FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – December 12, 2016



  1. FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey
  2. Game-Changing Analytics Tool Nets Dennis Recognition




  1. Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending
  2. Navy Working Early Integration of MQ-25 Drone onto Aircraft Carriers
  3. China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank
  4. Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says
  5. MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22
  6. Trump Targets F-35, but Aircraft Means Jobs in 45 States
  7. Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It
  8. Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35





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FRCSW Paints Its First MV-22 Osprey


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – All roads lead to the paint complex in Building 466, where Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) aircraft products are concerned.


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


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


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


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


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


Logistics preparations continued throughout the year with stakeholder meetings that included materials lab engineers; deputy IPT leads; production control; production managers; planning department; paint crew leaders and artisans; supervisors; financial; safety office; and business office personnel. These critical preparations ensured the right materials were ordered along with the appropriate source documentation, and solutions to concerns were tailored to successfully assist the paint complex.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Game-changing analytics tool nets Dennis recognition


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Aubrey Dennis, Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Aviation Logistics and Maintenance Analysis Division (AIR-6.8.2) division head, was presented with a DoN Superior Civilian Service Award Dec. 6 for his work on Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that moves Naval Aviation closer to predictive capability.


Vector pulls from more than 20 maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems, providing analysts, providers and other Naval Aviation stakeholders with a single source analytical tool which depicts actionable data, reducing the time to identify readiness degraders from several months to minutes. Dennis, who headed the team that created Vector, was recognized for his tenacity in pursuit of funding to incorporate future enhancements and instruct more than 1100 military and civilian users across the NAE on its use. Additionally, he and his team trained the Type/Model/Series teams of over 600 personnel in two months on the tool and its uses.


Roy Harris, director, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department, NAVAIR (AIR-6.8), said Vector was a game changer for the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE). “With little staff and no money, Dennis and his team created Vector, which is now the go-to tool for not only program managers at NAVAIR, but also for [type/model/series] leads and others in the fleet who need to see the status of their platform at any given moment,” he said.


Harris also commended Dennis on his vision and foresight before Vector was released in July 2016. “Before this summer, Vector was known as ILSMS [Integrated Logistics Support Management System] and was primarily being used by program managers at NAVAIR. Dennis believed that others in the fleet could use the same aggregated data to better manage their readiness.


“He pursued funding through a NAE Future Readiness initiative to make Vector accessible through the web so that everyone in the enterprise could have visibility,” he said.


“But he didn’t stop there,” Harris said. “Dennis travelled to the fleet to personally train them on Vector and to ensure its proper implementation and use.”


Dennis’ foresight also extended beyond today’s use of the analytic tool. Its components are modular, Dennis said, so that updates can be incorporated by section.  “This way, the entire tool does not have to be recreated as technology updates.”


Vector is scheduled to incorporate other reporting databases over the next three fiscal years from supply, engines, support equipment, weapons and the P-8 Logistics Cell, a cross-functional collaborative organization.


Later this month, Dennis will be taking on a new challenge as the National Director of 6.3 (Industrial Operations Management Department) at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida. Dennis said while he was the one recognized with service award, the success of Vector is a reflection of the teamwork and creativity residing in AIR-6.8.2.  “I didn’t do this alone,” Dennis said.  “This award is just as much theirs as well.”


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Trump Isn’t Alone Planning Billions More On Military Spending


(BLOOMBERG 13 DEC 16) … Sangwon Yoon


It’s not just President-elect Donald Trump who’s bent on military build-up.


From Europe all the way to China, the next decade will be marked by an increase in global defense spending amid rising feuds and pockets of instability, according to IHS Jane’s latest annual Defense Budgets report.


Global defense expenditures rose to $1.57 trillion this year from $1.55 trillion in 2015 as Asian nations act on growing nervousness around the South China Sea, said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at the London-based defense and security analysis firm. Fenella McGerty, another analyst at IHS Jane’s, expects spending levels to return to pre-2008-2009 financial crisis levels by 2018. Here is a breakdown by regions.




– China’s defense budget will nearly double from $123 billion in 2010 to $233 billion in 2020, according to the report, which forecasts defense expenditure for 105 countries. That is four times what the U.K. spends and more than the combined expenditure of Western Europe.


India has overtaken Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the fourth-largest spender in the world. If the pound continues to weaken, India will spend more on defense than the U.K. by 2018, according to IHS Jane’s.




EU members boosted their combined budget to $219 billion in 2016, with Western Europe leading the charge, the report said. The only things holding back future increases are economic constraints in the south – take Greece, for example – and the question marks hanging over Brexit.


Russia cut its budget for the first time since the late 1990s to $48 billion this year. Despite a hit from the dramatic drop in oil prices, the Middle East as a whole is not expected to dramatically reduce expenditures considering regional instability, Caffrey added.




At $622 billion in 2016, the U.S. is still the world leader in defense spending, with its budget accounting for about 40 percent of the global total, according to the report.


The Pentagon’s “investment levels going forward were to decrease by 1.1 percent in real terms, but with the election of Trump, the expectation is that both investment and readiness will receive injections of much needed funds,” said Guy Eastman, a senior analyst.


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Navy working early integration of MQ-25 drone onto aircraft carriers


By: Mark Pomerleau


The Navy is working to integrate the MQ-25 Stingray drone onto aircraft carriers.


The much anticipated UAV will be a tanker for aerial refueling. This, senior leaders said, would allow highly reliable aircraft, some with specifically tailored capabilities such as the premier aerial electronic attack aircraft, the EA-18G Growler, increase its range in the face of anti-access, area-denial environments, which seek to push adversaries farther away.


With this announcement, the Navy must ready itself from an integration standpoint to support the new UAS platform – building upon the successes of the X-47B demonstrator aircraft tests. At this early stage in the program, which will encompass many Navy system commands, one official is pleased by the coordination taking place.


“I was just with Capt. [Beau] Duarte, [ program manager for PMA-268, or the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office], Tuesday up in [Patuxent] River and what was really encouraging about the discussion was that Capt. Duarte and his PMA were still really aligned to ensure that the integration of all the capabilities on the MQ-25 was being coordinated with fellow SYSCOMS like SPAWAR and NAVSEA to include PEO C4I,” Capt. Andy Gibbons, the program manager for Carrier and Air Integration at PEO C4I, told C4ISRNET on Dec. 9 on the sidelines of the C5ISR Summit, hosted by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association.


“We’re all still all in the game with [PMA-]268 and their way forward. . Definitely a win-win in moving forward with that program,” he said, regarding the teaming across the Navy and contracting community.


In terms of integrating a new aircraft onto the carrier platforms, Gibbons noted various challenges, saying that with a “a tremendous capability coming to an aircraft carrier that not only has to be designed from an aircraft perspective to be on a carrier . the carrier has to be designed to support that airframe.”


Gibbons noted that from a C4I perspective, he’s working with the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office to ensure that there are modernization efforts for the carriers to support the timeline for the new airframe to be on the carrier. “The good news is that we’re able to do that with current budgets . as it pertains to our fielding plans. That’s where my focus is,” he said. “We have to expand and ensure that the networking, the command and control, the ISR capabilities that we normally field are fielded in such a way that they all arrive in time for MQ-25. Right now we’re on [a] path to do that.”


Gibbons declined to get into any specifics regarding the acquisition aspects of the MQ-25 given that it is not in his lane. A NAVAIR spokeswoman told C4ISRNET that there have not been any recent acquisition updates to the program.


There has been some discussion about whether MQ-25 will also serve some ISR capacity in addition to aerial refueling, which will come down to the final requirements. The NAVAIR spokeswoman said an RFP will be released in summer 2017 for the platform itself as well as the requirements component.


However, Gibbons expressed that within his lane, he is working the ISR component as it applies to overall integration of the aircraft into the carrier. This includes not only the pipes down to the ship, “but the pipes off the ship to the wider team as it were,” Gibbons said. “I want to reemphasize, that’s the good teaming with [PMA-]268, they really came to us early in the process to make sure that what we were doing on the carrier aligned with their program. So we’re able to make the necessary moves, and again, no cost to the program to make sure that we’re all in concert with that delivery.


Moreover, from an ISR and integration perspective, Gibbons noted he doesn’t need to be concerned with the pilot – or in this case, lack thereof.


“From a C4I perspective, I don’t necessarily need to know if it’s got a man in it or it doesn’t . for me it’s another air platform,” he said. “From a C4I perspective, what we like to look at it as another node extending the network to the air domain. So whether that’s piloted by a human or if it’s unmanned, we’re still going to work on it and make sure its interoperable with the carrier.”


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China Installs Weapons Systems On Artificial Islands – U.S. Think Tank


(REUTERS 15 DEC 16) … David Brunnstrom


WASHINGTON – China appears to have installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported, citing new satellite imagery.


The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings, made available first to Reuters on Wednesday, come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.


China said on Thursday that, while its construction on islands and reefs in the South China Sea was mainly for civilian use, it was “legitimate and normal” for it to take steps to defend its territory.


AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.


“It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs,” it said citing images taken in November.


“This model has gone through another evolution at (the) much-larger bases on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief reefs.”


Satellite images of Hughes and Gaven reefs showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft guns and what were likely to be close-in weapons systems (CIWS) to protect against cruise missile strikes, it said.


Images from Fiery Cross Reef showed towers that likely contained targeting radar, it said.


AMTI said covers had been installed on the towers at Fiery Cross, but the size of platforms on these and the covers suggested they concealed defense systems similar to those at the smaller reefs.


“These gun and probable CIWS emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defense of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea,” it said.


“Among other things, they would be the last line of defense against cruise missiles launched by the United States or others against these soon-to-be-operational air bases.”


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing that he “did not understand” the situation referred to in the report.


“The Nansha islands are China’s inherent territory. China’s building of facilities and necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own territory is completely normal,” he said, using China’s name for the Spratlys.


“If China’s building of normal facilities and deploying necessary territorial defensive facilities on its own islands is considered militarization, then what is the sailing of fleets into the South China Sea?” he added, in an apparent reference to U.S. “freedom of navigation” patrols in the waters.


Philippines Says “Big Concern”


The Philippines, one of several countries with competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, said it was still verifying the report.


“But if true it is a big concern for us and the international community who use the South China Sea lanes for trade,” said Defense Minister Delfin Lorenza during a visit to Singapore with President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It would mean that the Chinese are militarizing the area which is not good.”


Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


AMTI director Greg Poling said AMTI had spent months trying to figure out what the purposes of the structures was.


“This is the first time that we’re confident in saying they are anti-aircraft and CIWS emplacements. We did not know that they had systems this big and this advanced there,” he told Reuters.


“This is militarization. The Chinese can argue that it’s only for defensive purposes, but if you are building giant anti-aircraft gun and CIWS emplacements, it means that you are prepping for a future conflict.


“They keep saying they are not militarizing, but they could deploy fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles tomorrow if they wanted to,” he said. “Now they have all the infrastructure in place for these interlocking rings of defense and power projection.” The report said the installations would likely back up a defensive umbrella provided by a future deployment of mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) platforms like the HQ-9 system deployed to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, farther to the north in the South China Sea.


It forecast that such a deployment could happen “at any time,” noting a recent Fox News report that components for SAM systems have been spotted at the southeastern Chinese port of Jieyang, possibly destined for the South China Sea.


“Ready Your Slingshot”


Singapore-based South China Sea expert Ian Storey said he believed the move would help ready the facilities for the probable next step of China flying jet fighters and military transport planes to its new runways.


“From the outset it’s been quite obvious that the artificial islands were designed to serve as military outposts in the South China Sea,” said Storey, of the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.


“Even while tensions are at a relatively low ebb, I think we can expect to see military flights to the Spratlys in the coming months – including the first jet fighters,” Storey said.


The United States has criticized what it called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.


U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has also criticized Chinese behavior in the South China Sea while signaling he may adopt a tougher approach to China’s assertive behavior in the region than President Barack Obama.


The State Department said it would not comment on intelligence matters, but spokesman John Kirby added:

“We consistently call on China as well as other claimants to commit to peacefully managing and resolving disputes, to refrain from further land reclamation and construction of new facilities and the militarization of disputed features.”


China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its microblog on Thursday that it was “legitimate and lawful” for it to place defensive military installations on islands where it said Beijing had “indisputable sovereignty.”


“If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?” it said.


