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


New capabilities, programs bring hiring blitz to FRCSE

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

FRC East worker honored for 63 years

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

Countering the Readiness Challenge



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

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

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

Almost A Million Expected To Opt For ‘Blended’ Retirement

Pentagon: “Play Hardball” Against Ryan Plan

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

Better Buying Power 4.0 Would Focus On Sustainment





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New capabilities, programs bring hiring blitz to FRCSE

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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FRC East worker honored for 63 years

Dawkins has been a part of federal service since 1953

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Countering the Readiness Challenge

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


Recent Accidents


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Role Of Flight Hours


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


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


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


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


That means even fewer hours available at home.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


What It Means For Pilots


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

“Something has to give.”


Lack Of Aircraft


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Working On A Fix


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Pentagon disagrees.


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


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


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


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


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


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Almost A Million Expected To Opt For ‘Blended’ Retirement



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Almost a Million Expected to Opt for ‘Blended’ Retirement


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Pentagon: “Play Hardball” Against Ryan Plan

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Among the suggested Pentagon tactics, according to the memo:


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Better Buying Power 4.0 Would Focus On Sustainment

(DEFENSE NEWS 07 SEP 16) … Aaron Mehta


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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



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



Owen Assumes FRCSW Skipper’s Chair

FRCSW Manufacturing Increases Throughput



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

Congress Ponders A Future Without OCO

Lawmakers to Navy: Leave Marine One upkeep in Connecticut

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

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

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

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

Officer Selection Boards will no Longer Display Full-Length Photographs

Navy OK’s More Lenient Early Retirement Rules For Officers

Small Camera Saving Military Big Bucks




Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at






Owen Assumes FRCSW Skipper’s Chair

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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FRCSW Manufacturing Increases Throughput

AIRSpeed Tools Garnish Significant Gains

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

(NAVY TIMES, 18 Aug 16) … Meghann Myers


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


Total Overhaul


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Congress Ponders A Future Without OCO

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Lawmakers to Navy: Leave Marine One upkeep in Connecticut

(The Associated Press, 22 Aug 16)


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest.


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Officer Selection Boards will no Longer Display Full-Length Photographs

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


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


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


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


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


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


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Navy OK’s More Lenient Early Retirement Rules For Officers

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Small Camera Saving Military Big Bucks

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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










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


New fall protection on the rise at FRCSE

Town halls boosting 6.0�s comm efforts

Fault Detection System Will Improve Hornet GCU Service

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

Navy Engineers explore the world of Additive Manufacturing



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

GOP, Dems Dig In For Defense Fight

GAO And Pentagon Disagree On Budgeting For Operations And Maintenance

The Budgetary Game Of ‘Chicken’ Needs To End

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

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

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

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

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

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

USMC Outlines Super Stallion Fleet Overhaul Plans

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

Navy Announces Adjustments to Time-In-Grade Waiver Policy

Navy Weighs E-Cigarette Ban Amid Safety Concerns

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

Private Sector To Fill Gaps In Military Aviation Training





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New fall protection on the rise at FRCSE

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Town halls boosting 6.0�s comm efforts

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Fault Detection System Will Improve Hornet GCU Service

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

FRCSW is the only FRC operating the IFIDS tester.


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Navy Engineers explore the world of Additive Manufacturing



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



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

(FLIGHTGLOBAL, 11 Aug 16) … Leigh Giangreco


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


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


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


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


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


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GOP, Dems Dig In For Defense Fight

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


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


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


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


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


Little is likely to happen until after November.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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GAO And Pentagon Disagree On Budgeting For Operations And Maintenance

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


GAO stood by its recommendation.


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The Budgetary Game Of ‘Chicken’ Needs To End

(THE HILL 16 Aug 16) … Fred Ferreira


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

(DEFENSE ONE 16 Aug 16) … Patrick Tucker


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


A Stealth Aircraft The First Week Of The War


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


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


ALIS A No Show


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Briggs said nighttime helmet tests were expected to kick off Aug. 20, during the darkest phase of the moon.


�So we�re going to go out on a really dark night and we�re going to do our final evaluation on the green glow,� he said. �And we think that that problem is solved.�


The third and final round of carrier tests for the F-35C will continue until Aug. 23. The aircraft, which will be used by both the Navy and the Marine Corps for carrier operations, is expected to reach initial operational capability near the end of 2018.


Pilots to Test Fix for F-35 Helmet ‘Green Glow’ Problem


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

(MILITARY.COM 17 Aug 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � Seven Navy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters spent Monday morning in a round robin off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, completing a tight succession of take-offs and arrested landings as pilots with Strike Fighter Squadron 101 completed carrier qualifications on the aircraft.


The dozen instructors with the squadron each completed the required 10 traps and two touch-and-go maneuvers in less than two days. But thanks to an advanced landing system in the fifth-generation aircraft that limits the variables pilots need to monitor when they catch the wire, officers with the squadron said they could have gotten the practice they needed in much less time.


“What has traditionally been required for initial qualifications … that can probably be reduced, because the task becomes mundane after a while,” said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Kitts, officer in charge of the testing detachment aboard this ship. “You can make corrections so easily.”


The system that makes the difference is Delta Flight Path, developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. with input from Naval Air Systems Command. That system is one of more than a half-dozen F-35C features that are being tested in this third and final round of carrier exercises.


During a 20-day developmental testing period aboard the George Washington that will conclude Aug. 23, pilots will test the aircraft’s ability to fly symmetrical and asymmetrical external weapons loads, execute aircraft launches at maximum weight and against crosswinds, try out a new helmet software load designed to improve visibility in dark conditions, test the capabilities of Delta Flight Path and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System, and take out and replace an entire F-35C engine to simulate major maintenance aboard a carrier.


At the conclusion of these tests, officials believe the F-35C will be substantially ready for initial operational capability, a milestone the aircraft is expected to hit in 2018.


But success of the built-in carrier landing technology may have even wider-reaching effects.


Like the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, or MAGIC CARPET, system now being tested on the Navy’s legacy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Delta Flight Path gives the aircraft the ability to stay on glide slope automatically and minimize the number of corrections the pilot must make.


“All pilots are trained, we make corrections for glide slope with the throttle. We practice it when we get to our fleet trainers, and we practice it a bunch each and every time before we come out to the boat,” Kitts said. “So what you’re able to do when you come out here is hopefully spend less time practicing, because the workload on the pilot is extremely reduced.”


That’s important, Kitts said, because time spent in the field and on the carrier practicing landings is time in which pilots are becoming less tactically proficient because they can’t develop and drill other skills.


The commanding officer of VFA-101, Capt. James Christie, said pilots are collecting data as they complete their required takeoffs and landings that could be used to inform a prospective proposal to reduce carrier training and qualification requirements.


“We’re not going to move too quickly; we’re going to ensure it’s the right thing to do,” Christie said. “But as soon as we have the empirical evidence that shows we can safely reduce those numbers, I’ll be all for submitting that to leadership.”


So far, the data looks good. In this round of testing, there have so far been no bolters, when an aircraft unintentionally misses the wire, and no landing wave-offs attributed to aircraft performance or safety issues, said Lt. Graham Cleveland, landing signal officer for VFA-101.


Cleveland said this new technology might enable the Navy to cut ashore training from 16 to 18 field carrier landing practices to between four and six. He said he also envisioned cutting carrier qualification requirements from ten to six traps in the future.


“That’s going to save money, that’s going to save fuel, that’s going to save aircraft life, basically,” he said.

The future aside, getting out to the carrier for the first evolution of testing to involve operational pilots as well as test pilots was its own milestone for many at the fore of efforts to ready the F-35C for the fleet.


“It’s incredibly gratifying to see them come out and really make this aircraft real from the perspective of the fleet,” said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for the Navy. “This is going to be a viable program, a viable aircraft that’s really going to do what it’s designed to do … watching them come out here and do this, it’s goose-bumpy.”


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

(DEFENSE NEWS 17 Aug 16) … Chris Cavas


ABOARD USS GEORGE WASHINGTON � Two F-35C carrier variant versions of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) lined up Monday on catapults one and two of this aircraft carrier steaming about 75 miles off the Virginia coast. Blast doors lifted from the deck and the aircraft�s control surfaces wiggled as the pilot ran through final checks. The engine revved, the launch shooter saluted and pointed go, and the jets roared down the cat tracks to leap into the air.

Once airborne, the planes circled left into the approach pattern, a maneuver known as the racetrack for its resemblance to the oval outline. Landing gear down, flaps down, the 35Cs � �Charlies� in Navy parlance � lined up on the angled flight deck and came in for a trap, or landing, aiming to catch the third of fourth arresting gear wires with their tailhook and lurch to a sudden stop.


Once on deck, the tailhook released the wire, the aircraft moved back up to the catapult, and the cycle was repeated. Over and over and over again.


And this was only Day Two of nearly three weeks of expected flight operations aboard the George Washington.

The jets belonged to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23), the Navy�s premier east coast test squadron based at Naval Air Station Patuxent, Maryland, and Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101), the first operational squadron to fly F-35Cs. This is the third series of at-sea deck trials for VX-23 � a series of tests dubbed DT III � meant to establish hundreds of operating parameters for the new aircraft, which won�t enter initial operational service with the Navy until 2018.


The first at-sea tests were held in November 2014 aboard the carrier Nimitz, while DT II took place last October aboard the Dwight D. Eisenhower. DT III is meant to be the final period of at-sea testing for the new jet.


The first tests, said Tom Briggs, acting chief test engineer for DT III, focused on day carrier operations and established launch and recovery handling procedures for the flight deck crew. DT II added in night ops, weapons loading on the aircraft�s internal weapons bay and full-power launches.


DT III will refine maximum power launches from all four of the carrier�s catapults and work to establish operating parameters with external and asymmetric weapons loading on the aircraft�s wings, along with certifying various systems for landing qualifications and interoperability. Logistics is also a feature of DT III, where an aircraft from VFA-101 will undergo an engine switchout.


VFA-101, with five aircraft, was on board to qualify 12 pilots in deck landings, said squadron commander Capt. James Christie. All the pilots will in turn become instructors, as VFA-101�s mission is to become the training squadron for other F-35C squadrons.


�We�re developing a syllabus,� Christie said, that will be used by pilots as they transition both from training aircraft and older F/A-18s into the 35C.


That�s been the mission for VFA-101 since it was established in 2012. As more pilots are trained and aircraft goes operational, unit will become the fleet replacement squadron for active-duty F-35C squadrons.


As on all carriers, pilots perform the duties of landing signal officer (LSO), watching and grading every landing.


One of VFA-101�s LSOs is Lt. Graham Cleveland, who is a veteran of all three F-35C at-sea tests.


Both VX-23 and VFA-101 pilots were handling LSO duties aboard the George Washington. �It takes a village,� he said, as the test and evaluation and operational squadron LSOs mingled and shared opinions and expertise.


Like many of the pilots, Cleveland said the F-35C is a bit easier to fly than the F/A-18s � with a caveat.


�The 35 is a lot more easier to fly and a lot more difficult to operate,� he said. �Basic flying is easy but mission systems are more complex.�


VFA-101 also brought aboard a number of its support sailors, Christie said. About 65 sailors and 15 contractors with the squadron were gaining experience in deck handling and logistics work with the aircraft.


VX-23�s task is detailed and rigorous � even at times tedious � as the squadron�s pilots conduct as many as 500 launch and recovery cycles to establish a wide range of operating parameters. The aircraft�s performance with a variety of weights and loads needs to be established, including how it handles when external weapons are loaded and carried in an uneven fashion.


External weapons, of course, break up the aircraft�s stealth signatures. But, as several pilots pointed out, once an enemy�s initial air defenses are defeated stealth becomes less important, and aircraft are needed to carry heavier weapon loads on as many as three external stores stations on each wing.


But test pilots need to check how the plane handles in many configurations, including heavy weapons on one side but not the other, and different types of weapons loaded on each station.


One issue that rose during the aircraft�s development seems to have been solved. There no longer seem to be any significant problems with the tail hook, which in 2012 was revealed to have a number of reliability issues in catching the arresting wire. A redesign of the hook and its installation appears to have been successful.


Maj. Eric Northam of VX-23, the first Marine to fly the F-35C off a carrier, declared there were no problems with the hook.


�We�ve had a very successful boarding rate,� he said. �One hundred percent so far.�


The carrier did not need special modifications to operate the F-35C, said commanding officer Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, although there were some software upgrades to some operating systems. About 100 crew members, he said, received handling and launch procedure training in the aircraft at the Navy�s carrier flight systems test site in Lakehurst, New Jersey.


While the DT III tests represent the final carrier trials for the F-35C, the JSF program is preparing for another round of at-sea trials for the F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant for the Marine Corps. The new tests, program officials said, are scheduled to take place this fall from the amphibious assault ship America off the west coast.


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

(MILITARY TIMES 15 AUG 16) … Karen Jowers


Plans are progressing to extend online military exchange shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans, Military Times has learned.


The Defense Department�s Executive Resale Board voted unanimously Aug. 9 to recommend the policy change, sources said. Extended shopping privileges would apply only to the exchange system’s online stores � not brick-and-mortar facilities located on military installations.


The Pentagon did not immediately confirm the’s board move, and its unclear what its next steps will be. Officials have said previously that they’d like to implement the expanded benefit on Veterans Day 2017.


Exchanges operate as discount department stores for the military community. Currently, access is authorized only for active-duty service members, reservists, National Guard personnel, retirees, veterans who are 100 percent disabled and immediate family members. Officials estimate that’s about 10 percent of the nation’s 21.7 million veterans.


If the plan proceeds, the Defense Manpower Data Center would be called on to verify veterans’ status so they can shop at the exchange online.


The idea was proposed in May 2014 by Army and Air Force Exchange Service CEO Tom Shull, who touted it as a way to provide a modest benefit to veterans who didn�t serve long enough to retire from the military, including a number who have served multiple tours in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Navy Exchange Service Command CEO and retired Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi and Cindy Whitman Lacy, director of the Marine Corps Business and Support Services Division, have said they support the idea.


This would also benefit those currently serving, officials have said. Any increase in exchange profits would generate more money for the service’s morale, welfare and recreation programs. According to one analysis, the exchanges could see an increase of $18 million to $72 million if online shopping is extended to all veterans.


Generally, about half of the exchanges’ profits go to MWR dividends, and the rest goes to capital reinvestment in the exchanges, such as renovations and construction.


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USMC Outlines Super Stallion Fleet Overhaul Plans

(FLIGHTGLOBAL 16 AUG 16) … Beth Stevenson


LONDON � All 147 of the U.S. Marine Corps� Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion rotorcraft will be overhauled to address safety and availability issues that have been evident in the fleet since 2014, the service has announced.


Following the fatal crash of a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon variant in January 2014 which resulted from an electrical fault sparking a fire, an investigation concluded that the condition of the aircraft was �degraded,� and the remaining examples will be �reset� to increase the safety and readiness of the fleet.


�What was discovered was that the material condition of the aircraft � both the CH-53E and the MH-53E � was degraded,� says Col Hank Vanderborght, programme manager for the H-53 programme office at U.S. Naval Air Systems Command. �Those helicopters have been around since the early 1980s, so 30-plus years, and we�d been at war for the last 15 years, so the machines had been used pretty hard.�


USMC deputy commandant for aviation Lt Gen Jon Davis said earlier this year that the CH-53E had �probably the worst� readiness rate in the service�s inventory, and noted that the overhaul programme was about to begin.


Each of the heavy-lift aircraft will undergo a 110-day overhaul that will see it stripped and rebuilt, with changes made to any components as necessary.


One aircraft has been completed to date; an example that was used to validate the concept in April at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina. This was returned to operations in June. The USMC notes that this particular example had not been flown for four years, but was granted operational status again after 12 days of functional flight checks following the overhaul.


Five more examples have started to receive the overhaul; three at New River and two at MCAS Miramar in California. There are plans to eventually lift this to 16 being modified at any one time, with seven at each of the sites and two at MCAS Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii.


After the incident in 2014, fuel line replacements and rewiring had been carried out on a large part of the fleet, which increased aircraft availability to 30%, after being only 20% in 2015.


�We only had 30 or so aircraft up last year,� Vanderborght says. �We�re in the 50s now, so we�ve rebounded pretty well from a year ago.�


Preventative work will also be carried out to make sure the fleet does not fall into the same rut, and maintainer training will be a key part of that, Vanderborght notes. The current method emphasises turning around aircraft as quickly as possible, instead of dealing with underlying issues, he says.


�Before 2001, maintainers would troubleshoot the system and take a long time to understand it, so there was a lot of knowledge developed by on-the-job training. We�ve kind of lost all that knowledge. I would say the Marines today � not to their fault � are not as knowledgeable about the aircraft as they were prior to the war,� Vanderborght notes.


The production line for the CH-53E has been shut down, so overhaul is key to keeping the fleet going until it is replaced with the developmental CH-53K variant.


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

(BREAKING DEFENSE, 17 Aug 16) � Justin Johnson


It�s no news to Breaking Defense readers that the U.S. military faces a readiness crisis. But retired Gen. David Petraeus apparently disagrees.


Yes, the military�s budget has been cut by 25 percent in real terms since 2011�much of it coming from accounts used to maintain and build combat readiness. Yes, leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have all publicly expressed their deep concerns about readiness levels. And, yes, top brass are publicly discussing �Carter-era� readiness problems and even the prospect of a hollow military.


Still, Petraeus and the Brookings Institution�s Michael O�Hanlon took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal last week to bust the �myth� of a military readiness crisis. I deeply respect both men, but they got this one wrong.


Pentagon leaders�both civilian and military�as well as their overseers in Congress concur that the readiness crisis is real. Many of the details regarding the problems remain (rightly) classified, but enough facts have been made public to remove any doubt that readiness is a wide-spread problem in the military today.


Petraeus and O�Hanlon completely ignore readiness statements from recent and current military leaders. Consider the assessment of Gen. Raymond Odierno, Petraeus� right-hand man during the Iraq Surge. Before leaving his post as Army Chief of Staff last year, Odierno said Army readiness was at �historically low levels.� Current Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley echoed that conclusion. He recently told Congress that he has �grave concerns about the readiness of our force� to deal with a serious challenger like Russia or China.


Instead of responding to current military leaders, Petraeus and O�Hanlon offer �reassuring facts� that are worth further consideration.


First, they point out that today�s defense budget is higher than the Cold War average in inflation-adjusted dollars. This is true, but it offers a very incomplete picture. Petraeus and O�Hanlon would surely agree that our military today is far different than what we had in the Cold War. Adjusting for inflation does not account for the higher cost of better equipment.


Adjusting for inflation, a standard Ford F-150 costs 40 percent more today than it did in 1986. Why? Because today�s F-150 is far more technologically advanced and capable. The same is true for military equipment.


A more complete picture of defense spending appears when we look at defense spending in terms of its percentage of GDP and percentage of total federal budget. By both of these measures, the current defense budget is at historic lows.


Perhaps more significantly, today�s defense budget is well below the minimums agreed to by bipartisan experts. The National Defense Panel, for example, agreed that former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates� last budget (in fiscal year 2012) represented the bare minimum. For 2017, that budget would be $100 billion more than President Obama�s current request.


Second, Petraeus and O�Hanlon point out that the military is on track to spend $100 billion per year to buy new equipment. A nice round number, it bears no relation to what the military truly needs. A strong military is not built by investing an arbitrary number, but by a clear analysis of what threats the nation faces and what equipment the military needs and how big it must be to defend against those threats. The Secretary of Defense has been clear that the military needs significantly more funding over the next few years, particularly to replace equipment that is past its useful life.


Third, they argue that �most [military] equipment remains in fairly good shape.� They admit that Marine Corps aviation is not, but recent testimony shows that aircraft across all four services are in similarly rough shape. And as seen in the 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength, all the services are laden with equipment that is decades old and difficult to maintain. Across the military, the maintenance and modernization challenges are serious and seem to be growing.


Fourth, Petraeus and O�Hanlon argue that training is improving. This appears to be true, but once again they ignore concerning statements about where our military stands today.


Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has repeatedly stated that less than half of all Air Force squadrons are ready for combat and that the Air Force faces serious shortages of both pilots and mechanics. At the same time, pilot flying hours (i.e. training) have fallen dramatically.


Army units are rotating through training centers, but only one-third of this historically small force are considered ready for high-end combat. Training may be improving in some quarters, but the lack of combat-ready units across the services points to serious underlying problems.


Petraeus and O�Hanlon are right on one point. The U.S. military remains an incredible fighting force. But its readiness for combat has declined precipitously in the last five years.


Today�s men and women in uniform put their lives on the line for our country, but they are doing so with less training, worn out equipment, and fewer brothers and sisters in arms to back them up. With threats rising across the globe, all Americans should be concerned about the troubling state of the U.S. military.


Justin T. Johnson is senior policy analyst for defense budgeting at The Heritage Foundation.


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


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Navy Announces Adjustments to Time-In-Grade Waiver Policy

(CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL, 17 Aug 16) � Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs


WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced an update to the policy for commanders and captains with at least 24-months Time-In-Grade (TIG) to request a waiver to retire at their current rank before completing their 36 months’ time in grade commitment in NAVADMIN 182/16 Aug. 17.


Rather than a blanket authorization for officer communities to forward a TIG request to the Chief of Naval Personnel for approval determination as outlined in NAVADMIN 371/08, now every officer community will decide if TIG requests can be supported and only forward a request for consideration if community health would allow the early loss of that officer. However, hardship or special circumstance cases may be considered for all communities on a case-by-case basis.


The message also provides guidance on when an applicant should include a next-lower-grade (NLG) waiver request in the TIG waiver application. NLG waivers provide the option to retire at the next lower grade rather than the current rank. Navy Personnel Command (NPC) may authorize an officer to be retired the lower grade if they do not meet the time-in-grade requirement.


A spreadsheet of communities accepting TIG and NLG waivers is posted at, click on Force Shaping Lever Chart to download the spreadsheet. This information will be updated by community managers as needed.


Officers are expected to meet their service obligations unless a TIG or NLG waiver is approved.


Retirement, TIG and NLG waivers requests for active component commanders and captains are made through NPC Officer Retirements Branch (PERS-835) by calling call (901) 874-3180/3183 (DSN 882-3180), or emailing Reserve officers will submit their requests through NPC’s deputy director for Reserve Personnel Administration (PERS-91B) by calling (901) 874-4482/4483 (DSN 882-4483).


For more information, read NAVADMIN182/16 at


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Navy Weighs E-Cigarette Ban Amid Safety Concerns

(NAVY TIMES 17 AUG 16) … David Larter


Sailors vaping on ships and bases may soon be a thing of the past.


A string of incidents since last year has prompted Navy safety officials to recommend putting the e-smoking lamp out fleetwide.


E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat up a nicotine liquid and deliver it to the user as a flavored vapor. In an Aug. 11 memo, the Naval Safety Center detailed growing safety concerns as exploding batteries in the devices have led to a dozen injuries since 2015.


When the lithium-ion batteries overheat, the memo says, the seal surrounding them can fail and turn an e-cigarette into a small bomb.


“The Naval Safety Center concludes that these devices pose a significant and unacceptable risk to Navy personnel, facilities, submarines, ships, vessels and aircraft,” the memo reads, going on to recommend a full ban of the products on Navy property.


The report notes that while laptops and cellphones also run on lithium-ion batteries, extensive testing has shown that they don�t tend to explode when they fail.


The Navy is taking a hard look at the recommendation, which would ultimately have to be implemented by Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet.


�Leadership is reviewing the Naval Safety Center’s recommendation regarding e-cigarettes, weighing both the safety and health-related risks,� said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Marycate Walsh.


The Safety Center recorded 12 incidents between October and May and allowed that there are probably more incidents that were not reported. There were no incidents recorded before October 2015, the memo said.


Seven of the incidents occurred on Navy ships and at least two required the use of shipboard firefighting equipment to extinguish fires. Eight of the incidents occurred while the e-cigarette was in a sailor�s pocket, resulting in first- and second-degree burns.


Two sailors had their e-cigarettes blow up in their mouths, resulting in facial and dental injuries. All told, e-cigarettes have resulted in three days of hospitalization and more than 150 days of reduced duties for sailors, the report said.


Naval Sea Systems Command has issued a partial ban on the lithium-ion batteries at the center of the report. The Safety Center is recommending that the ban be extended to e-cigarettes.


�It is strongly recommended that action be taken to prohibit these devices from use, transport, or storage on Navy facilities, submarines, ships, vessels, and aircraft,� the memo reads. �In conjunction with these efforts, it is recommended that the Navy launch a dedicated safety campaign to inform service members about the potential danger of these products.�


The problem of exploding e-cigarettes hasn�t been limited to the Navy. The report notes that the injury and failure statistics from the civilian sector track with what the Navy is seeing in its data.


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

(CONNECTICUT MIRROR 17 AUG 16) … Ana Radelat


In a recent wide-ranging interview over lunch, The Connecticut Mirror pressed outgoing Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the longest serving naval chief in 100 years, about the future of submarine warfare, delays in the F-35 joint strike fighter program and why the Pentagon wants another round of base closings.


Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Mabus is a former Mississippi governor and ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He has led the Navy and the Marines in the continuing war with Afghanistan and with ISIS and opened the door to the first female submariners in U.S. history. He has made shipbuilding � and sub building � a priority as part of an effort to build back the Navy�s fleet. We learned he has named the nation�s next generation of nuclear ballistic submarines the Columbia class, after the District of Columbia, and that his favorite desert is ice cream.


  1. What is the biggest challenge you�ve had at the Pentagon?


  1. I�ve never thought of it that way. Looking back toward the end, we�ve had, I think, enormous and maybe amazing success in this job, in getting things done. You got a lot of constituencies. You�ve got Congress, you�ve got this building, you�ve got the White House, you�ve got the media, you�ve got the think tanks and the American people. I think the challenge was to get those all lined up, to get them all marching on the same page … The Navy and Marine Corps have a history of tradition and being resistant to change. But overall I haven�t found that that much.


  1. What did you focus on?


  1. One of the things I learned as governor, because I was the governor of the poorest state in the union, is that there were a thousand things every day as governor that would make life better in Mississippi, but if I tried to do all thousand, nothing was going to happen. So I learned you have to focus on a very few things. Almost from the word go I focused on the same things I�m focusing on now, which are the �four Ps.�


Q, The Four Ps?


  1. People � sailors, marines, civilians, how can we manage the force better … Platforms � when I got here the fleet was declining; it was declining precipitously. How do you turn that around? We simply weren�t giving our sailors and marines the tools they needed to get the job done. The third was power � energy, fuel. When I got here oil was about $140 a barrel and we were having to prioritize mission and deployment over training, which made no sense. The Marines were losing a Marine killed or wounded every 50 convoys of fuel that went into Afghanistan. Way too high a price to pay. I had been ambassador to Saudi Arabia. I knew how fuel could be used as a weapon, and I didn�t want that weapon to be used against us. And finally, there are partnerships. I�ve traveled now more than 1.1 million miles to 151 different countries and territories. By the way, I don�t think anyone is close to that in government, and we are doing something with every one of those countries.


  1. You also worked on diversity in the Navy.


  1. A more diverse force is a stronger force.


Q, And you�re talking about women and minorities?


  1. And experience. Diverse experience, diverse backgrounds. Gender diversity. I put women in submarines in 2010. If you get too homogeneous, it�s just not good. There�s a book called �The Wisdom of Crowds� [by James Surowiecki] which says if you�ve got a problem and you bring five experts who�ve spent their lives doing this, whatever the problem is, or you get a group of people with diverse backgrounds, a bigger group, working on it, they�ll be better at solving it.


  1. What are the growing geopolitical challenges to the Navy and the role of submarines?


  1. The role of submarines, the importance of submarines, the importance of undersea warfare, is rising. It�s always been important, but it�s becoming even more crucial. And it�s being recognized not just by the Russians and Chinese but by virtually everybody. The Russians and Chinese are the most visible, but there are not many seagoing countries that don�t have submarines. And with some of the technological advances � independent propulsion diesel submarines have gotten a lot quieter, the weapons they can deploy are more diverse. We still have a big edge there � in a lot of ways that’s only undersea � but it�s not something that you can take for granted. If you quit evolving, if you quit working on it, you quit building, it can go away real fast.


  1. Was there a danger of that?


  1. It was part of the overall fleet decline. We simply weren�t building those ships. Between 2001 and 2008 the Navy only put 41 ships under contract, of all kinds. In that same period, the size of the fleet went from 318 ships to 278 ships. Forty one ships was not enough to keep the fleet from continuing to shrink. And it was not enough to keep our shipyards going. I�ve been here for seven years now, so it�s a pretty exact comparison. I�ve put 85 ships under contract, including the biggest contract the Navy ever signed, for 10 (Virginia-class) submarines. But even building two subs a year, if you look out to the late 2020s and early 2030s, we�re going to have a deficit of submarines … and it�s because 30 years earlier, we did not build enough submarines. If you miss a year building a ship, you cannot make it up … they take so long and the skill set is so precise, and we just don�t have that many shipyards. The capacity to build is limited.


  1. Now the Navy is beginning to start work on the new ballistic-missile submarine, which you have called the �Columbia class,� but where�s the money going to come from for these expensive boats?


  1. The Ohio-class replacement, that�s coming. Starting in 2021 we have to build the first one of those. You have to have 12 of those to maintain the at-sea presence we need for a nuclear deterrence, instead of the 14 we have of the Ohio class, because these don�t need to be refueled. They have a life-of-the-hull reactor, the Ohio class sub you have to refuel at midlife. But if the Navy is expected to pay for [the Columbia class subs] out of the shipbuilding budget, that would take half of the shipbuilding budget for more than 12 years, so it would cut the rest of the budget, including for [Virginia-class] attack submarines.


  1. Are you in favor of the National Sea-based Deterrence Fund, which would pay for these new subs outside the Navy�s budget?


  1. Sure. Every time we�ve built a ballistic-missile defense submarine [we�ve done that.] The first time in the Sixties called �41 for Freedom,� the second time was the Ohio-class in the Eighties. We were given additional resources to do it because Congress recognized, and they do now, that it is a national program, not just particularly a Navy program, and you just don�t want to destroy the fleet in order to get this. You have to have them both. So we�re paying all the bills right now for the design work, engineering work (for the Columbia.) But when the first boat starts being built in 2021, we�ll need money in the fund.


  1. But there�s resistance to the fund. Others support that type of fund for other services. Right?


  1. Well, here�s my reply to that. What you are talking about is the Air Force. We have one leg of the nuclear triad, undersea. Air Force has the missiles and the bombers. If Air Force can make that case, fine. But don�t say, �We�re not going to do it for the Navy.� One of the reasons people get so twisted around about this is that we don�t start building until �21. We don�t need to appropriate money until �21 … but everybody recognizes this bill is coming.


  1. What do you think of what the direction of the Navy would be in the new administration?


  1. We�re on the right trajectory for platforms, ships, planes, systems, But as it�s been shown, it takes a long time to rebuild the fleet. We will get back to 300 ships by 2019; we will get back to 308, which is what our need has been assessed at, by 2021. And this has been building ships at near record rates for seven years. If you miss a year, you don�t get it back. So, whoever comes in, you�ve got to keep that going, you�ve got to. The Navy and the Marines, you�ve got to give America this presence. Around the world. around the clock. Not being just in the right place at the right time but being in the right place all the time, and you�ve got to have enough ships to do that.


  1. You say the Navy and Marines are �America�s Away Team� because, unlike soldiers and airmen, they hardly ever come home.


  1. A ship in port in the United States doesn�t mean much. If a crisis occurs, we give the president the option of what to do. When the president in 2014 made the decision to strike ISIS for 54 days, the only option was an aircraft carrier. And it wasn�t because we didn�t have aircraft in other countries and in other places. They wouldn�t let us take off. We don�t have to ask anybody, we�re sailing on sovereign American territory.
  2. How happy are you with the F-35 version for the Navy�s aircraft carriers, which isn�t� expected to be operational until at least February of 2019?


  1. It�s going to be a great aircraft, the F-35C. But we always want to have two generations on our flight decks. We�re buying more F-18s so we don�t have an aircraft shortage because the F-35 has been delayed.


  1. But there are real problems with the F-35…


  1. The F-35 tried to be a joint aircraft, one version for the Air Force, one version for the Marines, one version for the Navy. There�s not a whole lot of commonality in those aircraft; they have to do completely different things. But the services haven�t been in charge of the program, and because it�s a joint program nobody is accountable. It�s way over budget; it�s way late. Who do you hold responsible? If this was a Navy project, if this were a ship, they would point at me…


  1. You support Sen. John McCain�s efforts to abolish the Air Force�s Joint Strike Fighter office because he says it helped paper over problems with the F-35?


  1. Yes. McCain�s�s point, which I just made, is you can�t hold anybody accountable. I think it�s really important to have some responsibility. I�ve got another example of that. The Ford Class carrier. When the Navy in the late Nineties wanted to build a replacement for the Nimitz, the proposal was to put in a lot of new technology. But because there was so much new technology, their proposal was to put a third of the new technology on the first ship, another third on the second ship and the third would have all the new technology. In 2003, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, �No, we�ll put it all on the first ship.� And because of that, the contract that was supposed to go out in 2004 did not go out until 2007. Costs just ballooned out of control.


  1. Although you�re building up the fleet, you support another round of base realignments and closures, right?


  1. It�s very clear (the Defense Department) as a whole has excess capacity, you need something to shrink that.


  1. The Navy has less excess capacity than the other services, but it would still consider all facilities, including submarine bases, in a new base closing round?


  1. I�m sure we�d have something (on the base-closure list), but I don�t know what that would be. As you pointed out, we have far less excess capacity; the Navy and the Marine Corps have less excess capacity than anybody else.


CT Mirror Note: This Q&A was edited for length and clarity.


Q&A: Outgoing Navy chief talks submarines, F-35s and his legacy


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Private Sector To Fill Gaps In Military Aviation Training

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 17 Aug 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


A confluence of factors is pushing U.S. combat aviation training units to the brink. With deployment commitments on the rise, neither the Air Force nor the Navy has nearly enough fighter aircraft or pilots to sustain training squadrons. It is a problem that has been a long time in the making � accelerated over the past decade by a combination of budget cuts, low pilot morale and a migration of fighter pilots to drone units.


The stressed state of aviation training has alarmed commanders and has compelled both the Air Force and the Navy to consider using contractor-provided aircraft and crews to supplement their own �aggressor squadrons� in live exercises. Also known as adversary or �red� squadrons, they serve as the opposing force in military war games and are expected to provide a realistic foe in combat training.


Aviation companies were briefed in March about the Air Force and Navy�s future �adversary air� support needs.


Both services have since issued �requests for information� from interested contractors. The needs are significant, according to one of the Air Force solicitations: �There is currently a significant gap between combat force-wide training requirements and adversary-air support availability, resulting in a shortage of 30,000 to 40,000 sorties per year.�


The problem is most acute at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which projects a deficit of more than 3,000 sorties for fiscal year 2016. Nicknamed �home of the fighter pilot,” Nellis is the military�s largest and most demanding advanced air combat training base.


The military could start hiring more private companies to fill adversary-air demands as soon as next year. In a sign that the market is poised for growth, one of the most established players in the combat aviation training industry, Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, or ATAC, was acquired this summer by Textron.


�What we see is growing interest and need for outsourcing military training tasks,� said Russ Bartlett, CEO and president of Textron Airborne Solutions, a Textron-owned company that was publicly launched in July at a military air show in the United Kingdom.


ATAC was Textron�s first acquisition in this sector, and there could be more as opportunities emerge, Bartlett told reporters during a conference call.


The military for decades has outsourced pilot training but the business is expanding into new areas like tactical live-air support for conventional fourth-generation and more advanced fifth-generation fighter units.


�We created the �outsourced adversary� industry,� said Jeffrey Parker, co-founder of ATAC. The company�s aircraft have racked up more than 25,000 hours as opposing forces to U.S. Navy carrier strike groups, and about 5,000 hours as Air Force adversaries. The industry is �exploding,� Parker said. He is confident the business will grow under Textron ownership. �We were intrigued by Textron�s entrepreneurial approach.�


Parker estimated that the size of the industry will double by 2018 based on newly announced training needs by the Air Force and Navy. �They have a requirement of thousands of hours of training to be outsourced,� he said.


They do not have enough aircraft or pilots to fill this demand. ATAC operators currently fly 6,000 hours a year as adversary forces. The company projects the Air Force and the Navy will each require 3,000 additional hours per year by 2018.


With more F-35 joint strike fighter units projected to start training in the coming years, it is no surprise that the Pentagon is anticipating a bigger demand for opposing forces that can test the capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter. The F-35 creates a �generous appetite for adversaries,� Parker said. �They need robust adversaries to challenge their advanced sensors. It�s not always the most complex equipment that provides the most bang for the buck in training.�


The company�s adversary squadrons fly the F-21 Kfir multirole fighter, the MK-58 Hawker Hunter and the L-39 Albatros jet trainer. ATAC employs 30 former military fighter pilots. Based in Newport News, Virginia, the company both buys and leases aircraft. It charges for its services by the hour, and does not mark up fuel costs. The company is always eyeing the used aircraft market, including Israel�s F-15s, Jordan�s F-15s and F-2s. For electronic warfare training, systems are simulated. �If you can emulate capability electronically with virtual technologies why use an F-15?�


Financially it makes little sense to challenge F-35s with costly F-15s or F-16s that are not able to detect stealthy fighters, Parker said. �Nobody can see the F-35. Why not use good but not expensive aircraft?� Further, fifth-generation fighter units get better training when they are stressed by a large number of enemy aircraft coming at them at once. Ideally, Parker said, there should be 12 bad guys for every two F-35s, which is more than the Air Force now provides.


Bartlett cited recent reports of alarming shortages of Air Force fighter pilots as further evidence that the military will need to rely more on contractors. �The magic of this industry is finding the aircraft that meets the requirement at the lowest possible cost, and provide what you�re getting paid for.�

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of August 1, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 Top Clips for the week of Aug. 1:



NAVAIR marks first flight with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts

Osprey takes to the sky with 3-D printed critical parts

Game-Changing Flight For Naval Aviation: First Flight With 3-D Printed, Safety-Critical Parts

FRCSW Upgrades Super Hornet AMAD Test Stand

FRCSE Sailor anything but blue to join Angels

FRC East supervisor is top federal manager



Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat

Air Force F-35 Hits Drone With Sidewinder Missile In ‘Kill’ Test

The F-35 Is So Stealthy, It Produced Training Challenges, Pilot Says

Navy Schedules F-35C For Third Set Of Carrier Trials

It Could Be Years Before Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is Ready for Combat

Top Marine aviator: F-35B is ready for war

Blue Angels Upgrading To F/A 18 Super Hornets

New Navy Tech Makes It Easy To Land On A Carrier. Yes, Easy

Booz Allen to support Navy IT services

Navy’s Atlantic air force gets a new boss

Decision Coming Soon on Navy Job Title Review, Mabus Says

Marine Flight Readiness Improving .Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?

Marines order 24-hour pause in flight operations for all non-deployed aircraft

White House Launches New Salvo In Troop Funding Fight

Navy, Marines Put V-22 To The Test In Carrier Experiment





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NAVAIR marks first flight with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 29 July 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland – Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) marked its first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing (AM) techniques here July 29.


An MV-22B Osprey completed a test flight outfitted with a titanium, 3-D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle. This link and fitting assembly is one of four that secure a V-22’s engine nacelle to the primary wing structure and will remain on the aircraft for continued evaluation. The flight was performed using the standard V-22 flight performance envelope.


“The flight went great. I never would have known that we had anything different onboard,” said MV-22 Project Officer Maj. Travis Stephenson, who piloted the flight.


AM uses digital 3-D design data to build components in layers of metal, plastic and other materials. The metal link and fitting assembly for this test event were printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Prior to this flight, multiple V-22 components built by Lakehurst and Penn State Applied Research Laboratory were tested at Patuxent River to validate performance.


“The flight today is a great first step toward using AM wherever and whenever we need to. It will revolutionize how we repair our aircraft and develop and field new capabilities – AM is a game changer,” said Liz McMichael, AM Integrated Product Team lead. “In the last 18 months, we’ve started to crack the code on using AM safely. We’ll be working with V-22 to go from this first flight demonstration to a formal configuration change to use these parts on any V-22 aircraft.”


Naval Aviation has employed additive manufacturing as a prototyping tool since the early 1990s and in recent years has begun the process of printing non-flight critical parts and tools.


Today’s demonstration is the first time a U.S. Navy aircraft flew with an AM part deemed essential to maintaining safe flight.

Navy officials envision a future where all parts can be made on-demand globally by fleet maintainers and operators, and our industry partners — stocking digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts. Today’s flight is an important step toward achieving that vision.


Including the V-22 link and fitting assembly, McMichael and her team have identified six additional safety-critical parts they plan to build and test over the next year for three U.S. Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms – the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K. Three of the parts will be made out of titanium, while the other three will be stainless steel.


Even with the success of today’s flight, NAVAIR officials advise that there is a lot work to do before deployed aircraft are flying in theater with 3-D printed, safety-critical parts.


“Our AM team has done some incredible work in a relatively short period of time — both internally through its production of aircraft components to be used in flight testing and externally through its liaison with industry and other government organizations,” said Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, NAVAIR commander. “Although the flight today is a great step forward, we are not trying to ‘lead’ industry in our AM efforts, but it is absolutely critical that we understand what it takes to successfully manufacture and qualify AM parts for flight in naval aircraft, which we expect will largely be manufactured by our industry partners.  Where I believe we can ‘lead’ industry is in the development of the AM “digital thread,” from initial design tools all the way to the flight line — securely maintained and managed through the life of an aircraft program.”


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Osprey Takes To The Sky With 3-D Printed Critical Parts

(NAVY TIMES, 1 Aug 16) … Meghann Myers


3-D printed parts have been used in Navy aircraft for years, but they’ve been mostly structural, not the safety parts that could mean the difference between flying and crashing.

That was until Friday, when Naval Air Systems Command held its first flight demonstration of an aircraft – a MV-22 Osprey – with a 3-D printed, metal link and fitting assembly for the engine housing.


“The flight went great,” said MV-22 pilot Marine Maj. Travis Stephenson said in a Navy release. “I never would have known that we had anything different onboard.”


While it’s an Air Force and Marine Corps vertical-lift aircraft now, the Navy has tapped the Osprey as its next carrier on-board delivery vehicle in the 2020s.


The military has dabbled in 3-D printing since the early 1990s, making plastic aircraft flight deck tabletop models and plastic models of medical tools. Critical parts are a new addition.


The process, also known as additive manufacturing, uses plastic, metal or other materials to fashion objects from detailed plans uploaded to a computer. With more facilities and better designs and technology, it could one day allow maintainers to quickly build their own parts rather than having to rely on the parts inventory in the supply system.


The service owns some of its own printers, but, NAVAIR’s boss said in the release, in the future will probably contract for a lot of its 3-D printing needs.


“Where I believe we can ‘lead’ industry is in the development of the AM ‘digital thread,’ from initial design tools all the way to the flight line – securely maintained and managed through the life of an aircraft program,” Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags said.


The parts in the recent test were printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, where the Navy has worked with Penn State Applied Research Laboratory to make non-critical Osprey parts.


“The flight today is a great first step toward using AM wherever and whenever we need to. It will revolutionize how we repair our aircraft and develop and field new capabilities – AM is a game changer,” said Liz McMichael, AM integrated product team lead, in the release.


Over the past year and a half, she added, her team has made major progress in printing critical parts, and there are plans to use the parts on any Osprey.


“Navy officials envision a future where all parts can be made on-demand globally by fleet maintainers and operators, and our industry partners – stocking digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts,” according to the release.


McMichael and her team have plans to build six more safety-critical parts for the Osprey as well as the H-1 Huey and the CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.


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Game-Changing Flight For Naval Aviation: First Flight With 3-D Printed, Safety-Critical Parts

(NAVY LIVE BLOG 02 Aug 16) … Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags


On July 29, an MV-22B Osprey completed a successful test flight while outfitted with a flight-critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing or 3-D printing. The successful use of this technology in a test flight is a first for Naval Air Systems Command and a significant game-changing milestone for naval aviation.


3-D printing works by using digital design data to build components in layers of metal, plastic and other materials. The component used in the V-22 test event – a titanium, 3-D printed link and fitting assembly for the engine nacelle – was printed at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey. This link and fitting assembly is one of four that secure a V-22’s engine nacelles to the primary wing structure and will remain on the aircraft for continued evaluation.


Additive manufacturing technology has the potential to revolutionize naval aviation by putting the ability to build parts into the hands of maintainers and operators in the fleet. The test flight marks a great step forward as we work toward a future where all parts can be made on-demand around the globe and where industry partners can stock digital data instead of ordering, stocking and shipping parts.


Think about what this could mean for our warfighters. Rather than having to order a part and wait for it to arrive, a maintainer serving overseas could just print out a required part when it is needed. This not only reduces the supply chain timeline but also reduces the need to store and transport parts – resulting in increased warfighting readiness at the best possible cost.


As we look ahead, the Naval Air Systems Command Additive Manufacturing Integrated Product Team will continue to work with the V-22 to go from the first flight demonstration to a formal configuration change to use the 3-D printed parts on any V-22 aircraft. The team has identified six safety-critical parts, including the V-22 link and fitting assembly, that they plan to build and test over the next year for three U.S. Marine Corps rotorcraft platforms – the V-22, H-1 and CH-53K.


Our additive manufacturing team has done incredible work in a relatively short period of time – both internally through its production of aircraft components to be used in flight testing, and externally through its liaison with industry and other government organizations.


It is absolutely critical that we understand what it takes to successfully manufacture and qualify additive manufacturing parts for use in deployed aircraft flying in theater. Together with industry, we will continue to work toward getting 3-D printing capability into the hands of our warfighters – giving them the ability to print required parts where they need them, when they need them.


Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command


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FRCSW Upgrades Super Hornet AMAD Test Stand

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


Overseeing the maintenance needs of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and its components is one task that is common to many of the Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC). But when the aircraft’s Airframe Mounted Accessory Drive (AMAD) needs repaired or overhauled, all of the FRCs turn to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) to handle the job.


The AMAD is the electrical and hydraulic brain of the F/A-18. It is a gearbox that is mounted to the engine of the aircraft and through engine revolutions, powers the aircraft’s hydraulic pump, fuel pump, generator, and starter. Each Hornet has two AMADs; one on each engine.


FRCSW AMAD work is assigned to the hydraulics shop in Building 379 and is performed by four pneudraulics mechanics.


When an F/A-18 is inducted for maintenance, the AMAD gear boxes are removed and examined.


AMAD units that operate properly and within specifications are forwarded as ready-for-issue (RFI) with flight hour notification sent to engineering.


“On the Super Hornet `F’ models, we’ll do a check-in test. But if it’s an E or F model that comes in for disassembly due to a generator failure, for example, we’ll do a complete overhaul,” said pneudraulics mechanic Brandon Bush.


“Overhaul is to disassemble the entire gearbox and inspect all of the parts. We use our manual to tell us what parts we need to order – like gaskets, seals, bearings and gears. It totals to a couple of hundred parts.”


Non-destructive testing (NDI) is used on the gear boxes to identify cracks or flaws. Worn parts, such as thread inserts, are sent to the machine shop for replacement.


“After that it goes to delay, who orders all of our parts, and then it comes back for reassembly with all new seals and whatever parts we replaced. Then it’s ready for testing,” Bush said.


Like all electronic and hydraulic aircraft components, the AMADs are checked using Automated Testing Equipment (ATE) prior to release as RFI to the fleet.


FRCSW uses two separate ATE to test the legacy and Super Hornet.


“We finished the C and D (legacy) Hornet stand three years ago and just finished installing the upgraded gearbox test stand for the E and F in April,” said Martha Hoffman, FRCSW Capital Investment Program Project Manager.


Hoffman said that the previous system was approximately 12 years old, ran on an older operating system, and often failed during testing procedures making it increasingly unreliable.


Costing $563,000, the upgrade to the test stand includes the data acquisition (DA) system, video system, control and sensor systems, the console computer hardware and operating system, and calibration and test software.


The DA system controls the test cycles and measures and records the test data. The data is stored and displayed for the operator to ensure that the tested unit is within safe operating specifications.


Other portions of the stand simulate varying loads in horsepower for the gearbox so it may be tested at different speeds, load conditions and vibrations.


“It reads the operating temperature and vibrations and provides the specifications. If the unit is out of the range of specifications, it will tell the operator immediately, and by what degree and where it is not responding,” Hoffman noted.


The test stand’s motor and some other equipment were not upgraded.


“We worked with the shop and engineering to customize the stand, so it has three screens,” Hoffman said. “One screen tells the operator if the testing unit is within calibration, the second indicates which tests are being conducted and the outcome, and the third screen is connected to a camera to show the actual AMAD stand.

