FRCSW/COMFRC top clips for the week of Nov. 14


  1. Lilly earns Air-6.0 employee of the quarter nod
  2. Production leads, program mangers meet to advance CCPM across all FRCs
  3. Enabling technology is focus of second annual FRC safety meeting
  4. New CMM Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing Capability
  5. Manufacturers association recognizes FRCSE with top award
  6. PHOTO RELEASE: Mazzone honored with Meritorious Civilian Service Award
  7. PHOTO RELEASE: McMichael receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award



  1. F-35 Contract Feud Exposes Rift Over ‘Fair’ Prices
  2. DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value
  3. Defense Sector Post-Election: Caution Sets In
  4. Lawmakers Seek To Boost F-35 Purchases
  5. Marines look for a small UAS to equip Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squads





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Lilly earns Air-6.0 employee of the quarter nod


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Handling thousands of maintenance tasks on tight timelines and tighter budgets is something Naval Air Systems Command logisticians do on a regular basis. Developing more than 10,500 maintenance tasks across 26 major systems six months ahead of schedule and at more than $5 million under budget gained one NAVAIR Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) logistician Employee of the Quarter recognition.


Herbert “Gene” Lilly, CH-53K King Stallion Design Interface and Maintenance planning lead (Air-6.7, Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department) received his crystal award Nov. 8 from Todd Balazs, NAVAIR deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0) during a PMA-261 Heavy Lift Helicopter Program meeting.


“When you are trying to get ahead of your maintenance planning . you have critical items that need to be identified. Gene has done that,” Balazs said. “He also got his maintenance planning six months ahead of schedule and saved five million dollars. The areas that really suffer are the areas he addressed.”


Lt. Col. James Cooksey, assistant program manager for logistics for PMA-261, nominated Lily for his ability to push innovation and creativity.


“Creatively thinking within the guidelines, he identified critical item management barriers, coordinated the effort between the Fleet Support Team and vendors, to include coordinating appropriate funding, resulting in more accurate Critical Safety Item identification and effective provisioning, ” Cooksey wrote in Lilly’s nomination letter. “Lilly’s knowledge of logistics processes facilitated development of an organic depot capability establishment process sensitive to technical and budgetary factors and allowing early identification of public-private partnership opportunities. His innovative approach eliminated unnecessary linear process delays reducing component pilot repair resource requirements by 30 percent.”


Cooksey further praised Lilly’s efforts to pass along knowledge by developing a course for the NAVAIR College of Logistics and Industrial Operations on integrated product support concurrency management, which training for all PMA-261 logistics elements managers.


“As a result, the technical data assertions process was restructured to integrate Finance, Contracts, Engineering and Logistics with specific procedures and techniques resulting in effective sustainment plans and outcomes,” Cooksey wrote. “Lilly provided input to the CLIO Logistics 101 Course. He ensured logistics and integrated product support were clearly tied to development, acquisition, fielding and sustainment.”


By using the most common form of project management, Lilly said the team quantified what needed to be accomplished and how long they had to work. “We worked backward toward a completion [burn] rate and then worked the tasks, identified barriers, and developed better processes whenever we had to,” he said.  “The most important lesson is that you have to have a set of reasonable goals to work toward and your team has to be invested in the outcomes.”

Lilly said the award not only reflected the teamwork of all that were involved, but emphasized the need for diversity. “Logistics is a team sport.  All around you, there are brilliant ideas, approaches and perspectives that really influence the way we solve problems.”

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Production leads, program mangers meet to advance CCPM across all FRCs


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Increasing speed to the fleet with the utilization of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) was the main topic of discussion at the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers’ (COMFRC) off-site held at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Maryland, Nov. 2-3. More than 50 representatives from Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) program offices (PMA) and FRC production were in attendance focusing on alignment, standardization and communication.


CCPM, which currently is in place at all three major depot maintenance sites, is a Theory of Constraints-based, project management solution that uses a systems-view approach to account for variability and resources required to execute all maintenance and repairs and de-conflicts resource contentions in the planning stage, COMFRC Aviation Maintenance and Material Director Ann Wood said. “CCPM accounts for variability within projects and uses back scheduling methodology to manage across the entire portfolio of projects, protecting the delivery date to the customer by incorporating project-level buffers.  It provides cross-project solutions to prioritize tasks and resources.”


The meeting, which was held to advance CCPM across all aircraft lines at the FRCs, focused on developing templates and buffers for each type/model/series (TMS) aircraft, gaining consensus and a plan of action on two-year induction and production plans for each TMS, setting the groundwork for a five-year pipeline and a resource planning schedule for each TMS, and engaging the TMSs on the removal of production delays.


Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Center (COMFRC), who kicked off the two-day offsite, said the business of producing aircraft for the fleet is complex and that COMFRC must communicate with the customer about capability and capacity and execute solutions before readiness gaps emerge. “There are immense requirements in Naval Aviation, for component work, for aircraft and for engines. We must be able to articulate to our customers what our capacity is and what we can do for them in the future.  And where there is a gap, we must work with the PMA and other stakeholders and get industry involved or reach out to the Air Force or Army for additional assistance, if necessary.


“Our responsibility is to communicate and then deliver what the fleet requires.   The steps we are taking today will help answer that,” he said.


2016 saw FRCs make inroads into reducing readiness gaps, Zarkowski said.   “The numbers of aircraft deliveries are up.  And your hard work isn’t only reflected in the number of aircraft we delivered,” he said.  “Many of those airframes had complex fixes.  For example, the F/A-18 A-D Hornets required an additional 1,100 maintenance man-hours on average per aircraft than they did in 2015.”


Using technology, he said, will provide the enterprise with enabling visibility into production and its inherent constraints. He also said that Concerto, a CCPM software solution for managing multiple projects, will be used at all maintenance sites by the end of 2017.  “We use our personal devices to track our purchases and monitor schedules.  In our personal lives, we expect real time information. Why wouldn’t we expect that in the business of Naval Aviation so that it runs efficiently and effectively? With Concerto, we can collaboratively look at near real time status of aircraft. It also highlights where the constraints are and informs leadership on where to move resources across the enterprise.”

Martin Ahmad, who became COMFRC’s deputy in September 2016, also spoke at the event and echoed Zarkowski’s comments on communication and visibility on aircraft readiness across the enterprise. “Naval Aviation readiness is centered at the FRCs.  We are the ones responsible for getting aircraft back on the flight line.  We have to reach out and make sure that we are communicating and working with organizations and entities that affect us that so that resources are available to do the job.”