(Additional reporting by Yeganeh Torbati, Karen Lima, Greg Torode, My Pham, Manuel Mogato, Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Alistair Bell, Lincoln Feast and Alex Richardson)


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Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says


(DEFENSE DAILY 13 DEC 16) … Pat Host


President-elect Donald Trump might focus on managing cost-plus defense development programs as a way to extract better deals for taxpayers, according to an adviser to Trump’s transition team.


“I see this as a deal making proposition,” former Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.) said at the Eilene Galloway space law symposium in Washington. “My guess is you’re going to see him do that.”


Trump’s Monday tweet calling F-35 costs out of control came on the heels of another attack against a high-profile defense program: the Air Force’s Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR), or new Air Force One, program. Walker said Trump’s Twitter call for the Air Force to cancel PAR was a declaration that the administration will not have cost-plus contracts extend out the cost of programs in unacceptable ways. Boeing [BA] is the prime contractor for PAR.


The federal government is liable for cost overruns in cost-plus contracts while the contractor is liable for overruns in fixed-cost contracts. Complex defense development programs like the F-35 are traditionally cost-plus contracts. Lockheed Martin [LMT] spokesman Michael Rein said Tuesday that the F-35 program, of which Lockheed Martin is serving as prime contractor, has been working on fixed-price contracts since the award of low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 4 contract in fiscal year 2010. An exception is the Air Force’s KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, which is hurting Boeing’s bottom line due to development issues.


A leading defense analyst believes it is too soon for investors to react to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent online attacks on a pair of big-budget defense programs. Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners in Washington said Tuesday while concerns over whether the next administration could be hostile to the defense industry are legitimate, investors should wait and see who Trump names to key second- or third-level Pentagon positions like deputy defense secretary and acquisition czar. Once those positions are filled, Callan said investors will have better information to guide investment action.


Callan said history doesn’t show that emphasis on fixed-price defense contracts necessarily brings decreased costs and improved program performance. He said there was a lot of emphasis on fixed-price contracts for development work in the late 1960s and early 1980s and that he didn’t think winners could be declared from such an effort.


“It’s just not clear from the data that fixed-price contracts have necessarily developed complex technological systems on a lower cost schedule,” Callan said.


Callan said investors could see a markdown in defense stock prices and an increase in portfolio risk if the new administration does pursue an emphasis on fixed-price contracting. It may not happen immediately, he said, but would happen when a big “blowup,” or a big writeoff on a program, takes place. Callan said a blowup gets investors to question contractor margins and cash flows and that blowups happened on the C-5, C-17 and P-7 programs.


Callan said if Trump follows through on Walker’s prediction of getting involved in deal-making for large cost-plus defense programs, it would break precedent. He said he couldn’t remember the last time over the past couple administrations where a president got involved in cost issues on specific defense programs.


Trump Could Target Cost-Plus Development Programs To Rein In Costs, Adviser Says


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MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22


Breaking Defense | Richard Whittle Marines in Afghanistan with V-22


When V-22 Ospreys full of Marines take to the skies 10 years from now, they could be escorted by armed high-speed drones called MUX.


That’s become the Marine Corps plan because drones let you do things differently. Doing without a pilot inside makes it possible to build unorthodox aircraft that would work poorly carrying tender humans. You can also test unmanned aircraft more quickly, because you don’t have to validate pilot safety features, and because crashes don’t cost human lives. So the Marines figure they can get the MUX – a new armed, ship-based, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone – four to seven years before the Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) project starts replacing existing helicopters with advanced, far speedier manned VTOL aircraft.


The Marine Corps’s rotorcraft requirements director, Col. John Barranco Jr., told me after a CSIS panel Friday on FVL that his service wants the drone first because “we have a gap that the Army does not have.” Specifically, the Corps needs an armed escort for its V-22 Osprey tiltrotor troop transports, which at 250 knots (287 mph) cruise more than twice as fast as its AH-1Z Cobra gunships. The Army doesn’t have that problem because the Army transports troops in conventional helicopters.


Bell Helicopter and a Sikorsky/Boeing team are building manned technology demonstrator aircraft under the FVL umbrella – the V-280 Valor and SB>1 Defiant, respectively – that will be required to fly fast enough to escort an Osprey. First flights are scheduled next year. But no production FVL aircraft are expected until the early 2030s.


By contrast, “we’re trying to accelerate MUX and field it in 2026,” said Barranco, using the acronym within an acronym adopted for the sea-based drone. (MUX stands for MAGTF Unmanned eXpeditionary; MAGTF, in turn, stands for Marine Air Ground Task Force). For manned aircraft, Barranco said, “we have a lot of testing requirements. A lot of the burden in test is really related to aviation life support systems, air crew survivability, which we don’t have in an unmanned system. Crashworthiness. G-(force)-compliance for the air crew.” Since that won’t be needed for a drone, he said, “MUX could fill that gap, temporarily, to escort the Osprey.”


Obligingly, Barranco then posed and answered a pertinent question: “Why temporarily? Why not permanently?” Because, he explained, “You have to escort to the objective area and from the objective area. (That’s) kind of defeating some of the purpose and advantage that an unmanned system gives you, which is overhead persistence in the target area.”


Tern, DARPA’s proposed ship-launched drone.


Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy Marine commandant for aviation, has said the Corps wants the MUX to do everything the Air Force’s fixed-wing MQ-9 Reaper drone can do and more. The Reaper, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ derivative of their MQ-1 Predator, offers airborne endurance in the 20-hour range; carries sensors to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and is typically armed with four AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and four 500-pound guided bombs.


Barranco said what the Marines primarily want the MUX to do is, when an assault is being mounted, “go ahead of you, get over the target area, show you that picture, stay there once troops are on the ground, and when you have to go back, be there when you come to resupply, be there when you come back, to do close air support, give you that persistent SA (situational awareness).” Escorting Ospreys to and from objective areas would sacrifice the ability to loiter over the target area, he said, but the MUX “can be a gap-filler temporarily for the seven or eight years until FVL starts coming on line to be our manned solution to provide escort in support of our Ospreys.”


Davis has said a relay of MUX could also serve as an airborne “picket line” around ships, which is one reason Bell Helicopter has named a tiltrotor drone it is offering for the job “V-247,” pronounced “vee-twenty-four-seven” to emphasize the potential for round-the-clock operations. Other contenders for MUX include a tail-sitter flying wing called Tern, which is being developed by Northrop Grumman for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and a Karem Aircraft tiltrotor called Swift.


The powerful Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approved moving ahead with the MUX on Oct. 27 and the Marines will conduct an official Analysis of Alternatives next year. The JROC has also approved the much larger FVL program.


Barranco and two Army colonels on the FVL panel at CSIS indicated the services are gradually coming to agreement on broad requirements for the first aircraft to be developed, known for now as “Capabilities Set 3,” or as insiders say it, “cape set three.” In the past, Army leaders have been a lot less enthusiastic than the Marines about paying more for faster aircraft, since they generally operate over shorter distances. But Army Col. Erskine Bentley, Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for FVL, began his remarks by noting the strategic and tactical advantages faster VTOL troop transports could offer his service.


“The three panelists highlighted the broad support of the Army, Navy/Marines and SOCOM (Special Operations Command) for FVL within their services,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International. “There’s also growing support in Congress for FVL and accelerating it. Advocacy in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill is going to need to be strengthened for that to happen.”


Maybe they could speed things up


MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22


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Trump targets F-35, but aircraft means jobs in 45 states


AP | Richard Lardner


WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is vowing to corral the “out of control” cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But congressional Republicans and Democrats, aware of the tens of thousands of jobs the aircraft generates in 45 states, will be wary of any plans by Trump to cut the program. A Monday morning tweet from Trump targeting the F-35 doesn’t explain exactly how he’ll save billions of dollars in military purchases while also honoring a campaign vow to rebuild the armed forces. Once Trump is in office, he can propose deep cuts to the F-35 or even elect to cancel the program altogether. But Congress, not the president, controls the government’s purse strings and makes the final decisions about the budget.


Built by defense giant Lockheed Martin, the nearly $400 billion price tag for the F-35 makes the program the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons acquisition ever. Despite the huge cost, the program has strong bipartisan support in Congress, where lawmakers view the aircraft as essential to national security.


Lockheed Martin’s stock tumbled after Trump’s tweet, wiping out nearly $2 billion of the company’s market value. The company’s shares fell $6.42, or 2.5 percent, to close at $253.11 Monday.


The F-35 program made up 20 percent of Lockheed’s total 2015 revenue of $46.1 billion. U.S. government orders made up 78 percent of its revenue last year.


“Whoever has this airplane will have the most advanced air force in the world. That’s why we’re building the F35. That’s why it’s important to not only the U.S., our partners and our partners like the Israeli Air force to have this airplane,” said Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, at a base in Israel.


Israel and several other U.S. allies are also buying the F-35, expanding the program’s international footprint. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Israel on Monday as Tel Aviv received the first two next-generation F-35 fighter jets that will help preserve the country’s military edge in the volatile Mideast.


The F-35, which uses stealth technology to avoid being detected by radar, is being built in different configurations to be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy’s version, for example, is designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.


Current plans call for the United States to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s. Close to $13 billion will be needed annually between 2016 and 2038 to hit that procurement number, according to the Government Accountability Office.


While the F-35 had massive budget overruns early on, the cost has stabilized and even dropped a bit following tough negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin, according to Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


“Trump is unlikely to squeeze more blood out of this rock,” Harrison said.


Lockheed said that it has worked to lower the price of the F-35 by 60 percent and expected the aircraft to cost $85 million each in 2019 and 2020. But the company’s estimate appears to omit the price of the engine and the cost of development. When those elements are added in, the cost per F-35 in current-year dollars is closer to $138 million, according to Harrison.


Companies from 45 states are involved in the F-35’s production, with Texas, Georgia, California, Arizona and Florida playing the leading roles in testing and manufacturing the jet fighter. The company is teamed with more than 1,250 domestic suppliers to produce thousands of components ranging from highly sophisticated radar sensors to parts of the aircraft’s fuselage, according to Lockheed Martin.


Overall, the F-35 program is responsible for more than 146,000 U.S. jobs, the company said.


The Lockheed Martin plant where the F-35 is being built is located in Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger’s district. She’s vice chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, represents the district next door to Granger’s.


In a statement Monday, Granger hailed the F-35 delivery to Israel, calling the aircraft “what we need to keep our two countries safe in these dangerous times.”


Thornberry’s committee has supported buying more F-35s than the Obama administration had asked for in its budget request. The F-35 will replace an aging inventory of U.S. aircraft that many lawmakers believe are becoming increasingly unsafe to fly.


Claude Chafin, a committee spokesman, said Thornberry “shares the president-elect’s determination to have the Pentagon get weapons in the hands of our troops faster, while being better stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”


The tweet on the F-35 marks the second time in a week Trump has blasted U.S. aircraft spending. Last week, he tweeted that costs to build new presidential planes by Boeing Corp. were “out of control” and ended the tweet with “Cancel order!”


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Just Cutting Waste At The Pentagon Won’t Cut It


(WASHINGTON POST 12 DEC 16) … Robert J. Samuelson


Any reporter who’s written about the federal budget knows that there’s a surefire solution to every problem. It’s called “fraud, waste and abuse.” You want to end budget deficits? Just eliminate all the “fraud, waste and abuse” in the $4 trillion budget. The same is true for cutting taxes or raising spending. Attacking fraud and waste is virtuous and dispenses with the hard political work of making unpopular choices.


It’s a fantasy, of course. There isn’t enough “fraud, waste and abuse” – or we can’t get at it – to evade the difficult choices. But we cling to the mythology because it makes us seem “responsible” and reduces the budget problem to purging sloth and policing misdeeds.


I was reminded of this last week when The Post published a fascinating front-page story headlined “Pentagon hid study revealing $125 billion in waste.” The article, meticulously reported by Bob Woodward and Craig Whitlock, disclosed that a Defense Department study had found that the Pentagon was “spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.”


These jobs need doing, but it seems that the generals are being overwhelmed by accountants and property managers. If we could squeeze $125 billion out of the Pentagon’s annual budget, there’d be plenty of money to spend on true military needs. Indeed, the report asserts that the savings could cover the costs for 50 Army brigades. It sounds straightforward.


It isn’t. On inspection, it turns out that the estimated savings of $125 billon are spread over five years, from fiscal 2016 to 2020. This changes the numbers dramatically. Instead of annual savings of 22 percent of the defense budget ($125 billion out of $580 billion), the plausible cuts are closer to 4 percent ($125 billion out of the roughly $3 trillion projected in defense spending from now until 2020).