The test stand also has a joy stick to identify and

query specific areas and tests of the AMAD.”


The system is manufactured by Sytronics and the test program is equipped with a manual intervention option, single-step troubleshooting and an automatic systems shutdown.


Bush said each AMAD undergoes an array of calibration tests on the stand including six tests in break in mode, six tests in calibration and ground maintenance mode, and an air turbine start cycle test.


The tests take about three hours to run per AMAD and an hour each for system setup and breakdown.


“After testing a unit we have to check the gearbox and its magnetic plug to make sure there’s no metal or debris in them or the oil out screen,” Bush said. “Overall, we have a 99 percent pass rate for RFI.”


FRCSW returns an average of 48 Super Hornet and about seven legacy Hornet AMADs to the fleet yearly.


Editor’s note: FRCSW would like to acknowledge the departments that were instrumental in the Super Hornet AMAD test stand upgrade: Engineering in 6.0, the shop personnel, facilities, MetCal engineers and calibration.


From the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Almanac, Vol. 9, Issue 1.


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FRCSE Sailor anything but blue to join Angels

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 29 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


Jacksonville, Fla. – Waynesboro, Georgia is only about 400 miles from Pensacola, Florida, but for Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (SW) Aldriick Kittles, it may as well be in another galaxy.


Through hard work and determination, the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Detachment Jacksonville Sailor has made it out of a hard-scrabble upbringing, and is headed to the world’s premier flight demonstration team.


In September, Kittles will join the Navy’s Blue Angels as a maintenance crew chief.


“He’s been inspirational to the other Sailors here,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Mark Sarna, Kittles’ supervisor at Detachment Jacksonville’s 700 Division. “To know where he’s come from, where he’s at and where he’s going is truly amazing.”


By his own admission, Kittles’ childhood in Waynesboro, Ga. was less than ideal.


“It was a bad environment,” he said. “I saw things I shouldn’t have seen and lived with things I shouldn’t have had to live with.”


For a while, it was football that seemed to be his ticket to a better life. As a standout safety, Kittles was part of the 2011 Burke County High School Georgia state championship team. But in his senior year, his close friend and teammate was killed in a car crash.


“We were planning on playing college football together, but I couldn’t play football anymore after that happened,” Kittles said. “College just wasn’t an option for me after that because my mind just wasn’t focused enough at that point.


“But I knew I had to leave. I had to go somewhere.”


“Somewhere” ended up being the United States Navy, where Kittles said he originally planned to serve only four years.


“I joined and I guess I just did everything correctly,” he said. “I wanted to get the most out of it.”


He started out as an undesignated seaman aboard USS Ft. McHenry (LSD-43). The demands of that job set him on a path from which he wouldn’t deviate.


“I had to do everything: paint the ship, bring everything onboard the ship,” he said. “It was 24/7, and I kept that mentality when I came here.”


In Jacksonville, Kittles threw himself into the job. He took on collateral duties and volunteered.


“As soon as he checked in, his motor has been running 150 miles per hour,” Sarna said. “I just tried to point him in the right direction, and he took off.”


His fondness for a fast-paced work environment and a commitment to excellence led Kittles to apply for a position with the Blue Angels. At the end of a week-long interview process in May, Kittles still didn’t know if he’d been accepted. He returned home just in time to make the birth of his first child, a son.


Then the call came.


“At first they messed with me and told me I wasn’t selected,” he said. “Then they asked me if I had my seabag packed.


“I said no, but I’ll pack it now!”


Initially, Kittles will join the Blue Angels at their home base in Pensacola, Florida before leaving for training at El Centro, California in January. It’s a journey he’s looking forward to.


“This is the way I can do the things I want to do in my naval career,” he said. “I want to be an officer one day, and this will help me get there.


“Sometimes I just can’t believe where I’m at in my life now,” he said.


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FRC East supervisor is top federal manager

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 2 Aug 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – A Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) East supervisor was selected as the Federal Managers Asso­ciation’s (FMA) Manager of the Year during the organization’s 78th national convention March 14 in Alexan­dria, Virginia.


Sue Thatch, production support logistician (PSL) team supervisor, was honored for demonstrating exception­al leadership, supervisory and communication skills, active involve­ment in the local FMA chapter and contributions to the local community.


“She is trustworthy, honor­able, knowledgeable and effi­cient.and has the ability to communicate on multiple levels by providing an attentive ear of understanding,” said Lori Glass, FRC East program analyst and FMA Chapter 21 president.


In the nomination form, Glass highlighted Thatch’s abilities of organiza­tion, leadership and motivation: “She is firm and fair,” wrote Glass. “Sue is extremely responsive to her employees’ needs, going far out of her way to ensure they have all tools necessary to achieve success. She possesses a calm wisdom that adds to her level-headed processes and infectious posi­tive attitude. This mindset energizes her employees and inspires them to achieve goals beyond expectations. She is a mentor to all, providing encour­aging leadership grounded in common sense and experience.”


Thatch, with 26 years of government service, built and supported the PSL team that she took the reins of as supervisor in 2013. She initiated a new Production Support Module (PSM) at FRC East, and her work with the Production Support Engineering Supervisor gave PSLs a voice and buy-in on the supply health for the shops. The PSM tool made a huge difference in communication, time savings and supportability at FRC East, according to Glass.


Thatch’s involvement in the lo­cal FMA chapter led to the authoring of the Wounded Warrior Fed­eral Leave Act, which provides wounded veterans with 30 per­cent or more disability a bank of 104 hours of sick leave to use within their first 12 months of civil service em­ployment in order to obtain treatment for their disabilities.


In the community, Thatch has initiated coat drives, candy sales and 5K fun runs to support local homeless and women’s shelters. She also leads the local FMA chapter’s annual golf tournament to fund scholarships and stuffed animal drives to support children who have experi­enced various traumas.


“She has a big heart and en­joys donating her time to those in need,” said Glass.


FMA is a professional as­sociation representing the in­terests of the nearly 200,000 managers, supervisors and ex­ecutives serving in today’s fed­eral government. More than 200 regular and associate members are employed at FRC East.


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Air Force Declares F-35A Ready For Combat

(DEFENSE NEWS 02 Aug 16) … Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday declared its first squadron of F-35As ready for battle, 15 years after Lockheed Martin won the contract to make the plane.


The milestone means that the service can now send its first operational F-35 formation – the 34th Fighter Squadron located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah – into combat operations anywhere in the world. The service, which plans to buy 1,763 F-35As, is the single-largest customer of the joint strike fighter program, which also includes the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and a host of governments worldwide.


The Air Force, which follows the Marine Corps in approving F-35s for operations, had a five-month window between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 to proclaim initial operational capability (IOC). After notifying Congress, Air Combat Command (ACC) head Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle signed off on the declaration on Aug. 2.


In a briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Carlisle stressed that although the F-35A is not perfect, the aircraft has significantly improved from the early days of the program. More importantly, its stealth, electronic warfare and sensor fusion capabilities are urgently needed for future conflicts.


“Given the national security strategy, we need it,” he said. “You look at the potential adversaries out there, or the potential environments where we have to operate this airplane, the attributes that the F-35 brings – the ability to penetrate defensive airspace, the ability to deliver precision munitions with a sensor suite that fuses data from multiple information sources – is something our nation needs.”


The service’s top leaders also sounded off in support of the declaration. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James both labeled it “an important milestone.”


“The F-35A brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability and adaptability to joint and combined operations, and is ready to deploy and strike well-defended targets anywhere on Earth,” Goldfein said in a statement.


F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said the IOC declaration sends a message to U.S. friends and foes: “The F-35 can do its mission.”


Still, challenges abound. For example, during a recent interim readiness assessment, operational testers found the F-35A’s scope did not always display data in an intuitive manner, necessitating that the pilot hone in on a data point to get more information, Carlisle told reporters.


The Air Force, together with the joint program office, hopes to fix that issue in 2017 with its 3F software, which will give the aircraft its full war-fighting capability, including the ability to launch certain types of weapons such as the Small Diameter Bomb. Other 3F changes, like improved pilot interfaces and displays, will make the plane easier to operate, he said.


To reach the IOC milestone, Hill Air Force Base needed at least 12 combat-ready jets capable of global deployment to provide what officials have termed basic close-air support, air interdiction, and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense missions. Also required were enough pilots, maintainers and equipment to support the squadron.


Asked to spell out what the difference was from the F-35’s basic close-air support capability and a full close-air support capability, Carlisle declined to go into specifics.


“Basically it doesn’t have necessarily all of the attributes” of the A-10, which was built for close-air support, he said. For instance, the airplane was not designed with an infrared pointer.


Getting to the point where the Air Force could meet its IOC requirements was not exactly easy, as the F-35 program hit a few unforeseen snags this year. Bogdan announced in the spring that the joint program office had identified instances of “software instability” that would cause the jets to have trouble booting up and, once the software was running, prompt the random shutdown of sensors.


Then, Lockheed in June disclosed that the latest version of the plane’s Autonomic Logistics Information System, ALIS 2.0.2, would not be available until at least October. ALIS is the F-35’s maintenance backbone, and is used for everything from mission planning to ordering spare parts.


The F-35 appeared to turn the corner after seven planes from Hill deployed to Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. There, pilots and maintainers confirmed they could successfully operate and repair the plane away from home base, even with an earlier version of ALIS. They also demonstrated that Lockheed’s software update had fixed software instability problems, reporting zero glitches during the 88 sorties flown.


After that deployment, Carlisle said the current version of ALIS would not be a “limiting factor” that would keep the F-35 from becoming operational.


The squadron at Hill then completed its own checklist, which included tasks such as ensuring enough pilots were combat-ready and subjecting them to an oral examination. On July 27, members of Hill Air Force Base’s 34th Fighter Squadron told the press they had amassed 12 modified F-35As and 21 combat-mission-ready pilots and completed all the paperwork needed to make an IOC declaration.


Todd Harrison, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said declaring IOC is a sign the F-35 program has moved beyond the well-known cost overruns and development issues that marked so much of the fifth-generation fighter’s development.


“I’m sure there will still be kinks that come up in the system in the coming years, but for the most part I think this means the program has stabilized, they’re on a good trajectory, [and] most of the potential for major cost overruns and technological challenges are now behind us,” he said.


Critics of the program have said declaring IOC is more of a marketing move than an actual operational one, as the service set the IOC requirements itself. Harrison acknowledged that view but said IOC is still an important step forward.


“It’s not doing everything they wanted it to do. It’s had all kinds of problems along the way. But they are at the point now where it is stabilizing, so it’s still a milestone of progress.”


The Road Ahead


Carlisle said in July that even though he would feel comfortable sending the F-35 to a fight as soon as the jet becomes operational, ACC has formed a “deliberate path” where the aircraft would deploy in stages: first to Red Flag exercises, then as a “theater security package” to Europe and the Asia-Pacific.


The fighter probably won’t deploy to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State group any earlier than 2017, he said, but if a combatant commander asked for the capability, “I’d send them down in a heartbeat because they’re very, very good.”


The ACC commander reiterated that sentiment Tuesday, stating that he would deploy the F-35 if its capabilities were needed. Deployments to Europe and the Asia-Pacific, which Carlisle would like to see within 18 months, would help boost partner nations’ confidence in the airframe, he said.


Over the next several years, the Air Force plans to stand up two more operational squadrons at Hill. That will entail growing the F-35 maintainer corps from the 222 currently trained personnel to almost 700 maintainers, said Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, deputy commander of the 388th Maintenance Group.


“We’ve got at least another 150 in the training pipeline,” he said last week. “On average, it’s 12 months to take a fourth-gen legacy aircraft maintainer and turn them into a fifth-generation maintainer, so those maintainers that are in the pipeline now will be standing up our next couple squadrons.”


Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont is set to become the second operational base – and the first Air National Guard base – to host the F-35, and will receive 18 joint strike fighters to replace its F-16s, Richard Meyer, the Air Force’s deputy chief of the F-35 system management division, said in a July 29 interview.


Around 2020, Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, will get two squadrons of 24 F-35s. Those aircraft are not slated to replace any fourth-generation fighters at the base and will bring added capability, he said

The Air Force’s first overseas base, RAF Lakenheath in England, will follow about a year afterward. Lakenheath will be home to two F-35 squadrons in addition to the F-15E and F-15C squadrons it already has.


The service is still evaluating which installations to select for the fifth, sixth and seventh operational bases, Meyers said. The fifth and sixth bases will be Air National Guard bases, while the seventh will be one of four reserve bases that currently host F-16 or A-10 squadrons: Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona or Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, which is home to Air Force F-16s.


“You have to do an environmental assessment to ensure the base meets all the requirements of the environment of the new plane,” Meyers said. That assessment entails evaluating whether new military construction is needed and whether existing facilities need any alterations to be able to support the aircraft.

“It just takes a while,” he added.


F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin congratulated the service on meeting the IOC milestone. “With the F-35A, the Air Force now has a fighter combining next-generation radar-evading stealth, supersonic speed, fighter agility and advanced logistical support with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history,” the company said in a statement.


Pratt & Whitney, which produces the F135 engine used in all three variants of the jet, also sent a statement congratulating the service.


Aaron Mehta in Washington contributed to this report.


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Air Force F-35 Hits Drone With Sidewinder Missile In ‘Kill’ Test

(DOD BUZZ 01 AUG 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


The Air Force variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed another key test days ago, deploying an AIM-9X missile while in flight to hit a drone over a military test range, officials with the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office said.


The test with the F-35A was conducted off the California coast July 28, Joint Program Office spokesman Joe DellaVedova said in a news release.


The Raytheon-made AIM-9X Sidewinder missile was launched from the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft’s external wing in the test. The F-35 was able to complete a series of complex steps to track and target the drone, including identifying the object with mission systems sensors; communicating with the missile; giving the pilot, Air Force Maj. Raven LeClair the change to confirm the targeting information using the high-tech F-35 helmet mounted display, and launching the missile to engage the target, according to the release.


“After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile before destroying the drone, achieving the first F-35 Air-to-Air kill or ‘Boola Boola,’ which is the traditional radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone,” officials said in the release.


During the same exercise, LeClair fired an AIM-120C Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM, carried internally, to take out another drone. This was a miss, however, as the drone target was out of visual range.


“It’s been said you don’t really have a fighter until you can actually hit a target and we crossed that threshold with the first air-to-air weapon delivery of an AIM-9X. This successful test demonstrates the combat capability the F-35 will bring to the U.S. Military and our allies,” LeClair said in a statement. “This test represents the culmination of many years of careful planning by combined government and contractor teams. We want to ensure operators will receive the combat capability they need to execute their mission and return home safely – we cannot compromise or falter in delivering this capability.”


The F-35A is is likely just days away from being Initial Operational Capability certified, according to multiple reports. It will be the second F-35 variant to reach IOC, following the Marine Corps F-35B “jump jet” variant, which was declared IOC last July.


The ongoing weapons accuracy testing for the F-35A will include the deployment of small-diameter bombs, joint direct attack munitions and AIM-120C AMRAAMs, according to the release.


Air Force F-35 Hits Drone with Sidewinder Missile in ‘Kill’ Test


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The F-35 Is So Stealthy, It Produced Training Challenges, Pilot Says

(AIR FORCE TIMES 31 JUL 16) … Phillip Swarts


The F-35 Lightning II is so stealthy, pilots are facing an unusual challenge. They’re having difficulty participating in some types of training exercises, a squadron commander told reporters Wednesday.


During a recent exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, F-35 squadrons wanted to practice evading surface-to-air threats. There was just one problem: No one on the ground could track the plane.

“If they never saw us, they couldn’t target us,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, the commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.


The F-35s resorted to flipping on their transponders, used for FAA identification, so that simulated anti-air weapons could track the planes, Watkins said.


“We basically told them where we were at and said, ‘Hey, try to shoot at us,'” he said, adding that without the transponders on, “most likely we would not have suffered a single loss from any SAM threats while we were training at Mountain Home.”


“When we go to train, it’s really an unfair fight for the guys who are simulating the adversaries,” Watkins continued. “We’ve been amazed by what we can do when we go up against fourth-gen adversaries in our training environment, in the air and on the ground.”


Watkins said he can take four F-35s and “be everywhere and nowhere at the same time because we can cover so much ground with our sensors, so much ground and so much airspace. And the F-15s or F-16s, or whoever is simulating an adversary or red air threat, they have no idea where we’re at and they can’t see us and they can’t target us.”


“That’s a pretty awesome feeling when you’re going out to train for combat,” Watkins concluded, “to know that your pilots are in an unfair fight.”


The pilots and crews at Hill have been putting the new fifth-generation fighter through its paces, in preparation for top Air Force brass declaring the plane operationally ready – a move expected within days.


The Air Force’s variant of the F-35 will make its first appearance at the famous Red Flag training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in January 2017, Watkins told Air Force Times. Marine Corps F-35Bs have already reached initial operating capability and participated in the exercise this year.


Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, the 388th Maintenance Group deputy commander, said all the boxes have been checked for Hill F-35s to reach IOC, and that the base will be ready to send six-ship packages of the aircraft wherever they’re needed in the world.


“For most of us, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bed down a new weapon set and make it employable and bring this capability for the defense of our nation,” Anderson said. “Everyone from the youngest airmen on up through our wing commanders is totally invested in this program. We are all excited and very motivated for what we’ve accomplished over the last year and what we’re going to accomplish in the future.”


Hill now has 21 pilots ready to fly, with another three going through final certification training, Anderson said. Some 222 maintainers are also ready, with another 150 in training. The base has 15 F-35s now, with a 16th scheduled to be delivered in late August. Eventually, the base is looking to set up three full squadrons with a total of 72 aircraft by 2019.


Anderson said the base isn’t expecting any problems with getting enough maintainers or pilots to operate the planes.


“We don’t see any shortfalls in our maintenance and pilots right now,” he said. “We can project up to 18 months out to see where our pilots and maintainers are coming from, and we will have enough to stand up this unit. IOC, for us, it’s just getting us out of the starting gate.”


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Navy Schedules F-35C For Third Set Of Carrier Trials

(SEAPOWER 02 AUG 16) … Richard R. Burgess


ARLINGTON, Va. – The Navy’s F-35C Lightning II strike fighter is scheduled to begin carrier qualifications (CQs) for the third and final phase of its developmental test program (DT-III) this week, a Navy spokesman said in an e-mail announcing the planned event.


DT-III will be conducted onboard USS George Washington off the Virginia Capes Aug. 3-23. If the event proceeds on schedule, DT-III will begin with an F-35C landing onboard George Washington on Aug. 3.


“A broad range of elements associated with carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment will be tested during DT-III, including day and night CQs, launch and recovery with external stores, approach handling qualities with symmetric and asymmetric external stores, Delta Flight Path testing, Joint Precision Approach and Landing System testing, crosswind and maximum-weight launches, military-/maximum-power lunches, and night operations with the [Generation] III Helmet-Mounted Display,” said Cmdr. Dave Hecht, public affairs officer for commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.


The F-35C as put through its first set of carrier trials, DT-I, in November 2014 onboard USS Nimitz in the Southern California operations area. The F-35C, operated by Air Test & Evaluation 23, made the aircraft’s first carrier landing on Nov, 3, 2014. The pilots in the event accomplished 33 flights that included 124 catapult launches, 222 touch-and-go landings, and 124 arrested landings.


DT-II for the F-35C was conducted in October off the Virginia Capes onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. This event included catapult launches and arrested landings with internal stores.


The F-35C is scheduled to reach initial operational capability in 2018, when a full 10-plane squadron will be operational.


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It Could Be Years Before Billion-Dollar War Toy F-35 Is Ready for Combat

(DAILY BEAST, 1 Aug 16) . David Axe


Don’t get too excited about the U.S. Air Force possibly declaring the long-delayed F-35 fighter jet ready for combat-if history is any guide, it won’t be sent into a fight for years.


The U.S. Air Force could declare its new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jet combat-ready as early as Monday.


The so-called initial operational capability announcement means the F-35-the Pentagon’s latest radar-evading warplane and the product of history’s most expensive weapons program-can, in theory, deploy overseas to bomb ISIS or deter Russia or China.


“We have achieved all our milestones,” Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, an officer with the Air Force’s Utah-based 388th Wing, set to be the flying branch’s first operational F-35 unit-told Air Force magazine, a trade publication.


It’s up to Gen. Hawk Carlisle-the head of Air Combat Command, which oversees most of the Air Force’s frontline fighter squadrons-to make the formal declaration. Many observers expect Carlisle to make the call no later than Wednesday.


That will be an event 20 years and $100 billion in the making.


But don’t celebrate quite yet. It could take another 20 years and $300 billion for the Air Force-not to mention the Navy and Marines-to get all 2,400 F-35s they currently plan on buying. And even though the JSF technically could deploy to a conflict zone as early as August, it’s likely the Pentagon will hold the plane back for a few more years as it continues to work out its many bugs.


For while the F-35 might be officially war-ready, that doesn’t mean the military and plane-maker Lockheed Martin have solved all the F-35’s problems. Even with the Air Force’s endorsement, the Joint Strike Fighter is still less maneuverable, more complex, less reliable, and more expensive than its developers promised.


In many ways, the F-35 the Air Force will receive in 2016 is not the plane it thought it would be getting just a few years ago.


Originally conceived in 1996 as an inexpensive, multi-purpose warplane-one that could replace almost all the other frontline jet types in Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps squadrons-the JSF proved devilishly complex.


The Air Force, Navy, and Marines all wanted different things from the fighter. The only thing they really agreed on was stealth-the ability to avoid detection by radars and other sensors by way of radar-scattering wing- and fuselage-shaping and special, energy-absorbing skin coatings.


The Air Force wanted its F-35s to be simple, cheap, and maneuverable, with one engine, a small wing and a slim fuselage, all striking the best balance between speed, payload, and turning ability. The Navy preferred the redundancy of a twin-engine plane but, at the very least, needed its F-35s to be able to operate from aircraft carriers at sea-meaning a bigger wing generating more lift at the cost of speed.


Most vexingly, the Marines demanded that their own F-35s have the ability to take off and land vertically so they can fly from the small, carrier-like Navy assault ships the Marines use to launch amphibious assaults. Vertical capability meant adding a downward blasting secondary engine behind the cockpit, which in turn meant a wider fuselage generating more drag than the Air Force was happy with.


To satisfy all three main customers, Lockheed devised three versions of the JSF-the F-35A for the Air Force, the F-35B for the Marines, and the Navy’s F-35C. To keep the cost down, the military and Lockheed wanted the three versions to be as similar as possible. That meant compromises-largely dictated by the F-35B’s extraordinary vertical takeoff and landing ability. The F-35A has a fatter fuselage than it really needs. The F-35C possesses just one main engine, even though most Navy fighters have two.


But the compromises failed to keep the cost down. Indeed, the combination of competing requirements added complexity to the JSF that drove up the cost. In October 2001, when the Pentagon chose Lockheed to build the JSF, officials expected the design and production of about 3,000 F-35s to set back U.S. taxpayers around $200 billion.


A few years later that figure had ballooned to $400 billion, plus another $600 billion for fuel, parts, and pilot-training over another 30 or 40 years of flying. And that was after the Pentagon cut hundreds of F-35s from the production plan as a cost-saving measure. Engineers struggled to accommodate all the competing demands on the F-35-and ran into trouble. In 2004, the government and Lockheed admitted the JSF was simply too heavy and needed a costly redesign.


What followed was a drumbeat of bad news lasting more than a decade, as the various versions of the F-35 slowly took shape and, starting in 2006, began a lengthy period of test-flying.


The F-35’s power system and engine frequently failed. Its pilots’ high-tech helmets were bulky and buggy. For a while, it couldn’t fly near thunderstorms because it lacked the equipment for channeling lightning strikes. The new plane’s gun wouldn’t be fully operational until 2019. Its software was taking too long to write. Its radar often had to be rebooted mid-flight. And sometimes the F-35 just caught on fire while on the ground.


Perhaps most damning, in mid-2015 someone inside the JSF program leaked a test pilot’s official account of a mock dogfight pitting an F-35 against an Air Force F-16, one of the older planes the F-35 is supposed to replace. “The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the pilot wrote. In layman’s terms, that means the F-35 couldn’t match the F-16 maneuver for maneuver.


The military and Lockheed claimed the media took the pilot’s report out of context and insisted that, in combat, the F-35 would never need to engage in a close-range dogfight, anyway, as it would either shoot down enemy planes at long range or merely avoid them.


In the aftermath of the dogfight report’s leaking, the F-35’s boosters went on a public-relations counteroffensive, frequently highlighting the plane’s supposed superior performance during war games. And in July 2015, the Marines declared their first F-35B squadron to be combat-ready with 10 planes-but then scheduled the unit’s first deployment for 2017, all but admitting that the combat-readiness declaration was a P.R. ploy.


The Air Force had predicted it would designate its first dozen F-35s (out of 180 that Lockheed had delivered to the flying branch) operational between August and December 2016-and was clearly determined not to miss that self-imposed deadline.


Indeed, with the F-35’s software development falling farther and farther behind schedule, in 2013 Gen. Mike Hostage, then the top officer in Air Combat Command, had to make a choice-either give the developers an extra couple of years to work on the F-35 or water down the official definition of “operational” in order to suit the new plane’s condition.


Hostage chose to water down the F-35’s requirements, limiting the range of missions the plane would be capable of undertaking and reducing the variety of weapons it would be able to carry.


The decision was politically motivated. The general “began to realize the overall negative repercussions associated with waiting,” according to an official Air Force account of the decision-making process.


Feedback from lawmakers reinforced Hostage’s concerns. “The read on Congress.was that there was more support overall for an early declaration,” the Air Force recalled. “These opinions came from the negative connotation with having over 180 F-35A aircraft parked on runways without [initial operational capability] and also being two years behind the Marines.”


So when Carlisle gives the 388th Wing’s first dozen F-35s the official thumbs-up, don’t get too excited. Even if Carlisle expects you to do so. “The minute I declare initial operational capability, if the combatant commander called me up and said, ‘We need F-35s,’ I would send them,” Carlisle told reporters in July.


But in reality, it could be years before F-35s see combat. The Air Force wanted until 2018 to keep refining the JSF-and it might just take that time despite the official war-readiness nod.


There’s certainly precedent for a delay. The Air Force declared the F-22 stealth fighter-the F-35’s bigger, slightly older cousin-operational in 2006, but waited eight years to finally send the jets into combat.


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Top Marine aviator: F-35B is ready for war

(MARINE CORPS TIMES, 29 July 16) . Jeff Schogol


The F-35B is “ready to go right now” if it is needed to fly combat missions, the head of Marine Aviation told reporters Friday.


Although the F-35B is still being tested, the Marine Corps declared in July 2015 that it was ready to fly operations. The Marine version of the F-35 needs upgraded software and other improvements.


Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the F-35B is ready for combat, just as every other type of aircraft the Marine Corps has, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.


“There were a lot of people out here that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC [initial operational capability] because it would be politically untenable not to do that,” Davis said at an event Friday at the American Enterprise Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. “IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat.”


Talking to reporters after the event, Davis was asked if the F-35B could be deployed to fight the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.


“If we think we need to do that, we will,” Davis replied. “We’re ready to do that.”


The Marine Corps’ first F-35B squadron is expected to arrive in Japan in January and then go to sea with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the spring of 2018, he said. The service’s second F-35B squadron is expected to go to sea in the summer of 2018.


“Do we keep it on track or do we do something different: That’s up to the national command authorities,” Davis said. “But it’s ready to go right now.”


One of the F-35B’s advantages is that it can carry 3,000 pounds more ordnance than F/A-18 Hornets.


“As Marines, there’s times when we want to carry a lot of bombs and go knock on doors,” he said.


In testing, the F-35B has proved to be “phenomenally successful,” showing that it can easily destroy the most advanced enemy aircraft defenses and fighters, Davis said. In fact, F-35B pilots made a demonstration of the aircraft’s capabilities last month more challenging than Davis had asked for because they did not feel it was difficult enough, he said.


“I watched how they went and did this with two airplanes with pylons and two without,” Davis said. “It was a work of art. That’s not the way my brain works but that is the way their brains are working.”


In little more than five minutes, the F-35Bs destroyed the targets and a surface-to-air-missile site using pictures from a forward air controller that were relayed to the aircraft through the cloud cover, he said.


Davis rebutted critics who claim the F-35B is “too much technology for the Marine Corps,” explaining the Marines’ mission is to be able to fight anywhere at any time against anybody.


To drive his point home, Davis recalled a conversation he had with retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen Jr., the Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and general officer. The two met before Petersen died in August.


“I said: Well, some people think we’re getting too much technology,” Davis said. “He goes: ‘I was shot down in Korea and I was shot down in Vietnam; never once did I think I had too much technology. Go tell them they’re idiots.'”


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Blue Angels Upgrading To F/A 18 Super Hornets

Upgrading from classic Hornet



Patuxent River, Md. – The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team has begun its transition to the F/A 18 Super Hornet under a recently approved contract with Boeing.


“We are supporting the Navy’s plans to transition the Blue Angels to Super Hornet aircraft from classic Hornets by providing engineering for the necessary conversion modifications. We are proud to continue our association with the Blue Angels as they demonstrate the precision and professionalism of Naval Aviation to millions each year,” Paul Guse, a spokesman for Boeing, said Thursday in an emailed statement.


News 6 partner Florida Today reports that under the $12 million contract, Boeing is expected to finish the work before September 2017.


A spokesman for the Blue Angels referred questions about the conversion to the Navy’s Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland. The command did not immediately return messages seeking additional information about the conversion.


The elite flight demonstration team has flown different models of the F/A 18 Hornet since 1986.


During a community event celebrating the team’s 70-year history earlier this month, Blue Angels solo pilot Lt. Ryan Chamberlin told the crowd that the team would eventually transition to the Super Hornet. Ryan said the conversion would take time because the Super Hornet is a different air frame from what the pilots are accustomed to flying in their tight formations.


The Blue Angels typically receive aircraft after the planes have been flown for years in the regular Navy fleet. The planes are then customized for Blue Angels flying with features including a spring-loaded flight stick, which allows the pilots to maneuver the jets within 18 inches of each other.


Blue Angels pilots do not wear the G-suits worn by other jets pilots. Inflatable bladders in the suits help pool blood in the pilots’ upper extremities to keep them from passing out. The Blue Angels using breathing techniques and abdominal exercises to fight the G-forces because the inflatable bladders in the legs of the suits could interfere with the control of the flight stick.


Blue Angels and other Navy officials did not immediately respond to questions about whether pilots would use G-suits once the team converts to the Super Hornets.


According to a Navy fact sheet, the Super Hornet, which has been in operational use by the military since 2002, has a longer range than the Hornet, aerial refueling capability, and improved carrier sustainability.


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New Navy Tech Makes It Easy To Land On A Carrier. Yes, Easy

(WIRED 02 AUG 16) … Eric Adams


For Navy pilots who land jets on aircraft carriers, life is tough. First, there’s the bit about touching down at precisely the right time and position to have the tailhook catch the arresting wire and bring you to a stop before the runway – all 300 feet of it – runs out. And then there’s the fact flight decks don’t stay still. They heave and sway with the sea. In the seconds before touchdown, a pilot typically makes hundreds of small changes to his trajectory.


The U.S. Navy says new tech could make white-knuckle carrier traps a thing of the past. It recently completed testing the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, a software mod that makes a carrier approach nearly as routine as a runway landing. In the Pentagon’s honored tradition of strained acronyms, the Navy calls it Magic Carpet.


According to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland, which led the development of Magic Carpet, the system works with the plane’s autopilot to maintain the approach using what’s called direct lift control. In short, once the pilot sets the glide angle of the approach, it becomes the “neutral” setting for the controls.


The autopilot tracks the position of the deck, adjusting the throttle, flaps, ailerons, and stabilizers to keep the flight path and angle of attack on point. Instead of maintaining continuous pressure on the stick and making myriad inputs before landing, the pilot can relax. Any adjustments he does make are incorporated into the autopilot settings.


During a week of trials last month, test pilots flying F/A-18 Super Hornets conducted nearly 600 touch-and-go landings and many tailhook-arrested landings on the Nimitz-class USS George Washington. They made both highly accurate approaches and deliberately inaccurate approaches, with varying wind speeds and directions.


According to engineers with the Navy and Boeing, the system increased the accuracy and consistency of landings under all conditions. Those landings were less stressful, too: Pilots typically perform 300 corrections to their flight path in the final 18 seconds of an approach. Magic Carpet drops that between 10 and 20.


The Navy is quick to stress that the system is not fully automated, and pilots remain in control. Magic Carpet just simplifies the descent. And because it augments existing flight control systems, it doesn’t require hardware mods. It will take flight on the F/A-18 Super Hornet, the EA-18G Growler, and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, all of which have the digital flight controls needed to work with the system.


The Navy expects to start integrating the system in 2019. Beyond reducing stress, Magic Carpet could minimize the time and effort needed to train pilots for carrier landings, allowing more time for tactical training. It also could reduce the time and money spent maneuvering carriers into ideal landing positions. Fewer aborted landings saves fuel, and fewer hard landings saves wear and tear on aircraft. And you thought Aladdin’s flying carpet was cool.


New Navy Tech Makes It Easy to Land on a Carrier. Yes, Easy


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Booz Allen to support Navy IT services

(C4ISRNET, 29 July 16) . Michael Peck


Booz Allen Hamilton has been awarded a $13.2 million contract option for Navy IT services.


Under the first-year option extension of a previously awarded contract, Booz Allen will provide “enterprise management and technical support to the Navy Information Force’s Shore Modernization and Integration Directorate in the areas of: enterprise architecture and operational transition planning; shore network and communications modernization; information technology service management process standardization; cyber security; and information technology portfolio management support,” according to the Department of Defense contract announcement.


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Navy’s Atlantic air force gets a new boss

(NAVY TIMES,    30 July 16) . Mark D. Faram


ABOARD CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON AT NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. – At a Friday ceremony abbreviated by the sweltering heat, Rear Adm. Bruce “Birdy” Lindsey took over as the Atlantic fleet’s top aviator.


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the head of Naval Air Forces, presided over the ceremony and praised Lindsey and the outgoing Naval Air Force Atlantic boss, Rear Adm. John “JR” Haley.


Haley cited the successes of the Norfolk-based carrier Harry S. Truman, which recently returned from the Middle East after an eight-month deployment where the flattop smashed previous records in attacking ISIS militants.


Watching the successes of the carriers under his purview was the highlight of his time as AIRLANT, Haley said.


“If we do our job right at AIRLANT, we get to see those sailors at the tip of the spear open up a can of whoop-ass on the bad guys,” Haley said in his farewell. “Let me tell you – we love that feeling.”


Haley, retiring after a 36-year career, is a 1980 Naval Academy graduate. His aviation career started when he was first designated a naval flight officer, serving as a bombardier/navigator in the A-6E Intruder. Switching seats, he entered pilot training in 1987 and became a designated pilot in 1989, tallying up 3,500 flight hours and over 1,100 carrier arrested landings. He flew first in EA-6B Prowlers and later transitioned to the EA-18G Growlers and F/A-18E Super Hornets.


Haley also commanded two aircraft carriers, the Theodore Roosevelt and later the George Washington.


Lindsey takes over as naval aviation’s “mini-boss,” working for Shoemaker, the fleet’s top aviator after back to back tours as a strike group commander, most recently the Norfolk-based CSG 4, which trains and certifies Atlantic fleet carrier strike groups, amphibious ready groups and well as independent deploying ships.


Prior to that, he commanded CSG-4 aboard carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also commanded the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson during “Operations Enduring Freedom” and “New Dawn.”


Lindsey is a 1982 academy grad. A career naval flight officer designated in 1983, he spent his flying career in S-3B Viking squadrons. He commanded Sea Combat Squadron 29 embarked on the carrier Carl Vinson during the first 72 days of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Lindsey has served in various other leadership positions during his career.


At AIRLANT, Lindsey will be responsible for manning, equipping, and training four nuclear-powered flattops, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft and 50,000 personnel.


Lindsey’s first act as AIRLANT boss was to lead three rousing cheers of “Hip hip, hooray,” for his retiring predecessor.


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Decision Coming Soon on Navy Job Title Review, Mabus Says

(MILITARY.COM, 28 July 16) . Hope Hodge Seck


Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Thursday that he expects a review of Navy job titles to help sailors’ careers, not only within the service, but also when they transition out into the civilian sector.


The Navy in June announced that top brass had decided to expand a review initiated by Mabus to ensure that current job titles were gender-inclusive to also explore the impact of titles on personnel policy and training organization.


The review now could go beyond changing the names assigned to Navy ratings and include updates to detailing policy, reorganization of training pipelines and more.


Mabus said the results of the policy review were going to come out “pretty soon,” though a proposal was not yet on his desk.


“I think it will do two things: It will better describe what people do, and it will make career paths more flexible and more rewarding,” Mabus said. “Two is, when people leave the Navy, it will make the transition easier, because people outside will understand what they did and what their skills are.”


While Navy officials have said that all job titles are under review and haven’t described any specific titles as candidates for special scrutiny, Mabus’ comments may indicate that more antiquated or opaque titles, such as yeoman, for a sailor who performs administrative and clerical work, or aerographer’s mate, for a specialist in meteorology and weather forecasting, may receive consideration for change.


The Marine Corps, which was also commanded by Mabus to review job titles for gender-specific language, announced in late June that the service would change 19 job titles to make them more gender-neutral, while keeping some, such as rifleman, out of respect for tradition.


The job title review is one of a series of measures Mabus has promoted in an effort to minimize distinctions between the genders in the military. He has also worked to overhaul Navy uniforms as the driving force behind new unisex dress covers, “dixie cup” enlisted white hats for women, a female version of the “crackerjack” blues and the prohibition of dress white skirts at this year’s Naval Academy graduation.


Mabus told today that he was proud of his legacy as Navy secretary, even as he broke with service tradition on a wide range of issues.


“Every decision I’ve made, I’ve made with the view of making the Navy and the Marine Corps stronger, better for the future. Better at their jobs, better at what we’re entrusted to do, which is defend this country,” he said. “And I think we’ve done some historic things. … We’ve got the greatest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known.”


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Marine Flight Readiness Improving .Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing

(BREAKING DEFENSE, 29 July 16) . Richard Whittle


WASHINGTON: Marine Corps aviation is on a “glide slope” to reaching acceptable readiness levels by 2020, the deputy commandant for aviation said Friday. But today the only units fully ready – with enough spare parts, trained maintainers and air crews, and adequate monthly flight hours for pilots – are two squadrons flying brand new Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jump jets.


“After 15 years of hard fighting, the numbers of aircraft in up status aren’t where they need to be,” Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis told a joint Air Force Association/American Enterprise Institute event. Davis said the Corps now has about 80 more aircraft mission capable than at a similar time last year, when 378 planes and helicopters were down for maintenance or repairs.


The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says he was pleased to hear things are improving, adding he’ll keep pushing to improve readiness. “I continue to be concerned that current restoration plans are too fragile and optimistic because they rely on funding stability and funding levels that we have not seen in recent years. That is why Congress must follow through on the actions we have taken to replace the readiness cuts imposed by this administration,” Rep. Mac Thornberry says in an email.


Asked whether inadequate flight hours or other readiness gaps could explain the Thursday night fatal crash of a Third Marine Air Wing F-18C Hornet near Twenty-nine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Davis said he doubted it.


“We don’t have all the details on it just yet,” Davis said. “I track each and every unit each and every week. The number of flight hours per pilot – this particular unit is doing okay.” He said flight hours per month per pilot vary according to the type of aircraft but the “low ebb” for the Marine Corps F-18C fleet was last summer, when the average was 8.8 hours per month per pilot for the entire fleet. “I do not think we’re unsafe, but we’re not as proficient as we should be, across the spectrum. We don’t let units fly that are unsafe.”


The 2016 Marine Corps Aviation Plan set 2020 as the goal for the service’s air arm to reach a readiness rate of T 2.0, defined as every unit being able to conduct at least 70 percent of “mission essential tasks at the individual and unit level.”


“We’ve been on that track now for two years to get all of our pilots in every type model series the hours they need,” Davis said. “Last year the only guys that got their hours, and the only T-1 unit I have right now, is the F-35s.” He added: “They’re ready for everything.”


Davis said the Corps was on its way to meeting its readiness goals because, “We’ve had great allies in Congress. They’ve actually helped us out.”


Retired Air Force deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who as dean of the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute think tank co-hosted Davis’s appearance, said readiness problems are being suffered across the armed services, but especially by the Air Force.


“The Air Force has been at war not just since 9/11 but since January 1991,” Deptula said, referring to that year’s Gulf War to drive Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait and various conflicts since then. “That 25 years of continuous combat, coupled with budget instability and lower than planned top lines, has made the Air Force the smallest, the oldest and the least ready in its history.”


Deptula said that compared to 1991’s Operation Desert Storm – an air campaign he planned – the Air Force today has 30 percent fewer people, 40 percent fewer aircraft, 60 percent fewer combat-coded fighter squadrons, and 25 percent fewer aircraft per squadron. “At the height of the hollow force of the 1970s,” Deptula added, the average age of Air Force planes was 12 years. “Today we’re at 27.” Airline aircraft average ages are 10 years, Deptula added.


“We’re operating a geriatric Air Force,” he said. “It’s an absurd situation we find ourselves in.”


Marine Flight Readiness Improving …Slowly; Thornberry Will Keep Pushing


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What Has the Budget Control Act of 2011 Meant for Defense?




Q1: What is the Budget Control Act?


A1: The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) was signed into law five years ago on August 2, 2011. It is a resurrection of a much older law, known as Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, originally enacted in 1985. The BCA reinstates budget caps for a 10-year period ending in FY 2021 with separate caps for the defense and nondefense parts of the discretionary budget. For defense, the budget caps represent a reduction of roughly $1 trillion over 10 years compared to what the president had proposed in his FY 2012 budget request earlier in 2011.


The law delayed full enforcement of the budget caps until January 2013 to give Congress time to find an alternative. It also created a bipartisan joint committee, known as the Super Committee, and gave it special one-time authority to propose a deficit-reduction package subject to a simple up-or-down vote in both chambers. This was Congress’s best chance to avoid the cuts imposed by the BCA. In November 2011, however, the Super Committee announced it was unable to reach an agreement, leaving the BCA in effect.


Q2: Why was the BCA enacted?


A2: In early 2011, federal spending was soaring and revenues were plummeting, mainly due to the Great Recession and the stimulus package Congress enacted in 2009. As a result, the deficit was projected to peak at a record level of $1.5 trillion in 2011-although it never actually got that high. Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, had just taken control of the House of Representatives and were refusing to increase the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to dollar-for-dollar cuts in spending. Both sides refused to yield, forcing a fiscal standoff that came to a head in August of that year. The BCA emerged from that standoff as a forcing function for a broader budget deal by ensuring that painful spending cuts would occur if no deal could be reached.


Q3: What is sequestration?


A3: Sequestration is the automatic process of making across-the-board cuts if the budget caps are exceeded. To be clear, sequestration and the budget caps are not the same thing. The budget caps set the level of the budget, and sequestration is the enforcement mechanism. The BCA did not create sequestration-it was part of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings and was used several times in the 1980s and 1990s. To better understand how sequestration works, imagine if you had to cut your personal budget by a certain percentage. If given the flexibility to choose how these cuts are allocated, you would probably cut back on nonessential things, like going out to dinner or buying the latest cell phone. But under sequestration rules, you would be forced to cut each item in your budget by the same percentage-even things like rent payments and insurance premiums. That kind of cutting can create a lot of problems and end up costing more in the long run.


Sequestration was triggered in 2013, but it has not been triggered since then. Under current law, sequestration will only be triggered again if the budget caps are exceeded. In other words, Congress would have to appropriate more than the budget caps allow knowing that the additional funds it is appropriating will be automatically cut. Moreover, the president would have to sign this bill into law knowing it would trigger a sequester and all of the problems that come with across-the-board cuts. For these reasons, it is unlikely sequestration will occur again.


Q4: What types of defense funding are exempt from the BCA?


A4: The most notable exception in the law is for war-related funding, also known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Technically, the law says the budget cap is automatically increased by the amount of war-related funding Congress enacts, which means that OCO funding is effectively uncapped. The law does not, however, provide a robust definition of what constitutes OCO funding. In practice, this means that OCO funding is whatever Congress enacts and the president signs into law-a loophole both Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) have used to get around the budget caps since 2013.


Another important exception in the law is for military personnel (MILPERS) funding. MILPERS accounts are used for pay, allowances, and some benefits service members receive. If sequestration is triggered, the president can exempt MILPERS accounts from the automatic across-the-board cuts. Unlike the OCO exception, the MILPERS exception does not reduce the total amount of cuts for defense or alter the level of the budget caps. It merely protects one set of accounts from cuts and causes all other defense accounts to be cut by a greater percentage to compensate. The president exempted military personnel accounts from sequestration in 2013, and if sequestration ever occurs again it is likely this exception would be used.


Q5: Is the BCA still in effect?


A5: Yes, but it has been modified three times since it was enacted. Just before the budget caps went into enforcement in January 2013, Congress passed a last-minute deal known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Among other things, this law raised the budget caps slightly for FY 2013, with equal increases on the defense and nondefense sides of the budget caps. But it paid for these increases in part by lowering the caps in FY 2014.


In December 2013, Congress modified the BCA for a second time with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. This two-year deal raised the budget caps for FY 2014 and FY 2015, again with equal increases for the defense and nondefense sides of the budget. Both Congress and the administration stuck to this deal, appropriating funding at the revised budget cap levels in both years, thus avoiding sequestration being triggered.


As FY 2016 got underway, the budget caps were still at their original level because the previous deals only adjusted the caps through FY 2015. Congress passed a third modification to the BCA in November 2015 known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Like the previous deal, it raised the budget caps for two years (FY 2016 and FY 2017) with equal increases for defense and nondefense. Unlike previous deals, however, it included additional OCO funding as part of the deal. It added $8 billion in OCO funding for defense and $8 billion in OCO for nondefense. The nondefense OCO funding was used primarily by the State Department to offset costs in its base budget, which in turn freed up funding under the nondefense budget caps that could be used by other agencies. As of this writing, the BCA budget caps remain at their original level for FY 2018 to FY 2021, but it is possible Congress will again modify the caps for these future years.


Q6: Why weren’t the effects of the BCA as devastating for defense as some predicted?


A6: In the weeks and months leading up to the budget caps going into full enforcement in 2013, defense leaders described it with increasingly colorful metaphors, such as “a doomsday mechanism,” “a gunshot to the head,” “a goofy meat ax,” and “fiscal castration.” Not to be outdone, many defense companies joined in these warnings by decrying the jobs that would be lost, and one company threated to send out layoff notices just days before the 2012 presidential election. The Aerospace Industries Association projected that more than 1 million jobs would be lost due to the BCA. And in congressional testimony just days before sequestration took effect in 2013, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter warned “the wolf’s at the door.”


This rhetoric may have led some to conclude that the military was crying wolf. In reality, the effects were never going to be as immediate and visible as these statements implied. One of the main reasons is that the budget caps apply to budget authority-money that Congress has approved but the executive branch has not yet obligated or spent. It takes time for budget authority to work its way through the system-in some cases several years-before it becomes actual spending (outlays) that has an economic impact.


Another important reason the effects of the BCA have not been as severe as originally predicted is that the defense budget has not actually been cut to the level originally prescribed in the BCA. The three budget deals enacted since 2011 have raised the budget caps for FY 2013 to FY 2017. Moreover, Congress and DoD have used the OCO funding loophole to supplement the base budget at a level of roughly $25-$30 billion annually according to my analysis. These last minute deals and budget maneuvers have largely protected defense from the full effects of the BCA.


The mechanism by which the cuts are implemented is also an important consideration. While sequestration was triggered in 2013, the reductions that have occurred since then have not been through sequestration. In FY 2014, FY 2015, and FY 2016, Congress enacted appropriations at the revised budget cap level, so Congress was able to decide how to target reductions rather than the “goofy meat ax” approach of sequestration. Even in 2013 when the budget was actually sequestered, DoD followed up with a massive reprogramming request to Congress that allowed it to move money between accounts to fix some of the problems sequestration created.


Q7: Who’s to blame for the BCA?


A7: Since the BCA was enacted, both sides have attempted to blame the other. For example, during this election season, both parties have included statements on the BCA in their party platforms. The Republican Party Platform for 2016 says, “We support lifting the budget cap for defense and reject the efforts of Democrats to hold the military’s budget hostage for their domestic agenda.” And the Democratic Party Platform for 2016 says, “We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration.”


In truth, the BCA passed with bipartisan majorities in both chambers. In the House,174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it; in the Senate, 28 Republicans and 45 Democrats voted for it; and President Obama ultimately signed it into law. Without bipartisan support, this bill would not have become law. Both sides share responsibility for enacting the BCA-and finding a way out of it.