While CCPM methodologies have been in use at FRCSE for a couple of years, FRC SE Aviation Maintenance/Material Production director Holly Martinez said the meeting ensured that the FRCs and integrated program team (IPT) leads all heard the same message. “Now we all know where we are going in the future,” she said.  “Concerto will get all of us on a level playing field.  It will make data integrity ‘spot on’ and increase our confidence in the real-time data.

“With this, information we will better communicate with the customer on the ‘what and whys’ of production and show them how they can be part of the solution.”

Sandie Brazda, AV-8B IPT lead, agreed. “Pulling together the customer, IMC [Integrated Maintenance Concept] coordinators and the program office is critical to [FRC] throughput,” she said. “We now all have a better appreciation of what CCPM is and how it improves our business acumen.”

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Enabling technology is focus of second annual FRC safety meeting


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – More than 25 senior safety officers from eight Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) sites worldwide and representatives from DoD attended the Annual Safety Director Meeting at FRC Aviation Support Equipment in Solomons Island, Maryland, Nov. 1-3.


Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) Director for Safety and Regulatory Compliance Mitch Bauman said the event was held to provide safety officers with a forum to share ideas and train them on the Safety Management System (SMS)-a safety reporting software recently introduced into the FRCs.


Safety, he said, is an enabler of readiness by precluding the costly impacts of injuring artisans, Sailors and Marines. It will help minimize the costly mistakes in damaging aircraft, engine and components and must be embedded throughout the command, he said. “Using SMS will make reporting easier, increase accuracy and give us actionable data across all of COMFRC.”  Already in use at seven of the FRCs, it is scheduled to be introduced at all FRC sites by the end of the year.  Petty Officer 1st Class Henry Larreynaga, who recently became the lead safety officer for FRC Northwest, welcomed the SMS training.   “SMS hasn’t been introduced to our command yet, so this is new guidance for us,” he said.  “By listening and learning from other FRCs who are already using it, we have a better idea of how to get it running right and properly establish its use.”


One of SMS’s tools, iAuditor, will improve the ease and accuracy of recordkeeping in the FRCs. Dina Geilenkirchen, FRC Mid-Atlantic safety director, said she is looking forward to using this feature. “With iAuditor, we will be able to conduct inspections using tablets instead of on paper.  That not only will help us save time, but be able to get the word out to our workforce and to other FRC safety officers quicker,” she said.

Safety regulations and compliance, COMFRC safety goals for 2017 and common issues across all FRCs were also discussed. “All FRCs have similar challenges,” FRC East safety director Luc Desilets said. “For example, FRC Southwest is looking into stands for V-22 maintenance. FRC East already has them, and we shared our experiences with them.  We have a responsibility to reach out to each other.”


For Larreynaga, one of the most surprising facts he learned at the meeting was the amount COMFRC must shoulder each year due to injuries. “Hearing that injuries cost roughly $10 million a year out of our budgets and that by reducing them by 10 percent could return a million dollars to us really got me thinking,” he said. “I’ll make it a point to educate my command that there is a bigger picture to safety and budgets that they don’t see.”

Efforts to reduce those numbers are paying off. Bauman said that COMFRC is on track to having one of its safest years ever with incident rates well below the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ averages for the Aerospace, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Industry.


Rear Adm. Michael Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers, commended the leads in his remarks during the meeting and urged them to stay diligent. “2016 was a good year, but you can never declare victory when it comes to safety and quality. We need to keep that momentum up as we close out 2016 and start 2017,” he said.


He also reminded them that safety and quality must be foremost in every aspect of work and must never be compromised. “Safety is the most critical thing that we do.  It is the beginning of everything,” he said.  “Production is the scorecard and gets us the visibility. But it means nothing if we don’t do it safely.”


No FRC stands alone when it comes to safety, Zarkowski said. “Our goal is enable artisans to have an incident-free career so that they can enjoy the retirement they deserve,” he said.  “At the end of the day, there is only one scorecard we all are responsible for when it comes to safety and readiness.  You play a role in that.”

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New CMM Enhances FRCSW Manufacturing Capability


(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 08 NOV 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Precision in manufacturing aircraft parts not only ensures performance as intended, but safe operation under a gambit of stresses and circumstances. Accuracy is paramount.


Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) recently improved the accuracy of its manufacturing measurements to 0.001of an inch by purchasing a new Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) through the command’s Capital Investment Program (CIP).


The CIP invests in new technology equipment that will improve the command’s efficiency.


“This project was to be completed in 12 months; it was awarded in April and completed November 4, so it was ahead of schedule and under budget,” noted CIP project manager Martha Hoffman.


Located in Building 472 and costing approximately $500,000, the CMM will not only help FRCSW meet its demand for manufacturing measurements, but will also allow for measurements of parts manufactured before installation.


Five artisans who are assigned to operate the new measuring machine recently completed a week-long certification class provided by Zeiss, the CMM manufacturer.


“Engineering will send a blueprint and 3-D model (of the part) for us to use,” said machinist Kevin Guittar.


“We program the CMM. It uses a stylus and touches different points on the part, and during the programming we can pull dimensions that will match the blueprint. So using the blueprint, we write a program to make the measurements and it will record those measurements. This will tell us if it’s a good or bad part.”


The bridge-type measuring machine uses computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software with a toolkit, and can be adapted to meet future sensor and software requirements.


“The training is pretty constant as we get more involved and deeper in the software. The goal is to get enough people trained up to run three shifts,” Guittar said. “It has all of the latest and greatest things and the tool kit has all of the accessories we need and more than enough to do the job.”


To ensure a quality product within technical specifications, parts undergo First Article Testing, or testing procedures that oversee production steps.


Guittar said that flight critical parts, like F/A-18 ribs and formers, undergo a 100 percent inspection on every dimension.


Prior to the installation of the new CMM, artisans were using an older measuring machine that was built in the early 1990s.


“And before that,” Guittar noted, “they used a lot of large fixtures for gauges so they could put the parts in and manually check everything; it was very time consuming and took up a lot of space.”


Now, artisans will use the Zeiss CMM which delivers faster results with a greater capacity.


“The new machine runs approximately six times faster than the older one and it can run multiple parts. The older machine required us to write a program and run one part and then set the next one. But with the new one, we can set all of the same parts and run at the same time. So, we can get everything done in one shot,” Guittar said.


Another advantage of the Zeiss model is its advanced scanning head.


“When we’d measure a circle on the old machine you’d take a single point, and the machine would take 8 to 16 points to make the circle. This one takes 1,000 to 3,000 points so you get a true form; if it’s a true circle, an oval, or a trimetric shape. It provides a lot more information that’s important to intricate things, like bushings.”