The confusion over whether the estimated savings apply to one year or five is the weak spot in an otherwise excellent piece of reporting. Whitlock and Woodward do say that the savings occur over five years, but they don’t emphasize the point. Moreover, there are mixed messages. Much of their discussion of costs focuses on the annual budget. A prominent graphic shows the annual defense budget and then claims that the Pentagon report “identified a way to save $125 billion.”


What would a “reasonable reader” conclude from the muddled evidence? By “reasonable,” I mean curious and intelligent readers who are not experts and are somewhat casual in their reading. These people, I think, might get the wrong idea. They’d come away thinking that the potential annual savings are enormous and that reducing waste would ensure an adequate military.


Of course, we should do everything possible to reduce waste, and the incoming Trump administration should take a second look at the report. But some outside budget experts are unimpressed. “It’s a somewhat speculative study,” says Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. The targets for savings are more “back-of-the-envelope calculations” than detailed road maps for change.


Some “waste” reflects complexity. A few years ago, the Army tried to replace its Bradley Fighting Vehicle; it abandoned the project as too complicated, after spending $18 billion, recalls Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The new study complains that the Pentagon has more than 700,000 civilian and contract workers to support 1.3 million active-duty troops. But these workers, says Harrison, are often the cheapest way to get a job done.


Like O’Hanlon, Harrison doubts that the study’s full savings can be achieved. Many proposals would founder on congressional opposition and management practicality. “Can you do the same work with fewer people?” he asks. “If so, who should be cut? The study doesn’t answer that.”


These questions are obviously more than academic. The Pentagon says it needs more spending than the existing budget ceilings allow. Some experts agree. O’Hanlon argues that defense spending should increase by nearly $50 billion annually over existing levels. How should we respond to the various threats: terrorism, cyberwarfare, Russia, China?


Whatever the answer, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the contradiction can be resolved by eliminating vast amounts of waste. If we wish to reduce defense spending, we have to cut the military’s size and capabilities. If we wish to expand the military, we need to pay for it.


The underlying struggle pits the Pentagon against the welfare state. Over the decades, national priorities have shifted dramatically. As late as 1990, defense spending constituted 24 percent of the federal budget and 5 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). In 2015, defense was 16 percent of the budget and 3 percent of GDP – and these figures were declining. This is one war the Pentagon is clearly losing.



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Trump Slams ‘Out Of Control’ F-35


(ARES (AVIATION WEEK) 01 DEC 16) … Lara Seligman


Donald Trump left the collective defense community quaking in its boots last week after he threatened to cancel Boeing’s new Air Force one. Now he’s going after another massive aerospace firm, slamming Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for “out of control” costs.


“Look at the F-35 program with the money, the hundreds of billions of dollars,” Trump said on Fox news Dec. 11. “It’s out of control.”


If the president-elect is looking to cut costs or send a message to defense contractors, the $100 million-a-copy JSF is a huge target. The program has succeeded in bringing costs down for the past few years, but is still haunted by a critical cost breach in 2010. The Pentagon’s most recent estimate pegs the cost to operate and sustain the F-35 fleet over its 60-year service life is just over a trillion dollars.


Trump also appeared to double down on his recent proposal to ban defense contractors from hiring former Pentagon acquisition officials, criticizing the industry’s revolving door.


“The people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies,” Trump said on Fox. “You know, they make a deal like that and two or three years later, you see them working for these big companies that made the deal … they should have a lifetime restriction.”

Trump first floated the potential lifetime ban during a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week, according to Reuters.


Trump’s remarks come just days after Northrop Grumman named recently retired Gen. Mark Welsh, who served as U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff last year when it selected the company to build the next-generation stealth bomber, to its board of directors.


There are rules restricting what government employees can do if they move to industry, but they do not prohibit Welsh from joining Northrop, says Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. Welsh had no involvement in the source selection process for the new bomber or the decision to award the contract to Northrop, she stressed.

FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – December 5, 2016

Below are the FRCSW/COMFRC clips for the week of Dec. 5:



  1. Leaders Discuss Logistics Challenges, Solutions during 2016 DOD Maintenance Symposium
  2. Government Leaders Talk Depots at DoD Maintenance Symposium


  1. Marine One Maintenance Jobs Not Coming to Jacksonville
  2. The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 Was Something Extraordinary
  3. Misleading F-35 Answers Drafted by Pentagon, Testing Chief Says
  4. Air Force Seeks Virtual Elements in Flight Exercises to Heighten Realism, Complexity
  5. U.S. Navy Aims to Buy More Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: Source
  6. Innovation Drive Essential to DoD’s Future
  7. Defense Market Facing Major Transformation
  8. Pentagon Hid Study Revealing $125 Billion In Waste
  9. Post Expose on Pentagon Waste Draws Mixed Reviews
  10. $125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith



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Leaders Discuss Logistics Challenges, Solutions during 2016 DOD Maintenance Symposium


Albuquerque, N.M.-Readiness is the number one priority in Naval Aviation today, but aging aircraft, lack of resources and other challenges are inhibiting effective air operations across the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Supply, maintenance and logistics leaders outlined some of the problems and discussed the mitigating actions and potential solutions Dec. 7 at the 2016 DoD Maintenance Symposium.


As part of a panel of service component leadership entitled Senior Logisticians Roundtable, Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), pulled no punches in outlining the severity of the issues facing naval aviators and the support personnel striving to keep them airborne.


“We have a readiness gap across the TMSs [type/model/series],” Zarkowski said. “Every TMS has its own challenges and its own story. I will tell you, the challenges that we deal with every day at COMFRC are to try to close those gaps, to get those ready basic aircraft out of the depot and get them on the flightline.”


Depot personnel are looking for ways to reduce the time aircraft spend undergoing in-service repairs (ISRs), trying to find quicker and more agile solutions. In keeping with total enterprise deployment, COMFRC leadership wants to ensure inclusion of the appropriate Level II Shore Maintenance Facilities.


On the journey toward those goals, several issues must be addressed. Zarkowski laid them out: chronic underfunding of enabler accounts; integrated resource management and training for artisans at the depot level and for Sailors and Marines on the flightline; increasing ISRs on aging aircraft; lack of technical data and structural repair manuals to effect repair at different levels; facilities degradation and lack of resourcing; inaccurate bills for material that cause delay to turnaround times at the depot; degraded material condition of aircraft; and supply issues.


COMFRC also has identified several concerning trends. One is the demand to push the aging F/A-18 A-D series aircraft to 6,000, 8,000 and even 10,000 flying hours. It takes extensive engineering analysis and workload planning to extend that life. In the meantime, because of the current gap in availability of those platforms as they transit through the depot pipeline, a more growing concern is the increase in utilization of F/A-18 E-F aircraft, resulting in logisticians and engineers looking at service life extension plans for that platform much earlier in its lifecycle then previously planned.


The same challenges exist on the Marine Corps side of Naval Aviation with the H-53. Because not enough inventory is available for missions, the B-22 is pushed into additional service. “The hours and material condition of those aircraft as they come into the depot are causing us concern, and we’re experiencing increased turnaround time in our depot events because of usage and condition,” Zarkowski said.


To get after the issues, COMFRC has introduced two methodologies. One, a Jonah methodology, takes teams from COMFRC and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) 6.0 and deploys them to Navy and Marine Corps flightlines to better understand undesirable effects. That approach has allowed for increased agility and a decrease in turn-around time while addressing immediate issues and improving readiness.


On the depot side, COMFRC personnel are returning to Critical Change Program Management. In the two years since roll out of this production management system, they have seen signs of success with increasing throughput and ready for training aircraft.


While the two methodologies address the tactical-level needs, COMFRC has strategic vision. Big-picture-wise, the sustainment system in Naval Aviation maintenance is behind the best business practices of today. The 30- to 40-year-old system has seen only marginal improvements. Zarkowski explained that while much has been done with Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and Theory of Constraints to improve efficiency, the field needs an overhaul.


“We need visibility,” he said, adding that some initiatives underway involve supply optimization in which requirements come from a pull not a push. Other needs involve condition-based maintenance and big data. “We have 19 data sets right now, just at NAVAIR, that don’t talk to each other . Lastly, we see this working very successfully at TRANSCOM [U.S. Transportation Command], [we need] an operations center where the right folks are empowered to make decisions with the right information” Zarkowski said.


Naval Aviation overall has already made strides in applying the use of some innovative tools and processes, such as additive manufacturing, to advance and sustain readiness and maintain its technological edge. Naval Aviation marked its first successful flight with a 3-D printed, safety-critical part in July 2016, when an MV-22B Osprey completed a test flight with a 3-D printed link and fitting assembly.


Now and in the future, the success of Naval Aviation demands an enterprise-wide participation from around the Navy, Marine Corps, wider government and the private sector.


Rear Adm. Vincent Griffith, director of the Defense Logistic Agency’s (DLA’s) operations (J3), also spoke on the panel, explaining how his organization is seeking improvements in support to the military services. One of the major efforts is the improvement of cost recovery. Every dollar DLA doesn’t spend on overhead, service branches can spend on buying what they need from the agency such as tools, services and fuel.


Griffith said the way to get better is through collaboration, so DLA has a number of programs in place with its service partners as they look to become more efficient. To speed up processes, DLA is pushing the Time to Award initiative that uses LSS to reduce the time it takes to get a requirement onto contract.


All the efforts planned by other service components and Naval Aviation to improve readiness rely on finding the right people to fill the right jobs. Naval Aviation has made it a priority to attract, retain and develop members of its workforce (civilian and military) as well as to partner with industry. The private sector has a big role to play in continued 3-D efforts, as aviation leader’s work toward putting greater 3-D printing capability into the hands of warfighters-giving them the ability to print required parts where they need them, when they need them.


Regardless of methodology or metric, the measure of success for all efforts across Naval Aviation will be readiness on the deckplates and on the flightlines.


The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


For more information about the Naval Aviation Enterprise, please visit


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Government Leaders Talk Depots at DoD Maintenance Symposium


Albuquerque, N.M.-The health of depots is crucial to our nation’s sustainment and readiness, but lack of funding, confused requirements and ineffective communication among stakeholders is threatening them, according to a panel on Title X funding held Dec. 5 at the DoD Maintenance Symposium.


Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), stressed early on during the event that partnerships are going to be key to keeping depots on track.


“Whether you’re uniformed, whether you’re civil service or whether you’re a contractor (or OEM [original equipment manufacturer]), these are the three legs of our milking stool that have been providing readiness in defense of this country most especially since 2001 and beyond,” he said.


COMFRC’s mission is to produce quality airframes, engines, components and support equipment, and provide services that meet the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s aircraft ready-for-tasking goals with improved effectiveness and efficiency.


Successful partnerships among Navy organizations, the wider government and the private sector are helping to ensure the various FRCs are able to meet their mission requirements. Private partnership is especially important at the depot level, with up to half of all work done by contractors. Naval Aviation is partnering closely with industry to solve readiness challenges, using readiness on the deckplates and flight lines as its driving measure of success.


To stay on track, COMFRC has set two strategic initiatives: Be ready to fight tonight; and keep our mind on the future. The Navy has many readiness challenges and gaps across its enterprise. Addressing the gaps requires adequate sustainment planning as well as the use of innovative tools and processes to advance readiness and sustain readiness, ensuring Naval Aviation maintains a technological edge. To complicate matters, personnel are dealing with aging facilities and aircraft while simultaneously having to keep the most technically advanced aircraft in history up and running.


“If the balloon goes up tonight, do we have enough aircraft with enough hours to answer the call?” Zarkowski posed to the attendees.


Fellow panelist Mark Van Gilst, director of logistics, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Logistics and Product Support, had some words of wisdom to impart to his Navy and other colleagues. The U.S. Air Force is the only service branch to violate Section 2466 (also known as the50/50 rule, a U.S. Code that mandates not more than 50 percent of each military department’s annual depot maintenance funding can be used for work done by private sector) twice. To avoid ever going through that pain again, they’ve made what Van Gilst called a “sea change.”


To start, the Air Force consolidated two departments and placed them under the Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. “If we’re not in compliance, the Secretary of Acquisition has to go talk to Congress,” Van Gilst said.