Todd Harrison is a senior fellow and director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.


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Marines order 24-hour pause in flight operations for all non-deployed aircraft

(MARINE CORPS TIMES, 3 Aug 16) . Jeff Schogol


The head of Marine Aviation has ordered all non-deployed aircraft to stand down for 24 hours following three recent crashes of F/A-18s, two of which were fatal.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told wing commanders on Wednesday that non-deployed squadrons must take “an operational pause” within the next seven business days, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns. The move is different than grounding aircraft, she said.


Commanders can decide which day to take the pause, during which aircraft are typically inspected, Burns said on Wednesday.


Burns could not say what exactly prompted Davis’ decision, which was approved by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.


Three Marine Corps F/A-18s have crashed since June 2, when Blue Angels pilot Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss’ Hornet crashed shortly after takeoff in Smyrna, Tennessee. On July 28, Marine Maj. Richard Norton, a graduate of the Navy’s TOPGUN school, was killed when his F/A-18C crashed near Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.


Then on Tuesday, a Navy pilot safely ejected from an F/A-18C that was on loan from the Marine Corps. The Hornet went down near Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.


Marine aviation is suffering from a perfect storm that has caused the number of flyable aircraft to plunge in the last five years. Budget cuts have postponed maintenance for aircraft that have been flown hard during 15 years of combat and led to a shortage of spare parts, especially for CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters.


The service is in the process of transitioning to the F-35 joint strike fighter, but delays in the program have forced the Marine Corps to fly their Hornets, AV-8B Harrier II jump jets and their EA-6B Prowlers longer than anticipated.


Last summer, only 378 of the Marine Corps’ required flightline inventory of 1,065 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft could fly, Davis said at an Aug. 1 event at a think tank in Washington. Since then, roughly 80 more aircraft have become flightworthy, he said.


With fewer aircraft flying, Marine pilots are not getting the flight hours they need, but the service is slowly improving, Davis said. The Marine Corps is trying to get pilots the appropriate number of flight hours by 2020.


At the Aug. 1 event, Davis was asked if Marine pilots’ lives were in danger as a result of the drop in flight hours.


“I do not think we’re unsafe, but we’re not as proficient as we should be,” Davis said. “We don’t let units fly that are unsafe.”


He added that he tracks how many flight hours all units get per week, and Norton’s unit was “doing OK.”


On Jan. 14, two CH-53E helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 crashed off Hawaii, killing 12 Marines. The crash came months after Marine aviation deaths hit a five-year high.


Davis has said the CH-53E helicopter crews had enough training for the mission they were doing, but they probably needed more training before they could fly in combat.


“We don’t know what happened out there – I won’t know until that investigation that comes out,” he told reporters on July 6. “I grieve for every one of the families. That’s the hardest part for me. I’m the deputy commandant for aviation and I lost 12 great Marines. That’s what I think about every day.”


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White House Launches New Salvo In Troop Funding Fight

(POLITICO 03 AUG 16) … Austin Wright and Connor O’Brien


A new battle over how to pay for extra troops in Afghanistan is about to break out on Capitol Hill.


Republicans want to boost the overall military budget to pay for President Barack Obama’s decision last month to leave more soldiers than planned. But the White House now insists any such increase in Pentagon spending must be accompanied by corresponding increases to other agencies and domestic programs.


The administration’s stance, outlined on Wednesday in a statement to POLITICO, is almost certain to anger GOP defense hawks on Capitol Hill who are seeking to use Obama’s troop decision to bolster their argument that the military’s war budget should be larger.


“Together with the Department of Defense, we are actively looking at funding needs related to the revised force posture in Afghanistan the president announced last month,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in an email.


“In the coming months and into the fall,” the office continued, “we will work with the Congress to ensure the necessary funds are available, and we will do it in a responsible way that is consistent with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 by adhering to the principle that any increase in funding must be shared equally between defense and non-defense – a central tenet of that budget agreement.”


A Republican congressional aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reacted with outrage after hearing the administration’s stance.


“The president has ordered additional troops to deploy to Afghanistan, but he is holding their funding hostage to his domestic political agenda,” said the aide. “I would think that when you have an urgent national security need, you would act promptly to take care of that need.”


The president announced last month he was slowing his planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, keeping 8,400 U.S. troops in the country into the next calendar year instead of drawing down to 5,500. But the White House’s budget request for next fiscal year, submitted to Congress in February, was built around the assumption that, on average, the U.S. will have 6,217 troops in Afghanistan.


Obama’s troop decision has become a flashpoint in the larger budget standoff between congressional Democrats and Republicans.


Senior Republicans are calling on the White House to submit an addendum to its war funding request to cover the new troop commitments. GOP hawks argue the administration’s $583 billion proposed budget doesn’t fund war operations at a suitable level given all the global threats.


They want to boost Pentagon spending while leaving other parts of the federal government – including the State Department and other agencies – subject to congressional spending caps. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, insist that increases in the defense budget be accompanied by increases in non-defense spending.


Estimates vary on how much money the military might need to pay for the additional troops in Afghanistan next year.


House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters that “rumblings” inside the Pentagon suggest the department has about $6 billion in higher war costs than it originally planned in its budget request for the coming year due to operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.


Budget expert Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies pegs the cost of extra troops in Afghanistan at $3 billion to $4 billion, at a price tag of $1.2 million per troop.


Former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale, now an adviser at defense company Booz Allen Hamilton, said there are several ways the Pentagon could pay for the extra troops.


First, he said, the Pentagon could amend its budget request for fiscal 2017, asking for more money. Second, it could wait until the budget is finalized and then submit to Congress an emergency supplemental request.


The third option, he said, would be for the military to shift money within its fiscal 2017 budget – without increasing overall defense spending. This could come through a reprogramming request and would take funds from other parts of the military’s budget to pay for the extra troops.


“There’s a lot of questions that I think will have to be settled in negotiations during the lame duck session,” Hale said.


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Navy, Marines Put V-22 To The Test In Carrier Experiment

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE NEWS 03 AUG 16) … Gidget Fuentes


ABOARD AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS CARL VINSON – Ten days into a two-week fleet battle experiment on this aircraft carrier off the California coast, the Navy is getting a good look at how the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor can fit into flight and deck operations of its carrier fleet. So far, the outlook is promising.


The Osprey is slated to replace the C-2A Greyhound as the carrier onboard delivery aircraft, doing the COD logistics mission of hauling cargo, mail and passengers between aircraft carriers and beach detachments ashore.


After that decision in January 2015, the Navy approved an engineering change for a naval variant of the V-22, and this year is working with the Marine Corps as it supports Osprey operations this summer for the fleet battle experiment (FBE).


The Marine Corps is flying four MV-22B aircraft aboard USS Carl Vinson since the experiment began July 22. Three of the Ospreys belong to Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1) from Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Ariz. and the fourth belongs to Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 from Quantico, Va.


This initial “proof of concept” will begin to show how to employ the Osprey, which blends rotary and fixed-wing flight, and see how it affects cycles of launch and recovery operations and overall deck handling on a carrier, officials said. “This is an opportunity to go out and see how this is going to do,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Naval Air Forces commander, speaking with a group of reporters Tuesday before boarding an HMX-1 Osprey for the flight to the Carl Vinson conducting training in the offshore ranges.


So far, it seems, initial tests don’t reveal any glaring problems that time and experience couldn’t smooth out. “I think it’s going very well,” Shoemaker said. Some worries about downwash from the Osprey’s beefy rotors haven’t materialized, perhaps in part from more handling and simple adjustments with pilots moving the nacelles to ease the heat and deflect the exhaust on the flight deck surface. He said the downwash is “comparable” to that of the MH-53 helicopter.


One good thing: Landing and launching an Osprey, which can land and take off vertically like a helicopter, lightens the deck crew load since it requires no wire trap and isn’t catapulted off the deck. Plus, it isn’t limited to just flying during fixed-wing operations. Only five personnel are needed on deck, several Carl Vinson officers told a group of reporters Tuesday, far fewer than the 30 to 50 hands usually on position when the Greyhound is operating on deck.


A concern: Turnaround time to unload or load the Osprey might take longer than the Greyhound, potentially cutting into the deck cycling window between flight operations. That’s because deck crews would offload and load the Osprey while it’s still in the landing and launching spot – spots 6 at the “waist” or 9 by the fantail – rather than outside the landing area where the Greyhound and cargo go when being moved or pre-staged for delivery. Both spots will require different approaches to safely move cargo and passengers.


“It becomes how fast can you offload the Ospreys to get fuel and put the people back on so it can be off the flight deck, and then I’ll deal with the rest,” said Lt. Cmdr. Reynaldo Stanley, the flight deck handler. “The impact is on deck time.” In flight deck control, Stanley briefly described deck operations using a “ouija” board, with silhouette cutouts of each aircraft scaled to the flight deck to help track and position aircraft. He had no cutouts of the Osprey but used those of the now-defunct H-46 Sea Knight tandem-rotor helicopter.


“The C-2 is a big plane … It takes a lot of real estate in the parking area,” Stanley said. “The Osprey takes up a lot of real estate in the landing area.” The V-22 and C-2 have similar-sized footprints (one’s width is roughly the other’s wingspan) when operational so they take up similar space. The V-22 lands but can’t taxi and park with its wings folded like the Greyhound since its engines are shut down when it’s folded up. “When the C-2 lands, the intent is to park,” and then offload, reload and refuel before taxiing for another flight, he said, but most Osprey flights will entail landing and offload followed by any reloading and subsequent takeoff.


Vinson’s flight deck crew got their first familiarization with the Osprey in June when Marines brought several Ospreys for a sea trial of sorts. So far, “I think it’s gone pretty smoothly. But nothing’s happened, that is the key,” Stanley said.


“The most difficult thing we have is the aircraft would be on deck a little bit longer than was expected, which would eat up into the launching of the aircraft,” he said. “The longer it takes to take off, then the longer it takes for us to actually set up for cats (and fixed-wing flight ops) if we’re stuck up here and can’t launch” if the Osprey is on spot 6.


Navy officials cautioned that the experiment is starting to sort out and determine the Osprey’s operations and deck procedures in doing the COD mission. As of Tuesday morning, the carrier had handled 23 flights that moved 598 people and 33,000 pounds of cargo, said Cmdr. Clarke “Cosmo” Cramer, the fleet introduction team leader.


The Center for Naval Analyses is collecting data from flight and deck operations during the experiment, including the timing between flight ops cycles and impacts on moving cargo and passengers.


Cmdr. Lucas Kadar, Vinson’s Air Boss, said the Osprey “brings us flexibility and options. It’s easier from a flight deck point of view to operate with the MV-22 … We don’t have to go into fixed-wing flight ops.” It provides more options, Kadar said, and has the “best of both worlds” since it can conduct flight missions faster than helicopters but also land or launch regardless of the flight deck status and also between launches and recoveries.


A short utility assessment conducted aboard USS Harry S. Truman in 2013 gave the service an initial look at whether the Osprey might fulfill the COD mission when the C-2A is retired. “Our C-2 community is like the masters of global logistics,” Shoemaker said, with detachments supporting ships and ashore units.


“What we’re trying to do is help inform the future,” Shoemaker added. That includes determining “how will we employ this airplane, maybe differently or similar to the C-2.” The Navy hasn’t yet tested flying the Osprey to smaller ships like destroyers or cruisers, although the V-22 could hover over ships’ flight decks. “We are just kind of scratching the surface in how we’ll use this platform,” he said.


Another difference is that unlike the C-2A, the Navy would use the Osprey to carry cargo at night. The V-22B carries a bit less internal cargo than the Greyhound, but it can lift more and haul cargo by sling load. The Osprey has three fewer seats available, 23 compared to 26 in the Greyhound. The C-2A can fly higher, above bad weather, with its pressurized cockpit that the Osprey lacks.


“I think it’s still a very good fit for the mission,” Shoemaker said of the Osprey.


The Navy is looking at how to make cargo handling more efficient, officials said, with specialized metal bins, the Joint Modular Intermodal Container (JMIC), that can be rolled onto the Osprey and also corrugated cardboard boxes and palletized cargo that can shorten the turnaround time. The C-2A has a cage that contains loose items, but containers on the V-22 will allow pre-staging of cargo rather than sailors packing it in “hand over hand, stacking it in where they can,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Miller, Vinson’s principal assistant for logistics.


The testing, done closely with VMX-1, is led by a fleet introduction team from Point Mugu, Calif.-based Airborne Command, Control and Logistics Wing, which manages the C-2 and E-2 fleet. Between October and February, the first group of 77 C-2 pilots, aircrewmen and maintainers will get training with the V-22B and will “start flying the airplane,” said Capt. Val Overstreet, the wing commodore and veteran E-2 pilot. “We are really excited about that.” They will provide the first training cadre and become instructors for follow-on crews at New River Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. They will be followed by helicopter pilots who plan to transition to the V-22, she said.


Shoemaker said the Navy expects to reach initial operational capability (IOC) in fiscal 2021, with the first detachment deployed during 2022. “We’ll do it very similar to how we are set up now with the C-2 community,” he said, with east and west coast-based squadrons providing V-22 dets to carriers. He said he thinks the Navy might, at some point, stand up its own V-22 training squadron.


The Navy’s version of the Marine Corps’ newest rotary-wing aircraft would be designated CMV-22. It would mirror the aircraft that the Marines fly but will include extended range fuel tanks, high frequency radio and a public-address system. Unlike the COD it’s replacing, the Navy’s Osprey variant potentially could operate off other gray hulls.


Navy, Marines put V-22 to the Test in Carrier Experiment

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips for the week of July 25


Baselines help keep naval aviation on the flight line

FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton inducts first AH-1Z for IMP

Photo Release – FRCSE hosts Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L



SECNAV announces implementation of Full And Inclusive Review program

Ten principles of ethical conduct

Advisory Panel: Incoming administration to face fiscal tsunami

HASC Chair says DoD needs supplemental

Insider threats a looming issue for government contractors

The President’s new helicopter fleet close to first flight

Report: Peninsula bases in crosshairs of climate change

Canada may become the first country to ditch the F-35 fighter jet

First Operational F-35A Squadron Finishes IOC To-Do List

US Navy’s sixth-generation F/A-XX fighter: Just a ‘super’ Super Hornet?

Navy Announces Greater Flexibility for FY-17 GMT

The Military Has A Flight-Readiness Problem That’s Not Going Away

What Happens When Pilots Aren’t Allowed To Fly





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Baselines help keep naval aviation on the flight line


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – NALCOMIS OOMA may sound like the name of a character in a science fantasy novel, but it really is a powerful aviation maintenance tool that helps keep naval aviation flying affordably and reliably.


NALCOMIS, which is short for Naval Aviation Logistics Command Management Information Systems, is an automated information system that provides aviation maintenance and material management with timely, accurate and complete information that is used in the daily decision-making process and furnishes a means to satisfy the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program (NAMP) requirements.


Combined with the Optimized Organizational Maintenance Activity (OOMA), which provides data input though local data collection and validation for efficient and economical maintenance management, NALCOMIS describes an allowable configuration, called a baseline, so the fleet can create the actual airframe, engine, component or other item configurations, manage them electronically and report the data up line to a maintenance reporting system called DECKPLATE, or Decision Knowledge Programming for Logistics Analysis and Technical Evaluation.


Commander, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is the baseline manager for the effort and is responsible for creating, loading and maintaining the aircraft or weapons systems baseline data that belongs to the respective program manager, and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is responsible for the validation and functional testing of all Program Management Air (PMA) NALCOMIS OOMA baselines throughout the build and sustainment phases.


“Baseline managers previously reported to the programs so in an effort to streamline the process and produce cost savings we created a NALCOMIS Baseline Center of Excellence. The BCE was implemented in 2014 as budgets started getting tight,” said Brian Olson, national lead and process owner for NALCOMIS baseline development. “We have been able to consolidate functions, save costs by reducing manpower, establish policy and provide more consistent data for the fleet.


“We’re a gatekeeper to keep undocumented changes for making it to the fleet,” he said. “We make sure the aircraft configurations are maintained in the most current state so the platforms are ‘Safe for Flight’.”


The NALCOMIS OOMA database consists of three major segments. These include the Equipment Configuration Baseline, which is a hierarchical top-down breakdown of the actual configuration of the equipment; Usage Baseline, which includes of metrics called “data sources” that are used to track life expenditure of components, weapons systems and aircraft; and Maintenance Baseline, which contains all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance tasks.


There are currently about 60 aircraft platforms and mission mounted systems, with nearly 3,000 end-items that are baselined in NALCOMIS. Baseline data comes from a variety of sources, to include the original equipment manufacturer, the programs, Type Equipment Codes (TECs), Work Unit Codes (WUCs), part numbers, task definitions, technical bulletins, maintenance manuals and more.


This provides the maintainer a guide to what they should see as they begin to work on a piece of equipment, to include descriptions, part numbers, part locations and more. The data is validated by Baseline Center Quality Assurance before being released to the fleet.


“Our managers keep the baseline current for each type/model/series of aircraft,” said Tim Harte, NALCOMIS Baseline Center quality assurance (QA) team lead. “We work to update new technical data and not slow down the process of getting that data to the Fleet.”


Baseline managers and QAs work with a variety of stakeholders, to include NAVAIR competencies, PMA staff, In-Service Support teams (ISSCs), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) and others to ensure the baselines are maintained with approved and validated platform data and conform to current policy.


One method for validating the data is by creating and exercising virtual simulations, Harte said.


“We validate changes by setting up a virtual squadron,” he said. “We run the squadron through myriad scenarios. We fly it virtually to break it so we can fix it.”


NALCOMIS also stores authority documents to validate changes and helps track whether changes are current.


Maintenance procedures, such as Commander, Naval Air Forces Instruction (COMNAVAIRFORINST) 4790.2 Series, Maintenance Instruction Manuals and Maintenance Instructions are separate documents and not covered in NALCOMIS OOMA, but must still be used by the maintainer.


The fleet also has input into the process. Baseline data modifications/updates can be requested and discrepancies can be reported, increasing the accuracy of NALCOMIS. That is done by way of the Joint Discrepancy Reporting Systems (JDRS) that provides a single entry point for Baseline Trouble Reports (BTRs) and Baseline Change Reports (BCRs). BTRs are fleet-driven and are used to report Baseline data discrepancies for evaluation and correction, while BCRs are generated and are submitted by baseline managers and report changes made to the database through sustainment.


Changes are then posted to the NAVAIR Air Technical Data and Engineering Service Center (NATEC) website.


“Maintenance managers get updates every day via NATEC,” Harte said. “That helps keep them informed of any changes/updates with aircraft they may manage and provides standardization of the data being entered into OOMA and reporting up line to DECKPLATE.”


The NALCOMIS team is working to include Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the NALCOMIS OOMA.


“Regarding UAS, we’re learning as we’re going,” Olson said. “Baselines are identified by different groups such as group 4 & 5, which will cover the larger aircraft, and group 2 & 3, which are some of the smaller systems made up of the aircraft, launchers, recovery equipment, and more.”


The Baseline Center is helping to keep maintainers up-to-date on changes and trends and improving confidence in the data.


“When I was a maintainer in the Navy years ago, documentation was not as efficient as it is today,” Olson said. “Now that we have NALCOMIS, up-line reporting is real time and much more accurate.”


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FRCSW Site Camp Pendleton Inducts First AH-1Z for IMP



A new era in Marine Corps helicopter maintenance began March 16 at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Site Camp Pendleton with the induction of the first AH-1Z Cobra to undergo the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP).


Manufactured by Bell Helicopter, the Zulu Cobra is a four-blade, twin engine attack helicopter. Full production of the model began in 2010, the same year it was deemed combat-ready.


The IMP is designed to keep the aircraft mission-ready by targeting the integrity of the airframe via two assessment events – Planned Maintenance Interval-one (PMI-1) and PMI-2.


Site Camp Pendleton manager Jeff Reiman said that PMI-1 is conducted every 50 calendar days, at which time the aircraft are disassembled, evaluated and repaired within the scope of specifications.


Prior to PMI-1 squadrons remove the aircraft’s blades, and the site’s artisans remove the aircraft’s intermediate and tail gear boxes, panels, engine and the transmission to evaluate those areas.


“We’ll also remove the stub wings and look at the connecting points to those, the bushings and the stub wing lugs. But because this is our first time evaluating a Zulu model, we’ll look for certain hot spots for excessive corrosion or areas that may require closer attention,” Reiman said.


He noted that the Zulu IMP is comparable to the UH-1Y Super Huey and W IMP, and that the artisans will also evaluate the aircraft’s entire tail boom while targeting specific parts identified by the IMP specification.


“The Zulu and Super Huey are similar in tail boom, engines, gear boxes and technologies. But the primary difference would be the stub wing assemblies on the Zulu. And there are no cargo doors on this aircraft because it’s a two-seater. The Z is really a beefer model than the W,” he said.


Damages or areas of concern outside of the IMP scope of specifications are reported to the squadron, and are typically repaired as an in-service repair (ISR).


Reiman said that the site had completed about 12 ISRs which were mostly panel repairs, and had repainted one aircraft.


“The paint ISR gave us a head start on our stencils and what we actually need to do for a complete painting event for the Z. That will be helpful in our PMI-2 on these,” he noted.


The PMI-2 cycle is held every 76 calendar days and entails similar evaluations to the PMI-1, but the aircraft are also stripped via particle media blast (PMB) and painted.


The 29 artisans of Site Camp Pendleton moved into a new hangar three years ago, and have a paint and PMB facility which enables a faster turn-around time of assets to the squadrons. Prior to that, from 2009 to 2013, painting was performed in a temporary facility.


Reiman said that the first Zulu Cobra scheduled for PMI-2 will be inducted on August 9, and that a total of six IMP events are projected for this fiscal year.


FRCSW Site Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, will also perform the IMP on the AH- 1Z Cobra.


In addition to the Zulu Cobra, Site Camp Pendleton also services the remaining AH-1W helicopters of Marine Air Group (MAG) 39, which are slated for upgrade by the Zulu.


From the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Almanac, Vol. 9, Issue 1.


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FRCSE hosts Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L



Photo Release —


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SECNAV announces implementation of Full And Inclusive Review program

(NAVY NEWS SERVICE 21 JUL 16) … Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs


WASHINGTON – As part of ongoing efforts to enhance the professional growth of leaders in the Navy, Marine Corps and Department of the Navy (DON) civilian workforce, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recently directed the development of policies and procedures for the implementation of a Full and Inclusive Review (FAIR) program.


Core to the FAIR program is the use of a multi-rater assessment, more commonly referred to as a 360-degree review, for all military and civilian supervisory personnel. Government agencies and the private sector routinely use these types of assessments as a developmental tool to provide personnel with relevant feedback designed to help them evaluate and use their strengths while also dedicating attention and resources to skills they may need to improve.


“Effective implementation of FAIR, and the feedback provided by these reviews, will hone the skills of our future leaders and foster continued growth and excellence in the execution of our mission,” said Mabus. “This program is a further example of our existing efforts to modernize our personnel processes and strengthen our Navy, Marine Corps and civilian leaders.”


FAIR implementation plans and policies for DON civilian supervisory personnel are overseen by the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) (ASN(M&RA), while the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) will oversee the implementation of FAIR in their respective services.


The program is designed for use across the DON by personnel in positions of increasing scope of leadership and responsibility such as civilian supervisors, senior enlisted leaders or officers assigned as department heads or higher.


The feedback provided via FAIR will address core leadership and innovation competencies and be discussed during a developmental discussion with a supervisor during which the reviewed leader’s plan for continued growth will be addressed.


The DON has already launched a dedicated portal site to provide information to and register civilian senior executives for 360 assessments.


Further development of policy and training for those who will be using the program is underway and continues through the end of 2016.


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Ten Principles Of Ethical Conduct



I recently read Dale R. Wilson’s well-written piece “Character is Crumbling in Our Leadership.” I was left, however, wondering about a definition of ethical behavior.


Lockheed Martin lists “Do The Right Thing” as the first of its three core values. This is a noble sentiment, but how does one determine “The Right Thing?” To be fair to Lockheed Martin, their ethics webpage, on which their value statement is clearly articulated, provides links to several different company publications with more detailed rules for the conduct of company business and training with examples of good and bad ethical behavior.


The federal government, including the Department of Defense (DoD), provides much of the same. For example, the Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) is attempting to make its sailors and civilian employees more ethically aware with its “Anchor Yourself In Ethics” campaign. This campaign focuses on awareness of the federal government’s “14 Principles Of Ethical Conduct.” In both cases, leaders seem to equate ethical behavior with compliance with an established set of rules. While related to the concepts of rule sets and professional conduct, ethical principles are something separate. It would certainly be unprofessional for an Assistant Secretary of the Navy to show up to work at the Pentagon in flip flops or for his Military Assistant to have his warfare pin on upside down, but neither would be unethical. I know of a Major Program Manager who knowingly violated the contracting rule on unauthorized commitments. Because he broke this rule, needed repair work was accomplished on a Navy ship in a timely manner allowing the ship to begin it basic training phase on time. The commitment was later ratified by an authorized contracting official. The program manager did not benefit financially, immediately informed his chain of command, and in the end the government did not suffer financially. His action broke rules, including one of the 14 Principles above; however, I would find very few who would describe his conduct as “unethical.”


If ethics is not merely following the rules, what is it? A good working definition might be that ethics are the processes and principles used to determine if an action is right or wrong. Even the words “right” and “wrong” are problematic. Using them in this context assumes the existence of some universal standard against which an action may be judged. Theologians and philosophers debate the origins and existence of such a standard.


Practitioners take a different stance. As the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart described pornography in “Jacobellis vs. Ohio,” they “know it when they see it.” Apart from following established rule sets, ethical action involves honesty, transparency, compassion, dignity, and courage. As the Chief of Naval Operations put it in his recent letter to Flag Officers, “Words about values, no matter how eloquent, can only go so far. My experience is that, like so many parts of our language, these words have become overused, distorted, and diluted. Our behavior, as an organization and as individuals, must signal our commitment to the values we so often proclaim.” The question that I believe the CNO raises is how to take noble ideals and from them craft a usable set of principles people can use to evaluate their actions.


Roughly 2,300 years ago, Aristotle wrote ten enormous volumes of The Nicomachean Ethics. While it remains an important work on ethics to this day, it does have a certain lack of brevity. 1,400 years later, Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher who was heavily influenced by Aristotle’s writings, did have the gift of brevity. He synthesized the theological implications of the Hebrew Bible and all the attendant writings of several hundred years of revered Rabbis into 13 principles of faith. While his principles were praised by many and criticized by some, their very publication sparked a healthy and needed debate within the Jewish thinking of the day. In the spirit of both Aristotle and Maimonides, I offer the following 10 principles of ethical conduct. They are not rules but principles, ways of measuring the rightness and wrongness of a given act. They are designed to apply to all whose profession involves the common defense, not solely to military personnel. I offer these 10 principles to the Pentagon bureaucrat, the defense industry executive, the Congressional staffer, and the journalist whose beat covers national security as well as to the Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine. My hope is that a spirited public debate of these principles will lead to a healthier understanding of what constitutes ethical conduct.


  1. Actions must align with the legitimate interests of the stakeholders.


Everyone in the world of defense acts in the interest of someone else, often multiple people and/or groups, and only rarely is it a direct supervisor. A journalist has a responsibility to the owners of their media outlet to produce publishable content and an additional, sometimes competing interest, to their readers to provide content that is factual and relevant. A DoD Program Manager has a duty to produce items of military usefulness to the warfighter and also has a responsibility to the American taxpayer. A stakeholder is the entity in whose interest a person is bound by their position to act. (In the law, this would be called a fiduciary/principal relationship.) When judging the ethics of an action, ask first, “are these actions furthering the interest of one or more legitimate stakeholders?”


  1. Conflicting interests of various stakeholders must be balanced transparently.


An infantry officer calling for artillery fire must balance the need to protect the soldiers under their command (those soldiers are one legitimate stakeholder) with the need to prevent potential civilian casualties (those civilians are the unwitting other legitimate stakeholder). A Service Chief will have to balance the need to invest in the equipment of tomorrow’s force with the need to fund the operations and maintenance of force he leads today. Many situations will have rule sets for the balancing of these interests, from Rules of Engagement in the field to the Federal Acquisition Regulation in a contract award. Beyond merely following the appropriate rule set, the decision-maker must be open and clear with themselves, their chain of command, and possibly others outside their organization about who the stakeholders are and how he or she is balancing their interests.


  1. The financial benefits of an office can only come from legitimate sources, and must be openly communicated to all stakeholders.


This principle covers the innocent gift, the outright bribe, and everything in between. In most cases, there are easily understood rule sets to govern this behavior. However, even in a complicated case, the main principle is to take no money or other item of value in a manner not clearly known to all the relevant stakeholders. As an example, many journalists will earn additional income working as a ghostwriter. If a journalist covering the DoD and the defense industry ghostwrites a book or an article for a DoD or defense industry leader, that journalist’s readers have a right to know about how that may affect his or her reporting.


  1. Gain, in any form, personal, institutional, financial, or positional, only legitimately comes through excellence.


It is fine for colonels to want to become generals. There is no ethical violation in a business wanting to maximize its profit. Investors are one of the key stakeholder interests an industry leader must serve. However, gain must never be achieved by trick, fraud, or exploitation of personal relationships. Gain is achieved ethically when a competitor outperforms the competition. For example, many large acquisition programs fund government activities outside their program that advance the state of technology with the intent of eventual incorporation into that program. An O-6 major program manager might be tempted to fund projects favored by an influential flag/general officer even if the potential for program benefit is relatively low compared to other possible investments in an attempt to win a friend on possible future promotion boards. This action would violate no rules. It would be unethical because the major program manager is using the program’s resources for personal gain instead of acting in the interests of the program’s legitimate stakeholders.


  1. Established rule sets must be followed unless they are either patently unjust or are interfering with achieving a critical stakeholder need that cannot be fulfilled by acting within the rule set. When violated, they are always violated openly and transparently.


This is the encapsulation of the “Rosa Parks” rule; the defense professional’s guideline for civil disobedience. Rules exist for a reason. An ethical person follows established rule sets unless extraordinary circumstances compel deviation. When those circumstances exist, the ethical person does not break rules in secret, for that would defeat the purpose of exposing the unjust or mission obstructing rule. If a person is breaking rules without telling anyone about it, that person may be presumed unethical.


  1. When people have been placed under a leader’s authority, that authority may not be used for personal gain.


This covers the proper interaction of a leader with their team. The leader’s team exists for the accomplishment of stakeholders’ interests, not the leader’s personal interests. For example, commanders of large activities have public affairs staff. That staff is there to promote the public’s knowledge of the organization, not the Commander personally.


  1. Respect is due to the innate human dignity of every person.


This principle forms the basis of all personal interactions. People may be tasked, trained, hired, fired, disciplined, and rewarded only in ways that preserve their inherent dignity. Because all human beings possess this dignity, its preservation crosses all racial, ethnic, gender, and religious lines. It does not preclude intense training, preparation for stressful situations, or the correction of substandard performance. It does, however, require that no person be intentionally humiliated, denigrated, or exploited.


  1. The truth must be provided to any stakeholder with a legitimate claim.


It would be too simple, and even inaccurate, to proclaim a principle like “never lie.” Both war and successful business often require the art of deception. As an example, it has always been a legitimate form of deception to disguise the topside of a warship to make it appear to be some other type of vessel. In a business negotiation, there are legitimate reasons for keeping some items of information private. However, stakeholders that have a legitimate claim on the truth must be given the full, unabridged access to the best information and analysis when requested. Other stakeholders, with a lesser claim, may not be lied to but do not always have to be answered in full. As an example, a DoD program manager cannot tell a Congressional Defense Committee staffer that “testing is going great” when asked about testing on a program that is suffering serious delays. That program manager may tell a reporter, “I don’t want to talk about that” or, “I have confidence in the contractor” when asked the same question.


  1. Do not assume bad intent without evidence.


The unethical person judges others by their actions and himself by his intent. The ethical person judges himself by his actions and other by their intent. Ethical people will understand that there will be honest differences of opinion among even seasoned practitioners. Just because someone comes to a different judgment does not mean that person is less competent or under a bad influence. For example, an investigator with an inspector general organization is assessing whether or not a trip was legitimately official, to be properly paid for with government funds, or a personal trip on which business was done only incidentally, such that government funding would be unauthorized. The given facts could logically support either conclusion. The investigator may have a personal interest in a finding of wrongdoing because it would be a demonstration of the investigator’s own thoroughness. Nonetheless, an ethical investigator will decline to find wrongdoing when the facts support either conclusion.


  1. An ethical person does not stand idle in the face of wrongdoing.


Great thinkers, from Aristotle, to Sir Winston Churchill, to Maya Angelou, recognized courage as the primary human virtue, because it is a necessary precursor to all other virtuous acts. Theoretically, a person may be able to behave ethically without courage in an environment free from temptation. However, such environments don’t exist in the world of the defense professional. To be ethical, to follow the first nine principles, one must have the courage to do so even when such action might be unpopular or dangerous.


At the end of The (seemingly endless) Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle observes that both virtue and laws are needed to have a good society. Similarly, ethical principles are not a replacement for solid, well understood, and faithfully executed rule sets. A wise ethics attorney once counseled me, “there is no right way to do the wrong thing, but there are lots of wrong ways to do the right thing.” These ethical principles are, for our actions, like a well-laid foundation to a house. They are the necessary precursor to a sound structure of ethical conduct.

Captain Mark Vandroff is the Program Manager for DDG-51 Class Shipbuilding.


Ten Principles of Ethical Conduct


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Advisory Panel: Incoming Administration To Face Fiscal Tsunami

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 24 JUL 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Before every change of administration, government agencies harbor grand expectations for new leadership and a fresh vision of the future, although transformational ideas on how to manage a headstrong bureaucracy may not be necessarily welcome.


The transition at the Defense Department is always a major focus due to the nature of its mission and demanding responsibilities. Months before the November presidential election, Pentagon advisory teams have been mobilized to help prepare the next administration for the management challenges that lie ahead.


A key warning for incoming leaders is that the best laid plans at the Pentagon can fall apart in the wake of unexpected global events. A new twist in this year’s transition preparations is the chaotic political climate in the United States and the likely disruption caused by fiscal cliffs and government shutdowns.


“This is an unprecedented environment,” said Defense Business Board Chairman Michael Bayer.


The Defense Business Board is one of several advisory teams that will be involved in transition planning. The Defense Science Board and the Defense Policy Board also will be offering nonpartisan advice to the incoming administration.


Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work directed the business board in a June 2 memo to “develop, from a private sector perspective, a series of topic papers germane to the department’s current and incoming senior executives and leaders, focusing on effectively managing a large-scale enterprise through transition.”


The panel met July 21 and approved a motion to get started on this effort. During the 90-minute portion of the meeting that was open to the public, panel members said they expect the handoff to the next administration to go smoothly, but worry about the fiscal picture it will face.


A gap between the Pentagon’s projected funding needs and what Congress would allow under the Budget Control Act will continue to dog the Defense Department’s leadership, board members said. Budget drives policy in Washington, they noted, and the unstable funding pattern from the past five years could continue into the next administration.


The new leadership comes in already facing a huge budget hole, said Defense Business Board member Arnold Punaro, retired Marine Corps major general and CEO of The Punaro Group.


The budget plan President Obama submitted this year for 2017-2021 is $250 billion above the spending caps set by Congress. The next secretary must either hope for relief from Congress or prepare to find ways to restrain spending, said Punaro. Defense leaders will be in a bind as Congress sets spending limits but also restricts the Pentagon from making politically unpopular cost-cutting moves like closing bases or curtailing retiree and health benefits.


All four defense secretaries under Obama sought to contain cost growth in the military and civilian personnel accounts, but ran into a buzzsaw. Punaro said the transition team will need to understand the impact of rising personnel costs – including troops, civilians and contractors. “The fully burdened cost of supporting the all-volunteer force and retirees is over 50 percent of the budget, he said. “You have to come to grips with these costs.”


Making the Pentagon leaner and nimbler has been a perennial goal of every administration. The Defense Business Board expects efforts to continue but acknowledged that private-sector practices don’t go over well in a culture that is risk averse and resistant to change. Among the recommendations the board plans to offer to incoming leaders: Delayer and flatten organizational structures, empower subordinates and create less complex organization so decisions can be made faster.


The panel also will encourage the transition team to press on with the innovation initiatives started by current Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Deputy Secretary Work. Projects like the “third offset” strategy to modernize the military and opening technology incubators outside the Washington beltway should continue in the new administration, board members agreed.


Punaro said he is optimistic the future administration will push for change out of necessity in the tight budget environment. Business reforms are tough sells, especially when the nation is in the middle of fighting wars, he told National Defense, insisting he was not speaking on behalf of the Defense Business Board.


“You have to adjust to what’s going on in the world, much of which you have no control over,” said Punaro. The problem with changing how the Pentagon does business is that it can take decades to see results. Even a two-term presidential administration might not see the impact of its policies until it’s out of office. “It takes five to 15 years sometimes to make the changes that need to happen,” said Punaro. “The problem is they never seem to get started.”


The budget pressures will only get worse, said Punaro. “We need an additional $250 million just to get to the Obama FYDP [five year defense plan] before we add one soldier to the Army or one sailor to the Navy.”


Meanwhile, there is no sign from the Congress that deeply divided factions are willing to compromise to increase federal spending. Next year, the dynamics are not expected to change, he said. “You’ll still have a conservative caucus in the House, and they won’t even agree to the $30 billion [increase to discretionary spending] we agreed to last year.”


Spending on defense over time has gone up but the size of the U.S. military force is shrinking, he added. This will continue to squeeze programs to modernize the military and increase combat readiness. There has to be a serious effort to make the Pentagon more efficient by closing unneeded infrastructure and reexaming personnel priorities, said Punaro. “We have to tame the huge cost growth, and you can’t get these changes in one or two years.”


Everyone knows that government doesn’t like to change, said Punaro. “And DoD is very resistant to these kinds of reforms. You have to have leadership at the top that’s going to drive it. And you need a Congress that cooperates.” Congress in recent years has been “extremely uncooperative and unhelpful to the Department of Defense,” he stressed. “In fact they have thrown significant new impediments. They won’t allow base closures, or study how to make commissaries more efficient, they set depot maintenance rules to keep jobs in their districts. Congress is a big part of this problem as well.”


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HASC Chair Says DoD Needs Supplemental

(DEFENSE DAILY 25 JUL 16) … Marc Selinger


The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) urged the Obama administration July 25 to send a supplemental funding request to Congress to pay for new military operations not covered in the president’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal.


Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters that he has heard “rumblings” in the Pentagon that officials estimate they will need an extra $6 billion or so to carry out military activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere that the administration did not anticipate when it released its FY ’17 budget request earlier this year.


Officials at the Department of Defense are “trying to get their arms around” how much money they need, Thornberry said. “Clearly, we need a supplemental.”


Thornberry said the amount is too big to take out of the regular budget because defense funding is “already stressed.” He also would oppose making a supplemental contingent on a corresponding increase in non-defense spending, as some policymakers have proposed in the past.


Thornberry’s committee, meanwhile, is reviewing the FY ’16 omnibus reprogramming request that DoD recently sent to Capitol Hill. And with Congress on recess until September, staffers are trying to narrow the differences between the House and Senate versions of the FY ’17 defense authorization bill.


Thornberry, who visited Afghanistan and Iraq last week, said Afghan combat forces seem much-improved from the previous fighting season but that the Taliban and many others remain potent threats. He also expressed concern about the ability of Iraqi forces to hold ground it takes from ISIS.


He said his travels underscored the “tremendous amount of effort and dollars” required to maintain aging aircraft. And he criticized “artificial” caps on U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, saying they have forced the military to leave equipment maintainers at home and hire more expensive contractors to perform their duties.


Thornberry was joined on his trip by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who served four tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantry officer.


HASC Chair Says DoD Needs Supplemental


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Insider Threats A Looming Issue For Government Contractors

(NATIONAL DEFENSE 25 JUL 16) … Kristen Torres


Government contractors must devote more resources and attention toward insider threat programs within their companies, a Deloitte executive said.


“Developing strategies so that employees know what kind of activities are acceptable and which ones are not is critical to the protection of data,” said Mike Gelles, director of law enforcement, intelligence and security at Deloitte and author of “Insider Threat.”


“Developing a policy isn’t enough – there has to be consistent monitoring to make sure employees are keeping critical data secured,” he told National Defense.


The book, published by Butterworth-Heinemann in May, defines an insider threat as encompassing everything from espionage and embezzlement to intellectual property theft from current or former employees.


Information leaks like Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency scandal can possibly be mitigated through cybersecurity initiatives, Gelles said.


“Cybersecurity looks at protecting the perimeter – it focuses on a company’s ability to lose potential assets from an external attack,” he added. “By creating an insider threat policy in conjunction with cybersecurity, you can monitor what is going on inside your workforce … and determine who can be attacking from within.”


On May 18, the Defense Department released a letter indicating a change to the National Industrial Security Operating Manual (NISPOM). It requires government contractors to establish and maintain a “program to detect, deter and mitigate insider threats.” The deadline for implementing these changes is Nov. 30.


Gelles isn’t completely satisfied with the mandate, citing a lack of comprehensive solutions for protecting government data.


“I don’t know if it’s the end-all solution,” he said. “It comes up short because it [NISPOM] doesn’t require monitoring. There’s nothing to suggest they should be implementing analytics to keep track of employee activities.”


Having a policy alone isn’t enough, Gelles said. Oftentimes rules are not easily assimilated into the everyday work place, and the lack of enforcement means that information moves more readily.


“The workforce needs to remain aware,” he said. “It’s not enough for company leadership to say, ‘You cannot use this information in this way.’ There has to be a dialogue.”


Better communication across the board means that employees are much more readily able and comfortable with moving information, both within the company and from the company to an outsider. However, having this access opens the door for potential exploitation of information, Gelles said.


What he classifies as a “complacent insider” in his book – an unwitting, non-malevolent employee who sees himself/herself as above the rules and the job they’re performing – is the most threatening for an organization.


“Complacent workers are the key vulnerability between the perimeter and the inside,” Gelles said. “Because they do their job by whatever means necessary, they violate rules and controls, exposing an organization to tremendous risk.”


Activities carried out by complacent workers include clicking on phishing emails or allowing an outsider access to systems, buildings or people.


As millennials begin to come into the workforce, companies will also have to come to terms with dealing with an increasingly comfortable digital generation.


“Millennials can manipulate information and virtual systems at a far more superior rate than baby boomers can,” Gelles said.


Younger generations tend to be far more fluid in the dissemination of the information and programs they create, he added. For example, employees can take projects and information systems they created in their past roles with them when they move on to another job. That creates a hole in a company’s security, Gelles said.


“Business in a virtual space makes it easy to move information to … Dropbox or [an] email in such a way that their activities aren’t being observed like they were in the days of having to carry around physical documents,” he said.


Gelles believes the process behind a company’s insider threat policy is what matters most. “Contractors need to have programs to take on the responsibility of their workforce,” he said. “There will be a continued contractor threat if their companies don’t develop programs to safeguard their data.”


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The President’s New Helicopter Fleet Close to First Flight

The Sikorksy S-92 helicopter will be the basis for the new Marine One

(POPULAR MECHANICS, 27 July 16) . Kyle Mizokami


The next generation of helicopters to transport the President of the United States passed a critical design review, with the next step the manufacture of six production helicopters. The choppers, known as VH-92s, will likely be the most expensive helicopters ever made.


In the early 2000s, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps attempted to build a replacement for Marine One, the President’s official transport helicopters. The current Marine One fleet is based on the Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King helicopter and was built around 1975, making them only 14 years older than President Obama himself. The U.S. Military retired the last of its Sea Kings in the 1990s.


The engineering requirements for Marine One make it one complicated helicopter. It has to have a full suite of defensive countermeasures to throw off the targeting and guidance systems of missiles. It has to be “hardened” against the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion. It needs sophisticated onboard communications, including the ability to hold secure video conferences with military and government leaders worldwide-including the commanders of America’s nuclear arsenal. Finally, it needs a toilet.


A new Marine One, designated the VH-71 Kestrel, was to be developed by Lockheed Martin, based on the Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter. The VH-71 suffered from engineering bloat, as requirements kept being added to the helicopter, drastically increasing weight and cost. The program to build 23 helicopters eventually ballooned to between $10 and $17 billion dollars. It was cancelled in June 2009 after three billion was spent. Even President Obama sounded skeptical of the need for a new helicopter, noting that the ones he was flying seemed “just fine”.


In May 2014, a new contract was signed with longtime helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky for the a Marine One based on the Sikorsky S-92 medium helicopter. The S-92 can carry up to nineteen passengers, cruise at 174 miles an hour, and can fly for up to 539 nautical miles unrefueled. It was never bought by the U.S. Military, although it serves with the armed forces of several other countries, including Canada and South Korea.


The contract is for six helicopters at a cost of $1.42 billion dollars, with the first helicopter due in 2017. Seventeen more helicopters will follow, and assuming the rest of the fleet costs roughly the same, the total program will still cost almost $6 billion dollars-$9 billion if you factor in the VH-71 debacle, which you should.


If all goes according to plan-and hey, why would anyone suspect otherwise-the VH-92s should enter service in 2020. That’ll be too late for President Obama, but will make a pretty nice ride for the next President-or the President after that.


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Report: Peninsula bases in crosshairs of climate change

(DAILY PRESS, 27 July 16) . Tamara Dietrich


When Hurricane Isabel pummeled Hampton Roads with 5- to 8-foot waves in 2003, low-lying Langley Air Force Base in Hampton was largely underwater, sustaining more than $160 million in damage.


Now, a new Union of Concerned Scientists report warns that Isabel was just a grim taste of things to come. That flooding and storm surge at Langley and other coastal military installations will only get worse – maybe a lot worse.


In fact, under the worst-case scenario of 6.9 feet of sea level rise for this region by the end of this century, the base stands to lose nearly 90 percent of its land to daily flooding as it essentially becomes part of the tidal zone.


Meanwhile, some 20 miles away along the James River, roughly 60 percent of Joint Base Langley-Eustis could be lost to high tides – with even more lost to the extreme spring and king tides.


Coastal military installations in Hampton Roads have known for years they’re in the crosshairs of climate change. The region is a national hot spot for sea level rise, second behind New Orleans, as the Atlantic warms and expands, the land continues to sink and ocean currents shift.


Such changes will continue to drive the high tide line inland, while hurricanes and nor’easters push storm surge ever deeper into low-lying areas.


The report projects flooding exposure for the years 2050, 2070 and 2100 based on two global sea level rise scenarios – intermediate and highest – from the National Climate Assessment.


The intermediate rise is 3.7 feet above 2012 global levels by the end of the century, while the highest is 6.3 feet above.


In hot spot Hampton Roads, though, the intermediate projection is 4.5 feet by 2100, and the highest is nearly 7 feet.


UCS scientists say the highest scenario becomes ever more plausible as recent studies indicate land-based ice sheets are melting at an ever faster rate.


Among the report’s findings for land loss at Langley and Fort Eustis:


.Today, Fort Eustis experiences routine tidal flooding about nine times a year, mostly in wetlands. Under an intermediate scenario, flooding will expand by 2050 to affect roadways and other areas on the base;


.Under the highest scenario, by 2050, tidal flooding at Eustis will occur about 540 times a year in current flood-prone areas. By 2070, wetland areas could be inundated most of the year;


.Under the highest scenario, about 60 percent of Fort Eustis and nearly 90 percent of Langley would become part of the tidal zone, flooding daily, by the end of the century.


And among its findings for storm surge:


.By 2050 under an intermediate scenario, the area at Langley exposed to flooding from a Category 1 hurricane increases by more than 30 percent to about 85 percent. It increases to about 65 percent at Fort Eustis;


.Today, the two bases experience flooding mostly at 5 feet or less during a Category 1. By 2100, under the intermediate scenario, the same storm will expose more than 30 percent of Langley and 40 percent of Fort Eustis to flooding 5- to 10-feet deep.


Astrid Caldis at the UCS said she did a deep tour of Langley last month and found the base is being proactive in preparing for sea level rise and recurrent flooding. Together with neighboring NASA Langley Research Center, the base developed a tool to predict which buildings will flood during an upcoming event, the better to prepare and protect vulnerable areas.


After Isabel, the base raised electrical transformers and HVAC units and removed mechanical rooms from the basements of most of its facilities, the report states. It also installed integrated flood barriers at the entrances of vulnerable facilities. The barriers are a series of steel beams that act as door dams to keep flood waters out.


At Fort Eustis, spokeswoman Angela D. Watson said they take a three-pronged approach to resilience against a rising sea: prevention and mitigation, preparation, and recovery.