In the event a measurement is not within required specifications, engineering is notified and the machining modified to increase the accuracy.


The Zeiss CMM is the third measuring machine in the manufacturing department, and a fourth from the reverse engineering department will be added soon, Guittar said.


“We’ll be using all four of them, hopefully across all three shifts. All of this will result in less rework which will save manpower and money and increase readiness,” he said.


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Manufacturers association recognizes FRCSE with top award


(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHEAST, 07 NOC 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Public Affairs


Jacksonville, Fla. – Lake Ray, president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA), named Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) as the recipient of the FCMA Manufacturer of the Year Award at the association’s annual ceremony Oct. 19 in St. Augustine, Florida.


FRCSE Commanding Officer Capt. Chuck Stuart received the award on behalf of the facility, which performs maintenance, repairs and overhauls of aircraft for military and civilian clients – necessitating a large manufacturing capability.


“For FRCSE to be recognized by such a distinguished group of manufacturers who are dedicated to sustaining and improving the local economy is a tremendous honor,” Stuart said. “This award is a testament to the skill, commitment and dedication of our Sailors and civilian employees.”


Formed in 1989, the FCMA is made up of more than 300 companies with a manufacturing presence in Northeast Florida. The association provides workforce training and fosters business and networking relationships.


The Manufacturer of the Year Award is given each year to an organization that embodies a commitment to improving the local economy, environmental protection and providing education for its workforce.


FRCSE achievements cited by the association for the award included the facility’s allocation of more than $7 million over the past five years to construct a full-spectrum training building for the education of its employees. In addition, the manufacturing group also noted FRCSE’s environmental improvements, consisting of reducing its energy footprint, as well as recycling more than 160 tons of used oil.


The last point was of particular importance to Stuart.


“It is extremely important to us to be good stewards of taxpayer resources,” Stuart said. “Running our facility efficiently allows us to do that, as well as get aircraft and components to our military as quickly as possible.”


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PHOTO RELEASE: Mazzone honored with Meritorious Civilian Service Award


Todd Balazs, deputy assistant commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations, Naval Air Systems Command (Air-6.0), right, presents Darlene Mazzone, Aviation Readiness and Resources Analysis Department technical director, a Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work as the assistant program executive officer for Logistics, Tactical Aircraft Programs Nov. 8. Mazzone was instrumental in standing up the Air Warfare Mission Area/From the Air Program Office (PMA-298) which laid the groundwork for all Naval Integrated Fire Counter-Air Programs. (U.S. Navy photo/released)


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PHOTO RELEASE: McMichael receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award


Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) (AIR-6.8), right, presents Elizabeth McMichael, Additive Manufacturing Integrated Program Team lead, Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her work to incorporate additive manufacturing into Naval Aviation maintenance. Thanks to McMichael and her team, an MV-22B Osprey equipped with a 3-D printed titanium link and fitting inside an engine nacelle flew during a July 29 demonstration at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland. The flight marked NAVAIR’s first successful flight demonstration of a flight critical aircraft component built using additive manufacturing techniques. (U.S. Navy photo/released)


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F-35 Contract Feud Exposes Rift Over ‘Fair’ Prices


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 03 NOV 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Shockwaves rippled across the defense industry following the news that Lockheed Martin is challenging the Pentagon over a $6.1 billion “unilateral” contract awarded to the company to continue building F-35 joint strike fighters for the U.S. military.


The low-rate initial production contract announced Nov. 2 would fund 57 F-35s aircraft. “The LRIP 9 contract represents a fair and reasonable deal for the U.S. government, the international partnership and industry,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 program executive officer.


The manufacturer disagrees. Lockheed spokesman Michael J. Rein said in a statement that company was “disappointed with the decision by the government to issue a unilateral contract action.”


Officials declined to comment further as the company considers taking legal action. The parties are said to be wide apart on program cost estimates and the contractor fee – which partly is derived from program costs.

Industry sources said this is possibly the largest unilateral contract ever awarded by the Defense Department. The estimated $400 billion F-35 program is the Pentagon’s largest weapons acquisition.


How did it get to this point? Lockheed and the F-35 program office have been negotiating for 18 months over the terms of the LRIP 9 and 10 deals. Under national security provisions in the federal acquisition regulations, the government can at any point stop negotiations and issue a contract. The JPO can assert that these airplanes are urgently needed by the armed forces and that the contractor has to keep producing them even if they haven’t reached an agreement on the price. Lockheed is obligated to continue the work, but faces the choice of either accepting the terms or appealing the decision – either to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, or to the Court of Federal Claims. The company has 90 days to decide.


What led to a collapse in the negotiations was the JPO rejecting Lockheed’s accounting of what it costs to build these airplanes. One industry source said the government did not believe the cost data submitted, which was based on the previous eight LRIP contracts, was reasonable. The JPO also challenged Lockheed’s claims that its fee should recognize capital outlays the company made to pay for parts, factory upgrades and other program-related expenses. This strikes at the core of the defense industry’s business model, in which a company assumes risks upfront but expects to be rewarded later. The dispute also speaks to brewing disagreements in Defense Department programs between what contractors assert something costs, versus what the government believes it “should cost.”


Industry analysts were surprised by the developments even though contracting disputes are not unusual in Pentagon programs. The government “used a very extreme approach to definitize the F-35 LRIP 9 contract,” wrote Roman Schweizer, of the Cowen Washington Research Group. The JPO “used a bazooka on LRIP 9,” which could signal long-term troubles for the program.


Schweizer said “bare-knuckle contracting is nothing new to the F-35 program, and the government and Lockheed have used ‘undefinitized contract actions’ to keep the money flowing and the jets coming together while the nitty-gritty was hammered out.” But after the latest standoff over pricing, the government “decided to break the ice with a colossal sledgehammer.”


“Contract officers can use unilateral actions to adjust or tweak contracts but we’ve never seen it applied this way,” Schweizer noted.


It is still unclear how this will affect a much-anticipated three-year block-buy deal for at least 450 more aircraft for U.S. and international customers in 2018, he added. “We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that if negotiating a two-year pact devolved to this outcome, the prospects for rolling up a deal three times the size may be extremely difficult.”


The LRIP 9 price the government enforced in the contract is a 3.7 percent reduction from the LRIP 8 contract signed in December 2014 and an overall 58 percent price reduction since the LRIP-1 contract, the JPO said in a statement. Once production of LRIP 9 aircraft is completed, more than 250 F-35s would be in operation by eight nations. The LRIP 9 engine contract between the government and engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney was signed in April.


