well as his achievements in developing, implementing and executing affordable and effective weapons system product support strategies.

 

During the award period, Dixon provided guidance and logistics support to the Aircrew Systems Program Office (PMA-202)-which includes 15 acquisition programs-and was instrumental in fielding the night vision cueing and display device (NVCD) to the fleet. Dixon’s focus on cost avoidance and Better Buying Power was critical to the full rate production acquisition program baseline (APB) agreement update, which resulted in reducing the NVCD’s per unit cost by 40 percent and saving an overall $164 million in total ownership cost, compared to the previous APB.

 

He also led a team to give Navy aircrew state-of-the-art products by incorporating engineering change proposals to the on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS). His work helped increase the component’s ability to filter gas by incorporating a catalyst to oxidize toxic carbon monoxide into relatively benign carbon dioxide, reducing the number of hypoxia and physiological events. His other efforts included:

.               Coordinating with the Air Force and Army to establish an integrated product team at Defense Logistics Agency Richmond for parachutes

.               Leading an effort to establish long-term contracts on parachutes that reduced Defense Logistics Agency contract turnaround time from 12 to 14 months to two to three weeks

.               Guiding the Chemical/Biological Defense Team in extending the shelf-life of A/P22P-14 respirators by three years

.               Developing and executing the Logistics Experience-Driven Advancement Program, which gives PMA-202 deputy assistant program managers for logistics the assignments, mentoring and coursework necessary to advance into senior logistics roles

 

Capt. Dave Padula, PMA-202 commander, said the success of the NVCD and OBOGS initiatives was proof Dixon was the winner for the award.

 

“The NVCD gives aircraft carrier pilots a significant tactical advantage at night, changing the way naval aviation fights,” he said. “Charles quickly fielded solutions on the OBOGs to the fleet, in addition to his day job of supporting more than 750 critical components for aviation aircrews-that convinced me.”

 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Material Readiness Terry Emmert presented the award and said Dixon’s job in support of the more than 750 critical components was impressive.

 

“That is the highest number I have ever seen in a nomination packet,” Emmert said. “If you take $20 bills and stack them up, the representative value of those items would be more than 345 feet tall.  That’s the value you’re making work for the enterprise.”

 

“PSMs have an inherently difficult job,” Emmert continued. “It’s tough to connect product development to long-term sustainment. It takes tenacious people to latch these two functions together and make sure the products we field are up and running affordably in the years ahead.”

 

Dixon said of all the products he supports, his work on the NVCD was the most rewarding.

 

“As we fielded these assets to fleet users, the feedback was everything from, ‘I will never fly at night without NVCD’ to ‘This is a huge game changer,'” he said. “Nothing in my mind is more rewarding than providing a desperately needed product to the fleet and seeing the fantastic results of that product.”

 

Padula cited NVCD and OBOGS as examples of how to reduce bureaucracy to increase speed to the fleet. “What you did was not easy, and I know you had some challenges along the way,” he told Dixon. “Despite that, you’ve reduced the time to transition acquisition to weapons deployment significantly.”

 

Having the right tools at the right time is just one key to that accomplishment, Dixon said. “The tools have allowed us to speed up the process to deliver in a much shorter period without compromising the supportability of the item,” he said.

 

Leaders must also be accessible to the people who are the source of good ideas and perform the day-to-day work, he explained. “I am a people person and have an open door policy to hear their concerns and guide them with my knowledge and experience so they can excel in everything they do.”

 

Having a team that works together, knows they can influence outcomes and can make a difference in the fleet is another component to success, Dixon said.

 

“Let them know you support them 100 percent and that you will be there the whole way guiding them. Allow them to decide the right approach, and then give them feedback on the process. It’s their dedication and passion to meet the fleet’s demands and requirements and for the products they manage that made this award possible,” Dixon said. “I applaud them.”

 

Dixon’s focus on developing his workforce also caught Emmert’s attention: “When I review the nomination packets, I look for technical competency and business acumen. But, most important, is mentorship. You are giving back and building the next generation to do this business.”

 

Brig. Gen. Masiello, NAVAIR commander for logistics and industrial operations, said the award is a recognition that belongs to the larger team as well.

 

“Everything you are being recognized for is something that you led. It takes a large team to make this happen. You epitomize how Air-6.0 supports the fleet.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6483

 

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Pentagon officials get firsthand look at Naval Aviation’s future predictive capabilities

 

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Four Pentagon officials met recently with Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) leadership to understand better how Naval Aviation is addressing readiness shortfalls. They also learned more about how specific tools are transforming the way today’s platforms are sustained.

 

Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) for Logistics and Materiel Readiness Kristin French were briefed Jan. 25 and 27, respectively, on five AIR-6.0 initiatives during their visits. Deputy to the ASD, Supply Chain Integration Dee Reardon and Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Maintenance Policy and Programs Ken Watson accompanied French.

 

In his remarks, Davis emphasized the importance of sustaining current inventory and the need to develop new approaches to do it effectively, because Marines will have to fly many of their current platforms through 2030 and beyond.

 

Sustainment and its costs, French said, must be considered at the beginning of each weapon system’s life cycle. “Seventy percent of an aircraft’s cost is expended in sustainment.  Operating and support costs start as early as when someone gets an idea.  It’s a balance between funding and capability.  Prioritizing is a reality.”

 

Readiness playbooks assist program offices in prioritizing the two factors. Developed for each type/model/series aircraft, they list initiatives and strategies to close ready basic aircraft (RBA) gaps and sustain readiness across the Future Years Defense Program.  “The initiatives in the playbooks are ready to be implemented once an opportunity for funding has been identified,” Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning Sustainment Department Director Tracy Burruss said.  “We know ahead of time where we would put the dollars.”

 

AIR-6.0 leadership discussed how another readiness enabling tool, Total Asset Visibility, will provide decision makers access to real-time data on the location, status and movement of material across the fleet. “With Total Asset Visibility, we will have insight on where the material is located across the enterprise,” Deputy Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations Todd Balazs said.  “We will also be able to see where the workforce is and what special skill sets they have regardless of site. With this capability, readiness will be supported from an enterprise perspective.”

 

Two predictive readiness tools were demonstrated during the event: the Readiness Forecast Model (RFM) and Predictive Analytics Model (PAM). “RFM provides tactical information on the fleet’s current readiness and provides projections on what it is expected to look like in 12 months,” Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department Director (AIR-6.8) Roy Harris said. “This sets expectations on aircraft readiness for the next year.  If readiness deviates from the plan, or we are not performing as expected, we can look into the data and see why.”

 

PAM, Harris said, projects the number of Ready Basic Aircraft (RBA) that will be available up to 10 years from now. “The tool quantifies how much RBA will be recovered on the flight line for each readiness initiative documented in program playbooks” he said. “For instance, if we improve the reliability of a part, we can run an excursion and project the amount of RBA that will be recovered.  This helps program managers understand which initiatives provide the most readiness ‘bang for the buck’.  It also helps to better inform funding decisions on readiness initiatives for the POM [Program Objectives Memorandum] process,” he said.

 

NAVAIR mechanical engineer Allen Jones briefed Davis and French on Condition Based Maintenance (CBM), which is undergoing proof of concept in the CH-53E Super Stallion and MH-60R Seahawk communities. It enables logisticians to manage and mine large volumes of data and can be used to improve maintainability and product design.

 

CBM plus (CBM+), Jones said, provides engineers with real-time data pulled from sensors embedded in components. “With this data, we know when to pull a component before it fails, avoiding added costs to the Navy,” he explained. “In addition, life limits of components can be updated based on actual data, not assumptions made during the design phase.”

 

Proof of concept on CBM+ is being conducted on H-1’s main gear box (MGB) to reduce its high rate of removals due to quill failures in the gear. Since May 2016, the CBM+ diagnostic maintenance strategy has avoided $4.8 million in MGB repair costs.

 

Presentations also included the Dynamic Scheduling Tool, which provides a list of tasks for each maintenance or repair event, including which parts, tools and artisan qualifications needed; Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that pulls from 19 maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems, providing analysts and other Naval Aviation stakeholders and providers with a single source for actionable data; and additive manufacturing, a production process that uses computer automated design software to design a part and then adds layers of powdered metal, plastic, concrete or other materials to “print” it.

 

Davis said seeing and discussing AIR-6.0 tools designed to enhance leadership’s situational awareness, reduce program life cycle costs and improve decision-making capability caused him to reflect on the progress being made and on the work that still lies ahead.

 

“Marine Aviation’s Readiness Recovery Plan is very much a fluid, multi-faceted approach,” he said. “The knowledge gained from this visit affords me and my staff yet another opportunity to pause and re-assess whether or not we’re on track, and whether or not we’ve considered and incorporated all opportunities to further optimize our ability to “move the needle” as fast as we can, as far as we can, on the road to full recovery.”

 

He also believes that AIR-6.0 has a better understanding of issues that are unique to Marine Corps programs, such as the implications of having 77 different configurations of the MV-22 Osprey. The proposed Common Configuration Readiness and Modernization Program-an initiative to have all V-22s with the same configuration-is designed to address that configuration challenge.

 

“Everyone involved in the readiness discussions were reminded of the difference between the Navy and Marine Corps readiness models and force structure,” Davis said. The Marine Corps is smaller in total squadrons and structure, but in the big fight puts virtually all of its units into action very quickly.  That means that we need to ensure our flight lines have the prescribed numbers of full mission capable and mission capable aircraft ready to fight.  That is a very different position than the Navy’s tiered readiness model.  If everyone understands the difference, then we can make better informed decisions on where we need to focus our efforts and where we need to burn down risk.  The NAVAIR team is a key contributor to that effort.”

 

Reardon, who accompanied French, said that the thought and ingenuity AIR-6.0 put into the initiatives were impressive and had the potential to be applied to readiness challenges beyond the Navy. “I came here to seek out and encourage the proliferation of good ideas to improve readiness and sustainment across the DoD,” she said. “You have figured out a way to determine what the priorities should be to maximize readiness.”

 

French said her original intention of the visit to NAVAIR was to learn about efforts to improve F/A18A-D Hornets’ RBA rates, but she came away with the understanding that Naval Aviation’s efforts extend to other platforms as well.

 

This opportunity, she said, provided her with the details she needed to better inform the Office of the Secretary of Defense leadership about Naval Aviation’s readiness enablers. “You are increasing your savvy on how to measure and get at the problem, using data to drive your efforts,” she said. “With what I learned here, I am better able to be your voice across the entire portfolio of requirements.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6482

 

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FRCSW Production Shops Step Up to Ensure Fleet Readiness

 

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. – Exemplifying determination, teamwork and dedication to the warfighter, the artisans and supervisors of Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) production shops recently met an abbreviated deadline to overhaul 14 APG-73 radar rack aft bulkheads.

 

The APG-73 radar rack bulkheads, which are used by F/A-18 Hornet fighters, arrived to FRCSW on Apr. 6, 2016. FRCSW had to repair and return 10 of the bulkheads to Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) by end of the month.

 

Each aft bulkhead is uniquely mated to a radar rack assembly. Its metal flange is unpainted, and open to damage by corrosion. Maintenance personal often find corrosion damage when removing the radar rack assembly during Super Hornet upgrades to the newer APG-79 radar rack assembly.

 

Without a repair procedure, the corroded $220,000 APG-73 would be demilitarized, which NAVSUP wanted to save for F/A-18 Hornet upgrades.

 

When the 14 aft bulkheads arrived, the FRCSW evaluator and estimator (E&E) for the responsible shop (R shop) immediately inducted and routed them to the clean shop to kick off the overhaul process.

 

Preference was given to the priority 10 bulkheads. After cleaning, the R shop performed several tasks including removing corrosion, a duty they had never performed before, but were more than willing to learn.

 

Next, the bulkheads were transferred to the production process shops where the planner and estimator (P&E) ensured no delays occurred. Paint and adhesive were promptly removed in the blast shop, and the material lost to corrosion was restored using “Cold Spray” in the metal spray shop.

 

Cold Spray is a solid-state process which accelerates a fine metal powder and impacts it onto a part’s surface. Kinetic energy from the impact forms a metallurgical bond.

 

Skillful artisans applied Cold Spray using compressed helium, a handheld gun, and a very steady hand. Afterward, the bulkheads were sent to the machine shop for finish machining.

 

The machine shop ensured the parts were handled quickly, yet carefully, using fixtures and a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program created in the shop. Excess cold spray material was milled away to return the flange dimensions to drawing specifications. With the corrosion damage repaired, the aft bulkheads were chemical-conversion coated in preparation for final paint.

 

The paint shop masked the bulkheads for priming and topcoating. Primer was applied immediately afterward. Once dried, the topcoat was applied.

 

Work in the FRCSW process shops was now complete.

 

The 10 priority bulkheads were returned to the R shop where artisans performed the final steps including applying markings, another new process to them.

 

On April 28, quality assurance (QA) verified the overhaul. FRCSW had made the deadline. The P&E updated the paperwork, and the E&E closed out the overhaul. FRCSW returned the 10 aft bulkheads to NAVSUP. The remaining four were overhauled and returned the following month.

 

It took three weeks to overhaul the 10 priority bulkheads. This was a reduction of 78 percent when compared to the timeline from the production pilot that occurred in 2015.

 

Materials engineering, Fleet Support Team (FST) engineering, and production management facilitated the process, but this accomplishment could not have been possible without the dedication of FRCSW artisans. They rose to the occasion, working through weekends, to ensure that they would not let the fleet down. It is because of them that FRCSW met the shortened deadline and $4.4 million in assets were returned to service.

 

NAVSUP is currently negotiating with FRCSW to repair 14 more of the aft bulkheads.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6479

 

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FRCSW Earns SECNAV Gold Level Energy Award

 

From FRC Southwest Almanac – Volume 9 – February 9, 2017

 

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has earned the Secretary of the Navy’s (SECNAV) Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Energy and Water Management Gold level award for FY 2014 environmental accomplishments.

 

SECNAV Ray Mabus presented the award to FRCSW Energy Program Manager Sarah Tuley in ceremonies Oct. 19 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) at Naval Base San Diego.

 

In his remarks, Mabus said that the Navy continues its efforts to advance energy independence by increasing alternative energy sources in the fleet and ashore by 2020.

 

FRCSW’s efforts recognized by the “Gold” level category designate a “very good to outstanding” energy and water conservation program. It is the eighth time in the past 12 years that the command has been awarded the “Gold” level category of recognition.

 

In total, more than 65 shore-based Navy and Marine Corps commands were awarded the “Gold” performance level, including Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton and Naval Base Coronado.

 

One measure of a successful energy conservation program is by meeting compliance with executive order 13423 (EO 13423). Signed in January 2007, EO 13423 directs federal agencies to improve energy efficiencies by reducing water consumption, electricity usage and greenhouse gases by three percent per year.

 

The new executive order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, started in the beginning of FY16 which created the new baseline of FY15 and a yearly energy reduction of 2.5% moving forward to FY2025.

 

FRCSW surpassed EO 13423 requirements with a 4.6 percent reduction in energy consumption from FY 2014, and reduced its utility budget by more than $948,000 from the previous fiscal year.

 

The energy intensity dropped from 92.57 British Thermal Units (MMBTU)/thousand square feet (KSF) to 86.58 MMBTU/KSF.

 

Using an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) which enables federal agencies to partnership with energy service companies, the command will save an additional 24,704 million British thermal units (MBTU) of energy, and more than $2 million annually starting in FY17.

 

Furthermore, the ESPC will provide for state-of- the-art laboratories with daylight harvesting, LED lighting and condensing boiler plants that are 92 percent efficient.

 

In other conservation efforts Tuley said that FRCSW saved over $10,000 in water usage, bolstered by a 50 percent reduction in landscape watering and repairs to air leaks coupled with a steam management program in Building 472 during the summer, gained more than $100,000 in savings per month.

 

She added that many projects planned during FY 2015 are being completed this year.

 

“In Building 463, for example, we’ll be completing a full HVAC retrofit which includes installing two new boilers, 16 new air handlers and cooling towers. We anticipate a projected savings of a little more than $1 million a year in B-463 alone once this equipment is commissioned,” she said.

 

FRCSW will see massive energy savings in FY17 and moving forward each year with the current projects.

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Breaking Defense

 

F-35A At Red Flag: 90% Mission Capable; Key Systems Up Every Flight

 

By Colin Clark

 

WASHINGTON: All indications from the pilots and commanders at Red Flag are that the F-35A performed far better than recent reports from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation seemed to indicate.

 

The now-departed Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Michael Gilmore, said the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats” and detailed 64 pages of problems, many of them with to do with the aircraft’s software.

 

The view from Red Flag was quite different. The 13 F-35As maintained a 90 percent mission capable rate during the three-week exercise, respectable for any combat aircraft. Planes did have problems, including one that lost a generator, but every issue was dealt with inside of 24 hours, according to two Air Force officers talking to reporters today at the end of the exercises.

 

“We flew these jets hard. We flew a ton of missions in Red Flag during those four weeks. I would strongly disagree (with the proposition) that the jets are not ready. We are ready to take these jets on the road whenever we’re asked to,” Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron commander, told us. And he said the 3i software that controls the plane, its weapons, and sensors performed extremely well.

 

And the mission systems, which enable most of the plane’s combat capabilities, performed beyond pilots’ expectations. “All our mission systems were up every time,” Watkins said, noting that he would often fly his F-16 with one or more of its mission systems down and just have to find work-arounds. “For the F-35 at this Red Flag, every mission system was up every time.”

 

While Boeing continues to press the Navy to buy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for the carrier fleet and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered a review of the carrier version of the Joint Strike fighter, the F-35C, there was no doubt expressed by the pilots at today’s roundtable about whether they would prefer to fly a fourth-generation plane – like the F-16 or F-18 – or a fifth-gen plane like the F-35 for the Air Force: “The capabilities we are bringing are better than a fourth-gen aircraft. I would not want to go back and take an F-16 back into Red Flag,” Watkins said.

 

By the way, Navy electronic warfare EA-18G Growlers did fly at this Red Flag, with an Australian Wedgetail aircraft, along with British Typhoons, F-16s and F-15Cs.

 

How did the F-35A fare at striking targets with bombs? They dropped 27 bombs and hit 25 targets “exactly within a foot of where it was supposed to hit.” The two weapons that missed were caused by weapon failures, not the jet, Watkins said.

 

Although they don’t have an updated figure, the pilots told us that the F-35 kill ratio was higher than the 15-1 figure they initially reported. While F-35A pilots continue to say that their success against Integrated Air Defense Systems and ability to bomb targets is at least as important as their ability to kill enemy fighters, the fact is that the kill ratio is a simple baseline against which the plane can be judged.

 

F-35A At Red Flag: 90% Mission Capable; Key Systems Up Every Flight

 

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Chinese Weapons Reaching ‘Near-Parity’ With West – Study

 

(AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 FEB 17) … Jacques Klopp

 

LONDON – China is beginning to export its own weapon designs, including armed drones, worldwide and is reaching “near-parity” with the West in terms of military technology, according to a report on Tuesday.

 

The International Institute for Strategic Studies said that China’s official defence budget of $145 billion (137 billion euros) last year was 1.8 times higher than those of South Korea and Japan combined.

 

It also accounted for more than a third of Asia’s total military spending in 2016, the IISS annual Military Balance report said, adding that spending in Asia grew by five to six percentage points a year between 2012 and 2016.

Total global military spending instead fell by 0.4 percent in real terms in 2016 compared to 2015, largely due to reductions in the Middle East.

 

“China’s military progress highlights that Western dominance in the field of advanced weapons systems can no longer be taken for granted,” IISS director John Chipman said at a presentation in London.

 

“An emerging threat for deployed Western forces is that with China looking to sell more abroad, they may confront more advanced military systems, in more places, and operated by a broader range of adversaries,” Chipman said.

 

The report found that in terms of air power “China appears to be reaching near-parity with the West.”

 

It said one of China’s air-to-air missiles had no Western equivalent and that China had introduced a type of short-range missile that “only a handful of leading aerospace nations are able to develop.”

 

It said China was also developing “what could be the world’s longest range air-to-air missile.”

 

The report noted that Chinese military exports to Africa last year “were moving from the sale of Soviet-era designs to the export of systems designed in China.”

 

It said that Chinese-made armed drones had been seen in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

 

The report also noted that European states are “only gradually” increasing their defence spending.

 

“While Europe was one of the three regions in the world where defence spending rose in 2015-16, European defence spending remains modest as a proportion of the continent’s GDP,” the study said.

 

In 2016, IISS found that only two European NATO states – Greece and Estonia – met the aim of spending 2.0 percent of their GDP on defence.

 

This was down from four European states that met the target in 2015 – Britain, Greece, Estonia and Poland.

Britain dipped to 1.98 percent of GDP, according to IISS calculations, although that figure was immediately disputed by Britain’s defence ministry.

But the IISS said it was more important that countries focus on upgrading their military equipment.

 

“This is made more urgent because of the degree to which Western states have reduced their equipment and personnel numbers since the Cold War,” it said.

 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/chinese-weapons-reaching-near-parity-west-study-135238342.html

 

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DoD Buzz

 

Marines Want Their F-35s Up to Five Years Early

 

By: Hope Hodge Seck

 

The pace at which the Marine Corps is getting its new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is “anemic,” the service’s head of aviation said this week, adding that the Corps could handle a much faster ramp-up.

 

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy commandant of aviation, spoke highly of the Corps’ new fifth-generation aircraft. The first Marine F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, relocated to Japan in January in a transition that Davis said was smooth and without incident.

 

Right now, he said, the Marine Corps owns 50 F-35Bs in two operational squadrons, one training squadron, and a test unit. The service declared initial operational capability for the aircraft in 2015.

 

“The bottom line is, we’ve had a very anemic ramp so we’ve been holding on to the older airplanes longer,” he said. “If asked by the American people to get the airplanes faster, I can guarantee we’d put them into play very quickly.”

 

Davis said he believes the Corps could accept up to 37 aircraft a year, between two and three squadrons’ worth. The current transition plan has the service receiving the last of the 353 F-35B and 67 F-35C aircraft it plans to buy in 2031, a rate that works out to fewer than 30 aircraft a year. The sped-up plan would see the Marine Corps complete its F-35 transition five years early.

 

“We’d transition squadrons faster is what we’d do,” Davis said. “We’d develop a plan where we’d be out of F-18 and Harrier completely by 2026.”

 

The F-35 is gradually replacing three legacy aircraft for the Marine Corps: the EA-6B Prowler, the AV-8B Harrier, and the F/A-18 Hornet, which will all gradually retire as they reach the end of their service lives.

 

In a real way, the Corps is betting the farm on the Joint Strike Fighter. The service plans to deploy VMFA-121 in the Pacific in the next year, and deploy another squadron aboard ship, likely in the Middle East, shortly thereafter.

 

Davis said he’s very confident in the platform, based on what he’s seen so far.

 

“It’s different than conventional fourth-generation fighters, like the Harrier and the Hornet, but I think it’s an exceptional capability. It’s just at the beginning of its production run and its development run, but I think we’ve got a winner on our hands here,” he said. “And the bottom line is, future generations of Marines will be able to fight in any clime and place with close-air support from this airplane. If I was a young [aviator], I would be fighting to get in this airplane.”

 

https://www.dodbuzz.com/2017/02/10/marines-want-f-35s-years-early/

 

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Trio of Studies Predict the U.S. Navy Fleet of 2030

 

USNI News, Feb. 14

 

Megan Eckstein and Sam LaGrone

 

Three congressionally mandated studies outline what the Navy of 2030 could look like and present three very different takes on how the service could tackle its roles and responsibilities in the future.

 

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis (CSBA), MITRE Corporation and the Navy completed the studies that were required by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 and would feed into the service’s future fleet design, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson told USNI in August.

 

“There will be an operating and warfighting component to that new fleet design, new ways of getting at sea control and some of those other things that it describes. Some of that work is being done now, we’re using the fleet in different ways as we build that readiness and deploy that readiness forward,” Richardson said.

 

The three studies differ from the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment, which the service released in December. The FSA was crafted to create an outlook for the service using current platforms while the architectures are more open ended and could include new platforms and strategic ideas.

 

The studies were delivered to Congress on Friday, USNI News understands.

 

CSBA Study

The root of the CSBA study was based on how the U.S. would face armed conflict with China or Russia, which are “probably going to be the defining characteristics of the Navy of the future,” lead author Bryan Clark told USNI News on Friday.

 

The study plays up the speed to which expeditionary forces can arrive in conflict areas and spreads out the Navy’s offensive power away from a few heavily armed carrier strike groups. The plan includes light carriers paired with amphibious ready groups and full-sized air defense-capable multi-mission frigates and introduces a new small anti-ship guided-missile corvette to give the enemy more targets to handle in a major conflict.

 

For example, the corvette, which could resemble the small Visby-class used in the Swedish Navy, would field a limited air defense capability like the Enhanced SeaSparrow Missile and four to eight anti-ship missiles.

 

“The idea is this helps you distribute your surface fires so your [surface action groups] can be more numerous and create more places where the enemy has to consider the fires threat – surface fires or strike – as opposed to the Navy’s plan which has 108 larger surface combatants,” Clark said. “You’re really concentrating your fires in the fleet the Navy wants to have, and we’re arguing for a much more distributed surface fleet by taking advantage of some of the technologies you can get on some of these smaller combatants.

 

“The frigate would be a departure from the modular design of the Littoral Combat Ship and include a Vertical Launch System and an anti-submarine capability.

 

“We costed out the version we had was going to be about a billion a frigate, so it’s still expensive, but you can buy two frigates for the cost of one DDG and distribute your fires,” Clark said. The light carriers – about 45 to 50,000 tons – would initially be modified America-class amphibious assault ships and feature a catapult launching system so the amphibious ready group could launch larger fixed-wing aircraft to provide, for example, air search radar like on the carrier strike group. “The CVL is really designed to be part of the ARG, and it provides the long-range fires that Marines need for amphibious operations in this future environment,” Clark said.

 

“I need fires that accompany Marines to either do the softening up of the target or to provide [close-air support] or [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], so you need have more fixed-wing aircraft on the big deck to afford them the ability to do that.”

 

Ultimately, the driving force behind the CSBA study is that forces should already be operating near the site of potential conflict so they can be used quickly without waiting months to prepare a battle space – a key feature of fighting foes like the Russians or the Chinese.

 

One idea in that vein would be to build unmanned vehicle hubs in the Black Sea in Romania and Turkey that would create a constant U.S. presence in the region with out running afoul of the Montreaux Convention that creates specific limits for ships that enter through the Bosphorus Strait.

 

The surface and subsurface unmanned vehicles could provide defense and offensive power in the region quickly.