This approach includes stabilizing shoreline and modifying infrastructure at both Eustis and Langley, partnering with local emergency management officers and first responders, and using flood prediction tools.


It also means keeping 50,000 sandbags on hand at all times, she said, while Langley also has a groundwater pumping station that can move 7.4 million gallons of water an hour from the airfield back to the bay.


“Our consistent resilience against short-notice flooding will also help us counter the longer-term threat of sea level rise,” Watson said. “It is important for our installation to protect our environment today to sustain our operations in the future.”


The U.S. Navy has been especially proactive in pushing resilience to climate change, particularly at Naval Station Norfolk, the largest such installation in the world, and Naval Air Station Oceana near Virginia Beach.


Michelle Hamor, chief of flood plain management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District, says they’ve partnered on resilience studies at the Norfolk base to help inform decision-making.


“And we anticipate we’ll partner on (other) studies in the future,” Hamor said.


So far, she said they haven’t partnered with installations on the Peninsula, but the Corps has invited Langley and NASA Langley to participate in a study of repetitive flooding in the Newmarket Creek watershed, where the facilities are located.


Municipalities throughout Hampton Roads have taken their own steps to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate, and Hamor called for more collaboration.


“We already have multiple areas today that experience repetitive flooding,” Hamor said. “To successfully increase resilience really will require the partnership of federal, state and local governments. They need to work together.”


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Canada may become the first country to ditch the F-35 fighter jet

(VICE NEWS, 26 July 16) . Justin Ling



If newly-obtained documents are any indication, Canada may become the first country to scrap its order for the American F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive weapons program ever. Letters sent to the big industry players are just further evidence that the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to pull the trigger on a whole new open competition to pick Canada’s next generation of fighter jet.


That competition will likely favour an out-of-the-box jet, over the expensive F-35.


Industry sources confirmed that the government set up meetings with big-name players in the aerospace industry in recent weeks to figure out its next steps in buying a new fighter jet – this, even though it’s technically already on the hook to buy 65 of the F-35 Lightning II jets, manufactured by Lockheed Martin.


Those face-to-face meetings took place with representatives from two US companies: Boeing, Lockheed Martin itself; Sweden’s Saab; the French Dassault; and the European multinational consortium Eurofighter. All of them make fighters that, while less advanced than the stealthy F-35, are vastly cheaper.


The meetings follow a 38-page questionnaire, provided to VICE News, which was sent to the five industry players, asking them to lay out the pros and cons of their jets.


This inquiry is likely the first step in what promises to be a protracted competition to choose a warplane to replace the current fleet of 79 CF-188 Hornets, a version of the American F-18, that Canada bought in the 1980s. Those jets, the letter notes, “should have been replaced years ago”


“The Government of Canada remains committed to building a more agile, better-equipped military, while ensuring best value for Canadians,” reads a letter sent to the companies that accompanied the questionnaire.


Pulling out of the international consortium to build the F-35 program – which dates back to 1998 and includes the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, and others – could be costly for the remaining partners, and may force some of the smaller states to reconsider their participation. The total cost of the program for Canada is pegged at some $25 billion, over the life of the jets. The full cost of the procurement is virtually impossible to pin down, but it is estimated that the full life-cycle cost for the US’ nearly 2,500 planes could hit $1.5 trillion.


While the document stresses that “no decision has been made at this time and all procurement options are being considered,” those in the industry who have obtained the letter say it likely means that Ottawa will start from scratch and force a whole new competition for the jets.


Ottawa isn’t wasting time. The letters, sent July 7, have a due date of July 29 for the submission of proposals.


A spokesperson for the Department of National Defense wouldn’t comment on the letters, but indicated that they would be posted publicly next week.



If Canada does go back to the drawing board, it could be bad news for the international F-35 program, which has been beset by one problem after another. According to a March 2016 report, its software remained buggy. It shook mid-flight. Its diagnostics system had trouble figuring out what needs repair, and what doesn’t.


Those problems, Lockheed Martin contends, have been put to bed. The company expects to announce that the planes are fully operational in US service – with all the kinks worked out – by the end of summer.


No country has, thus far, pulled out entirely from the consortium, despite heated political debates in some countries that have chosen the F-35.


Since their election in October, the Liberals have been paralyzed on what to do about the procurement process.


In their official platform, Trudeau’s party swore: “We will not buy the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber.” Their plan was to reopen the competition process, rip up the sole-sourced contract to Lockheed Martin, and exclude the F-35 altogether.


Trudeau’s team has been more equivocal since taking office. The letters that were sent out in early July certainly suggest that Lockheed Martin will be allowed to participate in the process.


If Canada does back out, it could spell two big problems: it could raise costs for the remaining partners, since they will be spread out over fewer overall planes, and it could lead to other smaller partners to back out as well – which, in turn, could increase costs.


There are already a few weak links in the consortium.


In Australia, currently on the hook to buy 72 of the planes, objections have been raised as well since Trudeau’s election in October. An analyst with independent think tank Air Power Australia, which had long been critical of the F-35, told an Australian Senate committee earlier this year that the plane was a “jackass of all trades and masterful of none,” and compared the entire procurement process to a Ponzi scheme.


Italy, also a big customer and most importantly one of the two countries outside the US that will assemble the plane, is still planning to buy the jets, although it scaled back its acquisition by 30 percent. The Norwegian military, which plans to buy 52, has also openly mused about cutting its purchase, thanks to a stagnant economy.


Part of the deal with the consortium, meant to offset the staggering costs of the acquisition, was to expand research, development, and upkeep across all partners. Each country would have a chance to vie for contracts and maintenance with the planes, meaning that buying the planes could come with huge economic benefits. But as costs continue to rise, the allure of manufacturing jobs has become less and less attractive.


Lockheed Martin does have an insurance policy to keep countries in the consortium: Jobs. The massive American defense company has publicly said that, should Canada withdraw, it could lose 10,000 job opportunities to develop, maintain, and repair the aircraft.


The questionnaire sent to industry appears to acknowledge this potential headache.


“Please describe the potential opportunities for Canadian companies to be integrated into the production supply chain of this aircraft,” the questionnaire asks prospective suppliers. “Could these opportunities extend to the global supply for future sales of this aircraft? Please explain. Are there future opportunities for Canadian companies to participate in the development of upgrades on the current aircraft and/or developmental opportunities related to a new version of the aircraft?”


Canada’s likely alternative is the more practical F/A-18 Super Hornet – an upgraded model of Canada’s current fleet of fighter jets – manufactured by Boeing. Sources have already said that the Trudeau government would be looking to buy a number of Super Hornets while they figure out whether to stick with the F-35, or go elsewhere; Australia made a similar move during its procurement process.


The questionnaire certainly hints that the Super Hornet could be an ideal replacement for their aging predecessor.


“If the current CF-18 gun ammunition, deployable countermeasures (e.g. chaff/flares), missiles and bombs, are incompatible with the new aircraft this item should include the cost of an initial stock of such items,” the introduction to the questionnaire reads.


If Canada purchases some F/A-18s in the interim, it’s deeply unlikely that it would go on to buy the F-35s as well, as it would require a whole different set of trained personnel, equipment and weaponry, which could bring higher costs.


But the letter provided with the questionnaire hints at the government doing exactly that – citing a perceived “capability gap” – telling prospective manufacturers that “new aircraft must be acquired as soon as possible so Canada can remain a credible and dependable ally.”


Those in the industry have balked at the idea that this gap exists at all. Canadian CF-18 jets had been used in the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, regularly participate in exercises in Eastern Europe, and are regularly used to patrol the arctic. Life-extending measures will mean those jets will be usable well after the delivery date of whichever aircraft Canada chooses to buy.


Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canada’s defense minister, has, nevertheless, liberally employed that talking point as of late, saying that the country needs to move quickly – but not, evidently, on the F-35.


Canada’s current fleet of jets, however, will remain operational at least until 2023. Even factoring in some delays, the F-35s are expected to be delivered by 2020, though Lockheed Martin contends that if Canada really wants them sooner, it could work out a deal to have the jets delivered within 18 months.


On top of this, the F/A-18 is simply a less capable aircraft. The technological argument for the F-35, whatever its drawbacks, is pretty solid.


And when this journalist sat in the cockpits of the flight simulators for each jet, there was no competition – the F-35 was easier to control, easier to shoot, and more maneuverable. In the industry, there’s no question: the F-35 is the better jet.


But Boeing has marketed the F-18 more as a minivan than a Ferrari, highlighting its stability, cost, and reliability – for example, it has two engines as opposed to the F-35’s single one, a big plus over the vast expanses of Canada’s North where an engine failure could spell doom.


“It’s difficult to imagine a better value proposition,” Roberto Valla, Boeing’s Vice President of Global Sales for Canada, told a room of journalists at a defense show in Ottawa earlier in 2016.


A statement from Boeing, provided to VICE News, contends that “We believe the Super Hornet is the best fit for Canada, with low acquisition and sustainment costs, advanced capabilities, and economic benefits for Canadian industry, building on Boeing’s $6 billion in direct contracts with Canadian companies over the past five years alone.”


A Boeing representative previously admitted that, should Ottawa go for the F/A-18, it would not necessarily come with any direct economic benefit to Canada.


The other options are less likely candidates. There’s the Eurofighter Typhoon, a plane that’s been in service for more than a decade with a handful of NATO states and others. Then there’s the Dassault Rafale, used by France and ordered by a small number of Middle Eastern states. The Saab Gripen, a smaller one-engined fighter, is currently deployed by the air forces of nations like Sweden and Hungary.


Ultimately, those are all unlikely candidates for heavy-lifting NATO partners like Canada. Ricardo Traven, chief test pilot for the F/A-18 Super Hornet, said the competition is really between the F-35 and the F/A-18. The others? “We kind of squash them,” he said.


The Gripen, for example – “we’re not even in the same class,” Traven said. “It is, to me, a toy.”


Boeing says it is welcoming the open competition, confident that it is the cheapest of the two options. Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, hopes that Ottawa will stick to the precedent of other nations and eventually choose to stick with the Lightning.


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First Operational F-35A Squadron Finishes IOC To-Do List

(DEFENSE NEWS, 27 July 16) . Valerie Insinna


WASHINGTON – The Air Force’s first F-35 squadron has completed all preparations necessary to declare the joint strike fighter combat capable, and sources say an initial operating capability declaration could be made early next week.


Twelve jets have received the modifications necessary for IOC, 21 combat-mission-ready pilots are available, and the maintenance infrastructure is ready to support the Hill Air Force Base’s 34th Fighter Squadron, said some of those operators on July 27. With paperwork filed, all that’s left is for Air Combat Command head Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle to sign off.


“We have achieved all our milestones,” said Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, deputy commander of the 388th Maintenance Group. Anderson, along with several other maintainers and pilots from Hill Air Force Base, spoke to reporters over a conference call. “We have submitted all of the data to ACC for General Carlisle’s consideration on making that declaration.”


Over the past couple of weeks, pilots at Hill finished up the last remaining items on its IOC checklist, said Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron commander. For instance, the Air Force considers pilots “combat mission ready” only after he or she complete a certain number of training sorties during a 30- or 90-day period, so some operators had to conduct additional flights.


“As of today, we have 21 pilots combat mission ready based on the number of training sorties they’ve done in the last 30 days,” he said. “That was one thing that was yellow.”


They also went through “pilot verifications,” which Watkins described as similar to an oral examination. After doing an in-depth study of the F-35’s mission systems, tactics and potential threats, pilots briefed a panel, who then quizzed the pilots on a simulated mission.


The Air Force has laid out several requirements for declaring the F-35A ready for battle. It needs at least 12 combat-configured F-35As with enough trained pilots, maintainers and other personnel needed to support the jets. The aircraft must be deployable and able to conduct basic close-air support, air interdiction and limited suppression and destruction of enemy air defense missions.


Hill Air Force Base has received 15 F-35As, and expect another to be delivered in August, Anderson said. Twelve jets have gone through modifications necessary to make them ready for combat, including improvements to the fuel system, additional lightning protection and a modification that expands the flight envelope of the aircraft.


All of the aircraft have installed the latest software, which fixed previous software instability issues, he said.


An early IOC declaration would be no surprise given Carlisle’s own statements on the matter. The ACC commander told reporters earlier this month to expect a declaration during the “leading edge” of the Aug. 1 through Dec. 31 window for IOC.


Even though the version of the aircraft’s logistics system planned to be ready for the milestone, Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) 2.0.2, will not come online until this fall, Carlisle has said that would not be a “limiting factor” on his decision.


The recent deployment of seven F-35As to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, proved the current version meets requirements for the aircraft to operate away from home base, he said. During that event, Hill Air Force Base pilots conducted exercises and maintainers serviced the plane using a deployable version of ALIS.


“We’ve deployed with the current software we had and it worked,” Carlisle said. “The Marines have deployed with it in its current configuration. It’s not quite up to where we wanted to be, but there’s workarounds.”


Past precedent is another indication a decision could happen early in August. The Marine Corps, which declared their jets combat-capable last year, wrapped up final tests of the aircraft and filed the paperwork necessary for IOC on July 27, 2015. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford – then the Marine Corps commandant – signed off on the jets days later, on July 31.


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US Navy’s Sixth-Generation F/A-XX Fighter: Just a ‘Super’ Super Hornet?

(THE NATIONAL INTEREST, 26 July 16) . Dave Majumdar


The United States Navy does not appear to have a coherent plan for how its carrier-based tactical aircraft will operate in the post-2030 threat environment. Sources tell The National Interest that even the Navy’s planned F/A-XX will not solve the service’s challenges in operating in an anti-access/area denial environment (A2/AD) defended by advanced integrated air defenses and a new generation of enemy warplanes. Meanwhile, the Navy remains skeptical of the F-35C-which is the only aircraft that might meet most of its requirements during that era.


“Naval aviation has got to get beyond the calcification and thinking that is inherent to older designs in order to be able to keep the aircraft carrier relevant in the future security environment that’s going to be dominated by advanced surface-to-air missile systems like the S-300 and S-400,” Jerry Hendrix, director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, told The National Interest.



Despite the threat, the U.S. Navy will field only a handful of stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighters on the carrier flight deck in the 2030s. According to sources close to the Navy, while the service is no longer worried about the capability the stealthy single-engine warplane will bring to the fleet, both the N98 Air Warfare Directorate in the Pentagon and the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) remain extremely concerned about the cost of the F-35C. “They’re looking at it in a very short-sighted way. They’re still skeptical because the expense hasn’t come down to the degree they wanted,” the source explained. “Already the aircraft squadron buy of the new airplane is smaller than the Hornet squadron they’re supposed to replace-10 aircraft vice 12-simply because they can’t afford it.”


Hendrix said that the problem is simple. If the Navy has a flat top line budget and the new aircraft is much more expensive, the service simply can’t afford as many planes. “If you don’t have a budget line plus up, you’ve got buy fewer aircraft,” Hendrix noted. “In a flat budget environment, there is no additional money coming so you have to take the cut in your overall number of assets.”


Because of the sheer cost of the F-35C, if the Navy could find a way to leave the Joint Strike Fighter program, it would, the source said. Ideally, the Navy would like to bypass the F-35C and move directly to the nascent F/A-XX-which is still technically in an analysis of alternatives phase. “They would really like to delay it until they get to F/A-XX because they think it’ll be designed more according to their liking,” the source said. “But the fact is that F/A-XX is just a dream on a piece of paper right now and it’s a dream they’re getting push back on from DOD [Department of Defense] leadership.”


While many outside observers had assumed that a future F/A-XX would be some kind of supersonically cruising, broadband all-aspect stealth sixth-generation fighter or even a new long-range unmanned stealth bomber, the Navy’s vision for the F/A-XX is much more mundane. Not only does the Navy currently envision the F/A-XX as a manned aircraft, the service is not aiming to build a jet that is significantly more capable than the existing Super Hornet. Indeed, the F/A-XX-as it is currently envisioned-would offer little more capability than a F/A-18E/F with some radar cross section reductions and increased range. “What they really want-unfortunately-is something that looks remarkably like an F/A-18 Hornet-just super, heterodyned and modernized. It’s essentially just a super Super Hornet,” the source said. ‘That aircraft is simply not going to be able to operate in an S-300/S-400 anti-air environment. It doesn’t have an RCS [radar cross section] that’s going to allow it to do that.”


The reason behind the bizarre F/A-XX conception is the Navy’s internal cabal of Super Hornet pilots and weapons systems officers-who the source described as the F/A-18 lobby. “The Super Hornet lobby owns naval aviation writ large,” the source said. “They’re very close to Boeing and they tend to revert to a Boeing-like design.”


Indeed, one of the reasons the naval aviation community is getting severe pushback from senior DOD leadership and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is because the F/A-XX is being envisioned as an extremely conservative design that is less advanced by some margin than the F-35C, the source said. The Defense Department-particularly Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work-and Mabus had both wanted a much more capable long-range unmanned stealth bomber, which the Super Hornet community is uncomfortable with.


According to the source, the Super Hornet community torpedoed the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program because of their insistence that the drone be an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft optimized for a permissive environment. The source pointed out that a deep strike optimized unmanned aircraft would be a threat to the fighter-attack community’s control naval aviation. “Butts in seats is how they justify their leadership role,” the source said.


However, the Defense Department and Secretary of the Navy insisted on a path toward a deep strike capability-which ultimately resulted in the program being reborn under the guise of the Stingray carrier-based autonomous refueling aircraft. “Naval aviation has been thrown out of the front office on at least two occasions when they come in and propose the same damn thing over again,” the source said. “They don’t want anything on the table to get in the way of F/A-XX and F/A-XX looks an awful lot like a super Super Hornet.”


Given the opposition from the Defense Department, the Navy is trying to intentionally force a decision on the future of the naval aviation enterprise into either a new Clinton or Trump administration. “They’re simply playing to get beyond this administration in hopes of getting a better bite at the apple in the next administration where they could T-up F/A-XX and perhaps truncate the F-35 buy in order to get something they really want,” the source said.


Meanwhile, the carrier air wing will still consist of venerable fourth-generation Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets in the mid-2030s. Asked directly what if any steps the service is taking to address how it intends to operate the fourth-generation Super Hornet in the post-2030 threat environment, the Naval Air Systems Command offered this: “Ongoing analysis by NAVAIR and the NAWC organizations are working to define challenges, limitations, and operational capability requirements to fight in an A2/AD 2030 environment.  Additionally, OPNAV prioritizes our capabilities into the future,” reads a Naval Air Systems Command statement. “The Navy continuously analyzes the capabilities of the Carrier Air Wing assets and potential adversarial capabilities and develops roadmaps and flight plans for technology maturation, insertion, and deployment ensuring tactical relevance well past the 2030 timeframe.  NAVAIR in coordination with OPNAV is developing investment plans for all facets of the carrier air wing; F/A-18s, EA-18Gs, E-2C/Ds, JSF, etc.”


Bryan McGrath, managing director of the FerryBridge Group naval consultancy said that the carrier air wing will look much like it does today in 2030-but with a handful of F-35Cs to fight inside highly defended airspace. “I think the Super Hornets in the fleet are going to do a lot of the same things they do today-strike/AAW/ASUW. Operations in a contested environment where more stealthy strikers are required will likely fall to the F-35C’s, but keep in mind a Wing fights as a system, and the Growlers will be up creating opportunities for the Super Hornets with their ability to jam,” McGrath said. “Additionally, I think you’ll see a move in the next fifteen years to default to weapons that are precise-and longer range. This would enable the Super Hornets to stand off and attack.”


Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said that the Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter-Air (NIFC-CA) will be the key for the Navy’s carrier-based air operations in the post-2030 environment. One option is “using F-35Cs or Bs as stealthy ISR platforms that passively find targets, which are communicated using secure datalinks to F/A-18 E/F ‘missile trucks’ located at standoff range from threat air defenses or aircraft,” Clark said. But the Navy might also be “conducting strikes like today with F/A-18 E/Fs launching standoff weapons while protected by E/A-18Gs, but complemented by F-35C as a stealthy stand-in jamming platform.”


Additional, the Navy might eventually be able to use the future MQ-21 Stingray unmanned aerial refuelers “as ISR platforms, which send targets via secure datalinks to F-35Cs. The F-35Cs act as C2 platforms and assign targets to F/A-18 E/F,” Clark said. As such, if the Navy is simply looking at the F/A-XX to fill the gap once the F/A-18E/F leaves service, a super Super Hornet design might make sense in the overall context of the entire NIFC-CA construct-which will include everything from E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes to Aegis cruisers and destroyers.


Nonetheless, fundamentally, the problem-according to the source-is that the Navy simply does not have an answer to the question as to how the carrier air wing will fight in an anti-access/area denial environment. “Naval aviation refuses to look long range and to think about the threat environment,” the source said. “It’s no longer the future threat environment-it’s the threat environment. If the Russians put up an A2/AD bubble over Syria-if they activated their S-400 system in Syria-the F/A-18 Hornet is not going to go in there. That means the Navy is essentially locked out of the Eastern Mediterranean.”


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Navy Announces Greater Flexibility for FY-17 GMT

(Naval Education and Training Command, 26 July 16) . Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs


PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) — The Navy announced via Naval Administrative Message (NAVADMIN) 166/16, additional flexibility for the fiscal year 2017 General Military Training (GMT) requirements released July 26.


The two categories of GMT, Standardized Core Training (SCT) and Command-Assigned Readiness Enhancement (CARE) training will continue to place additional control at the discretion of commands in determining the frequency at which some of the training is delivered.


The following SCT topics are required by all uniformed personnel during the upcoming fiscal year either through instructor led, face-to-face delivery at the command level or, in some cases, completed individually via Navy eLearning:


  1. Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Awareness
  2. Equal Opportunity/Sexual Harassment/Grievance Procedures (EO/SH)
  3. Suicide Prevention
  4. Combating Trafficking in Persons General Awareness
  5. Antiterrorism Level I Awareness
  6. Cyber Security Awareness
  7. Counterintellligence Awareness and Reporting
  8. Operations Security (OPSEC)
  9. Privacy and Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  10. Records Management


All of the following CARE topics for the upcoming fiscal year are to be delivered to the appropriate audience at an appropriate periodicity as determined by local command leadership, allowing individual commands the flexibility to determine what training is required and how often it is accomplished. There is NO minimum periodicity associated with these topics:


  1. Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Awareness
  2. Stress Management
  3. Domestic Violence Prevention and Reporting
  4. Sexual Health and Responsibility
  5. Physical Readiness
  6. Hazing Policy and Prevention
  7. Personal Financial Management
  8. Operational Risk Management
  9. Energy Policy


Additionally, there are currently four GMT courses available via mobile applications — OPSEC, Records Management, PII and Domestic Violence Prevention. The apps are “bring-your-own-device” tools designed to work on personal devices outside of the Navy and Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) domain. Users can download the apps from both Google Play and iTunes app stores at no cost.


All individually-completed web-based and mobile app delivered training is recorded and tracked in the individual’s electronic training jacket. Command-delivered training completion is documented in FLTMPS (Fleet Training Management Planning System).


For additional information related to the GMT program and to access the GMT Web page, go to Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) at Once logged into NKO, select the “GMT” option under the “Personal Development” menu item to access the Navy’s GMT Web page.


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The Military Has A Flight-Readiness Problem That’s Not Going Away

(TASK AND PURPOSE, 27 July 16) . Sarah Sicard


Pilots, maintenance crews, and aircraft are suffering the effects of budget cuts.


Since sequestration began in 2013, the reduced number of hours flown by pilots, crews trained, and aircraft maintained has created a major problem: a lack of flight readiness across all the services. While the effect of budget constraints was not at first apparent, a rise in-flight mishaps, decreases in pilot retention, and increases in the number of aircraft that simply can’t fly have made it clear to policymakers that U.S. air superiority is suffering.


“The military is increasingly willing to speak up and say, ‘Yes, this is a real problem,'” House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, told Task & Purpose in a recent interview.


But the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act – the bill that provides the budget for the entire Department of Defense – has renewed hope that the military can begin to remedy those issues.


“Our bill does not say, ‘Well this increases flight hours by five a month,'” Thornberry said. “But it tries to turn the corner on all of these factors that are decreasing our readiness and increasing the risk.”


However, the issues did not arise overnight, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, a Democrat from Guam, told the members of the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing on July 6.


“What the services are experiencing now, and what we are working to remedy in the fiscal year 2017 NDAA, are the consequences of years of high operational tempo experienced by fewer aircraft, with fewer experienced operators and skilled military and civilian personnel to sustain them,” she added.


And the numbers paint an alarming picture.


In a Heritage Foundation briefing on July 7, Thornberry reported that currently, the Air Force is short 4,000 maintainers and more than 700 pilots. In 2015, the Navy had a backlog of 11 planes in need of repairs, and in fiscal year 2017, it will have a backlog of 278. And Marine Corps pilots, who require on average 10 hours of flight time each month, are only getting around four.


But these are just a few of the statistics that have decision-makers concerned.


House Armed Services Committee member, and the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot, Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona, shared further insight about the severity of the situation.


Around the time she began her career as a pilot, the Air Force had 134 fighter squadrons. Now, there are only 55.


“I hear from my friends on active duty about how the forces have been really bleeding significantly over the last years in the readiness area,” McSally told Task & Purpose.


According to McSally, pilots were flying 200 to 250 hours a year a decade ago. Now it’s roughly 120 to 180. Over time, this will become a significant issue when considering the level of aviation mastery that flight leads, aviation instructors, and squadron commanders should have, she said.


“This kind of trend is one where we’re going to have people missing out on critical experience,” McSally added.


During the July HASC hearing, all the services reported that flight hours have dipped to the bare minimum required for pilots to essentially avoid probation.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, testified that rookie pilots are getting far fewer training hours, roughly half of what he got.


“Average aircrew flight time has reached historic lows,” he added. “Every lost day, every missed hour, is missed experience this nation depends upon in the future.”


But it’s not just the pilots who are affected. Aircraft are in a state of disrepair, with some of the services needing to borrow parts from discontinued planes. Maintenance crews have been sacrificed too. And readiness takes time and stability to rebuild, not just one year of adequate funding.



According to Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott West’s testimony, it would take seven years to restore maintenance crews to pre-sequestration levels.


“Our readiness is imbalanced at a time when the Air Force is small, old and heavily tasked,” West added.


The impact of the imbalance is reflected in aviation mishap rates not just in the Air Force, but across all the services.


“The facts are that the rate of Class A mishaps per flight hour are going up,” Thornberry said. “It all depends on what you compare the accident rate to. If you just look at the past few years, there has been a significant increase in Class A mishaps per 100,000 hours of flight. B and C are going up as well.”


Korean depot maintenance saves AFRC time, money


Class A mishaps are categorized as those where there is a fatality, the loss of an aircraft, or an incident result in more than $2 million in damages. Class C mishaps involve damages of $50,000 to $500,000 and personnel injuries. Class B mishaps cover everything in between.


Since October 2014, the Air Force has reported 27 Class A mishaps, the Navy has had 30, and the Army suffered 43. And just this year, the Marine Corps’ Class C mishap rate doubled.


“The effect multiplies over time. Whatever you see today – it will become worse tomorrow and the next day,” Thornberry stated.


What’s more, key airspace stakeholders like China and Russia have been putting a great deal of spend toward new military aircraft and increased hours of flight training – something that McSally is particularly concerned with.


If Russia made a run at the Baltics, she suggested, “We would not have air superiority.”


“If we think that all we’re going to be doing for the next [few] years is counterinsurgency deployments against threats like ISIS,” she added, “that is a very naive view of what our military might be asked to do.”


Thornberry echoed that sentiment.


“There is concern among some of our pilots that our adversaries are getting more training hours,” he said. “One of the things they’re concerned about is the sophistication of the aircraft from some of these air-peer competitors, plus the training that their pilots are getting make them a real threat in a way that we have not faced at least since the fall of the Soviet Union.”


Both McSally and Thornberry voiced apprehension over the fact that our fleets across the services are smaller and older than they’ve been in decades. And across the board, U.S. aircraft are aging faster than they can be replaced.


With the exception the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is still in the early stages of production, the Air Force’s aircraft are all decades-old. The last B-52 was produced in 1962. The 1970s gave rise to the A-10 Warthog, F-15, and F-16. The B-1 was produced in the 1980s, and the B-2 followed in the 1990s.


While new aircraft are expensive, as demonstrated by the laundry list of shortfalls experienced by the F-35, the maintenance cost to keep older planes in the air is not necessarily any more efficient than purchasing new ones. And there is little relief in sight.


In a later segment of the hearing, Bordallo asked the service chiefs if they thought the solution was stable, predictable budgets or an increase in funding.


The response from all four branches was unanimous: They need both.


But it’s unclear whether or not that is possible. Though Thornberry suggested that the fiscal year 2017 NDAA is a good starting point.


As for those in Congress and the administration who don’t support an increase in military spending – particularly regarding aviation readiness – McSally and Thornberry surmised that they simply don’t recognize the danger.


“There are some people who are just against increasing military spending because they’re against increasing any kind of spending,” Thornberry said. “I do not believe those people have talked to the pilots or looked into the matter themselves.”


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What Happens When Pilots Aren’t Allowed To Fly

(TASK AND PURPOSE, 26 July 16) . Carl Forsling


Lately there have been many articles and reports about the services in general, and the Marine Corps in particular, reducing stateside training hours for aviators.


The reasons for this are varied. Long story short, resources are limited, and a disproportionate share are going to the fight against ISIS and other overseas operations. This means that for those not actually on deployment, there’s not much flying going on. Many pilots are getting fewer than 15 hours a month, and some are getting less than 10.



When I started flying in the Marine Corps two decades ago, pilots assigned to line units regularly got about 30 hours per month. That gradually dropped to 20. With 30 hours, one steadily improves. With 20, one is at least confident in fundamental skills. With 15 and below, one is just focusing on the bare essentials.


Once a pilot goes below about 15 hours, his skills start to atrophy. The fundamentals of flying, which need to come naturally, require conscious thought when a pilot hasn’t been in the air enough. So of those limited hours, many have to be spent just practicing takeoffs, landings, and instrument approaches. Every pilot is required to get prescribed numbers of these essential tasks at regular intervals. Those flights aren’t just administrative, they’re essential. Aviation is a dangerous business, even without bad guys shooting at you.


Other military jobs are dangerous in a combat zone. Military aviation is dangerous all the time. If you can’t bring the aircraft back home at night or bad weather, then the enemy doesn’t even have to work. Practicing the fundamentals is essential. But military pilots don’t just fly from point A to point B. They’re expected to do important and demanding tasks in-between, like picking up troops or dropping bombs. The bare minimum does not maintain adequate proficiency in those skills without compromising either mission accomplishment or safety.


Some may wonder whether the extra flight time these pilots get while deployed makes up for the deficit incurred stateside. It does to a small extent. Pilots often catch up a little on flight hours while deployed. Modern simulators also make up from some of the shortfall, but there’s a huge difference between playing a videogame of landing an aircraft in the dust and actually doing it. Just like in football, one can’t just just practice like a madman for a few months, then play Madden 17 for the rest of the year, and expect to complete at a high level.


And competing at a high level is, or will be, the problem. As much as President Obama was criticized for saying ISIS was the JV team, as far as aviation goes, it is. It has no real air force or integrated air defense system, which was also true of the Taliban in Afghanistan and of Iraqi insurgents. While the U.S. is blessed to have a large contingent of combat experienced aviators who at know what it’s like to see tracer rounds travelling the wrong direction, that experience has come at the price of not practicing for tougher foes and tougher mission sets.


While there have been many individual missions that have required exceptional skill and heroism, the bulk of combat aviation sorties since 9/11 have been missions such as “battlefield circulations” for assault aircraft, i.e. moving people and stuff from base to base. Other platforms have similar woes. Many a fighter pilot who thought he’d be dogfighting MiGs has instead found himself working as a JDAM truck driver when he’s not flying a “manned UAV” providing ISR (Intelligence/Surveillance/Reconnaissance) via a Lightning pod or similar system.


What they aren’t doing is practicing missions with large flights of multiple aircraft types or against enemies with “double digit” surface-to-air missiles. While deployed, the military has to do the mission, whatever that is. Back home, the mission should be to rest, recover, refit, and prepare for the next fight or potential fight.


When the number of hours is barely enough to sustain proficiency in the basics of all-weather flying and landing, it’s laughable to think pilots will get really good at the more demanding mission sets. On top of just maintaining the basics, aviators stateside also have to support tasking from higher headquarters, ranging from the useful, such as helping the infantry train, to the useless, such as supporting “dog and pony” shows for communities or dignitaries.


A few pilots, either the best, or those who their commanders like the most, depending on who you ask, will get to practice massive missions at advanced training such as the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.


The rest of the herd get the minimums to keep the crew legal to fly their assigned missions. That comes with a price in both safety and mission accomplishment.


Beyond those, the real cost is in the long term. Doing the minimum in aviation training is like paying the minimum on your credit card. You can live large for awhile, going to parties like the one with ISIS. Eventually the bill gets bigger and bigger, and you end up either limping along for years, never able to get ahead, or going broke when you can’t even afford the minimum.


Typically In Marine aviation, a new pilot checks in as a first lieutenant or new captain, does a deployment or two, then ends up as an instructor to the next crop of new pilots. That now mid-grade captain is expected to be at his most proficient at tactics, able to lead the most difficult missions and train the next group of lieutenants.


If most of those captains barely get the minimums stateside, then spend their deployments schlepping cargo from base to base, the next generation doesn’t get mentorship and flight leadership knowledge passed on to them. And if that group only gets the minimums, too, then.


Those captains eventually go off to a school, or a staff job, or whatever. They come back as majors, who are now neck-deep in administrivia running operations or maintenance, and who fly the minimums, or maybe even less, because they’re too busy dealing with making quad slides in PowerPoint for their commander to show his commander. Besides, the captains are supposed to handle most of the actual flight training, right?


Eventually, the Marine Corps will be left with squadrons full of pilots who are salty enough from combat service to attract wild deer, but who worry about the basics, like doing shipboard landings.


When I started in Marine aviation, the old guys, the lieutenant colonels and colonels, often had four or five thousand hours of flight time, sometimes more. By the time I left, I was considered an unusually high-time pilot with only about 3500 hours. Those behind me are on a pace for far less.


The Marine Corps will never cry uncle on its assigned missions overseas. That “will do” mentality has kept the Marine Corps in good stead for 240 years now. But when what it physically “can do” falls short of what it will do, something is going to break. The nation’s leadership in the White House and in Congress either need to give Marine air more or ask less of it, or the broken something is likely to be many multimillion dollar aircraft and their crews.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of July 18, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 clips for the week of July 18:



FRCSE avionics shop becomes first Navy depot repair site for P-8A

FRCSW Sailor Helps Suicidal Man On The Bridge



Army Aviator Receives Medal of Honor for Heroism in Vietnam War

Defense Firm Banks on ‘Chemputer’ to Spit Out Aircraft Parts

Carter Voices Support for Veto of Defense Bill in Letter to McCain

Drones able to inspect manned aircraft in record time

F-35 impact from unrest in Turkey unclear: Lockheed

Sailors to get more training on finances, new retirement system

Pentagon’s Quest For Single IT Architecture Needs Work, Says GAO

Defense Secretary Warns Of ‘Widespread Negative Consequences’ If Senior Executive Corps Is Cut

Pentagon Wants To Automate Social-Media Checks On Clearance Holders


NAVY LIVE: Do’s and Don’ts for Voicing Your Political Opinion on Social Media




Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

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FRCSE avionics shop becomes first Navy depot repair site for P-8A

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 15 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s (FRCSE) avionics shop celebrated becoming the first U.S. Navy site to establish depot repair capability on a component of the P-8A “Poseidon” aircraft with a ribbon cutting July 12.


This new capability means that Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s (NAS Jax) P-8As will now have a quick, readily accessible repair site for its radars, right down the runway. The result will be faster turnaround time and reduced cost compared to sending the radars off to be repaired or modified.


“When I look at FRCSE doing this workload, especially because the P-8s are based here, I realize how we’re moving maintenance capability forward to the flight line – which is where we are here,” said FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart.


However, Stuart told the artisans of another reason for the location of the workload.


“The reason we put this here in this building wasn’t simply because of the building or the capability,” he said. “It’s because of you and the expertise you have with radar systems. That’s why this work had to come here.”


The radar is crucial to the P-8’s patrol mission, and the AN/APY-10 provides the new planes with increased detection capabilities and range.


“The APY-10 works over water, on the littorals and over land with incredible high-resolution capabilities,” Stuart said. “It also has aircraft mission systems like weather avoidance. It does it all.”


The new Poseidons are quickly becoming a crucial tool for the U.S. Navy. The planes perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions in hot spots across the globe, in addition to anti-submarine patrols and other duties.


This fact is not lost on the men who keep the planes mission-ready.


“This mission is incredibly important to us,” said Adam Perry, supervisor of the FRCSE radar shop. “We’re proud that we are on that tip of the spear. We’re supporting the squadrons who are deploying to Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific.


“We’re supporting all of this right now. They’re flying these systems as we speak.”


The achievement at FRCSE was a result of three years of hard work between the depot, Naval Air Systems Command and Raytheon, the radar’s manufacturer.


“I remember walking in here to an empty room and just having a vision of what this would all eventually look like,” Raytheon’s depot program manager, Alex Sedillo, said as he looked around the room stacked with test equipment and diagnostic machines. “This will seriously cut the turnaround time for repairs and upgrades.


“Any repairs or upgrades that are required for the AN/APY-10 radar, they can bring them right off the flight line and they’ll get repaired right here.”


The new workspace was already paying off for the P-8 squadrons at NAS Jax before the ribbon was even cut.


“Just in the last couple of days we had a mission code update to the radars,” Sedillo said. “In the past, they had to go out to each of the aircraft, which is not the easiest thing to do – to upgrade the hardware.


“Yesterday, the Sailors were bringing the parts in and updating them and the job was done in about half the time.”


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FRCSW Sailor Helps Suicidal Man On The Bridge




While others drove on by, Lt. Jordan Walma had to stop.


“I could tell he was distraught as he was crying as he was walking and I thought, `I can’t let this guy go. I need to try something.’ I was in the number one lane and said, `Hey, just get on my bike and I’ll give you a ride across the bridge,'” Walma recounted.


Walma, the Level II Legal Officer and 400 Division Officer at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), knew something wasn’t right yesterday morning as he rode his motorcycle to work crossing the Coronado Bridge to North Island and he saw someone running from the number two lane toward the bridge’s edge.


Believing there was an accident he slowed down to anticipate a stopping point of vehicles. That’s when he found the lone pedestrian walking toward the mid-span of the bridge.


The man acted erratically and moved from lane to lane in front of traffic, and then to the side of the bridge where he paused to look down at the water; then slowly made his way toward the bridge’s high point.


At about 6 a.m. Walma called 9-11 via his motorcycle helmet’s Bluetooth to notify authorities.


“I trailed him on the bike just trying to get him to talk to me. Every time we got higher and higher on the bridge span, his pause would get a little bit longer like he was trying to decide if he was going to jump from there, so I just kept following him trying to get closer and closer so in case he jumped, that I might be able to stop him,” Walma said.


Cars continued to maneuver past before help from two other Sailors arrived. The female petty officers stopped their car in front of the man, and all traffic came to a stop.


“The driver stayed in the car and the passenger got out. She suggested he get in the car, so I stopped my bike and put my arm around him and told him that things would be okay, and that he should get in the car,” Walma said.


“We were in the number two lane, and I was coaxing him away from the bridge when the police arrived. As soon as he saw them, he spun around like he was going to make a run toward the water. He was a slight guy, maybe 5 foot 8 inches, 150 pounds and I didn’t see a weapon on him, so I wrapped him up and held on to him until the police could get there.”


At 6 feet 3 inches tall, the 44-year-old Walma said he never felt that he was in danger during the almost 10 minute ordeal.


“He fought a bit and said he would hit me, but I had my helmet on and (motorcycle) padding. When the police arrived, they told me to let him go. So I did. I pointed him toward the middle of the bridge but he spun around and walked to the edge of the bridge where he sat for about a half an hour,” Walma said.


“He sat with his hands behind him, to keep him from falling if he leaned too far forward. I was thinking it was more of a cry for help than anything. If you’re going to jump, you’d put your hands in front of you so you can push off. There was 15 to 20 feet between him and anybody else. After I let him go I couldn’t look anymore. Had he jumped, I would’ve been the last person he was in contact with.”


But he didn’t jump, and was eventually coaxed into police custody for the help he desperately needed.


Maybe that’s because someone cared enough to stop.


And throughout the chaotic pressure to prevent a potential deadly tragedy, Walma never got the name of the man whose life he very well may have saved.


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Army Aviator Receives Medal of Honor for Heroism in Vietnam War

(ARMY NEWS SERVICE, 18 July 16) . David Vergun



WASHINGTON, July 18, 2016 – President Barack Obama today awarded retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War almost 50 years ago.


“You couldn’t make this up. It’s like a bad Rambo movie,” Obama said, describing the harrowing exploits of then-Major Kettles on that fateful day, May 15, 1967, in “Chump Valley,” South Vietnam.


As commander of the 176th Aviation Company, Kettles’ mission was to fly in reinforcements and evacuate wounded soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division, who were outgunned and outnumbered by the North Vietnamese in a rural riverbed near Duc Pho. “They needed support fast,” the president said.


Towering above Chump Valley was a 1,500-foot-high hill where the enemy was entrenched in an extensive series of tunnels and bunkers. It was “the ideal spot for an ambush,” Obama said.


Despite the dangers that they all were aware of, Kettles and his fellow company of soldiers took off in their “Huey” helicopters. As they approached the landing zone, they met a “solid wall of enemy tracers coming right at them,” Obama said. “None of them had ever seen fire that intense. Soldiers in the helos were hit and killed before they could even leap off.” Despite the withering fire, Kettles landed his helicopter and kept it there, exposed, so the wounded could board, Obama said.


Second Rescue Mission


After flying the wounded to safety, Kettles returned to the valley, the president recounted. He dropped off four soldiers and supplies and picked up more wounded.


“Once more, machine-gun bullets and mortar rounds came screaming after them. . Rounds pierced the arm and leg of Chuck’s door gunner, Roland Scheck,” Obama said. His Huey was hit. Fuel was pouring out as he flew away. His helicopter was so badly damaged that he couldn’t make it to the field hospital so Kettles found another helicopter and took them to safety, the president said.


By then it was near evening. Back in the riverbed, 44 American soldiers were still pinned down. “The air was thick with gunpowder, the smell of burning metal,” the president described. “Then they heard a faint sound. As the sun started to set, they saw something rise over the horizon — six American helicopters, one of them said, ‘as beautiful as could be.'”


Third Rescue Mission


For a third time, Chuck and his unit “headed into that hell on earth,” Obama said. “Death or injury was all but certain,” a fellow pilot had said, “and a lesser person would not return,” the president related.


Once again, the enemy unloaded everything they had on Kettles as he landed: small arms, automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, Obama said. Soldiers ran to the helicopters as they had before. When Kettles was told all were accounted for, he took off, the president said.


On the return flight, Kettles received a radio call informing him that eight men had not made it aboard. “They’d been providing cover for the others,” the president said. They “could only watch as [the helicopters] floated away. ‘We all figured we were done for,'” one later said. Kettles came to the same conclusion, the commander in chief said, conveying his words: “If we’d left them for 10 minutes, they’d become POWs or dead.”


A soldier who was there that day said “Major Kettles became our John Wayne,” Obama said, adding his own take: “With all due respect to John Wayne, he couldn’t do what Chuck Kettles did.”


Fourth Rescue Mission


Kettles couldn’t shake from his mind the idea of leaving the eight behind, so “he broke off from formation, took a steep, sharp descending turn back toward the valley, this time with no aerial or artillery support, a lone helicopter heading back in,” Obama said.


“Chuck’s Huey was the only target for the enemy to attack. And they did,” he continued. Tracers lit up the sky once more. “Chuck came in so hot his chopper bounced for several hundred feet before coming to a stop,” the president said.


As soon as he landed, a mortar round shattered his windshield. Another hit the main rotor blade. Shrapnel tore through the cockpit and Kettles’ chair. Yet, Obama said, those eight soldiers sprinted to the Huey through the firestorm.


The president described what happened next: “Chuck’s helo, now badly damaged, was carrying 13 souls and was 600 pounds over the [weight] limit. He said ‘it felt like flying a two-and-a-half-ton truck.’ He couldn’t hover long enough to take off, but the cool customer that he is, he saw his shattered windshield and thought, ‘that’s pretty good air conditioning.’


“The cabin filled with black smoke as Chuck hopped and skipped the helo across the ground to pick up enough speed to take off, ‘like a jackrabbit bouncing across the riverbed,'” the president said, relating Kettle’s analogy.


The instant he got airborne, another mortar ripped into the tail and the Huey fishtailed violently. A soldier was tossed from the helicopter, but managed to grab a skid, hanging on as Kettles flew them to safety,” Obama said.


Warrior Ethos


“The Army’s Warrior Ethos is based on a simple principle: A soldier never leaves his comrades behind,” Obama said. “Chuck Kettles honored that creed. Not with a single act of heroism, but over and over and over and over. And, because of that heroism, 44 American Soldiers made it out that day.”


The most gratifying part of this whole story “is that Dewey’s name and Roland’s name and the names of 42 other Americans he saved are not etched in the solemn granite wall not far from here that memorializes the fallen in the Vietnam War,” the president remarked.


“To the dozens of American soldiers that he saved in Vietnam half a century ago, Chuck is the reason they lived and came home and had children and grandchildren. Entire family trees, made possible by the actions of this one man,” the president concluded.


White House Ceremony


Kettles, 86, was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Anne. They will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in March, the president said. With them were eight of their 10 children and three grandchildren.


“It’s the Kettles family reunion in the White House,” the president noted.


Also attending were some of the soldiers Kettles served with that day, including Scheck, Dewey Smith, who was among the last eight soldiers rescued that day, and a number of other soldiers who fought in that battle. Past Medal of Honor recipients attended as well.


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Defense Firm Banks on ‘Chemputer’ to Spit Out Aircraft Parts

(DEFENSE NEWS, 14 July 16) . Valerie Insinna


FARNBOROUGH, England – Forget 3-D printing. BAE Systems is working with a UK scientist on an advanced computer it hopes may one day be able to grow aircraft molecule by molecule.


The “Chemputer,” developed by University of Glasgow scientist Lee Cronin, looks a lot like a 3-D printer, but builds objects through a very different process, said Nick Colosimo, a BAE Systems global engineering fellow and futurist, during a Wednesday briefing at Farnborough International Airshow.


Instead of depositing a material layer by layer via robotics to gradually build up a structure – the process used for 3-D printing – the Chemputer operates at a molecular level, combining a variety of molecules together and then using that chemical reaction to synthesize the object.


“This is really an idea that you use a machine which has access to a number of different chemicals, and you effectively enact chemistry,” he said. “You provide a data file to the machine and say, ‘I want ibuprofen,’ and the machine will produce ibuprofen or a range of other pharmaceuticals. Because in principle you can produce molecules in different shapes and different size.”


Through a UK government-funded program called Digital Synthesis, Cronin has used the Chemputer to produce tiny metal objects, such as small gold pyramids or rods. Colosimo, who works as Cronin’s industrial adviser, compared the computer’s process to a robotic lab assistant who is constantly running millions of experiments.


“The machine will mix some chemicals together and see what happens in terms of the reaction, and look at the reaction products. But it will do this very, very quickly,” he said. “What the machine will do is use an algorithm in order to conduct these directed trial and error experiments. So the experiments that don’t work, they will die off. The experiments that do work will be continued and adapted, ultimately producing small nanoparticles.”


Once the machine learns how to make an object, it can put those structures together in new ways. For example, after making the gold pyramid and rod, it was told to create a rod with a pyramid on each end and was able to use its prior experience to do so. It has also made small, Lego-like bricks.


BAE believes the technology may one day be used to create small unmanned aircraft quicker than through the typical manufacturing process. Users could choose the aircraft’s capabilities from a menu of options, and then the computer would figure out the best way to grow the drone, the company envisions.


Another potential application is the development of completely novel materials by combining molecules in new ways to create substances that are more durable or lightweight, Colosimo said.


“We’ve still got a long way to go before we start producing something as complex and as capable as an aircraft,” he said.


The discovery of new materials could occur much sooner. Cronin is working on data files that contain information about particular molecules and materials, which the Chemputer can use to run trial-and-error style experiments.


“New materials discovery – certainly I think we’re talking years. Whether it’s three years or whether its 10 years, it’s too hard to say at this particular stage,” he said. “But certainly the discovery of new materials, certainly that’s in the cards. The machine has already produced one of the world’s largest molecules.”