Contracting experts speculate that, if Lockheed chooses to take legal action, it will file a claim with the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. The ASBCA is a neutral, independent forum that has been in existence for over 50 years. It mostly handles post-award contract disputes between contractors and the Department of Defense, NASA and the CIA.


Under the Contract Disputes Act, contractors can take their case to the ASBCA or to the Court of Federal Claims.

“Contractors often choose the board,” said federal contracting attorney Todd Overman, of Bass, Berry & Sims government contracts practice. “It’s not the same level of formality as the Court of Federal Claims,” he said.


ASBCA allows the agency to stay involved in the case during the fact-finding process. A decision written by a board judge is binding. The next appeal then goes to the federal circuit court. Without knowing the details of the Lockheed case, Overman guessed that the company did its research and likely believes there is “precedent at the board that will be more helpful to them.” ASBCA judges are known to be “very knowledgeable about DoD programs.”


Legal issues aside, the contractual troubles that are now disrupting the F-35 program are largely the product of the Pentagon’s own decisions on how to compensate contractors under cost-plus contracts. “Industry makes its fee on cost-type contract based on the amount of cost it justifies,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. David Dunaway, former commander of Naval Air Systems Command who oversaw multibillion-dollar programs.


“We have a fundamental problem in that we can’t quantify value, therefore we can’t come to a price,” Dunaway told National Defense. When incentive fees are assessed in part as a percentage of cost, “you have a system that doesn’t match the free market,” he said. “We need to value things better. That’s a tough problem. In a cost world that’s the way companies make money. It’s counter intuitive when you want to cut costs.”


One of the F-35’s toughest critics, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the “recent breakdown in F-35 contract negotiations between the Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin is troubling and disappointing. It should be seen, more broadly, as yet another symptom of our flawed defense acquisition system in general and the structure of the F-35 program in particular. To be sure, developing advanced fighter aircraft is extremely complicated. But the decision to produce hundreds of aircraft, on a cost-plus basis, before the technology is developed and completed, and to do all of this, lot after lot, without an actual contract in place between the government and industry, is the height of acquisition malpractice.”


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DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value


(DEFENSE DAILY 03 NOV 16) … Pat Host


FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – The Defense Department will ask Congress for additional wartime spending, but leadership hasn’t decided how much more to request, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday.


Carter told reporters he’s said since the first Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request was submitted this for fiscal year 2016 that it’s the “nature of warfare” to not know, at the beginning of the year, what everything will cost. The Pentagon is bolstered by what Carter called success in both its counter ISIL efforts and work in Afghanistan.


Bloomberg reported Pentagon comptroller Mike McCord told the publication in an interview the request would be worth more than $6 billion, but Carter declined to put a dollar figure on the request, saying only that he’d submit one.


“We haven’t settled on how much those are worth,” Carter said. “We’re still doing those estimates and assessing the situation.”


Carter spent Tuesday and Wednesday traveling between New York and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He addressed City College of New York and Stand Up for Heroes audiences in Manhattan on Tuesday, discussing new DoD initiatives to better recruit well-qualified prospects and candidates in challenging territories like the northeast.


Carter on Wednesday spent the day here getting briefings on the Army’s munition training and counter-IED efforts and participated in hands-on demonstrations. These included using the hand-held mine detector ANPSS-14, performing a thermal breach of metal using an exothermic cutting rod and Talon robots.


Carter will spend Thursday attending the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) change of command ceremony and will visit the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Air Force Gen. John Hyten replaces retiring Navy Adm. Cecil Haney as the leader at USSTRATCOM.


DoD Asking For OCO Increase, Undecided On Value


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Defense Sector Post-Election: Caution Sets In


(NATIONAL DEFENSE 14 NOV 16) … Sandra I. Erwin


Investors’ euphoria about rising Pentagon budgets and a lessening of regulations in a Donald Trump administration is giving way to realism and caution.


Defense watchers overwhelmingly agree that military spending will go up under Trump, but warn of caveats. Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of government almost ensures that the current caps on discretionary federal spending will be lifted.


Doubts are growing, however, over whether the administration and Congress will be able to come together around a defense budget plan in the long term. Whereas congressional defense hawks will seek to immediately pour money into areas like equipment modernization and force readiness, Trump has been adamant that any defense boost would have to be offset by reductions in overhead, bureaucratic bloat, fraud and waste in Pentagon programs.


“It’s incumbent on the administration and the Department of Defense to come up with a sensible plan that can be executed,” says Jack Deschauer, a partner at the Washington, D.C. office of Squire Patton Boggs, a lobbying firm.

The Trump White House’s first order of business will be the fiscal year 2017 budget that Congress is unlikely to pass during the lame duck session. Republicans want an $18 billion increase for defense and President Obama has vowed to veto such a measure unless the money is split evenly between defense and nondefense agencies.


“I don’t see any reason why Republicans would compromise on that,” says Deschauer. Since the Republicans do not have the 60 votes to roll over Senate Democrats, the minority will have a say in the process, he notes. But without the threat of a presidential veto, they will not be able to prevent defense budget increases of some magnitude. He predicts the full $18 billion boost for defense will be enacted after Trump takes office.


The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 canceled the automatic reductions in discretionary spending for 2016 and 2017. Defense spending was capped at $551.1 billion for 2017. Current law limits defense spending to $549 billion in 2018.

Looking farther ahead, if and when the Budget Control Act spending restrictions are lifted, the Pentagon is going to have to present a reasonable funding plan that addresses “readiness and recapitalization the right way,” he says.

The Pentagon will be pressed to restore credibility with Congress on fiscal responsibility. Over the past decade, it has relied on war budgets known as “overseas contingency operations” accounts to fund basic needs like personnel and weapon systems. “That shows that there hasn’t been any budget discipline in the Department of Defense in a long time,” says Deschauer.


The Pentagon over the years has used so-called budget gimmicks to claim cost savings that never materialized. One of the Obama budget proposals, for instance, included $60 billion in “efficiencies” such as contracting reforms and reductions in administrative overhead. These phantom savings may no longer be acceptable. “It will be the administration’s responsibility to hold the military accountable,” Deschauer says. With a single party in control, it should be easier to reach a compromise, he says, although the White House and the Pentagon will have to “show budget discipline and demonstrate how funding increases contribute to defense.”


On the issue of federal regulations in military procurements, there has been much speculation that Trump might repeal measures that the defense industry claims add unnecessary cost and delays to Pentagon programs. While there may be a push to reconsider Obama’s labor-related executive orders, nobody should expect any sweeping deregulation, says Deschauer. “I don’t think there’ll be any rolling back of defense acquisition policies.”