 

“I don’t want to garrison a bunch of ground troops in NATO like I did back in the Cold War,” Clark said. “You have to demonstrate to the Russians that you can trade the pain with them right away and not wait six months to build up to it. Right away you’re going to be able to poke them in response in what they do, so you can keep it proportional, you can keep that from escalating.”

 

Navy Study

Like CSBA, the Navy’s internal Future Force Assessment study focused on creating a distributed fleet that would put more firepower in more places and complicate and enemy’s targeting. In creating that future fleet, the Navy team made few recommendations for new platforms and instead focused on taking today’s platforms and netting them together, augmenting their battlespace awareness and firepower with various unmanned platforms, and creating new strike group constructs to go after potential threat sets.

 

This vision for 2030 operations is still carrier-focused, with today’s carrier strike group getting an upgrade into a “augmented carrier strike group” for round-the-clock warfighting operations when needed. Today’s CSG composition – with a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in lieu of a cruiser – would be supplemented by an LHA/LHD amphibious assault ship and two Littoral Combat Ships. Those ships would support 27 Navy F-35C and F/A-18E/F strike-fighters, up to 23 Marine Corps F-35B vertical landing strike fighters, 14 EA-18G electronic attack aircraft, six E-2D airborne early warning aircraft, 14 MH-60R maritime strike helicopters, six MH-60S sea control helicopters, two CV-22 carrier logistics aircraft, 10 unmanned aerial vehicles dedicated to tanking, and up to six UAVs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

 

Bringing in the amphibious assault ship to carry strike fighters allows the aircraft carrier to bring along more electronic attack and ISR capabilities than today’s carrier strike group. Having strike fighters launching from two capital ships instead of one would also complicate the enemy’s targeting, the report notes, and would decrease the impact of a successful attack on a Navy ship.

 

Other than the addition of the amphib and LCSs to the CSG, this construct looks very much like today’s fleet. The report notes that “today’s fleet possesses most of the platform capacity and payload volume” to support this vision and that the Navy would have to focus its research and acquisition on boosting capability through prioritizing “increasing weapon lethality and more robust kill chains.” Specifically, “priority was given to next generation offensive surface warfare weapons for sea control within a contested maritime area, as well as multi-mode weapons capable of striking multiple types of targets.

 

“In addition to the augmented CSG, the Navy’s FFA also proposes several other strike group concepts. A “Long-Range Strike Surface Action Group” would consist of a Flight IIA DDG or a DDG-1000 with a smaller amphibious ship, with both ships carrying four to six UAVs for over the horizon targeting (OTH-T) and the amphibs carrying up to four unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) for long-range strike. This SAG would “deploy throughout the theater using a combination of organic sensors and the netted common operational picture to engage enemy forces – particularly naval targets.”

 

An “Integrated Air and Missile Defense SAG” consisting of two Ballistic Missile Defense-capable destroyers would “deploy to provide IAMD of critical infrastructure in the theater, particularly in the early days of conflict before land-based IAMD systems arrive.”

 

The collective capability of all these augmented CSGs and various SAGs operating in theater together “replaces combat power originating from a few nodes to a netted system of nodes able to sense, communicate and act in unison. At full implementation, in a major theater war the concept would provide several dispersed, netted CSGs as well as other combat nodes, supported by unmanned surface and air vehicles providing [ISR and targeting] and alternative weapons delivery options,” the report reads, noting elsewhere that the Navy would have to make investments in data links, communications and other enabling capabilities beyond what is planned today in support of the Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) web of sensors and shooters.

 

Due to the FFA mostly relying on today’s platforms, as well as advances in unmanned systems that are already in their beginning stages of development, the Navy could achieve this vision of 2030 operations mostly by accelerating already-planned research.

 

The FFA report calls for new types of unmanned vehicles, such as armed unmanned surface vehicles that deploy from an amphib and “independently deployable large unmanned underwater vehicles” – possibly akin to the Extra-Large UUV (XLUUV) – to bring sensors and weapons into contested waters unsafe for manned submarines.

 

The study does recommend a few new variants of ship: a CV-LX light carrier, or “Short Take- Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant based on the LHA-6 class but modified for a larger flight deck, fuel, and aviation ordnance, weighing approximately 43K tons. It would carry up to 23 F-35Bs and would generate 30-40 sorties per day but not be able to support the Navy’s program of record airborne early warning or electronic attack aircraft.” A DDGH would be a Flight III variant that has only forward missile-launchers, with the aft missile launch system being replaced by enhanced aviation space that could support two helicopters and four unmanned vertical takeoff UAVs.

 

In sum, the plan requires a modest increase in manned ships – from today’s planned 304 ships in 2030 to 321 – and a decrease in manned aircraft – from 1,555 planned down to 1,220 – all of which would be supplemented by 713 unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles of various sizes. Though efficient due to its reliance on netted nodes and unmanned systems, the study does not address the cruiser, LCS/frigate and possibly destroyer replacements that will be needed shortly after 2030. The Navy had previously worked on a Future Surface Combatant study that pointed to a family of systems approach, which could have nestled nicely with the FFA’s desire to have a destroyer plus a more aviation-centric destroyer, a frigate plus an unmanned small surface combatant, and the emphasis on carrier operations which necessitates a suitable air defense commander capability that currently only resides in the cruiser.

 

MITRE Study

 

On the other hand, MITRE took a very aggressive approach in its FFA, calling for a 414-ship fleet – with a preference towards expensive options such as large surface combatants over small ones, and both today’s nuclear-powered submarines and a diesel variant as well – and faster and longer-range weapons to support that fleet.

 

Though MITRE notes its ideal 2030 fleet is unaffordable, it still lays out a vision of 160 large surface combatants, 72 attack submarines, 14 aircraft carriers and two guided-missile submarines. In an attempt to reduce cost, the report recommends cutting LCS production to help pay for increased destroyer production, modifying the Ford-class carrier design or creating a conventional-powered carrier to reduce cost, scaling down the LX(R) amphibious dock landing ship replacement, and supplementing today’s nuclear-powered stealthy Virginia-class attack submarines with a less-expensive diesel sub to create a larger force for combatant commanders.

 

The current frigate plans – an evolution of the LCS, meant to create a more survivable multi-mission ship – would be scrapped, and a new frigate (FF(X)) would be designed to include an electromagnetic railgun with high velocity projectile, a Vertical Launching System with Tomahawk missiles, the ability to launch and recover unmanned surface vehicles, and the ability to rearm and refuel other ships’ helicopters.

 

The next destroyer would be large, displacing more than 10,000 tons, and the three Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 would serve as command and control ships when the current LCC command ships decommission.

 

Additionally, to supplement the surface combatants, the study recommends building a magazine ship (MG(X)) “to act as ‘wingmen’ for large surface combatants.” Each would have two to four weapons sections – with each section holding either an electromagnetic railgun with 1,000 rounds, 128 to 256 VLS cells for Standard Missiles, or 12 to 24 VLS cells for a Pershing 3-sized missile – and each MG(X) could be built with a different configuration to provide some variety to the fleet. The study proposes building these on the John Lewis-class fleet oiler hull with some modifications to increase speed.

 

In all, while the report talks about some cost-saving measures – such as scaling down the LX(R) plans to a modified Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) or a modified Watson-class large, medium- speed roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), instead of keeping it at the current San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD) derivative – it proposes a lot of pricy solutions to address future operating concerns.

 

https://news.usni.org/2017/02/14/trio-of-studies-look-to-the-u-s-navy-fleet-of-2030

 

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Charted: Here’s How The Cost Of Each Version Of The F-35 Is Changing

 

The per-plane cost for the Navy and Marine Corps variants both rose before falling.

 

(DEFENSE ONE 15 FEB 17) … Marcus Weisgerber and Caroline Houck

 

It’s been no secret that the F-35’s nine-figure price tag has been falling, but measuring that drop has been difficult.

 

Moreover, when Pentagon officials and Lockheed Martin executives discuss the cost of the Joint Strike Fighter, they’re generally talking about the Air Force’s F-35A variant – down 60 percent since the first two jets were ordered in 2007 – and not the Marine Corps’ short-takeoff-vertical-landing F-35B or the Navy’s carrier-borne F-35C.

 

So we gathered data from Pentagon budget documents and other sources, and charted the cost of all three versions, from the first purchase in 2007 to the latest deal announced earlier this month.

 

The data show that the more complex B and C models were never as pricy as the first few A jets, which rolled off the line at a cool $297 million apiece. (All figures are given in 2016 dollars.) But while the A has gotten cheaper with each succeeding purchase – in December, a batch sold for $95 million apiece – the B and C have seen their prices rise and fall. As expected, both remain more expensive than the A.

 

Overall, the price of the B has dropped from more than $226 million in 2008 to $123 million today; the C, from $196 million in 2010 to $122 million.

 

These figures reflect the flyaway cost of each plane: the price of the airframe, engine, electronics, and other associated costs – basically, the amount it takes to purchase and assemble the parts.

 

There are other ways to calculate the “true” cost of an F-35. You can include all the design and development work that took the aircraft from idea to production model, or throw in maintenance, planned upgrades, and long-term operating costs.

 

For years, prime contractor Lockheed Martin – would simply tout the cost of the airframe itself, sans engine and other fees that added tens of millions of dollars to the cost of each plane.

 

For the past four years, the F-35 program office began releasing figures that they say are a more accurate representation of the true cost, a value that includes the airframe, engine and other fees.

 

So far, Lockheed has taken orders for 354 F-35s, including 267 for the U.S. military and the rest for various allies. In sum, those jets cost more than $45 billion, about $35 billion for the American planes and $10 billion for the foreign ones.

 

http://www.defenseone.com/business/2017/02/charted-heres-how-cost-each-version-f-35-changing/135451/

 

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U.S. Navy Revives Interest In Super Hornet Engine Upgrades

 

(FLIGHTGLOBAL 15 FEB 17) … Stephen Trimble

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy has revived interest in studying a major upgrade of the engine that powers the Boeing F/A-18E/F, EA-18G and two foreign fighters, including the possible addition of new technologies.

 

In early February, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) notified industry that it would ask GE Aviation to submit a proposal for a contract for the company’s engineers to perform a study on an “F414-GE-400 core enhancement evaluation.”

 

Such notifications are required when the government plans to award a contract without inviting competing bids. No other details about the contents or objectives of the study were provided in NAVAIR study, which is described only as an assessment of “how upgrades … could improve engine performance, as well as F/A-18E/F and EA-18G performance.”

 

Asked to comment on the contract notification, GE released a statement to FlightGlobal that was approved by NAVAIR.

 

“NAVAIR has expressed interest in GE evaluating how our latest engine technologies could be applied to the F414 Enhanced Engine,” GE says.

 

GE’s proposed Enhanced Engine design surfaced as a proposal several years ago as part of Boeing’s Super Hornet bid for India’s fighter competition. GE has tested the durability or thrust upgrades in laboratory rigs. NAVAIR also paid GE in late 2013 to evaluate the F414 Enhanced Engine, with the possibility of funding a development programme two years later, although that follow-on contract never materialised.

 

“We believe this study would be an update of the previous work to include new technologies,” says GE, without elaborating.

 

A term in the title of the latest NAVAIR study – “core enhancement” – suggests the navy is focusing now on the three modules in the core of the engine, which include the high-pressure compressor, combustor and high-pressure turbine.

 

Any new technologies would come on top of GE’s proposals for the F414 Enhanced Engine. In the core section, these included 3D aerodynamic shaping of the compressor blades and an improved cooling system for the turbine blades. GE had previously considered inserting ceramic matrix composites in the turbine of the F414 Enhanced Engine, but as of early 2014 had resolved to continue using metallic alloy blades.

 

NAVAIR’s interest in upgrading the F/A-18E/F’s propulsion system comes after a remarkable turn-around for the Boeing production line in St. Louis. A year ago, the programme appeared to be close to winding down after completing remaining deliveries to the USN. Then, Boeing won long-sought deals to deliver at least 28 Super Hornets to Kuwait, 36 fighters to Qatar and a commitment from Canada to buy at least 18 F/A-18E/Fs.

 

Moreover, U.S. Defense secretary Jim Mattis said in late January that the F/A-18E/F could continue to be used as an internal competitor against the F-35.

 

“The Super Hornet now appears to be one of the more solid aircraft programmes rather than on the brink of death,” says Richard Aboulafia, Teal Group vice president of strategy, speaking at the Pacific Northwest Aviation Alliance conference on 15 February.

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-navy-revives-interest-in-super-hornet-engine-upgr-434227/

 

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Navy Selects Mayport Naval Station As Location For Drone Squadron

 

(FLORIDA TIMES-UNION 15 FEB 17) … Joe Daraskevich

 

A decision by the U.S. Navy to make Mayport Naval Station the East Coast home for the basing and maintenance of its new drone program means 400 additional personnel permanently stationed in Northeast Florida.

 

Mayport beat out Key West Naval Air Station and the NASA Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on Wednesday for the opportunity to become the East Coast Forward Operating Base for the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System, according to the Navy.

 

The plan is to establish a launch and recovery site for four drones on the base as well as a maintenance hub for up to four more unmanned aircraft, according to the Navy. Jacksonville Naval Air Station is already the training hub for the drones, and it was also the home of the first operation squadron, VUP-19, according to the Navy.

 

The unmanned, unarmed, remote-controlled aircraft are meant to provide tactical and strategic mission capabilities as part of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force already based in Jacksonville, according to the Navy.

 

“The MQ-4C Triton’s advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities bring enhanced battlespace awareness for the fleet to achieve full spectrum superiority,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces.

 

The drones have multiple sensors and can fly about 24 hours at a time with the capability to survey 2.7 million square miles in a single mission. They are 48 feet long with a wingspan of 131 feet, according to the Navy. The drones are used to conduct operations over water, specifically over international waters 12 miles or more offshore.

 

Construction on the facility will start this year with the first drone expected to arrive in 2020, according to the Navy.

 

Politicians with ties to the Mayport community offered praise to the Navy on Wednesday after the base was announced as the future home for the drones.

 

“I am very pleased with the Navy’s decision, which will not only enhance our national security by helping the Navy carry out its important maritime surveillance missions, but is also a huge victory for the Jacksonville community, further strengthening our partnership with the Navy,” said U.S. Rep. John Rutherford.

 

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson also applauded the decision Wednesday after writing a letter in April to the secretary of the Navy recommending both Florida locations as prime candidates due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

 

Nelson also cited the ongoing maritime patrol operations at Mayport as a reason why the base should be chosen. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also sent a letter to the secretary in June to advance the push to bring the drones to Florida.

 

“Florida’s military community plays a vital role in defending our nation, and the Triton system is a key component of the Navy’s maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions,” Rubio said Wednesday.

 

The Navy completed an environmental assessment to analyze the impact on the communities surrounding the three potential bases. But the results showed no significant environmental impact at any of the three locations.

So the major factor in the decision was financial, according to the Navy. The fact that existing facilities were already in place made it the most affordable option of the three.

 

Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California has already been selected as the West Coast home base for the Triton program. According to the Navy, three locations outside the continental United States will also be selected.

 

http://jacksonville.com/news/2017-02-15/navy-selects-mayport-naval-station-location-drone-squadron

 

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Oops. Using Wrong Lubricant Does Millions In Damages To 3 Navy Planes

 

(NORFOLK VIRGINIAN-PILOT 09 FEB 17) … Brock Vergakis

 

NORFOLK – Days before the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush set out from Norfolk last month, the Navy had to scramble to fix a major problem with the ship’s squadron of early warning, command and control aircraft.

The engines on three of the squadron’s four E-2C Hawkeyes had been damaged and needed to be replaced.

 

The culprit?

 

The wrong oil was used in each $80 million twin-turboprop aircraft.

 

“The damage occurred over a period of time and it involved the use of a lubricant not approved or specified for these engines,” Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Mike Maus said in response to questions from The Virginian-Pilot. “A thorough investigation is being conducted to determine how and why this procedure was allowed.”

An initial estimate placed the damage at least $2 million, according to the Naval Safety Center, putting it into its most serious classification for damage.

 

But that figure is automatically based on 15 percent of the cost of all six engines and was made before a full inspection could occur, according to Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman.

 

“When the engines are inspected for the damage we are optimistic that the repair costs will be less than $2 million,” Hecht said late Thursday.

 

It wasn’t immediately clear when the need to replace the engines became apparent, but the Naval Safety Center listed the mishap date as Jan. 19 – two days before the Bush deployed.

 

The replacements come at a time when the Navy says that half its aircraft can’t fly because they’re awaiting maintenance or lack needed spare parts.

 

“While our first team on deployment is ready, our bench – the depth of our forces at home – is thin. It has become clear to me that the Navy’s overall readiness has reached its lowest level in many years,” Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations, said in prepared testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday in a plea for increased funding.

 

“Time is running out. Years of sustained deployments and constrained and uncertain funding have resulted in a readiness debt that will take years to pay down.”

 

The affected Hawkeye squadron consists of four planes and is based at Norfolk Naval Station’s Chambers Field.

 

It’s unclear how long the investigation will take.

 

After the maintenance setback, Maus said all four aircraft assigned to the “Bear Aces” of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 124 joined the Bush on deployment the day it left Norfolk.

 

“The squadron is fully capable of performing” its mission, Naval Air Force Atlantic said in a statement.

 

The Bush left Norfolk on Jan. 21 on a seven-month deployment. The Bush has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea before transiting to the Middle East. The Bush arrived in Souda Bay, Greece, for a port visit Monday.

 

http://pilotonline.com/news/military/local/oops-using-wrong-lubricant-does-millions-in-damages-to-navy/article_3a843aca-541b-5ded-b300-c68ea9b49bc9.html

 

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Marine Corps Digging Out Of Flight-Hour Deficiency With Higher Aircraft Readiness Rates

 

(DEFENSE DAILY 09 FEB 17) … Dan Parsons

 

Not since 2012 has the Marine Corps had enough available aircraft to provide pilots the minimum monthly flight hours to maintain basic proficiency.

 

A combination of high operational tempo, aging aircraft and insufficient funding resulted in less than half the service’s aircraft – rotorcraft and fixed-wing – able to fly when last officially measured, according to Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.

 

On Dec. 30 the Marine Corps owned 1,065 total aircraft and just 439 were ready basic aircraft (RBA), Davis said during a recent meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.

 

“In the aggregate, if I am a businessman, I am underwater right now because I don’t have enough power tools to make my flight-hour goal,” Davis said.

 

“Our tactical aviation – our jets – are some of the oldest in the Department of Defense, certainly in the Department of the Navy by a factor of two in some places. Our need to recapitalize airplanes is large.”

 

The need to reset and recapitalize is especially egregious in the legacy fleets of Boeing F-18A/B/C/D Hornets. Of a total 171 jets “in reporting,” meaning they are under Davis’ command, 72 were ready to fly as of Dec. 30 including training and reserve aircraft.

 

Of those, 124 jets are assigned to active duty “gun squadrons.” On a daily basis, the Marine Corps needs 77 aircraft for its active fighter pilots to log enough flight hours to maintain proficiency. It had 56.2 available in December.

 

“I’m 20 airplanes shy of what I need to be able to make my flight-hour goal,” Davis said. “That’s a large number and that leads to the hours we’re producing now in hours per pilot per month.”

 

The aircraft are necessarily unsafe, but require ever more maintenance to make them safe for flight. Several fatal mishaps late last year were attributed to fatigue – of pilots, not aircraft – and pilot error, both of which are less likely when pilots can train, Davis said.

 

“We’re not seeing materiel problems,” Davis said. “We’re flying safe airplanes. We are not flying safe airplanes enough.”

 

The Marine Corps has a plan to restore the number of available fighter aircraft and in turn restore pilots proficiency through increased training flight hours.

 

Since 2014, the trend line has generally moved upward toward more available aircraft of all types, Davis said. In Dec. 2014, the service had 378 total “ready basic aircraft,” meaning they are ready and cleared to fly with the turn of key. In December 2016, there were 439 total aircraft ready to fly. The peak of readiness for 2016 was 473 aircraft at the end of October, according to Marine Corps statistics.

 

“That slope is a positive slope,” Davis said. “F-18s are included in there. Bottom line is that number, it’s tracking up.”

 

Last fiscal year the Marine Corps set a goal to return 43 total aircraft to a ready state but did one better at 44. This fiscal year the goal is to restore 35 total aircraft to the flight line, Davis said.

 

“I won’t know until 1 Oct. next year how we did,” he said. “I can’t collapse that gap any faster than I am right now with the funding restrictions we’ve been under in the past.”

 

An increasing influx of Lockheed Martin -built F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will begin to alleviate the pressure on F-18 fleets, Davis said. A recent analysis of the AV-8B Harrier fleet found that those aircraft have better readiness rates than the F-18 so the service has shuffled the order in which squadrons will transition to the fifth-generation F-35.

 

“Because we have additional life in Harrier, we decided that we’re going to move F-18s left,” Davis said. “We’ve actually got much better numbers out of the Harrier than we were getting … everything from the readiness numbers to the hours-per-pilot are better.”

 

VMFA-122 moved up and will be the next F-35B squadron and will move from MCAS Beaufort, S.C., to Yuma, Ariz., in 2018. The next squadron in line is VMFA-314, which is another F-18 squadron stationed in Miramar, Calif. That unit will transition to the F-35C, the Marine Corps’ first carrier-launched F-35 squadron. Following will be an F-18D squadron also stationed at Miramar that will move into the F-35B.

 

“So the next three squadrons to transition will be F-18 squadrons,” he said. “That will kind of help me take the … good F-18s we have and with three less squadrons get a better density of jets out there.”

 

Even with an influx of cash, the Marine Corps has a finite capacity to reset aircraft. The service has asked for additional funding in fiscal 2017 for spare parts and other accessories that would accelerate meeting its goal six months early in 2019, Davis said.

 

“That’s when we come up out of water, unless someone decides to build me a lot of airplanes faster,” he said.

 

Marine Corps Digging Out Of Flight-Hour Deficiency With Higher Aircraft Readiness Rates

 

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 30, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

 

  1. Mentoring the “foundation” of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast
  2. FRCSW H-60 Facility Increases Seahawk Throughput

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

  1. Davis: Marines Making Aviation Readiness Headway
  2. Top Marine aviator: ‘If I don’t get more money, I’ll stop flying in July or August’
  3. Navy Commits To High-Tech Catapults, Arresting Gear For All 3 Ford Carriers
  4. Trump Says He Fixed F-35 Program in Two Months
  5. The Disaster That Is Guaranteed to Happen if the F-35 Was Ever Cancelled
  6. Mattis Orders Air Force One, F-35 Reviews As Trump Opens Door To $60B DoD Budget Boost
  7. Trump Signs Order Promising a ‘Great Rebuilding’ of the Military
  8. Marine Corps To Plead Case For More Aircraft, Spare Parts, Maintenance Crews
  9. Marines: Ground incidents continue to plague aviation readiness
  10. CLIO CATAPULT – JANUARY 2017

 

 

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and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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Mentoring the “foundation” of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In honor of Naval Air Command’s Mentoring Awareness Month, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast presented its 2016 NAVAIR Mentor of the Year Award, along with five Dora Quinlan Mentorship Awards Jan. 26.

 

Sadell Crump, a supervisor in the facility’s calibration lab, was named the NAVAIR Mentor of the Year for FRCSE.

When they initially told me about it, I didn’t want to cry,” Crump said. “But it was really touching that someone even thought to select me.”

 

Crump has mentored several of her younger coworkers through the years, resulting in many being promoted to different positions at FRCSE. She can be her own worst enemy when it comes to keeping employees, she said. Yet the sense of pride she feels at seeing people achieve their goals and do more to help the warfighter, more than makes up for the loss.

 

“Some of them don’t even realize the potential they possess,” Crump said of her coworkers. “I love showing them they can do better than the goals they’ve set, and then seeing them reach those higher goals is wonderful.”

 

Like Crump, Dora Quinlan was a NAVAIR Mentor of the Year at FRCSE, taking home the inaugural award in 2013.

Quinlan was the FRCSE business operations director before she passed away from cancer June 14, 2016, leaving behind a son, Derek Pierotti, a daughter, Lacey Pierotti and her husband, Wes Quinlan.

 

All three were on-hand to witness the presentation of the inaugural FRCSE Dora Quinlan Mentorship Awards to Phil Hatzitheodorou, a composites engineer, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Fuel 1st Class Maques D. Pete of FRCSE Detachment Mayport, supervisory electronics engineer David Rolke, quality assurance specialist Marilyn Brazell and senior aerospace engineer Lindsay Colligan.

 

“Dora Quinlan thought everyone had potential, and some people needed help recognizing their potential – that’s what Dora did as a mentor,” said Tina Testa, a business management specialist and former colleague of Quinlan at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast. “Dora was a mentor to everyone officially or unofficially.”

 

FRCSE Executive Officer Capt. Trent Demoss emphasized the example Quinlan set by her willingness to help her colleagues, offering advice and simply being willing to listen.

 

“Whether you call it coaching, teaching, counseling, mentorship or just caring enough to listen to someone, it’s important,” DeMoss said. “It is the bedrock and foundation of FRCSE.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6473

 

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FRCSW H-60 Facility Increases Seahawk Throughput

 

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Ca -Since opening its new H-60 Seahawk maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Building 325 just over one year ago, the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) helicopter program has gained operational efficiencies and staffing improvements that will send about 10 more aircraft to the fleet every year.

 

The intention to consolidate H-60 MRO operations from Buildings 306, 308, 310 and 333 began with a ceremonial ground breaking in December 2012.

 

“Our quality assurance (department) was in Building 378 and our production control was in PS 154. We were literally spread out on the northern half of this island,” said Deputy Integrated Project Team H-60/MQ-8 Lead Travis Cooper.

 

“Simple things like writing discrepancy work orders would go from Building 306 to 154 to 378 and back to 306. It would take a day to get one written; or half a day if I walked it through personally. Now, all of those groups are here so this procedure can be done in minutes.”

 

Cooper noted that multiple work orders may be required per aircraft, and that each undergoes the same processing route. Work orders are created and submitted as flaws or damages are discovered. They are not held for processing in groups.

 

Since transferring to Building 325, H-60 staffing increased by approximately 25 artisans, primarily aircraft and sheet metal mechanics, while the examiners and evaluators staff (E&E) doubled from seven to 14.

 

“The biggest reason for that is because in Buildings 306 and 308 we had a single-piece flow system, so aircraft went from one disassembly cell to wash, to one E&E cell to repair, and back to assembly,” he said.

 

“Now, we basically have two lines working: So we have two disassembly cells, two E&E cells, sending them over to particle media blast (PMB) every three days, and coming to eight repair cells and five assembly cells versus three.”

