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




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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