Program managers are now at the center of compliance, and planning is done upfront, a major change for the Air Force. Sustainment conversations have moved from the back third of all briefs to the front third, underscoring how it has grown in importance. The Air Force also worked to become more efficient. For example, resource expenditure is sometimes measured in dollars, sometimes in hours, depending on the policy driving certain measures. But the same number of hours in different aircraft can have very different costs. At the same time, through their earlier mistakes, “one lesson we also learned is when you get close to a violation, it’s very hard to turn the Titanic,” Van Gilst explained. “So you end up doing things that aren’t smart.” To compensate, The Air Force is making more decisions from a total business perspective.


However, being efficient is challenged by cumbersome regulation. Panelist Vickie Plunkett, a House Armed Services Committee professional staff member told the audience that the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has more than 3,000 pages and 100 new acquisition provisions, not including several for small businesses.


“For every reporting requirement that we repealed, we probably added two more,” Plunkett said.

The NDAA does leave depot statutes in place, which she explained means Congress is willing to bear the cost of sustaining and supporting these facilities, but the challenge lies in determining the sufficient level of funding.


Legislators, and the military, also grapple with ensuring policy keeps up with technology and the ability to sustain adequate depot capabilities so that they remain a ready and controlled source of repair. The 50/50 is meaningless without funding. “Fifty percent of nothing is nothing,” Plunkett said. Later adding that, “Setting and validating requirements for depot-level maintenance and other sustainment needs has always been a weak link in the process.”


Congress has started to pay more attention, but there is still work to be done to convince some members that planning for sustainment should be done earlier in the process. The Defense Department hurts its own cause in some cases by not providing clear objectives, milestones and resources for items such as the product support manager career path. Even the delineation of program manager responsibilities versus those of product support managers is murky.


What is clear is that a skilled, competent workforce is critical to depot success, so the Fiscal Year 17 NDAA provides several new direct-hire authorities. Not everyone is convinced this will help the manpower shortage, but Plunkett believes there are areas of untapped recruitment among unemployed or underemployed skilled workers in various trades. Through all the methods available to it, Naval Aviation is committed to attracting, retaining and developing members of its maintenance workforce.


She also believes the military must better communicate policy needs to other stakeholders in the sustainment community, with access to technical data rates playing a key role in the sustainment life cycle. Explaining that all the changes in the new NDAA are very complicated, Plunkett closed by sharing that some options for sustainment are no longer available, and having everyone on the same page is important because history has shown how “foregone conclusions” have been extremely costly.


The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a cooperative partnership of Naval Aviation stakeholders focused on sustaining required current readiness and advancing future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. It is comprised of Sailors, Marines, civilians and contractors from across service branches and organizations, working together to identify and resolve readiness barriers and warfighting degraders.


For more information about the Naval Aviation Enterprise, please visit


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Marine One Maintenance Jobs Not Coming to Jacksonville


Jacksonville, FL – The Navy will not be moving Marine One helicopter maintenance duties to Jacksonville.

For months, it’s been reported that maintenance for Marine One would be moving from Sikorsky in Connecticut to the Fleet Readiness Center at NAS Jax.


However, First Coast News has learned that move will not happen.


“Lockheed Martin and the Navy came to an agreement to keep the SPAR (Special Progressive Aircraft Rework) work with Sikorsky in Stratford, Conn.,” said Paul Jackson, a spokesman for Sikorsky.


According to Jackson, talk about moving the maintenance contract to Jacksonville happened after Sikorsky failed to reach an agreement with the Navy in July.


Negotiations to keep the work in Connecticut continued between the Navy and Lockheed Martin.


“While those discussions were ongoing, NAVAIR still needed to ensure that regularly scheduled SPAR maintenance would continue without interruption, so they pursued a parallel plan to conduct SPAR work at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast,” Jackson said.


Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, has worked on the presidential chopper for the past 4 decades according to congressional leaders who fought to keep the maintenance contract in the northeast.


Some of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Rich Blumenthal (D-Conn) who service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy on August 22.


“We strongly urge you to suspend any relocation until a thorough review of all direct and indirect costs of any relocation are made,” the letter said.


The letter says there were 85 workers who performed maintenance on the fleet described as “difficult and costly to maintain.”


Days later though, the Fleet Readiness Center told our news partner The Florida Times Union on September 5th they were getting ready for Marine One.


“We are definitely in preparations to take on the work load, so that’s the intention and if we are chosen then we will be performing that maintenance,” said Terresa White.


On November 7th, more than two months later, Sikorsky and the Navy agreed to a new maintenance agreement for the Presidential helicopter fleet.


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The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 Was Something Extraordinary


2016-12-06 By Todd Miller


Statistics, Milestones, Capabilities, Flight characteristics, Test protocols, Cost, Software blocks. It is easy to get lost in the complexity of the F-35 program.


The combined F-35 fleet now has over 75,000 flight hours, yet for many there remains a lack of understanding. Much of this can be expected given many of the F-35s capabilities are classified.


This is compounded by the reality that many do not grasp the war the F-35 was designed to deter – or fight.


Aerial warfare of the 21st century is not anticipated to consist of within visual range (WVR) dogfights, but rather the prevailing aircraft will dispatch its adversary without even being detected. 21st Century Warfare is defined by new terms; “Information Dominance,” “Full Spectrum Dominance,” “Distributed Lethality,” “The Kill Cloud/Kill Web.”


This warfare has about as much in common with wars of the past as your 1970’s land line has to your smartphone.


It is in this battlespace that the F-35 is designed to fight and to do so with a distinctly unfair advantage.

To understand the significance and value of the F-35, and whether “it works” or not, cut through the complexity and noise. Simplify.  Put aside the politicians, the ideologues, the self-proclaimed experts and listen to the voice of the pilots.


The pilots will take the aircraft into combat, their own lives in the balance as they penetrate contested space and are likely to be outnumbered by adversary aircraft.


Second Line of Defense and a handful of journalists recently had the opportunity to visit with four such pilots during a “Proof of Concept” demonstration on the USS America, November 19, 2016.


The four pilots are some of the most experienced F-35B pilots in the United States Marine Corps (USMC);

George “Sack” Rowell, Commanding Officer (CO) of VMX-1 (Marine Operational Test & Evaluation Squadron).


Prior to the F-35, Rowell spent appx. 3000 hours over 18 years of flying the F/A-18 Hornet. Previously the CO of VMFA(AW)-533 Col. Chad “Mo” Vaughn, CO of VMFA-211. Prior to the F-35, Vaughn spent a couple 1000 hrs over 13 years in the F/A-18A-D Hornet, as well as time in the F-16A-B Fighting Falcon/Viper and F/A-18 Super Hornet at NAS Fallon.


Col. Rich “BC” Rusnok, slated to become the CO of VMFA-121 in March 2017. Prior to the F-35, Price spent appx. 7 years flying the AV-8B Harrier II with additional time in the F/A-18 Hornet.


Col. John “Guts” Price, slated CO for VFMA-122 (2018). Prior to the F-35, Price spent appx. 1200 hrs and 10 years flying the AV-8B Harrier II, and has about 400 hrs in the F-35 over the past 3 years.


The comments have been edited for readability with best efforts made to maintain context and integrity of intent.


As you look at the F-35s combat capabilities, what two things really mark it as either a superior or inferior weapon compared to what you have previously flown?


Mo: The closer you get to the airplane, the more positive you are about it.


The airplane provides awareness of what is going on around you. All around you. It is second to none.

I tell people this all the time.


I cannot tell you how awesome the sensor suite is, combined with the survivability of the airplane.


It’s not just that it is a stealth airplane, it is everything rolled into one.


It makes it unlike any other plane anywhere in the world right now.


BC: Stealth works.  Low observability is not a fallacy.


You see it in the airplane and realize what a powerful capability it is.


None of the airplanes we flew prior had that capability.


To echo what Mo said, the situational awareness (SA), the fusion piece of it stands out.


In Gen 4 aircraft the pilot is the fusion engine, what’s in between your ears is what’s making that fusion happen.

To some degree that’s still true, the human is a major part of this weapons system.


However, the aid that the fusion system gives a pilot to make high level decisions, coupled with situational awareness well beyond what was had before – that’s what makes it a game changer.


Guts: Situational awareness and the freedom of maneuver that stealth brings.  The workload required to have that unprecedented SA is greatly reduced over previous platforms.


I’m getting all this information, I have freedom to maneuver, and I work significantly less than I did in a previous platform to have that level of information.


That frees up my processor to be able to fight the battle vs. each individual part that I used to have to put together.


The workload is reduced in all aspects of flight, and that enables me to focus on the fight at hand.


Mo: The aircraft allows me to be a tactician, rather than worry about physically manipulating sensors to get information I need.


I have a good picture that I can execute tactically.


It is almost like a chess game.


I can make sure the moves I make in the cockpit are the best moves not just for me, but for everybody out there.

Can you talk a little about the AEGIS Integration?


BC: The synergistic effects of other platforms, especially powerful platforms like the AEGIS combat system not only makes us that much more effective, they have phenomenal SA, phenomenal power and a phenomenal weapons suite.


Sometimes we may not be in the right position, or be the best shooter – but now we can work synergistically with AEGIS and figure out that big picture.


Then we can share all that onboard information to other platforms that may or may not have the same capabilities. The integration makes us that much more effective.


We came in with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Industry, Big Navy to perform a demonstration in September out of White Sands, NM. The F-35 performed an engagement with that combat system through a gateway that allowed us to talk via Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) to the AEGIS combat system and engage the target.


We talked electronically to the AEGIS combat system, like a remote sensor, and AEGIS engaged the airborne target successfully.


And when I say engaged successfully, it was a metal on metal engagement from a significant range. I’d say more than a tactically significant range.  It was a very, very impressive shot.


That was not something we did here at sea, [it was done in September] that was a developmental test, a proof of concept, but it gives us an idea of what we can do to plug the F-35 into the bigger picture.


Can you talk about the interface for that kind of targeting?


BC: It is super simple.


It is targeting the way we target any of our own weapons and it is passed off.


There is really no difference, it is just a battle management issue as to who is going to engage.


Can you describe what the F-35 allows you to do from a tactical perspective that the 4th Gen platforms could not do?


Mo; The sensors on the airplane are our center of gravity.  Our ability to know what’s going on around us in the battlespace and then push that to everybody we are working with.


Not just air to air (A2A), but air to ground (A2G) as well. Add our ability to operate in areas that we have never been able to before such as contested environments.


Physically flying the airplane is extremely easy, that’s the beauty of it, so you just focus on the tactical employment.


It makes you much more lethal.


Is it fair to say that your missions can become more dynamic than with Gen 4 platforms, such as loiter, gather information, be more flexible as a pilot with your mission?


Mo: The F-16 and F/A-18 are extremely capable platforms and they do the swing role /multi role mission very well.


However, they are going to struggle vs Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) or IADS, and in those cases they will be on a dedicated mission. We do have a lot more flexibility to flip flop missions, and we do it a lot in training.  We will escort a package on a strike mission and then we will break off do some A2G, or suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), perhaps some Combat Air Patrol (CAP) or dynamic targeting in the target area – then we’ll rejoin the package and come out with everybody.


Especially along with the F-22, we’ll open the door, wait while everyone else comes in and completes their mission, then come out with the package and close the door behind us.


We do some different things.


As Marines we are on call for a number of different missions, close air support (CAS) etc. that we could not have done in one airplane.


The Marines are writing the CAS Manual for the F-35. How are you finding the F-35 in that role compared to what you have now?


Price: In the CAS role it is performing well.  Being a new aircraft there are some capabilities we’d like to continue working on, but the basic execution of CAS is “On Time, On Target.”


The jet is more than capable to execute that.


The unique capability it brings is executing CAS in the presence of a wide range of threats (something I could not do with previous platform).


Can you give me an example?


Traditionally (Gen 4) if we are executing CAS and a medium range surface to air missile (SAM) pops up on the battlefield, we are done with CAS.


We immediately transition into a SEAD, destruction of enemy air defense (DEAD), or reactive SEAD mindset. With the F-35, we may continue to execute CAS because of freedom of maneuver (stealth) and the SA I have about the threat, its location and its nature.


I may advise the forward air controller (FAC) that a threat has appeared, but it won’t impact mission execution. If the situation gets more threatening, I have the organic capability to go deal with the threat and then roll right back into CAS.  Previously I would have to call in another platform, potentially call in our Prowlers or call in other combined arms to take care of the threat.


The F-35 enables a wide array of CAS execution in a wide array of environments, so from the low-end threat spectrum to the high-end threat spectrum I am capable of executing any of those missions.