 

The H-60 MRO program applies the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP) to assess and ensure the structural integrity of the MH-R and MH-S models of the H-60 airframe.

 

Under the IMP, aircraft undergo a Planned Maintenance Interval-One (PMI-1) or 2 cycle. PMI cycles are performed in two, three-year intervals. PMI-1 is done at the end of the first three-year cycle, and PMI-2 the following three years.

 

PMI work is divided into six sections or zones of the aircraft: zone one covers the aircraft cockpit; zone two, the cargo bay; zone three, the aircraft’s fuel system and where the tail cone attaches to the fuselage; zone four covers the tail cone; zone five, the tail pylon and tail rotor; and zone six, the upper deck of the helicopter and main rotor.

 

Cooper noted that not all zones of the aircraft are covered during both PMI cycles.

 

The primary difference between the two cycles is that during PMI-2 the helicopter’s engine and transmission are removed, the rotor heads and transmission serviced, and the aircraft is stripped and painted. Conversely, zone three (fuel system and its hoses) is serviced during PMI-1 but not PMI-2.

 

As the PMI induction begins, the identified zones of the aircraft are disassembled and the E&Es inspect the zones and components for damage and wear. The E&Es also determine the scope of repairs, and assign depot-level work to FRCSW, and organizational-level (O-level) work to the aircraft’s squadrons.

 

Degraded avionics equipment, like the aircraft weapons replaceable assembly, is returned to the squadron for replacement.

 

“The induction is to get the baseline to determine what condition the aircraft is in. When we’re ready to return it we’ll do an acceptance test, and if there’s anything different, we’ll know that it was something that was affected while the aircraft was here — like if one of our artisans accidently drilled through a wire we’ll be able to catch that and repair it,” Cooper said.

 

Depending on the condition of an aircraft, PMI processes within the cells strive to achieve specific turn-around times (TAT).

 

“We’re on a six-day TAT,” Cooper said. “Disassembly and E&E gets six days, but repair gets 24 days because they have the number of cells that afford them that time. Repair has eight cells, because their workload is dependent on the discrepancies that are found.”

 

Although out of the scope of the IMP, in-service repair (ISR) work is handled on major components, like cracked transmission beams, under a separate work order. ISR work in the H-60 program totaled approximately 14,500 manhours last year, Cooper noted.

 

In addition to IMP and ISR work, modifications and upgrades are also sizable portions of workload.

 

One current modification is the replacement of an outside beam from aluminum to titanium to stop a crack near the forward portion of the cabin door on H-60-S models.

 

“The first time these cracks were discovered was a few years after the aircraft was received,” Cooper said. “A temporary repair was made, and now a titanium beam is being added. Each of these mods requires about 3,000 manhours and we’re scheduled to do seven of them per year.”

 

An avionics systems upgrade modification is also underway in the program. It requires about 800 manhours per system, he said.

 

Between the IMP, ISRs and modifications, Cooper said that work in H-60 program is projected to exceed 250,000 manhours this year.

 

“Our goal will be to get out 65 IMP aircraft a year: or 200 aircraft every three years,” he said.

 

The H-60 program will soon relocate its hard-point and laser alignment fixture from Building 333, install additional shelving for storage, and setup 16 new wraparound stands to enhance artisan safety and protect the aft side of the aircraft transition section during servicing.

 

With 110,627 square feet of building to work with, all that stuff should fit.

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6477

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Davis: Marines Making Aviation Readiness Headway

 

By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent

 

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps is making progress in fixing its chronic aviation readiness problems, but needs to do a better job in getting spare parts to the flight line and is working to provide the right skill levels in its enlisted aviation maintainers, the Corps’ top aviation leader said Feb. 1.

 

They also are working to reverse a “spike” in ground mishaps, the relatively minor accidents resulting from mistakes in moving aircraft or in maintenance, which can remove a plane from flight status for an average of 42 days, said Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the deputy commandant for Aviation.

 

“That’s what I call negative maintenance. We’re fixing something we didn’t need to fix,” he told a defense writers breakfast.

 

The shortage of spare parts means the maintenance Marines must take parts off another aircraft.

 

“That’s called cannibalization. That’s draining our Marines’ ability to do the job,” he said. “They’re doing maintenance three times,” because they have to replace the cannibalized part later. “The No. 1 thing we can do to fix our readiness problem is put more spare parts on flight line.”

 

The Marines have been conducting readiness reviews of their different aircraft types, which emphasized the spare part problem but also identified a lack of enlisted maintenance personnel with the right experience and skills, particularly in supervisory roles.

 

Although there are enough Marines in aviation maintenance, “we did not have the density of Marines with the skill sets we need to make our readiness goals,” Davis said.

 

So a new occupational specialty code has been created that will allow service leaders to track and retain the specialists they need, and have started advanced training programs for maintenance supervisors.

 

“These are the very best Marines we’ve ever had. We need to give them the tools and the supervision they need to be successful on the line,” he said.

 

After completing four reviews and addressing the problems those revealed, “we’re doing bit better in readiness,” Davis said. “Last year, we predicted we would be up 45 airplanes” in flight ready status. “We made 44. This year we project we’ll have an additional 33, so we can stay on track for our readiness model.”

 

Overall, Davis said, “we’re on track to meet our basic aircraft readiness goal for 2019 in all our operational formations.”

 

But even with the concerted effort to get more flying hours from the legacy aircraft, Davis said the long-term solution to the readiness problem is buying more new aircraft.

 

“Some of our tactical air squadrons are the oldest in the Department of Defense. That old metal has to be retired,” he said. “Bottom line, we have to recapitalize.”

 

Davis said the Marine Corps’ role in the study Defense Secretary James N. Mattis ordered to compare an updated F/A-18 Super Hornet to the F-35 involved only the four squadrons of F-35Cs that will be bought to go into the Navy’s carrier air wings. The Marines are buying mostly the short-takeoff F-35Bs.

 

Without prejudging the results of the study, Davis said, “my sense is, we’ll probably validate the imperative to have a fifth-generation aircraft out there.”

 

Asked later what would be the effect of not buying F-35s, he said “there are scenarios where we just couldn’t go,” because the Super Hornets lack the Lightning II’s stealth and electronic warfare capabilities.

 

Davis said he does not know why the Marine MV-22 supporting the Navy SEAL raid in Yemen suffered a hard landing and had to be destroyed. But he insisted the Osprey does not have a problem with hard landings and noted that the accident caused only one slight injury of a Marine onboard, where helicopters’ hard landings usually cause more serious casualties.

 

The Osprey is “the safest assault support aircraft we’ve ever had,” he said.

 

http://seapowermagazine.org/stories/20170201-dwgdavis.html

 

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Top Marine aviator: ‘If I don’t get more money, I’ll stop flying in July or August’

 

By: Jeff Schogol, February 1, 2017

 

Without more money from Congress, the Marine Corps will have to stop flying aircraft this summer, the head of Marine aviation said on Wednesday.

 

“If I don’t get more money, I’ll stop flying in July or August,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.

 

For now, Marine pilots are flying more hours than Congress has funded with a temporary budget deal and Marine Corps leaders hope lawmakers will provide more money before the end of the fiscal year in September, Davis said.

 

“We’re 8 percent shy of what we need to fly for our flight hours,” Davis said Wednesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. “We’re flying to our plan right now. So I would say we’re running hot on our budget for our flight hour goals.”

 

If lawmakers pass another temporary spending measure for the entire fiscal year 2017, which would leave funding flat at 2016 levels, the Marine Corps will run out of money for flight hours, Davis said. However, he also assumes “the country has got more sense than that,” he said.

 

“I’m highly confident that no one will ask the Marine Corps to stop flying,” Davis said.

 

But without more money for flight hours, senior Marine commanders would have to decide which squadrons could continue flying, he said.

 

“If we had to do it, we’d propose that the operational forward deployers would keep flying and the guys in the back of the bench wouldn’t,” Davis said.

 

However, having non-deployed Marine squadrons stop flying would further exacerbate the service’s aviation woes, Davis said. The Marine Corps has not met its goal for flight hours since 2012, and that means Marine pilots today are not trained to the level they need to be, he said.

 

“They’re flying safe airplanes; they personally are safe; but their proficiency and experience at dealing with things that go wrong is not where it needs to be,” Davis said.

 

Crashes of Marine aircraft increased toward the end of 2016, and ongoing reviews show there was “nothing wrong with those airplanes,” he said.

 

“We’re not seeing a materiel failure component to those aviation mishaps,” Davis said. “It’s mainly human error.”

 

In one incident, a “perfectly serviceable” AV-8B Harrier went into a spin and crashed in September off Okinawa while taking part in a training exercise, he said.

 

“That bothers me because I grew up flying Harriers,” Davis said. “We don’t know why it went into a spin. The airplane is supposed to be very spin-resistant. I’ve never spun a Harrier and I’ve got 3,300 hours or something flying a Harrier.”

 

The plane was flying with extra fuel tanks, so Davis has ordered that Harriers not carry such tanks during air combat training in case it was a factor in the crash, he said.

 

The antidote for human error is having pilots fly more while enforcing standards and “doing things by the book,” Davis said. But the Marine Corps faces an ongoing lack of spare parts that keeps many aircraft on the ground, he said.

 

“The No. 1 thing that we can do to help improve readiness on the flightline for the Marine Corps is to fix our spare parts problem,” Davis said. “Across the Department of the Navy, we do not have the spare parts we need — it’s not just the Marine Corps; it’s the Navy as well — to sustain our airplanes and maintain our readiness goals.”

 

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/articles/marines-may-run-out-of-money-to-fly-this-summer

 

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Breaking Defense

 

Navy Commits To High-Tech Catapults, Arresting Gear For All 3 Ford Carriers

 

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

 

WASHINGTON: Despite congressional doubts, years of delays, and almost $5 billion in overruns, the US Navy has now locked in two controversial high-tech systems for all three of its Ford-class supercarriers. First, a week ago, the Navy announced a review of alternative systems had decided to stick with General Atomics’ Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for all three flattops. Today, General Atomics announced it had also won a $533 million sole-source contract to install its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) on the third and final ship, the USS Enterprise.

 

The three carriers won’t be entirely identical. In order to cut costs, for example, the Kennedy (CVN-79) and Enterprise (CVN-80) won’t have the high-powered and high-cost Dual Band Radar used on the Ford (CVN-78). (DBR was originally designed for the ill-fated DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyers). But the three ships will share the crucial new systems that define the Ford carriers as a class, replacing hard-to-maintain hydraulics and steam with electrical power:

  • new nuclear reactors to produce more power;
  • a new electrical system (including problematic Main Turbine Generators) to distribute all the energy;
  • EMALS to launch planes off the deck without steam catapults; and
  • AAG to help planes land without hydraulic arresting gear.

 

In the future, the Ford‘s enhanced electrical system should also be able to accommodate upgrades like defensive jammers and laser weapons more easily than the older Nimitz class. Here and now, however, because Ford is the first new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers since the USS Nimitz joined the fleet in 1975, adding all these revolutionary technologies in a single ship has had rocky results.

 

Testing on EMALS is basically done, according to the Navy, but AAG continues to lag behind. Given AAG’s developmental troubles on the Ford, the Navy had considered going back to the old-school Nimitz-class Mark 7, Mod 3 hydraulics for the Kennedy and Enterprise. But doing so would have been a big step backward for the entire design philosophy.

 

The combination of EMALS to launch and AAG to land is meant not only to be easier to maintain than the old steam and hydraulic systems, but also to be able to keep up a higher pace of operations in combat. Whether that will work in real life is something we won’t know until the Ford begins operational testing at sea.

 

Navy Commits To High-Tech Catapults, Arresting Gear For All 3 Ford Carriers

 

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Defense One

 

Trump Says He Fixed F-35 Program in Two Months

 

By Marcus Weisgerber

 

Less than two months after Donald Trump tweeted that “The F-35 program and cost is out of control” and less than a week after Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered a review with an eye toward cost-cutting, the president says the project is “now in good shape.”

 

“The F-35 fighter jet — a great plane by the way, I have to tell you, and Lockheed is doing a very good job as of now,” Trump said Monday at a meeting with small business leaders at the White House. “There were great delays, about seven years of delays, tremendous cost overruns. We’ve ended all of that and we’ve got that program really, really now in good shape, so I’m very proud of that.”

 

In reality, the F-35 has been doing better for about half a decade now. Consider that between 2001 and 2011, the program was delayed six years and blew its budget by $13 billion, according to Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the general in charge of the project. Since its restructuring in 2011, the program has hit many of its milestones, though Bogdan said last month that the program might need $532 million more to complete flight testing and the Pentagon’s testing office warned of possible delays to come.

 

And the cost of the jet has been declining rather steadily for five years, a Defense One analysis found. Since 2007, the Pentagon has ordered nine batches of F-35s. The price tag of the F-35A — the version flown by the U.S. Air Force and most allies — has fallen with each order. For example, F-35As in the seventh order cost 5 percent less than those in the sixth order, and so on.

 

But when officials from Lockheed and the Pentagon sat down in 2015 to negotiate a price for the ninth batch, they were unable to come to terms. Some 14 months of negotiations led, in November, to a take-it-or-leave offer from DoD: 57 planes for $6.1 billion. Lockheed has until Tuesday to appeal the contract to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.

 

Last Tuesday, Marillyn Hewson, the firm’s chairman, CEO and president, was asked on a quarterly earning call whether Lockheed would take legal action. “We are just going to continue to look at our options,” she said.

 

But she also said that negotiations on the 90-plane tenth batch were nearly their conclusion. On Tuesday, Hewson said Lockheed and Boeing were “close to a deal” that would see the F-35A’s price tag drop below $100 million.

 

It appears to be this deal that Trump is claiming to have shaped.

 

“I got involved in that about a month ago,” Trump said this morning. “There was no movement and I was able to get $600 million approximately off those planes.”

 

That would represent about $6.6 million per plane, or about a 6.5-percent drop between the ninth and tenth batches.

 

As president-elect, Trump met with Hewson twice, one at his compound in Palm Beach, Florida, and once at Trump Tower in Manhattan. The aerospace CEO also was at the White House one week ago when Trump met with business leaders.

 

Trump also suggested that his December invitation to Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet” had helped bring the cost down.

 

“I appreciate Boeing for coming in and competing and now they’ll be competing during the process for the rest of the planes, because there are thousands of more planes coming. We have a lot of planes coming,” he said this morning.

 

What did Lockheed have to say about this? Here’s a company statement: “We appreciate President Trump’s comments this morning on the positive progress we’ve made on the F-35 program. We share his commitment to delivering this critical capability for our men and women in uniform at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.”

 

Meanwhile, Trump’s new defense secretary has ordered up a pair of reviews on the program. Last Thursday, Mattis ordered Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to “oversee a review of the F-35 program to determine opportunities to significantly reduce the cost of the F-35 program while meeting the requirements.” Mattis also ordered a review “that compares F-35C [the naval version] and F/A-18E/F [Super Hornet] operational capabilities and assesses the extent that the F/A-18E/F improvements (an advanced Super Hornet) can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative.”

 

Boeing has been working on a souped-up version of the F/A-18, one that can fly farther and faster than the ones flown today by the Navy.

 

The Pentagon plans to buy 2,443 F-35s. So far the U.S and its allies have ordered a total of 373, of which Lockheed has delivered 66, with the same number slated for delivery this year Hewson said.

 

http://www.defenseone.com/search/?q=Trump+Says+He+Fixed+F-35+Program+in+Two+Months

 

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The National Interest

 

The Disaster That Is Guaranteed to Happen if the F-35 Was Ever Cancelled

 

David Axe

 

U.S. president Donald Trump hates the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. And that could mean trouble for his Trump’s own plan to massively expand the U.S. Navy. If Trump manages to cancel the F-35, as he has hinted he might try to do, the Navy won’t have fixed-wing planes to operate from a likely growing fleet of amphibious ships.

 

Trump first attacked [3] the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 while campaigning in October 2016. “I do hear that it’s not very good,” Trump told a radio host. “I’m hearing that our existing planes are better … [Test pilots] are saying it doesn’t perform as well as our existing equipment, which is much less expensive.”

 

The real-estate developer, who has no political experience, redoubled his assault on the long-in-development F-35 shortly after narrowly winning the U.S. electoral college and thus the presidency in November 2016. Trump lost the popular vote to rival Hillary Clinton by an unprecedented three million votes. The archaic U.S. presidential-election system awards electoral votes based on popular votes in each state, giving large states less relative power than small ones.

 

“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted to millions of followers in December 2016.

 

Trump is correct that the F-35 is expensive and late. Even the least expensive F-35 variant, the conventional-takeoff “A” model, costs no less than $100 million per copy, tens of millions of dollars more than an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-35 program is several years behind schedule, but the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force have finally declared their first squadrons to be combat-ready.

 

A heavily upgraded F/A-18 could, in theory, replace the F-35A and the aircraft-carrier-compatible F-35C in some missions — and at potentially lower cost. But the Super Hornet could never replace the vertically-landing F-35B jump jet variant that the U.S. Marines and the U.K. military are buying for their amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers, respectively.

 

The nine Wasp and America-class assault ships that the U.S. Navy operates on behalf of the Marines lack the space, catapults and arrestor gear they would need to operate a traditional carrier plane such as the Super Hornet. The Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, while big enough for conventional planes, are being built without catapults and arrestor wires as a cost-saving measure.

 

The older Anglo-American Harrier has long been out of production and is quickly dwindling in number in U.S. service. The Royal Air Force retired its last Harriers in 2010. That leaves the F-35B as the only fixed-wing fighter in production anywhere in the world that is compatible with the American assault ships and the British carriers. If Trump cancels the F-35, he will effectively eliminate at-sea tactical aviation in the U.S. Marine Corps.

 

For its part, the Royal Navy would have to spend potentially billions of dollars retrofitting cats and traps to its two flattops.

 

The potential problem will get worse. The Trump administration wants to expand the U.S. combat fleet from today’s roughly 280 vessels to no fewer than 350. Anticipating Trump’s willingness to push for a bigger fleet, in December 2016 outgoing Navy secretary Ray Mabus formally outlined [4] a naval expansion that, among other additions, would boost the amphibious force from 31 ships to 38.

 

The Navy has not specified exactly which types of amphibious ships it wants to add to the fleet, but historically the sailing branch buys amphibs in sets of three — one carrier-style assault ship, a landing dock tailored for cargo and another landing dock optimized for carrying vehicles. It’s possible the Navy could buy two more assault ships as part of the planned fleet-expansion, growing the current nine-vessel assault-ship roster to 11 vessels.

 

With F-35s on their decks, these assault ships would represent a powerful complement to the Navy’s 11 bigger supercarriers with their squadrons of Super Hornets. Without F-35s, the assault ships — no to mention the Royal Navy’s carriers — could become glorified helicopter-carriers.

 

Trump has not signaled how he will square his attacks on the F-35 with his simultaneous plan for a bigger fleet.

 

By contrast, U.S. senator John McCain — an Arizona Republican who is chairman of the senate’s armed services committee and a vocal critic of Trump — has called on the Navy to pursue what McCain called a “new high/low mix” in its aircraft carrier fleet, building more assault ships in the vein of the current America class not only to support amphibious assaults, but also to relieve the bigger supercarriers of some of their “day-to-day” missions.

 

To fill out the flight decks of these new “light carriers,” McCain proposed [5] that the Marines buy more F-35Bs — and faster — starting with an extra 20 F-35Bs over the next five years.

 

It’s unclear who will get their way — Trump, the Navy or McCain. The opening move in the clash over the F-35 will likely be Trump’s first defense-budget proposal, which the administration could release as early as the spring of 2017.

 

http://newtest.nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-disaster-guaranteed-happen-if-the-f-35-was-ever-19254

 

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Breaking Defense

 

Mattis Orders Air Force One, F-35 Reviews As Trump Opens Door To $60B DoD Budget Boost

 

By Colin Clark

 

WASHINGTON: After weeks of uncertainty and mounting evidence that only larger deficits were the path to a significant boost to the US military, President Trump has signaled the fiscal spigots will be opened in the interests of a larger and more capable US military.

 

“I think it’s significant in signaling this is a priority among the alphabet soup list of growing priorities for the new administration and Congress,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, says in an email. “But it still doesn’t change much the trajectory of his overall federal budget under (OMB director nominee Mick) Mulvaney.

 

“What it does mean is that the buildup will ultimately get done (mostly through debt-financing) after this Congress bangs its head against the wall of the forthcoming ideologically radical budget and watching it fail at a later date,” Eaglen said. Eaglen had predicted Trump’s policy choice earlier and made clear in the piece what his choices are.

 

Sen. John McCain appears to have helped prepare this battlefield, slamming Trump’s pick for OMB director, Mike Mulvaney, earlier this week for voting against military spending as a member of the House. Although McCain has said he might oppose Mulvaney’s nomination, it now looks as if the House member will squeak through.

 

Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s favorite Fox broadcasters, asked the president last night how important a balanced budget is to him.

 

” I want a balanced budget eventually. But I want to have a strong military. To me, that’s much more important than anything,” Trump said, leaving little room for him to be misinterpreted.

 

The president has trumpeted how he is going to help control the costs of weapons and he told Hannity: “And I’m negotiating the price of airplanes, can you believe this? But I understand airplanes. I’ve bought a lot of airplanes.”

 

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis today ordered complete program reviews of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force One programs, carefully noting in the memos that both are “critical acquisition” programs.” Appearing to indicate that Air Force One is the lower hanging fruit, Mattis said Deputy Defense Bob Work will execute the review with an eye to “substantially reduce the program’s cost while delivering critical capabilities.” The F-35 review is being done to “significantly” reduce costs.

 

During his interview with Hannity, Trump claimed he “cut off hundreds of millions of dollars off one particular plane, hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time. It wasn’t like I spent, like, weeks, hours, less than hours, and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And the plane’s going to be better.” It’s unclear whether Trump was pointing to the F-35 or to Air Force One, both of which he has lambasted for high costs. It is clear that Trump’s public pressure on Lockheed Martin, builder of the F-35, appears to have them more publicly amenable to agreeing to lower costs. But we’ll have to see what LRIP 10, the next batch, looks like.

 

Of course, the F-35’s cost has been dropping for several years now, and Air Force One is only budgeted for $170 million in spending so far, although the program is estimated to eventually cost $3.73 billion. The main drivers for Air Force One costs are, of course, survivability and communications. The Secret Service plays a major — if usually unacknowledged — role in setting the requirements for the plane and for the helicopters used to ferry the president and his top aides. So if the president really wants to control costs for Air Force One, he may need to push the people who protect him to lower their sights.

 

Mattis Orders Air Force One, F-35 Reviews As Trump Opens Door To $60B DoD Budget Boost

 

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Defense News

 

Trump Signs Order Promising a ‘Great Rebuilding’ of the Military

 

By: Aaron Mehta

 

Updated 1/27/2017 at 7:24 PM EST with the text of the executive order.

 

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will lead to what he called “a great rebuilding” of the military.

 

The directive, signed during the commander in chief’s first visit to the Pentagon, calls for reviews of readiness capabilities, as well as formal looks at the nuclear and missile defense portfolios now in the hands of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was officially sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence during the visit.

 

During a brief speech, Trump described the American military as “the greatest force for justice and peace and goodness that have ever walked the face of this earth. Your legacy exists everywhere in the world today where people are more free, more prosperous, and more secure because of the United States of America.”

 

As a result, Trump said signing what he called an “executive action” would lead to “developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform, and I’m very proud to be doing that.

 

“As we prepare our budget request of Congress, and I think Congress is going to be very happy to see it, our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace. And we do want peace,” he added.

 

A draft of the order was published online Thursday by the Washington Post. As part of that draft order, the Pentagon was directed to conduct a 30-day review of the US-led effort to defeat the Islamic State group, and to evaluate how prepared the American military is to deal with near-peer competitors like Russia and China. It also instructed the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop — within 90 days — an emergency budget amendment to boost military spending this year, and for Mattis to update and revise existing budget plans for fiscal year 2018, the Post reported. Finally, the draft requested Mattis develop a new national security plan by next January, which would include plans for modernizing the nuclear forces and developing new missile defense capabilities.

 

However, the final version of the language, released late Friday, varies from the draft version.

 

In the actual signed version, the focus is on improving readiness long term. The language ordering updates to the FY18 budget on a timetable are no longer there, instead replaced with a broader order to “develop levels” for 2018 in conjunction with OMB. The report now orders a full-up Nuclear Posture Review and a Ballistic Missile Defense Review, which will be led by the department.

 

Perhaps most notably, the final language does not include any mention of the Pentagon drafting a nationals security plan, instead directing the secretary to develop a National Defense Strategy “upon transmission of a new National Security Strategy to Congress.” Loren DeJonge Schulman, a former official at the National Security Council and the Pentagon, now with the Center for a New American Security, said that language was a particularly odd aspect of the draft.

 

“While a new administration giving written guidance to the Department of Defense on its strategy and budget isn’t unprecedented, the draft EO is both strange and problematic,” Schulman said earlier in the day. “It’s a major case of putting the cart before the horse. Telling the department where and how to invest before the administration conducts any review of its strategy isn’t just bad process, it’s bad for the military.

 

“Written commander’s intent is nothing new at DoD, but giving this text force of law for the executive branch is overkill – the content of the EO could just as easily be conveyed to Mattis as marching orders. But an EO gives it a public (and press) component since they have to be published on the federal register,” Schulman noted.

 

More specifically, Schulman raised questions about the order for the Pentagon to develop a national strategy rather than the NSC.

 

“Buried in the text is a huge issue: tasking DoD to develop a national security strategy,” she said. “The National Security Strategy is a report transmitted by the president to Congress and normally drafted by the president’s national security staff. Assigning the pen to the Pentagon is unprecedented and bizarre.”

 

That issue now appears to be a non-issue, although other questions have now arisen. In particular, it is unclear at the moment exactly how much the executive order can do about the budget — a view the House Armed Services Committees Democrats made clear in a tweet during the event, when it sent out a note that “Fun fact: Under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the exclusive power to rebuild the military.”

 

Another potential challenge with the order is the expected clash between what the Pentagon wants and the views of Trump’s nominee to head OMB, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.. Mulvaney strict budget hawk who is widely expected to refuse budget increases unless they are balanced out with cost cuts from elsewhere in the government, and defense analysts generally agree that for Trump to reach the heights of military spending he seeks, he will have to increase the defense budget significantly, something that could be a challenge under Mulvaney’s strict guidelines.

 

Todd Harrison, a budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also notes that pushing out any sort of budget move out of OMB in the near term may be difficult, as Mulvaney’s views are likely to clash with those of the professional staff who have been there a while — requiring Mulvaney and his team to go back and redo much of the preliminary work that has been laid down already.