Cronin and Colosimo have some ideas of what types of new materials they would like to create and what molecules could possibly give rise to them. But that information is too sensitive to be released, Colosimo said.


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Carter Voices Support for Veto of Defense Bill in Letter to McCain

(DEFENSE NEWS, 18 July 16) . Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he will recommend President Obama veto the 2017 defense policy bill over a laundry list of congressional proposals, including a tangle of bureaucratic reforms and a House-passed plan to shift war funding, Carter said in a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain last week.


“If a bill is presented to the President in the current form of either version of the NDAA, I will join with the President’s other senior advisors in recommending that he veto the legislation,” Carter said in the July 13 letter. “I am, however, hopeful that you will address the Department’s concerns during your conference negotiations.”


The threat, which came as House and Senate conferees began to reconcile differences between the two bills, follows Carter’s broader public objections to Congress’ “micromanagement” of the Pentagon. The letter spells out grievances with the Senate-passed bill’s overhaul of DoD’s acquisition leadership, among other organizational prescriptions, as well as the bills’ rejection of ways for DoD to cut costs.


Pushing back against raft of aggressive bureaucratic overhaul provisions, Carter called for more study and review, to be done by a new bipartisan panel in the style of the Packard Commission, whose recommendations were rolled into the defense reforms of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act. He drew a contrast with this year’s proposed reforms and those, which he said grew from “years of study and debate” for a better understanding of the ripple effects from those changes, and “more responsible timing and timelines.”


Under the banner of Goldwater-Nichols bureaucratic reforms, both policy bills took a number of steps which Carter called, “excessive micromanagement.” Carter counted 131 acquisition policy provisions, 120 military personnel policy provisions, and 69 health care provisions from both bills that would “require extensive implementation efforts,” for the military.


Carter lamented potential chaos involved in implementing overlapping restructuring efforts, which would need added staff, just as Congress would mandate a new round of personnel reductions for senior civilians and uniformed officials. For instance, a plan to shift responsibility for personnel security and background checks would require more headquarters personnel to implement, not less.


“The Department is engaged in multiple overseas conflicts, including in the ongoing fight against [the Islamic State group], and is about to experience a transition to a new presidential administration,” Carter wrote. “With this backdrop, the first rule for the NDAA must be: do no harm. The scope, specificity, and pace of the prescribed major reforms and policy changes in the Senate bill, in particular do not meet this standard.


President Obama has threatened to veto the House and Senate versions of the bills – the House bill over its unorthodox treatment of overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds, and the Senate bill over its acquisition reform provisions and limits it would place on the closure of the Guantanamo military detainment facility in Cuba – objections Carter echoed.


The House passed a version of the policy bill that shifts $18 billion in OCO toward base budget requirements, and adds more troops, jet aircraft, shipbuilding and rotorcraft than the president’s budget. The House bill also cuts off OCO after April 30, 2017, a gambit to force the next president to ask Congress for supplemental defense spending next year.


The Senate did not take the same route.


The approach threatens to upend the two-year budget deal reached last year by congressional leaders and the White House, Carter warned, and it flirts with sequestration budget cuts, which would kick in if the federal budget topped statutory caps.


“By gambling with warfighting funds, the bill risks the safety of our men and women fighting to keep America safe, undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars, dispirits troops and their families, baffles our allies, and emboldens our enemies,” Carter’s letter reads. “In short, it is an approach that is objectionable on its face.”


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Drones able to inspect manned aircraft in record time

(C4ISRNET, 19 July 16) . Michael Peck


Airbus has demonstrated how a drone can conduct a visual aircraft inspection.


At the Farnborough Air Show, a drone with a high-definition camera inspected the upper part of an aircraft on the ground, according to an Airbus announcement. Inspections take 10 to 15 minutes versus two hours for a human inspector, according to Airbus.


The drone was flown “using an automatic flight control system supervised by a human pilot,” Airbus said. “The UAV follows a predetermined flight path and takes a series of pictures automatically. All these images and especially those showing any potential non-quality such as scratches, dents and painting defects, are compiled in a 3-D digital model, recorded in a database and then analyzed. This data helps improve traceability, prevention and reduction of damage.”


Airbus is now conducting full-scale industrial testing on A330 aircraft.



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F-35 impact from unrest in Turkey unclear: Lockheed

(FLIGHTGLOBAL, 19 July 16) . Leigh Giangreco


A failed military coup last week will not affect Lockheed Martin’s business relationship with Turkey, though it could be too early to make that call, according to top Lockheed Martin executives.


In a Tuesday earnings call, Lockheed’s chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, and chief financial officer, Bruce Tanner, offered different views over whether recent events in Turkey would affect Lockheed’s business deals there.


“If you look at Turkey, I know there’s been a lot of churn recently,” Hewson says. “But it’s an essential security partner for the US and our allies . we have not seen an indication it will affect our business.”


Tanner measured Hewson’s comments, saying it’s too early to call up implications for the F-35 programme in Turkey. He also notes Lockheed’s business history with Turkish aerospace companies, including the Lockheed’s foreign military sale deal with TAI to upgrade the Turkish Air Force’s F-16 fighters.


“We’ve got a long history with Turkey,” Tanner says. “They’ve been a trusted partner.”


On July 15, members of the Turkish military attempted to seize government buildings in the country’s capital of Ankara and at least two rebel pilots hijacked F-16 fighters. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the former head of Turkey’s Air Force, Gen. Akin Ozturk, as the coup’s leader.


Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme goes back 14 years. The Turkish government signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Defense Department in 2002 to join the nine-member international partnership, pledging to contribute $175 million to develop the fighter. Northrop Grumman later named Turkish Aerospace Industries as a second source for producing the F-35’s complex centre fuselage. In 2014, the US DOD announced that Turkey would host the first heavy engine maintenance centre in Europe in 2018, supporting the Pratt & Whitney F135 powerplant for the F-35A.


Turkey plans to order 100 conventional takeoff and landing F-35As, with the first 30 scheduled for delivery by 2022, according to a 14 June presentation by a Lockheed official at Defense Acquisition University’s “Insight Day” event.


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Sailors to get more training on finances, new retirement system

(NAVY TIMES, 19 July 16) . Mark D. Faram


Sailors are about to get more financial training throughout their career as the military moves to a new retirement system in coming years.


Congress has mandated the services revamp their financial management training to educate them on retirement, and on how to manage the major financial hurdles sailors encounter in a career and beyond.


As a result, the service released NAVADMIN 161/16 Tuesday, the first of many messages expected over the next two years about what’s being called the Navy’s Financial Literacy Education Program as the military shifts to a blended retirement system.


“The goal of Navy’s financial education program is to arm sailors and their families with skills and tools for use to make informed decisions about their financial future,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. “Personal financial readiness is a key component of the overall Family Readiness System, a network of agencies, programs, services and individuals that work in a collaborative manner to assist service members and their families to meet the unique challenges associated with military service.”


The new retirement system will be implemented in 2018. Sailors who are currently serving will be grandfathered into the current retirement system, known as the 20-year cliff-vesting system. Some will have the choice to opt into the new scheme, which shrinks the current pension but also offers government contributions to retirement accounts and retirement benefits for those who leave the service before reaching 20 years.


If you have 12 years or more of service as of Dec. 31, 2017, the current retirement system is your only option. Likewise, those who join on or after Jan. 1, 2018, their only option will be the new Blended Retirement System.


But for those who joined between Jan 1, 2006, and Jan. 1, 2018 will have the choice to keep the current retirement or switch to the new plan.


Christensen said the service has long provided financial management training as part of Navy accessions training and is often revisited by commands as part of the General Military Training program.


The new training plan mandates sailors revisit their financial training at crucial times in their careers.


For example, in addition to the accessions training, sailors will also get a financial check when they arrive at their initial and subsequent duty stations through the ranks of E-5 and O-4, as well as each time they advance up those ranks.


Other “touch points” for financial training will be when sailors vest in the Thrift Savings Program or receive continuation pay under the new retirement plan. Marriage, divorce and childbirth are also considered key points for follow-on financial training.


“This training will help assist sailors in maintaining their financial readiness throughout their military service and as they transition into civilian life,” Christensen said. “The Navy recognizes that personal financial readiness of Sailors and their families must be maintained to sustain mission readiness.”


The new financial training will incorporate existing training from various points, including accession training, GMT, pre- and post-deployment training and transition courses.


A key facet of the new training will be front-loaded to educate sailors on the new retirement system that’s only a year and a half away.


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Pentagon’s Quest For Single IT Architecture Needs Work, Says GAO

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 18 JUL 16) … Charles S. Clark


The Pentagon’s efforts to harmonize the information technology systems on which it is spending $38 billion this fiscal year have fallen behind on specifying costs, workforce needs and cybersecurity strategies, a watchdog found.


The so-called Joint Information Environment–established in 2010 by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates as an architecture for the Defense Department’s IT infrastructure-is at risk unless the department can “fully define JIE’s scope and expected cost, and take steps to improve workforce and security planning,” the Government Accountability Office said in a report released on July 14.


The fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act required the Pentagon to assess resources needed to achieve the vision of the Joint Information Environment to save in acquisition spending, speed up communications, modernize training and protect data from intruders.


The final product would include such elements as a reduction in the number of IT networks; a standardized virtual desktop environment; a cloud-enabled command and control capability; and a common set of standards, protocols and interfaces to enhance data sharing with other agencies, allies, coalition partners and private-sector organizations, GAO noted.


This March, DoD officials reported that cost estimates are in preparation following a January recommendation to Congress from the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation that oversight of the admittedly complex cost estimates be improved.


In addition, the auditors found, the department “has not determined the number of staff and the specific skills and abilities needed” to make the JIE a reality, and “DoD also lacks a strategy to ensure required JIE security assessments are conducted.”


In interviews over the past year, officials said the department has taken steps to address JIE personnel and security needs, “but it does not have plans in place to address these existing gaps,” GAO wrote. “As a result, DoD risks having a deficient security posture and not being able to ensure that it will have the appropriate workforce knowledge and skills needed to support JIE.”


Until officials and congressional committees are provided with accurate estimates, GAO continued, “they are limited in their ability to provide oversight for performance and make effective resource decisions.”


GAO recommended that the department fully define JIE’s scope and expected cost, and improve workforce and security planning. In the report, DoD described steps it is taking along those lines.


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Defense Secretary Warns Of ‘Widespread Negative Consequences’ If Senior Executive Corps Is Cut

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 20 JUL 16) … By Kellie Lunney


Reducing the number of senior executives at the Pentagon would have “widespread negative consequences” on the department’s mission-critical programs and services, the Defense secretary told the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a new letter.


In a 23-page letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Defense Secretary Ash Carter outlined a litany of concerns with the current House and Senate fiscal 2017 Defense policy bills, including a provision in the Senate version that would require the department to cut its career Senior Executive Service ranks by 25 percent by Jan. 1, 2019.


Carter called the provision arbitrary and without justification, arguing that Defense has reduced the size of its SES workforce by 105 since 2010. He also said that the department operates with fewer senior executives compared to the ratio that exists between SESers and employees in the rest of the federal civilian workforce.


“DoD’s SES population is 0.17 percent of the DoD workforce (one SES member to every 586 non-SES employees), compared to the average of 0.89 percent SES members to the overall civilian workforce of the other Cabinet-level agencies, a factor of five difference,” said the July 13 letter. “Arbitrarily reducing this already low factor even further would have widespread negative consequences.” It also would demoralize the DoD’s civilian workforce “when opportunities for promotion to SES in the short- to medium-terms are severely curtailed and eliminated,” Carter wrote.


The provision in the Senate bill would exempt those SES employees considered “highly qualified experts,” limiting that designation to 200 employees, accord to the Armed Services Committee report on the fiscal 2017 NDAA. Defense – the largest department in the federal government – has roughly 1,000 career senior executives. The measure also would not apply to “those employees of the department who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.” The House fiscal 2017 NDAA does not contain a similar provision; a congressional conference committee currently is ironing out the differences between the two versions.


Carter also sent the letter to the House Armed Services Committee.


President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA, in part over of the provision calling for the SES reduction.


(The statement from the administration actually said DoD eliminated 97 SES positions in 2011 and more than 140 positions since then.) Carter in his July letter said he would recommend the president veto both current versions of the NDAA if they reached him.


“I am surprised and disappointed about the extent to which provisions in the [House and Senate] bills could adversely affect our enterprise, to include discarding well-reasoned, necessary force management and budgetary decisions of the department’s senior, expert civilian and uniformed leaders,” Carter wrote.


The Defense secretary also took issue with other “workforce limitations” in the bills, including new restrictions on the size of the civilian and contractor workforces at DoD headquarters as well as a call for reducing general and flag officer positions and the legislation’s “micromanagement of department personnel and infrastructure.”


In addition, Carter objected to the 2.1 percent military pay raise for troops next year, which is included in the House bill, saying that “a 1.6 percent pay raise represents the best judgment of our military and civilian leaders on how to balance responsible compensation increases with our readiness and modernization needs.”


As for the House and Senate legislation’s provisions on parental and adoption leave, the Pentagon chief said many of the provisions would restrict DoD’s discretion when it comes to maternity leave, and in the case of the House version would provide more adoption leave for dual-military couples than for single-military couples, granting the former an extra benefit not available to the latter. Carter said he supports provisions that would expand parental (non-maternity) leave from 10 to 14 days, which the department had proposed as part of its Force of the Future initiative.


The majority for the House and Senate Armed Services committees did not immediately respond to questions for comment.


Jason Briefel, interim president of the Senior Executives Association, said there appears to be “little to no rationale or analysis” behind the Senate proposal to slash the department’s SES ranks. “SEA applauds the Defense secretary and the administration for pushing back on this arbitrary proposal which, if enacted, would significantly undermine the department’s career leadership capacity and threaten the expertise, knowledge, stability and consistency provided by senior executives,” said Briefel.


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Pentagon Wants To Automate Social-Media Checks On Clearance Holders

The program would analyze public posts to help determine an employee’s suitability for Defense Intelligence Agency classified work.

(DEFENSE ONE 20 JUL 16) … Aliya Sternstein


The Pentagon is conducting market research for a planned 12-month “social media checks” pilot that would analyze public posts to help determine an employee’s suitability for Defense Intelligence Agency classified work.


The effort is part of a shift away from screening intelligence and military staff every five years, as is current practice. The program is meant to support “continuous evaluation” through automated searches of various data sources, including social media posts, DIA says.


The scope of this particular trial run would involve generating “social media reports” that provide “comprehensive and objective data” and expertise to carry out a “whole of person review,” in line with Office of Director of National Intelligence guidelines, states a newly released January draft statement of work.


In May, DNI chief James Clapper issued a directive approving the use of social media in the public domain to vet personnel.


If DIA goes through with a contract, “at a minimum, the service would have to analyze foreign comments and postings, foreign contacts and any information regarding: allegiance to the United States, foreign influence and/or preference, sexual behavior, personal conduct, financial, alcohol, legal and/or illegal drug involvement, psychological conditions and criminal conduct,” the work statement says.


A DIA official told Nextgov there is no guarantee the agency will solicit any vendor; rather, DIA is figuring out what features companies might be able to offer.


The social media reports would help out that agency’s existing Personnel Security, Insider Threat, Continuous Evaluation, Counterintelligence and Investigation program, DIA spokesman James Kudla said.


“This is part of the larger government effort” for “continuous evaluation monitoring,” Kudla said in a brief interview. It’s not restricted to the intelligence community; “it’s really part of the Department of Defense program as well.”


“Social media reports are required to identify national security concerns on individuals who are required to obtain and retain a national security clearance” for handling sensitive material, states a July 14 sources sought notice accompanying the work description.


The reports should include checks of “all publicly available social media sites,” the work statement says.

DIA does not specify particular websites, like Facebook, Twitter or other online networks.


The analyses also would cross-check an individual’s various online personas through “social media profile comparisons,” the work statement adds.


Clapper’s policy states that security clearance investigators cannot create shadow accounts to “follow” or “friend” an employee under review. In addition, social media content about other people inadvertently collected during a check cannot be retained unless the information is relevant to the review of the employee, the directive says.


Other intelligence agencies have experimented with social media monitoring to aid the background investigation process.


The National Security Agency, for example, says it performed a successful social media test that tracked 175 NSA employees on their online networks.


About 45 percent of the searches returned information that aligned with criteria NSA currently uses to judge candidates – “some of which we didn’t know before,” Kemp Ensor, NSA director of security, said in April at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance symposium in Chantilly, Virginia.


The DIA market research notice says the agency would like social media reports for routine investigations turned around within five days and two-day delivery for most “expedited” social media reports.


The agency is looking for prospective vendors that would be able to use a secure, encrypted internet website or document transfer tool to furnish the social media reports, the work statement says.


Defense writ large is building a massive information-sharing system that can profile security clearance-holders, to flag who among them might become traitors or other “insider threats.”


The DoD Component Insider Threat Records System is part of the governmentwide reaction to the 2010 sharing of classified diplomatic cables with WikiLeaks by former Pfc. Chelsea Manning.


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Do’s and Don’ts for Voicing Your Political Opinion on Social Media

(NAVY LIVE, 19 July 16) . Jason Kelly


Back in 2008, political and media analysts dubbed that year’s presidential election the YouTube election since the candidates used the platform to post videos longer than traditional political ads.


Fast forward to 2016 where now a third of 18- to 29-year-olds say social media is their most helpful source for learning about this year’s presidential election, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.


More social media opportunities exist now for Americans to share everything from their favorite cat photos to their personal opinions, including about this year’s presidential election.


So what do Sailors and Department of the Navy civilians need to know before they post, tweet and snap their political opinions? The information below doesn’t cover everything but, if in doubt, consult your command’s ethics representative.


Service members.


Let’s start with Sailors. NAVADMIN 055-16 and DoD Directive 1344.10 spell it out.


Active-duty Sailors may generally express their personal views about public issues or political candidates using social media – just like they can write a letter to a newspaper’s editor. If the social media site or content identifies the Sailor as on active duty (or if they’re reasonably identifiable as an active-duty Sailor), then the content needs to clearly and prominently state that the views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the Department of Defense (DoD). However, active-duty service members may not engage in any partisan political activity such as posting or making direct links to a political party, partisan political candidate, campaign, group or cause. That’s the equivalent of distributing literature on behalf of those entities or individuals, which is prohibited.


Active-duty Sailors can like or follow accounts of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause. However, they cannot suggest that others like, friend or follow them or forward an invitation or solicitation.


Remember, active-duty service members are subject to additional restrictions based on the Joint Ethics Regulation, the Uniform Code of Military Justice and rules about the use of government resources and government communications systems, including email and internet.


What about Sailors who aren’t on active duty? They’re not subject to the above social media restrictions so long as they don’t reasonably create the perception or appearance of official sponsorship, approval or endorsement by the DoD.


Department of the Defense civilians.


DoD civilians need to consider the Hatch Act and DoD policy.


In general, federal employees may use social media and email and comply with the Hatch Act if they:

.Don’t engage in political activity while on duty or in the workplace, even if the employee is using their personal smartphone, tablet or laptop to do so. Federal employees are “on duty” when they’re in a pay status (including during telework hours) other than paid leave or are representing the government in an official capacity

.Don’t engage in political activity in an official capacity at any time

.Don’t solicit or receive political contributions at any time


Political activity refers to any activity directed at the success or failure of a political party or partisan political group or candidate in a partisan race.


Below is a list of some frequently asked questions. For additional FAQs, visit


Q: May a federal employee engage in political activity on social media?


A: Yes, they may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting, liking, sharing, tweeting or retweeting, but there are a few limitations. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from:

.Engaging in any political activity via social media while on duty or in the workplace

.Referring to their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity at any time (note that including an employee’s official title or position on one’s social media profile, without more, is not an improper use of official authority)

.Suggesting or asking anyone to make political contributions at any time, including providing links to the political contribution page of any partisan group or candidate in a partisan race or liking, sharing or retweeting a solicitation from one of those entities and invitation to a political fundraising event. However, an employee may accept an invitation to a political fundraising event from such entities via social media.


Further restricted employees also may express their opinions about a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race by posting or sharing content, but there are a few limitations. In addition to the limitations above, the Hatch Act prohibits further restricted employees from:

.Posting or linking to campaign or other partisan material of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race

.Sharing those entities’ social media sites or their content, including retweeting


Q: If a federal employee lists his or her official title or position on Facebook, may he or she also complete the “political views”?


A: Yes, identifying political party affiliation on a social media profile, which also contains one’s official title or position, without more, isn’t an improper use of official authority.


Q: May a federal employee display a political party or campaign logo or a candidate photograph as his profile picture?


A: Yes, but subject to the following limitations. Because a profile picture accompanies most actions on social media, a federal employee would not be permitted-while on duty or in the workplace-to post, share, tweet or retweet any social media content because each such action would show their support for a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race, even if the content of the action is not about those entities.


Q: May a federal employee – while on duty or in the work place – send or forward a partisan political email from his or her government email account or their personal email account to others?


A: No, they can’t send or forward a partisan political email from either their government email account or their personal email account (even using a personal device) while at work. A partisan political email is defined as one that is directed at the success or failure of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan race.


Again, the above information doesn’t cover every situation. If in doubt, consult your command’s ethics counselor.


Don’t forget the presidential election is November 8. For voting information, visit DoD’s Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website.







FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of July 11


FRCMA Sailor wins Athena DC 1.0

Related – The Pentagon’s Secret Weapons Guru Asked For Your Crazy Ideas & Got 1,000 In 1 Month



Pentagon to Issue Directive on Arming Troops at Facilities in the US

CSIS Chief Backs McCain’s Defense Acquisitions Shakeup

Senate Democrats Block DoD Spending Bill, Seeking Omnibus

Armed Services leaders encouraged after first conference meeting

Funding Gap Hangs Over Defense Policy Bill Negotiations in Congress

Marines’ New King Stallion Won’t Have To Borrow Spare Parts

Desperate for planes, military turns to the ‘boneyard’

Navy F/A-18 Adds Real-Time Fast Attack Video Data Link

US Lawmakers Urge Action on Jet Sales to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain

Pentagon Says Near Deal With Lockheed For More F-35 Fighter Jets

Navy Issues Roughly $2 Billion In F-35 Contracts

Plans Under Way For October F-35B Sea-Based Test

F-35C To Conduct Sea Trials in August Aboard Carrier George Washington

F-35 to Tap Airbus for Data Protection Technology

Marine Corps Aviation Chief Ranks SDB II as F-35 Upgrade Priority


Security Message: Potential for Day of Rage Protests across America



The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce our 5th national event!


Guest Speaker: Ms. Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

Agenda: 1 hour of discussion and QA based on topic


For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner ( or Sara Gravatt (





Follow us on Twitter @COMFRC_Sustains,

Facebook at

and YouTube at







FRCMA Sailor wins Athena DC 1.0

(FLEET READINESS CENTER MID-ATLANTIC, 12 July 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland – One Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA) Sailor has proven he has the ability to think outside the box when working to solve problems for his fellow Sailors and take home a top prize in the process.


Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Pecota, senior Innovation Think Tank member from FRCMA Detachment Patuxent River, was one of six Sailors who pitched innovative ideas in front of spectators and a panel of Naval leaders during the recent Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition as part of Athena DC 1.0. The pitches were done in a fashion similar to the TV show, “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs pitch ideas before a panel of potential investors.


Pecota’s idea is to use additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, to design and produce a cover at the cost of about $10 for the $2 million MH-60R Seahawk sonar system’s transducer to prevent scraping the foam inside of a shipping or transporting container. This problem has caused an average of two man-hours and cost of $90 to repair each time this happens.  This innovative idea stands to have a potential cost savings of more than $76,000 and nearly 1,700 man-hours per year. In short, it was a $10 solution to a $2 million problem.


For presenting the top idea, Pecota received the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage and command backing for a small functional team to make their idea a reality by leveraging the Athena Network of scientists and engineers.


The Athena Project, an initiative focused on harnessing deckplate innovations to create a cadre of forward-thinking, creatively confident Sailors for the fleet of tomorrow, provides an open forum for Sailors to pitch innovative ideas to improve their command or the Navy. Contestants have five minutes to present their innovative ideas in a casual environment, followed by a five-minute question and answer session from the panel and audience.  The contestants are judged in three categories based on idea quality, actionability and presentation.


More than 20 ideas were submitted from throughout the Navy with six being selected by the Athena National Council to compete at Athena DC 1.0.


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The Pentagon’s Secret Weapons Guru Asked For Your Crazy Ideas & Got 1,000 In 1 Month

(DEFENSE ONE 13 JUL 16) … Caroline Houck


Will Roper, director of the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office, got “exactly what we want” from the public.


An open call for “novel concepts” by the Pentagon’s secret-weapons guru William Roper has produced almost a thousand responses in less than one month, some of them surprisingly promising.


Roper heads the Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, which is at the head of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s efforts to make the military more innovative and agile. Roper’s outfit published a request for research proposals last month, – called a Broad Area Announcement, or BAA, – which asks for “novel concepts in the following focus areas: Autonomy, Command and Control, Cyber, Sensors, and Weapon Technologies,” and is what Roper calls “an open door for the outside world to bring us ideas.”


“I was afraid when we put the BAA out that I would get the old ideas that I’ve seen many times, that now have a new label, a new name, a new graphic, but it’s the same idea,” Roper said. “And there’s a little bit of that. But I have seen people put in some things that are different. There are companies that haven’t really done a lot of work with the government. All of that is exactly what we want. We want people who have creative ideas to be able to get to us.”


The SCO trades in this world of ideas, helping the U.S. military keep its tech advantage in the crazy-quilt of modern warfare by finding creative ways to repurpose existing technologies or integrate them with new ones. Roper’s go-to example is the SM-6 missile , which the SCO helped repurpose to strike enemy ships.


He’s just recently started talking about the electromagnetic railgun, which captures imaginations and creates “a different paradigm of missile defense,” but has also led the military to realize “we were not pulling all of the tricks that we could pull in powder guns,” he said.


We now think that we can do pretty revolutionary things with existing powder guns – think the Howizers, the Navy’s 5-inch guns. So we’ve shifted emphasis to that, not because we’re not interested in railguns, because we are, but when you look at the delta between fueling and quantity, you’ve got over 1,000 powder guns, but just a few railguns.”


Of course, Roper doesn’t discuss the specifics of most of the rest of his office’s projects, and declined to reveal the “creative ideas” generated by the BAA. For the new pitches, that’s in part due to the legality of government contracting – “obviously for any kind of competitive decision I can’t discuss the specific [ones] that jump ahead of the others,” he said.


More importantly, though, is the need to keep the majority of the unconventional applications and new technologies confidential. Deciding which surprises to reveal or conceal – enough of the former to deter wars, but enough of the latter to win them – is akin to “multivariate calculus,” Roper says.


So don’t expect big reveals on the BAA submissions any time in the near future, particularly since the call is staying “open as a revolving door around the year.” The SCO has to “generate new ideas in every budget in order to stay around,” Roper said, noting that $840 million of the office’s $900-million budget was awarded to individually pitched projects.


“If you have an idea,” Roper said with a smile, “go to FedBizOps and search for ‘SCO.'”


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Pentagon to Issue Directive on Arming Troops at Facilities in the US

(STARS AND STRIPES, 12 Jul 16) . Alex Horton


SAN ANTONIO — The Defense Department is close to releasing its updated policy for arming troops at facilities in the United States following several attacks, including the shooting deaths of four Marines and a sailor last July, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.


The policy, which could be unveiled by September, will further clarify commanders’ authority to allow servicemembers to carry and store weapons on and off military installations. The guidance will regulate privately owned and military-issued weapons, said Army Maj. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.


On July 16, 2015, Mohammed Abdulazeez opened fire at a recruiting station and reserve center in Chattanooga, killing five and wounding one Marine and a police officer.


Investigators concluded a sailor at the reserve center likely returned fire with a personal unauthorized handgun, according to The Washington Post.


The policy that the Defense Department put forth in October 2015, following the Chattanooga attacks, states “qualified personnel shall be armed when required for assigned duties and there is reasonable expectation that DOD installations, property, or personnel lives or DOD assets will be jeopardized if personnel are not armed.”


Since 2009, 40 people were killed during single gunman assaults at military facilities, including two shootings at Fort Hood and one at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The attacks have raised concerns by defense officials and Congress about security measures and force protection shortfalls in the wake of such attacks.


Recruiting stations were identified as the most vulnerable public facilities following a force-wide Pentagon review and the Army Corps of Engineers prioritized security improvements among those installations out of more than 6,000 total facilities, Davis said.


“We’re putting in place stronger physical security systems, including stronger entry controls, better alarm systems, reinforced doors, and additional ways to safely exit our facilities,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in May, describing the upgrades.


But Davis declined Monday to further describe the measures due to security concerns.


The Pentagon will spend $80 million this year and $100 million the next two years for security augmentation at recruiting facilities, including a system to notify and broadcast warnings to troops within a 20-mile radius of a threat, Davis said.


He also said the new arming policy will implement the intent of Congress, alluding to a bill proposed last year that would give commanders in the United States more authority to arm troops at off-site installations, such as recruiting stations, when they deemed it appropriate.


“We take very seriously any decision to place a member of the department in a position to potentially use deadly force. We have to balance that potential against the possibility of an attack on our personnel,” Davis said.


Military and civilian personnel performing law enforcement and security duties are typically the only troops authorized to carry weapons on military posts, which are usually handguns. Government issued weapons are kept in secured arms rooms with controlled access, and ammunition is commonly stored in depots away from those weapons, Davis said.


The Chattanooga ambush claimed the lives of one sailor, Navy Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, and four Marines: Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40, a Purple Heart recipient for wounds received in Iraq; Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, 21; Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 35, and Sgt. Carson Holmquist, 25.


All four posthumously received a Purple Heart in April. The wounded Marine, Sergeant DeMonte Cheeley, received his Purple Heart in a ceremony in January.


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CSIS Chief Backs McCain’s Defense Acquisitions Shakeup

(DEFENSE NEWS 07 JUL 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – Defense Policy Board Chairman John Hamre, in a visit to Capitol Hill Thursday, threw his weight behind the Senate’s plan to shake up the defense acquisitions hierarchy.


Hamre, a former senior Pentagon official and the current chief of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, an influential Washington think tank, also endorsed a House defense policy bill that would require the National Security Council advisor to be confirmed by the Senate, if the NSC’s staff rises above 100. It stands at about 450.


Testifying before the full House Armed Services Committee before it conferences its defense policy bill with its aggressive Senate counterpart, Hamre said he supports a provision to end the office of the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer and divide its duties between two positions, one of them a new chief technological innovator for the Defense Department.


“The No. 3 position in the department needs to be the chief innovation officer, who’s going to bring superior technology and put it in the hands of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, going forward,” said Hamre. “I strongly support this provision.”


The two bills offer differing, but significant, changes to defense acquisitions, DoD’s structure and to the National Security Council.


The White House has threatened to veto both bills, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter has charged that the bills represent “micromanagement” from Congress. A White House policy memo last month insisted the Senate measures on acquisitions, “would roll back the acquisition reforms of the last two decades,” calling them “inappropriate” as other acquisition reforms begin to show progress.


Hamre, asked by the HASC to weigh in on five of the most significant portions of the Senate bill, drew a distinction between this round of defense reforms and the major reforms of 30 years ago. The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols legislation, he said, was borne out military operational failures without a counterpart today.


“We do not have failure in the field today,” he said. “We have policy failure, but it’s not military. We need to make changes now because we don’t have the resources to support the needs we have. We have to make this organization more agile and streamlined.”


Hamre urged lawmakers to use caution.


“Looking at this legislation and how it changes the department, please be careful, we’re at war,” he said. “We’ve got at least two wars going on, operations around the world, we’re about to change governments, and so I’d ask you to approach this with prudence, please.”


1. Elevating the director of defense research and engineering and diminishing the director of acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L): Yes.


Past bureaucratic changes inadvertently cost DoD better access to innovative hardware. Today AT&L, is “not an innovation organization, they are a compliance organization,” Hamre said. “If we have to restore innovation to the department, we have to create a lean, superior position in the department.”


2. Cutting general and flag officers by 25 percent: No, but delay the cuts and ask DoD for its plan to make them.


“Simply imposing a cut of 25 percent is pretty arbitrary right now,” Hamre said. “My recommendation is to keep the cut in place, but keep the implementation a year away.”


3. Cross-functional teams: No.


“I understand the sincerity of the proposal, but I think it’s profoundly wrong for Congress to dictate the operational activity of the department,” Hamre said. “Hold him accountable, and let him organize to achieve those goals.


4. Bring the Joint Chiefs chairman into the chain of command for select administrative matters: No, as it erodes civilian control of the military, Hamre said.


“Civilian control is a toggle switch, either it’s on or its off,” Hamre said. “It’s not a rheostat where you can dial some level of civilian control and give powers directly to the chairman.”


5. Capping the National Security Council: Yes.


Hamre backed an amendment from HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, that would require the Senate to approve the president’s national security advisor, if the staff of the NSC rises above 100.


The Senate bill would cap the NSC staff at 150 people.


“The status of the National Security Council rests at a fault line in the Constitution,” Hamre said. “Is the NSC an extension of the work of the departments, where Congress has oversight? Or is the NSC an extension of the president where the right of presidential privilege gives privacy and autonomy to its deliberations?”


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Senate Democrats Block DoD Spending Bill, Seeking Omnibus

(DEFENSE NEWS 13 JUL 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – With their blockage of defense appropriations, Democrats are signaling that they are done with the process for passing individual appropriations bills and want to negotiate an omnibus.


Republicans, at a press briefing Tuesday blasted Democratic obstruction on defense as a bad faith move against the troops and a losing position on the campaign-trail. But Democrats at their briefing, said Republicans are maneuvering to get military appropriations passed so they can punt on domestic spending.


Asked whether he was sensitive Republican accusations, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, lit up.


“Am I sensitive? Let me tell you: They are so obvious that even me with one blind eye can see it pretty easy,” said Reid, D-Nev. “All they want to do is they want to get defense appropriations bills passed and then walk away. And then all the other bills would be at their mercy.”


Democrats are signaling they want terms similar to last year’s bipartisan budget deal, which was supposed to cover 2017. One of the key players in last year’s agreement, Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said her caucus is seeking parity between defense and non-defense spending, all appropriations bills “recognized” in an omnibus, and no “poison pill riders.”


The fear, Mikulski said Tuesday, is that with defense bills in hand, Republicans will pass a stop-gap continuing resolution to fund all domestic spending at last year’s levels.


To hear them tell it, whatever trust Democratic leaders had in their Republican counterparts evaporated during the House-Senate process of producing a House-Senate conference report on the Milcon-VA bill, which funds military construction and Veterans Affairs.


Democrats, who fought hard to include $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, ultimately withdrew support after House Republicans inserted riders targeting Planned Parenthood, promoting the Confederate flag and cutting veterans’ funding by $500 million below the Senate bill.


“What happened in Milcon-VA really destroyed an excellent bipartisan atmosphere,” said Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Vice-Chair Sen. Dick Durbin. D-Ill. “We looked at that and said, if that is a picture of what we are going to face with appropriations bills, we’re going to have to bargain the whole package.”


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this is the best deal Democrats will get.


“If we did what the Senate Democrats said they want to do, we get no action on that at all,” McConnell said.


You’d strip the veterans out and the military construction out, send the Zika Bill to the House that we know the House wouldn’t pass and so we’d leave here having done neither.”


On July 7, Democrats fought McConnell’s motion to take defense appropriations to the Senate floor. McConnell lost in a 50-44 vote which fell short of the 60 votes he needed.


Tuesday, Durbin said Democrats now need President Obama to sit at the negotiating table, wielding a veto threat. “The last time we had the president sitting at the table, we had a two-year budget agreement,” he said.


In the meantime, Republican leadership is publicly shaming Democrats over the stalled defense bill in hopes that it will hurt them at the polls. McConnell had Sen. Dan Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Marine, speak at Tuesday’s press briefing to blast Democrats.


“I think it’s indefensible and hopefully they will see the light, because I don’t think any senator wants to go home and brag about filibustering supporting our troops with five funding five times in one year,” said Sullivan, R-Alaska.


McConnell, too hammered Democrats.


“They have succeeded now in disrupting the process, thereby guaranteeing once again we end up with some indeterminate way of finishing the funding in a way that balls up the process,” McConnell said.


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Armed Services leaders encouraged after first conference meeting

(THE HILL, 13 July 16) . Rebecca Kheel


The conferees reconciling the House and Senate versions of a defense policy bill had a productive first meeting Wednesday, the leaders of the Armed Services committees agreed.


Still, the meeting made clear the $18 billion gap between the two bills will be a hurdle to overcome, they added.


“We had a very, I think, fruitful discussion, members of the Senate and House, members of both the committees and outside committee,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I still believe that with the significant challenges that we face, including the issue of sequestration and others, I don’t believe that we’re going to break a 53-year tradition of producing a defense authorization bill because we all agree it’s too important to the men and women who are serving in our military.”


McCain was talking with reporters alongside his counterpart in the House, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), and the ranking Democrats on both committees, Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), after a “pass the gavel” meeting where conferees discussed the priorities and issues they want to address during negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act.


The Senate bill would authorize $543 billion for the base budget and $59 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.


In the House bill, $23 billion of the OCO would be used for base budget items. That’s $18 billion more than the Obama administration had requested to use for the base budget. As such, the OCO account would only be authorized through April, forcing the next president to request supplemental war funding.


As far as other differences between the two bills, McCain said he doesn’t “see a lot of distance.”


But the money will be a “stumbling block,” he and the others agreed.


“We have not found a way through that yet, but we have just begun,” McCain said.


One complicating factor in recent weeks is President Obama’s decision to leave more troops than planned in Afghanistan and send more troops to Iraq. Both Thornberry and McCain have said those decisions require more defense spending.


Reports indicate the Pentagon may submit a supplemental funding request, Thornberry said. But in the meantime, he added, lawmakers still have to negotiate the bill.


“Our job is to work on these intense discussions, get our bill ready, come back in September and see what the fiscal landscape looks like, and we’ll work our way from there,” Thornberry said.


The White House has threatened to veto the House version of the bill, largely because of how it authorizes funding.


The quartet of lawmakers said it’s too early in the conference process to say whether the final bill will result in a veto showdown with the White House.


“We are seriously engaging and trying to find a way through this,” Reed said.


The lawmakers were confident they will find a way to fund defense despite budget caps.



“We always have,” McCain and Smith said in concert.


Added Thornberry: “Our job is to support the men and women who risk their lives to defend the country. And so whatever problems there may be, we’ve got to work through them because that’s what comes first, and that’s the mood in this room.”


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Funding Gap Hangs Over Defense Policy Bill Negotiations in Congress

(DEFENSE NEWS, 13 July 16) . Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – As top US lawmakers fired the proverbial starting gun Wednesday for House-Senate negotiations on a defense policy bill, they expressed confidence they would reach common ground, but the big sticking point is clear.


There is an $18 billion disparity between the bills and no clear path to resolve it, said lawmakers at a rare public press conference hosted by the “Big Four,” the armed services chairmen Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, as well as the panels’ ranking members Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.


“I didn’t see a major stumbling block, except the issues of sequestration, which we have not found a way through yet, but we have just begun,” McCain said.


Outside of the press conference, McCain said, “I don’t know the way through it now, but we always seem to get through it.”


The committees hosted a closed “pass the gavel” conference meeting in the bowels of the Capitol on Wednesday wherein lawmakers were able to make brief statements about their priorities. Smith agreed the funding controversy was a “significant stumbling block.”


“There is that need, there isn’t the money, and each of the four committees has taken a different swing at that, and the White House as well,” Smith said, referring to the congressional panels with jurisdiction over defense policy and spending. “Figuring out the money is the most important part of our negotiations.”


The Senate bill, in keeping with the funding levels in last year’s budget deal, authorizes about $543 billion for national defense programs and $59 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO).


The House bill matches that total but shifts $18 billion in emergency war spending into the base budget, providing for overseas operations funding for only seven months in fiscal 2017-a gambit to force the next presidential administration to request supplemental defense spending.


House Democrats have called that Republican plan risky and irresponsible, and McCain did not support that approach. McCain instead mounted a failed attempt to add $18 billion to the Senate defense policy bill.


On Wednesday, McCain said the military’s increased activity in Europe, Afghanistan and the Middle East have added pressures for more defense spending.


“All of those cost money, and the administration has not come over with an additional funding request for those, much less the $18 billion issue that we’re also facing,” McCain said.


Thornberry pointed to reports the Pentagon is preparing a supplemental spending request.


“Our job is to work in these intense discussions, get our bill ready, come back in September and see what the funding landscape looks like- and work our way from there,” Thornberry said.


The White House has issued a veto threat over both bills, but the assembled lawmakers said it was too soon to say what role that threat would play in the negotiations.


Though the press conference began with all involved expressing confidence that they could work toward a solution, lawmakers quickly, but politely, turned to familiar positions.


Reed, whose party leadership is seeking parity for defense and non-defense spending, said that there are national security expenses outside the Pentagon-for agencies such as the FBI.


Smith said the problem is Congress’ “desire to spend more than we have” for defense and priorities like the nation’s infrastructure-all with a national deficit in the billions. “We can lift the budget caps, but how do we live within our means,” Smith said.


“While all those things are true, our job is to support the men and women of this country,” Thornberry said. “So whatever problems there may be, we have to work through them because that’s what comes first.”


In spite of it all, lawmakers circled back to shared optimism. Asked how they would be able to find a solution to persistent sequestration-related funding issues, McCain and Smith said in unison: “Because we always have.”


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Marines’ New King Stallion Won’t Have To Borrow Spare Parts

(DOD BUZZ 13 JUL 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


FARNBOROUGH, England – Under the hood of the much-anticipated CH-53K King Stallion helicopter is a slew of smart systems that will help maintainers keep it flying faster and safer, the Navy’s program executive officer for air, anti-submarine warfare, assault and special mission programs said this week.


Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow on Tuesday, Rear Adm. Dean Peters said the King Stallion, built by the Lockheed Martin Corp.-owned Sikorsky and set to hit the Marine Corps fleet in 2019, would come with native health usage and monitoring systems and enhanced logistics tracking capability that would allow the aircraft to tell the crew when a part was failing or needed maintenance well ahead of a crisis point.


This advanced tech, he said, would allow maintainers to request parts further in advance.


“It’s similar to the technology that’s used in commercial department stores, so we understand when components are failing or about to fail and we have the part ready and we don’t have to rob that from another aircraft and create more maintenance,” Peters said.


The aircraft will also come equipped with a high-durability gearbox that are expected to keep the aircraft out of maintenance for longer periods, a key concern now as the Marine Corps grapples with a fleet of heavy-lift helicopters that is largely unfit to fly.


These are just a few ways of many that the King Stallion is expected to save the Marines’ aging CH-53 Echo Super Stallion fleet.


The workhorse aircraft, which entered service for the Marine Corps in 1981, has been plagued by readiness shortfalls following a decade-and-a-half of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Marine Corps revealed earlier this year that less than a third of the service’s 147 aircraft were cleared to fly and Congress had committed $360 million to refurbishing the fleet.


The Marine Corps “probably kept [CH-53s] in theater a little bit too long,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told a Senate panel in March.


With fewer aircraft available to fly, officials have also decried a decrease in per-pilot flight hours.


Marine brass have yet to release the cause of a tragic collision of two Super Stallions off the coast of Oahu in January that cost the lives of all 12 pilots and crew members. While Marine Corps Deputy Commandant of Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said earlier this month there’s no correlation between stress on the fleet and decreased flight hours and increased deadly mishaps, he said the Corps has seen an increase in smaller mishaps resulting in up to $500,000 worth of damage.


“We do know that we need to get our pilots more aircraft,” Peters said. “That’s some of the impetus of pushing this program forward, even in the midst of challenging defense budgets. And those 200 aircraft, as we start to fill in the squadrons there on the Marine Corps side, are going to be very well received in terms of being able to provide an operational capability.”


The King Stallion just completed a test in which it successfully lifted a load of 27,000 pounds, a feat it is expected to be able to do under “high-hot” conditions at 6,000 feet in the air, 95 degrees Fahrenheit.


“With better environmental conditions, it will be able to lift even larger loads,” Peters said. “This is pretty exciting.”


Four King Stallions are now undergoing testing at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Marine Corps plans to stand up its first squadron of King Stallions, Marine Heavy Lift Helicopter Squadron 366 [HMH-366] at New River, North Carolina in 2019.


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Desperate for planes, military turns to the ‘boneyard’

(CNN, 14 July 16) . Zachary Cohen


It’s something akin to raising the dead.


A troubling shortage of flyable combat aircraft — one military official recently called the air fleet the “smallest, oldest and least ready” in history — is forcing the military to go to its “boneyard.”


The Marine Corps announced last month it was taking the extreme step of resurrecting 23 F/A-18 Hornets to meet fleet requirements until the new — and much-delayed — F-35 fighter is eventually delivered.


“We are very focused on our current readiness, and at the moment, we don’t have enough Hornets for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training,” Sarah Burns, a spokesman for the U.S. Marine Corps, told CNN.


She explained that the out-of-service, aging aircraft are housed at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center — a desert base in Arizona known as “the boneyard” — with the “intent to store, maintain, and upgrade them for today’s use.”


The military regularly sends “mothball” or extra aircraft to the “boneyard” for long-term storage, rather than destroying the planes. However, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commandant for aviation for the U.S. Marine Corps, noted that while bringing back the planes does provide additional inventory, they are still “old birds” and not as reliable as they once were.


And if planes aren’t in the boneyard already, others are getting close.


The delayed arrival of new aircraft, like the fifth-generation F-35, also has forced the military to rely heavily on planes nearing the end of their lifespan.


According to Maj. Gen. Scott West, the director of current operations for the Air Force, airmen are flying some aircraft and bombers, like the B-52 Stratofortress, that are more than 50 years old.


Military brass warn Congress there’s a problem


As it presses aircraft back into service, the military is having to lean heavily on a smaller and aging air fleet — a trend that has leaders across all four armed service branches concerned about combat performance and pilot safety.

Appearing before a House Armed Services subcommittee last week, leaders from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines warned lawmakers that fiscal constraints, coupled with the critical focus on overseas operations, have seriously degraded training and readiness efforts.


“Twenty-five years of continuous combat operations … coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned funding levels, have contributed to one of the smallest, oldest and least ready forces across the full-spectrum of operations in our history,” said Maj. Gen. Scott West, director of current operations, Headquarters for the U.S. Air Force.


While each armed service branch has scrambled to find ways to fulfill its combat responsibilities in the short-term, military leaders said delays in the production of next-generation aircraft and shrinking budgets have put a strain on the condition of the current fleet, as well as the servicemen and women who fly and maintain them.


“Fiscal constraints continue to force difficult trades in capacity and readiness for long-term capability improvements,” said Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems.


The military commanders cautioned that they simply do not have enough aircraft ready for flight to keep up with the current pace of deployment and to safely train aircrews here at home.


“Today, there are not enough flyable aircraft — our ‘ready bench’ — if our nation were subjected to a crisis,” Davis said. “Today, I could fly 43% (443 of the 1,040) of the aircraft I should have on my flight lines.”


A lack of spare parts and maintenance personnel trained to repair damaged aircraft are two of the main factors contributing to the lack of operational aircraft, according to military brass.


Describing military aviation as a “fragile ecosystem,” Davis emphasized the importance of keeping all requisite aspects of that system nourished to keep the entire network healthy.


“We are balancing the need to have our current fleet as ready and modern as possible, to train our pilots and maintainers, and to out match any current foe on the battlefield,” he said. “If any get out of balance for long, the whole system can begin to fray and collapse.”


The need to improve readiness and training has been further amplified by the shrinking technology advantage that the U.S. holds over potential adversaries like China and Russia, according to Manazir.


“Provocations with state and non-state actors continue to cause instability in almost every region of the world,” he told the subcommittee. “We continue to face challenges associated with balancing readiness for today and modernization for tomorrow’s fight. More of our force is being demanded, deployed longer than planned. Intended replacements are not keeping pace with attrition.”


With that in mind, the Pentagon has fought to extend the life of several aircraft, including the A-10 Thunderbolt, despite calls from Congress to eliminate the program in favor of allocating funding to other initiatives.


But the lack of a clear replacement for the A-10, which specializes in performing close air support missions, has forced Congress to continue the use of the old warbird that first flew in 1975.


Fears about pilot safety


All four military leaders also repeatedly emphasized that the current lack of flyable aircraft could pose a significant risk to pilot safety.


Despite no significant rise in serious mishaps or accidents resulting from any gaps in maintenance and lack of training, the four services noted that the potential for such looms in the near future.


With fewer planes available, Davis said Marine aviators are receiving significantly less flight time. In the past, Marine pilots would receive 1,000 to 1,500 hours but today’s aviators only have between 500 and 600 hours.