Mo: We have greater all weather capability.


The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) maps give the capability to see through weather and deploy ordinance through the weather from a significant stand-off distance (or in proximity).


The ability to employ ordinance through the weather with high quality targeting is impressive.


I know every guy up here and myself included, we take a lot of pride in the fact of our CAS.


There’s been much said about the airplane in the CAS role, some good, some bad, but to us it’s important that a lot of that goes back to the man/woman in the cockpit and the fact that it says Marines on the back of the airplane.


It means the guys in need of CAS are going to get a level of support consistent with what they’ve had out of the Hornets, Harriers and all the airplanes we’ve flown before.


We all take pride in that.


We’re going to give you a lot more capabilities, but it is the fact that we are Marines, and Marines is written on the aircraft – that makes it very important to us up there.


Thinking about the electronic warfare (EW) suite and its ability to detect waveforms and come up with countermeasures.


How do you interface with that as a pilot, is it something you make decisions about, or is automatic?

Mo: Without getting into the technical details it is very, very simple for us.


The way the jet is set up, we make a move to execute electronic attack and the jet will take care of it.


On a personal level as pilots, coming from other platforms and stepping into the F-35, do you have an “aha” moment that you can share?


Guts: My first “aha” moment was a seemingly simple thing.


I was executing a familiarization flight near MCAS Yuma. I was coming back to the airfield and I basically just turned the jet and pointed its nose at Yuma.


Immediately the jet is providing me the information of all the traffic that is out there in the airspace.

When I talk to approach for the first time they are telling me about the traffic that is out there that I already know about and I see it.


I can tell who everybody is that he is talking about and the jet also saw traffic that ATC hadn’t seen yet and I asked about it. And I thought, “holy cow,” here I am coming back to the field from a simple familiarity mission and my jet is telling me everything about the operational environment I am about to go into.


In this case, something very simple, the traffic pattern coming back there, but I didn’t have to do anything to have that level of SA.


I can start making decisions about what altitude I wanted to go to, if I wanted to turn left or right, speed up or slow down.


There’s somebody coming up next to me, I want to get in front of them – or whatever.


It is a very simple example, but I thought WOW this is amazing that I see everything and can do that.


The other was the first time I vertically recovered the airplane. The flight control law that the airplane has is unbelievable and I always tell the anecdote.  Flying AV-8B Harrier IIs, I only had one specific aircraft I felt like I could kind of go easy on the controls and it would sit there and hover.


I love the Harrier, love flying that aircraft, but there was work involved to bring it back for a vertical landing. The very first time I hovered an F-35B I thought, I am the problem here, and I am just going to let the jet do what it wants to do.


The F-35 was hovering better than I could ever hover a Harrier without doing a thing. That’s back to that workload comment I said earlier.  I am performing a vertical landing, and I have the time to look around and see what is taking place on the pad and around me. It is a testament to the jet.


BC: I was conducting a strike mission and Red Air was coming at me.  In a 4th Gen fighter you must do a whole lot of interpretation.  You see things in azimuth, and you see things in elevation.  In the F-35 you just see the Gods eye view of the whole world.  It’s very much like you are watching the briefing in real time.


I am coming in to perform the simulated weapons release, and Red Air is coming the other direction.


I have enough situational awareness to assess whether Red Air is going to be a factor to me by the time I release the weapon. I can make the decision, I’m going to go to the target, I’m going to release this weapon.


At the same time I pre-target the threat, and as soon as I release the A2G weapon, I can flip a switch with my thumb and shoot the Red Air.


This is difficult to do in a 4th Gen fighter, because there is so much manipulation of systems in the cockpit.

All while paying attention to the basic mechanics of flying the airplane and interpreting threat warnings that are often very vague, or only directional.


In the F-35 I know where the threats are, what they are and I can thread the needle. I can tell that the adversary is out in front of me and I can make a very, very smart decision about whether to continue or get out of there.  All that, and I can very easily switch between mission sets.


Mo: I was leading a four ship of F-35s on a strike against 4th Gen adversaries, F-16s and F/A-18s.

We fought our way in, we mapped the target, found the target, dropped JDAMs on the target and turned around and fought our way out.


All the targets got hit, nobody got detected, and all the adversaries died. I thought, yes, this works, very, very, very well.


Never detected, nobody had any idea we were out there.


A second moment was just this past Thursday. I spent a fair amount of my life as a tail hook guy – [landing F/A-18s on US Navy Supercarriers] on long carrier deployments.


The last 18 seconds of a Carrier landing are intense. The last 18 seconds of making a vertical landing on this much smaller USMC Assault Carrier – is a lot more relaxed.


The F-35C is doing some great stuff. Making a vertical landing [my first this week] on the moving ship, that is much smaller than anything I’ve landed on at sea – with less stress, was pretty awesome.


Sack: It was my first flight at Edwards AFB Jan ’16.  I got in the airplane and started it up.  I was still on the deck and there were apparently other F-35s airborne – I believe USAF, I was not aware.  I was a single ship, just supposed to go out and get familiar flying the aircraft.


As the displays came alive there were track files and the SA as to what everyone else was doing in the airspace, and I was still on the ground. I mean, I hadn’t even gotten my take-off clearance yet.


I didn’t even know where it was coming from. It was coming from another F-35.  The jet had started all the systems for me and the SA was there.  That was a very eye opening moment for me.


The second one, took place when I came back from that flight. In a Hornet you would pull into the line and had a very methodical way in which you have to shut off the airplane and the systems otherwise you could damage something.


So you have to follow a sequence, it is very methodical about which electronic system you shut off. In the F-35 you come back, you do a couple things then you just shut the engine off, and it does everything else for you.  Sounds simple, even silly – but it is a quantum shift.


The voice of the pilots is clear.


The F-35 is a platform with the ultimate level of sophistication, made simple.


And therein lay the beauty of the F-35, and just why it will be so deadly: it’s simple.


The Moment Pilots First Realized the F-35 was Something Extraordinary


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Misleading F-35 Answers Drafted by Pentagon, Testing Chief Says


by Anthony Capaccio


Pentagon officials have been preparing a misleading assessment of progress on Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons program, the Defense Department’s chief tester warned.


“If not changed, the existing responses would at best be considered misleading and at worst, prevarications,” Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation, wrote in an internal memo criticizing the draft response to questions about F-35 testing from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.


Gilmore’s memo is the latest example of his vocal doubts about the F-35’s performance in key tests. His critiques are at odds with the Pentagon’s narrative that the program is on course after earlier problems. President-elect Donald Trump and his defense secretary — he’s nominating retired General James Mattis — will have to decide next year whether to increase F-35 production to 70 in fiscal 2018 from 63 this year, as requested by the Defense Department.


Trump, who on Tuesday complained that the cost of thenew Air Force One being built by Boeing Co. “is totally out of control,” has also raised some questions in the past about the F-35. In an October 2015 interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump criticized the fighter’s cost and said he heard “that it’s not very good” and that “existing planes are better.”


McCain’s Disappointment


In a Nov. 3 letter to departing Defense Secretary Ash Carter, McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he was “extremely disappointed to learn of another delay” in the $57 billion development and demonstration phase of the F-35 “with an associated cost overrun that may be upwards of $1 billion.”


Several of the answers in the draft response to McCain “ignore acknowledged facts, are ambiguous and misleading and if signed and sent as-is” could “generate substantial issues with the Congress,” Gilmore wrote to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, in the Nov. 28 memo obtained by Bloomberg News.


The draft answers should “be revised to provide clear, accurate and complete answers,” said Gilmore, who also raised concerns about the F-35 in a Nov. 18 letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


Gilmore “has shared his concerns” with Kendall who “has them for advisement in his response to Senator McCain,” spokesman Mark Wright said in an e-mail. Navy Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson, a spokeswoman for Work, said in an e-mail that Gilmore’s information “was and continues to be used to help senior leaders make informed decisions.”


Assertions Challenged


Gilmore challenged passages in the Defense Department’s draft response to McCain that assert:


.The F-35’s development phase is due to end in “early 2018.” Gilmore said the department should “state clearly that development flight testing will not complete — at the earliest” — until mid-2018.


.Operational combat testing that all weapons systems must pass will start in mid-2018 and be completed a year later. Gilmore labeled that “false.” Instead, he said the tests will commence “no sooner than late 2018, or, more likely, in early 2019 but could be as late as 2020.”


.An Air Force certification to lawmakers that F-35s delivered in fiscal 2018 will have full combat capability remains “valid.” Gilmore said that is “highly unlikely” because of delays in testing the critical final version of the plane’s software and correcting 276 pending deficiencies.


Live-fire testing of the jet’s gun system for attacking ground targets and in dogfights against enemy jets faces new delays, Gilmore said. In flights last month, symbols on the helmet display used by pilots to aim air-to-ground attacks were “unusable and unsafe to complete the planned testing.”


F-35 Office’s Comment


Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, said in an e-mail that “there have only been a couple of flights” where the stability issue “was apparent, and the flight test data is still under review to determine root cause.” Additional improvements were incorporated in a software update released in November, and pilot evaluations are planned.


Concerning the development phase’s status, DellaVedova said the program office and Lockheed continue “to drive toward the completion of the test program, including solutions” for the issues cited by Gilmore. The program intends to complete all the flight-testing of the most capable software by late 2017, with delivery of the capability to deployed aircraft from late 2017 to spring 2018, he said, although the schedule could slip about three months.


Wingtips, Helmets


The Navy’s version of the plane, the F-35C, also has inadequate wing strength, Gilmore said. Its wingtips aren’t strong enough to carry the AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missile, a primary weapon, at some altitudes and airspeeds. Testing on a fix is under way.


“This is a serious deficiency that would have restricted” F-35C flight with the missile, Army Major Roger Cabiness, Gilmore’s spokesman, said in an e-mail. The initial defect reports on the structural weaknesses surfaced in 2013 “so the Navy is not just learning about it, but the proposed fixes are just now being implemented,” Cabiness said.


In addition, “excessive F-35 vertical oscillations,” or shaking, in catapult launches from aircraft carriers must be resolved, Gilmore said.


The Navy has identified the shaking as a “must-fix deficiency” but “the program waited so long to take action that it is unlikely a solution can be implemented within” the development phase “unless a quick fix is developed soon,” Cabiness said.


Rear Admiral Roy Kelley, director of the Navy’s F-35C integration office, said in an e-mail that “we are confident that the program will address discrepancies found and aggressively pursue the fixes.” Kelley said the development phase “has identified a few F-35C specific discrepancies, to include the load limitations for carriage of AIM-9X, as well as the vertical oscillations during catapult launch.”


A potential fix for the wingtip limitations “has already been implemented with the modification of the outer wing panel on F-35C,” Kelley said.


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Defense News


Air Force Seeks Virtual Elements in Flight Exercises to Heighten Realism, Complexity


By: Valerie Insinna


ORLANDO, Fla. – With live training alone unable to provide the complex scenarios meant to push the F-35 to its limits, the US Air Force is banking on a suite of cutting-edge technologies that will fuse virtual and constructive elements into live exercises.


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is about halfway through the technology demonstration phase of the Secure Live, Virtual and Constructive Advanced Training Environment (SLATE) program, which will secure the technologies needed to give pilots as close of an experience as they can get to an actual battle.


The program is set to begin demonstrating the system aboard F-15E Eagles and Navy F/A-18s in 2018, but the technology probably won’t be ready for the F-35 and other fifth-generation aircraft until the mid 2020s, said Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFRL commander.


“We’ve learned over the past that our training systems are not up to the task that we have,” he said during a Nov. 29 keynote speech at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education (I/ITSEC) conference in Orlando. “The cost of bringing live training environments and exercise environments to the level of fidelity that we really need to simulate what we would expect to be a conflict environment is probably cost prohibitive.”


Live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training has become a buzzword in the simulation industry over the past couple years, but SLATE is not about merely developing the capability for LVC assets to train together, said Dave “Moses” Noah, SLATE program manager at AFRL. A true LVC environment uses virtual and constructive elements to make live training as realistic as possible, enabling highly complex and advanced scenarios.


When the Air Force conducts live training today, there are elements of make believe that keep the pilot from having a truly immersive experience. For instance, an F-15E flying against an F-16 functioning as an aggressor aircraft will still see an F-16 on its radar shooting American weapons, he told Defense News.