With Sen. John McCain still at the helm of the Senate Armed Services Committee, there will be continuing pressure to crack down on contractors. “I don’t think they’re going to suddenly give defense contractors free rein or a blank check,” he says. “That’s not going to happen at all.”


Potentially of more significance to Pentagon weapon buyers and defense contractors is whether Trump delivers on campaign promises to withdraw the United States from international trade treaties and adopt protectionist policies. Any anti-trade measures, or even just fears of such actions, would be detrimental to the defense and aerospace business, analysts warn.


“This is a complicated area,” says Luigi Peluso, managing director in the aerospace and defense practice at AlixPartners. The aerospace and space sectors are truly global markets, he says. “They have global customers, global suppliers. They are very intertwined.” If trade relationships fracture in any way, “there are potentially significant risks.”


Aerospace and defense are sectors of the U.S. economy that have thrived in the global market. According to the Aerospace Industries Association, U.S. aerospace and defense companies generated a record $142 billion in exports in 2015. Over the past five years, exports have grown by 62 percent, from $88 billion in 2010. Aerospace and defense accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. exports in domestic goods and is the nation’s third largest exporting industry. This sector generated a trade surplus of $81 billion in 2015. Over the past five years, the industry’s trade surplus has grown by an annualized growth rate of 8.2 percent.


A trade war with China, for instance, could be devastating to aerospace exports as China might retaliate by directing its airlines to buy aircraft from Airbus rather than Boeing, Peluso says. Before the United States initiates a trade dispute, he says, “caution is warranted.”


Could defense companies do business in an anti-trade climate? “It would be very difficult,” he says. “It’s easy to see how you could do a lot of damage on the supplier and customer sides.”


Arms sales, additionally, are a key component of U.S. foreign policy. “We want compatible technology. And it creates U.S. jobs,” says Peluso. He speculates Trump will soften his campaign trade stance as it becomes apparent that it could backfire.


Deschauer points out that every major defense contractor is pursuing international sales. Companies also have to worry about Trump’s pledge to shift security burdens to U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. “If the administration increases allies’ responsibility to pay for their own defense, that could have an effect on how much money they will have to buy American-made equipment.”

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Lawmakers Seek To Boost F-35 Purchases




A group of 70 lawmakers is pressing appropriators to fund significantly more joint strike fighters than the Pentagon asked for in its fiscal year 2017 budget request. But a contract disagreement has raised concerns about the future of the program.


The Defense Department requested about $8.3 billion to procure 63 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in 2017. The House defense appropriations bill added 11 joint strike fighters to the planned buy. The Senate version added just four aircraft.


In an Oct. 4 letter to the leaders of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, representatives from both parties prodded them to stick with the House blueprint in upcoming budget negotiations.


“As you head into conference [with Senate lawmakers], we write in strong support of the F-35 joint strike fighter and urge you to continue supporting increased production rates at this critical juncture for the program,” they said.

The letter was signed by 41 Republicans and 29 Democrats.


“Increasing the production rate is the single most important factor in reducing future aircraft unit costs,” they said. “Additionally, significantly increasing production is critical to fielding F-35s in numbers needed to meet the expected threats in the mid-2020s.”


The lawmakers expressed concern about cuts to follow-on modernization that were included in the Senate bill.


“These cuts would delay critical … capability upgrades needed to ensure the F-35 stays ahead of increasing future threats. We urge the conferees to restore as much of this funding as possible,” they said.


Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant and the chief operating officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute, said increasing the production rates would help reverse a negative trend.


“The Air Force has slipped off of its production ramp for F-35, and as a result each plane is going to cost more,” he said. “That is not the way the business plan was supposed to be implemented.”


Thompson believes there is enough support in Congress to fund additional F-35 buys beyond the level requested by the Pentagon.


“The most likely approach would be to take money out of other items” in the budget, he said. One option would be to scale back upgrades of legacy fighters, he noted.


But a contract spat could potentially upend future production of the F-35.


In November, the Defense Department announced a $6.1 billion low-rate initial production contract for 57 F-35s in lot 9. In a statement, Lockheed said it was “disappointed” by the Pentagon’s “unilateral” move, and noted that the contract was “not mutually agreed upon.”


The company could potentially take legal action and appeal the decision. Lockheed executives “will evaluate our options and path forward,” the statement said.


Roman Schweizer, an industry analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a note to investors: “The government’s decision to use a bazooka on LRIP 9 could signal turbulence ahead as the program ramps into a potential block buy.”


The spat could make it more difficult for the Pentagon and Lockheed to reach large production deals in the future, he said.


The next “inflection point” in the program is a potential three-year block buy deal for 450 or more aircraft that would start with international customers in 2018, he noted.


“We have been optimistic that deal would really kick the program to another level but are concerned now that … rolling up a deal three times the size [of LRIP 9 and the anticipated LRIP 10] may be extremely difficult,” Schweizer said.

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Marines look for a small UAS to equip Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squads


Inside the Navy, Nov. 14 | Lee Hudson


The Marine Corps is looking for a small unmanned aerial system to equip each Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad after identifying a gap in a requirements document last year, according to the service.


Maj. Jamie Murphy, MERS capabilities integration officer, told Inside the Navy during a Nov. 10 interview the MERS initial capabilities document was updated last year and identified 16 gaps. “Some of the gaps are starting to be covered,” he said. On Oct. 12, a request for information was released for a vertical-takeoff-and-landing small UAS to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance during the day and at night in all environmental conditions. “The system should be rugged, lightweight and ready to use as delivered with minimal logistic, training and support requirements,” according to the RFI.


“The system should provide real-time full motion video via electro-optical and/or infrared sensors.” The Marine Corps is looking for a system that has a man-portable ground control station and has the necessary equipment to monitor the sensor position and status, control its movement and view its video, the RFI reads. Specifically, the ground control station should weigh 20 pounds or less, the UAS should have a minimum range of one kilometer and a minimum endurance of 30 minutes. The system should be of “adequate maturity to be fielded immediately,” according to the RFI. Responses to the RFI are due no later than Dec. 31. Currently, the service has three small UAS in its inventory: the RQ-11B Raven, RQ-20 Puma and Wasp IV. “The VTOL SUAS RFI is specifically to refresh our understanding of what VTOL SUAS technologies are commercially available today,” Lt. Col. Noah Spataro, UAS capabilities integration and requirements officer, wrote in a Nov. 7 email to ITN. Murphy said the Marine Corps may not be able to equip every squad with a Predator or a Reaper but there is some commercially available capability that could be fielded. The service is working closely with the Army on a couple of related projects. Murphy said the Army has the same issues from the perspective of their Squad X program that is equivalent to the Marines’ MERS effort.