“I worry about my young aviators that aren’t getting the number of hours they need to,” Davis said. “As a young guy, I had a couple of close calls. I do not know how I would do having the amount of flight time that my youngsters get.”


There has been an uptick in recent minor aircraft incidents resulting in billions of dollars in damage and, in some cases, loss of life, the military brass told Congress.


Many of the incidents are still under investigation to determine whether they were caused by human error or an aircraft malfunction, but both lawmakers and military officials agreed that the limited training of pilots raises concern about the potential for future incidents.


“While it may not show itself directly today in the rate of mishaps, I do believe it exhibits itself in additional risk,” said Rep. Robert Wittman, R-Va., the subcommittee chairman.


“There’s a common theme here: We’re pushing harder. We have fewer resources. We have fewer of the skilled people in the necessary positions to do all the things that we need to do to make sure that we are not just rebuilding that readiness but maintaining the current level of readiness,” he said.


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Navy F/A-18 Adds Real-Time Fast Attack Video Data Link

(SCOUT.COM 12 JUL 16) … Kris Osborn


Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets are being outfitted with a new, real-time sensor video data link which will better enable the aircraft to network and attack targets from farther ranges.


The Navy is aggressively seeking to increase the size of its F/A-18 fleet, extend the current service life of existing aircraft and integrate a series of new technologies to better enable the carrier-launched fighter to track and destroy enemy targets, service officials said.


F/A-18s are being outfitted with a real-time video sharing technology called Advanced Targeting FLIR; the system uses electro-optical and infrared cameras with powerful laser technology. This addition will help pilots more quickly zero in on and attack targets with a wider and longer-range envelope of engagement.


“ATFLIR can locate and designate targets day or night at ranges exceeding 40 nautical miles and altitudes surpassing 50,000 feet, outperforming comparable targeting systems. As a powerful net-enabler, it can pass tracking and targeting information to other nodes in the networked battlespace,” a Raytheon statement said.


An impetus for the effort has several facets, including a previously unanticipated delay in the delivery of the Navy’s F-35C carrier-launched variant of the Joint Strike Fighter – along with the continued operational demands placed on F/A-18s by the need for ongoing attacks against ISIS.


One immediate move from the Navy involves an initiative to begin formal Service Life Assessment Programs for the F/A-18 earlier than previously scheduled, Navy spokesman Ensign Marc Rockwellpate told Scout Warrior.


New Technology for the F/A-18.


to the expectation of extended service mission requirements for the F/A-18 Super Hornets, the Navy has continued to procure and install advanced systems for the aircraft — such as the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), High Order Language Mission Computers, ALR-67v3, ALQ-214v5, Multifunctional Information Distribution System, APG-73 radar enhancements, Advanced Targeting Forward looking Infrared upgrades; and LITENING (precision targeting and ISR system) for the Marine Corps on select Legacy aircraft.


“FA-18A-F aircraft will continue to receive capability enhancements to sustain their lethality and Fleet interoperability well into the next decade. Future avionics upgrades will enable network-centric operations for integrated fire control, situational awareness and transfer of data to command-and-control nodes afloat and ashore,” Rockwellpate said.


Additional technologies for Super Hornets include Digital Communication System Radio, MIDS – Joint Tactical Radio System, Digital Memory Device, Distributed Targeting System, Infrared Search and Track (IRST) and continued advancement of the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar, officials told Scout Warrior.

A Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, or JHMCS, is a technology upgrade which engineers a viewing module proving 20-degree field of view visor.


JHMCS provides several options for the night module including Night Vision Cueing Display called QuadEye (100-degree by 40-degree field of view) or Aviator Night Vision Imaging System (40-degree field of view), with symbology or video inserted into the night-vision scene, Rockwell Collins information explains.


“JHMCS incorporates a highly accurate magnetic tracking system, providing the pilot full situational awareness throughout the canopy field-or-regard. JHMCS is in full-rate production and is operational on the F-15, F-16 and F/A-18,” a Rockwell Collins statement said.


Infrared Search and Track


The Navy is integrating 170 F/A-18E/F Block II fighter jets with a next-generation infrared sensor designed to locate air-to-air targets in a high-threat electronic attack environment, service officials said.


The Infrared Search and Track, or IRST, system will be installed   by operational squadrons flying F-18s, Navy officials said.


Navy officials have described the IRST system is a passive, long-range sensor that searches for and detects infrared emissions; IRST is designed to simultaneously track multiple targets and provide a highly effective air-to-air targeting capability, even when encountering advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology, Navy developers explained.


The IRST technology was specifically engineered with a mind to the fast-changing electromagnetic warfare environment and the realization that potential future adversaries are far more likely to contest U.S. dominance in these areas.


IRST also provides the Super Hornet an alternate air-to-air targeting system in a high threat electronic attack environment, developers explained.


The IRST technology, designed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, is designed to search for heat signals over long distances, providing the aircraft with key targeting information.


The IRST system -which has been tested on F/A-18s, is passive and therefore harder to detect than some radar technologies which give off radiation, Navy officials said.


The IRST system is being developed under a $135 million contract awarded in 2011 and is currently planned to be deployed by 2017, a Boeing statement said.


The technology has been tested on a Boeing King Air Test Aircraft, the statement added.


F/A-18 Service Life Extension


“Since the F/A-18 E/F fleet, on average, has already consumed approximately 46% of its 6,000 flight hour ESL, the Navy elected to initiate the F/A-18E/F SLAP earlier in the Super Hornet’s service life. The ongoing F/A-18E/F SLAP effort is analyzing actual usage versus structural tests to determine the feasibility of extending F/A-18E/F ESL beyond 6,000 flight hours; via a follow-on SLEP (Service Life Extension Program),” he added.


When the F/A-18A and F/A-18C reach 8,000 flight hours, they are sent into the depot for service life extension upgrades with the hope of getting the airframes to 10,000 hours. However, many of the older aircraft are in need of substantial repairs and, at the moment, as many as 54 percent of the Navy’s fleet of older Hornets are not in service.


“Enhancements and modifications include replacing the center barrel (section) and extending the fatigue life of the Nacelles, ensuring the airframe structures achieve 100% service life. Additional modifications increase the total landing limit and modifications to catapult attachment components can be incorporated to extend total catapults,” Rockwellpate added.


The Navy’s goal is to achieve as high as 10,000 flight hours, on a select number of Legacy Hornets, to meet current and future operational demand. To date, 186 High Flight Hour inspections have been successfully completed with 125 inspections currently in-work, he said.


Navy: More Than 35 Additional Super Hornets Needed


As part of a need to better bridge the gap until F-35Cs start arriving, the Navy is looking to add as many as 35 new F/A-18 Super Hornets to the fleet.


The most recent 2017 budget request includes a Navy request for 21 new Super Hornets to be added through 2021. The service also placed 14 more Super Hornets on the so-called “unfunded requirements” list to Congress as part of an attempt at a further increase.


Senior Navy leaders have consistently called for the need to add more F/A-18 Super Hornets to the fleet.


A carrier air wing consists of about 44 strike aircraft made up of two 10-aircraft squadrons and two 12-plane squadrons complemented by several electrical jamming aircraft. Therefore, the Navy’s stated need for additional squadrons would require the addition of more than 20 new aircraft.


The current composition of most carrier-based air wings includes 24 Super Hornets and 20 Hornets. The Navy plans to replace the existing Hornets with F-35Cs.The depots cannot keep up with the demand to repair airplanes due to the deployment of F-18s, industry and Navy officials have explained.


The Navy had been planning for the Super Hornets to serve well into the 2030s, but now service leaders say that timeline will need to extend into the 2040s. The Navy plans to begin buying 20 F-35Cs a year by 2020.


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US Lawmakers Urge Action on Jet Sales to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain

(DEFENSE NEWS, 12 July 16) . Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – A group of Republican lawmakers is pressing the White House to approve long-delayed fighter jet sales to Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar and open up about why it has taken so long.


The sales have been pending for more than two years, but the White House has not yet allowed them to move forward. The hold-up has been linked to Israel’s concerns that its qualitative military edge (QME) – which it is US policy to protect – would be eroded if its neighbors obtained the jets. Members of Congress are likely to have concerns of their own about the repercussions of such sales for the region.


Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Tuesday he expects the White House to clear jet sales to all three countries after the conclusion of negotiations for the US’s new aid package to Israel, a follow-on to the $30 billion, 10-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2007. Corker supports the jet sales in line with the US-Gulf Cooperation Council summit in 2015, which yielded a declaration of deeper ties between the US and its Gulf allies.


“Everyone says there’s no linkage” between the MoU and the fighter jet sales, “and I happen to think there’s linkage,” said Corker, R-Tenn. “Again, when the MoU is completed, hopefully as part of that, or shortly thereafter, these sales will be completed … We’re not getting a lot of clarity on these issues [from the White House].”


Reps. Rodney Freylinghuysen, R-N.J., Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., signed the July 6 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice, which argued the “unacceptable” delays are undermining relationships with Mideast allies who are needed for the multinational fight against the Islamic State. Granger chairs the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Freylinghuysen chairs the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, while Crenshaw serves on both subcommittees.


“Inexplicably, at the same time we have asked our partners in the region to assume greater roles in this fight, their requests for U.S. equipment languish,” the letter reads. “In some cases, their requests wait for years. This is unacceptable and must be rectified immediately. We are acutely aware of the harmful repercussions of these continued delays.”


“They are putting strain on important relationships with partners in the fight, driving countries to purchase weapons from China and Russia, risking U.S. military interoperability with our partners, and damaging the U.S. manufacturing and industrial base.”


The lawmakers asked for a briefing by July 14 that includes how and when the administration will resolve the cases.


Qatar has requested 36 to 72 F-15E Strike Eagles and Kuwait requested 28 F-18E/F Super Hornets, both made by Boeing. Bahrain is reportedly in the market for as many as 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons, made by Lockheed Martin.


The delays have driven Kuwait to sign a deal for 28 Eurofighter jets and Doha to buy 24 French Rafale as an alternative to a portion of the fighters initially planned for purchase from the US. It also threatens Boeing’s 40-year-old F-15 production line in St. Louis, Missouri.


Boeing Defense chief executive Leann Caret, said Sunday in London that customers were, “hanging in there with us” while employees were looking forward to building the aircraft. While the arms transfer process is taking longer than Boeing wants, Caret acknowledged, “you’re dealing with a global perspective and there are issues that from a US perspective, in these nations, that they have to deal with.”


Thorny geopolitical concerns are at the root of the delay. One Senate staffer affirmed Corker’s assessment that ongoing negotiations between the US and Israel over a consolidated aid package are likely part of the calculus for the US, adding that Israel may be seeking a hedge against its neighbors buying the jets, on top of the 33 US-made F-35 Lightning II jets it is set to buy.


“If I were the Israeli government and I knew our government was required by law and policy to do QME assessments on potential military sales in the region, I would see what I could get beyond the F-35 sale, which is already locked in,” the staffer said.


Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has criticized certain US arms sales to the region, said the US must be cognizant that Mideast allies who once bought US hardware as “showpieces” are now using it to wage war.


“They’re being used to kill civilians, so we need to be a lot more careful today than we have been in the past,” Murphy said of US arm sales. “There is an open proxy war in the region between Saudi Arabia and its allies, and Iran – and both sides are arming up, getting ready for the next front in that proxy war.”


As it weighs the sales, the White House is likely weighing potential objections from Congress, to include Bahrain’s human rights record and Israel’s sensitivity to Qatar’s support of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Citing Bahrain’s progress on human rights, the Obama administration only last year lifted holds on security assistance to Bahrain in place since Bahrain squelched an uprising in 2011.


“What Bahrain is doing today is not a great advertisement for continued US military sales, but Qatar has taken important steps forward in their fight against extremism and answering some of our concerns about domestic worker rights,” Murphy said. “A sale to Bahrain right now would certainly raise my antennae, and I know these Israelis have sensitivities about the Qatari sale. These aren’t easy calls.”


Kuwait, which hosts the US Army component of US Central Command and is a significant partner to US military operations in the region, wants the jets to replace its aging Hornet fleet. One analyst said this sale seems the most non-controversial and obvious one of the three.


“That’s a no-brainer,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group who focuses on aerospace. “In addition to the jobs and cash, you also have a lifeline that keeps St. Louis going as a fighter producer for longer than what’s in the [US’s] pipeline.”


For Qatar, owning 72 of the world’s best fighter jets, “would be quite an expansion of their military capabilities,” Aboulafia said. “There are a million scenarios that could evolve, and they’re potentially creating another military force, with expeditionary warfare capability. It takes time to dig through the ramifications.”


Under the Arms Export Control Act and US policy, it is not unusual for transfers of major U.S. weapons systems to take “significant interagency consideration and consultation, given the potentially significant long-term implications for U.S. national security interests,” said State Department spokesman Josh Paul.


Paul reaffirmed the US commitment to the security and stability of the Gulf region, citing President Obama’s message at the US-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in April as well as the US’s decades-long efforts to build defense capacity across the region.


Lawmakers have been pressuring the administration on the deals for months. With Corker, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in May wrote a letter to Obama urging him to complete the deals.


McCain, as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, shepherded an annual defense policy bill through the Senate that would streamline the military’s security cooperation authorities.


“These things get stalled and don’t move forward, and we need to do it,” McCain said of foreign military sales more broadly. “There’s allies of ours fighting with us against ISIS that need the equipment.”


Aaron Mehta contributed to this report from London.


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Pentagon Says Near Deal With Lockheed For More F-35 Fighter Jets

(REUTERS 09 JUL 16) … Andrea Shalal


RAF FAIRFORD, England — The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin Corp are in the final stages of negotiations about two contracts for 160 fighter jets, tandem deals valued at more than $14 billion, the Pentagon’s F-35 program manager said on Saturday.


“We’re in the end game,” Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan said in an interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo the world’s largest military airshow, where six F-35 Lightning II jets are flying this week.


Bogdan said an agreement could be finalised soon, but declined to predict if it could be announced at the Farnborough International Airshow next week. He said all the major issues had been resolved and the fate of the deal was largely in Lockheed’s hands at the moment.


Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Jeff Babione had told reporters on Thursday that he expected to reach an agreement soon about contracts for the ninth and 10th production contracts for the new warplane.


Sources familiar with the two contracts said they would likely be valued between $14 billion and $15 billion.

Babione said the price of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing version of the jet would drop to under $100 million per plane in the 10th low-rate production batch, including an engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.


Bogdan said he was continuing to work on a block buy deal for international partners on the $379 billion warplane project, the largest arms program in the world, as part of a larger effort to drive down the jets’ cost.

Buying larger numbers of jets at a time — starting with the 12th production batch of jets — could generate savings of $2 billion to $2.8 billion, even if the U.S. military was not able to join in until it got congressional approval, he said.


The U.S. military services would likely join in starting with the 13th and 14th production lots, which would reduce the initially anticipated savings by “hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.


Bogdan told reporters the program office was carefully assessing any potential impact on trade and tariffs stemming from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, but the initial expectation was that it would not have much impact.


A drop in the value of the British pound could help lower some costs, since 15 percent of the jet is built by UK firms.


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Navy Issues Roughly $2 Billion In F-35 Contracts

(DEFENSE DAILY 07 JUL 16) … Pat Host


The Navy on Thursday awarded a pair of F-35 contracts worth nearly a combined $2 billion, according to a Defense Department statement.


The Navy awarded Pratt & Whitney a $1.5 billion firm-fixed-price, incentive-firm target modification for components, parts and materials for low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 10 of F135-PW-100 propulsion systems. The contract includes 44 engines for the Air Force, four for the Navy and nine F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.


In addition, the contract modification provides components, parts and materials for 36 F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for international partners and two F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the global spares pool. Work is expected to be completed by September 2019.


The Navy also awarded a $560 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, fixed-price-incentive-firm contract for non-air vehicle spares, support equipment, autonomic logistics information system hardware and software upgrades, supply chain management, full mission simulators and non-recurring engineering services. These are in support of LRIP Lot 10 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non DoD participants and foreign military sale (FMS) customers.


Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp.


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Plans Under Way For October F-35B Sea-Based Test

(FLIGHT GLOBAL 07 JUL 16) … Beth Stevenson


Lockheed Martin’s F-35B is due to embark on a third phase of ship-based developmental testing (DT) in October, the final step before it begins qualification trials on the UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier.


Two examples of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant will embark on the USS America amphibious assault ship for three weeks at the end of October. It will evaluate operations at the minimum requirement of sea state five, but is expected to go up to sea state six.


Five F-35B test aircraft – designated BF1-5 – are currently being used for the programme, and it is likely that the BF-5 plus BF1 or BF2 will be used for the October tests.


“We’re in the last phases of planning,” Peter Wilson, STOVL lead test pilot for the F-35 programme told a media briefing at RAF Fairford on 7 July. “We are currently in the throes of testing the high levels of asymmetry, which we have to do before we go to the ship in October.”


Asymmetry has to be evaluated to ensure that the aircraft can effectively operate from the ship once some of the weapons payload has been dropped; there are “literally a couple of tests” left to be carried out ahead of the DT-3 phase, Wilson says.


“The US Marine Corps is completely happy with the capability we’re providing,” Wilson adds.


A separate round of qualification trials will need to be performed using the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, on which the UK’s F-35Bs will deploy, but Wilson is hopeful this can be wrapped up quickly: “I think the shortest amount of time to do this will be a couple of months,” he adds.


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F-35C To Conduct Sea Trials in August Aboard Carrier George Washington

(DEFENSE NEWS, 13 July 16) . Valerie Insinna


FARNBOROUGH, England – The US Navy’s F-35C will head back to the seas next month for the third round of developmental tests aboard the aircraft carrier George Washington, the F-35 program executive officer (PEO) said.


During a July 9 interview at the Royal International Air Tattoo, F-35 PEO Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told Defense News the sea trials would take place off the East Coast of the United States.


“They’re going to open up the full envelope of the airplane to land and take off from the carrier, which means things like heavyweight, asymmetric stores, heavy cross winds, high seas,” he said. “Plus we’ll do a lot of reliability, maintainability and maintenance administrations to make sure we get that right.”


At the same time, student pilots will conduct carrier qualifications onboard the ship, he said.


The F-35C has operated aboard an aircraft carrier twice so far: in October 2015 on the Dwight D. Eisenhower and November 2014 on the Nimitz. In those tests, pilots conducted catapult takeoffs, arrested landings, and touch-and-go landings on the deck, gradually working in night operations and opening up the flight envelope of the aircraft.


The second round of tests also included launches and landings with simulated weapons, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, inside the F-35’s internal weapons bay.


The “C” model is planned to become operational in 2018, the last of the three joint strike fighter variants to do so.


The US Marine Corps is also preparing for developmental testing of the F-35B aboard the amphibious assault ship America, which will start this fall when the ship is sailing off the West Coast.


“They’re going out to do basically the same thing that the Navy is doing,” Bogdan said. “We will finally fully open up the envelope for them on different landing spots and different takeoff conditions, including asymmetric stores, short takeoffs, high seas, different winds.”


Aside from the developmental tests, the service will also conduct some operational testing with the “B” model, he said.


Previous sea trial events occurred on the amphibious assault ship Wasp in August 2013 and October 2011.


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F-35 to Tap Airbus for Data Protection Technology

(DEFENSE NEWS, 10 July 16) . Andrew Chuter


LONDON – British F-35s will use Airbus technology to help store, distribute and protect encrypted information on the combat jet when it comes into operation in 2018.


Airbus Defence and Space has secured a deal to supply what’s known as local key management system (LKMS) technology for the strike aircraft and two other British military aircraft types – the Voyager A330 inflight refuelling jet and Hercules C-130J airlifters – in a deal recently struck with the British Ministry of Defence.


The deal could open the door to sales of the technology to a restricted list of other air forces, including F-35 customers.


“I see no reason why we cannot offer this technology to other F-35 users,” said Phil Jones, the head of cyber security operations for Airbus Defence in the UK.


The high sensitivity of the ITAR-free technology may mean Airbus will have to develop an export version for all but a handful of countries, he said.


Airbus is already supplying the technology, developed at its south Wales facility, to British Typhoon combat jets and A400M airlifters.


LKMS receives, translates and packages cryptographic keys so that they can be loaded using a single hand held device into what are known as end crypto units (ECUs) on the aircraft. Input of the crypto information is through a single plug and socket rather than the seven or eight interface points and different handheld devices required previously.


Company officials said the technology permits prolonged out-of-area operation through providing the ability to store and distribute multiple cryptographic keys.


The technology also provides high levels of protection for encrypted data by preventing data compromise that could threaten the safety and security of an aircraft mission, they said.


The crypto technology is likely to eventually find it’s way on to helicopters, unmanned air vehicles and other platforms, but company officials were unwilling to comment on potential discussion with the UK MoD about adding the technology to other aircraft. It did however confirm initial conversations with the MoD about the technology’s suitability for the new Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft being purchased for the Royal Air Force.


Jones said the use of technology is not just confined to aerospace applications.


“The technology has maritime applications in surface ships and submarines and we are in the early stages of looking at it for critical infrastructure and industrial control systems use as well,” he said.


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Marine Corps Aviation Chief Ranks SDB II as F-35 Upgrade Priority

(DEFENSE NEWS, 14 July 16) . Valerie Insinna


FARNBOROUGH, England – The US Defense Department is hammering out the final details of its Block 4 upgrade plan for the F-35 joint strike fighter, but the Marine Corps has made clear that Raytheon’s Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) is at the top of its wish list.


Asked by journalists at the Royal International Air Tattoo what he’d most like to see in the modernization program, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation, characterized the SDB II as the most critical system.


“That’s a fantastic weapon,” he said July 8. “I want to get it on there and really increase the capability of the airplane.”

Days later at Farnborough International Airshow, Davis’ executive assistant, Col. William Lieblein, reiterated the service’s desire for the SDB II. The service also wants to incorporate full-motion video onboard the F-35 and improve the electro-optical targeting system with forward-looking infrared, he said.


The F-35 will be initially equipped with the first iteration of the weapon, but the follow-on version includes a tri-mode seeker that uses infrared, millimeter wave and laser guidance to identify and destroy targets.


Raytheon and the Air Force recently started up a new round of SDB II flight tests of the weapon’s coordinate attack and laser modes, the company announced Monday. When coordinate attack mode is engaged, the SDB II’s GPS system will direct it to fixed targets at distances of more than 40 miles, while the latter mode uses a semi-active laser to illuminate targets.


For the most part, the services have finalized which capabilities will funnel into the Block 4 modernization program but are deliberating when those upgrades will funnel into production, Davis said.


A capabilities development document is working its way through the Air Force and will go to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council later this summer, said F-35 program executive officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan.


“We have a pretty good idea of what’s going to be in the first few increments of Block 4,” he said in a July 9 interview. “Now we’re working on putting together a funding profile to meet that and the acquisition strategy to do that.”


The current plan is to separate the Block 4 upgrades into four increments. Those capabilities will be integrated into the F-35 every two years, starting in 2018 with the first delivery of new capabilities in 2020.


“If a capability is not mature as we develop it, instead of waiting around for it, we’ll push it to the next increment,” he said. “So we’re trying to work the strategy with industry on how to be that flexible with contracting on the business side.”


The F-35 joint program office (JPO) estimates the upgrades will cost somewhere around $3.8 billion to $4.8 billion to procure and integrate into the aircraft. That doesn’t include unique international requirements such as Norway’s joint strike missile. All weapons, including SDB II, will be fielded within the first two increments, Bogdan said.


Other upgrades will include more modern electronic warfare systems, radar, avionics and interfaces, and changes that improve the aircraft’s reliability, maintainability and ability to deploy. Generally speaking, the JPO will look to current contractors for Block 4 systems, but could compete capabilities if technology has significantly advanced.


“One of the big things to drive cost down in Block 4 is that we will be looking to outside companies who may not have traditionally had equipment on the airplane,” he said. “That’s because in Block 4 we’re getting computers that are open and modular, an open system, so that you can put new sensors and new things on the airplane easier than having to change the whole infrastructure.”


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Potential for Day of Rage Protests across America


According to social media and open source reporting, on 15 JUL 16, multiple protests are scheduled to be conducted across the United States. Being in the vicinity of these protests increases the chance that individuals may become a victim of violence. Although the media has encouraged non-violence and denounces actions taken against police officers that were not involved in the deaths, the protests may be emotionally charged with the potential to quickly erupt into violence.


If you have any questions, please contact your site Security Manager.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of July 5, 2016

Below and attached are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 Top Clips for the week of July 5:



NAWCWD engineers’ impact earns Etter Awards

Developmental program manager makes a difference to NAVAIR’s most important resource: people



Interview: HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith

Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up At Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

Navy Fighters Are One Upgrade Away From Changing Carrier Aviation Forever

Congress’ Shrinking Calendar Suggests Omnibus, CR Ahead

US Marine Corps F-35s Cleared For Farnborough

The Navy Builds Strength By Saving Energy

Non-deployed Marine pilots still aren’t getting enough training

Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

Marine Aviation Chief: Readiness Improving But Slowly

Marines: Class C Aviation Mishaps Have Doubled, Service Investigating

Navy Fleets Unable To Fix $500M Ship Maintenance Shortfall On Their Own



The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce our 5th national event!


Guest Speaker: Ms. Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

Agenda: 1 hour of discussion and QA based on topic


For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner ( or Sara Gravatt (






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NAWCWD engineers’ impact earns Etter Awards



NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION CHINA LAKE, Calif. – NAWCWD research mechanical engineer Dr. Jonathan Essel and aerospace engineer Jeremy Abshire were recognized June 22 at a ceremony at the Pentagon for earning 2015 Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Awards in the Scientific Excellence and Engineering Excellence categories, respectively.


The Dr. Delores M. Etter Top Scientists and Engineers of the Year Award, named after the former assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, was established in 2006 to recognize Navy and Marine Corps civilian and military personnel for exceptional science and engineering achievements and contributions in their fields and to the fleet.


Essel made breakthroughs in developing innovative methods of harvesting explosive nanoparticles for improving the performance and safety of explosives and propellants. Among Dr. Essel’s accomplishments was the creation of energetic inks and precursor materials to be used for additive manufacturing—or 3-D printing—of energetics and energetic devices. Additionally, he initiated the development of a unique nanomaterial laboratory specifically designed for Navy energetic materials.


“It’s really an honor to receive this award,” Essel said. “Nanoenergetics is something that I studied in grad school, so the work I do here is a continuation of that. It’s really exciting because we have a lot of tools now that didn’t exist 20 years ago and that gives us great control of the final product.”


Essel’s work in gathering nanoparticle energetic material has contributed to increased effectiveness and performance of energetic materials in blast and propulsion, providing safer munitions for the warfighter.


“Dr. Essel’s dedication, innovative attitude, and professional demeanor exemplify the Navy’s standards of excellence and professionalism,” his nomination read. “Even with the many projects he directs, he continues to stay active in hands-on technology development.”


Abshire supports multiple development and production programs as a solid rocket propulsion subject matter expert. Through his work on the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology Program (IHPRPT) and the Counter Air Future Naval Capability (CA FNC), Abshire and his team developed, matured, and demonstrated several advanced propulsion technologies that offer significant performance improvements to current and future tactical air-launched rocket propulsion systems.


“I was pleased to learn of my nomination for this award and honored to receive it,” Abshire said. “I knew the work we were doing in IHPRPT and CA FNC was important to the future of tactical rocket propulsion, but I didn’t think it would be recognized at this level.”


Since the conclusion of the CA FNC, Abshire continues to be actively engaged with industry partners to further mature HLG propulsion while protecting the Navy’s intellectual property rights to the technology through patent defense activities with the NAWCWD Office of Counsel.


“I’m also especially proud of and grateful for the multi-disciplined team, made up of individuals from both NAWCWD and industry, that supported me throughout the CA FNC,” Abshire said. “Without them, none of these accomplishments would have been possible.”


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Developmental program manager makes a difference to NAVAIR’s most important resource: people


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Stephanie Souders, program manager for the Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0C) received NAVAIR’s “You Made a Difference” award on June 21. The award recognizes members of the workforce for their extra effort and dedication.


“Stephanie’s focus on continued process improvement has been the catalyst for actions across each of the departments within 6.0,” said Michele DeMoss-Coward, director for the Workforce Strategy, Acquisition and Development, Logistics Management Integration department, NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.6), who nominated Souders for the award. “As a direct result of her professionalism and diligence, departments have reprioritized actions related to their interns.”


“Stephanie is knowledgeable, highly motivated, committed and passionate about the [NADP]program and every individual that is (or has ever been) an intern,” DeMoss-Coward continued. “She is diligent in her efforts to provide NAVAIR a well-developed, talented workforce. Her professionalism has earned her the respect of everyone she encounters, both internally and externally to NAVAIR, and she needed to be recognized as a member of NAVAIR that has truly ‘made a difference.’”


Souders’s accomplishments include developing and streamlining processes for intern hiring and orientation, intern mentorship, new employee onboarding and senior projects. She also inaugurated an intern council and established regular meetings for knowledge and “lessons learned” sharing.


“Being the AIR 6.0 NADP program manager has been the most rewarding job I have had to date,” Souders said. “I get to help guide and mentor 70 wonderful people on a daily basis — how can it be any better than that? Two years ago when I accepted this position, I knew I wanted to make a big difference and take this program to the next level and, now that we’re there, we’re still going to keep moving forward. I couldn’t do it without the support from our leadership and without the help from our NADPs.  I look to them just as much as they look to me.  We are a great team, and I’m thankful that I’m in this position.”


Currently, the NADP has 70 participants at Patuxent River and 135 nationally.


The NADP program provides professional development, coaching and mentorship to promote the growth of entry-level professionals in finance, contracting, logistics, science and engineering. Mid-career professionals can participate in the program as an associate. For more information about the NADP program, contact Stephanie Souders at 301-757-8416 or visit


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Interview: HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith

(DEFENSE NEWS 30 JUN 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON — House and Senate conferees will hash out differences between their defense policy bills behind closed doors this summer, but it is no mystery to Congress watchers where disagreement will be the loudest.


The Senate did not pursue the House-approved plan to shift billions the president’s budget proposed for wartime Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) toward unrequested hardware and troops, which cuts off OCO in April to force a supplemental defense spending bill.


“That’s going to be the sticking point: What’s the number? How do you divide between the OCO and base? And do we stick to the deal we made just last year,” House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., told Defense News last week.


Smith, a voice for limiting Congress’s appetite on defense spending in the name of better strategic choices, favors a throttle on the Pentagon’s nuclear modernization budget, closing excess military bases and the administration’s plan to cut 40,000 soldiers—all thwarted in some form or another by his Republican-led committee’s own policy bill.


In an extended question-and-answer session, Smith spoke with the Defense News about these issues, Brexit, the chances the House’s defense funding plan will deadlock Congress on federal spending, and, of course, a notional Donald Trump presidency. (Hint: Smith thinks that would be “very, very dangerous for our national security and the future of the nation.”)


Q. You cosponsored an amendment to the House defense appropriations bill to cut some $75 million from development of the Long Range Stand Off Weapon and bump the program off of its accelerated schedule, but that was voted down. After that setback, where is there potential for action, legislative or otherwise, and what would it be?


A. We can make this part of the larger debate about the trillion-dollar modernization of our nuclear weapons force. It’s completely and utterly unaffordable. If you look at our national security challenges, make no mistake, we have to have a credible deterrent. But I think to have a Cold War nuclear policy is completely inappropriate to the current times. The challenge we face from radical islamists and terrorists in general is far more pressing right now. The threats from North Korea — there’s a whole lot of things we’d like to have in terms of national security threats — the end-strength of the Army and Marine Corps, the number of ships we have, the necessary technology to improve our weapons — are all more important than having a ridiculously large nuclear arsenal. I have been in the classified briefings where they give out the scenarios where if this, that and the other thing happened, we would really like to have 5,000 warheads. But I think the better approach—and China has the right approach to nuclear deterrence, a small number of nuclear weapons, but they have enough so that it’s a deterrent to anybody messing with them.


I think we ought to rethink our approach, and the LRSO is one place to start, and its only one piece of the larger debate. The final thing I’ll say is the LRSO is low-yield, which is the oxymoron of a tactical nuclear weapon. There is no such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon. Going nuclear is going nuclear, and we want make sure that to deter that, and not give people the idea there is a lesser something they can do in the nuclear arena. We want no use of nuclear weapons by anybody. So have a credible deterrent, but not one that bankrupts us.


Q. Given the dynamics in the Senate and the short legislative calendar, could this be punted to a future administration without any action? How might this play out next year and beyond?


A. Impossible to say, but it’s an absolute guarantee that this will be taken up by a future administration, because it’s a decade-long, trillion-dollar program. I think the long term decision will be made by the next administration, and we wanted to set the framework for that discussion in a place where we realize we don’t have to spend all this money and there are better choices to be made.


Q. You’ve now introduced legislation to let DoD make targeted reductions to excess infrastructure capacity. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is so unpopular that the House recently voted down a measure that would have allowed it to be considered. How is your bill different and why is it needed?


A. My bill is different. What we do in our bill is we place a greater emphasis on savings, we place a greater emphasis on transparency, we give Congress the ability to vote after the military has made its initial take on what is excess capacity. The first step in a BRAC is [identifying] excess capacity. [With this bill] Congress can say, ‘We don’t buy this, we can cut this off.’ So we do some things to make it a more transparent decision.


Ultimately this is a political decision, and the only way we get a BRAC is if we push political arguments hard enough to make people change their minds. I think the country sees the common sense, if the military is coming out and says it has 22 percent excess capacity. Given the national security threat we face and given the finite resources we have, if there is money to be saved, we have to do it.


The politics are much more personal. Everyone knows if a BRAC comes out, and a base in their district is closed, they will pay a price for that. I’m hoping we’re more enlightened than that. My district has changed — I used to represent Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I don’t have any military bases in my district anymore, but I do have defense contractors. More than that, small manufacturers who would be impacted.


The point is, it’s not my job as a member of the Armed Services Committee to grab every single solitary dollar I can for my district. The American Defense Communities had their annual conference Washington, DC, this week and 75 percent said they would prefer to have a BRAC instead of everything shrinking around them [at random].


Q. As you get ready to reconcile the House and Senate defense policy bills in conference, what are the issues you feel the strongest about? Are those the most contentious ones?


A. The most contentious issue is the top-line number, and we came to an agreement on a top-line of $610 billion. Some members have been chafing at that number and want it to be higher, so we’ll have that discussion. Any effort going above that $610 million number will create conflicts with the president and with Democrats. Or you could do it the way the House Armed Services Committee did it, you know, steal it from OCO to put it in the base and counting on a supplemental six months from now. Now, the Senate didn’t do that, the Senate stuck to the 610 number and OCO the way it was in their authorizing committee. That’s going to be the sticking point: What’s the number? How do you divide between the OCO and base? And do we stick to the deal we made just last year?


The second biggest thing is the end-strength number. Prohibitions that reduce the size of the Army and the Marine Corps are things that could lead to a presidential veto, and if the budget caps come back, you have to be prepared for it [with a gradual drawdown]. You don’t want to slash 40,000 soldiers in a month. That would be an incredibly inefficient and terrible way to do it. So if you do it, you want to be prepared for it. The prohibitions are problematic.


And then the Senate took pretty big swings at reform, on acquisitions reform, Goldwater-Nichols reform, on healthcare reform, on Basic Housing allowance—really it’s those big reforms that will be some of the tougher ideas to resolve.


Q. Is there anything that would have you withhold your signature from the conference report?


A. Well, I voted against the bill. Obviously the answer to that is yes, and funding is going to be the issue. Listen, I feel we have to live within that 610 number, and live with the OCO-base that was agreed to—unless they want to get rid of the budget caps. We have an overarching problem here beyond the defense budget: a $19 trillion debt. We have a lot of pressing needs, not just in defense. The most notable is the [nation’s] crumbling infrastructure. ‘Here’s what we want’ and ‘here’s what we want to spend’—and there’s an enormous gap between the two.


Q. One of HASC Chair Mac Thornberry’s most persistent arguments to add to defense and the maneuver to shift $18 billion from OCO to base budget needs is that it addresses a readiness crisis in the military. Is that argument valid? Isn’t there always a military readiness crisis?


A. It’s valid, but its not what they’re doing. The way they’ve approached this over the last few years is actually helping to create a legitimate readiness crisis. There’s never a time when you have all the maintenance you want, all the training you want. I think we are in a readiness crisis — make no mistake about that, but why? It’s because we have been spending money on programs and short-changing readiness. When the Pentagon says they want to lay up 11 cruisers, three amphibious vehicles, and save $5 billion, and we say, ‘No, you can’t do that,’ where does that money come out of? It comes out of the last person in line at the buffet, and that’s readiness. You don’t repair a building, you don’t fix a plane, you don’t fly as many hours, you don’t train as much. I know the A-10 is a great aircraft, but instead of offering up alternative savings, you put the money back in again and that’s [costing] readiness.


The Army was trying to save money by transferring some of the air assets between the Guard and the active duty, and we’ve stepped in and limited that. All of that comes out of readiness ultimately.

They put a portion of that money and put it into readiness, but they’ve also bought more F-35s and more F-18s and more Black Hawks and more missiles — and maybe that’s stuff we need, but it comes at the expense of readiness because of where the budget is at.


I’ve argued for a long time now what we need to do is step back and say, given where we’re at financially, what should our national security strategy be? Instead what we’ve said is, ‘Don’t tell me about fiscal limitations. We’re going to force through the budget, the defense spending, that we want.’ But it’s done awkwardly because the money isn’t there. Readiness suffers.


Q. Many folks were shocked to wake up and see Great Britain’s decision to exit the European Union. What’s your sense of what that means for US national security and NATO? Does that vote presage support for Donald Trump, as some have said?


A. It’s hard to say, but it’s part of a larger trend toward a more isolationist approach and less cooperative approach among Western allies. How exactly it impacts the national security piece will remain to be seen—but it’s not good. It causes economic turmoil. That impacts our ability to fund defense. Great Britain is going to take a huge economic blow, so what are they going to do? How will they continue to fund their defense requirements? It’s a major problem and it portends a larger trend, which will be a significant challenge as well.


Q. It definitely doesn’t send Russia a signal of unity ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw in July. You mentioned a larger trend and I thought you might mean the American electorate. Could this presage support for Donald Trump?

A. None of the people of Great Britain can vote in the presidential election, so I don’t think that’s a valid point.


Q. But we aren’t dealing with the same sentiment here in the US?


A. There is some of that same sentiment here in the US. But gauging from Great Britain, I don’t think you can make the same comparison. Look at what’s happened in the world today in the stock markets and all the problems out there.


You could make the argument people will say, ‘Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.’ In fact there are articles today with people saying, ‘I didn’t know that was going to happen,’ and that Google searches have gone up four-fold in Great Britain, like, ‘What did we just do?’ Maybe there will be an understanding that compromise with allies, where you don’t get everything you want, is better than every person for themselves and separation. We’ll see. I don’t think Donald Trump’s comments this morning were not particularly inspiring, as far as how the US should engage the world.


Q. Donald Trump is the GOP’s presumptive presidential candidate. What do you envision it would be like for you in Congress under a Trump presidency?


A. [Laughs] It is hard to say. Mr. Trump is unpredictable from one sentence to the next, so I don’t know. I don’t think he knows. I think it would be fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, at least initially, and I think it will be very, very dangerous for our national security and the future of the nation.


Q. To circle back to the funding question, how likely is it that Congress will wind up deadlocked, with a temporary continuing resolution (CR) this fall to fund the government? I’ve heard it said that most lawmakers on the Hill haven’t been around long enough to know what regular order looks like and don’t know how to be functional. How likely is it we’ll see anything other than a CR?


A. I think less than 50 percent. Look, it requires compromise. I just read the article in the Atlantic, ‘How American Politics Went Insane,’ and the gist of the argument is it became an individualized, contractor approach, where compromise and a half-loaf became dirty words — and where you go for it all, and let the chips fall where they may. There was no sense of keeping the basic structure of government functioning to be a good enough thing to merit a compromise approach, and the public has made it clear they will vote for the uncompromising, angry people.


Combine that with how divided we are? Look at your average Tea Party Republican and their vision for what America should be, and take your average Democrat and look at our vision. Finding the middle ground between those two points is a tricky thing to do. In this environment, I’m never going to be betting on a deal. I hope that changes. I hope we understand, certainly people on Armed Services understand, how it impacts DoD when you have this constant uncertainty. What Republicans are going to vote for appropriations bills? They might vote for defense, they might vote for [military construction], but there are four or five [appropriations bills] that 100 Republicans wouldn’t vote for. So, then what?


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Second F-35B Squadron Stands Up At Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

(US NAVAL INSTITUTE 30 JUN 16) … Megan Eckstein


The Marine Corps’ second F-35B Joint Strike Fighter squadron stood up today, as the AV-8B Harrier-flying Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 became Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211.


A re-designation and change of command ceremony was held at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona today, with Lt. Col. William Maples taking command of the second operational JSF squadron. The squadron flew its final Harrier flight on May 6 and received its first two JSFs three days later.


VMFA-121 became operational when initial operational capability was declared on the platform last July.


Due to readiness improvements in the Harrier fleet and ongoing readiness challenges in the F/A-18 Hornet fleet, Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told USNI News earlier this year that the F-35B transition plan may change, with Hornet squadrons prioritized and the Harrier squadrons flying their legacy planes for a bit longer.


Under current procurement plans, the Marines should receive 20 to 24 planes a year, allowing them to transition two squadrons a year. VMFA-122 will be the next Hornet squadron to transition, followed by VMFA-314 becoming an F-35C squadron to operate off of Navy aircraft carriers. This faster rate of squadron re-designations will “allow me to shut down F-18 squadrons faster” and “get out of the old metal into the new,” Davis told USNI News previously.


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Navy Fighters Are One Upgrade Away From Changing Carrier Aviation Forever

(NAVY TIMES 03 JUL 16) … Meghann Myers


ABOARD CARRIER GEORGE WASHINGTON OFF NORFOLK, Va. – In a typical aircraft carrier landing, a fighter pilot may make up to 300 adjustments with the stick and throttle over 18 seconds before hitting the deck and snagging the jet’s tail hook just-so across one of four arresting wires.


It’s one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in the world because of that landing, but a revolutionary program that’s as simple as a software upgrade will take a lot of the scrambling out of the final seconds of a combat mission.


It’s called MAGIC CARPET, and — don’t laugh — it stands for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. What it does is put jets into a sort of automatic landing mode that guides the plane’s trajectory to the deck and reduces the frantic adjustments out of the process.


It won’t go in the legacy F/A-18A-D Hornets because the jet’s mechanical systems won’t respond to this specific software, but for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, adding this upgrade could not only make carrier landings safer, but increase efficiency to a point that pilots will need fewer traps to get qualified and stay proficient. As a result, aircraft will take less of a beating and pilots can focus more on missions.


It will also come standard in the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter when it goes operational in 2019.


“Over the next year, we’re going to start to look at what kind of checks we can write,” Hornet and Growler program manager Capt. David Kindley explained June 27 during an underway to test the program aboard this carrier.


“I know this is really good, and I think it could be crazy good, but I don’t have a sense of the quantity of that,” he added.


To properly land a fighter on a carrier, a pilot needs to maintain a 3-degree glide slope, while staying lined up with a moving ship and keeping the jet’s nose at just the right angle so it doesn’t slam into the deck.


This requires constant movement of their controls — left and right with the stick for the right direction, back and forth to put the nose up or down, and constant acceleration and deceleration with the throttle to make up for any power lost with all that moving around.


But with Magic Carpet, a flight control software program developed by Navy engineers in-house at Naval Air Systems Command, all of those controls have been decoupled.


Now, Kindley said, the jet will self-adjust to stay on that 3-degree path.


“What we do with Magic Carpet, and it’s very disorienting for an aviator … basically, you take the stick and push it forward until you’re on glide slope, and then let go. Which is so weird to do in an airplane,” he said. “Instead of making multiple corrections with throttle and stick to make glide slope, I just do one.”


The software is still in development and not scheduled for full operational use until 2019, but later this year, Kindley plans to hand it over to Naval Air Forces to decide which squadrons will get to test it.


For now, Kindley suggested, it would be ideal to test the software with squadrons who aren’t deployed or preparing for deployment, because they have enough to worry about.


But for those in a training phase, it would be great to switch on Magic Carpet during a perfect-weather day and see how the pilots like it.


“I’m expecting the fleet to incorporate Magic Carpet as a circus pass,” he said, turning the system on and off to test pilots’ skills, the same way they practice flying without a heads-up display, for example.


Stick and rudder


To operate Magic Carpet, the pilot inputs the glide slope, makes an adjustment to line it up, and the jet locks it in. Unlike before, moving the stick left or right to line up with the carrier is simply a move left or right, rather than a small adjustment that requires several more adjustments of power and angle to maintain glide slope.


“I am uncomfortable with how few inputs I’m making,” recalled Lt. Cmdr. Matthew “Pogo” Dominick of his first time landing on the carrier using Magic Carpet.


Dominick and a few of his fellow Patuxent River, Maryland-based pilots from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 brought two Super Hornets and a Growler aboard GW for a few days to do the final carrier tests for the software, before it’s handed over to the fleet for further testing.


The squadron flew 598 approaches, the majority of them touch-and-go’s, over six days aboard GW, averaging about six hours of flight time a day. The VX-23 fliers flew plenty of perfect passes, Kindley said, but were challenged to purposely mess-up and see how much effort it took to correct themselves.


“I’m going to be high at the start, I’m also going to overshoot the line-up there, so now I’ve got to make a correction to both line-up and glide slope all before I make it to touchdown,” said Lt. Christopher “U-Turn” Montague, of one of his more daring passes.


“On the old system, no chance — I probably would have been told to wave-off before I even started my approach,” he said.


But instead, Montague said, he was able to move the stick just so to land perfectly centered with a few seconds to spare, making half as many corrections as he would have needed to without Magic Carpet.


They also tested out a variation of ship conditions, moving the carrier to get between 20 and nearly 50 knots of wind coming across the deck.


“And it didn’t matter,” Dominick said. “The aircraft could handle all those conditions.”


Changing the game


Dominick and Montague’s jobs are some of the world’s toughest, just because of the risk involved in landing on a 300-foot runway.


Magic Carpet doesn’t take all of that danger away, but it does make the task much simpler. Landing the jet is technically just an administrative task after completing a mission, so taking away much of the stress allows the pilot to focus on the real reason for flying.


For the pilots, that’s a win-win situation, even if automation diminishes the bad-ass factor.


“I don’t derive satisfaction from landing aboard the ship and going, ‘I’m cool. I’m a carrier aviator,’ ” said Dominick, who has 11 years in the cockpit. “I’ll be honest. If you want to look at my flight jacket, I have no patches on it. I don’t have any patches for traps or Top Hook or any of it. I wake up and I just want to do my job.”

For Montague, whose father was an F-14 Tomcat pilot, landing on the boat was the whole reason to pick the Navy over the Air Force.


“I can tell you that I’m proud of the work that goes into that, and the work from the whole system, in order to be able to do that,” he said. “It is an incredible feat from all people involved, from the human system and the mechanical system, to be able to regularly operate aircraft from an aircraft carrier. And I think it’s a valid source of pride.”


Montague, an 8-year rhino driver, said he had a feeling he’d be testing Magic Carpet when he joined VX-23, and he thought about what it might mean to the fighter pilot culture.


“I was curious as to how that was going to play out. ‘Hey, are we going to take away this thing that makes me think I’m special?’ ” he said. “After my first couple passes here, it went away.”


The point of the job, they said, is to drop the bombs or jam the enemy’s communications, and a beautiful landing on the carrier hours later is just an afterthought.


“I’m getting goosebumps right now thinking about the number of scary passes I’ve seen as a [landing safety officer], watching people come aboard the ship,” Dominick said. “I know two specific times that my life was saved by LSOs. For me, it’s the risk, and now I can stop focusing on admin and focus on being an even better tactician for the guys on the ground.”


Lightening the load


It’s too soon to tell, Kindley said, but Magic Carpet could have benefits far beyond aircrew safety.


In a perfect world, a pilot would hit the flight deck and hook the third of the four arresting wires laid out across the runway every time. Obviously, that’s rarely the case.


Landings are regularly waved-off, to start. During training, a pilot will get two or three chances before they’re told to go land back on base. On deployment, another jet will have to launch to act as a tanker to keep the other jet in the air until it can safely land.


Then there are the scary landings, when the jet comes down hard, or the tail hook misses all four wires and the pilot has to get airborne again.


All of that requires countless hours of practice to keep the pilots proficient, and countless hours of maintenance for the extra time spent in the air and the airframe stress from the impact of landing.


But if you can make it easier, Kindley said, it might have a positive effect all everything else.