But once SLATE is integrated into the fleet, that F-15E will be able to see the F-16 as a MiG-29, or any other adversary aircraft, on all of its sensors and displays. The idea is to more accurately replicate the conditions of battle, including simulating various environments, adversary weapons and other systems not in the US inventory.


“When we take off, go around the area and point at each other, I have the radar cross section signature of a MiG-29, I have all of the radar emissions of a MiG-29, so when I lock him up, he doesn’t see on his radar warning receiver a symbol for an F-16. He sees a MiG-29,” Noah said.


“The first time that he knows that I’m not a MIG-29 is finally, at let’s say 2.1 miles, gets a visual on me,” he said. “Up until then, he doesn’t know.”


AFRL is overseeing the development of three key technologies for the program: a radio waveform that can manage the unprecedented throughput of data between the different LVC assets, high-level data encryption that keeps sensitive information like radar signatures from proliferating, and a multi-level security system that allows different data to be passed to US and international assets depending on the level of classification.


The waveform, called the Fifth Generation Advanced Training Waveform (5GATW) has been fully developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and performed final flight tests in September, Noah said. During the tests, Lincoln Labs stressed the waveform by passing as much data as possible between ground stations and two aircraft, an L-29 and Dassault Falcon 20 owned by the labs.


Cubic is responsible for the rest of the system, including creating the encryption and security architecture as well as manufacturing a software-defined radio about the size of a smartphone capable of managing and processing the 5GATW, said Mike Knowles, vice president of air ranges. It’s also making the ground support system that will provide connectivity between the LVC elements.


Over the upcoming months, the company will integrate those technologies – along with an antenna, power amplifier and a processor – together into a pod that will be attached to fourth-generation aircraft.


“Inside our labs as systems integrator in San Diego, we’re already putting together the software-defined radio, the waveform we integrated, the multi-level secure architecture and the ground station,” he said. “So in our lab now, we’re at the point where we can do simulated connectivity of the system, so we can test out and verify the communications. The encryption system is already under the NSA [National Security Administration] process for certification.”


During I/ITSEC, the company showcased some of the systems that will be encapsulated into the pod, which will be about the size of an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. For fifth-gen jets like the F-35 and F-22, more engineering will be required to internally install the capability, preserving its low observability. That’s not a part of SLATE’s technology demonstration phase and will be done later on when the service starts an acquisition program, but Cubic has proposed some ideas to AFRL on how the core systems could be integrated into the joint strike fighter (JSF).


“For JSF, it’s not going to be that hard. [For] a lot of the SLATE components, the hardware is designed to be able to be able to port into JSF in the future,” said Tim Cockerham, a senior principal systems engineer for Cubic. For instance, some of the technologies used for SLATE could replace older processors or other subsystems that are larger in size.


The Air Force has committed $49 million for the technology development phase, and the Navy plans to add about $20 million of its own funds.


AFRL and Cubic are going to continue testing and developing SLATE over the next year. Three two-week demonstrations at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which will include Navy participation, are planned in 2018, Noah said.


The first demo, planned for March, involves a couple F-15Es and F/A-18s interfacing with some virtual and constructive players.


“We’re just making sure we have connectivity out on the range at Nellis,” he said.


Another demonstration in May increases the number of actors and the influx of data being exchanged. The capstone event in October will take it up yet another notch: up to 16 live aircraft acting as blue forces, additional live aggressor forces, and then “a classified number” of virtual and constructive forces.


“But it’s going to be a lot because we want to show how much the system can handle,” he said.


Future Acquisition


Once technology development ends, it will be up to the service to spin SLATE into a competitive program of record. That’s not exactly an easy thing to do in this fiscal environment for a capability that will cost billions, and possibly tens of billions, Noah said. However, the service’s Life Cycle Management Center, the acquisition arm of Air Force Materiel Command, has designated employees to help ensure a smooth transition.


“They come to work in our building just to be joined at the hip with what AFRL is doing with SLATE,” he said.


AFRL is already engaged in regular meetings with Air Combat Command – which has been designated the lead command for LVC platforms – and with Lynda Rutledge, the program executive officer for the agile combat support directorate, who is in charge of acquiring simulators.


The acquisition strategy has not been finalized, but “this is going to be multiple programs of record because LVC is so huge,” he said.


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U.S. Navy Aims to Buy More Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets: Source


(REUTERS 4 DEC 16) … By Andrea Shalal | SIMI VALLEY, Calif.


The U.S. Navy plans to divest its older model Boeing Co (BA.N) F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets in coming years and hopes to buy dozens of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to deal with a shortfall of strike fighters aboard its carriers, a Navy official said.


The plan, which is still being finalized, could be implemented as early as part of the fiscal 2018 budget, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.


“To decrease the strike fighter shortfall and to best prepare future air wings for likely threats we will soon divest from legacy Hornets, look to buy several squadrons worth of Super Hornets and continue with efforts to bring on the F-35 carrier variant,” said the official.


The Navy also plans to field and deploy a new unmanned carrier-based refueling plane, the official said.

Sources familiar with Navy plans say delays in the fielding of the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet, longer-than-expected maintenance times for older model Hornets, and higher usage rates have left the Navy facing a shortfall of about 70 fighter jets in coming years.


If implemented, the plan would provide dozens of new orders for Boeing and keep its St. Louis production line running for several more years.


“We would welcome an opportunity to develop a plan, with the Navy, that would allow us to continue providing the robust capabilities of the Super Hornet well into the future,” said Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher.


The company had suffered a setback last month when Congress failed to include 12 Super Hornets in the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, opening a potential gap in the Boeing production line until several foreign orders for Kuwait and Canada are finalized. The $618.7 billion bill was passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Senate is expected to vote on the measure next week.


Navy officials say the jets could still be added to the fiscal 2017 budget as part of a supplemental budget that lawmakers are urging Republican President-elect Donald Trump to submit after he takes office.


Republicans, who will control both houses of Congress and the White House after Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20, see good prospects for raising military spending levels and scrapping a 2010 law that imposed mandatory cost caps on defense spending.


The older model Hornets could be transferred to the Marine Corps, which has faced its own maintenance issues, including a lack of spare parts.

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Innovation Drive Essential to DoD’s Future


(DEFENSE NEWS 05 DEC 16) … Secretary Ash Carter


At my swearing-in ceremony as secretary of defense, I said the Pentagon had to “think outside this five-sided box,” and since taking office, opening the Defense Department to new ideas and stoking its innovative culture has been one of my top priorities. I have made it my mission to innovate because if we are to remain the finest fighting force in the world, treading water won’t get it done. We’ve made important progress on multiple fronts, implementing changes I believe will serve my successors for years to come.


Innovation is all the more necessary in today’s dynamic security environment. We are currently addressing five major, unique, and rapidly evolving challenges: countering Russian aggression and coercion, especially in Europe; managing historic change in the Asia-Pacific, the most consequential region for America’s future; strengthening deterrence and defensive capabilities against North Korea; checking Iranian aggression and malign influence in the Gulf; and accelerating the certain and lasting defeat of ISIL. At the same time, the Pentagon also must prepare for challenges we can’t anticipate.


To take on these challenges and stay ahead of our competitors in an increasingly complex international landscape, DoD is changing and adapting how we invest in technology, how we fight, how we operate as an organization, and how we attract and nourish talent.


To ensure that our military continues leading change technologically, we are pushing the envelope on research and development. The last budget we proposed called for $72 billion in research and development in the next year alone — more than double what Apple, Intel, and Google spent last year on R&D combined. Beyond that, we’ve made progress in building, and in some cases rebuilding, the bridges between the Pentagon and America’s technology community. I created our Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, to connect with startups and other commercial technology firms innovating in Silicon Valley; Boston; Austin, Texas; and everywhere in between.


Those DIUx outposts are already producing new ideas that will help our warfighters. We’re pursuing these new initiatives while still looking to the innovative companies in our traditional defense industrial base to help us accomplish our mission as only they can. America’s defense contractors will need to keep us on the cutting edge in the years ahead.


Of course, technological innovation and operational innovation go hand-in-glove. As a result, the Defense Department is reinvigorating training across the military branches to return to full-spectrum readiness, and re-thinking how we operate to find new advantages against potential adversaries. We have fundamentally revised our core contingency plans to account for changes in potential adversaries’ capabilities, to apply innovation to our operational approaches, and to better counter emerging threats such as cyberattacks. These updated plans will ensure we have the agility and ability to win the fights we are in, the wars that could happen today, and the wars that could happen in the future.


Innovation in technology and operations are necessary, but insufficient, because at the pace today’s world demands, the Defense Department can only succeed as a flexible institution that nurtures innovation in all its forms. We cannot afford to be bureaucratic, too slow to act or risk-averse, nor to discourage thinking differently. One effort to encourage innovative thinking is the Defense Innovation Board, which I established this year. The board, led by Alphabet and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, has already provided its first set of recommendations on how to apply America’s wider innovative culture to military problems. One recommendation I’ve already accepted is the establishment of a chief innovation officer position to act as a senior adviser to the defense secretary on innovation.


Of course, people are the bedrock of our military superiority – that’s always been the case and always will be. While we can acquire the best technology, and employ the soundest operational and organizational concepts, we are nothing without our people. So as our country and young citizens change from generation to generation, so must our methods for attracting and retaining the smartest, hardest working, and most talented among them. That’s why I launched the Force of the Future initiatives, to ensure that our people will always remain cutting-edge. In total, these initiatives span the career of a uniformed service member and DoD civilian, from recruiting men and women to join, to caring for, retaining, and developing them, and then to helping successfully transition those who want to move on.


From outreach to the tech community and innovative ecosystems across the country, to operational and organizational innovation, to building the Force of the Future, the thread that connects all these efforts is that their real payoff will come down the line. Just as I’ve benefitted from actions by my predecessors, I am confident the Defense Department and its future leaders will benefit from these initiatives for years to come as each ensures our military remains the strongest, most capable, most innovative force on Earth.


Ash Carter is the U.S. secretary of defense


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National Defense


Defense Market Facing Major Transformation


By Jon Harper


Multiple factors are set to compel a major transformation in the makeup of the defense market in the coming years, according to an industry executive who previously held the number two position at the Pentagon.


Since the outset of World War II, the U.S. defense industry has undergone two major pivots, said William Lynn, a former deputy secretary of defense, who is now CEO of Leonardo North America and DRS Technologies Inc.

The first occurred when the United States moved from a government-run arsenal system to one where the defense industry comprised large conglomerate manufacturing companies that had defense-focused divisions such as General Motors, IBM and GE, he said.


The second one followed the famous “Last Supper” at the end of the Cold War when then-Secretary of Defense William Perry gathered defense industry leaders and told them that the Pentagon no longer had the capacity to support the breadth of industry that existed at the time, Lynn noted.


“We ended up with the structure we have today which moved really from conglomerates to specialists,” Lynn said Dec. 1 during a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.


For most of the major defense industry players today, 60 to 80 percent of their revenue comes from defense, he added. “We’ve gone from 40 or 50 major players of size in the defense market to a half a dozen.”


Another major sea change is on the horizon, he argued. “We’re at the cusp of a third pivot in terms of the structure of that market,” he said. Several trends will drive the transformation, according to Lynn. One is consolidation.


“At the platform level, the numbers of major platforms that the department is buying is getting narrower and narrower,” he said. “As a consequence, the number of competitors in that space is narrowing down to two and in some cases one” company.


There is only one prime contractor that builds aircraft carriers, and only two that build the Navy’s submarines, he noted.


“Tactical aircraft is moving in that direction,” he said. “You still have Boeing and Lockheed but at some point we will stop making . [Boeings] F-18s and F-15s and we’ll center on the [Lockheed-built] F-35. How do you keep a competitive structure in that?”


A second driver of change is the internationalization of the industrial base.


“You see it very definitely now in terms of the supply base of all of the major defense companies,” Lynn said. “It’s a global supply base, whereas if you look even 20 years ago it was heavily an American supply base. And now it’s very global [and] they go for the best technology, the best prices. I would argue that that’s going to start to shift to the prime level as well, and it has already started.”


The third and perhaps the most important force leading toward another structural change is the source of technology, he said. In previous decades, research-and-development spending by the Defense Department was a key driver of innovation that later spilled over into the commercial sector, he noted, citing the development of GPS and the internet as examples.


But today, much of the cutting-edge innovation is happening outside of the Pentagon and the federal government including areas such as 3D printing, autonomy, material science and nanotechnology, Lynn said.