 

Before signing the executive order on Friday, Trump convened an hourlong meeting with Mattis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, who runs the National Guard Bureau. They were joined by Pence and the president’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, a defense official said.

 

The meeting was run by Trump and focused predominantly on his desire to “accelerate the defeat of ISIS,” the official said. The president set no deadlines, however, and “the chiefs did most of the talking,” the official added. The discussion, he said, was “very cordial.”

 

“I think everyone’s in agreement that we want to defeat ISIS quickly,” the official said.

 

The leaders also discussed the president’s focus on rebuilding the military and improving its ability to respond to contingencies.

 

At the meeting’s outset, Trump as provided with a briefing on the military’s geographic combatant commands, which oversee US military operations throughout specific parts of the world, the official said. “And then there was an interesting discussion on the role of the National Guard, and how they work for state governors.”

 

The full text of the executive order is as follows:

 

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including my authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I hereby direct the following:

 

Section 1. Policy. To pursue peace through strength, it shall be the policy of the United States to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces.

 

Sec. 2. Readiness.

 

(a) The Secretary of Defense (Secretary) shall conduct a 30-day Readiness Review. As part of this review, the Secretary shall:

 

(i)            assess readiness conditions, including training, equipment maintenance, munitions, modernization, and infrastructure; and

(ii)           submit to the President a report identifying actions that can be implemented within the current fiscal year and that are necessary to improve readiness conditions.

 

(b) Concurrently with the Readiness Review, the Secretary, together with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shall develop a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget amendment for military readiness, including any proposed reallocations.

 

(c) The Secretary shall work with the Director of OMB to develop levels for the Department of Defense’s FY 2018 budget request that are necessary to improve readiness conditions and address risks to national security.

 

(d) Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall submit to the President a plan of action to achieve the levels of readiness identified in the Secretary’s Readiness Review before FY 2019. That plan of action shall address areas for improvement, including insufficient maintenance, delays in acquiring parts, access to training ranges, combatant command operational demands, funding needed for consumables (e.g., fuel, ammunition), manpower shortfalls, depot maintenance capacity, and time needed to plan, coordinate, and execute readiness and training activities.

 

Sec. 3. Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces.

 

(a) Upon transmission of a new National Security Strategy to Congress, the Secretary shall produce a National Defense Strategy (NDS). The goal of the NDS shall be to give the President and the Secretary maximum strategic flexibility and to determine the force structure necessary to meet requirements.

 

(b) The Secretary shall initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.

 

(c) The Secretary shall initiate a new Ballistic Missile Defense Review to identify ways of strengthening missile-defense capabilities, rebalancing homeland and theater defense priorities, and highlighting priority funding areas.

 

With reporting by Andrew deGrandpre of Military Times.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/report-draft-executive-order-would-give-pentagon-short-term-funding-boost

 

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Marine Corps To Plead Case For More Aircraft, Spare Parts, Maintenance Crews

 

National Defense, Feb. 1 | Sandra Erwin

 

The Marine Corps’ aircraft fleet — notably the V-22 Ospreys — is being flown to exhaustion in operations around the world. Crews are overextended, spare parts are in short supply and there are never enough airplanes to satisfy commanders’ demands.

 

On the upside, Marine aviation readiness has improved in recent years, although there is still a deep hole to climb out of, says Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.

 

An executive order that President Trump signed last week requires Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to complete a 30-day examination of many aspects of military readiness, including equipment, facilities, maintenance, personnel and training.

 

As far as Marine Corps aviation readiness is concerned, Davis boils down priorities as follows: Increasing the number of aircraft that are available to fly, stocking up on spare parts and boosting the ranks of enlisted maintainers. He also intends to push the case that the Marine Corps needs more money to buy new aircraft.

 

“Old metal has to be replaced,” Davis tells reporters Feb. 1 during a roundtable meeting.

 

The Marine Corps’ tactical fighter fleet of F/A-18s and Harriers is among the oldest in the entire U.S. military. And the V-22 today is the “most operationally in demand airplane in the Department of Defense,” he says. “We can’t get enough of those. We can’t turn the maintainers and the crews fast enough, or produce them fast enough to meet combatant commanders’ demands.”

 

As the Pentagon gears up for a new budget submission — which in theory will be shaped by the 30-day review that Trump directed — the Marine Corps should have an opportunity to argue that “we do need to recapitalize,” says Davis. “It’s imperative for the Marine Corps to get out of the old and into the new.”

 

Mattis issued new budget guidance that is broken down into three parts: a fiscal year 2017 budget amendment proposal, a fiscal year 2018 president’s request and the 2019-2023 out-year plan.

 

Davis says more resources will be sought for spare parts, flying hours, maintenance crews and procurement of new aircraft. “The president is putting pressure on the people who build our airplanes to come up with a better price,” he says, in reference to Trump’s individual meetings with the CEOs of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “We’ll see what they come up with.”

 

In a separate review, the Defense Department will investigate whether an upgraded F/A-18E/F Super Hornet — to be proposed by Boeing — could replace the F-35C naval variant of the joint strike fighter. The Marine Corps intends to buy 353 vertical takeoff F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs. Davis would not comment on the review but says he expects it to validate the current requirement.

 

With regard to the V-22, Davis suggests the Marine Corps might seek to increase the approved requirement of 460 aircraft if the Trump administration directs the Pentagon to grow the Marine Corps.

 

The Corps is still acquiring new V-22s from the manufacturer — a Boeing and Bell Helicopter consortium. The Osprey is now the service’s primary personnel carrier, so a larger Corps would require more airplanes, Davis says.

 

Under a five-year contract signed in 2013, the Navy is buying 99 V-22s: 92 MV-22s for the Marine Corps and seven CV-22s for the Air Force Special Operations Command. Davis noted that the Marine Corps has “loaned” 12 Ospreys to the Navy for carrier-based operations but expects to get those aircraft back. The $70 million apiece aircraft became operational in 2007 and has become a workhorse.

 

The upkeep of the V-22 fleet has been complicated because over the years units have customized and modified aircraft with various subsystems for different missions. The current fleet of nearly 300 V-22s includes 77 different configurations.

 

The Marine Corps has funded a program to begin standardizing the oldest 129 aircraft to match the more modern versions. “It makes it hard to maintain readiness when you have to maintain 77 variants,” Davis says. The Marines also intend to continue to invest in aerial refueling kits that turn Ospreys into in-flight refueling tankers.

 

The upcoming budget proposal will reflect Marines’ growing concerns about aircraft maintenance and spare parts. A spike in mishaps in recent months has been blamed on human error but a number of ground-based accidents were the result of maintenance blunders, Davis says. “Each ground mishap takes airplanes out of the service for weeks.”

 

Because there are not enough spare parts, maintainers cannibalize other aircraft. “That’s negative maintenance,” says Davis. “Attacking those things will allow us to have more airplanes on the flight line. … The best thing we can do for readiness is fix our spare parts problem. Across the Department of the Navy, we do not have the spare parts to sustain our aircraft.”

 

One bright spot is Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), the unit responsible for the transportation of the president of the United States, vice president, cabinet members and other VIPs. The squadron operates MV-22 Ospreys that have a 94 percent full-mission capable rate. Only 3 to 4 percent of the squadron’s aircraft experience a shortage of spare parts, compared to 10 percent in other Marine Corps fleets. “I’m challenging the 10 percent non mission capable rate,” says Davis. “What airline plans on not having parts for 10 percent of its flying machines.”

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/lists/posts/post.aspx?ID=2410

 

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Marines: Ground incidents continue to plague aviation readiness

 

By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 1, 2017

 

WASHINGTON – The number of ground accidents for Marine Corps aircraft has more than doubled over the last five years, costing the Marines thousands of flying hours due to broken aircraft, the head of Marine Corps aviation told reporters Wednesday.

 

Class C ground incidents – when an airframe sustains $50,000 to $500,000 in damage — include damage caused while towing planes on base, or by maintenance errors, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of Marine Corps aviation.

 

According to data provided by the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va., Class C mishaps rose from 12 in fiscal year 2012 to 29 in fiscal year 2016. The Class C mishaps are the third-most damaging type. Class B incidents occur when an aircraft sustains $500,000 to $2 million in damage and leaves crew with significant injuries. Class A mishaps occur when an aircraft has sustained more than $2 million in damage and leads to a permanent disability or death.

 

The Marines have said that budget cuts and a continued demand for its planes for air operations have led to the increases in all types of incidents.

 

In the last five years, Davis said, the Marine Corps estimates it has lost 1,023 flying days to Class C ground mishaps that have taken planes off flying status.

 

“Each and every one of those on average – those ground mishaps — takes an airplane off flight schedule for 43 days,” Davis said.

 

The Marine Corps reviewed the last five years of ground incidents to identify reasons behind the increase, Davis said. Besides the pace of operations and budget cuts, one of the key takeaways was that a lack of spare parts was contributing to the number of maintenance error incidents.

 

“They’re making mistakes in some cases because they are cannibalizing parts off one airplane to go make another one,” Davis said.

 

Davis said the service will press for more spare parts Feb. 8 when it goes to Congress to discuss readiness levels and budget needs.

 

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/marines-ground-incidents-continue-to-plague-aviation-readiness-1.452053

FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of January 23, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

  1. NAS Jacksonville fire crew gets out of tight situation at FRCSE
  2. FRCSW Cold Spray Technology – Saving Taxpayers Time and Money

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

  1. Lemoore Naval Base Welcomes First Contingent Of F-35C Fighter Jets
  2. Trump Taps Private-Equity Investor As Civilian Head Of Navy
  3. Pentagon Confirms Trump Hiring Freeze Locks Out Military Civilians
  4. Fix The Fleet! U.S. Navy Makes Maintenance Top Priority
  5. Update To Navy Unfunded Priorities List Emphasizes Readiness
  6. James Mattis: Readiness Vs Offset
  7. Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not
  8. Rolls-Royce studies two new stall fixes for V-22 engines
  9. McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein
  10. Air Force Chief Scientist confirms F-35 will include artificial intelligence
  11. Super Hornet could compete with Lockheed F-35
  12. Lockheed CEO: F-35A Price to Drop Below $100M in Next Contract
  13. F-35 in Trump Administration’s Crosshairs
  14. Some Thoughts On The McCain White Paper

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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NAS Jacksonville fire crew gets out of tight situation at FRCSE

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First Coast Fire and Rescue got a victim out of a tight spot at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Crinkley Engine Facility on Jan. 12.

 

Thankfully, the victim was a dummy – a mannequin – and the call was only a training exercise for firefighters to perfect the techniques they would use to extract victims from confined spaces.

 

“If you get in a hurry, you start forgetting things,” said station chief John Dales. “So we have to keep refreshing the techniques in their minds to make certain there are no mistakes.”

 

That was the idea behind the exercise.

 

The department made use of the engine elevator shafts that were installed in the floor at Crinkley to raise and lower engines, so employees could work on J-52 engines without climbing ladders.

 

David Rickel, the training chief for the fire and rescue department, took the dummy down to the bottom of the shaft – roughly 20 feet – and got an employee to call the firefighters.

 

“They have to come in and assess the situation,” Rickel said. “All they know is that they have someone hurt down in the bottom of a pit.”

 

Members of the First Coast Navy Fire and Rescue arrived, set up their equipment and tested the air to make sure it was safe. Firefighter Russell Russ and paramedic Tracy Tomes descended into the shaft’s relative darkness, all that could realistically fit in the roughly 6-feet-wide chamber.

 

Within minutes the patient was stabilized, and their colleagues at the surface used ropes to pull the victim out.

 

It was a training exercise, but Rickel and Dales have seen such situations in real life.

 

For Rickel, it was in a tank aboard an aircraft carrier. For Dales, it was in a steam pit at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. When victims find themselves injured in a confined space, it can be a life-threatening situation for all involved.

 

“It’s an extremely serious situation,” Rickel said. “If we do something wrong, it could cause death or paralysis, so we immobilize them, strap the victim down and pull them out.”

 

The real-world implications of the drill were not lost on FRCSE employees watching the scene play out.

 

“If we ever have a person trapped in a confined space, they are our primary rescue service,” Fleet Readiness Center Southeast safety and occupational health specialist Andrew Bass said. “It’s important for any of us to know that if we’re ever in a situation like that, these guys will get us out.”

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6467

 

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FRCSW Cold Spray Technology – Saving Taxpayers Time and Money

 

Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.—The Marine Corps Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation (Sustainment), William E. Taylor, visited Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) here to learn more about Cold Spray additive technology January 23, 2017.

 

Engineers and artisans from FRCSW did a demonstration and briefing for Taylor, a member of the Senior Executive Service, as well as Marine Corps aviation representatives down from Camp Lejeune, Calif. The Cold Spray technique is saving Naval Aviation time and money in repairing aircraft components and returning them to the fleet, improving readiness across the Navy and Marine Corps.

 

“This has a lot of promise,” Taylor said.

 

Cold Spray is an additive, solid-state thermal spray process that can restore components’ critical dimensional features lost due to corrosion, wear or mechanical damage. It works by taking powdered metal alloys (customized for the need of the specific part to be repaired) and spraying it onto the metal of the damaged component, creating a mechanical bond. The process creates a low-porous or nonporous surface without making any heat-induced changes to the substrate.

 

Put less technically, the process bonds metal to metal in a (relatively) low-heat environment, filling in any corrosion or other damage in machine parts. Repairs often take less time and are safer, too. To use a traditional chrome coating, for example, takes 20 hours to cover a part with 20 mL of metal; Cold Spray can do it with a tungsten/carbide/cobalt alloy in about two minutes. The process also eliminates the health hazards posed and safety precautions required using traditional methods.

 

The repaired parts come out stronger and less prone to mistake. According to Luc Doan, a materials engineer at FRCSW, of the approximately 150 parts repaired using Cold Spray so far, none have been returned for another repair. Additionally, none have resulted in machine rejections. With traditional methods, approximately 20 to 40 percent are machine rejected.

 

Conrad Macy, a secondary power Fleet Support Team (FST) engineer for Naval Air Systems Command, explained that the parts can endure at least 10 times more stress and impact than traditional parts. It might be more, but at that point, engineers stopped trying test the damage limits.

 

Macy is the impetus behind bringing Cold Spray to Naval Aviation. In his job working with the fleet making repairs to aircraft, he became tired of throwing away expensive parts because of minor damage. He felt sure that some process could fix the parts, so he began searching for it. About six years ago, through a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project, he found what he needed with Cold Spray. The SBIR with company Inovati sealed the deal, showcasing the applicability of Cold Spray to increase fleet readiness by refurbishing previously scrapped components. Often, these components are in demand across Naval Aviation, but have long lead times.

 

This less expensive, faster method of repair has saved more than $1 million on one part alone. The F/A-18’s Aircraft Mounted Accessory Drive (AMAD) costs approximately $168,000 each. Damage to one part of the AMAD would result in scrapping the entire drive previously, but with the repairs available through Cold Spray, 10 have been refurbished and sent back to the fleet for a savings of about $1.6 million.

 

Inovati’s Cold Spray technique is called Kinetic Metallization. Cold Spray can encompass a variety of techniques; this one uses low pressure helium or nitrogen and a sonic nozzle to accelerate particles. The combination of low pressure and sonic gas speed significantly decreases gas consumption compared to conventional Cold Spray processes while still achieving high particle velocities, according to the company. It also wastes less material compared to other Cold Spray machines and techniques, according to the Navy.

 

To bring the process to Naval Aviation, Macy worked with engineers at FRCSW to explore different options. The team brought an Inovati machine to its laboratory environment three years, and its success led to installation of another machine in the production shop at FRCSW in December 2015.

 

FRCSW is the main depot for all variations of the F/A-18, so most of the parts it has repaired using Cold Spray have been for that platform. However, it has also been used for E-2, F-5, CH-53 and H-1 parts, as well as for the LM 2500 ship engine.

 

Engineers now are pressing forward with future applications for the technology, including on V-22 window sills. Macy is exploring through another SBIR the use of a rotating nozzle in the Cold Spray machine. The current machine has a fixed nozzle, which works well for easily rotated parts, but not as well for bulkier ones.

 

“We’re going to be successful,” Macy said. “I’m not really worried about it.”

 

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

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6471

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Lemoore Naval Base Welcomes First Contingent Of F-35C Fighter Jets

 

(FRESNO BEE 25 JAN 17) … Lewis Griswold

 

LEMOORE – The first F-35C jets to be based at Lemoore Naval Air Station were flown in Wednesday afternoon, making Lemoore the first naval air base in the country to get the new generation of fighter jets.

 

The pilots made a low-altitude flyover about 1:25 p.m., then did a mini air show before landing and taxiing to a hangar as part of a long-planned arrival ceremony. The public and media were issued ear plugs because of engine noise, said to be greater than that of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

 

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of U.S. Naval Air Forces, spoke with reporters before the jets arrived about concerns raised by President Donald Trump over the cost of the F-35 program.

 

The Joint Strike Fighter program has been criticized for its high cost of $367 billion, or about $108 million per aircraft.

Shoemaker said the president met with the CEO of Lockheed Martin, the plane’s manufacturer.

 

“I think that the pressure that the president applied is all good,” he said. “He is a businessman. He’s looking to obtain those capabilities at best cost. … There are no issues in terms of morale or anything for the fleet.”

 

The A model of the F-35 is expected to cost $85 million by the end of the decade, a Lockheed Martin representative said.

 

“I’m confident we’ll get there,” said Jeff Babione, executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 Lightning II program.

 

Lemoore is the master West Coast air base of the Navy, from which combat squadrons are deployed to aircraft carriers in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

 

After the planes parked and the pilots disembarked on Wednesday, Capt. Markus Gudmundsson, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet strike fighter wing, spoke to hundreds waiting at the hangar.

 

“This is the beginning,” he said. “We have ahead of us the task of building a new community in naval aviation.”

 

The F-35C combat squadrons – eventually there will be seven, each with 10 planes – will make the Navy’s “current force structure much more survivable and more lethal,” he said.

 

Lemoore Naval Air Station’s role as the West Coast air base is important to the surrounding community, said Kings County Supervisor Craig Pedersen, who attended the arrival ceremony.

 

“It solidifies the Navy’s commitment to Lemoore,” he said. “Between the prisons and the air base, it’s well over 50 percent of the jobs.”

 

Jennifer Cripe of Lemoore is a retired federal employee who worked at the base for years as a facilities management specialist.

 

“I’ve been involved in all the pre-stuff, the planning of the buildings,” she said. “It’s awesome to actually see them on site.”

 

The F-35 is the so-called fifth generation of fighter jets. It is harder to detect, thanks to its stealth design.

 

“We’re not invisible,” said Lt. Mike Jennings, a pilot who flew one of the four jet fighters to the Lemoore base. “We hope we’ll see them before they see us.”

 

Until now, all Navy versions of the new jet – the Air Force and Marines have other versions – have been based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where pilots and personnel have trained.

 

The F-35C jets will be assigned to the VFA-125 squadron, also known as the Rough Raiders, which was reactivated Jan. 12, the Navy said.

 

The squadron will serve as the West Coast fleet replacement squadron for the F-35C whose mission is to train pilots, as opposed to being deployed.

 

When at full strength, the fleet replacement squadron will have 30 F-35C jets, but it’s unknown when that will happen.

 

But by 2025 there are supposed to be 100 F-35C aircraft assigned to Lemoore.

 

The stationing fit in with the military’s “pivot to the Pacific” in which more forces are being focused there.

 

“We can see the Pacific, south China Sea being more of a hotbed. … It was important to bring some assets to the West Coast” to support missions in the Pacific, said Capt. David Jones, base commander.

 

To get ready for the fighter jets, “we have built an addition to one of our hangars and completely renovated the spaces to facilitate a modern and efficient workspace,” said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Raelson, acting Lemoore Naval Air Station spokesman.

 

One module of the hangar has been completed and the next is under construction.

 

Including active-duty military personnel and their families, about 1,500 people will be coming to Lemoore, he said. The base already has about 12,000 people, including family members.

 

At full strength, the squadron is forecast to bring an estimated $36 million annual payroll to the region, said John Lehn, CEO of the Kings County Economic Development Corp.

 

The F-35C is a single-seat fighter aircraft designed to replace the legacy F/A-18 Hornet. The last Hornet jet assigned to Lemoore flew off last year.

 

As the new jets are deployed on aircraft carriers, air wings will consist of the F-35C, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and other aircraft including unmanned drones.

 

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is making the jets for three branches of the military – Air Force, Navy and Marines. The first test flight took place in December 2006 at the Lockheed Martin manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

The F-35C variant, as it’s called, is designed for landing and takeoff from aircraft carriers, so it has larger wings and more robust landing gear. The first carrier landing occurred in November 2014.

 

More than 200 F-35s have been delivered to the military as well as five international partners and two foreign military sales customers, according to Mike Johnson, Lockheed Martin F-35 spokesman.

 

The current program calls for more than 3,100 F-35s to be manufactured.

 

Last year, the company delivered 46 fighter jets and is scheduled to deliver 66 this year. It will ramp up to about 120 jets per year by 2020.

 

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article128672549.html

 

 

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Trump Taps Private-Equity Investor As Civilian Head Of Navy

 

(WALL STREET JOURNAL 26 JAN 17) … Paul Sonne

 

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump selected an American private-equity investor to oversee the U.S. Navy in its top civilian post, adding another figure from the finance world to the civilian leadership of the Pentagon.

Mr. Trump announced Wednesday that Philip Bilden, a former senior adviser at private-equity firm HarbourVest Partners LLC, and a former U.S. Army Reserve military intelligence officer, as his choice for Secretary of the Navy.

 

Mr. Bilden, a board member of the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation and the Naval War College Foundation, joined HarbourVest in 1991 and opened its office in Hong Kong before retiring after a 25-year career with the private-equity firm, the White House said.

 

“Our number of ships is at the lowest point it has been for decades,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Philip Bilden is the right choice to help us expand and modernize our fleet, including surface ships, submarines and aircraft, and ensure America’s naval supremacy for decades to come.”

 

Mr. Bilden, who will be tasked with helping oversee a buildup of the U.S. military that Mr. Trump promised on the campaign trail, is Mr. Trump’s third and final choice for a military service secretary – the civilian posts that oversee the Army, Air Force and the Navy.

 

Mr. Trump previously selected U.S. Army veteran Vincent Viola, the billionaire founder of trading firm Virtu Financial Inc., as Secretary of the Army. Earlier this week, he announced U.S. Air Force veteran Heather Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico, as Secretary of the Air Force.

 

All three top civilian positions require Senate confirmation.

 

Secretary of Defense James Mattis expressed confidence in the three nominees, saying they had won his full support in the selection process and would enjoy his full support in the confirmation process.

 

“They will provide strong civilian leadership to strengthen military readiness, gain full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, and support our service members, civilians, and their families,” Mr. Mattis said in a statement. “I appreciate the willingness of these three proven leaders to serve our country.”

 

Mr. Bilden, who as Navy secretary also will oversee the U.S. Marine Corps, received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School, the White House said in a statement. He served 10 years in the U.S. Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer from 1986 to 1996, the statement said.

 

“Maintaining the strength, readiness, and capabilities of our maritime force is critical to our national security,” Mr. Bilden said in the statement. “If confirmed, I will ensure that our Sailors and Marines have the resources they need to defend our interests around the globe and support our allies with commitment and capability.”

 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-taps-private-equity-investor-as-civilian-head-of-navy-1485389401

 

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Pentagon Confirms Trump Hiring Freeze Locks Out Military Civilians

 

(DEFENSE NEWS 25 JAN 17) … Aaron Mehta and Joe Gould

 

WASHINGTON – The government hiring freeze put in place by U.S. President Donald Trump will apply to Department of Defense civilian positions but will not impact uniformed personnel.

 

Trump signed the hiring freeze order Jan. 23, drawing harsh criticism from both federal employee unions and members of Congress, who worry the freeze will save few dollars but create major headaches for government agencies. The freeze included an exception for national security positions, but the wording was such that it was unclear if the Pentagon was directly impacted or not.

 

On Wednesday, the Pentagon finally confirmed that its civilian spots would be impacted, but that Secretary of Defense James Mattis can exempt from the hiring freeze any position “that he deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities,” a DoD official told Defense News. Other exemptions must be requested from the Office of Personnel Management.

 

The memorandum does not impact Senate-confirmable officials, the appointment of officials to non-career positions in the Senior Executive Service or to Schedule C positions in the excepted service, the official added.

 

“Since January 20, 2017, and prior to our notification of the President’s Executive Order on a Federal Hiring Freeze, Washington Headquarters Service (WHS) hired 36 employees to support various functions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD),” the official added. “Additionally, 18 political appointees have been hired thus far to support the Secretary of Defense. Political appointees are exempt from the Executive Order.”

 

In June, the Pentagon ended a four-month hiring freeze used to ensure personnel were reflected in an internal DoD accounting system.

 

The freeze also impacts the Department of Veterans Affairs. On Tuesday, acting VA Secretary Robert Snyder said his department “intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public safety, including front-line caregivers.”

VA officials said the statement was a clarification of how they are interpreting the new presidential order and not an attempt to get around the new rules.

 

Government-wide hiring freezes were tried under the Reagan and Carter administrations, but in 1982, the Government Accountability Office found they were not an effective means of controlling federal employment and that any savings would likely be offset by overtime and part-time worker costs.

 

Those concerns were repeated this week by a bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers, who represent thousands of federal workers.

 

“I think it’s largely symbolic,” said Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer, whose district is home to 77,000 federal workers. “If you’re a Trump supporter in rural America who thinks your taxpayer dollars are being wasted by too many civilian employees, you might be thrilled by it. But they’re missing the point that we haven’t seen this few federal workers in our lifetime.”

 

Beyer told Defense News that the hiring freeze hurts military retirees and military spouses who hope to enter the federal workforce. It also creates management headaches at the Pentagon, where civilian support staffs have been cut progressively since federal budget caps were enacted.

 

“As a manager, you’re always trying to do more with less,” Beyer said. “They’ve already determined who they need to hire in a critical space, and now you’ve frozen the ability to hire those people.”

 

According to Beyer, upward of 221,000 people were in the pipeline to be hired governmentwide, at least a third of them veterans. He said the freeze would “greatly hurt” the VA, which is looking to hire 2,000 people to deal with backlogged cases.

 

Republican Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock on Monday broke with Trump to oppose the governmentwide hiring freeze.

 

“The federal budget cannot be balanced on the backs of our federal workforce,” she said in a statement Monday. “I don’t support this type of across-the-board freeze and think it is better to look at priorities and areas where appropriate cuts can be made and where we can consolidate efforts or identify unnecessary costs that can be eliminated.”