“What the ship is seeing, and what I was seeing when we were standing out there is, these airplanes are tagging the three-wire,” he said. “There’s smoothness to the airplanes, I’m not seeing the nose move. They’re consistent with where they’re going, and it looks to be very, very predictable.”


That has the potential to change the way pilots are trained and qualified.


“So if we’ve really done that, if we’ve really made it that easy, then what do we have to do go to sea?” Kindley said. “Do I need to spend the amount of time in the future preparing for the ship then as I do now? I think it’ll be less.”


But he’s not ready to commit to how much less, he added.


Then there is the amount of time and money spent maintaining fighters. The Super Hornet is due to operate to 2040, and the new Growlers will be flying beyond that, Kindley said.


“There is a tax that we’re paying for these airplanes in having to bounce them before they go to sea, and the inconsistencies you’re seeing on the carrier,” he said. “It’s difficult to say what that tax is, but I know it’s not zero.”


With less stress on the aircraft, the 6,000 or 10,000 flight-hour limits on the planes might stretch a little further.

“We may have done a really good thing in terms of the long-term support of the airplane,” he said.


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Congress’ Shrinking Calendar Suggests Omnibus, CR Ahead

(DEFENSE NEW 05 JUL 16) … Joe Gould


WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed the House will work against the clock to pass appropriations bills as Congress’ waning calendar suggests a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past Sept. 30 and an omnibus spending resolution grows ever more likely.


Both loom over Congress’s election-year schedule, which has eight working days ahead, then a seven-week recess for party conventions and campaigning, and then four working weeks in September. McCarthy, R-Calif., all but acknowledged his caucus would not complete all 12 appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year.


“I think we will work through to get as many [appropriations bills] done as we can do before Sept. 30,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.


At McCarthy’s news conference, a reporter asked not whether there would be a CR but how long it would last. McCarthy would not say.


“We will deal with that when we reach it, but right now we have appropriations bills before us, so why would we stop now?” he said.


House Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters last month that he wants a CR to run from Oct. 1 through early December, followed by an omnibus to fund the government through the end of fiscal 2017.


The House has only managed to pass three appropriations bills — including the defense and the military construction-Veterans Affairs bills. The House is on track to consider one this week and another next week, but it would still fall behind the seven it had passed by this time last year.


Work on appropriations bills was delayed before the July Fourth recess when Democrats staged a 26-hour sit-in to demand the House take up gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando shooting.


Democrats also derailed a 2017 energy-water appropriations bill last month by including an anti-discrimination amendment that cost Republican support. That prompted House GOP leadership to tighten rules governing which amendments may be considered on the floor.


McCarthy touted the rule as a means to speed along appropriations.


“I believe the House should do its work, and I think you’ll see the House be very productive with appropriations, especially with the new structured rule,” McCarthy said. “When you have a structured rule, the approps process goes much faster, and I think we’ll continue with that work to get as much done as possible.”


House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had promised an “open rules” process, which allows more rank-and-file members to amend bills on the floor, and McCarthy said leadership has continued to keep the floor “very open.”

“We want to make sure we are moving legislation through, and I think you’ll find the approps process works a little smoother,” McCarthy said.


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US Marine Corps F-35s Cleared For Farnborough

(DEFENSE NEWS 05 JUL 16) … Valerie Insinna


RAF FAIRFORD, England — Two US Marine Corps F-35Bs on Tuesday completed validation flights with the UK government, clearing the jets to perform at Farnborough International Airshow next week.


During a validation flight, the UK Ministry of Defence confirms that an aircraft’s flight profile meets regulations and approves it for the show. The two jets took off around 2 p.m. from RAF Fairford and flew to Farnborough, landing back at Fairford after about 20 minutes.


The F-35Bs will do practice runs for the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) on Wednesday, said Lt. Col Richard Rusnok, one of the Marine Corps F-35B pilots in town for the air shows.


The Air Force F-35As, which will fly only at RIAT, conducted their flight validation at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia before the jets flew across the Atlantic Ocean last week, said Maj. Will Andreotta, F-35A heritage flight team commander and an F-35 pilot.


One of the A-variants conducted a practice flight Tuesday morning, Andreotta said. A different F-35A will run through the same profile Wednesday morning, and the F-22s will practice Thursday.


“It’s our first time flying in the UK so they have different rules. We’re doing actually a new profile here that we don’t do [in the US],” he said. “So today was one of those days to go out there and kind of look at the overall lay of the land, see where the show line is, where the crowd lines are. Obviously safety is our priority while we’re over here.”

During heritage flights, the aircraft typically conducts three maneuvers. The pilots first conduct an “arcing” or “banana pass,” which gives the crowd a view of the top of the jet, then do a “flat pass” where the aircraft flies straight and level. In the US, the pilots fly over the crowd before breaking formation and landing, but because flying over the crowd is prohibited in the UK, the pilots will instead repeat either a flat or arching base, Andreotta said.


The F-35As will be joined during the heritage flight by an F-22 and a P-51 Warbird but will not be practicing in the UK with the other aircraft before the demonstration at RIAT, said Master Sgt. Samuel Smith, F-35 heritage flight team chief.


“It’s our eighth air show, so we’ve actually done this quite a few times,” he said.



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The Navy Builds Strength By Saving Energy

(WASHINGTON POST 05 JUL 16) … David Ignatius


The week of July Fourth is a good moment to salute an unlikely champion of saving energy and switching to alternative fuels — the U.S. Navy. Once a supreme fuel-guzzler whose energy needs sometimes dictated foreign policy, the Navy has become a model for how the country can curb its appetite for fossil fuels.


The Navy’s energy diet began seven years ago with an edict from newly appointed Secretary Ray Mabus, who issued five goals for radically changing how the Navy bought and consumed fuel. A former Mississippi governor who had served two years as U.S. ambassador to Riyadh in the mid-1990s, Mabus worried about how vulnerable the U.S. military was to foreign energy sources.


The Navy, like most military services, likes its traditions. So the idea of a “Great Green Fleet” met considerable resistance from admirals and their allies in Congress. The Navy brass resisted, in particular, Mabus’s commitment to switch the Navy’s consumption so that by 2020, at least 50 percent of its fuel would come from alternative sources. At that time, many Navy commanders thought that 30 percent was a realistic target.


The Navy has already exceeded that 50 percent target in its contracts for fuel ashore, Mabus told me in a recent interview. And it expects to meet the overall goal well before 2020. Under the rules Mabus set for transition, the alternative fuels must be ready to “drop in” for any requirement, including jet fuel for an F/A-18 Hornet; the fuels must be competitively priced; and any biofuels can’t take land away from food production.


Mabus, who served aboard a cruiser in the early 1970s, argues that this energy shift is as much about national security as environmental goals. Saving fuel reduces combat vulnerability: He notes that in Afghanistan, the Marine Corps suffered one Marine killed or wounded for every 50 convoys of fuel. Less fuel consumption means fewer casualties.


The Navy’s main push has involved alternative fuels for ships, planes and shore facilities. The cost curve has come down sharply: Mabus says that four years ago when the Navy began buying jet fuel that used a heavy mix of biofuel, it cost $25 a gallon. Today, it costs less than $2 a gallon.


The Navy is also making some new “hybrids,” such as the amphibious assault ships USS Makin Island and USS America. These ships use electric propulsion for lower speeds and save the gas turbines for higher speeds.


Mabus says the “Prius of the sea,” as he jokingly calls the Makin Island, was able to remain at sea 44 days longer than expected without refueling. Over a ship’s lifetime, the savings could add up to $250 million, the Navy says.


Mabus also pushed the Navy and Marines to begin using alternative technologies for electricity. The Navy is refitting ships to use long-lasting LED lights; so far, 7 percent of the fleet has made this transition, saving the equivalent of 1 million gallons of marine diesel fuel annually. Marines deployed in combat are now using solar panels, where possible, to produce power that would otherwise come from generators and batteries. For a Marine company, this could spare troops from lugging 700 pounds of batteries into combat.


Another nice thing about using green technology in combat, says Mabus, is that it’s quiet. He notes a comment by a SEAL Team officer after a recent deployment: “When you turn off the generator, you can hear the bad guys.” In remote, rural areas of Afghanistan, “a generator is likely putting a target on your back,” says Mabus.


The Navy has always been at the cutting edge with energy: Sailing vessels that depended on the wind gave way to steamships, which were replaced by diesel-powered vessels, which made way for nuclear carriers and submarines. Mabus says the Defense Department is still the largest single user of fossil fuels on earth, with the Navy accounting for about one-third of that total.


Climate change is a very practical problem for a seagoing Navy. Melting polar ice changes the strategic map of the world; rising sea levels are expected to displace up to 150 million living in coastal areas by 2050, adding to global instability; the Navy’s prize Atlantic port of Norfolk may be at risk, as sea levels rise through this century.


Occasionally, environmental and defense policy converge. Mabus’s energy initiative, which drew jeers at first, now looks like a demonstration of how to make the country stronger and greener at the same time.


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Non-deployed Marine pilots still aren’t getting enough training

(STARS AND STRIPES, 6 July 16) … Tara Copp


WASHINGTON — The Marines have made slight improvements to increase the number of training flight hours its non-deployed pilots receive monthly, but it remains far below what is required and could have long-term consequences for the service, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis told lawmakers Wednesday.


According to the Marines’ own standards, those pilots should have 16.5 hours of flight training each month. But they have received far less because the needed aircraft or the funds to pay for training have been transferred to deploying units.


Last year, non-deploying Marine pilots on average were getting only six to nine hours of flight training each month, Davis told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on readiness. Since Congress added funds to help address the readiness problem, hours of training have increased to average seven to 11 hours each month, said Davis, the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation.


“It is an improvement but still six hours per month shy of what a trained-and-ready force requires,” he said.


Retired Cmdr. Chris Harmer, who flew SH-60F Sea Hawks and is now a senior analyst at the think tank Institute for the Study of War, said the single-digit monthly training hours are putting servicemembers’ lives at risk.


“A pilot flying only 100 hours a year is not really deployable and not really even safe,” Harmer said. “If you are flying just 7 to 11 hours per month you are not only completely non-proficient in combat, you are dangerously lacking in basic airmanship – takeoffs, navigation and landings. The pilots not in the deployment queue, their skills are eroding. They are a danger to themselves and their fellow Marines.”



Davis said the Marines continue to increase its flight training availabilities. But the longer-term consequences of having a new generation of aviators receive so few flight hours could lead to more “Class A” mishaps, where aircraft and crews are lost, because future leaders, who should have at least 2,000 hours of training, might only have 500 to 600 hours when they are called to guide a less-experienced aviator.


Davis called the lack of hours “concerning … the loss of experience this generation of Marines aviators has.”


The readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps’ helicopters and aircraft came into sharp focus after a string of fatal aircraft crashes in recent months, including the January 2016 collision of two CH-53E Super Stallions that killed 12 Marines off the coast of Hawaii. The investigation into that crash is close to complete, Davis said Wednesday.


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Pentagon Seeks Nearly $2.6B in Reprogramming Request

(DEFENSE NEWS 06 JUL 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has submitted its reprogramming request to Congress, with roughly $2.6 billion in funding shifts targeted.


The request, signed off by comptroller Mike McCord on June 30, will now need to be weighed by Congress.

In broad strokes, the reprogramming features the following pots of money:


$1.174 billion in fiscal 2016 appropriations

$54.8 million in fiscal 2016 overseas contingency operation (OCO) fund

$583 million from the Defense Working Capitol Fund towards operations and maintenance requirements

$155 million among various fiscal 2015 appropriations

$499 million in fiscal 2015 OCO funding

$128 million among various fiscal 2014 appropriations


Inside the fiscal 2016 increases, the Army gets a boost of $267 million. Included in that is $21 million in funding for testing and procurement on the Hellfire Longbow L7A missile and $1 million for the an engineering study for the Enhanced Heavy Equipment Transporter System (E-HETS), but the majority of the funding goes to support for the service’s Long Haul Communications program.


That funding has to come from somewhere, and for the Army, it’s primarily by dropping $207.5 million from personnel costs. Much of that savings comes from lower-than-budgeted Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) average costs.


The reprogramming brings the Navy a boost of $476 million, including $129 million to boost flying hours for pilots. It also features $7 million to address depot level repair of components for Advance Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) on CVN-78, as well as $4.6 million to complete certification for the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) capability.


As with the Army, the Navy found significant savings on personnel this year, freeing up $85.3 million. The Navy also freed up $40 million for F-18 funding due to a delay in the FY 2016 contract award for Infrared Search and Track (IRST) low rate initial production 2 (LRIP 2) contracts.


The US Air Force gained $273 million, including $10 million to support the aging UH-1N helicopter fleets, $7 million to support maintenance at ICBM sites, and $6 million for the Space Mission Forces initiative, which seeks to improve the training and organization of airmen focused on the space domain. It also requests $10 million in a new start effort to procure the PGU-48/B weapon for the F-35A joint strike fighter, a sign that the long-delayed jet is close to going operational. The Air Force expects that funding stream to include $4 million each in its fiscal 2018 and 2019 budget requests.


Roughly $54 million is being sought to increase research and development efforts for the Air Force, including $23.9 million to keep the Air Force’s next-generation fighter program, referred to as “Next Generation Air Dominance” by the service, on schedule to support a 2017 milestone.


The funding is needed to keep “identifying and/or eliminating candidate technologies early in the analysis process to ensure more effective use of planned air superiority investment, and to ensure the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) incorporates an accurate capability picture. If funds are not received, [Next-Generation Air Dominance] activities will not be able to remain on schedule to support the FY 2017 [Material Development Decision],” according to the reprogramming note.


For the Air Force, the reprogramming shifts around $86 million in delayed aircraft procurement and maintenance, largely due to overperforming systems not needing as much work as expected.


Roughly $3 million was saved because of delays to the Guardian Angel Air-Deployable Rescue Vehicles (GAARV) program, due to “suitability issues found during testing. The fielding decision has been pushed to the 4th quarter of FY 2017 to allow time to resolve these issues.”


Intriguingly, the reprograming includes a plus up of $9.2 million for procurement on a classified Air Force program. Another $9 million are reprogramed under the research and development heading. The Navy also shifted $20 million from a classified program marked as “LINK PLUMERIA.”


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Marine Aviation Chief: Readiness Improving But Slowly

(DEFENSE DAILY 06 JUL 16) … Marc Selinger


The Marine Corps’ aviation chief said July 6 that his service’s well-publicized aviation readiness problems are improving but that progress is not fast enough and is endangered by another potential budget stalemate in Washington.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, told the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness panel that 42 percent of his service’s 1,000-plus aircraft are flyable, up from about 33 percent the last time he testified. “However, we are still far short of what we need to be the force of readiness,” Davis said. “42 percent is not good enough. It’s not good at all.”


The readiness of the AV-8B Harrier jump jet has rebounded, but the CH-53E Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopter lags and will take until 2019 or 2020 to recover, the general said. And while non-deployed air-crews are flying seven to 11 hours a month, up from six to nine hours the last time he testified, they are still falling about six hours short.


Davis was encouraged by the progress of the new Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Lightning II fighter, saying “we can’t get the airplane fast enough into the fleet” to replace aging, hard-to-maintain aircraft. The Marine Corps stood up its second operational squadron last week.


Davis said the F-35 had a 24-to-0 kill ratio in a spring drill, which was like “watching a Velociprator,” an aggressive dinosaur that “kills everything” in the Jurassic Park movies. He also praised the CH-53K King Stallion, the CH-53E’s planned replacement, noting that it recently lifted a 27,000-pound external load in a test. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is developing the CH-53K.


But Davis warned that continued progress for Marine aviation depends on funding stability, which could be jeopardized by a possible political stalemate on the fiscal year 2017 budget request or by the potential return of sequestration’s deep budget cuts. “I would characterize our current recovery as fragile,” he said. “We’re in a deep hole and have a ways to go to climb out.”


According to Davis, shortfalls in readiness and flight time do not seem to have caused an increase in serious accidents for Marine aviation. But ground mishaps have jumped, and he recently hired an outside expert to find out why.


The general also expressed concern about airspace restrictions around military training ranges. The F-35 needs more room than older fighters to try out all of its capabilities, he said.


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Marines: Class C Aviation Mishaps Have Doubled, Service Investigating

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, 6 July 16) … Megan Eckstein



The Marine Corps has hired an independent review team lead to look at Class C aviation mishaps, which have doubled over the last year amid the current aviation readiness crisis.


Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis told reporters after a House Armed Services Committee hearing today that he hired someone who will spearhead a review team – which will have access to travel dollars to get out to the fleet and see first-hand what’s going on with Marine pilots and aircrews. While Class A mishaps – the most serious class, involving either a fatality, the loss of an aircraft or more than $2 million in damages – have remained steady over the last four or so years, Class C mishaps – which involve damages of $50,000 to $500,000 or personnel injuries – have doubled compared to last year.


“I don’t know the reason for that,” Davis said.

“I know that people are running pretty hard with not a lot of gear, and we’re just making it – if you are getting your airplanes ready at the last possible minute to get out the door for deployment, there’s a wear and tear on the fleet, a wear and tear on the enlisted Marines and the officers to get ready. I don’t know what the answer is to that, we are going to look at that in great detail.”


Davis said the review would focus only on ground-based Class C mishaps that occur during towing, taxiing, aircraft maintenance or other activities. He could not give a timeline for the review, saying it would be up to the review team to take the time they needed to get to the bottom of the problem.


“These are the very best Marines we’ve ever had in the Marine Corps, so if they’re making mistakes, why?” Davis said.

“We’ve already looked at it, I obviously don’t have it right, or I’m not seeing the problem the way I should. I want someone else to kind of help me see it more clearly.”


These mishaps exacerbate the larger readiness problem the Marine Corps and the other services face today. With only 42 percent of planes in flying condition today and pilots who are not in next-to-deploy units only flying seven to 11 hours a month, “what I’ve asked this team to look at is, not just the cost of (the mishaps), but what’s the lost readiness from having an airplane not ready to train or fly because we’re fixing it.”


During the hearing, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9) Rear Adm. Michael Manazir said the Navy has seen its Class C mishaps double since 2008, while Class B mishaps are down and Class A has remained steady.


“We’re diving hard with the Safety Center to see what the causal factors would be for increased Class C mishaps, ground mishaps,” he said.

“Were the mistakes made because of inexperience? Were there procedures that were not followed? This might be an indicator that the lower level of our mishap classes, potentially some effects of readiness. When we asked to look at, to weigh the causal factors against the mishaps, there were none that stood out as low readiness, low currency, lack of familiarity with procedures for our aircrew or our maintainers, but we continue to look at that Class C mishap rate to see if there might be a problem.”


Manazir and Davis agreed that a big concern for them is that today’s low readiness and low flight time for pilots will lead to a rash of mishaps in the future, as today’s young pilots progress through their careers and eventually are responsible for training the next generation.


“We probably won’t see the effects of critical underfunding in readiness, critical under-flying, critical lack of experience, for several years, as people are now put in leadership positions and leading larger flight operations or they’re leading squadrons, and with the lack of experience, that lack of exposure, you might start to see some effects on the units that they lead because of the lack of flying” today, Manazir said.


When asked about a connection between the readiness crisis and recent Class A mishaps – particularly the January incident when two CH-53Es crashed in Hawaii, killing all 12 Marines onboard the helos – Davis said the data does not support any connection yet.


He said the Marines are still conducting their investigation and he would not comment ahead of the final report’s release, but Davis said that “I can’t make a direct line to Class A, but there is risk there by not flying,” and he worries that a couple years from now the Marine Corps will conclude that a fatal crash was caused by pilot inexperience.


“I think we could see future mishaps spikes in Class As because of low flight times, the low experience,” he said.

“it’s hard to tie the low flight time to the Class A mishap rate right now, but we are seeing high (operational tempos), the deployment-to-dwell I think has an impact for sure on the Class C mishap rates, which impacts the readiness.”


Though the data may not show a direct line from today’s low flying hours to the recent Class As, “I can’t tie the low readiness rates to a Class A mishap rate even though my gut sense says there’s something there. I can’t tie it to the data right now.”


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Navy Fleets Unable To Fix $500M Ship Maintenance Shortfall On Their Own

(U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE, 6 July 16) … Megan Eckstein


The Navy fleets have a $500-million ship maintenance budget shortfall leftover from last year that they cannot pay for on their own. Any existing budget slack is already stretched too tight – meaning that $500-million shortfall will likely be pushed into the next year, U.S. Fleet Forces Command officials told USNI News.


The Pentagon budgeting process forces Navy leaders to predict their spending needs two years out – and a lot can change in two years. Previously, though, there was enough margin in U.S. Fleet Forces’ other accounts – ship operations, air operations and combat operations – to help cover unexpected cost increases in the ship maintenance account. Now, USFF executive director and chief of staff Mark Honecker said, there is little to no slack in the fleet’s budget – so the combined $500-million shortfall in ship maintenance funding U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Pacific Fleet faced at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2016 has barely shrunk, forcing the two organizations to search higher up the chain of command for money or continue the cycle of postponing maintenance work.


“What’s happened this year that made it a little more challenging is, we’ve gotten much better at pricing out our flying hours account, models have gotten better on the ship ops account, and so those margins that we had, they’re gone,” he said. “And so in previous years we would have been able to address these shortfalls and not defer these (maintenance) availabilities within our own account, but this year’s been a little bit different because we got better at models and then we also took a couple-hundred-million-dollar hit in our flying hour account. So those margins are gone now to solve our own problems.”


“Each year we do have a shortfall, each year we do manage the shortfall,” he continued, but “as budgets get tighter and margins go away, we’re unable to do that just within the fleet accounts, and we have to raise it up a few levels and see where we get resources elsewhere. But even Navy overall, there’s very limited resources and flexibility because there’s shortfalls in other accounts too.”


This year, it appears that without assistance from the Defense Department or Congress, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET will have to push that shortfall forward by deferring the maintenance availabilities of four surface ships and an attack submarine into FY 2017.


Rear Adm. Richard Berkey, U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s director of fleet maintenance, told USNI News that this fiscal year has played out very differently than the original plan called for. Planning for FY 2016 started in the fall of 2013, and several kinds of assumptions – on operational needs, the shipyard workforce, work package scopes and more – have proven wrong.


For starters, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET started the year at a combined $520 million in the hole in the ship maintenance accounts – $76 million and $444 million, respectively, Berkey said.


Fleet Forces’ shortfall was due to one simple event: the attack submarine USS Montpelier’s (SSN-765) interim dry docking period was moved from a public yard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, to a private yard.


“[General Dynamics] Electric Boat won that contract, and when they won that contract their bid was $76 million higher than what we had anticipated,” Berkey said, noting that it wasn’t unusual for the private yard bid to be higher than the original government estimate. However, the contract was awarded after the program objective memorandum (POM) planning two years ahead of the start of the fiscal year, and also after the detailed budgeting process that starts one year out, creating a FY 2016 bill that wasn’t budgeted for.


The $444-million shortfall at PACFLEET, on the other hand, was much more complex.

•The biggest factor was that many availabilities took much longer than anticipated, not due to unexpected maintenance work but rather because modernization work suddenly started driving schedules. “Modernization, in the past, has generally not been a driver for schedule in availabilities – they would have been specific to particular parts of the ship, or particular machinery, or some capability like that. We’re now getting into modernization that really takes the ship apart completely,” Berkey said, citing the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) as an example. The scope and duration of a CANES installation is now well understood, he said, but “they didn’t know until between that budget process and the beginning of the year.”

•Additionally, three submarine availabilities were moved from public shipyards into private yards, which costs more. A fourth submarine was moved from the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard San Diego Detachment, which was more expensive but was necessary due to workforce imbalance issues, Berkey said.

•The Littoral Combat Ship class has proven more expensive to operate and maintain than was predicted a couple years ago, Berkey said. “I don’t think that’s a secret, that’s a new class of ship and we generally have that for every new class of ship. It’s a little bit more particular on the LCS because of the sustainment model that we have, where we minimize the manning on the LCS with the idea that we would sustain it from the shore with contractors and those types of things. We continue to mature that model and to understand what those real costs are going to be. So we’ve done that with the LCSs out of San Diego, and now moving them to Singapore adds a little bit of complexity to that that we’re still getting our arms wrapped around.”

•Workforce challenges at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility that “go back to the sequestration back in FY ‘13” led to delays in an availability for USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and pushed work from FY 2015 into 2016.

•And finally, three maintenance availabilities were intentionally moved from FY 2015 to 2016 to deal with a budget shortfall at the time.


Berkey said Fleet Forces ultimately shifted some of its money over to PACFLEET to help address all those challenges – though ultimately the shortfall is about the same size now as it was at the beginning of the fiscal year in October, with Fleet Forces facing a $330 million deficit and PACFLEET a $160 million deficit. That combined total equates to about 6 percent of the total ship maintenance budget for the two fleets.


That the deficit hasn’t shrunk much over the last nine months isn’t for lack of trying, though. Berkey said the Navy had begun awarding firm fixed-priced contracts for surface ships on the East Coast in FY 2016 instead of the old multi-ship/multi-option (MSMO) setup. Preliminary data shows that costs are coming down, freeing up money for the Navy to spend on other emerging ship maintenance work. Fleet Forces was also on track to save in FY 2016 due to the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) delivering in October instead of March 2016 and therefore pushing its selected restricted availability into FY 2017 – though that potentially creates a larger shortfall going into FY 2017.


However, the Navy will be facing a big unplanned bill this fiscal year when carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) returns home from a deployment that was not only extended a month but was also essentially the second in a back-to-back deployment with only bare-bones maintenance work in between.


“What we’re seeing now with the actual testing of equipment prior to the availability, the additional steaming time Truman has, we’re seeing a lot more work now coming into that package,” Berkey said.

“That availability will be much bigger than we anticipated, starting in September.”


So despite an effort to dig out of the funding shortfall, Fleet Forces and PACFLEET find themselves having to push that deficit into the next year – via deferring the five ship availabilities – unless the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or Congress step in and find the money to pay for that work in this current year.


“We’re still hoping that money can come in, and the beauty of the contract strategy that we use is that if we get money in time we can put money back on contract using FY ‘16 funds, but if we don’t then that requirement then moves over into FY ’17,” Berkey said.

“And when we go into that year, similar to what I said about PACFLEET where they had three availabilities that went from ‘15 to ‘16, there will be five availabilities that move from ‘16 into ‘17 in aggregate between the two fleets.”


Asked if money was the limiting factor or if other reasons may preclude the Navy from carrying out those availabilities this year, Berkey said, “if we were resourced this year, we could award the contracts for those maintenance availabilities, if we got it early enough.


“If we got a check written to us tomorrow, we could award those contracts and not bow wave that work into ’17,” he continued.

“It is executable if resources are provided early enough.”


Budgeting In The Future


Berkey said there are two reasons to be optimistic that, even as planning for air operations and ship operations has gotten more accurate over the years, planning for ship maintenance will become more accurate too to avoid some of the problems PACFLEET saw going into this fiscal year.


First, the Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program (SURFMEPP) is already doing a better job of predicting the maintenance needs of specific ship hulls and should continue getting more accurate over the next few years.


SURFMEPP, which was stood up in 2010, has technical foundation papers that look at each class of ship and, based on where a hull is in its lifecycle and what type of maintenance availability it is approaching, outlines what type of work the ship is likely to need. SURFMEPP also maintains ship sheets for each individual hull, monitoring deferred maintenance and other things the engineering community knows about that particular warship.


Berkey said the Navy is about four years into using the technical foundation papers and ship sheets, so most of the ships have come in for an availability but not all have been in for a docking availability – which occurs every eight years or so. Once all the ships have been through a docking availability, where they are more thoroughly taken apart and inspected, SURFMEPP should have a very clear idea of the state of each ship and what to expect for future maintenance periods.


“I see the problem (of work package growth) reducing,” Berkey said, but “I don’t see it ever going away. There is always something that will surprise us when you take a pump off of a foundation that you couldn’t see before and then that foundation is eroding.”


The good news is that the Navy plans for 20-percent work growth when drafting the POM two years out, and they generally can stay within that margin.


“Where we see growth today is still on ships that have not gone through that process, that docking process that I was talking about before, and really getting into the tanks and understanding what those conditions are,” Berkey said, and within the next four or so years the Navy should have cycled all its ships through at least one docking period. He praised SURFMEPP as a “constantly improving process with the goal … to know exactly what the condition of the ship is so we can properly plan for it, order the material and be able to do the work on schedule and on time.”


A second positive for the future is that, after furloughs and hiring freezes in 2013, the workforce size has stabled out, though training continues to be a challenge.


“You can go back to the sequestration back in FY ‘13 where we stopped hiring for a while at the naval shipyards. We had pretty much recovered from the pure numbers of people we need back into the naval shipyards by the end of FY ‘15, but now there’s a training period,” Berkey said, noting that 20 percent of the shipyard workforce was hired within the last year and 50 percent within the last five years.


But the yards have created learning centers to help new hires become proficient at their trades faster, and Berkey said he was confident that cases of schedule delays and therefore cost increases due to workforce challenges – particularly like the case if Nimitz – will be less of a budgeting problem going forward.


FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of June 27, 2016


The NAVAIR Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) Breaking Through Barriers: Entry Level Women is pleased to announce its fifth national event!


Guest Speaker: Emily Harman; Navy Office of Small Business Programs Senior Executive Service (SES)

Topic: Crucial Conversations 101

Date: 19 July 2016

Time: 1100-1200 EST (Brown Bag)

Location: Patuxent River, MD; National VTC

For any questions, please feel free to contact Meghan Wagner ( or Sara Gravatt (






COMFRC Change of Command video

Nearly 400 guests gathered June 16 in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School hangar to honor and to bid farewell to Rear Adm. Paul “LJ” Sohl, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), as he handed over the helm to Vice Commander Capt. Mike Zarkowski. View the entire video at




Vision 2020 Capacity and Capability

Vision 2020 is the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation. Cross-functional teams are at work on the plan’s seven “threads” — or lines of effort — to evolve the current sustainment system into one that is globally managed in real time and cost effective. In this video, members of the executive leadership team and the capability and capacity team share an update on their progress. Check out the video at

Logistics interns tour NIST and learn of innovations that are improving life

(COMMANDER, FLEET READINESS CENTERS, 27 June 16) . Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Public Affairs



NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP) participants from Naval Air System Command’s (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) toured the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) June 16.


The participants received an overview presentation of the facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, toured several working labs and visited the NIST museum.


“We learned about the surprising impact the organization has on our lives, at both a personal and professional level,” said Jonathan Rosen, operations research analyst. “The NIST creates thousands of its own consumer products (such as peanut butter and detergent), all precisely measured, so that industries can properly measure and calibrate their own production lines. We toured the low-background infrared facility (LBIR), which tests infrared sensors and is responsible for standards that many of contractors use in producing Navy aircraft’s forward laser infrared (FLIR) pods.”


Laquisha Thomas, logistics management specialist, said she didn’t realize the work of the NIST “dealt with almost everything in our everyday lives. I liked the lab that dealt with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening methods. They’re trying to develop new methods to screen us where we won’t have to remove our belts, shoes, etc.”


Arthur Flood, logistics management specialist, said he, too, “learned a lot about the history and the vital role that NIST plays in our everyday lives. NIST does a lot of testing and measuring to help set a standard. From the foods we eat, to the standards for car safety and detection of trace explosives or drugs and countless other things that can be measured or tested for a vast amount of government agencies and the private sector.”


Nicholas Long, logistics management specialist, was impressed with the ballistics traceability lab where the NIST is “using 3-D printing in order to create better technology to detect chemical or ballistic residue.”


The tour was one of many set up to expose NADP participants to different naval acquisition and NAVAIR program offices and activities.




Taylor lauds Sailors at FRCSE Detachment Mayport Change of Charge

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 28 June 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast


Jacksonville, Fla. – The tight-knit group of 200 Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) Detachment Mayport Sailors said goodbye to Officer in Charge Cmdr. Claude Taylor June 24.


The detachment supports Navy helicopter squadrons deployed around the globe with rework and maintenance for their aircraft, engines, components and support equipment. The Sailors have made major strides – both professionally and personally – with Taylor at the reins.


“Detachment Mayport is the premier H-60 I-level maintenance facility in the fleet because of you,” Taylor told the Sailors. “There are helicopters operating off ships and in the desert right now thanks to your skills and dedication. You are exceptional.”


Taylor went on to put specific numbers to a few of the group’s accomplishments in the last 24 months, including the repair and rework of 32,000 aircraft components returned to the fleet.


“You introduced new, advanced repair processes and techniques, enhancing our capabilities in electro-optics, avionics, composites, support equipment and engine repair,” he said. “And, for the first time in more than seven years, established shipboard support equipment rework at this facility.


“You reduced work items in process from a high of 385, to an all-time low of 96.”


Along with Detachment Mayport’s accomplishments in its official role of maintaining Navy helicopters, the team has logged 30 months without an alcohol-related incident. In February, officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office visited the detachment to present Taylor and his Sailors with an award for the achievement.


“When I got here, I challenged each of you to leave here better than when you arrived, and you did,” Taylor said, citing the college courses completed by Sailors during his tenure. “Keep it up.”


To Taylor, those are not just words.


Enlisting in the Navy in 1981, he eventually rose to the rank of senior chief before he was commissioned as a warrant officer in 1997. He later transitioned to aviation maintenance duty officer in 2004, earning a Bachelor of Science and master’s degree along the way.


FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart praised Taylor for his leadership and the Sailors for their accomplishments.


“The importance of Detachment Mayport’s success may be underestimated by those not associated with what we do here, but make no mistake – the very lives of American service members and our allies deployed to conflict zones on the other side of the world hang in the balance,” Stuart told the Sailors in attendance. “Without the helicopter squadrons Detachment Mayport keeps in the air, Navy ships and Sailors would be under-supplied, under-armed and partially blind.


“Thank you so much for all that you and your Sailors have done here.”


Taylor is moving on to Patuxent River, Maryland as the components officer for Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.


Lt. Cmdr. Joseph “Derek” Tindell, a familiar face around FRCSE, relieved Taylor as Detachment Mayport officer in charge. Though most recently serving as Patrol Squadron 10’s assistant maintenance officer at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Tindell served in several rolls at FRCSE from 2007 to 2011, including as officer in charge of FRCSE Detachment Key West.




FRCMA Sailor saves lives in act of selflessness

(FLEET READINESS CENTER MID-ATLANTIC, 28 June 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – By being at the right place at the right time, one Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA) Sailor helped save the lives of victims of a fiery May 16 automobile crash. Seaman Loreina Campos was honored May 20 at the Naval Air Station Ocean, Virginia, theater for her actions with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.


According to police and media reports, a Nissan Sentra was traveling westbound on Interstate 264 in Virginia Beach when it broke down. The Nissan was struck by a Chevy Silverado, which caused the car to spin out of control and hit an empty Hampton Roads Transit bus. The impact of the crash caused the Nissan to catch on fire.


A 31-year-old woman, a 28-year-old man and a 2-year-old girl were rescued from the burning car by two Good Samaritans, Campos and another witness who was traveling separately. A 5-month-old girl was also in the car but could not be seen due to the flames and died in the fire, police said. The 2-year-old died in the hospital later that week.


Campos, who was four months pregnant at the time, was driving home from work when she witnessed the accident. She said she immediately pulled her vehicle over and ran up to the car to help.


Campos said she attempted to open the driver’s door to pull the driver out, but the door would not open. She said she then ran over to the passenger door and with another person’s help, was able to get the door opened.


As they were pulling the passenger out of the car, Campos said she noticed a small toddler pinned behind the passenger seat. The vehicle was engulfed in flames, and Campos reached into the burning vehicle to pull the toddler, who was on fire, to safety.  She carried the toddler, who was struggling to breath, to the side of the highway and remained with her until help arrived.


“I was really scared,” Campos said, recalling the events of the day. “Everything was happening so quick, yet so slow at the same time. It was really strange.


“It was like I wasn’t the one making my body do what it was doing. It was doing it on its own without thinking about it,” she said. “After I got the little girl, my main concern was making her feel comfortable so she didn’t feel alone.”


Once the emergency crews arrived on scene, Campos said she was able to give an accurate account of the child’s injuries and was lauded by emergency medical service personnel for her heroic actions before rushing the little girl to the hospital. The toddler ended up living for four more days before succumbing to her injuries.


For her actions that day, Capt. Joseph Rodriquez, FRCMA commanding officer, presented Campos a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal during a Safety Stand-down at the NAS Ocean theater, calling the Sailor who has been in the Navy less than three years a hero.


“What Seaman Campos did was an absolute selfless act,” Rodriguez said. “It is leadership defined and a shining example of bystander intervention at work.”


Campos recalled what was going through her mind at the scene of the accident.


“I remember that I just kept telling myself to keep doing something; everything was on overdrive,” Campos said. “It took several days for me to process what had happened.”




Logistics interns learn first-hand how their work impacts fleet

(NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, 28 June 16) . Naval Air Systems Command Air-6.0 Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Naval Acquisition Development Program (NADP) participants from Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) and Research and Engineering (AIR 4.0) had the opportunity for a pier-side tour of Nimitz-class carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73) in Norfolk, Virginia, June 14.


The 44 participants saw up close what Sailors experience every day aboard a ship. From witnessing the testing of the arresting gear to touring the flight deck, hangar bay and the forecastle, they gained a new perspective on how their jobs at NAVAIR impact the fleet.


“In a prior internship rotation with the Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons Program Management Activity (PMA-242), I had been part of a concepts of operations (CONOPS) meeting which covered how-to stow, assemble and load weapon systems onboard carriers,” said Jacqueline Trenholm, logistics management analyst, Logistics Management Integration (AIR 6.6). “I was able to connect much of the shipboard terminology used in that CONOPS meeting to what I saw on this tour.”


Jennifer Dixon, logistics management analyst, Maintenance Planning and Sustainment (AIR 6.7) also was grateful for the new perspective. Being onboard the carrier gave her “much more respect for the men and women on deployment serving our nation,” she said. “Watching videos does not compare to being there in person.”


Tracy Hurtt, logistics management analyst, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis (AIR 6.8) echoed Dixon’s sentiments: “It was great to see the fleet and what we [AIR 6.0] were supporting. I know we support aircraft, but the carrier holds those aircraft. I have never been that close to a ship and I loved it.”






Marines Pull Aircraft From ‘Boneyard,’ Get Used Navy Jets Amid Aviation Crisis

(MARINE TIMES 23 JUN 16) … Jeff Schogol


With most of its F/A-18 strike fighters unable to fly on any given day, the Marine Corps is resurrecting 23 Hornets from the “boneyard” and getting another seven aircraft from the Navy.


The move comes as the Marine Corps and Navy struggle to keep F/A-18s in the skies until the F-35 joint strike fighter can replace the services’ aging aircraft.


“We are very focused on our current readiness, and at the moment, we don’t have enough Hornets for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training,” said Capt. Sarah Burns, a Marine spokeswoman at the Pentagon.


The Hornet is the first U.S. strike fighter, meaning it can shoot down enemy aircraft, kill bad guys on the ground and bomb enemy targets. The Hornet and the newer F/A-18 E-F Super Hornet were supposed to be phased out in the mid-2020s and 2035 respectively, but delays in the F-35 program have forced the Marine Corps and Navy to find ways to keep the aircraft flying much longer than intended.


The 30 F/A-18C Hornets headed back to the fleet are being upgraded to the C+ configuration, Burns said. That means they’ll include updates to the flight-deck displays and a joint helmet mounted cueing system, which gives the pilot more control over the aircraft, according to Boeing.


Each Hornet takes between nine and 18 months to upgrade, depending in the condition of the aircraft. Boeing expects to refurbish 10 Hornets a year starting in 2017.


Most of the Hornets were placed in storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, commonly known as the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.


“We purposely housed the aircraft in the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group … over the course of a decade with intent to store, maintain and upgrade them for today’s use,” Burns said.


So far, one of the upgraded Hornets has been delivered to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, she said. Boeing is making sure a second upgraded Hornet is ready for operational missions while work on five more aircraft is underway.


‘Mothball’ planes


Experts are divided about the efficacy of returning Hornets from the boneyard to service.


It is common practice for the military to “mothball” planes, ships and vehicles since they often end up with more usable equipment than they need, said retired Marine Lt. Col. Dakota Wood, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.


“When this happens, it makes sense to place the items in long-term storage to avoid both the maintenance costs of keeping the equipment in ready-to-use condition and wasting taxpayer dollars by destroying equipment that still has useful life,” Wood told Marine Corps Times. “Resurrecting older equipment also mitigates the costs in time and money of building new items unless the old item has truly become obsolete relative to threats and missions it was originally designed to handle.”


In February 2015, the B-52H “Ghost Rider” took off from Davis-Monthan for Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, after spending seven years in the boneyard. The Air Force decided to restore the bomber to replace another B-52 damaged in a fire the year prior.


But while the Hornets in the boneyard can be inspected, repaired and returned to full mission-capable status, doing so can be technically risky and expensive, said retired Navy Cmdr. Chris Harmer, senior naval analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.


“After sitting in the desert for a decade, nobody really knows what condition they are in until they get to the depot-level maintenance facility and are opened up and inspected” Harmer said.


Marine Corps aviation is “on the verge of systemic failure” because the fleet has been overused since Sept. 11, 2001, Harmer added, and the F-35s that will ultimately replace current aircraft are years behind schedule.


“This is not the fault of the Marine Corps, but the Marines will pay the price for it through excess pilot mortality, and the U.S. will face a significant strategic risk in the near future if deployable Marine tactical aviation suffers a significant decrease in availability, which now seems inevitable,” he said.


The readiness challenges facing the Marine Corps are common to all of the military services, which have to meet a constant or increasing operational tempo with less money, a congressional staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Marine Corps Times. As a result, the Marine Corps is using its aircraft far more than it ever intended to, so the Hornets in the boneyard may have fewer flight hours than F/A-18s being used now.


Readiness for the military overall is “in crisis,” said Rep. Rob Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee, which will hold a hearing in July about the extent of aviation gaps and how to fix them.


“The Marine Corps has been unequivocal about the aviation readiness challenges it faces,” said Wittman, a Virginia Republican. “They’ve said that they don’t have the number of Hornets they need for combat, flight instruction and training.


“That means we are scraping aircraft together to fly combat operations today at the expense of future generations of Hornet pilots. This is just one example of how our readiness shortfalls are compromising our national security and, unfortunately, it is not limited to the Hornet or the Marine Corps.”


Skipping a generation


As of late April, only 87 of the Marine Corps’ fleet of 276 Hornets were flyable, Marine Corps officials told Congress. Many planes are grounded due to a lack of spare parts and other maintenance issues.


Hornets require heavy maintenance because of their age and how often they are used, but steep across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration created a backlog of aircraft in depot because there wasn’t enough money to do preventative maintenance or replace artisans who retired or took another job, officials said.


The Marine Corps does not expect to dig itself out of its aviation readiness hole until 2020.


Some have suggested that the Marine Corps should have purchased newer F/A-18E and F Super Hornets as a stopgap measure, but that would have slowed the service’s procurement of F-35s, putting even more stress on its Hornets and AV-8B Harriers, said Jesse Sloman, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington.


“The Corps is in a bind right now because of the service’s decision to skip a generation of fighter aircraft by going directly from the legacy Hornet to the joint strike fighter, Sloman said. “This risky choice has led to some short-term pain due to the brittleness of the F/A-18 and the negative impacts of the 2011 sequestration.”


But the Marine Corps’ aggressive plan to switch to the F-35 should allow the service to phase out its current aircraft quickly rather than spending money to keep less capable planes flying longer, he said.


Meanwhile, the Navy had a shortfall of 104 strike fighters last year – and that number could grow to 134 aircraft by 2020, then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert told Congress in March 2015.


That’s why the Navy is upgrading its fleet of F/A-18s, so that the Hornets will continue to make up the majority of carrier aircraft through the end of the 2020s. The Hornets had been designed to fly up to 6,000 hours, but with delays in the F-35 program, Navy officials hope the F/A-18s will be able to fly up to 10,000 hours – or more.


“We might even fly [Super Hornets until] close to 2040,” Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, the Navy’s air warfare director, told the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower in November.




Navy Budget Squeeze Delays PCS Orders

(MILITARY.COM 23 JUN 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


Navy families are finding themselves waiting longer than usual for orders to their next duty station due to constraints on the service’s manpower budget.


According to information provided to from Navy Personnel Command, some sailors are receiving orders one month ahead of arrival at their next duty station, instead of the typical three.


“Due to budgetary pressures and a perennially decreased top line for Navy’s Manpower Account, we knew PCS funds would be tight toward the end of the fiscal year,” Personnel Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said in a statement. “Consequently, the Navy began to carefully manage the issuance of PCS orders earlier this year, which resulted in shorter lead times for PCS moves.”


It’s not clear how many sailors are affected by these tighter timelines. Christensen said the Navy was prioritizing PCS moves to stay under budget, giving the highest priority to sailors moving to fill “critical gaps” at sea, individual augmentees, overseas billets, and moves for force protection, humanitarian and safety reasons.


A Defense Department official who requested anonymity to speak freely told the budget crunch was tied to a continuing resolution that the Navy and other military services had operated under until last December. The CR limited how the Navy could allocate its funds and set the conditions for the current problem.


To date, the Navy has completed planning for these top-priority moves with estimated detach dates through the end of July, Christensen said, and is now working on orders in August and further out. While the end of the fiscal year in September will mean a new defense budget and a replenished manpower account, it’s not clear how long the Navy will continue issuing PCS orders with minimal lead time.


“That’s something we’re going to have a take a look at,” Christensen said. “We just don’t have an answer to that question.”


For Navy families caught in limbo between orders, the wait can be nerve-wracking and expensive.


One military spouse whose husband was a Navy officer stationed at Camp Pendleton told her family is waiting for orders to the Netherlands so he can begin an exchange tour with the Dutch Navy.


The family remains on the West Coast, with most of their belongings in storage in anticipation of a move they’re expecting to make in August. Because they still don’t have orders, the woman said, her husband hasn’t been able to find a place for the family to live overseas. She estimates that they will have lost between $2,000 and $4,000 in out-of-pocket costs, including lost income from a job she had to quit, because of the uncertainty.


“With this situation, I’ve had to leave work months early,” she said. “If I knew what the timing was, I would have committed longer.”


Another Navy spouse, Nicole Paynter, says her family is waiting on orders from Navy Operations Support Command in Springfield, Oregon, where her husband is a unit commanding officer, to Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee. Paynter said her husband was originally supposed to start at his new post in mid-June, but now they are told the move will happen in the middle of September, with orders coming in mid-August.


The timeline was too tight to schedule military movers, so the family will be moving on their own for the first time in 18 years in the Navy. Paynter said her oldest son continued to attend high school, staying with her parents, when the family moved out to Oregon, and not having a certain return date is an additional stressor.


“The unknowing is the worst part,” she said.


Christensen said he encouraged Navy families to stay in touch with detailers and added that letters of intent will be issued for overseas moves to help dependents accomplish some tasks, such as medical screenings, security clearances, and passport applications.


The Navy is also putting together a working group of officers and enlisted leaders from around the fleet, he said, to examine ways to minimize additional impacts to sailors as the Navy “carefully navigate[s]” PCS orders until the end of the fiscal year. The goal of the working group, he said, is to allow sailors to make planned moves without further reducing lead times for orders.


“We understand that it’s hard on sailors and their families,” Christensen said.


Related –


PCS Orders Lead Times – Three Things You Need to Know

(CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL PUBLIC AFFAIRS, 22 June 16) . Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs


As the peak season for permanent change-of-station (PCS) moves begins, many Sailors are awaiting orders so they and their families can proceed to their next duty stations. However, due to the current fiscal environment and budget constraints, most Sailors will have less time to plan their moves as order release timelines are compressed.


While this timeline isn’t easy on Sailors or their families, it is important for Sailors to understand why that is the case and what we are doing to improve the timeline.


Image of a family moving


What’s going on?


Due to budgetary pressures and a perennially decreased top line for Navy’s Manpower Account, we knew PCS funds would be tight toward the end of the fiscal year. Consequently, the Navy began to carefully manage the issuance of PCS orders earlier this year, which resulted in shorter lead times for PCS moves. Each year, approximately 66,000 Sailors receive operational, rotational and training orders. The Navy also moves approximately 70,000 Sailors as they are accessed, separate, retire or execute organized unit moves (for homeport changes). Traditionally, operational and rotational moves have averaged three months advance notice for the past several years. However, in some cases this summer, those timelines have been shortened to one month due to budgetary pressure.


What we’re doing?


Navy leadership understands the impact of shortened PCS timelines and the stress this causes Sailors.


As such, we have convened a working group with representatives from throughout the Fleet that are looking at a variety of measures to ensure the Navy is able to maintain current readiness, Fleet manning levels and minimize additional impacts to Sailors as we carefully navigate PCS orders for the remainder of the fiscal year.