“The weight of the R&D is more on the commercial side. And so one of the big challenges for defense is how do you pull that technology now into the defense industrial base and operationalize it for military uses?” he said. “It’s a different model.”


“All of those forces are pushing us toward a different type of defense structure. I think the most important thing for the new [Donald Trump] administration is to think about how they want to shape it,” he added.


The new Pentagon leadership needs to focus on improving the agility of the acquisition system and incentivizing R&D spending, Lynn argued. The uncertainty surrounding the defense budget in recent years is making it difficult to do the latter, he said.


“It’s very hard to ask companies to make significant investment in R&D if they don’t know what the department is going to buy even 18 months from now,” he said.


Embracing the commercial sector will also be critical, he noted.


“Probably the most important [question is] . how do you have a structure that allows defense companies to import commercial technologies or allows commercial companies to compete directly?” Lynn said. “The department I think has a strong interest in making sure that the defense market is permeable to those commercial structures.”


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Pentagon Hid Study Revealing $125 Billion in Waste


(WASHINGTON POST 06 DEC 16) … Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward


The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.


Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.


The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.


The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.


The data showed that the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people – 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel – to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.


The cost-cutting study could find a receptive audience with President-elect Donald Trump. He has promised a major military buildup and said he would pay for it by “eliminating government waste and budget gimmicks.”

For the military, the major allure of the study was that it called for reallocating the $125 billion for troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.


But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.


So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.


“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money. We proposed a way to save a ton of money,” said Robert “Bobby” L. Stein, a private-equity investor from Jacksonville, Fla., who served as chairman of the Defense Business Board.


Stein, a campaign bundler for President Obama, said the study’s data were “indisputable” and that it was “a travesty” for the Pentagon to suppress the results.


“We’re going to be in peril because we’re spending dollars like it doesn’t matter,” he added.


The missed opportunity to streamline the military bureaucracy could soon have large ramifications. Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Pentagon will be forced to stomach $113 billion in automatic cuts over four years unless Congress and Trump can agree on a long-term spending deal by October. Playing a key role in negotiations will probably be Trump’s choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.


The Defense Business Board was ordered to conduct the study by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking official. At first, Work publicly touted the efficiency drive as a top priority and boasted about his idea to recruit corporate experts to lead the way.


After the board finished its analysis, however, Work changed his position. In an interview with The Post, he did not dispute the board’s findings about the size or scope of the bureaucracy. But he dismissed the $125 billion savings proposal as “unrealistic” and said the business executives had failed to grasp basic obstacles to restructuring the public sector.


“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” he said. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that … I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”


Work said the board fundamentally misunderstood how difficult it is to eliminate federal civil service jobs – members of Congress, he added, love having them in their districts – or to renegotiate defense contracts.


He said the Pentagon is adopting some of the study’s recommendations on a smaller scale and estimated it will save $30 billion by 2020. Many of the programs he cited, however, have been on the drawing board for years or were unrelated to the Defense Business Board’s research.


Work acknowledged that the push to improve business operations lost steam after then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was replaced by Ashton B. Carter in February 2015. Carter has emphasized other goals, such as strengthening the Pentagon’s partnerships with high-tech firms.


“We will never be as efficient as a commercial organization,” Work said. “We’re the largest bureaucracy in the world. There’s going to be some inherent inefficiencies in that.”


‘Dark Matter’


Work, a retired Marine officer, became deputy defense secretary in May 2014. With the military budget under the most pressure since the end of the Cold War, he sought help from the Defense Business Board, an advisory panel known for producing management studies that usually gathered dust.


Work told the board that the outcome of this assignment would be different. In a memo, he directed the board to collect sensitive cost data from the military services and defense agencies that would reveal how much they spent on business operations.


Pentagon officials knew their back-office bureaucracy was overstaffed and overfunded. But nobody had ever gathered and analyzed such a comprehensive set of data before.


Some Defense Business Board members warned that exposing the extent of the problem could have unforeseen consequences.


“You are about to turn on the light in a very dark room,” Kenneth Klepper, the former chief executive of Medco Health Solutions, told Work in the summer of 2014, according to two people familiar with the exchange. “All the crap is going to float to the surface and stink the place up.”


“Do it,” Work replied.


To turn on the light, the Pentagon needed more outside expertise. A team of consultants from McKinsey was hired.


In a confidential August 2014 memo, McKinsey noted that while the Defense Department was “the world’s largest corporate enterprise,” it had never “rigorously measured” the “cost-effectiveness, speed, agility or quality” of its business operations.


Nor did the Pentagon have even a remotely accurate idea of what it was paying for those operations, which McKinsey divided into five categories: human resources; health-care management; supply chain and logistics; acquisition and procurement; and financial-flow management.


McKinsey hazarded a guess: anywhere between $75 billion and $100 billion a year, or between 15 and 20 percent of the Pentagon’s annual expenses. “No one REALLY knows,” the memo added.


The mission would be to analyze, for the first time, dozens of databases that tracked civilian and military personnel, and labor costs for defense contractors. The problem was that the databases were in the grip of the armed forces and a multitude of defense agencies. Many had fought to hide the data from outsiders and bureaucratic rivals, according to documents and interviews.


Information on contractor labor, in particular, was so cloaked in mystery that McKinsey described it as “dark matter.”


Prying it loose would require direct orders from Work. Even then, McKinsey consultants predicted the bureaucracy would resist.


“This is a sensitive exercise conducted with audiences both ‘weary’ and ‘wary’ of efficiency, cost, sequestration and budget drills,” the confidential memo stated. “Elements of the culture are masterful at ‘waiting out studies and sponsors,’ with a ‘this too shall pass’ mindset.”


Overstaffed Chow Hall


From the outset, access to the data was limited to a handful of people. A $2.9 million consulting contract signed by the Pentagon stipulated that none of the data or analysis could be released to the news media or the public.


Moreover, the contract required McKinsey to report to David Tillotson III, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer. Anytime the Defense Business Board wanted the consultants to carry out a task, Tillotson would have to approve. His office – not the board – would maintain custody of the data.


“Good news!” Work emailed Tillotson once the contract was signed. “Time to cook.”


In an Oct. 15, 2014, memo, Work ordered the board to move quickly, giving it three months to produce “specific and actionable recommendations.”


In a speech the next month, Work lauded the board for its private-sector expertise. He said he had turned it into “an operational arm” of the Pentagon leadership and predicted the study would deliver transformational results.


In an aside, he revealed that early findings had determined the average administrative job at the Pentagon was costing taxpayers more than $200,000, including salary and benefits.


“And you say, hmmm, we could probably do better than that,” he said.


The initial results did not come as a surprise.


Former defense secretaries William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates and Chuck Hagel had launched similar efficiency drives in 1997, 2010 and 2013, respectively. But each of the leaders left the Pentagon before their revisions could take root.


“Because we turn over our secretaries and deputy secretaries so often, the bureaucracy just waits things out,” said Dov Zakheim, who served as Pentagon comptroller under President George W. Bush. “You can’t do it at the tail end of an administration. It’s not going to work. Either you leave the starting block with a very clear program, or you’re not going to get it done.”


Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine general and former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said lawmakers block even modest attempts to downsize the Pentagon’s workforce because they do not want to lose jobs in their districts.


Without backing from Congress, “you can’t even get rid of the guy serving butter in the chow hall in a local district, much less tens of thousands of jobs,” he said.


‘Time To Hunt!’


The Defense Business Board assigned five members to conduct the study alongside consultants from McKinsey. Scott Rutherford, senior partner at McKinsey’s Washington office, declined to comment.


The team ran into resistance as several Pentagon offices delayed requests for data, according to emails and memos. Work and Tillotson had to intervene to get the data flowing. At one point, more than 100 people were feeding data from different sectors of the bureaucracy.


Laboring under its tight deadline, the team hashed out an agreement with Pentagon officials over which job classifications to count in their survey. The board added a sixth category of business operations – real property management. That alone covered 192,000 jobs and annual expenses of $22.6 billion.


On Christmas Eve, Klepper emailed Work and Tillotson to thank them for putting their muscle behind the project. Without it, he said, “this would all have been DOA and the naysayers would all have been right.”

He hinted the board would make some eye-catching recommendations and expressed relief its work had not been torpedoed.


“I have to admit, with all the caution, negative reaction and pushback,” Klepper said, “I had a bit of concern at the end of the analysis some form of censorship would stop us from showing the true opportunity.”

Work replied that he could not be happier.


“Time to hunt!” he said in an email, adding that he was “very excited about 2015” and ready to make “some bold moves.”


The year kicked off with promise. On Jan. 21, 2015, the Pentagon announced Stein, the private-equity investor, had been reappointed as the board’s chairman and praised him for his “outstanding service.”


The next day, the full board held its quarterly public meeting to review the results of the study. The report had a dry title, “Transforming DoD’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” and was packed with charts and jargon. But it began plainly enough.


“We are spending a lot more money than we thought,” the report stated. It then broke down how the Defense Department was spending $134 billion a year on business operations – about 50 percent more than McKinsey had guessed at the outset.


Almost half of the Pentagon’s back-office personnel – 457,000 full-time employees – were assigned to logistics or supply-chain jobs. That alone exceeded the size of United Parcel Service’s global workforce.


The Pentagon’s purchasing bureaucracy counted 207,000 full-time workers. By itself, that would rank among the top 30 private employers in the United States.


More than 192,000 people worked in property management. About 84,000 people held human-resources jobs.

The study laid out a range of options. At the low end, just by renegotiating service contracts and hiring less-expensive workers, the Pentagon could save $75 billion over five years. At the high end, by adopting more aggressive productivity targets, it could save twice as much.


After a discussion, the full board voted to recommend a middle option: to save $125 billion over five years.


Hordes Of Contractors


Afterward, board members briefed Work. They were expecting an enthusiastic response, but the deputy defense secretary looked uneasy, according to two people who were present.


He singled out a page in the report. Titled “Warfighter Currency,” it showed how saving $125 billion could be redirected to boost combat power. The money could cover the operational costs for 50 Army brigades, or 3,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, or 10 aircraft-carrier strike groups for the Navy.


“This is what scares me,” he said, according to the two people present. Work explained he was worried Congress might see it as an invitation to strip $125 billion from the defense budget and spend it somewhere else.


A few weeks later, Carter replaced Hagel as defense secretary. Carter sounded as though he would welcome the kind of revolutionary change the board was urging.


“To win support from our fellow citizens for the resources we need, we must show that we can make better use of every taxpayer dollar,” Carter said in an inaugural message in February 2015. “That means a leaner organization, less overhead, and reforming our business and acquisition practices.”


In briefings that month, uniformed military leaders were receptive at first. They had long groused that the Pentagon wasted money on a layer of defense bureaucracies – known as the Fourth Estate – that were outside the control of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Military officials often felt those agencies performed duplicative services and oversight.


But the McKinsey consultants had also collected data that exposed how the military services themselves were spending princely sums to hire hordes of defense contractors.


For example, the Army employed 199,661 full-time contractors, according to a confidential McKinsey report obtained by The Post. That alone exceeded the combined civil workforce for the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.


The average cost to the Army for each contractor that year: $189,188, including salary, benefits and other expenses.


The Navy was not much better. It had 197,093 contractors on its payroll. On average, each cost $170,865.

In comparison, the Air Force had 122,470 contractors. Each cost, on average, $186,142.


Taking Fire


Meantime, the backlash to the $125 billion savings plan intensified.


On Feb. 6, 2015, board members briefed Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer. Kendall’s operations were a major target of the study; he oversaw an empire of purchasing agents and contractors that were constantly under attack from Congress for cost overruns and delays.


Kendall put up a stiff fight. He challenged the board’s data and strenuously objected to the conclusion that his offices were overstaffed.


“Are you trying to tell me we don’t know how to do our job?” he said, according to two participants in the meeting. He said he needed to hire 1,000 more people to work directly under him, not fewer.


“If you don’t believe me, call in an auditor,” replied Klepper, the board’s restructuring expert. “They’ll tell you it’s even worse than this.”


In an interview, Kendall acknowledged he was “very disappointed” by the board’s work, which he criticized as “shallow” and “very low on content.” He said the study had ignored efforts by his agencies to become more efficient, and he accused the board of plucking the $125 billion figure out of thin air.


“It was essentially a ballpark, made-up number,” he said.


Still, Kendall knew that lawmakers might view the study as credible. Alarmed, he said, he went to Work and warned that the findings could “be used as a weapon” against the Pentagon.