 

Military Times reporter Leo Shane III contributed to this report.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/pentagon-confirms-trump-hiring-freeze-locks-out-military-civilians

 

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Fix The Fleet! U.S. Navy Makes Maintenance Top Priority

 

(DEFENSE NEWS 23 JAN 17) … Christopher P. Cavas

 

WASHINGTON – With no fiscal 2017 defense budget in sight and little chance of an agreement before April – if then – the military services are submitting second and possibly third rounds of unfunded requirements lists to Congress. The lists include items left out of the original budget requests, ranked in order of priority should Congress find a way to fund them.

 

The latest list from the U.S. Navy was sent to Congress Jan. 5, updating a similar list sent over at the end of February but rejiggered in light of the new 355-ship Force Structure Assessment, changes in requirements and the lateness of the fiscal year, which limit what can be done in the current budget. The new list also reflects what Navy leaders have been saying in recent weeks they need most – maintenance funding. While the late February list lead off with acquisition needs, the new top priorities include $2 billion in afloat readiness funding.

 

But the list remains a work in progress, a Navy official said, and includes input from the new Trump administration. An updated list is being prepared in advance of readiness hearings scheduled next month at which the service vice chiefs will testify – a Feb. 7 hearing before the full House Armed Services Committee, and a hearing the following day before the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee.

 

Even then, the Navy official said, “it’s not clear another formal list will be prepared.”

 

As happens when any new administration takes over, the Pentagon is revising its budget to reflect the new leaders’ priorities, and budget work is far from over.

 

“It’s all going to change. It’s still very much in motion,” the Navy official said.

 

But the top 9 priorities of the 59 items listed in the Jan. 5 list remain in place, said the Navy official. Those items are:

 

  • Ship Depot Maintenance ($647 million)
  • Air Operations/Flying Hours ($504 million)
  • Information Warfare/Other Support ($355 million)
  • Ship Operations ($339 million)
  • Waterfront Equipment, Service Craft, Boat Procurement ($68 million)
  • Service Craft Maintenance and Overhaul ($53 million)
  • Sealift Support Readiness ($32 million)
  • Full-Scale Aerial Targets (an additional 5 QF-16 drone targets)($26 million)
  • High-Speed Maneuverable Surface Targets (56 targets)($10 million)

 

Air operations include $260 million for U.S. Marine Corps aviation readiness.

 

The maintenance needs reflect Navy decisions in recent years to put off upkeep and protect long-term procurement accounts from successive cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act – also known as sequestration. But recent statements from top Navy brass underscore the need to restore maintenance money.

 

“Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness – those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” the Navy official declared. “No new starts.”

 

Placing information warfare at No. 3 reflects a need to address “readiness shortfalls in all disciplines of the information warfare community – cyberspace operations, electronic warfare, intelligence, battlespace awareness and assured command and control,” the Navy said in its Jan. 5 note to Congress.

 

It’s notable that humble service craft – the myriad supply, service and berthing barges, floating workshops and other small craft seen in any naval base – make it to the five and six priority slots. Such craft are often in service for many decades – many date from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War eras – and it’s unusual for the Navy to bestow on them such a high priority.

 

“The goal is to go after things that we can fix quickly to keep the fleet operating and that are executable,” the Navy official said. “The last thing we want to do is waste money or go after things that are not immediately needed.”

 

The Navy official added that items on the list that don’t make it in to the 2017 budget are likely to be included in the 2018 or 2019 requests.

 

Other significant items on the unfunded list include:

 

  • 24 F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet strike fighters ($2.3 billion)
  • 6 P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft ($1.2 billion)
  • 2 F-35C carrier-based Joint Strike Fighters ($270 million)
  • 2 C-40A transport aircraft for the Naval Reserve ($207 million)
  • An additional 96 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles ($154 million)
  • Increase the maximum production rate of SM-6 Block 1A missiles to 125 per year ($75 million)
  • An additional 75 AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles ($33 million)
  • Funding over-the-horizon missile installations on the two littoral combat ships ($43 million)
  • The unfunded requirements list also includes several ships:
  • A 13th LPD 17-class amphibious ship ($1.83 billion)
  • An additional T-AOX fleet oiler ($547 million)
  • An additional EPF expeditionary fast transport ($256 million)
  • Installation of the Air Missile Defense Radar in the 3 rd FY 2016 destroyer ($433 million)

 

The service also is seeking $255 million to improve the General Dynamics Electric Boat Quonset Point facility in Rhode Island to expand to building three Virginia-class attack submarines per year.

 

Read the full list here: PDF

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/fix-the-fleet-us-navy-makes-maintenance-top-priority

 

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Update To Navy Unfunded Priorities List Emphasizes Readiness

 

Would add More Super Hornets, additional Amphib

 

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 24 JAN 17) … Megan Eckstein

 

The Navy wants $2 billion in additional funding this year for much-needed ship maintenance and fleet operations, and would also buy two dozen Super Hornets and an additional San Antonio-class amphibious warship if money were made available, according to an early January draft wish list obtained by USNI News.

 

While the list is not as official as the February 2016 Unfunded Priorities List from which it stems, it is meant to be a conversation-starter with Congress and the new Trump Administration on the Navy’s needs for today and in the near term, a senior service official told USNI News on Tuesday.

 

Ahead of upcoming congressional hearings and discussions about additional money Congress and the Trump Administration may give the military through a supplemental funding measure, the Navy updated its wish list and informally shared it with lawmakers.

 

In recent years the services have submitted their budget requests to Congress through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and then separately sent a list of unfunded priorities that were not including in the official request but would be important if more money were made available. The Navy submitted a Fiscal Year 2017 Unfunded Priorities List (UPL) in February 2016 to supplement its FY 2017 official submission. In that UPL were requests for 14 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, two additional carrier-variant F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters, the remainder of the funding needed to buy an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer beyond the Navy’s original shipbuilding plan, and weapons.

 

The draft list is a reflection of the Navy’s current needs based on global affairs, current fleet operations and other factors, the service official told USNI News on Tuesday.

 

The wish list was shared to inform upcoming budget discussions, though the document’s introduction notes that the “the Navy does not intend to submit a revised FY 2017 Unfunded Priorities List (UPL) until we engage further with the new Administration on potential changes in the defense strategy and priorities” – though through this informal update, the Navy increases its formerly 35-item list to a now-59-item list based on current needs.

 

The first section of the updated list addresses afloat readiness, which both the Navy and the new Trump Administration have said would be a primary focus of any FY 2017 supplemental. A supplemental package being informally discussed now would provide about $40 billion in additional funding for the military, though details about how that might break down by service have not yet been made public.

 

“Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness – those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” the senior Navy official told USNI News.

 

More than $500 million for air operations and flying hours, as well as $339 million for ship operations and $647 for ship depot maintenance, sit atop the wish list. These items were included in the original UPL but have been prioritized first in this most recent version. New additions to the afloat readiness section include funding to achieve cyber security for the Navy’s information technology systems and to maintain expeditionary forces’ IT equipment; recapitalize waterfront equipment that provides berthing and docking services at naval installations; maintain and overhaul service craft; and fund at-sea logistics such as food and fuel for forward-deployed sealift ships supporting combatant commander requirements.

 

On the acquisition side, the senior official said the Navy is focused on in-production programs, not new-starts, that could quickly be ramped up to help create near-term readiness and capacity for the fleet. Since being updated, the UPL now includes a request for six additional P-8s in FY 2017 to help reach the program’s requirement of 117 aircraft faster, and adds 10 additional Super Hornets to the UPL – the Navy asked for 14 last February and has since bumped up the request to 24 to “reduce near-term strike fighter shortfalls, accelerate divestiture of legacy F/A-18A-D series Hornets, and begin to address long-term strike-fighter capacity shortfalls by maintaining and open F/A-18E/F/G production line.”

 

On weapons, the document would add 96 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles to the Navy’s procurement plan – the service asked for 100 in its budget request and the House Armed Services Committee attempted to boost that figure to 198 to hit manufacturer Raytheon’s production line minimum sustainment rate – as well as 19 Standard Missile-6 Block IA Surface-to-Air Missiles to return to Raytheon’s maximum production rate of 125 a year. The Navy would also ask for 30 additional Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block II to address an urgent operational need for Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) ships in Europe.

 

In shipbuilding, the Navy would seek full funding for an amphibious ship – LPD-29 – which would increase the program of record from 12 to 13. The $1.83 billion for the ship would keep the Ingalls Shipbuilding production line busy between LPD-28, which was meant to be a gap-filler, and potential LX(R) dock landing ship replacement work, where USNI News understands there now could be a pause in work. LPD-28 would have a design that begins to shift from the original LPD design to the future LPD-based LX(R) design, and LPD-29 would presumably continue down this path to ease the transition from one class to the next. It would also help the Navy get from the current 31 amphib ships to the newly stated goal of 38, included in the December 2016 Force Structure Assessment that calls for 355 ships total. The UPL would also request $547 million for a John Lewis-class fleet oiler in FY 2017, to eliminate a one-year gap in production between the first and second hull. The list also calls for one more Expeditionary Fast Transport – formerly called the Joint High Speed Vessel – to bring the once-10-craft class up to 13, and it calls for advance procurement for an additional Expeditionary Sea Base. The Navy had planned for three ESBs – one will deploy this year, one is under construction and the third is under contract – but the new FSA calls for six.

 

The updated UPL calls for a slew of cyber capacity upgrades, including an urgent operational need from U.S. 10th Fleet for research, development, test and evaluation and operations and maintenance funding for Sharkcage, a defensive cyber capability to identify and defend against cyber anomalies within weapon system networks.

 

To boost the naval force’s capacity, the Navy is now seeking a first tranche of money to expand General Dynamics Electric Boat’s Quonset Point Facility to support construction of three Virginia-class attack submarines a year even while building the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program. The Navy faced an attack sub shortfall in the 2020s, made even more dramatic by the increase in SSN requirement in the updated Force Structure Assessment, and it will take building at least three Virginia-class boats a year – despite the massive amount of work the Columbia-class SSBN represents – to keep up with combatant commander demands for SSNs. The document also notes an interest in Adaptive Force Packages that include unmanned aerial systems and small boat packages for the Expeditionary Fast Transports.

 

This request – which, again, is intended to outline needs that were not included in the official budget submission but that would be vital to the Navy if additional funding were to be made available – now totals $12 billion in funding, compared to about $5 billion when the original UPL was submitted to Congress in February 2016.

 

Earlier this month Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran said that, while President Donald Trump had expressed interest in growing the Navy fleet, readiness needed to be a top priority before growing a larger fleet.

 

“Deferred maintenance is insidiously taking its toll,” he said, and “at some point, we have to dig ourselves out of the hole” that has been created from years of too little funding for operations and maintenance.

 

https://news.usni.org/2017/01/24/update-to-navys-unfunded-priorities-list-now-emphasizes-readiness-would-add-more-super-hornets-additional-amphib-ship

 

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James Mattis: Readiness Vs Offset

 

(THE STRATEGIST (AUSTRALIA) 25 JAN 17) … Brendan Thomas-Noone

 

If the initial reports about his first day in office are anything to go by, new U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is living up to what the Washington establishment hopes he will bring to the Trump administration: stability, reassurance and experience.

 

A good example came from The Washington Examiner, which reported that the General had begun establishing a ‘battle-rhythm’ upon entering the Pentagon, sat for four hours of briefings and has even submitted himself to the standard drug tests required of all new Department of Defense employees. But for all of the stability that Mattis looks set to bring to the Pentagon, there are some significant differences between his views and those of his predecessor, Ash Carter, which are likely to have implications for Australia.

 

On most matters, Mattis is a traditionalist when it comes to American foreign policy and national security – he could have easily served in a Hillary Clinton administration. He believes in the rules-based global order. He’s written that the United States should reinvest in the Bretton Woods institutions and has called for the strengthening of NATO. He’s fiercely loyal to those allies who have supported the U.S. in times of need. During his Senate confirmation hearing, one of the deadpan lines he delivered was simply his belief that ‘nations with allies thrive, nations without allies don’t.’

 

Appreciating that the U.S. is in a strategic competition with China, he’s argued that the relationship needs to be ‘managed’ by utilising a wide array of tools. On the South China Sea he’s toed the Obama administration’s line, reiterating that ‘the bottom line is … international waters are international waters.’ Where he falls on the ‘rebalance’ to Asia and whether he’ll argue for its continuation in some form is as yet unclear. When questioned during his confirmation hearing he stated that, ‘the U.S. has worldwide responsibilities and certainly the Pacific looms large in that.’ It was a fairly lukewarm answer when compared to his statements on other regions, such as the Middle East.

 

But through Mattis’ testimony, as well as his previous writings and speeches, a common theme emerges: U.S. diplomacy should be multifaceted and not be based solely on military power, but it should be conducted from a position of strength.

 

From where the U.S. military draws that strength is the point of his divergence from Ash Carter. One of the marks of Carter’s tenure was an emphasis on innovation and technology as underpinning American conventional deterrence now and into the future. The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in Silicon Valley, the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, and broadly, the Third Offset Strategy, were all hallmarks of Carter’s drive to infuse technological innovation into upholding American conventional deterrence.

 

Mattis has signalled a different approach. One of the more consistent arguments the General has made since retiring from the military in 2013 has been that the lack of combat readiness of U.S. military forces is detrimental to American conventional deterrence. Poor military readiness – through a low level of consistent training and tempo of operations, poor upkeep of military equipment and disorganisation – in the General’s view has risked the American military becoming a ‘hollow force.’ Mattis made it clear during his opening testimony at the U.S. Senate that his priorities as Secretary of Defense will be, in order, to ‘strengthen military readiness, strengthen our alliances, and bring business reforms to the Department of Defense.’

 

Looking back, this priority on combat readiness likely stems from the lessons the General drew from the 2006 Lebanon War, displayed in his 2008 memo Guidance for Effects Based Operations. Broadly, Mattis argued that the joint force at the time was too reliant on certain technologies, precision-warfare and centralised leadership.

 

Instead, ‘the joint force must act in uncertainty and thrive in chaos, sensing opportunity therein and not retreating into a need for more information.’ He highlighted the Israeli Defense Forces’ lessons from the war, saying the concept ‘discounts the human dimensions of war,’ promotes ‘centralisation and leads to micromanagement from headquarters’ and ‘assumes a level of unachievable predictability.’ The 2008 memo is a good indication of how the new Secretary of Defense thinks about the nature of war and what makes a lethal fighting force. Deterrence is guaranteed by highly effective and trained combat forces and their lethality – but not necessarily though complex systems or technological and information dominance.

 

The focus on innovation and technological superiority will remain a priority at DoD – particularly if Obama-era Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work remains – but Mattis’ repeated statements on how battlefield readiness should be the focus of all planning decisions may signal a shift in budget priorities. For Australia, that could eventually have implications for U.S. training and deployments. Canberra may expect to see requests for a higher rate of U.S. rotations through Australian facilities, more joint-military exercises and more high-end and diversified military assets, like the recently announced rotation of F-22s and the next deployment of Marine assets to Darwin. Much of that depends on whether Mattis is able to carve out his own sphere of influence within the Trump administration. If he does, allies like Australia could be expected to do more, but within a framework committed to engaging with and upholding a rules-based order.

 

Brendan Thomas-Noone is a research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

 

James Mattis: readiness vs offset

 

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Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not

 

(BREAKING DEFENSE 23 JAN 17) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

 

WASHINGTON – “Trump is going to explode the debt,” GOP pundit Mackenzie Eaglen said. “What you’re going to see is a debt bomb.”

 

While the new president wants to grow the military, rebuild infrastructure, and cut taxes, Eaglen said, his plan to fund all that that through steep domestic spending cuts “is complete fantasy” that will never pass the Senate. The only other way to pay is borrowing money – and “he’s mentioned many times on the campaign trail that’s he’s very comfortable leveraging debt.”

 

The result, said Eaglen, who’s close to most Republicans and defense hawks on the Hill, “will be a total bulldozing over the Tea Party,” which has seen the much-derided Budget Control Act (aka sequester) as a necessary limit on federal spending. The bulldozees-to-be in this scenario include Trump’s own pick for budget director, Rep. Rick Mulvaney, whose confirmation hearing before the Senate is tomorrow.

 

“I would not be surprised if they took the same approach that Reagan did,” said Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic & International studies, speaking to me after the CSIS-hosted panel on which he and Eaglen both appeared. Ronald Reagan took office proposing defense increases and tax cuts, to be offset by economic growth and cuts to domestic spending, all very much like Trump. When Democrats blocked the domestic cuts, and the economic projections proved too optimistic – the so-called “Rosy Scenario” – the difference was made up by borrowing money, also known as creating big deficits.

 

Trump could very well follow a similar path. There’s already discussion of “dynamic scoring” that would bend traditional rules on how to estimate the cost of federal programs, said CSIS’s Andrew Hunter, and with Trump, “you could see dynamic spending on steroids: We’re going to spend more but it’s going to cost less.” Again, once the bills come due, the only way to make up a shortfall is by borrowing.

 

Todd Harrison, the panel’s host and a leading budget expert, was less sanguine about the prospects for big boosts, funded by debt or not. ”It is equally, if not more, likely that the Trump administration goes in the opposite direction and they come out with a budget that actually dramatically cuts the size of the federal government,” Harrison told me.

 

Rather than get bulldozed, Mulvaney and the deficit hawks may prevail in the battle for Trump’s ear. If that happens, Harrison said, expect the administration to propose steep reductions in the size of the federal government – as it does in a leaked outline for a staggering $10.5 trillion in cuts over 10 years. In such a climate, defense spending would be stable at best.

 

“We’ll know within a few weeks,” Harrison said. “They’ll come out with their skinny budget (i.e. overall figures without detail justification) mid-to -late February. That’ll be our first indication of (whether) they go to one of these extremes or not.”

 

Either extreme is equally plausible, Harrison told me: debt-fueled spending increases or Spartan cuts. And whichever extreme hits the Hill, he added, Congress will force the final outcome back to the center.

 

No Christmas In July

 

Whatever happens, none of the experts expected a dramatic increase in defense spending in the near term. It takes took much time to thrash out a spending plan – and too much of Trump’s time and political capital will be consumed by higher-profile fights over repealing Obamacare, reforming the tax system and getting a Supreme Court justice confirmed.

 

“The most valuable resource on earth is floor time in the United States Senate, (and) it’s being used right now on Obamacare,” said Hunter. “The big moment of opportunity is going to be … the defense supplemental” to increase Pentagon spending for 2017.

 

But first, Hunter said, the Congress has to pass the 2017 budget so it can be supplemented. The current Continuing Resolution, which sets most (but not all) spending on autopilot at 2016 levels, expires April 28th. It’s unlikely Congress will pass a proper budget, let alone a supplemental, before that deadline – which is after Trump’s first 100 days.

 

When it finally does arrive, the 2017 supplemental will just be a down payment on Trump’s buildup plans. Even the 2018 budget, already drafted by the outgoing administration, will bear some Trump stamps but largely serve as a “bridge” to the 2019 proposal, the first crafted entirely under the new administration.

 

So no one in the Pentagon or defense industry should be shopping for a new light fighter yet. To the contrary: When the Trump plan finally comes, in addition to any increases, it will almost certainly make sharp cuts to perceived “waste” and “inefficiency” that may not be possible to execute.

 

“Their belief is, viscerally, in their gut, emotionally, there’s so much waste in defense,” said Eaglen. The Trump teams wants to “blow up” the intelligence and defense bureaucracies, she said.

 

“Trump indicated he thought there was a lot of waste in defense and therefore some of this increase could be funded by offsets within defense,” agreed Cancian. There certainly is inefficiency – but past attempts to wring it out have usually failed. “The obvious one is base closure,” said Cancian, but Congress has repeatedly shot that source of savings down.

 

Other potential savings are far more vague, like what Cancian called the “infamous” Defense Business Board report that prescribed $125 million in savings (over five years) by applying to the Pentagon percentage targets derived from private sector efficiency drives, without “any details” of how to apply these models to the Defense Department.

 

You can assume all the management efficiencies you want, said Eaglen, but when your budget counts on future savings before they’ve actually been realized, “it’s simply a topline cut.” (Reagan’s budgeteers called marked such assumed savings with what they called “the magic asterix.”) Overall, she said, that means the optimism about big defense boosts is overstated: “It’s not good news for defense. It’s not Christmas in July.”

 

Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not

 

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Flight Global

 

Rolls-Royce studies two new stall fixes for V-22 engines

 

| BY: Stephen Trimble

 

Rolls-Royce is exploring two new avenues for reducing the susceptibility of Bell Boeing V-22 engines to in-flight stall and surge events.

 

The US Naval Air Systems Command plans to award the maker of the AE1107C turboshaft engines a contract to complete two studies that would validate the company’s ideas for making the propulsion system safer to operate.

 

One study will prove whether rescheduling movement schedules in the full authority digital engine control (FADEC) computer for compressor guide vanes will improve surge margins. R-R’s internal testing suggests the software tweak could improve surge margin by 0.8% at sea level and up to 3% at altitude.

 

Another study is focused on the temperature sensor located at the inlet to the compressor. R-R’s engineers have determined the T2 sensor sends inaccurate measurements to the FADEC, contributing 2.5 percentage points of a 4% steady-state power shortfall at the compressor’s corrected rotational speed limit. By tweaking the software to provide an accurate temperature measurement at the compressor inlet, R-R believes the engine safety will improve.

 

The AE1107C’s vulnerability to stalls and surges has been a focus of the programme for more than a decade. NAVAIR released a statement of work for the two study contracts saying the AE1107C has experienced at least 68 stalls and surge events from 2003 to October 2016.

 

But only about 10% of those reported events caused in-flight disruptions, says Tom Hartmann, R-R North America’s senior vice-president of customer business. Most of the events were detected quickly by the engine monitoring system, allowing the computer to avoid a compressor stall by briefly slowing the fuel flow into the combustor, he adds.

 

Moreover, most of the in-flight disruptions occurred on early configurations of the engine, he adds. The arrival of the Block 3 version of the engine five years ago has led to a reduction in reports of in-flight disruptions. Bell Boeing also is developing an inlet barrier system, which is aimed at preventing surges caused by ingesting dust and sand. The AE1107Cs are already equipped with air particle separators, but that technology based on centrifugal force is less effective than installing a filter on the inlet, Hartmann says.

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/rolls-royce-studies-two-new-stall-fixes-for-v-22-eng-433309/

 

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Breaking Defense

 

McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein

 

By Colin Clark

 

WASHINGTON: A key part of Sen. John Mclain’s alternative defense budget proposal is the rapid purchase of 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.”

 

I asked Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein today what he thought of McCain’s proposal, contained in Restoring American Power. “Great idea,” he said, pointing to the long war we’ve fought against Islamic terrorists and other violent extremists. While America needs F-22s and F-35s in case of war with China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, Goldfein said those aircraft need a break from flying the regular missions into permissive environments such as those found in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other theaters where US aircraft execute Close Air Support (CAS) and other operations that don’t require stealth, high speed or other expensive and sophisticated capabilities.

 

After his talk at the glamorous new headquarters of the American Enterprise Institute, Goldfein spoke with me briefly and confirmed that the Air Force already is talking with defense companies about possible aircraft for the job. The head of Air Force public affairs, Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas, then spoke with reporters after Goldfein left the building, confirming there is no money in the budget — this year or next (so far) — to fund this effort. He also confirmed that this aircraft is in keeping with the Air Force plan to buy a new fighter capable of CAS, known as OA-X.

 

I asked Goldfein if the Scorpion aircraft, built on spec by Textron AirLand, was one of the aircraft under consideration and he said yes. The other planes already being considered for OA-X are Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucanos and Beechcraft’s AT-6. With ardent A-10 supporter Sen. Kelly Ayotte having lost her seat, it will be interesting to see how Congress shapes the CAS decisions the Air Force hopes to make.

 

In other news, Goldfein admitted that Russia and Turkey flying together today in operations over Syria “certainly adds to the complexity” of the regional situation in the Middle East. Turkey, a key NATO ally, flew F-16s with the Russians. Michael Gordon of the New York Times pressed him for a clearer answer and Goldfein said: “I’m not concerned right now, but we are all watching very closely to see what goes on.”

 

The idea of Russian and Turkish troops working tougher in any form would have been laughable a year ago. In November 2015 Turkey shot down a Russian jet it said was violating its airspace and President Erdogan repeatedly defended the shoot down. Then Erdogan expressed “deep regret” to Putin in June last year for the downing and the unfortunate Turkish pilots were arrested. Since then, Russia and Turkey have worked more and more closely together in operations centered on northeastern Syria.

 

McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein

 

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Defense Systems

 

Air Force Chief Scientist confirms F-35 will include artificial intelligence

 

By Kris Osborn

 

F-35s, F-22s and other fighter jets will soon use improved artificial intelligence to control nearby drone wingmen that will be able to carry weapons, test enemy air defenses or perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in high risk areas, senior Air Force officials said.

 

Citing ongoing progress with artificial intelligence already engineered into the F-35, Air Force Chief Scientist Gregory Zacharias said that much higher degrees of autonomy and manned-unmanned teaming are expected to emerge in the near future from work at the Air Force Research Lab.

 

“This involves an attempt to have another platform fly alongside a human, perhaps serving as a weapons truck carrying a bunch of missiles,” Zacharias said in an interview with Defense Systems.

 

An F-35 computer system, Autonomic Logistics Information System, uses early applications of artificial intelligence that help computers make assessments, go through checklists, organize information and make some decisions by themselves – without needing human intervention.

 

“We are working on making platforms more autonomous with multi-infusion systems and data from across different intel streams,” Zacharias explained.

 

ALIS serves as the information infrastructure for the F-35, transmitting aircraft health and maintenance action information to the appropriate users on a globally-distributed network to technicians worldwide, said Lockheed Martin, the contractor that built the system.

 

However, despite the promise of advancing computer technology and increasingly levels of autonomy, Zacharias emphasized that dynamic human cognition is, in many respects, far more capable than computers.

 

Computers can more quickly complete checklists and various procedures, but human perception abilities can more quickly process changing information in many respects.

 

“A computer might have to go through a big long checklist, whereas a pilot might immediately know that the engines are out without going through a checklist. He is able to make a quicker decision about where to land,” Zacharias said.

 

The F-35s so-called “sensor fusion” uses computer algorithms to acquire, distill, organize and present otherwise disparate pieces of intelligence into a single picture for the pilot. The technology, Zacharias said, also exhibits some early implementations of artificial intelligence.

 

Systems such as a 360-degree sensor suite, called the Distributed Aperture System, is linked with targeting technologies, such as the aircraft’s Electro-Optical Targeting System.