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FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of October 31, 2016



Attached and below are the COMFRC/AIR 6.0 clips for the week of Oct. 31:



  1. Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program
  2. Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’
  3. New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15



  1. New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns
  2. Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position
  3. Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment
  4. Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes





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Fabric Hangars Help FRCSW Preservation Program

(FLEET READINESS CENTER SOUTHWEST, 31 OCT 16) . Fleet Readiness Center Southwest Public Affairs


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – “We have a mishmash of full birds and darts in here,” said Tim Guilbert as he walked between the F/A-18 legacy and Super Hornet aircraft stored in a cavernous new tension fabric aircraft hangar at the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) Test Line.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


There are four levels within the preservation program.


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


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


Aircraft may remain in a level two state for up to one year.


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


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


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


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


“If it was level 2 (under this scenario) we would have to wrap them back up, but now we have the level 3 capability with the hangars and can hold them for the duration,” Guilbert noted.


Overall, the preservation process takes about 50 hours per aircraft, he said.


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


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Women of Color Award winners show ‘STEM is a girl thing’

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


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Seven NAVAIR women were recognized for their leadership, technical skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the 2016 Women of Color STEM Conference Oct. 13-15 in Detroit.


Sharon Keith, a mission systems lead engineer for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office based out of Arlington, Virginia, won a Technical Innovation – Government Award for her work on the U.S. military’s largest, most complex program and her long career in naval avionics.


“[This award] meant finally knowing, after working 30-plus years in naval aviation, my professional accomplishments were being recognized among such a diverse audience of my peers on a national and international stage,” she said. “My engineering career has given me great pleasure knowing I’ve played a significant role in providing guidance and mentoring to junior engineers and providing our warfighters, servicemen and women the capabilities necessary to protect the U.S. while supporting our international partners as well.”


Keith said her mother inspired her to take on new opportunities and value education. She advises new employees to engage in STEM activities as much as they can.


“Look at ways to develop your critical thinking skills, take advantage of internship programs and look for individuals currently in your field to mentor,” she said.


NAVAIR also had six Technology Rising Star Award winners: Tashara Cooper, Lt. Cmdr. (select) Rolanda Findlay, Nikeya Gibbs, Bethany Harris, Connie Standifer and Kendra Woodruff. Rising Stars are women with fewer than 22 years in the workforce who are helping to shape technology for the future.


Cooper is part of the Human Integration and Performance Division, one of the largest STEM departments at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Florida. Her research helps provide improved, more effective instructional strategies to train warfighters.


She said she feels pride in helping pave the way for other individuals with visual disabilities within the scientific field.


“It means a lot to me to not only change the world for myself – however small or great – but to change the vision of possibility for others,” Cooper said. “Transitioning from the role of management analyst to research psychologist says persons with disabilities can not only serve well in administrative roles, but in technical roles as well.”


Findlay said she decided to become a naval aerospace experimental psychologist because it was a unique career path unlike anything she had previously seen.


“I could use my background in industrial and organizational psychology to make a direct impact in naval aviation,” she explained. “I was intrigued by the possibilities, and it appeared to be a powerful way to use my skillset.” Findlay, who is based out of Orlando, has brought several scientific advances from her field of industrial and organizational psychology into applied selection and training technologies that support mission accomplishment and safety for the aviation community.


Standifer is NAVAIR’s first Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) competency manager to be selected for the Technology Rising Star Award, which she said brings her career full circle.


“My parents taught me and my siblings to always give 100 percent in whatever we set forth as our goal,” she said. “They were right in that you may not hear your name called in the moment, but just keep pushing forward, for greatness never goes unnoticed.”


Recent college graduate Woodruff said the movie “Toy Story” inspired her to pursue a career in modeling and simulation. She works as a computer scientist based in Orlando, where her biggest accomplishment has been integrating the latest electronic learning standard, Experience API, into a previously developed 3-D game-based training course. Her team became the first Navy entity to communicate successfully with two remote learning resource stores owned by the Naval Education and Training Command and the Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab.


NAVAIR relies on its STEM professionals to accomplish its major goals and initiatives, such as delivering integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities. In fiscal year 2016, women accounted for approximately 18 percent of all STEM positions at NAVAIR.


Each of the award winners encouraged new and up-and-coming STEM employees to seek out new opportunities and mentoring.


“If it’s your dream to go into any certain field, you must first take fear out of the equation and go for it,” Standifer said. “You can achieve anything you set your mind to; always remain goal oriented, and there’s really nothing you can’t do.”


Cooper advised finding a mentor: “Surround yourself with those who believe in you and your dreams,” she said. “Embrace that it will be really hard at times, and you may fall short here and there, but push through while remaining true to who you are. Know that everything that happens – or does not happen – is all part of a perfect plan for you, so hold steady, because we are all riders on our own unique journey. No two paths are identical.”


At the conference, hosted by Women of Color Magazine and with a theme of “STEM is a Girl Thing,” attendees also participated in workshops, training and networking opportunities.


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New NAVAIR Commander’s Awards; Submit your nominations by Dec 15


NAVAIR teammates,

We know recognizing the talent and commitment our people bring to their work is incredibly important. A pat on the back for a job well done inspires, motivates and makes us feel valued.


The recent NAVAIR Command Climate Survey indicated rewards and recognition as an area needing improvement. Whether big or small, formal or informal, individual, team or peer-to-peer, we need to recognize great work more often.


One of the actions we’ve taken at the NAVAIR command level is to revamp the annual Commander’s Awards.


We’ve changed the award categories to recognize achievements that align directly to our strategic priorities. There are four categories:

–Improving Fleet Readiness

–Increasing the Speed of Capabilities to the Fleet –Business Innovation

–Technical Innovation


Each category will include several winners: first, second and honorable mention.


We’ve also simplified the nomination process (a new 2-3 page write-up replaces the old 14+ page nomination package), and moved the awards ceremony closer to the period of achievement (March 2017). As always, civilian and military teams from all sites are eligible.


This year’s nominations are due to your competency/site awards POC by 15 December 2016. SES/Flag champions will chair panels for each award category and sit on the Awards Board, along with myself and Deputy Commander Garry Newton.


These awards are a great opportunity to showcase people and teams who are adding tremendous value to fleet readiness and capability. I look forward to sharing their stories with you at the 2017 awards ceremony.