The Navy expects the results of this working group will allow Sailors to make planned moves for the remainder of the fiscal year without further reducing orders’ lead times.


However, given the current fiscal constraints, the Navy is prioritizing PCS moves in order to remain within budget. Highest priority moves are those to fill critical gaps at sea, billets for individual augmentees, force protection, humanitarian, safety and overseas billets – they will be issued first. All other orders will be released following a sequenced move schedule to ensure the Fleet is manned properly.


We have released priority one moves (individual augmentee, immediate and OFRP deployers, numbered fleet staffs, overseas billets) and must-moves (safety, early return of dependents, humanitarian) with estimated detach dates through the end of July, and are now working on August orders and beyond.


Also, to help alleviate some pressure, Navy Personnel Command will continue to issue letters of intent for overseas moves. That way, while orders may not be in hand, individuals can start the process of doing overseas and medical screenings, dependent entry approval, passport applications and security clearance requests.


The future.


The Navy recognizes that these shortened lead times limit Sailors’ time to prepare for moves, and burdens them and their families.


Leadership is engaged at all levels to develop and implement solutions to minimize the impact to our Sailors. The focus and priority remains on manning the Fleet, and taking care of Sailors and their families.





All Eyes On Farnborough, And F-35

(DEFENSE NEWS 27 JUN 16) … Andrew Chuter


LONDON – Two years after its aborted international debut in the UK, the F-35 Lightning II is set to finally turn up in force for the upcoming Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and the Farnborough Air Show next month.


The U.S. Defense Department and aircraft prime Lockheed Martin are making up for the no-show in 2014, which was caused by engine troubles, with as many as five jets arriving in the UK to display at the back-to-back aviation shows.


The Farnborough show is not just about the F-35 though.


Major British contract announcements involving the purchase of P-8 Orion maritime surveillance jets and Apache AH-64E attack helicopters are possible.


On the new aircraft front, Brazil’s Embraer will internationally debut it’s KC-390 jet airlifter rival to the Hercules C-130, and there may be a first appearance of the 92m long Airlander 10 airship built by Britain’s Hybrid Air Vehicles.


There’s no doubting though the F-35 will grab much of the attention.


Two U.S. Marine Corps and one British F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant (STOVL) aircraft, alongside two U.S. Air Force F-35A versions, will display at the annual RIAT show that takes place at the Royal Air Force airfield at Fairford, southern England July 8-10.


The British currently have no requirement for the F-35A version of the jet, but the country may further down the road if it sticks to the commitment to eventually purchase 138 jets during the lifetime of the program.


The three STOVL aircraft will stay on to perform in the skies above Farnborough for the week-long trade show which gets underway July 11. They won’t be touching down at the show, however, returning instead to their temporary base at Fairford.


The F-35B’s appearance marks the first time the STOVL version of the jet has been seen outside the U.S. Local industry has a big stake in building the Lightning II and the British also have an affinity with STOVL aircraft borne out of a history with the Harrier.


Importantly too is the fact that the F-35, along with the Eurofighter Typhoon, will form the backbone of British strike capabilities for decades to come, including providing the cutting edge for two 65,000 tonne Royal Navy aircraft carriers now nearing completion at the Babock International shipyard in Scotland.


Howard Wheeldon of Wheeldon Strategic Advisory says the F-35 appearance in the UK marks a milestone for the introduction of the combat jet in British service.


“Seeing is believing and the appearance of the F-35 at RIAT and Farnborough is reminder to all those involved in the program of how close the UK is now to having this superb capability in service with the RAF and Royal Navy. It is milestone achieved and one that marks a new era for UK air power,” he said.


Farnborough’s part in a planned increase in British airpower may not just be limited to the demonstration of the F-35.


Subject to the state of post referendum politics, the show is expected to be the venue for announcement of two large Foreign Military Sales deals with the U.S. Government: firming up the purchase of Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol jet for the RAF and an order for the Apache AH-64E attack helicopters for the British Army that will replace the existing fleet of older machines.


Whatever happens on the sales front, Farnborough promises to be a big week for Boeing. The company celebrates its 100th birthday on July 15 and Farnborough is the venue for a major display showcasing Boeing’s achievements of the past and opportunities for the future.


The U.S. aerospace industry, along with British companies, will have the biggest representation at Farnborough. But China also has a large presence planned, with one of 22 international pavilions represented at the show.

China, as well as South Korea and Brazil are among those taking pavilions at the show for the first time.


Farnborough International, the show organizers, didn’t have the final flight display list available as Defense News went to press.


Whoever is on the list, it threatens to be a watered down display, particularly for high energy aircraft like the F-35: new flying restrictions were imposed in the wake of the August, 2015, crash of a vintage jet at a public air show at Shoreham on England’s south coast, which killed 11 people on a road adjacent to the aerodrome.


Farnborough’s airspace for aerobatic flying has been significantly restricted in an effort to improve safety. The changes have led to the RAF banning the Red Arrows from carrying out aerobatic maneuvers at the show and instead will limit themselves to a fly-past. Further, Some roads are being closed to people and vehicles in areas surrounding the airfield through the afternoon, so getting away from the show may be even more painful than usual.




A War Plan Against Military Budget Tricks

(BLOOMBERG VIEW 27 JUN 16) … Editorial


For the second year in a row, President Barack Obama is poised to veto Congress’s annual defense legislation. For the second year in row, he’s justified in doing so.


While the congressional approach has several problems – including a ban on transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay – one of the most egregious is a budgetary gimmick: The spending package approved by the House on June 11 effectively raids the military’s emergency war fund to pay for normal Pentagon operations.


The so-called Overseas Contingency Operations money is supposed to be used for the fighting in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Instead, because the money is not subject to the spending caps set by last year’s bipartisan budget deal, the House has simply reallocated $16 billion of the $60 billion fund. Some of this spending seems more about saving domestic jobs than military readiness.


Not only is the move foolhardy – the fund could run out by May 1 unless the new president makes an emergency request – but it is also unnecessary. Trimming $16 billion from the $600 billion Pentagon budget, without hurting vital military capabilities, shouldn’t be that hard.


This is not hyperbole. A few back-of-the-envelope calculations, based on such publicly available sources as the Congressional Research Service and Bloomberg Government, show how it might be done.


Canceling the House’s plan to purchase additional (and buggy) F-35 jets, as well as unnecessary F/A-18 Hornet fighters and Black Hawk helicopters, would save about $6.9 billion. Disbanding one of the Navy’s carrier-group air wings, which hasn’t deployed since 2011 and as requested by the Pentagon, would save $200 million.


Reducing personnel by about 37,000 – again as requested by the Pentagon, which has said it would allow the services to better train and equip the remaining forces – would save about $3.25 billion. Delaying and possibly canceling the purchase of two new littoral combat ships – one of the worst-managed acquisitions in military history – and slowing down the construction of other craft would save about $3.1 billion. Delaying non-urgent upgrades of Abrams tanks would save about $558 million. And putting off the repair of some dilapidated buildings on military bases – or, better yet, demolishing them – would save $2.4 billion.


That all adds up to $16.4 billion. As the House and Senate meet to reconcile their separate budget plans, they should feel free to make emendations to this list.


Of course, these sorts of short-term savings are paltry compared to long-term plans to spend $35 billion on three new supercarriers, $55 billion on a new long-range bomber, and $350 billion rebuilding the nuclear arsenal. But if Congress could at least show restraint now from dipping into the war-fighting fund, it would set a precedent for smarter decision making to save big money down the road. If lawmakers refuse, Obama should go ahead and wield his veto.





TruClip Takes Off: US Carrier Invention to be Produced on International Space Station

(USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, 20 June 2016) . Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan T. Miller, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Public Affairs


MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) — A 3D printer invention, developed by a team of Sailors assigned to Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman’s (CVN 75) Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, will be sent for production aboard the International Space Station, June 21.


The TruClip design will be transmitted to the ISS as part of the Capitol Hill Maker Faire, celebrating the White House-sponsored National Week of Making, which runs June 17-23.


“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Lt. Casey Staidl, Truman’s IM-4 division officer. “This recognition isn’t something you’d expect when you start searching for a simple solution to a common problem on board. It’s a surprise, but a good one.”


The TruClip was originally designed as a cost-effective replacement part for the ship’s handheld radio system, that could be created with a 3-D printer, and has resulted in the Navy saving more than $42,000 in the few months since its conception.


“The use of a 3-D printer has given us the ability to extend the life of our equipment when supplies are limited,” said Staidl. “We’re able to come up with our own solutions for shipboard issues.”


Additive manufacturing projects, such as the TruClip, represent a new resource for the Navy to produce replacement parts and find creative solutions for challenges faced while at sea. Truman’s 3-D printing lab has also designed pieces for hoses used by the on board anesthesiologist, new oil funnels, deck drains, and switch covers, and provides immediate on board solutions to everyday issues.


Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.


For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit




Space Shot: Navy 3D Printed Part Delivered to International Space Station

(24-7 PRESS RELEASE.COM, 23 June 16)


WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ — The Department of the Navy and members of the Congressional Maker Caucus made history on June 21, sending the digital file for a part designed by three Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to ultimately print on the International Space Station’s 3D printer. This “virtual part delivery” marks the first time a Department of Defense-generated part has been transmitted for printing in space, and the first time a Sailor-designed, 3D printed operational solution has been shared with outside government agencies via digital data transfer.


The part, called the Hydra Clip or “Tru-Clip,” was designed by Aviation Electronics Technician Ashley Figert, Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Jerrod Jenkins, and Lt. Casey Staidl in Dec 2016 and originally printed on an ABS thermoplastic polymer “3D printer” aboard the carrier. The Tru-Clip addresses a design issue with handheld radios, reinforcing the structure of radio antennas that tend to break while underway and saving the ship over $42,000 in radio repair costs.


Following brief remarks by Vice Adm. Phil Cullom (Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics) congressmen Mark Takano (D-CA) and Tim Ryan (D-OH), the speakers jointly pressed a large red button labeled, “Make in Space,” which initiated the upload of the file. Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), Lt. General Michael Dana (Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics), Mr. Donald McCormack (Executive Director, Naval Surface and Undersea Warfare Centers), and Andrew Rush, CEO of Made in Space, Inc., also participated. The file transfer was graphically depicted in real time on a flat screen monitor, which confirmed delivery to the ISS within approximately two minutes. The part printed successfully on the ISS printer later that evening.


“This demonstration illustrates the power of the digital thread, and is the beginning of our future capability to manufacture mission-critical parts at the point of need–whether ashore, afloat, under the sea, or in space,” said Vice Adm. Cullom. “This is one small step for Navy, and one giant leap for all of us.”


“[This effort] demonstrates deckplate innovation and the creative power of our Navy team. We can, and will, rewrite the supply chain.”


The event took place as part of the 2nd annual Capitol Hill Maker Faire, a series of panel discussions and exhibits that help inform Congress and the public about additive manufacturing concepts and technology developed by students, academia, government agencies, and the private sector, with the intent of bringing manufacturing back to America.


Image 1:


ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 27, 2015) Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class A. Figert uses a 3-D printer aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class B. Siens/Released)


Image 2:


WASHINGTON (June 21, 2016) U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Philip Cullom, Deputy CNO for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, and members of congress, press the button that will send a supply part file to be printed in space, during the Capitol Hill Maker Faire in Washington, D.C. The fair showcased robotics, drones, 3D printing and printed art. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cyrus Roson/Released)


Image 3: Attached


IN SPACE (June 22, 2016) A 3D printer creates a supply part, designed by Sailors from the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), onboard the International Space Station. The digital file for the part was transferred to the space station during the Capitol Hill Maker Faire in Washington, D.C.

Credit: NASA


Image 4: Attached


Astronaut Jeff Williams, International Space Station Expedition 48 Commander, works on a pair of U.S. spacesuits inside the Quest airlock.

Credit: NASA TV





BAE, Northrop Partner With UK Agency For F-35 Bid

(DEFENSE NEWS 29 JUN 16) … Andrew Chuter


LONDON – Two of the principle companies involved in developing the F-35 Lightning II strike jet have teamed with a British state-owned components repair operation in a bid to secure a significant long-term deal to become the avionics sustainment hub for the aircraft in Europe.


A team involving BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman and the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) are expected to submit a proposal to the F-35 Joint Program Office in August to secure one of the region’s key support contracts for the aircraft, said executives familiar with the program.


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the involvement of BAE and Northrop Grumman but declined to say anything about whether DECA would have a role.


“BAE and Northrop Grumman, along with other industry partners, have been assisting the UK MoD in developing a solution for the provision of F-35 maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services. However, at this stage, we cannot discuss the makeup of the bid, as to do so could undermine our position in the down-select process,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement.


DECA’s involvement is, in essence, mandated due to US government insistence that some avionics repairs on the jet here are only undertaken by UK government employees.


“The fact is some repairs will be ring-fenced between industry and government,” according to an executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “That is the basis on which the aircraft has been bought.”


The MoD spokesman did not respond to a question about whether there is a government-eyes-only lock on the repair and overhaul of certain F-35 avionics.


Based at Sealand, northern Wales, DECA supports Tornado strike jets and Chinook helicopters for the British military.


The agency was formed last year when the government opted not to privatize the business as part of the sale of the Defence Support Group to Babcock International.


BAE confirmed it is part of the team working the sustainment center proposal, but Northrop Grumman referred inquiries to the MoD.


Executives here said other teams in Europe were also forming to bid for the work. Italy is likely to be among the country’s putting forward proposals, they said.


Britain’s interest in hosting the European avionics repair center was first revealed by the UK’s defense procurement minister, Philip Dunne, during a visit to the US earlier this year, but the makeup of the industrial team behind the proposal was not released.


News of the makeup of the British team comes ahead of the F-35 jet’s appearance next month at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough air show.


The executive said the value of the avionics repair deal depends on the eventual size of the F-35 fleet in Europe but that revenues could be measured in “hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”


“It’s a significant work package and an important part of the framework of the global support program [being introduced for the F-35],” the executive said.


Britain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy have ordered the jet while nations like Belgium, Finland and Spain could eventually add their names to the customer list.


Italy, Turkey, Norway and the Netherlands have already secured either airframe or engine support contracts as part of the European element of the global support program being implemented by the US.


The Italians also have an F-35 final assembly and checkout line operating at the Cameri Air Base in northern Italy as part of their industrial effort.


Aside from prime contractor Lockheed Martin, BAE and Northrop Grumman are the two largest contractors in the F-35 program.


It’s not clear what avionics are involved in the repair proposal but industry executives here said they would be major, high-value components.


Northrop Grumman supplies a range of key systems including the radar , electro-optical and communications subsystems as well as the communications, navigation and identification avionics and other systems.


BAE’s involvement is likely to center on the company’s logistics management and fleet-support expertise gained from supporting Royal Air Force Typhoon, Tornado and Hawk jets.


Europe’s largest defense player already has a substantial stake in the F-35 program producing the aft fuselage in the UK and key electronic warfare and systems at its US operations.


In April, the company secured a £114 million (US $152 million) deal from Lockheed Martin to build F-35 maintenance, logistics and training facilities at RAF Marham, the base earmarked to be the home of the British Lightning II.


The detailed arrangements relating to who exactly undertakes the maintenance and other work at Marham still has to be hammered out.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of June 20, 2016

Below and attached are the COMFRC/AIR-6.0 clips for the week of June 20:



COMFRC celebrates Sohl’s legacy; welcomes new commander

FRCSE establishes capability to repair eye-safe laser rangefinders

PHOTO RELEASE: New center provides resources to veterans

PHOTO RELEASE: Readiness and sustainment the topics at commanding officers and executive officers face-to-face meeting

FRC East participates in eastern N.C. joint STEM initiative

Navy Will 3-D Print Critical Parts For Marine Rotorcraft By 2017



U.S. Navy chief warns of costlier Boeing jets if no foreign sales

Military aircraft accidents costing lives, billions of dollars

Pentagon’s Renewed Vow to Build 2,443 F-35s Depends on Budgets

Marine Corps forced to pull warbirds out of ‘boneyard’ after new fleet delay

U.S. Navy Struggling With Readiness

Defense Rolls Out Phased Retirement For Civilian Employees

US Lawmakers Set to Reconcile Defense Policy Bills




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COMFRC celebrates Sohl’s legacy; welcomes new commander


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – It is not prescribed specifically by U.S. Navy regulations, but it is one of the Navy’s oldest traditions: the Change of Command ceremony.


Nearly 400 guests gathered June 16 in the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School hangar to honor and to bid farewell to Rear Adm. Paul “LJ” Sohl, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), as he handed over the helm to Vice Commander Capt. Mike Zarkowski.


Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, served as the presiding official and credited Sohl with maturing the focus and internal structure of COMFRC and the eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs).


Sohl “has made a tremendous, positive impact and will leave a lasting legacy of commitment to his people of the FRC enterprise and to the fleet,” Grosklags said.


Grosklags, who eight years ago led COMFRC, congratulated Zarkowski on assuming command. “I have complete confidence in your leadership and ability to keep this command moving forward.”


Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet provided remarks as the guest speaker.


“The FRCs clearly play an absolutely critical role to recover readiness across the force and to improve the way we continue to generate that readiness,” Shoemaker stated. “LJ, thank you for the ongoing work to deliver your FRC Vision 2020, which I am confident will give us a more streamlined, agile and responsive organization in the future.”


Sohl came on board at COMFRC in August 2013 facing the challenges of budget shortfalls, sequestration and a high operating tempo. To combat those challenges and optimize capability and capacity, Vision 2020 — the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation — was implemented. The ultimate achievement of Vision 2020 will be the inception of a global maintenance management system. The system will recognize a failing aircraft as soon as it happens and parts, materials, artisan, equipment, testing can be moved to the aircraft to fix it in real time.


In a message to the FRC workforce, Sohl emphasized the need to keep focused on the mission:


“Your jobs are crucial to naval aviation readiness,” Sohl said. “Without you, nothing happens. We need your skill sets to help continue deploying our assets worldwide and keep our missions growing. Thanks for what you do each and every day. You are making a difference to our fleet.”


In his remarks to the audience, Zarkowski stressed that even though this is a time of transition, the mission of COMFRC remains the same: to provide aircraft ready for tasking.


“We have complex challenges we must continue to address,” Zarkowski said. “We must continue to commit the necessary resources to stay the course with Vision 2020. With this Vision, the naval aviation force of the future will be able to quickly adapt to emergent maintenance requirements and the Fleet Readiness Centers will be faster, more agile, more geographically independent and cost less.”


Notable COMFRC accomplishments under Sohl include:

.               Leadership of 16,000 civilian, military and contractor personnel at eight Fleet Readiness Centers and management of a budget of $4.3 billion in maintenance, repair and overhaul.

.               With a total of 8,483,281 labor force hours and $1.16 billion in cost, his emphasis on process improvement and maintenance integration resulted in the delivery of 1,434 airframes, 4,294 engines and modules, 155,255 components, 2,151 pieces of support equipment and 9,060 airframe in-service repairs, which achieved a 35 percent reduction in backorders from fiscal year 2014 to 2015 and improved weapon system availability for eight Type/Model aircraft.

.               His involvement in the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Aviation Rapid Action Team ensured the development and improvement of more than 100 repair processes, enhanced Fleet Readiness Center capabilities and resulted in $13.1 million in cost avoidance while improving readiness and lowering cost per flight hours.


The Waterloo, Iowa, native earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his master’s in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Stanford University. He deployed as part of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom, tallying over 3,200 flight hours in 30 different aircraft.


In August, Sohl is slated to become Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force in Norfolk, Virginia.


The Navy’s eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs), with locations on the U.S. east and west coasts and in Japan, conduct maintenance, repair, and overhaul of U.S. Navy aircraft, engines, components and support equipment. Each year, roughly 6,500 Sailors and Marines, along with more than 9,500 depot artisans at the FRCs overhaul and repair nearly 1,000 aircraft, thousands of engines and several hundred thousand components valued at over $4 billion.



FRCSE establishes capability to repair eye-safe laser rangefinders



Jacksonville, Fla. – Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 17 to officially establish a partnership with L-3 Warrior Systems – ALST to provide depot-level support services for U.S. Navy H-60 helicopter eye-safe laser rangefinders (ELRFs).


ELRFs are electro-optical instruments that combine binocular observation and distant measuring to determine target ranges. They are designed to protect the eye-sight of service members working and training in the field.


The joint collaboration allows FRCSE technicians to repair and test ELRFs for the helicopter’s Multi-Sensor Targeting Systems (MTS) using state-of-the-art test equipment and information technology. These systems or turrets, provide pilots with long-range surveillance, high-altitude targeting, tracking, range-finding and lasers.


“This partnership provides an opportunity for FRCSE and L-3 Warrior Systems – ALST Orlando to have a teaming agreement to assist with getting MTS repair units back to the field as soon as possible,” said L-3 Warrior Systems – ALST Customer Service Team Program Manager Mark Orr. “FRCSE provides a second source to increase and improve the turnaround time of lasers to ensure the end goal of returning the unit to the warfighter.”


The company is also providing continued support services, training and supply chain systems needed to maintain ELRFs in the fleet.


“It’s a continuation of growth with our partnerships in terms of standing up organic capability at the depot,” added FRCSE Integrated Product Team Lead for Avionics Components Sammie Kimble. “The ELRF is one of the newer lasers that’s been developed. It is eye safe friendly and won’t damage the eye-sight of the soldiers on the field.


“This partnership continues to give us the capability to support the MTS turret. And it helps FRCSE advance our continued efforts to be an electro-optics center of excellence for the Navy.”




PHOTO RELEASE: New center provides resources to veterans



Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, then-Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), addresses the crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting of the new Three Oaks Center, Lexington Park, Maryland, for veterans. Sohl praised the staff and supporters of the center for their hard work and dedication to helping homeless veterans obtain medical and employment resources locally, instead of traveling to Baltimore or Washington, D.C. The center — which went from concept to ribbon cutting in 15 months, according to board member Patti Brady — will provide resources to help end or prevent homelessness and will guide veterans through the process toward the goal of self-sufficiency.



PHOTO RELEASE: Readiness and sustainment the topics at commanding officers and executive officers face-to-face meeting



FLEET READINESS CENTER AVIATION SUPPORT EQUIPMENT, SOLOMONS, Md. – Rear Adm. Paul Sohl (standing), then-Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), addressed the commanding officers and executive officers of the eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) during the organization’s quarterly Face-to-Face meeting June 14 in Solomons here. Sohl praised the officers for their work to meet the mission of COMFRC: to produce quality airframes, engines, components and support equipment and provide service that meet the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s aircraft ready-for-tasking goals with improved effectiveness and efficiency.


He urged them to continue their work to support Vision 2020 — the strategic plan for regaining readiness across naval aviation — under the leadership of Capt. Mike Zarkowski, who assumed the helm of COMFRC on June 16.


In other meeting sessions, the team shared lessons learned and best practices for impacts to production, work force allocations, component repairs and implementation and current status of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM).


COMFRC Face-to-Face meetings are held regularly on a rotating basis at one of the FRCs or their associated detachments.




FRC East participates in eastern N.C. joint STEM initiative

(FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST, 20 June 16) . Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, NC – June 20, 2016: Fleet Readiness Center East will host four teachers from Carteret and Craven County Schools as part of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education’s Teachers@Work program during July.


Teachers@Work is a joint partnership initiative between NCBCE, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) East and the N.C. Community College System that links education to the business community to help teachers create classroom curriculum relevant to the skill sets needed by local businesses.


According to Sue Breckenridge, NCBCE executive director, Teachers@Work helps to address the skills gap that many of the state’s businesses are currently seeing. “Ultimately, the initiative is about economic development and helping to produce a highly skilled workforce pipeline that benefits communities across the state,” she said.


FRC East is one of 14 businesses participating in the initiative in eastern N.C. As part of the program, participating teachers will spend one week during the summer monitoring a local company. Teachers will be paired with employees and will be exposed to different aspects of the business. At the end of the on-site program, the teacher will create a lesson plan that targets hard and soft skills future employees should have that are specific to their partnering business or industry. As a follow-on effort, partnering teachers’ students will participate in a job shadowing or mentoring program during the upcoming school year.


FRC East will first host Dawn Maynard, STEM teacher, and Aubrey Godette, Science teacher,  from Broad Creek Middle in Carteret County  July 11-15. The following week, July 18-22, the organization will host Michelle Smith, STEM teacher, and Elizabeth Dorsett, Math teacher, from Tucker Creek of Craven County Schools. They will be among 51 middle and high school teachers throughout the state who will be participating in the program.


“This is our first year as a business participant in the Teachers@Work initiative,” said Mark Meno, Research and Engineering Group head. “While we are actively engaged in a number of STEM K-12 outreach activities, this program affords us and the teachers a unique opportunity to incorporate the skills necessary in a STEM-based business environment into classroom curricula. We anticipate great benefits for this collaboration for our facility and the surrounding counties from which we draw our STEM workforce.”


The teacher will be working with engineering professionals to develop curriculum that has a design and development component requiring trade-offs in design, cost and performance, including collaboration in fabrication of the student designs and culminating with a final design review conducted by FRC East Engineering leaders.


Media can contact FRC East Corporate Communications Division for information about the organization’s participation in the program at (252) 464-9111.




Navy Will 3-D Print Critical Parts For Marine Rotorcraft By 2017

(DOD BUZZ 20 JUN 16) … Hope Hodge Seck


Next year, six “safety-critical” parts on a number of the Marine Corps’ most in-demand rotorcraft will be 3-D printed as the Navy demonstrates the value of cutting-edge additive manufacturing technology.


In a Naval Aviation Vision roadmap document released this month, Naval Air Systems Command officials said they planned to 3-D print and field parts for the MV-22B Osprey, the new CH-53K King Stallion, which is still in the early phases of production, and the H-1 Marine Corps Light/Attack Helicopters, including the AH-1Z Viper.

“The safety-critical [additive manufacturing] parts fielded on these platforms will allow NAVAIR to develop the processes and digital data standards needed to extend [additive manufacturing] to other classes of parts and components,” officials said in the document.


Two metal parts will be printed for each of the three aircraft platforms, Marcia Hart, a spokeswoman for Navy Aviation Enterprise, told They are as follows:

.               MV-22 Osprey: Titanium engine nacelle link and stainless steel lever for the fire extinguishing system

.               H-1 helicopters: Upper uni-ball suppressor support and engine mount apex fitting, both stainless steel

.               CH-53K King Stallion: Clevis latch and lug latch, both titanium


In a second set of planned demonstrations, parts will also be printed for the Marines’ workhorse CH-53E Super Stallions and AV-8B Harriers, said Hart. The parts to be manufactured and fielded in that demonstration for the Super Stallion include a titanium engine brace and a ball fitting in stainless steel, she said.


The Navy is partnering with Penn State Applied Research Lab for the additive manufacturing demos, Hart said. The parts for the aircraft were produced there and at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey.


“As we develop our standards and understand how to ensure quality using [additive manufacturing] processes, we want to work with industry to enable them to make these parts,” Hart said. “We need to develop a broad industry base that understands how to make [them] safely.”


Ultimately, the Navy aims to use additive manufacturing processes much more in aviation, allowing maintainers and logisticians more flexibility in the repair and upkeep of aircraft. Already, according to the aviation roadmap, 3-D printing has allowed the Navy to


In June 2014, NAVAIR technicians in Jacksonville, Florida, used 3-D printed tools to fix a Harrier that damaged the frame of its nose cone during a hard landing on the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan. Thanks to this technology, replacement parts were delivered to the aircraft within seven days, according to the roadmap document.


In another example, technicians at the Navy Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst were able to 3-D print a custom wrench that allowed them to change the oil on an H-60 Seahawk helicopter without removing the transmission, an improvement that saved 80 work hours for each oil change.


The new technology, officials said in the document, allows the Navy to “stock the data, not the part,” reducing supply timelines, enabling faster maintenance and repairs and reducing packaging, handling, storage and transportation costs.


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U.S. Navy chief warns of costlier Boeing jets if no foreign sales

(REUTERS, 19 June 16) . Andrea Shalal


BERLIN — The U.S. could see the cost of new Boeing Co F/A-18E/F Super Hornets rise unless the government approves foreign sales of the jets soon, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said on Sunday.


Mabus, in Germany for a NATO exercise in the Baltic Sea, told Reuters he was frustrated by delays in approving the sale of the Boeing jets to a close U.S. ally, warning that this could affect the cost of jets the U.S. Navy still wants to buy.


U.S. Navy and other defense officials have said they support the sale of 28 Boeing F/A-18E/F jets to Kuwait for an estimated cost of $3 billion, but this has stalled for nearly a year pending final White House approval.


Mabus said the delays could have an impact on the Navy’s budget plans, since the foreign order was needed to augment U.S. Navy purchases and keep the production line running efficiently.


The U.S. Congress is expected to approve funding for as many as 16 Boeing F/A-18 jets as part of the Navy’s budget request for fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1, but that would give Boeing less than the two jets a month it says needs for economical production. The Kuwaiti order would have filled this gap.


“I’m frustrated. A lot of people are frustrated,” Mabus said. “The process is too long, too onerous in terms of getting weapons systems to our friends and to our allies.”


Mabus said Boeing could likely continue F/A-18 production for some time without the foreign sales, but dropping below optimal production rates could affect future pricing.


The Navy had requested funding for two F/A-18 jets in its fiscal 2017 budget request and 14 more as part of its “unfunded priorities list”. It also said it expected to buy a larger number of Super Hornets in fiscal 2018 to bridge a gap in its fleet until the newer and more advanced Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet enters service in coming years.


Mabus welcomed possible moves by Congress to add jets to the fiscal 2017 budget, but said those orders alone would not keep production at the Boeing facility running at optimal rates.


“The line wouldn’t be operating as well as it should, and the price probably would go up for us because there aren’t as many planes coming through,” he said.


Boeing welcomed the secretary’s remarks.


“Boeing appreciates the continuing engagement of Secretary Mabus, and agrees that a Kuwaiti order is an important element in continuing a production rate of two per month to keep prices optimal,” Boeing spokeswoman Caroline Hutcheson said.


The company needs to maintain production to remain competitive in bidding for other F/A-18 orders from other countries as it is now spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to buy long-lead materials such as titanium to prepare for new orders from the Navy and Kuwait.


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Military aircraft accidents costing lives, billions of dollars

(CNN, 20 June 16) . Ryan Browne


Washington (CNN) – A rash of recent military crashes has cost the lives of several service members as well as billions of dollars’ worth of damages. The wave of accidents has raised questions about the training of pilots and the maintenance of aircraft, with top brass pointing to slashed budgets and aging fleets strained by prolonged conflict.


Last week, an MH-60S helicopter crashed in the James River in Virginia during a training mission. Earlier this month, two F-16C fighter jets collided in the skies over Georgia.


In the first incident all of the helicopter crew were rescued and in the second the two South Carolina Air National Guard pilots managed to safely eject. But a few days earlier, a Blue Angels pilot was killed when his jet crashed. An Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron jet crashed the same day, but that pilot managed to successfully eject.


During congressional testimony in March, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John Paxton, acknowledged the growing rate of accidents.


“We are concerned about an increasing number of aircraft mishaps and accidents,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


He blamed funding shortfalls for the increase, saying, “If you don’t have the money and you don’t have the parts and you don’t have the maintenance, then you fly less.”


He continued, “If you fly less and maintain slower, there’s a higher likelihood of accidents. So, we’re worried.”


The Navy has suffered the heaviest losses of the three military branches since October 2014.


From that time through April 2016, the Navy has reported accidents that total over $1 billion in damages, according to statistics provided to CNN by the Naval Safety Center. They included a Marine AV-8B Harrier jet that crashed off the East Coast during takeoff in May, costing about $62.8 million, and a Navy F/A-18A crash in Nevada in January that cost $71 million. Both pilots survived.


In joint congressional testimony in April, the senior naval leadership overseeing aviation, Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis and Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, reiterated Paxton’s contention that planes and funds are running short.


“We continue to have lower than acceptable numbers of aircraft available to train and fight,” he said.


Grosklags said that the 2013 budget cuts known as sequestration had caused the Navy to lose about 10% of its maintenance crews for some of its older planes, including the F/A-18, which first entered service in 1983 and whose planned 30-year life-span has been repeatedly extended due to increased combat operations and lack of replacement jets.


The issue is compounded by the fact that the Navy’s replacement plane, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, has been repeatedly delayed and is not scheduled to reach initial operating capability until 2018.


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been beset by spiraling costs, failed testing and schedule delays. The F-35 program had originally promised 1,013 fighters by fiscal year 2016 but has only delivered 179 as of April. The Navy’s version will be the last to reach initial operating capability.


The Marines, however, suffered the deadliest military aviation tragedy in years when two CH-53 helicopters crashed while on training flight in Hawaii in January, killing 12 Marines. The Navy estimates that the crash cost nearly $110 million.


Describing the CH-53s in March, Davis said, “They are getting old and wearing out. We can only keep them going for so long.”


When Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked about the increased rate of accidents in March, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, attributed the increase in “our mishap rate” to a lack of training resources.


“The simple fact is that we don’t have enough airplanes to meet the training requirements for the entire force,” he said.


The Air Force, for its part, has also experienced a significant number of accidents.


Since October 2014, the Air Force has had 27 “Class A mishaps,” accidents that result in a fatality, loss of an aircraft, or property damage of $2 million or more involving fixed-wing aircraft, an Air Force public affairs officer told CNN.


But Air Force Public Affairs Officer Capt. Annmarie Annicelli noted that the rate of accidents has decreased in 2016 compared to fiscal year 2015, saying that at this point last year, the Air Force had 13 Class A mishaps compared to eight this year.


According to an analysis of the statistics provided before the June incidents, the Air Force has lost over $526 million in damaged or destroyed aircraft since October 2014, nearly half of that from downed F-16s, another plane that is due to be replaced in part by the long-delayed F-35A.


During that period, the Air Force lost a B-52 Stratofortress after a crash in Guam in May, a C-130J transport plane after an October accident in Afghanistan and a RC-135 crashed in April 2015. The latter two crashes resulted in $174 million in damage to both the planes and surrounding environment.


Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force vice chief of staff, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March that the average age of the Air Force’s aircraft is 27 years old. The F-16s involved in Tuesday’s collision first entered service in 1993.


The Army has also faced issues with its aircraft, primarily helicopters such as the UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache.


The Army’s Combat Readiness Center told CNN that the Army had 19 Class A aviation accidents resulting in 6 fatalities from October 2014 to October 2015, including a UH-60 crash near Fort Hood, Texas, which cost the lives of four soldiers.


Appearing at the same Senate Armed Services hearing with Neller, the chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, said the increase in Class A accidents “has our attention,” citing efforts to increase training hours for helicopter pilots.


“Our aircraft accidents have increased and we are very concerned about it,” he said.


Top military leaders have said that while they want to increase training, they have had to prioritize combat operations at the expense of other activities in an era of restricted budgets.


Goldfein told Congress, “25 years of continuous combat coupled with budget instability and lower-than-planned top lines have made the Air Force one of the smallest, oldest and least ready in our history.”


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Pentagon’s Renewed Vow to Build 2,443 F-35s Depends on Budgets

(BLOOMBERG, 20 June 16) . Anthony Capaccio


The Pentagon still plans a fleet of 2,443 F-35 jets, but the costliest U.S. weapons program may face cuts under the next president if defense dollars continue to be reduced, according to the Defense Department’s No.2 official.


The Pentagon’s focus “for the foreseeable future is to acquire F-35s at the highest rate affordable” even though the goal for a fleet of 2,443 of the fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp. “was established prior to the last two decades’ force reductions” and before budget caps reduced planned levels of spending through 2021, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work wrote in a letter to congressional defense leaders May 25.


The Pentagon wants to increase the purchase rate of F-35s for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to 92 annually by 2020 from 38 last year. The number jumps to 120 a year when foreign sales are included. For this year, Congress added 11 aircraft to the 57 requested. The Pentagon said in March that the program’s projected cost for development and acquisition dropped by $12.1 billion to $379 billion.


Per-Plane Cost


That will help bring down the per-plane cost, Work wrote in an interim report under a requirement in this year’s defense budget for the Pentagon to reevaluate whether the long-standing requirement of 2,443 jets — including 1,763 for the Air Force — remained valid.


With U.S. defense policy putting increasing emphasis on countering a resurgent Russia in Europe and a more assertive Chinese military, Work said it’s “conceivable that we may need more F-35s than the current program” calls for.


Work’s letter comes as the often-criticized F-35 is enjoying some successes. Three of the four congressional defense committee added aircraft to the fiscal year request of 63. Air Force officials say there are no known technical obstacles to declaring as soon as August that as many as 24 jets have initial combat capability. The Marine Corp version is set to fly next month to the Farnsborough Air Show in the U.K.


Still, Pentagon officials acknowledged last month that the operational combat testing intended to evaluate whether the aircraft is combat-effective and can be maintained in the field won’t begin until 2018 — about a year later than planned.


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Marine Corps forced to pull warbirds out of ‘boneyard’ after new fleet delay

(FOXNEWS.COM, 22 JUNE 16) . Perry Chiaramonte


The Marines are looking for a few good planes, and their search has taken them to an Arizona boneyard where the Corps’ old F/A Hornets have been gathering dust and rust for years.


The jets are being reclaimed and refurbished by Boeing after the service branch was caught short on planes because of long delays in the rollout of the much-awaited F-35.


The Marines could have done as the Navy did and adopted second generation F/A- 18E/F Super Hornets until the new planes were ready, but opted not to.


“In hindsight, it was a misstep for the USMC to not have purchased the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, but only because the F-35 has seen such extensive delays and complications in production,” Omar Lamrani, senior military analyst for global intelligence firm Stratfor told “If the F-35 had entered production as originally scheduled and at the expected price, then the USMC would have been able to successfully transition straight from the F/A-18 Hornets to the F-35.”


Boeing has refurbished two of a planned 30 F/A Hornets stored at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson – known as “the boneyard” – and will soon finish more, according to The planes will be modified to a current “C+” standard under a contract with Boeing and the USMC signed in 2014.


It’s not the first time the military has brought back decommissioned planes from the graveyard. The Marines pulled and restored several retired heavy-lift helicopters during the height of the Iraq War to help with a shortfall in the fleet as a result of heavy usage and crashes.


The F-35 was supposed to be ready for front-line service in 2006. The Marine Corps reasoned that the Super Hornets were too pricey to serve as a bridge to the new planes, and chose to continue to operate their current fleets.


As the F/A Hornets dwindled through attrition, and quality-control issues delayed the F-35 from coming off the assembly, the Corps was caught short.


Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, the USMC deputy commandant for aviation, told Senate lawmakers that just 32 percent of the Corps’ Hornet fighters were operational. The branch needs at least 58 percent of the F/A-18s to be flight ready so that there are enough planes for combat, flight instruction and day-to-day training.


Officials for the USMC did not immediately return requests for comment but in their most recent annual report on aviation capabilities, Davis said, “I am concerned with our current readiness rates, both in equipment and personnel.”


Some experts say bringing back the F/A-18 jets may not be much of an issue.


“I consider it a pretty smart move on the U.S. Marine Corps side,” David Cenciotti, of the influential blog The Aviationist, told “The F/A-18C and D are very reliable airframes that are quite easy to maintain and operate. Once upgraded to the C+ standard, these ‘gap fillers’ are more than enough to conduct combat operations in low-lethality scenarios like those that see the USMC at work these days.”


Once the upgraded ‘legacy’ Hornets are delivered, Cenciotti added, older planes can rotate to daily training activities required by the Marine Corps pilots to maintain preparedness.


Lamrani says the only real danger is if maintenance is not kept up on the refurbished planes, but that their usage leads to other issues.


“Refurbishing mothballed aircraft is not inexpensive, and hardly cost effective,” he told “All this is again linked to the F-35 failing to arrive on time.”


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U.S. Navy Struggling With Readiness



The U.S. Navy is facing a readiness issue, with its older-model F/A-18 fighter jets tied up in maintenance, leading to reduced flight-training hours.


Navy flight hours have decreased to about 853,389 in 2015, from about 1.2 million in 2002, according to the Naval Safety Center. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps leaders bemoan the lack of flight training time – as well as the maintenance backlog, especially for F/A-18s.


The service, explains Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, has tiered readiness standards for pilot training. The earliest phases are the workups before deployments; the levels become increasingly involved as a deployment approaches.


“Where we are taking the readiness hits is in the lower phase,” he says, affecting the Navy’s ability to surge flight operations.


Marine pilots also cannot get enough flight-training time, says Marine Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for Aviation. “We don’t have enough parts,” he has testified to Congress. “We don’t have enough planes.” The service only sends aloft about one-third of its Hornets at any given time.


The delay in producing F-35Bs and Cs has put more strain on the legacy Hornets, many of which are in depots awaiting work to keep them operational longer. As a result, the Navy has had to go to sea sooner and more often with Super Hornets, which are now also reaching their planned service lives much more quickly than expected.


“Extension of legacy Hornet life requires additional inspections and deep maintenance that were not originally envisioned for the aircraft,” the Navy says in budget documents. “Average repair time has significantly increased because of required engineering of unanticipated repairs, material lead times and increased corrosion of airframes.”


Capt. Randy Stearns, commodore for the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, says, “It is a capacity problem.”


Only a quarter of the aircraft are fully capable and ready for combat, he says. Those are already in deployed squadrons. But because of the depot backlogs, parts problems and scarcity of aircraft, it could take six months to a year to get the other three-quarters of the force ready to fly.


Federal budget sequestration cuts have also slashed away at availability. Fewer aircraft translates to less flight time for training, which increases the risk of accidents.


A recent rash of mishaps comes at a time when Boeing is trying not only to unknot the backup of work on older-model Hornets, but also prepare for Super Hornet life-extension work.


Boeing has started preliminary assessments of what is needed to overhaul the aircraft, increase its combat life and keep it relevant much later into the century, says Dan Gillian, Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18G Growler programs vice president.


Initial indications show the scale of a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) that would boost a fighter’s life to 9,000 hr. from its current 6,000, will be a challenge. Boeing started to extend the life of 150 classic Hornets in 2013, a job scheduled to conclude in the early 2020s. The latest SLEP would involve 568 Super Hornets.


Boeing will be bringing in two of the earliest, most-used Super Hornets in the coming months, Gillian says. These “learning aircraft” will be used to discern some of the likely mechanical issues.


When the first aircraft hit 6,000 hr. within the next year, the company’s engineers and mechanics will get a firsthand look. “We will tear them apart to see with our eyes what is really happening,” he says.


Early analysis suggests work on the Super Hornets may at least start off easier than it did with the classic Hornets, Gillian says. “What we are seeing now is that the Super Hornet is at a better starting point than the classic Hornet was,” he says. “That was by intent. The Super Hornet is the newest airplane in the Navy’s inventory.”


That said, “there are some hot spots that need to be addressed,” he acknowledges. “Flight control surfaces have to be replaced or repaired.”


One of the major concerns is corrosion, and the SLEP aircraft will show engineers the extent of the problem. “These aircraft have been flown in conflict for … a long time on the carrier in a very corrosive environment,” Gillian says.


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Defense Rolls Out Phased Retirement For Civilian Employees

(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 21 JUN 16) … Kellie Lunney


The Defense Department on Tuesday announced it will now allow eligible civilian employees to partially retire while remaining on the job part-time to help better manage its workforce needs.


The decision by the government’s largest department to implement phased retirement – nearly four years after Congress passed a law allowing the practice – could spur other agencies to roll out their own programs to take advantage of the flexibility. As of mid-January, less than 50 people across government had applied for the benefit, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That’s because many agencies either haven’t finalized phased retirement plans yet that meet the needs of their missions as well as collective bargaining agreements, or aren’t offering the benefit to eligible employees. It’s also possible some federal employees don’t know what their options are, or just aren’t interested/eligible.


“Participation in the Phased Retirement Program is voluntary and requires the mutual consent of both the employee and an authorized DoD component official,” said the June 21 memorandum from Peter Levine, acting undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness. “DoD components may limit the number of employees included in the Phased Retirement Program, as appropriate.”


It’s the latest personnel-related change that the Pentagon has unveiled in recent months, as part of the department’s broader effort to recruit and retain civilian employees and service members.


Agencies have broad discretion in deciding how to implement phased retirement, including deciding which jobs are eligible for it, determining mentoring activities and deciding how long an employee can remain partially retired. When eligible employees can apply for the opportunity will depend on how quickly their individual agencies can figure out a framework for offering the program.


According to the DoD memo, “retirement-eligible employees must have been employed on a full-time basis for at least a consecutive three-year period ending on the effective date of entry into phased retirement status.”


Specifically, phased retirement allows eligible feds to work 20 hours per week, receiving half their pay as well as half their retirement annuity. Those employees who enter phased retirement must devote at least 20 percent of their work time, or about 8 hours a pay period, to mentoring other employees, ideally for those who take over for them when they fully retire. The idea is to keep talented employees with valuable institutional knowledge on the job a little longer so they can train other workers, while they also enjoy a partial retirement.


Richard Thissen, national president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, praised Defense for implementing phased retirement for civilian workers, nothing that since the tool became law four years ago, “NARFE’s phones have rung off the hook with calls from federal employees wondering when phased retirement will be available at their agencies.” Thissen added that “for many, many other federal employees, however, this news will add to their frustration because the future of phased retirement at many agencies is still uncertain.”


The Commerce Department reportedly announced recently its plans to implement phased retirement. Other agencies currently offering the benefit to employees include the departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development.


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US Lawmakers Set to Reconcile Defense Policy Bills

(DEFENSE NEWS, 21 June 16) . Joe Gould


WASHINGTON – Lead staff for the Senate and House armed services committees are readying for what is likely a summer-long conference process to reconcile differing defense policy bills, where the toughest issues are said to be funding, military healthcare reform and acquisition reforms.


Facing White House threats to veto both bills, Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s charge the bills represent “micromanagement,” and ahead of closed-door negotiations with each other, the staff directors for the HASC and SASC offered defenses of their committee’s approach to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.


At an event hosted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute Tuesday, SASC Staff Director Chris Brose and HASC Staff Director Bob Simmons said both bills are seeking to help the military be more agile, innovative and robust.


“The objectives are the same, the intent is the same,” Brose said.


Carter and the White House have found numerous faults with the policy bills, including the Senate’s plan to eliminate the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L), the House’s funding approach and the refusal to allow the Pentagon to shut down installations round the country.


Simmons defended the House-approved NDAA’s plan to stick to the bipartisan budget deal but use $18 billion from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) fund to pay for base budget items, expecting the incoming president will ask Congress for a supplemental defense spending package.


Simmons said the president’s veto threat over the bill was “ironic,” noting a Democratic Congress acted similarly in 2008, just before the Obama administration began.


“It’s not like we haven’t done this before, and in fact it was the Democrats who did it last time,” Simmons said. “Then the candidate who ends up being the president can make their own assessment of what the foreign policy is, and the direction they want to take the country, then ask us for the funding appropriate for that effort.”


Opponents have said the House NDAA takes funding from troops, but that is “wholly incorrect,” Simmons said. The bill, he said, adds money to ready troops who are next to deploy.


“We’re doing all these things to help the Department of Defense,” Simmons said. “If [the president is] going to veto it, he’s operating under false pretenses. We are taking care of the warfighter. We want to make sure those kids go into harm’s way with what they need.”


The Senate took a different tack on funding, meaning House and Senate conferees will have to work it out. Asked how the Senate might approach these talks, Brose said it was too soon to say as SASC Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and HASC Chair Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, had yet to meet on the matter. Both chairmen have sought more troops and hardware left out of the president’s 2017 budget request, he noted.


“We have no disagreement over the need for this, and the challenge is how you deliver it with a top-line both sides agree is inadequate,” Brose said.


The Senate’s NDAA blows up the position of AT&L undersecretary – currently held by Frank Kendall – and hands its duties to a new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, or USD(R&E), and the renamed undersecretary of management and support, or USD(M&S). The USD(R&E)’s job would be to champion innovation for DoD.


The SASC’s far-reaching reforms are aimed at untangling an acquisitions system that too rarely succeeds when “innovation is the sidecar” and “feels like a series of small scale insurgencies,” Brose said. It also continues last year’s approach, which placed more acquisition authority in the hands of the services.


The House’s NDAA’s acquisition reform focus is to steer DoD away from lengthy, ambitious programs and toward on incremental, rapidly-fielded breakthrough technologies. It also aims to shake up the Pentagon’s risk-averse culture, Simmons said.


“You don’t have to solve the whole problem,” Simmons said. “It’s a question: If I give you 30 percent of the capability, and you can field it today, or would you rather wait 15 years to get a 100-percent solution? Well if 30 percent today gives you a better position on the battlefield, you want that today.”