 

At the moment, the flight path, sensor payload and weapons disposal of airborne drones such as Air Force Predators and Reapers are coordinated from ground control stations.

 

In the future, drones will likely be operated from the cockpit of advanced fighter jets such as the Joint Strike Fighter or F-22, Zacharias predicted.

 

Zacharias said F-35 pilots will be able to control a small group of drones flying nearby from the aircraft cockpit in the air, performing sensing, reconnaissance and targeting functions.

 

“The more autonomy and intelligence you can put on these vehicles, the more useful they will become,” he said.

 

Wargames, exercises and simulations are ways the Air Force is working to advance autonomous technologies.

 

“Right now we are using lots of bandwidth to send our real-time video. One of the things that we have is a smarter on-board processor. These systems can learn over time and be a force multiplier. There’s plenty of opportunity to go beyond the code base of an original designer and work on a greater ability to sense your environment or sense what your teammate might be telling you as a human,” he said.

 

For example, with advances in computer technology, autonomy and artificial intelligence, drones will be able to stay above a certain area and identify particular identified relevant objects or targets at certain times, without needing a human operator, Zacharias added.

 

This is particularly relevant because the large amount of ISR video demands organizing algorithms and technology to help process and sift through the vast volumes of gathered footage – in order to pinpoint and communicate what is tactically relevant.

 

“With image processing and pattern recognition, you could just send a signal instead of using up all this bandwidth saying, “Hey, I just saw something 30-seconds ago you might want to look at the video feed I am sending right now,’” he explained .This development could greatly enhance mission scope, flexibility and effectiveness by enabling a fighter jet to conduct a mission with more weapons, sensors, targeting technology and cargo, Zacharias explained.

 

For instance, real-time video feeds from the electro-optical/infrared sensors on board an Air Force Predator, Reaper or Global Hawk drone could go directly into an F-35 cockpit, without needing to go to a ground control station. This could speed up targeting and tactical input from drones on reconnaissance missions in the vicinity of where a fighter pilot might want to attack.

 

In fast-moving combat circumstances involving both air-to-air and air-to-ground threats, increased speed could make a large difference.

 

In addition, drones could be programmed to fly into heavily defended or high-risk areas ahead of manned-fighter jets in order to assess enemy air defenses and reduce risk to pilots.

 

“Decision aides will be in cockpit or on the ground and more platform oriented autonomous systems. A wing-man, for instance, might be carrying extra weapons, conduct ISR tasks or help to defend an area,” he said.

 

Algorithms could progress to the point where a drone, such as a Predator or a Reaper, might be able to follow a fighter aircraft by itself – without needing its flight path navigated from human direction from the ground.

 

Unlike ground robotics wherein autonomy algorithms have to contend with an ability to move quickly in relation to unanticipated developments and other moving objects, simple autonomous flight guidance from the air is much more manageable to accomplish.

 

Since there are often fewer obstacles in the air compared with the ground, drones above the ground can be programmed more easily to fly toward certain pre-determined locations.

 

At the same time, unanticipated movements, objects or combat circumstances can easily occur in the skies as well, Zacharias said.

 

“The hardest thing is ground robotics. I think that is really tough. I think the air basically is today effectively a solved problem. The question is what happens when you have to react more to your environment and a threat is coming after you,” he said.

 

As a result, scientists are now working on advancing autonomy to the point where a drone can, for example, be programmed to spoof a radar system, see where threats are and more quickly identify targets independently.

 

At the same time, despite the speed at which unmanned technology is progressing, many scientists and weapons’ developers believe that human pilots will still be needed – given the speed at which the human brain can quickly respond to unanticipated developments.

 

There is often a two-second long lag time before a UAS in the air can respond to or implement directions from a remote pilot in a ground station, a circumstance which underscores the need for manned pilots when it comes to fighter jets, Air Force officials said.

 

Therefore, while cargo planes or bombers with less of a need to maneuver in the skies might be more easily able to embrace autonomous flight – fighter jets will still greatly benefit from human piloting, Air Force scientists have said.

 

However, sensor technology is progressing quickly to the point where fighter pilots will increasingly be able to identify threats at much greater distances, therefore remove the need to dogfight. As a result, there may be room for an unmanned fighter jet in the not-too-distant future, given the pace of improving autonomous technology.

 

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2017/01/20/f35.aspx

 

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Flight Global

 

Super Hornet could compete with Lockheed F-35

 

BY: Leigh Giangreco

 

Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet could steal orders away from the Lockheed Martin F-35 if the Trump Administration adjusts defence priorities, military acquisition analyst Andrew Hunter told an audience 23 January at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

 

An “advanced Super Hornet” still can’t compete with the stealthy F-35 in airspace monitored by radar surveillance, but a semi-low-observable F/A-18E/F with more carriage capacity could emerge as an attractive option against less sophisticated threats, according to Hunter.

 

“But if your strategy requires to operate continuously in denied access air environments, there is no such thing as a comparable Super Hornet,” he adds. “It simply doesn’t exist.”

 

In 2015, US Gen Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Russia the greatest existential threat to the US followed by China, North Korea and Islamic State terrorists. That order affects how the US Department of Defense approaches its procurement priorities. When it comes to air, it means the Pentagon has set its sights on buying high-end aircraft that can penetrate more sophisticated Russian air defences in Crimea.

 

But there is some indication from Trump’s previous statements and his proclivity for Russian president Vladimir Putin that the old order could be flipped. US president Donald Trump’s national security team could make terrorism their top concern and let the Russian threat fall to the back burner, according to CSIS defence budget analyst Todd Harrison.

 

“If that holds true then why do you need as many of these stealthy aircraft?” Harrison says. “So it could dramatically change what we’re buying.”

 

Last week, USAF chief Gen David Goldfein expressed his support for Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Senator John McCain’s proposal to add 300 low-cost fighters to the budget. That move would make sense if the DOD pivots its focus toward fighting terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where light-attack aircraft such as the Embraer Super Tucano already operate.

 

Trump’s proposal for a price shoot-out on the F-35 programme between Boeing and Lockheed has some precedent. Harrison noted the US Navy already pits the Super Hornet against the carrier-based F-35C variant, with its numerous budget requests to increase the number of F/A-18E/Fs while reducing orders for the F-35C.

 

The service requested 14 Super Hornets in the most recent defence policy bill, which were turned down by Congress. A recent white paper from McCain suggested continuing this trend, pointing to the growing shortfall of Navy fighters and ongoing delays to the F-35C programme. McCain proposed procuring 58 more Super Hornets and 16 EA-18G Growlers over the next five years, but would continue F-35 procurement as quickly as possible.

 

If Lockheed would feel competition from any aircraft, it would be the Super Hornet, Harrison adds.

 

“I think it’s easy to say Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the F-18 doesn’t have the same capabilities as F-35C,” Harrison says. “All of that’s true, but I think he knew that he was picking at a scab.”

 

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/super-hornet-could-compete-with-lockheed-f-35-433440/

 

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Defense News

Lockheed CEO: F-35A Price to Drop Below $100M in Next Contract

By: Valerie Insinna

 

WASHINGTON — A deal for the tenth lot of F-35s will put the Air Force’s A model under $100 million per plane for the first time, and Lockheed Martin is on track to bring unit costs for an F-35A to $85 million in 2019, the company’s CEO said Tuesday.

 

A comparison with past estimates shows that these figures are on track with Defense Department and Lockheed’s own expectations, and do not necessarily reflect a decrease in unit prices caused by President Trump’s public critique of the program.

 

Trump has been hammering the joint strike fighter since December, frequently stating that the price of the aircraft is “out of control” and calling for an alternative in Boeing’s Super Hornet.

 

During a Tuesday earnings call, Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson defended the company’s trajectory of cost reduction, citing its Blueprint for Affordability initiatives. Perhaps even more fascinatingly, she painted Lockheed’s relationship with the new president as cooperative — a depiction at odds with the more antagonistic tenor of Trump’s public comments about the fighter jet.

 

“His focus is on, how do we drive the cost down aggressively, and I think we, along with our industry partners, are right in line with him on doing that. We have a lot of ideas on how we can do that in the future” she said.

 

“The meetings that we’ve had have been very productive, very good dialogue. He asks excellent questions and he is really focused on making sure that costs come down on the program,” she said. “It’s not about slashing our profit. It’s not about our margins.”

 

Hewson’s comments in some ways match the reassuring tone struck by Defense Secretary James Mattis. During his confirmation hearing, Mattis told senators that Trump has “in no way shown a lack of support for the program,” but wants to see Lockheed bring prices down.

 

Hewson has met twice with Trump to speak about the program, most recently on Jan. 13. After that meeting, she told reporters that the Defense Department and Lockheed were “very close” to a deal on the tenth batch of joint strike fighters — an assertion she repeated during the earnings call.

 

“The LRIP 10 price, as currently proposed, would represent a reduction of over 60 percent from the first LRIP 1 aircraft, and this demonstrates a learning curve as efficient as any achieved on any modern tactical fighter aircraft,” she said.

 

The LRIP 10 contract will also mark a sharp production increase, from 57 aircraft in LRIP 9 to about 90 F-35s in the tenth batch. F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said late last year that he expected to see unit prices fall about 6 percent between the two orders.

 

Lockheed CFO Bruce Tanner predicted that the F-35 will have “sequential, year-after-year margin improvements” leading up to full rate production, and that LRIP 10 would not deviate from that path.

 

The company hopes to finalize negotiations on LRIP 11 in 2017. If orders increase as planned, Lockheed will be on track to offer the F-35A at $85 million per copy in LRIP 13 — a 2019 order comprised of about 200 jets, according to a chart shown by Hewson during the call.

 

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/lockheed-ceo-f-35a-price-to-drop-below-100m-in-next-contract

 

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National Defense

 

F-35 in Trump Administration’s Crosshairs

 

By Jon Harper

 

President Donald Trump’s defense policy advisers want to “tear open” the F-35 joint strike fighter program, according to an analyst familiar with their thinking.

 

The $400 billion program is the most expensive acquisition project in Pentagon history. The Defense Department plans to spend about $56 billion on the aircraft over the next five years.

 

The project has experienced significant cost overruns, schedule delays and technical problems, and Trump took aim at it before he even came into office.

 

“The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th,” he tweeted in December.

 

He has asked Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet” as a potential alternative to the F-35, he said in a subsequent tweet.

 

Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense budget analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, has briefed Trump’s policy advisers on several occasions. They are inclined to “tear open this program and take it apart” and look at whether major changes need to be made to the number of planes procured or other aspects of the project, she said.

 

“They really believe it’s time to burn the Pentagon” metaphorically speaking, she said. “That’s going to have a heavy emphasis on acquisition of weapons in particular.”

 

The president’s tweet put F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin on the defensive.

 

“Lockheed Martin and its industry partners understand the importance of affordability” for the joint strike fighter program, Jeff Babione, the company’s executive vice president and general manager of the F-35, said during an aircraft delivery ceremony in Israel in December.

 

Lockheed has been trying to bring costs down, he emphasized.

 

“Since the beginning, we’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the price of the airplane more than 60 percent” relative to the original low-rate initial production bill, he said.

 

The company projects that the price tag will be down to $85 million in the 2019 to 2020 timeframe.

 

“It’s a great value and we look forward to any questions [Trump] may have,” Babione said.

 

When asked about Trump’s comments, Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the head of the F-35 joint program office, said he understands why there is a perception that the program is out of control, noting that from 2001 to 2011 it experienced a six-year delay in development and $13.5 billion in cost overruns.

 

“This is a vastly different program” now, he told reporters in December. “I don’t think the program cost-wise is out of control nor do I think it’s out of control schedule-wise.”

 

The aircraft is vital for the United States and its allies to maintain air dominance for the next 50 years, he said. But he and his JPO colleagues are not “salesmen” for the fighter jet, he added.

 

“I don’t have a strategy with the industry to go … try and save this program,” he said. “Our job is going to be to give the administration the good, the bad and the ugly about this program and let them make their own decisions.”

 

If the new president and his team try to significantly reduce the F-35 program, they would likely face resistance. With production spread out across more than 40 states, the joint strike fighter has the backing of many members of Congress who have jobs in their districts tied to the aircraft.

 

In addition, Lockheed would be expected to fight hard against any efforts to pare down the program.

 

“Never underestimate the power of Lockheed Martin’s sway,” Eaglen said.

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2017/february/Pages/F35inTrumpAdministrationsCrosshairs.aspx

 

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Some Thoughts On The McCain White Paper

 

(INFORMATION DISSEMINATION 23 JAN 17) … Bryan Clark and Bryan McGrath

 

The Trump Administration began work this week on its promise of an across-the-board enlargement of the U.S. military. The President-elect has thus far described his plan only in the broadest of terms, but those terms portend a sustained period of higher defense spending – something Congress has been unwilling to approve since it passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011.

 

Chief among those who will shape the future of the American military is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who waded into the debate last week with a strong, coherent outline that not only aims to restore the capacity of a significantly hollowed-out force, but also provides direction for how the force should evolve as it grows. There is a lot in this report, but we will restrict our comments to the larger context of the plan and its impact on American Seapower.

 

Hope Versus Strategy

 

Senator McCain’s report begins by rightly highlighting the fundamental disconnect in today’s U.S. defense planning between resources and objectives. Hoping revanchist regimes in Russia and China would not be able to act effectively on their objectives for more than a decade, Congress and President Obama passed the BCA in 2011, reducing military budgets by about 10 percent for the subsequent decade. The BCA, in turn, contained the a ticking time-bomb known as Sequestration, which implemented another 10 percent cut starting in fiscal year (FY) 2013 if the Department was not able to meet BCA targets for spending. Because FY 2013 was already halfway over, services had to immediately cut their spending, creating maintenance depot backlogs, personnel shortfalls, and training shutdowns from which DoD is still recovering.

 

As the impact of the BCA’s cuts became clear, DoD and Congress experienced buyer’s remorse, turning to various budget gimmicks and abuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget to pay for expanding U.S. involvement in regional conflicts, growing compensation costs, and to allow for modest modernization of the force. McCain excoriates both Congress and the Executive Branch for these measures. Issuing a clear call to action, his report states “This law (BCA) must be repealed outright so we can budget for the true costs of our national defense.”

 

The most significant problem with the BCA’s reductions, McCain argues, is they do not allow modernization to address the rapidly improving capability of great powers such as Russia and China and regional powers such as Iran and North Korea. The BCA also does not provide the resources for U.S. forces to sustain the operational tempo to conduct daily strikes and raids on terrorists in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. Notably, despite the hopes that underpinned the BCA, Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and China’s aggression in the South China Sea show, in McCain’s words, “A better defense strategy must acknowledge the reality that we have entered a new era of great power competitions. China and Russia aspire to diminish U.S. influence and revise the world order in ways that are contrary to U.S. national interests.”

 

McCain’s focus on great power competition is important in two ways. First, it draws a distinction between the Obama Administration’s approach and McCain’s more forward-leaning view of great power dynamics. Second, it sends a signal to the incoming administration of McCain’s wariness of Russia in clear and unambiguous terms. This could ultimately prove to be a contentious issue between Congress and the Trump Administration, which has indicated it may view Russia as a partner rather than a competitor or adversary.

 

Strategy And Fleet Architecture

 

McCain argues for a new set of defense strategies to address great powers, regional powers, and transnational terrorists, rather than a single U.S. security strategy. In CSBA’s upcoming study of alternative Navy fleet architectures, we argue the most important of these is a strategy to deter great power aggression, which could potentially have the most catastrophic consequences of these security challenges. With the realignment of American bases since the Cold War, U.S. ground and air forces overseas are less numerous and more easily suppressed than when they last faced a great power adversary a quarter century ago. Thus, naval forces will assume a more prominent role in conventional deterrence.

 

Recognizing both the Trump goal of a 350 ship Navy and the Navy’s own recently released 355-ship Force Structure Assessment (FSA), McCain lays out a plan that over the next five years that: 1) increases the size of the fleet over the final plan of the Obama Administration by building 59 ships as opposed to the Obama Administration’s 41, 2) truncates the current Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and accelerates the Navy’s move to an open-ocean frigate replacement, 3) funds design work on a new class of aircraft carrier, 4) increases Navy end-strength, 5) invests significantly in unmanned technologies of all varieties, and 6) provides additional, immediate funding to address fleet readiness and maintenance, and installations and infrastructure.

 

McCain’s plan aligns in large part with our proposed fleet architecture, and would improve the Navy’s ability to deter aggression by great powers, counter attacks by regional powers, and help keep terrorists on the run. Unlike the current fleet, McCain’s proposal would not focus on efficiently providing presence at the expense of the capability and capacity for combat against a capable adversary.

 

Three aspects of McCain’s force structure plan are of particular interest. First is its truncation of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in 2017 with a follow-on frigate proposed for acquisition no later than 2022. It is essential that the Navy move as quickly as possible from the LCS to a proper blue-water frigate capable of anti-submarine warfare and local air defense, but it must also continue to increase the size of the fleet and ensure the frigate can be affordable and built in large numbers. McCain proposes an acquisition “bridge” for the two shipyards currently building LCS to continue between 2017 and 2022. This would expand the fleet and enable these shipbuilders to compete for the follow-on frigate, which could lower costs for the frigate and increase the number of shipyards at which it could be built.

 

The second initiative of note is McCain’s proposal to move to a mix of large, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and smaller, conventionally-powered carriers. As recommended in our fleet architecture study as well, conventional carriers would initially be based on current amphibious assault ships that carry short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft such as the AV-8B Harrier and F-35B Lightning II. As McCain argues, a smaller carrier would be suited to supporting many of the smaller steady-state operations that require naval air power, such as air strikes in Syria. Senator McCain is skeptical of the Navy’s new FORD-class carrier due to its high cost and poor management, but argues the fleet will continue to also need large nuclear-powered carriers to provide a mobile airfield for combat air sorties during larger conflicts in which host nation concerns or enemy actions prevent effectively using land bases.

 

Finally, though not mentioned in the narrative, a “patrol ship” of less than 800 tons appears in the McCain plan’s appendix for acquisition starting in 2020. The addition of this small combatant highlights the need for a larger, more distributed, and resilient force, which was also a finding of our fleet architecture study. A patrol vessel of 800 tons such as Sweden’s Visby-class would be able to defend itself against a salvo of a dozen or more anti-ship missiles and could carry 4 to 8 offensive strike or anti-ship missiles. This will make patrol vessels able to deny or delay enemy aggression while being too costly a target to be worth defeating in large numbers.

 

Overall, McCain’s proposal would grow the surface fleet by adding frigates and patrol vessels to the Navy’s current requirement of 104 large surface combatants and 52 small surface combatants. We agree a larger surface fleet is essential to conduct offensive strike and anti-ship attacks in a distributed manner that will make them harder to defeat in detail. But we would argue the Distributed Lethality concept and growing needs for logistics escorts suggest the surface fleet needs to both grow and be rebalanced, with more small surface combatants that can conduct widely distributed offensive operations and fewer large surface combatants that will tend to concentrate the fleet’s firepower.

 

A Fleet For The Future

 

A Navy is a capital investment that takes years to build and lasts for decades thereafter. Any plan for a future fleet should be based not on the world of today, but on a set of plausible futures that best represent the world of 15 to 20 years from now. Even with an aggressive shipbuilding increase such as envisioned by McCain’s plan, only ¼ of the fleet will change between now and 2030. McCain’s proposal considers the likelihood that the fleet of 2030 will need to deter revisionist great powers as its primary mission, while addressing the growing capability of regional powers and transnational terrorists. It appropriately invests not only in platforms, but across the board in the various enablers and extenders of maritime power, including ISR, networking, unmanned vehicles, cyber, and electronic warfare.

 

If the United States fails to make great power competition a priority in long-term force planning, rivals such as Russia and China will continue eroding American influence and alliances, with damaging economic and security impacts on the American people. McCain’s plan sets American Seapower (as well as the rest of DoD) on a solid course for an uncertain future. It remains to be seen the extent to which this thoughtful, strategic approach will be complemented by the other instruments of national power, or the degree to which the incoming administration will welcome it.

 

Bryan Clark is Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Prior to joining CSBA, he was Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations and Director of his Commander’s Action Group. Bryan McGrath is Deputy Director, Center for American Seapower and a retired Surface Warfare Officer.

 

http://www.informationdissemination.net/2017/01/some-thoughts-on-mccain-white-paper.html

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 16, 2017

LOCAL COVERAGE

1. MV-22 Osprey depot-level repair facility opens in Japan
2. CLIO Announcement – NEW LogTalk from Weapons Division
3. PHOTO RELEASE: CNAF, NAVAIR Celebrate 2017 MLK Day (link)

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

4. Kendall Warns Against Splitting Top Pentagon Acquisition Job
5. Hundreds of deficiencies could push F-35 tests to 2019
6. First F-35Cs For West Coast FRS To Arrive Next Week At Lemoore
7. If Trump Wants Lower F-35 Costs, He Should Compete F135 Engine
8. Trump’s Navy Build-Up Comes With Steep Price Tag
9. Exclusive: Pentagon, Lockheed near deal on $9 billion F-35 contract – sources
10. From Drone Swarms To Smart Data, Pentagon Eyes A.I.
11. Why The United States Is Losing Its Technological Edge
12. Virginia start-up sets endurance record for small UAV
13. Fanning: Army Must Change How it Works With Private Sector
14. The Real Culprit in Defense Spending: Strategic Hubris
15. The Future of Air Superiority, Part III: Defeating A2/AD

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Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,
Facebook at http://facebook.com/COMFRC
and YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UCKGMKvAQuJ_L6qnM0DZravQ

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LOCAL COVERAGE
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MV-22 Osprey depot-level repair facility opens in Japan

KISARAZU, Japan – Members of Fleet Readiness Center Western Pacific (FRCWP) joined Japanese city officials, industry executives, and self-defense force leaders in a ribbon cutting ceremony Jan. 12 to open the first, Japan-based, depot-level MV-22 Osprey repair facility at Camp Kisarazu, a Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) operated air field.

The hangar bay facility, under contract with Fuji Heavy Industries, is critical to maintaining the entire forward deployed Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey fleet.

“The (M)V-22 is a strategic asset for the Marines in Japan,” said Capt. Matthew Edwards, commanding officer of FRCWP. “Opening this facility is a win-win situation for the Japan-U.S. alliance; it will allow us to ensure the long-term sustainment of the Marine Corps aircraft, and the Japanese will gain important experience on working with the aircraft.” The JGSDF is in the process of procuring seventeen V-22 aircraft.

FRCWP worked closely with Fuji Heavy Industries and the JGSDF to make this event happen on time.

“We had to coordinate the development of the facility and ensured that it met specifications. We provided aircraft support equipment, and also had to train Fuji Heavy Industries technicians to use the Department of Defense supply system,” said Scott DeLorenzi, MV-22 Logistics Management Specialist. “Despite these types of challenges, we are still on schedule.”

Once depot-level maintenance begins at the facility, FRCWP, which is based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, will provide oversight, engineering support, material, and technical data for the life of the contract.
Training for the Japanese aircraft maintainers has been provided by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), and is expected to continue mid-January, with the first Osprey to undergo depot-level maintenance shortly thereafter.

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6459

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CLIO Announcement – NEW LogTalk from Weapons Division

Mr. Jason Zehendner, the IPT Lead for the All Weapons Information System (AWIS) at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, located in China Lake, California, and his team describe the capabilities and importance of the AWIS system. They identify how different components of the Department of the Navy leverage the multitude of applications within AWIS to achieve complete lifecycle management for the Navy’s Weapons Systems.

https://myteam.navair.navy.mil/air/60/CLIO/SitePages/Log_Talks.aspx

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS
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Kendall Warns Against Splitting Top Pentagon Acquisition Job

(USNI 17JAN17) … By: John Grady

Frank Kendall again warned against splitting the duties of the Pentagon’s top civilian for acquisition, technology and logistics into two positions – one for the research and engineering and the other for acquisition and sustainment.

“I don’t think the break-up is a good thing,” Frank Kendall, the Department of Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L) speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Kendall and other Pentagon officials have testified against the split contained in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act – which the president termed “rushed” in his signing memorandum, and had threatened to veto.

Congressional leaders – like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) – have argued the split would streamline upper level Pentagon management but Kendall said this kind of division, “wasn’t what we do.”

“You have to understand what you’re doing [in the context of the government, not private business], you have to understand the culture,” he said.

One key difference between doing business for the government is “we pay for R&D” because the product is going to be produced at low-volume and high cost. In the private sector, research and development costs are absorbed by industry in anticipation of high volume lowering costs.

Another key difference that appointees have to understand is private industry does not have to contend with protests over contract awards, he said.

Kendall said while “rapid acquisition” can solve immediate problems in combat it is not a practice that should be followed in all other cases. “The cost of speed is quality,” noting how the Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicle that was rushed into Iraq was not designed for Afghanistan and had to be modified.

“There are times you want rapid acquisition” to assist the warfighter. To Kendall, “the metric that matters at the end of the day is are we going to win” with this program.

In his remarks on his new work “On Getting Acquisition Right,” he advised the incoming Trump administration “we have lot of ideas” in the research and development stage in the department but didn’t have the capital to take those ideas into production. “That’s the challenge for the next administration” to decide which programs advance.

He said he “hopes a lot goes to R&D and modernization” in the expected increases in defense spending.

On Monday, McCain, (released a Senate Armed Services Committee white paper outlining details for a $430 billion increase over the next five years. The House panel is expected to release its version in the coming weeks.
https://news.usni.org/2017/01/17/kendall-warns-splitting-top-pentagon-acquisition-job?utm_source=USNI+News&utm_campaign=b61f5cec5e-USNI_NEWS_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0dd4a1450b-b61f5cec5e-231514249&mc_cid=b61f5cec5e&mc_eid=4a4d18fb01

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Flight Global

Hundreds of deficiencies could push F-35 tests to 2019

BY: Leigh Giangreco

Plagued by a delayed delivery of crucial software and shortfalls with its automated maintenance system, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will begin initial operational test and evaluation more than a year after its planned August 2017 date.

In his last scathing report on the F-35, outgoing top Pentagon weapon tester Michael Gilmore gave early 2019 as an optimistic target date for initial operational test and evaluation. Even as the F-35 Joint Programme Office plans to reduce time in developmental testing in order to move ahead with IOT&E, Gilmore warns that hundreds of deficiencies will push full combat tests to late 2018 or early 2019 at the earliest.

Flight sciences testing identified more issues that will delay IOT&E, such as excessive and violent vertical oscillations experienced on the F-35C during catapult launches. The Navy considers the issue a “must fix” and directed the JPO should address it before IOT&E.