If you have questions, please contact the NAVAIR Awards Office at For more information on award criteria and submission guidelines, visit the Awards Toolkit at



VADM Paul Grosklags



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New F-35 Software Could Quell ALIS Sovereignty Concerns

(FLIGHTGLOBAL (UK) 27 OCT 16) … Leigh Giangreco


WASHINGTON – Lockheed Martin will begin studying options for adding a software filter to the system that tracks maintenance and training data for the F-35 fighter as part of an effort to limit the amount of data that gets shared with U.S.-based contractors over concerns about privacy and sovereignty.


The U.S. government intends to award a sole source contract to F-35 prime Lockheed to conduct a trade study for connecting a “sovereign data gateway” (SDG) to the autonomic logistics information system (ALIS), according to a 17 October Federal Business Opportunities website announcement.


Lockheed’s ALIS is programmed to keep track of thousands of operational details about the F-35 fleet, including data from health monitoring systems on board the aircraft as well as the training and flight logs for each of the pilots. As the global data hub, ALIS is supposed to order parts and schedule training as they are needed, saving operators the burden of managing and back-filling spare inventories. For the system to work, the jet must automatically transmit information after and even during each flight by an F-35 to Lockheed’s ALIS hub in Fort Worth, Texas.


But that automated stream of data also worries some of the F-35’s international customers.


To address those concerns, the SDG software will remain within the partner country’s central point of entry and will control the flow of data to the Autonomic Logistics Operating Unit (ALOU), the F-35 Joint Programme Office says in an emailed response to questions.


The software will allow each partner country to inspect and verify data flowing to and from the U.S. hub, the JPO stays. The software will also be able to block, modify or delay sensitive data. One example of sensitive data are details in the pilot’s training and flight records, which in some countries are protected by privacy laws.


“Most partners have this inspection requirement as a prerequisite to their own certification and approval of ALIS on their national networks,” he says. “An example of SDG’s use could be to enforce regulations in place to protect data containing personally identifiable information, which in some cases is subject to national privacy legislation.”


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Carter To Create Chief Innovation Officer Position

(DEFENSE NEWS 28 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – Less than a month after his Defense Innovation Board had its first public meeting, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is moving on a trio of suggestions on how to drive innovation forward for the Pentagon – including the creation of a new chief innovation officer position.


Carter made the announcement during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He did not go into details about when that office would be stood up or who might fill that role.


“Many different organizations have recently embraced this position, and also started to regularly run these kinds of innovation tournaments and competitions – including tech companies like IBM, Intel and Google – and it’s time we did as well, to help incentivize our people to come up with innovative ideas and approaches,” Carter said about creating the chief innovation officer.


The suggestion was first raised by the Defense Innovation Board at an Oct. 5 public meeting. At the time, Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School who has served in various government positions, described the sharing of best practices around the DoD as currently “less than ideal” and noted that the position could act as the umbrella from which funding for low-level projects could flow.


In addition to the creation of that spot, Carter said the Pentagon will launch targeted recruiting initiatives to increase recruitment of computer scientists and software engineers.


“We’ll do this through targeted recruiting initiatives ranging from our Reserve Officer Training Corps to our civilian Scholarship For Service program that’s intended to help build the next generation of DoD science and technology leaders, with the goal of making computer science a core competency of the Department of Defense,” Carter said.


Carter later added that the Pentagon needs to do a better job directly recruiting on college campuses, noting that may require changes to hiring statutes.


College students “don’t want to live a career that’s an escalator where you get on the bottom stair and you wait and it takes you up to the top,” Carter said. “They want a jungle gym where they can get higher by climbing around. We need to recognize that’s the way many people see their lives.”


However, Carter did not go as far as to endorse the “digital ROTC” idea put forth from the board’s public meeting.


Finally, the department is going to invest broadly in machine learning, including the creation of a “virtual center of excellence” that Carter said “establishes stretch goals and incentivizes academy and commercial technology companies [that] have been making significant strides.”


That center of excellence was a direct suggestion from the board, which emphasized, as Carter has in the past, that machine learning will be key to all technologies going forward. Interestingly, the lead here will be taken by Carter’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) group, which will sponsor an initial prize challenge for machine learning issues.


Carter has made innovation a key part of his tenure, and of his legacy in the position. He has also tied those groups closely to his office, which some have speculated could be a problem when a new secretary comes in – an idea Carter dismissed in his speech.


“Going forward, I’m confident that the logic behind everything I’m talking about today will be self-evident to future defense secretaries, as will the value of these efforts – but they also need to have the momentum and institutional foundation to keep going under their own steam and continue to thrive,” he said. “We must ensure they can keep leading the way and keep disrupting, challenging and inspiring the rest of the Defense Department to change for the better.”


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Pentagon Could Focus On Services, Software For War On Sustainment

(DEFENSE NEWS 31 OCT 16) … Aaron Mehta


Excerpt: Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down. … For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.


Full story:

WASHINGTON – As the Department of Defense focuses on ways to reduce sustainment costs for future programs, it could look to increase the use of services contracts and improve how it handles cost estimates for software upgrades.


Speaking to reporters Oct. 21, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, said targeting sustainment costs is the next frontier for getting the price of defense programs down.


Kendall reiterated a statement, first made in September, that a fourth round of his Better Buying Power initiatives should focus on sustainment, noting that development costs average about 10 percent of a weapon system cost, production averages another 40-50 percent, and the rest comes due for upkeep.


“By far most of the cost we bear is in the sustainment phase. We don’t have as good data on it,” Kendall said, adding that officials need to develop “best practices” going forward.


What could that look like? Andrew Hunter, a former Pentagon acquisition official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says one area to look at is how the department treats services.


“There’s a lot of opportunity to do more partnering and rethink what is the critical government role, what’s the inherent government function, and what is something industry can do,” Hunter said. “Especially when you’re trying to get the price of software talent and other technical talent. Are you going to be able to recruit [for the] government or are you better off working more closely with industry?”


In any war on sustainment costs, the Pentagon’s office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) would likely play a big part. Jamie Morin, the current CAPE director, told Defense News in an exclusive interview that he sees “progress” in current sustainment cost controls, thanks in part to Kendall’s focus on services contracting.


“A lot of the success there really just depends on regular management review of requirements and performance and pricing. That is just blocking and tackling at the individual contract level that has to occur,” Morin explained. “In some cases, you need to pay top dollar because you need a top-dollar service. In other cases, you can drive to the lowest-cost provider because it’s an area where you can afford to take technical or performance risks.”


The Software Challenge


Another area Hunter predicts the Pentagon needs to deal with is how the department performs software-cost estimates. In particular, he wonders if the Pentagon’s estimates for those upgrades are operating on realistic timetables, given that future weapon systems are expected to feature software updates regularly, as opposed to a major system update every few years.