“Fleet pilots reported that the oscillations were so severe that they could not read flight critical data,” Gilmore writes. “Most of the pilots locked their harness during the catapult shot which made emergency switches hard to reach, again creating, in their opinion, an unacceptable and it unsafe situation.”

It’s clear given the numerous issues on the aircraft, including 270 high-priority deficiencies in Block 3F performance identified in a recent review, that Lot 10 will be delivered without the full Block 3F capability, Gilmore writes. Block 3F will bring the F-35 to its full combat capability, allowing 9g manoeuvres versus 7g loads with current Block 3i software and support for gun testing. Other critical 3F capabilities have fallen behind including Small Diameter Bomb integration, MADL capability to share imagery and basic Link 16 that allows the aircraft to transmit and receive messages.

When the US Air Force announced initial operational capability for the F-35A last August, the USAF’s chief of Air Combat Command Gen Herbert Carlisle told reporters blocks 3F and 4 would not be available until 2018 and 2021, respectively. Despite challenges during an interim readiness assessment, Carlisle assured the Block 3F software would ameliorate earlier issues on the aircraft.

In an August memo, Gilmore doubted the F-35A’s initial combat ready status. The Block 3i configuration, which carries weapons limited to Block 2B, would need support to locate and avoid modern threats, acquire targets and engage enemy aircraft he wrote. Gilmore echoed those criticisms in his last report, saying the F-35 with Block 3i software could not even match up in a permissive environment to some legacy aircraft, such as the F-18 and A-10. He also asserts pilots report the F-35’s electro-optical targeting system’s ability to identify targets is worse than those fielded on legacy aircraft.

“Environmental effects, such as high humidity, often forced pilots to fly closer to the target than desired in order to discern target features and then engage for weapon employment, much closer than needed with legacy systems, potentially alerting the enemy, exposing the F-35 to threats around the target area or requiring delays to regain adequate spacing to set up an attack,” he says.

The latest version of the F-35’s maintenance system will not be completed by the end of the system development and demonstration phase. ALIS 3.0 will not be delivered until mid-2018 and even then, several capabilities from that version will be deferred until later that summer, according to Gilmore.

Mission data loads, a compilation of mission data files which help identify enemy and friendly radar signals, for specific geographic regions will not be verified until 2019 at the earliest. Once delivered, the mission data loads will not be ready to face threats in testing, let alone combat, Gilmore writes.

Gilmore also pushed back on the JPO’s recent assertion that cost overruns from SDD could be recouped with existing program funding. The aircraft’s deficiencies will increase the SDD cost more than expected and the JPO must look within their existing budget or at funding set aside for follow-on modernisation, he says.

By continuing their pursuit of a block buy for lots 12 through 14 before completing IOT&E, Gilmore argues the JPO is flouting the “fly before you buy” approach. The block buy would deliver 452 aircraft in addition to the 490 procured under lots 1 through 11, a hefty procurement before full-rate production.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/hundreds-of-deficiencies-could-push-f-35-tests-to-2-433177/

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First F-35Cs For West Coast FRS To Arrive Next Week At Lemoore

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 18 JAN 17) … Gidget Fuentes

The first F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters will arrive on the West Coast next week as the Navy prepares to ramp its training pipeline for the next-generation stealth jet designed for carrier operations, Navy officials announced Tuesday.

Four of the single-seat, multi-mission Joint Strike Fighter are scheduled to land at Lemoore Naval Air Station, Calif., on Jan. 25 and join Strike Fighter Squadron 125, a former F/A-18 Hornet training squadron the Navy reactivated on Jan. 12, Naval Air Force officials said in a news release.

The “Rough Raiders” of VFA-125, will become the Navy’s second squadron to get the advanced fighter designed for its carrier-based force. The squadron will serve as the west coast-based Fleet Replacement Squadron.
The Navy’s first F-35C FRS squadron, the “Grim Reapers” of VFA-101 based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., received its first jets in September 2013 and began training the first groups of pilots and maintainers.

Lemoore NAS, located in California’s central valley, is the Navy’s designated hub for its strike fighter community supporting the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Navy sees the Lockheed Martin F-35C as providing key, critical capabilities to its carrier air wings, which also will include Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets, Boeing EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye multi-mission surveillance and refueling aircraft and Sikorsky MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters, along with Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft.

The joint JSF program and Lockheed Martin-built jets have come under heavy criticism, most recently from President-elect Donald Trump, over escalating costs for the jet and continuing program delays, even as the services continue with the jet’s development, live-fire weapons fire testing and upgrade packages including advanced software. The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation also levied some pointed criticism and skepticism at the F-35 program in its FY 2016 annual report issued in December.

But program officials remain on the defensive but confident.

“These accomplishments prove the basic design of the F-35 is sound and test results reinforce our confidence in the ultimate performance the U.S. and its partners and allies value greatly,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 Program Executive officer, said about the F-35 in a Jan. 17 statement remarking on the DOT&E report. “As a reminder, the F-35 program is still in its developmental phase. This is the time when issues are expected to be discovered and solutions are implemented to maximize the F-35’s capability for the warfighter. While the development program is more than 90 percent complete, we recognize there are known deficiencies that must be corrected and there remains the potential for future findings.”

https://news.usni.org/2017/01/18/first-f-35c-west-coast-frs-arrive-next-week-lemoore

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Breaking Defense

If Trump Wants Lower F-35 Costs, He Should Compete F135 Engine

By John Venable

Donald Trump has bemoaned the “over budget, behind schedule” F-35 program. He opened his first press conference as president-elect with a vow to do “big things” to bring down the aircraft’s cost and improve performance. That will take more than jaw-boning.

Applying heat to Lockheed will reduce costs to a degree, but it would take another 20 years to build a jet that genuinely competes with the cost and performance of the F-35. Luckily, there’s a better way.

Far greater performance, readiness, and real savings can be gleaned by opening its engine, the F135, to competition. When Lockheed Martin won the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) fly-off to win what is arguably the largest defense contract in U.S. history, both prototypes were powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine. Pratt (naturally) won the contract to build the engine for the F-35, and the U.S. government funded more than $4.8 billion for that engine’s development on a drive to significantly improve three areas critical to fighter aircraft: performance, readiness, and cost.

Performance

Jet engines are measured by their ability to propel weight. If an engine can produce 40,000 pounds of thrust and is paired with an aircraft weighing 40,000 lbs, the jet’s one-to-one thrust-to-weight ratio allows it to aggressively maneuver to engage threats while maintaining airspeed. The ability for a fighter aircraft to either outturn and out-accelerate adversary aircraft and surface-to-air threats will remain critical to a jets survival for the foreseeable future. The overall design and weight of a fighter are naturally important factors in determining the performance requirements of fighter engines, and Pratt’s F135 has more than met the JSF’s original program specifications for thrust.

Unfortunately, the actual dimensions and weight of the three variants (Air Force F-35A, Marine STOVL F-35B, and the Navy’s carrier-based F-35C) have all grown over time and now exceed the original specs the F135 was designed to power. Every fighter gains weight throughout its development and operational life. The F-16 was designed as a lightweight fighter, but it put on almost 5,000 pounds during its first 10 years. The F-35 will be no different. The additional weight is almost always overcome by improvements in engine technology, spurred on through competition. The F-16’s original engine, the Pratt & Whitney F-100-200 (Pratt F-200) worked well for the first F-16s off the line. But as the jet grew around the waistline, its thrust-to-weight ratio deteriorated considerably. To improve performance and drive down unit costs for the F-16, the Air Force in 1984 wisely implemented the Alternative Fighter Engine (AFE) program. A competitive bidding process led to General Electric’s (GE) F-110, which delivered 5,000 pounds more thrust than Pratt’s motor.

The timing of the requests for the second F-16 engine gave Pratt their just due for that system, and they had every advantage for winning the inevitable follow-on competition. In the end, GE won the F-16’s AFE follow-on contract, but fighter pilots and taxpayers were the real winners of what became known as the Great Engine War. That competition gave the F-16 the thrust needed to improve its operational and readiness faculties, while saving the taxpayers money.

To date, the F-35’s added weight has caused the four services to lower expectations for critical performance metrics for sustained turning performance (sustained g) and acceleration. The sustained turning requirement was reduced from 5.3 g’s to 4.6 for the F-35A; from 5.0 g’s to 4.5 for the F-35B, and from 5.1g’s to 5.0 for the F-35C. Losing half a “g” will hinder a pilot’s ability to maneuver the jet, but the loss in acceleration is a bigger concern. Being able to gain or recover airspeed is critical to fighter pilot survival, and the time it now takes for each variant of the F-35 to accelerate from Mach 0.8 to Mach 1.2 is far longer than outlined in the original specs. Compared to the original requirements, it now takes an F-35A model 8 additional seconds to get there; the B model 16 seconds longer; the F-35C takes a worrying 43 seconds longer. Both setbacks with sustained g and acceleration can be overcome with more thrust.

Readiness

Fighter aircraft engines produce more thrust under more stress than you might imagine. The F135 is the most powerful production-line fighter engine in the western hemisphere and, misinformed commentary to the contrary, has enjoyed a solid track record for reliability. Through the F-35’s more than 50,000 flight hours to date, there have been very few catastrophic failures. That said, given the extreme operating temperatures, pressures and complexities associated with this and any other fighter engine, failures are inevitable. In the 1990s, the United States flew eight different fighter aircraft, powered by as many different engines. A systemic failure of one motor may have hampered our efforts to win a major regional conflict, but with such a diversified portfolio of fighter aircraft/engines we would have been able to overcome the loss of a single aircraft type. The F-35 is slated to replace up to 90 percent of our combat fighter force, and every one of them will be powered by Pratt’s F135, which means the risk of a systemic engine failure will be much more crippling.

If that sounds far-fetched, think again. From December 15, 1998, to February 16, 2000 — a mere 14 months — Luke Air Force base lost five F-16s due to engine failure. The wing was grounded until it could determine a cause, which was found to be cracks in the Pratt and Whitney F-220 afterburner duct. The Air Force inspected the motors of every F-220 in its fleet and, while service-wide statistics are unknown, the wing at Luke found similar cracks in 63 of its engines. The consequences of a similar failure with the F-35’s single engine would not affect up to 90 percent of the U.S. fighter fleet; it would also impact seven of our key allies around the world.

Costs

The JSF team used the lessons learned from the F-16 to incorporate a competitive two-engine program into the F-35 acquisition strategy. The Defense Department gave the incumbent, Pratt & Whitney, a five-year head start on General Electric, but GE built its F136 engine to meet the looming requirement for more thrust. As the competition grew more intense, Pratt & Whitney ran an F135 up to 50,000 lbs. of thrust, exceeding the F-35 program specifications by some margin. As overall F-35 delays and cost overruns mounted, members of Congress moved aggressively to cut JSF developmental costs by terminating one of the two engines, pressed hard by then-Defense Secretary Bob Gates. Pratt’s F135 was already flying in the F-35 and it became the natural pick. Gates terminated GE’s F136 program in 2011, leaving Pratt & Whitney as the sole source of engines for the F-35. While many argue that even monopolies have to fight for excellence every day, there’s little real-world evidence to suggest that’s true.

World class track and field athletes rarely set personal bests running alone, and no athlete or business reaches its full potential without a competitor in the lane next to them. The history of the F-16 engine program reinforces that point, as does the nearly stagnant pricing history of the F135 engine/propulsion systems to date. Neither has dropped in line with program estimates, which brings us back to President-elect Trump’s recent communiques.

The Air Force currently has contracts with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney to develop a follow-on fighter engine technology, known as the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (ATEP). That motor will deliver more thrust, conserve more fuel and readily fit into the engine bay of either the F-35A or C. By adding accelerant to the Air Force’s initiative, the Trump administration can re-kindle the competition the F-35 needs to continue improving performance and readiness, while driving down costs. With a motor that can already produce 50,000 pounds of thrust, and with the contract to provide engines for all three F-35 variants in hand, Pratt is sitting in the catbird seat. There is no reason Pratt can’t come out on top in the next F-35 engine war, but until the Trump administration puts someone in the lane next to them, Pratt will continue to pace itself.

If Trump Wants Lower F-35 Costs, He Should Compete F135 Engine

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Trump’s Navy Build-Up Comes With Steep Price Tag

(THE HILL 16 JAN 17) … Kristina Wong

President-elect Donald Trump wants to expand the Navy’s fleet to 350 ships, the largest build-up since the end of the Cold War.

But where that money will come from is unclear and defense contractors aren’t counting their ships yet.

Experts say that going from the current fleet of 274 ships to Trump’s 350 goal will cost about $165 billion over 30 years. And it will be impossible to achieve unless there’s a dramatic increase in the defense budget, currently at $619 billion.

Navy budget expert Ronald O’Rourke said the $165 billion price tag does not include broader costs such as staffing the ships, maintenance and operations.

“The cost to build the ships is just a fraction of this larger number,” O’Rourke, a Congressional Research Service analyst, told The Hill. “It’s some much more substantial amount of money that would be needed.”

There are expectations on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon that Trump will substantially increase the defense budget.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), the chairmen of the Armed Services Committees, are preparing a 2018 defense budget plan of about $640 billion, according to a source close to the House panel. And the Navy added more ships to its 30-year shipbuilding plan after Trump’s election.

Trump has ambitious plans for the military.

On the campaign trail, he called for a plan to grow the military that experts say would raise the current Pentagon budget by 20 percent.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s nominee for Defense Secretary, has also voiced support for increasing the size of the military and number of ships.

However, there are key obstacles to raising defense spending.

The first is the 2011 Budget Control Act, which imposed budget ceilings on defense spending after Congress failed to agree on tax and spending reform. The ceilings are referred to as sequestration, or sequester, and go through 2021.

Overturning the bill would require the new GOP-led Congress to pass a new law, which would be a daunting task, if members can’t agree on how to otherwise reduce the deficit.

The only other option for Republican leaders in Congress is comprising with Democrats to lift the defense budget ceilings for several years at a time – which Congress has done since the ceilings began in 2013.
But Democrats have only been willing to raise the ceilings on defense if non-defense spending is raised as well.

Senate Democrats can also still filibuster any GOP plan to raise defense spending, as in previous years.

And there is pressure on Trump from other quarters to keep federal spending low, including the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Last year, they successfully pushed to extend a short-term government spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, through April 2017, giving the Trump administration to chance to weigh in.
Trump’s appointee for the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), is also a fiscal hawk hostile to increased defense spending.

If the ceilings can’t be overturned or raised, then money for the new shipbuilding plan and associated costs will have to come from elsewhere in the defense budget, at the expense of other programs.

That could spark significant pushback from within the Pentagon.

Trump had said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would seek to overturn the budget ceilings and raise defense spending.

“We will also repeal the Obama-Clinton defense sequester, and rebuild our badly depleted military,” he said at a Nov. 7 rally in Scranton, Pa.

Defense hawks plan to hold Trump to this promise.

“He says he wants to spend a lot more money on defense – I take him at his word,” said McCain.

How Trump will reconcile these competing expectations is anyone’s guess, experts say.

“That’s the $100 billion dollar question,” said Center for Strategic and International Studies director of defense budget analysis Todd Harrison. “You’ve got an inherent contradiction.”

Harrison said Trump will also be using his political capital on a number of other priorities including repealing ObamaCare and tax reform.

“How much will be left over when it comes to the defense budget?” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to see a dramatic increase in defense spending.”

Some in the defense industry are worried that lawmakers will pass another year-long continuing resolution to fund the government. That would mean carrying over spending levels from the previous year, which could lead to the delay of new defense programs.

One industry official urged lawmakers not to wait until current government spending expires at the end of April, worried they would just extend current spending levels through the end of fiscal year in September.

While there is optimism the ceilings on defense spending can be raised, there is also skepticism that Trump can overturn them permanently.

“[Trump] campaigned for the end of sequester,” the industry official said, but added that he is seemingly walking back other promises, such as having Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The same may be true for sequester,” the official said.

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/314311-trumps-navy-build-up-comes-with-steep-price-tag

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Exclusive: Pentagon, Lockheed near deal on $9 billion F-35 contract – sources

(REUTERS 19 Jan 17) … By Mike Stone

The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) are close to deal for a contract worth almost $9 billion as negotiations are poised to bring the price per F-35 below $100 million for the first time, people familiar with the talks said Wednesday.

The F-35, the Pentagon’s costliest arms program, has drawn fire from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump who has made lowering prices for military equipment a pillar of his transition into office.

Talks are still ongoing for the tenth batch of stealthy fighter jets with a deal for 90 planes expected to be announced by the end of the month, three people said on condition of anonymity.

A Lockheed representative declined to comment and a representative for the fighter program said negotiations are ongoing.

The U.S. Defense Department expects to spend $391 billion in the coming decades to develop and buy 2,443 of the supersonic warplanes. Though the F-35 program has been criticized by Trump as too expensive, the price per jet has already been declining. Lockheed, the prime contractor, and its partners have been working on building a more cost-effective supply chain to fuel the production line in Fort Worth, Texas.

The overtures from the incoming administration may have had some effect, but Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Jeff Babione said last summer that the price of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing version of the jet would drop to under $100 million per plane in this contract for the 10th low-rate production batch.

The F-35 comes in three configurations, the A-model for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. allies; a F-35 B-model which can handle short takeoffs and vertical landings for the Marine Corps and the British navy; and carrier-variant F-35C jets for the U.S. Navy.

Lockheed and its main partners, including Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), United Technologies Corp’s (UTX.N) Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L), have been developing and building F-35s for the U.S. military and 10 allies.

On Oct. 25 Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, reported a quarterly profit that handily beat analysts’ expectations, as sales of its Sikorsky helicopters pushed total revenue up 14.8 percent. Lockheed is set to host its fourth-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lockheed-pentagon-idUSKBN15308A

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From Drone Swarms To Smart Data, Pentagon Eyes A.I.

(DEFENSETECH.ORG 16 JAN 17) … Brendan McGarry

The CBS show “60 Minutes” recently featured the rising number of experimental Pentagon technologies operating with artificial intelligence, from drone swarms to ground robots to naval ships.

The segment, “The Coming Swarm,” showcased a ground robot-aerial drone duo designed to track terrorists, a naval trimaran capable of spotting submarines, and more than 100 drones dropped from a trio of F/A-18 Hornet jets flying at near the speed of sound in what was billed as the largest micro-drone swarm.

The latter, which took place in the fall at China Lake, California, was arguably the most noteworthy, not only because the systems demonstrated collective decision-making and adaptive formation flying, but also because of their high-pitched alien sounding scream.

“To me the eeriest part about this moment was actually the sound,” correspondent David Martin later said of the noise. “It turned into something almost from another planet when you heard all 100 of them slowly descending in that sort of death spiral.”

When Martin asked William Roper, director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, whether autonomy is the biggest thing in military technology since nuclear weapons, Roper replied, “If what we mean is the biggest thing that is going to change everything, I think autonomy is going to change everything.”

He’s not alone. Last week in Washington, D.C., officials from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s research arm known as DARPA, the defense industry and other organizations met to talk about the opportunities and challenges for artificial intelligence in the military.

The “Beyond A.I. Forum” was organized by Tandem NSI, a national security consultancy based in Arlington, Virginia, and Booz Allen Hamilton, the defense consulting giant based in McLean, Virginia.

While autonomy, artificial intelligence and machine learning are exciting and rapidly evolving fields, defense officials have to “take a step back and say, ‘Our competitive advantage in this rising-tide-is-lifting-all boats is what?” said Chuck Howell, chief engineer of portfolio programs and integration at Mitre Corp., an engineering nonprofit that supports the federal government.

“What is the [concept of operations]?” he asked. “What are the confidence levels? What are the ways to exploit this global capability that we can come up with that’s novel?”

Howell added, “There are huge opportunities for companies that can take the general framework of A.I. machine learning and tailor it to those weird examples that the DoD and the [intelligence community] worry about. Finding cats on the Internet? Not a problem. Finding tells in a grainy overhead [image]? Harder.”

Justin Manzo, senior lead engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton, agreed. For the Pentagon, big data is part of the problem. Developing systems that can help identify the megabytes of critical intelligence from the petabytes of information is part of the solution, he said.

“Those kind of systems are what we can operationalize … [and] put downrange, where there’s limited data links,” he said.

Jonathan Aberman, managing director of TandemNSI and moderator of the panel, said the business opportunities for developing products and services in this space are significant. The Defense Department is estimated to spend upwards of $3 billion a year on autonomous systems alone.

“If you’re an entrepreneur … the next two years [represent] unbelievable opportunities for raising venture capital around these products,” he said.

Fred Kennedy, deputy director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA, made clear the Pentagon’s goal for the technology. “These are all systems we’re looking at right now,” he said. “Autonomy is going to be our asymmetric approach to how we fight.”

From Drone Swarms to Smart Data, Pentagon Eyes A.I.

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Why The United States Is Losing Its Technological Edge

The Department of Defense needs to completely overhaul its approach to technology strategy, injecting free market principles to keep pace with technological change.

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 16 JAN 17) … Ben FitzGerald

Earlier this month, President-elect Donald Trump drew headlines for his criticism of two major defense programs, the Air Force One replacement and the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35). Mr. Trump is right to worry about high prices and schedule delays, issues that frequently harm defense procurement. But his concerns should run deeper. The United States military is losing its longstanding technological advantage, despite spending billions on projects like those troubling the president-elect.

The DoD’s problems can be rectified, but not by banning civilian or military personnel from ever working in defense industry, as considered by Mr. Trump. Instead, the Department of Defense needs to completely overhaul its approach to technology strategy, injecting free market principles to keep pace with technological change and outcompete increasingly capable adversaries.

The DoD develops some of the world’s most sophisticated technology, but its fundamental approach to doing so remains optimized for a bygone era. It assumes a clear, singular threat from which to develop rigid requirements. These requirements form the basis for contracts for which only a small number of defense specialist contractors can compete. And the costs of these projects are so high that the resulting weapons systems must remain in service for many decades, despite the rapid pace of technological change and world events.

Today, the United States requires capabilities to address threats ranging from sophisticated national militaries to insurgents and terrorists to highly empowered individuals. The DoD must therefore invest in a wide array of technologies ranging from nuclear weapons to traditional conventional military systems and newer capabilities like cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The developers of many of the newer technologies DoD needs focus on global commercial marketplaces, with sales and R&D budgets that dwarf the DoD’s approximately $60 billion R&D budget. Global R&D spending for 2016, by comparison, is estimated at $1.9 trillion. At today’s valuations, Apple Corporation could purchase the top five U.S. defense contractors from its cash reserves. The massive growth of global technology companies means that the DoD does not wield the influence it did in the 1960s, but it has not adapted to these market realities.

The DoD and its industry partners are acutely aware of these problems, but have not yet been able to effect the change necessary for success. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has sought to encourage innovation, reaching out to Silicon Valley by founding the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental. The United States Air Force and Army have created rapid capability offices aimed to speed the development of new systems. And Congress recently passed one of the most extensive defense reform bills in a generation, forcing a reorganization of the DoD’s entire acquisition organization. These efforts have created an environment in which profound change might take place.

If confirmed, Secretary-designate James Mattis will have a rare opportunity to make changes that have eluded previous secretaries. Success will not be achieved simply by increasing acquisition budgets or production, although that will help. Instead the incoming administration must use free market principles to foster competition and innovation, creating the conditions for military and business success.

To achieve these goals, the DoD must employ a radically different technology strategy. Under that strategy the DoD should invest in many more technology options. Creating a more diverse capability portfolio will allow the Pentagon to make investment decisions based on the systems that prove most effective. It is hard to kill a program like the Joint Strike Fighter when there is no alternative available.

An optionality strategy would yield significant military benefits, imposing intelligence and innovation burdens on the nation’s adversaries and providing the United States with more flexibility to respond to strategic surprise. It would also allow the DoD to manage the cost and sophistication of its technology relative to relevant threats. Most importantly, while others may be able to compete with certain U.S. technologies, no other nation possesses the size and sophistication required to implement this type of strategy.

At the same time, an optionality strategy would create the conditions for a far more advantageous defense marketplace. The DoD should be an attractive customer for technology companies. It offers compelling technical problems, invests in cutting edge systems and is willing to pay early adopter premiums. By lowering barriers to entry and disincentives to innovation, the DoD can take advantage of this latent appeal to stimulate competition from new entrants and traditional defense industry alike.

Changing the Pentagon’s bureaucracy is notoriously difficult. The Trump administration brings a desire to change and the hope of increased defense spending. While positive, this intention also creates the grave risk of pouring new money into old mistakes, which would see a once in a generation opportunity squandered. But with a new strategy and strong leadership, something Secretary-designate Mattis is famous for, meaningful change is possible at this moment in the Department’s history.

Ben FitzGerald is Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-the-united-states-losing-its-technological-edge-19066

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Flight Global

Virginia start-up sets endurance record for small UAV

BY: Stephen Trimble

A Virginia-based start-up company has announced setting a new endurance record with a 56h flight by a combustion-powered unmanned air vehicle (UAV) funded by the US military.

The flight by the Vanilla Aircraft VA001, registered as N204HR, opens a new ultra-long-endurance capability for aircraft in the in the 50-500kg (110-1,100lb) weight class, which roughly spans the UAVs sized between the Boeing/Insitu Integrator and the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Predator A.

Vanilla Aircraft has not published specifications for the VA001, but a video posted on the firm’s web site shows an aircraft perhaps slightly larger than the AAA RQ-7 Shadow. It is launched by sitting in a wheeled cradled, which is towed down a runway with a long cable attached to a pick-up truck. As the aircraft reaches flight speed, the VA001 jettisons the cable and starts a two-bladed, pusher-propeller mounted on the tail. Lacking a landing gear, the UAV is recovered by skidding on its belly to a stop on a runway.

Elements of propulsion system are also described in a series of documents available online. The company’s press release announcing the record endurance flight discloses the fuel type as JP-8. One of the funding agencies, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, also announced the flight in a separate news release, describing the vehicle as powered by a diesel engine. The company’s aircraft registration filed with the US Federal Aviation Administration lists the engine as a “four-cycle” type.

The VA001 is designed to remain aloft for 10 days without refueling. The record endurance mission was planned as a five-day flight, but it was cut short due to weather, Vanilla Aircraft says. But the company notes the UAV landed with enough JP-8 fuel to support an additional 90h in the air, or a more than 6-day mission.

“This effort represents tremendous and unprecedented coordination among civil, defense, academic, and private industry to bring a heretofore only imagined capability to reality,” said Vanilla Aircraft CEO Timothy Healy, a retired Navy rear admiral.

The VA001 is designed to carry 13.5kg payload, but flew with 9.07kg of actual and simulated systems, which included a communications relay and a multi-spectral imaging sensor.

“We could fill a wide cost and payload-capability market gap between small electric and large military unmanned aircraft, which is perfect for many commercial applications,” says co-founder and programme manager Jeremy Novara.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/virginia-start-up-sets-endurance-record-for-small-ua-433262/

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Fanning: Army Must Change How it Works With Private Sector

National Defense Magazine Online, Jan. 12 | Sandra I. Erwin

As he prepares to leave office as the Army’s top civilian leader, Eric K. Fanning is urging his successor to rethink how the service works with the private sector and acquires technology.

The U.S. military is seeing its technological superiority eroding and needs to find better ways to tap innovation from startups and companies across the board, Fanning will tell a gathering of industry executives Friday in Washington, D.C., hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.

Fanning was appointed 22nd Secretary of the Army by President Obama on May 18, 2016. Before that, he served as acting secretary of the Army and in several senior level posts at the Department of the Army. He previously was chief of staff to the secretary of defense and served as the 24th undersecretary of the Air Force.

According to a draft of Fanning’s prepared remarks, he will call on the Defense Department to create a more “open and flexible” environment for innovative companies. He notes that while the Defense Department often tells industry that “creative solutions are welcome,” for too many companies it feels like they have to “cross a moat to arrive at the front door — and when they get there they find it locked.”

Fanning, like other defense officials, blames the procurement system for stalling innovation. “Often the formal requirements that drive our acquisition process become inflexible guidelines. Rather than promoting the innovative capacity of our industrial partners, we constrain them,” he wrote in his draft remarks. “It’s no secret that some of today’s most innovative companies prefer not to work with DoD.”

Fanning suggests that there should be a closer partnership between the government and industry as national security challenges become more complex. “By finding new ways to incentivize business to make its own investments in adaptable solutions, DoD will ultimately gain access to even more advanced capabilities, more rapidly, at a reduced cost.”

He cites several areas that are “ripe for the private sector to take the lead and provide creative solutions.”

• Cyberspace: The costs of industrial cyber espionage range as high as $500 billion annually and 1.2 million jobs a year. “What is arguably more important and more costly is how states like Russia are incorporating cyber tools to sow disinformation and make it more difficult for democratic systems to make decisions,” Fanning says in his draft speech. “We’re undergoing a real test of that so far and the worst may be yet to come.”

• Space: Commercial companies like OneWeb are launching hundreds of small satellites to provide broadband internet service to individual users and to support potential first responders over the next three years. “There should be ways DoD can piggyback on these kinds of investments to push the access of our networks to the tactical edge.”

• Autonomous systems: The defense sector is driving many cutting-edge efforts forward but some of the most creative advances come from civilian applications. Right now, most of DoD’s autonomous systems do what humans tell them. But many civilian autonomous systems can also interact with humans. “There are opportunities here to develop machines that can learn and make decisions based on analyzing big data.”

• Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence: The leading edge of machine learning is now supported by complex algorithms that enable a computer to learn from prior tasks rather than perform the same task in the same way. Think of Netflix, and the way it will queue up options it thinks you like. “We are working on doing something similar with options and capabilities we provide to our forces on the battlefield. This is one area where the military needs a better way to tap into existing innovation rather than seeking to duplicate it.”

• Big data applications: “What we need and don’t have is a comprehensive approach for using big data to derive a competitive advantage over capable, near peer adversaries. Today, operational big data military applications lag far behind commercial capabilities.”

• Materials science: “We could make the equipment our people need smaller, lighter, and easier to move. And in the long term, it’s an area where the military can save enormous amounts of money. Researchers are working to provide batteries that recharge in minutes or less, don’t die, are difficult to damage, and orders of magnitude more powerful. This will revolutionize how we store and use power in both civilian applications like cars, phones, and infrastructure, but also for military vehicles, communications systems and facilities.”

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2397
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The National Interest

The Real Culprit in Defense Spending: Strategic Hubris

Christopher A. Preble

There is a wide and growing gap between what officials in Washington demand of the military and the resources made available to execute its missions. Fixing this problem is arguably the most important challenge facing the incoming Trump administration. Last month, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work estimated that the current shortfall could be as much as $88 billion per year, and that is merely to cover current operations and planned procurement. “That doesn’t buy you an extra ship, that doesn’t buy you an extra airplane, that doesn’t buy you an extra soldier or sailor or airman or Marine,” he said. “That just gets you where you need to be, fills in the hole.”

Work would solve this problem of the means-ends gap by expanding the means, i.e., grow the Pentagon’s budget, despite the fact that it is 36 percent larger in inflation-adjusted dollars than in 2000. Most defense-policy wonks here in Washington agree that we should be spending far more on the military, though they differ on how to do it. Democrats would prefer to raise taxes. Republicans would cut other spending, and divert the proceeds to the military. Most likely, however, increases in defense spending will be paid for with more borrowed money. This “pay for it later” approach would allow policymakers to avoid spelling out any painful tradeoffs. And it remains to be seen whether the budget hawks in Congress will be able to muster the votes to block a repeal of the bipartisan Budget Control Act.

There is a different approach to bridging the means-ends gap.

In a recent essay, Frank Hoffman of the National Defense University made a case for strategic discipline—in other words, focusing on the ends that we seek, not merely expanding the means to achieve them. “There is a better equilibrium point,” Hoffman wrote, “between rampant retrenchment and unbridled hegemonic primacy.” Borrowing from Ian Bremmer’s “cold-blooded, interest-driven approach . . . designed to maximize the return on the taxpayer’s investment,” which Bremmer calls Moneyball, Hoffman assigns to the National Security Council the responsibility to “assess risks and define the liabilities involved in each contingency instead of simply assuming that our leadership and credibility are at stake in every global flashpoint.”

In short, Hoffman concludes, “the United States needs to be more discriminate in judging its core interests and more disciplined in applying force and resources to secure them.”

Many writers here at The Skeptics take seriously the need for rethinking our strategic objectives. The United States needs to make better choices. The Department of Defense is misnamed. If we were serious about defending the United States, we could have a very different military, with very different missions. It would be a smaller military, based in the United States and its territories. It would deploy to places as needed, not attempt to be everywhere, all the time. A different grand strategy, what I and others call restraint, would involve the U.S. military in fewer wars. And a restraint-oriented military, while still the finest in the world by a wide margin, would be far less costly than our current one.

We can afford to rethink our foreign policy and reorient our military, because primacy, the strategy that the United States has pursued for decades, isn’t necessary to defend vital U.S. interests, and will become increasingly difficult to sustain, given low public support for it. The American people have consistently questioned the need for a vast, forward-deployed military, focused on defending other countries, most of whom can and should defend themselves. The latest polls merely confirm what we’ve known for a long time.

During the course of the campaign, Donald J. Trump hinted at some adjustments to U.S. foreign policy that were consistent with the public’s wishes. He questioned the wisdom of regime-change wars and armed nation building. He doubted that the benefits of America’s alliances always outweigh the costs. And he spoke to an American people that has grown tired of costly overseas adventures that don’t deliver on the promise of greater security.

Such positions were unpopular with a broad swathe of the GOP foreign-policy establishment, including a number of former senior officials in Republican administrations. Challenging the elite consensus is difficult, but Trump did it anyway. And he was rewarded in November.

Even if President Trump does not carry through on his promises to focus on “America First,” and even if he doesn’t revisit our global military posture, he can still fulfill his pledge to make the Department of Defense operate more efficiently. This will not be easy. It will require him to take on entrenched interests that defend the status quo.

However, the obsession with eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, though widely popular (who, after all, is a member of the “Waste, Fraud and Abuse Caucus” or gives money to the “Waste, Fraud and Abuse PAC”?), shouldn’t divert our attention from the central dilemma: America’s overly ambitious and under-debated grand strategy.

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-real-culprit-defense-spending-strategic-hubris-19062

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The Future of Air Superiority, Part III: Defeating A2/AD

WarOnTheRocks.com, Jan. 13 | Brig. Gen. Alex Grynkewich

Over the last decade, would-be adversaries have been busy acquiring and fielding capabilities to preclude U.S. and allied forces from freely operating around the world. This buildup of military capabilities in the Pacific, Europe, and even in Syria and Iran, poses a complex operational problem for U.S. and allied forces across a range of missions, including in the fight for control of the air. Losing the ability to operate freely at the tactical and operational level has strategic-level impacts. If we do not respond to this trend, we will ultimately lose the ability to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries in conventional conflicts. Having a credible ability to attack an enemy – especially those enemy capabilities that threaten our homeland or our deployed forces – is essential to regaining and retaining the ability to achieve strategic success.

The second installment of this series explained how the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team (ECCT) attempted to solve this problem and bridge the air superiority gaps facing the U.S. Air Force in 2030. While none of our original four frameworks would suffice in the face of expected future threats, we did learn several key lessons from our analysis. We learned that while modernization of current forces alone could not solve the 2030 problem, key upgrades could keep this force relevant at the operational level and increase its overall fighting capacity. We learned that increased reliance on stand-off weapons would be technically feasible if we could figure out how to provide the right degree of targeting information. We learned that capabilities with persistence, range, and survivability were key. And, perhaps most instructively, we learned that the Air Force needs to move from an air domain-centric perspective to one that complements our air assets with cyberspace- and space-based capabilities.

As we continued our work, these lessons led us to develop a vision for an integrated and networked family of air superiority capabilities comprised of both stand-off and stand-in assets. Stand-in assets are those that seek to operate inside the threat range of enemy defenses, such as penetrating bombers or fighters equipped with short-range weapons. By contrast, stand-off assets remain outside those defenses, sending only longer-range weapons like missiles or other effects such as jamming into the most contested areas. The pairing of both stand-in and stand-off capabilities proved absolutely critical to defeating a future adversary’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy. Anti-access capabilities are those that threaten bases and logistical lines into a theater, denying access to basing or to the theater. Area denial capabilities aim to create an impenetrable bubble over key assets, denying a force the ability to operate in the protected area once it gains access to the theater. A key feature of the A2/AD strategy is the defense of high-value anti-access capabilities under the protective bubble provided by area denial assets. This puts attacking forces on the horns of a dilemma. They cannot attack an adversary’s area denial threats because anti-access capabilities prevent them from projecting power into a theater. They cannot attack the anti-access threats because they are heavily protected by area denial capabilities.

As the chief of naval operations recently pointed out, there is nothing new about A2/AD as a strategic approach. It is merely an extension of the long battle for supremacy between offense and defense over the course of military history. In today’s context, anti-access threats aim to force our capabilities to operate from beyond their effective range — whether in air, space, cyberspace, on land, or at sea. These threats include long-range aviation assets with long-range weapons, such as bombers with advanced air-launched cruise missiles. They might also include short or intermediate range ballistic missiles. Together, these weapons increase the risk to friendly forces operating across a wide swath of geography and could even prevent U.S., allied, or partner operations for at least a period of time.

Importantly, anti-access threats are not limited to the air domain or even to the physical domains. Anti-satellite (ASAT) systems are one clear example. A ground-based ASAT capability typically has the range and power (whether kinetic or non-kinetic) to wreak havoc above the atmosphere and deny the exploitation of the space domain for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), communications, or other purposes. Similarly, cyberspace capabilities might be used against air or space capabilities or against friendly cyber forces. Such threats might preclude logistics in forward areas for aircraft or force cyber operators to shift to a defensive focus — the virtual equivalent of denied battlespace in the physical domains.

As noted, an effective A2/AD strategy protects anti-access capabilities with area denial threats. In the air, this is often accomplished using an integrated air defense system (IADS) comprised of radars, aircraft, and surface-to-air missile systems. In space, this might be accomplished by rendering an orbit unusable by spreading debris. In cyberspace, firewalls and other protective systems prevent friendly actions in a similar manner throughout the virtual battlespace. Collectively, these area denial capabilities present a robust defense across air, space, and cyberspace.

Many defense analysts have focused on ways to tackle anti-access systems. Their ideas include longer-range aircraft, missiles, and weapons that allow U.S. forces to stand off beyond the range of threat systems. Others have discussed short-range defensive capabilities to provide the last line of defense at U.S. forward bases, including both active measures (e.g., short-range missile or gun systems) and passive measures (e.g., camouflage and hardening). Other useful solution proposals include advanced air refueling capabilities, robust theater- and base-level logistical systems, and new concepts for fighting from our bases. To these ideas, our team added a few others. For example, instead of always trying to go through the anti-access environment, the U.S. Air Force could and should improve our ability to go above it (in air or space) or below it (on the ground, in air at low altitude, or in cyberspace).

All of these ideas are a necessary part of the solution to the air superiority problem of 2030. Unfortunately, they are not sufficient. All the capabilities mentioned above only address the anti-access portion of the problem, ignoring the area denial portion. Paired with a sophisticated operational approach, these anti-access counters might be able to achieve limited effects over a short duration — a raid or reprisal action — but our analysis showed the adversary would still retain a significant advantage. In more complex scenarios, we found the adversary will likely still be able to mass decisive power at the time and place of its choosing. Through wargaming, our team saw the impact this had on diplomacy, access to the global commons, and a host of other national-level issues. In effect, conventional deterrence failed, increasing the danger that skirmishes or other minor conflicts would quickly escalate.

To regain the ability to deter and decisively win conventional conflicts, we must also build capabilities and concepts to attack the area denial side of the A2/AD strategy. In short, we found we needed a credible ability to attack the anti-access threats where they lived, rather than just protect ourselves against their effects. This concept is not a new one for airmen. Airpower strategists have long known that gaining air superiority by destroying aircraft in the air is necessary, but not sufficient. It is much more efficient and effective to destroy those capabilities on the ground by striking airfields, aircraft, fuel farms, and the like.

This logic still holds in a multi-domain environment. The adage that “sometimes offense is the best defense” still applies in the combined arms fight of the 21st century. For instance, making our on-orbit assets more resilient is again necessary, but not sufficient. We must also protect our spacecraft by eliminating terrestrial threats to them. Just as it is reasonable to strike airfields and aircraft before they leave the ground laden with cruise missiles, it also makes sense to defend our space assets by striking (or threatening to strike) an adversary’s ground-based ASAT capabilities left-of-launch. These strikes need not be kinetic. Similarly, cyberspace anti-access capabilities striking U.S. forces within cyberspace or elsewhere could be targeted either from cyberspace, from the air, or from space. Thus, the air superiority forces necessary to defeat the A2/AD strategy in 2030 require a combination of capabilities across the air, space, and cyberspace domains. Our analysis revealed four main considerations for such a force.

First, this force must be able to operate over long distances. Operating from range allows friendly forces to base beyond the reach of most anti-access threats while still maintaining the ability to strike them where they live, under the area denial umbrella. If forces attempt to fight from close proximity to an adversary employing the A2/AD strategy, thousands of attacks on their position will quickly overwhelm base defenses. These attacks might be ballistic or cruise missiles, ASAT weapons, or cyberspace-based attacks. Generating combat power becomes untenable under such persistent attack. If forces are instead able to operate from range — or from a different orbit, or from behind a firewall — the number of threats able to reach their position is more manageable. Similarly, generating combat power becomes more realistic, whether that’s aircraft sortie generation, space-based effects, or employment of cyberspace weapons. Military history is replete with examples of the benefits of striking from increased range, including moving from lances to pistols, from smoothbore to rifled muskets, and from fighter guns to air-to-air missiles. This concept still applies in the multi-domain air superiority battle of 2030.

Second, our 2030 air superiority force requires a robust logistical backbone capable of delivering key commodities — fuel, spare parts, weapons — even while under attack. Even while operating from range, hundreds of weapons could still harass friendly forces from the air or cyberspace domains. Mobility and logistics capabilities must be able to deliver and support the force in a world in which deploying into theater is a movement to contact and bases are no longer conceived of as sanctuaries, but instead as fighting positions. Concepts and capabilities critical to air superiority in 2030 include passive and active base defensives, logistical networks capable of supporting dispersed forces, and the ability to rapidly reconstitute, recover, and regenerate combat power after a successful adversary attack. The KC-46 tanker will be a critical backbone of that force, along with follow-on advanced air refueling capabilities and new tactics, techniques, and procedures appropriate for deploying and employing a long range force.

Third, to defeat the A2/AD strategy, the 2030 force must include both stand-off and stand-in capabilities. Stand-in capabilities include platforms such as the B-21, a penetrating counterair (PCA) platform, and space and cyberspace capabilities able to operate in or over adversary systems. Long-range strike assets such as the B-21 will provide the ability to neutralize airfields and logistics targets, while the PCA will maintain air superiority for other forces operating within the adversary IADS. Space systems overhead will provide ISR, navigation, and communications support to penetrating capabilities, enabled by a space mission force ready and able to fight through any adversary actions. Outside the IADS, stand-off forces will increase the tempo of friendly operations by providing the necessary volume of weapons and effects to keep the pressure on the adversary system. While able to affect targets at the outskirts of an IADS by themselves, stand-off forces will receive guidance and cueing from stand-in forces on deeper targets. This significantly increases the effectiveness of the stand-off force, improving its accuracy and making it a more viable option for employment. This effectively increases the amount of ordnance and the effects a commander can bring to bear. F-22s and F-35s will remain critical to the fight, providing air superiority for stand-off forces and over friendly bases.

Fully linking the capacity of the stand-off force with the superior capability of the stand-in force requires new concepts for multi-domain command and control (C2) and new multi-domain tactics. Thus, the fourth requirement of our 2030 air superiority force is that it be a truly networked and integrated family of capabilities. This force must be able to take data from the array of available sources and sensors and rapidly turn it into decision-quality information. Such a decision might be at the operational level, allowing a commander to apportion forces for desired effects, or it might be at the tactical level, providing operators with multi-domain situational awareness and targeting solutions.

To achieve this level of integration and networking, the 2030 air superiority force will need to leverage several of the technologies championed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work as part of the third offset. Work posits that the third offset will be enabled by technology and will likely include some combination of autonomous systems along with human-machine teaming and collaboration, all brought together into a battle network. In this battle network, he describes three layers, or grids: sensors, command and control, and effects. As our team looked that the multi-domain integration and networking requirements for air superiority in 2030, we independently came to many of the same conclusions that Work articulated. Foremost, our team developed a concept we referred to as data-to-decision (D2D). This emerged as we realized that in 2030 we would have a robust family of sensors across a number of traditional and non-traditional platforms. We saw a need to build an architecture that would make the most of this data and create decision-quality knowledge.

In D2D, our sensor grid is made up of a variety of assets. These include purpose-built airborne ISR assets, planes built solely for the purpose of gathering intelligence such as the U-2, RC-135, or RQ-4. It also includes other platforms that, while not built strictly for ISR, nonetheless have advanced sensors able to collect valuable data, such as the F-22, F-35, B-21, PCA, and others. It also includes cyberspace-based ISR systems that gather data from the virtual world, as well numerous Air Force satellite constellations. D2D takes the data from all of these sensors and deposits it into a cloud-based architecture, making the data accessible not only to the platform and sensor that collected it, but also to every other system in the family.

To make this happen, the family of capabilities will need an advanced communications architecture to tie this sensor grid together. Historically, the focus of such discussions has been on waveforms and datalinks. In the era of software definable radios, we will need instead to build self-healing networks that lean heavily on autonomous learning. Such an application of autonomy will allow the network to reconfigure on its own in real time in response to adversary jamming. Similar to how a smart phone can seamlessly transition from Wi-Fi to 4G or from 4G to 3G and all the way down to an analog operations, an autonomous, learning, self-healing network will ensure maximum performance of the sensor grid across a host of different operational environments. This does not mean it will always work at maximum capacity, just as a smart phone on 3G lacks the speed and performance it has when on Wi-Fi. But it does mean that the network will be able to adapt and reconfigure to its environment quickly, uninhibited by the slower pace of human assessment and action.

As we move to the command and control grid, the air superiority family of capabilities will rely on a series of applications that take the data from the sensor grid and turn it into meaningful information and knowledge. This portion of the D2D concept is similar to Work’s ideas on human-machine collaboration, in particular how machines can assist human decision-making. Machines will more rapidly turn the sensor data into information and knowledge to allow humans to make more and better decisions. This decision might be at a command and control center to reassign forces to new missions. For example, in a multi-domain combined arms fight, if an air commander loses a bomber mission due to weather or maintenance, she might reallocate that bomber’s targets to a cyberspace team. Conversely, if her cyberspace team runs into unexpected resistance due to a new software patch on an adversary system, she might reassign their target to an aircraft. Importantly, not all decisions supported by this grid will be at the operational or battle management levels. Applications resident on a B-21, PCA, or B-52 with stand-off weapons could also access and fuse sensor grid data to provide precise targeting information for kinetic or non-kinetic employment.

The concepts underlying D2D are foundational to the success of our air superiority 2030 family of capabilities. D2D is the connective tissue that ties our stand-off and stand-in forces together. This linkage is what allows for the precise application of kinetic or non-kinetic fires against the adversary system in mass. This, in turn, begins a virtuous cycle for friendly forces. Initially operating from range, as the anti-access threat is attrited, we can move our forces closer to the adversary, whether in physical or virtual space. This decrease in range translates into an increase in operational tempo, thereby facilitating the further dismantling of anti-access capabilities under the umbrella of area denial threats. This again allows forces to move closer to the adversary, allowing shorter-range and less-survivable capabilities to engage more effectively. Eventually, as tempo increases, the mass of effects brought to bear culminates the enemy force and defeats its A2/AD strategy. The adversary system is rendered ineffective, allowing the full range of joint operations.

Developing an air superiority force for 2030 capable of executing the concepts described above will require significant innovations in how the Air Force has traditionally developed and fielded systems. Not only must we link capabilities across functions (e.g., operations and logistics), but also across the domains of air, space, and cyber. The speed at which we adapt and field such capabilities must increase, as well. And we must develop airmen-leaders who are not only experts at the employment in their particular platform, domain, or function, but who can move fluidly and fluently across some of the traditional boundaries that define Air Force experiences and careers. These challenges and the solutions our team identified to overcome them will be covered in the final installment of this series.

–Alex Grynkewich is a Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force and an F-16 and F-22 fighter pilot. He most recently served as the Chief of Strategic Planning Integration at Headquarters Air Force and as the Air Superiority 2030 Enterprise Capabilities Collaboration Team lead. The opinions expressed above are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Air Force

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

LOCAL COVERAGE

  1. FRCSW Returns Fire-Damaged Super Hornet to Fleet

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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

 

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LOCAL COVERAGE

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FRCSW Returns Fire-Damaged Super Hornet to Fleet

 

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

 

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

There were no injuries.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6450

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Mabus Agrees – But…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fix Readiness First, Shipbuilding Second: Navy To Trump

 

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

 

(STARS AND STRIPES 11 JAN 17) … Wyatt Olson

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Navy is working on identifying and categorizing similar jobs.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Sailors really like that idea,” Burke said.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.stripes.com/news/after-ratings-change-backlash-effort-to-reform-navy-jobs-moves-ahead-1.448319

 

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Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says

 

(DEFENSE DAILY 11 JAN 17) … Marc Selinger

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Navy Needs More Aircraft To Match Ship Increase, Secretary Says

 

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

 

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

 

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 05 JAN 17) … Tom Spoehr

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Future Costs of Labor

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hopeful Fuel Cost Assumptions

 

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

 

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

 

Living Large In an “Out-year”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

At the Bottom of a Very Deep Hole

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/americas-military-has-big-problem-its-dead-broke-18956?page=show

 

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France Bids To Take NATO Leadership Role From Britain

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/france-bids-to-take-nato-leadership-role-from-britain-knlh7hrj6

 

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

 

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

 

(DEFENSE ONE 09 JAN 17) … Patrick Tucker

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/01/pentagon-needs-its-own-google-all-its-data-says-eric-schmidt/134456/

 

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Pentagon Successfully Tests World’s Largest Micro-Drone Swarm

 

(MILITARY TIMES 09 JAN 17) … Shawn Snow

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/pentagon-successfully-tests-worlds-largest-micro-drone-swarm

 

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Defense One

 

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

 

By Patrick Tucker

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/01/pentagon-inspector-f-35-program-rushing-testing-delays-still-likely/134531/?oref=d-topstory

 

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Navy Adds Helicopter Electronic War Anti-Ship Missile Defense

 

(SCOUT WARRIOR 11 JAN 17) … Michael Fabey

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1744959-navy-adds-helo-electronicwar-missile-defense

 

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Defense One

 

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

 

By Patrick Tucker

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The authors describe the basic approach as inspired by Lego.

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/01/us-army-looking-3d-print-minidrones-24-hours/134494/?oref=d-mostread

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

https://thenavalist.com/home/2017/1/8/dissecting-the-buzz-words-that-control-the-defense-debates

 

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Next Big Future

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/darpa-drone-flew-for-56-hours-and.html

 

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Popular Mechanics

 

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

 

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

 

By Kyle Mizokami

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a24633/navy-f35-landing-gear/

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

LOCAL COVERAGE

  1. NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool

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

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

 

WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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

 

 

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NAVAIR financial manager recognized for creating planning tool

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The tool offers several advantages for program managers and BFMs.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

To Mallett, it is more of a team award.

 

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

Mallett is proud of the role BFMs play.

 

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

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6443

 

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Logistics award winner cites diversity, empowerment for results

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6448

 

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NAVAIR ISSC wins 2016 FLC Far West Regional Award

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

STORM is a portion of the P-8 SBIR.

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.navair.navy.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.NAVAIRNewsStory&id=6447

 

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WORLD/NATIONAL NEWS

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Sequestration taking toll on Marine aviators’ safety

 

San Diego Union-Tribune, By Amy Schafer

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sd-utbg-marines-deaths-sequestration-20170104-story.html

 

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What the latest Marine Aviation mishap says about pilot readiness

 

Task & Purpose, Dec. 30 | Carl Forsling

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://taskandpurpose.com/

 

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Improve land-based electronic warfare aircraft readiness

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

There is no planned back-up reserve capability.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

https://news.usni.org/2017/01/03/opinion-improve-land-based-electronic-warfare-aircraft-readiness

 

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China’s air force is becoming very powerful

But Suffers from One Super Fatal Flaw

 

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 03 JAN 17) … Dave Majumdar

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest.

 

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/chinas-air-force-becoming-very-powerful-suffers-one-super-18927

 

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New in 2017: Naval Aviation milestones

 

(NAVY TIMES 02 JAN 17) … Emily Cole

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

https://www.navytimes.com/articles/new-in-2017-naval-aviation-milestones-testing-squadrons

 

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Big data, software continue to stump defense programs

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The new target for Milestone C is January 2019.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/blog/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=2382

 

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

 

(DOD BUZZ 20 DEC 16) … Hope Hodge Seck

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://www.dodbuzz.com/2016/12/20/f-35s-400k-helmet-still-blinds-pilots-night-flights/