“The idea that I’m going to need to be adding and interacting with new capabilities every six months, as opposed to every five years, that’s where we have the potential to underestimate the extent to which we’re going to need to plan for,” he said.


Morin acknowledged that projecting O&S costs for software upgrades comes with “wider uncertainty” than hardware estimates, but noted that some of the same considerations would apply across the board.


“You say you are going to put, each year, X number of people worth of software engineering and do it to fielding capability. Or you look at programs that have modular and spiral approaches in software that have continued to [be fielded] and you get a sense of what is the annual expenditure associated with that. Then you work it across, balance it across all the differences between the two or the multiple programs.”


At a broad level, CAPE is working to improve how it predicts and handles sustainment costs for new programs – but Morin cautioned that the nature of those costs means analysts won’t know immediately if the new approach is working.


“This is one of those things where our Washington tempo doesn’t really support the adequate distance from the problem to understand it,” Morin explained. “So we are making decisions now on programs as they go through acquisition milestones with much more visibility and rigor in estimating future O&S costs, but those won’t actually be realized, in many cases, for five or ten years.”


“It’s incredibly unsatisfying, but I just have to counsel patience,” he added.


Perhaps the most famous O&S cost estimate in history is that of the F-35 joint strike fighter. A Pentagon estimate looking out 50 years into the future predicted a $1 trillion cost for the lifecycle of the plane, a number that instantly lodged itself into headlines and continues to haunt the program even as costs come down.


For Morin, the trick to a long-term cost estimate is less trying to nail the prices of commodities like fuel, which is essentially impossible to do over a decades-long period, and more about understanding the potential points where program costs could be out of sync with economic growth.


“Are you using a material in building this [system] that you will need to replace with parts on this that is so rare, that the fact that you are buying thousands of this item is going to drive its price to spiral up faster than other commodities? Are you building something that is so software intensive, in a highly specialized way, that you are going to drive up wages among experts in this kind of software more than wages for programmers in general? Those are the things you have to think through a little bit,” he said by way of example.


“The precise numbers, bottom line, are probably precisely wrong, but the process of doing the estimates identifies management levers for you and so can really help you converting broad affordability of the portfolio,” Morin added.


That question of labor rates will apply to high-end software development, Hunter predicted.


“In some specialized areas DoD could be very much driving demand for the workforce and you could find yourself driving up prices in little niche technology areas,” Hunter said.


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Newest Fighter Jet A Lethal ‘Assassin’ Against Foes



The once-maligned, $1.4 trillion Joint Strike Fighter jet program passed another milestone Monday, executing a successful vertical landing on a Navy warship pitched by rough seas.


The latest success of the F-35B aircraft in the Marine Corps’ third phase of testing – plus ongoing mock engagements with American jets like the F-18 Super Hornet – seems to show just how capable the stealthy, fast and menacing “fifth generation” strike fighter has become during a rocky pathway to the fleet.


“The biggest surprise is that I can prosecute a target without him ever knowing that I’m there,” said Marine Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette, a test pilot from Phoenix who previously flew the F-18. “It’s a completely unfair fight. It’s an assassination, that’s what it is.”


Guyette and his fellow test pilots are slated during the next two and a half weeks to finish all remaining sea tests for the F-35B, the Joint Strike Fighter variant for the Corps. The jet can land vertically – either on a rolling flight deck, like that of the San Diego-based amphibious warship America on Monday, or in austere battlefield conditions found in places like Afghanistan.


Two Marine F-35B squadrons in Yuma, Ariz., are now classified as “operational.” The Green Knights of Fighter Squadron 121 are slated to deploy to Japan in January, while the Wake Avengers of Squadron 211 are scheduled for sea duty near the Middle East in 2018.


“Everything we do is geared toward protecting the lance corporal,” said Guyette, referring to troops who make up the core of the Marine force – its infantry.


“The great thing about having Marine test pilots is that we are always agents for the Marine Corps and for that 19-year-old kid with the rifle. Our objective is the clear the sky above and clear the path forward,” the 36-year-old, who served in Afghanistan as a forward air controller directing bomb strikes against the enemy and medical evacuations of wounded Marines, added Monday afternoon.


The Navy’s version of the fighter, the F-35C, lands on aircraft carriers. The Air Force’s F-35A takes off and lands on runways.


Mounting delays in getting these jets to the full operation phase forced the Navy to revamp its aging Hornet strike fleet, pushing those already old aircraft far beyond their anticipated service lives. To keep the Marines’ Harrier II ground-attack planes, the Corps bought scrapped British jets to cannibalize for parts.


Plagued by cost overruns, mechanical gremlins and fears that its high-tech sensors would overload a human pilot’s ability to analyze the aerial battlefield, the F-35 project infamously became known in the Pentagon as “acquisition malpractice.”


But Guyette said the “bucket” of pilot – the capability of aviators to sort out, prioritize and quickly react to vital information flowing to them – is helped, not hurt, by the Joint Strike Fighter because it does most of the work.


He pointed to Sunday night’s tests in “zero illumination” conditions, performed on the America’s churning deck in between bouts of rain.


Marine Lt. Col. Richard M. Rusnok, 40, a former Harrier pilot, said those sorts of conditions used to make for a “scary night,” but the F-35B turned Sunday’s tests into a “fun” ride.


Monday’s exercises took place aboard an America rocked by six-foot waves and whipped by gusty winds about 100 miles off of Southern California’s coastline.


They were delayed by the early afternoon fall of an unnamed male sailor from the warship into the sea. A 2:48 p.m. announcement by Navy Capt. Joseph Olson to all hands indicated that the sailor was safely recovered by a helicopter rescue team and he “was in medical, getting some treatments.” The Navy declined to say how the sailor fell overboard.


The Pentagon has scheduled 19 more days of testing for the F-35Bs aboard the America.


The drills, which run day and night, are meant to examine the jet’s night vision and landing capabilities, the pilot’s high-tech helmet and even the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, aboard the ship. That system constantly monitors the fighter jet to diagnose potential maintenance problems, with the goal of slashing potential downtime.


In an April report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office uncovered “functionality” problems with the $16.7 billion system, which is pronounced like “Alice.”


The agency warned that the Corps failed to prove that it could deploy successfully with the system, largely due to a lack of server connectivity and the ability to generate enough power to run it. The Marines declared their Yuma squadrons to be operational but never proved that ALIS could work in real battlefield conditions, the agency reported.


The Pentagon has since unveiled a new version of ALIS.


Engineers and high-ranking officers connected to the Joint Strike Fighter program said they so far have detected no problems with ALIS during their ongoing tests.



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