“If the impression that’s created is that we’ve got a bunch of money lying around and we’re being lazy and we’re not doing anything to save money, then it’s harder to justify getting budgets that we need,” Kendall said.

More ominously, board members said they started to get the silent treatment from the Pentagon’s highest ranks.


Briefings that had been scheduled for military leaders in the Tank – the secure conference room for the Joint Chiefs of Staff – were canceled. Worse, the board was unable to secure an audience with Carter, the new defense secretary.


Stein, the board chairman, accused Carter of deliberately derailing the plan through inaction. “Unfortunately, Ash – for reasons of his own – stopped this,” he said in an interview.


Peter Cook, a spokesman for Carter, said the Pentagon chief was busy dealing with “a long list of national security challenges.” He added that Work and other senior officials had already “concluded that the report, while well-intentioned, had limited value.”


The fatal blow was struck in April. Just three months after Stein had been reappointed as board chairman, Carter replaced him with Michael Bayer, a business consultant who had previously served on the panel and clashed with Stein. Bayer declined to comment.


A few weeks later, Klepper resigned from the board. The $125 billion savings plan was dead.


In an interview, Tillotson, the Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer, called the board’s recommendations too ambitious and aggressive. “They, perhaps, underestimated the degree of difficulty we have in doing something that in the commercial sector would seem to be very easy to do.”


Yet he acknowledged that its overall strategy for scaling back the bureaucracy was sound and that, given more time, it would be possible to realize huge savings.


“If we had a longer timeline, yes, it would be a reasonable approach,” he said. “You might get there eventually.”


Ending The Debate


Frustration, however, persisted in some corners over the Pentagon’s unwillingness to tackle the inefficiency and waste documented by the study.


On June 2, 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He complained that 20 percent of the defense budget went to the Fourth Estate – the defense agencies that provide support to the armed forces – and called it “pure overhead.”


He singled out the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the Defense Logistics Agency, which together employ about 40,000 people, as egregious examples.


When a reporter in the audience asked whether he thought the agencies should be abolished, Mabus resisted the temptation to say yes.


“Nice try on getting me into deep trouble,” he replied.


But trouble arrived in Mabus’s email the next day.


“Ray, before you publicly trash one of the agencies that reports through me I’d really appreciate a chance to discuss it with you,” wrote Kendall, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer, whose management portfolio included the Defense Logistics Agency.


He said that if Mabus had a complaint, he should raise it directly with their mutual bosses, Carter and Work, and copied the email to both.


In his interview with The Post, Kendall said he was “completely blindsided” by the Navy secretary’s criticism, “so I sent him what I thought under the circumstances was a pretty polite note.”


Mabus did not back down. In an emailed retort to Kendall, he referred to the ill-fated Defense Business Board study.


“I did not say anything yesterday that I have not said both publicly … and privately inside this building,” he said. “There have been numerous studies, which I am sure you are aware of, pointing out excessive overhead.”

That prompted a stern intervention from Work.


“Ray, please refrain from taking any more public pot shots,” Work said in an email. “I do not want this spilling over into further public discourse.”


Evelyn Duffy contributed to this report.


(return to top)



Post Expose on Pentagon Waste Draws Mixed Reviews


(GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE 06 DEC 16) … Charles S. Clark


With the words “exclusive” and “Bob Woodward” on top of its story, The Washington Post’s Tuesday expose on a “buried” Pentagon study that identified an $125 billion in waste over five years drew considerable attention.


Several lawmakers, the Defense Department’s chief union and at least one anti-waste advocacy group greeted the story as vindication of their past critiques of military contacting bloat. But the department itself and former officials told Government Executive that the alleged value of wasted money was overstated.


Woodward and veteran investigative reporter Craig Whitlock’s story, headlined “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” described a McKinsey & Co. study commissioned by the Defense Business Board at the behest of Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.


A version was released in January 2015, but only after officials attempted to hide the data from the public – efforts the Post documented. The study, which was covered at the time by Defense News and other major defense publications, “revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management,” the Post wrote.


The data showed that Defense is “paying a staggering number of people – 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel – to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940,” the reporters wrote, supplying new numbers such as 457,000 in supply chain and logistics and 207,000 people in acquisition and procurement.


The response on Capitol Hill on Tuesday was quick. Armed Services Committee chiefs Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, joined in a statement calling the findings “not a surprise … We have known for many years that the department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”


Which is why, they continued, the committees over the past two years have mandated a 25 percent cut in the Pentagon’s administrative support and headquarters staff, along with a 12 percent reduction in flag officers and civilian Senior Executive Service employees.


Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who in January will become the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, reacted more strongly. “If this is true, the Pentagon played Congress and the American public for fools,” she said. “It would mean that while some in Congress were busy debating cuts to vital services, furloughing employees, and threatening working people’s’ pensions, the Department of Defense literally knew it could save the American people billions and billions of dollars in bureaucratic waste, and instead, they buried it. I vow to get to the bottom of this.”


American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement to Government Executive that the report “confirms what we have known for decades: that the Pentagon is flagrantly wasting taxpayer money by hiring costly and less accountable contractors to do support work that civilians can do for far less. By insourcing much of this work, the Pentagon could free up tens of billions of dollars a year to invest in our troops.”


Cox added, “We are glad that this long-suppressed report has seen the light of day and hope it spurs action in Congress to curb the Pentagon’s wasteful spending on service contracts,” but AFGE actually commented on the report back in January 2015, expressing surprise that the Defense Business Board had changed its past leanings and called for cutting the civilian workforce.


In the Post story, Work highlighted savings reforms already underway at the Pentagon, adding that the Defense board’s reforms for saving $125 billion were “unrealistic on the intended timeline given the defense program, budgeting procedures and the unique impediments facing the department that do not apply in the private sector.”


Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook on Tuesday told the Associated Press that senior managers at the Pentagon concluded that the study, “while well-intentioned, had limited value” because it didn’t take into account existing programs to improve efficiency and because it lacked “specific, actionable recommendations appropriate to the department.”


Also skeptical was Robert Hale, the former Pentagon comptroller who left in June 2014 (before the Defense Board study) and is now a fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton. “There is no question that there is waste and inefficiency at DoD,” he told Government Executive. “And a number of items the board mentioned – such as getting rid of low-priority contracts and optimizing labor contracts – are things the department has tried and has achieved some progress.”


But the projected savings of $125 billion in five years “appears based on some assumed productivity gains, 9 percent savings in the first year, 3 percent to 5 percent per year after that, but in my experience you don’t get those kinds of savings.”


The study’s own private-sector comparisons, he noted, showed that only 17 percent of optimization efforts achieve their full potential. Also, “the department is busy fighting wars, which does take away the time they have to spend” on efficiency reforms, said Hale, who recently laid out his own 10 efficiency recommendations in a paper published by Center for New American Security.


Plus, Defense employees’ “incentives are not the same as in the private sector, where if you save money and keep customers, you’re happy to get a big bonus,” Hale said. “In DoD, some comptroller like me is likely to grab savings for some other purpose.”


Mark Cancian, an alumnus of the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget who is now senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted that the Post’s phrasing of the story as “bureaucratic incompetence” will have impact because the paper has influence in Washington. But the study “doesn’t actually specify any actions for savings,” instead calling for “a committed leadership to stand up cross-functional teams that will look at contracts and the workforce and apply the best commercial practices.”


Cancian said he can see why Deputy Secretary Work would be frustrated that the study “threw $125 billion around as if it were on the table,” he said. “You have to talk about specifics, not just paint with a broad brush.”


As a veteran himself, he added, “applying commercial practices that identify specific areas of savings often cause people to recoil and push back.” The example he gave is the often-offered proposal to shut down commissaries.


“No company has its own grocery store, but to many in the military community, they are a symbol of a commitment made to them,” Cancian said. “It’s part of what makes the military culture so distinctive.”


Danielle Brian, executive director of the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, called the Post story “a perfect illustration of the three biggest problems affecting the Defense Department: a contractor workforce that costs too much; a culture of secrecy; and a fear that exposing waste will lead to cuts in defense spending. It and other reports also show there are plenty of opportunities to cut Pentagon spending and the next administration should be skeptical of anyone who tells them otherwise.”


(return to top)




Breaking Defense


$125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON: Want to save $125 billion by slashing Pentagon “waste”? Not so fast. If you take a closer look at the much-touted Defense Business Board study proposing those cuts- which was published in 2015 but went viral after Monday’s Washington Post story saying the Pentagon had “burie[d]” it – and talk to experts, officials, and the top House Democrat on defense policy, the savings turn out to be less of a slam-dunk than advertised.


“I don’t necessarily think the report is overstating the ease with which that savings can be achieved,” said Rep. Adam Smith, the cerebral and snarky ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. “But I certainly think the reporting on the report is overstating the ease with which we can save that $125 billion.”


First, divide by five: A crucial detail the headlines always omitted is that the DBB forecast $125 billion in savings over five years. That makes the annual savings from their proposed efficiencies a still respectable but hardly game-changing $25 billion a year. “That’s [about] 4% of total DoD outlays,” calculates Capital Alpha analyst Byron Callan, “which is well within the types of savings corporations would strive to achieve.”


Why does that figure happen to be well within the norm for private sector cost-cutting practices? It’s because the whole premise of the study, in essence, is to ask how much DoD could save if it followed – all together now – private sector cost-cutting practices.


In fact, the analytical underpinnings of the study seem to have been done by McKinsey & Company, a world-famous private-sector management consultancy. McKinsey has a reputation for hiring bright young things with zero experience, a former director convicted of insider trading, and a client roster that includes Enron, AOL before its disastrous merger with Times-Warner, and many more imploded companies. But, whether following McKinsey & Co.’s advice is wise or otherwise, the study’s 77 pages of publicly released briefing slides don’t say how to apply these private-sector practices to the Pentagon – which rather begs the point.


For example, it says that a “4-8% annual productivity gain for DoD is a realistic goal,” but its only argument for why that’s realistic seems to be that corporations routinely achieve it (slide 9), without saying how well that would translate into the public sector. The study projects “15-40% gains in IT productivity and effectiveness” (slide 19), but it doesn’t say how to realize them, or how hard it might be. To the contrary, the IT goal glosses over the disastrous record of past government information technology mega-projects, even though some of them are cited as case studies in backup slides (49-54). “Even in the private sector, only 17% of fundamental change projects deliver their full potential,” the report admits at one point (slide 26).


Another major area of savings is large-scale early retirements (17-18, 41). While it makes some provision for retention bonuses to keep the most skilled employees (3), the study ignores the looming demographic crisis of too many retirement-age employees leaving the civil service at once, with too few experienced mid-career personnel to replace their institutional knowledge.


“The report lacked specific, actionable recommendations,” Pentagon spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told me. “Where the study did offer concrete recommendations, the department has taken action. For example, we have implemented service contract review boards that are projected to achieve billions of dollars in savings.” Overall, the department is aiming to save $30 billion over four years from efficiencies, an average of $7.5 billion a year.


That’s hardy $25 billion a year, though. “I think it is probably not a reasonable goal, and the work the DBB did doesn’t provide any basis to set it as a goal,” said Andrew Hunter. As the former head of the Pentagon’s celebrated Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, and now director of defense industrial initiatives at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Hunter knows a thing or two about making defense procurement faster and more efficient.


Where the DBB does provide specific courses of action, they’re not necessarily feasible, either. “Their proposal to renegotiate contracts across the board is impractical,” Hunter told me, “and they don’t appear to have been aware of the significant efforts (already) underway across the services to reduce service contract costs.”


That said, Hunter emphasizes, “they did a nice job of collecting business operations costs across the Department. The value in what the DBB did is if you collect this information consistently over time, you can detect and act on positive and negative trends in business operations.”


Data is vital to accurate analysis, and the Washington Post’s most damning accusation the Pentagon “imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings.” When I asked Pentagon sources about this, though, they weren’t quite sure what the Post meant.


The substantive section of the report – the 77 slides of recommendations and analysis – “has been available continuously online since January 2015,” said Trowbridge. “We understand some members of Congress might be interested in seeing the underlying data, and, as always, we’ll respond to those requests.”


“Data wasn’t classified, but some was marked proprietary,” said another defense official. “If someone wants the info, they just need to ask and DBB will give it out, minus proprietary stuff.” Proprietary in Pentagon parlance specifically refers to the intellectual property of contractors, and one of the major thrusts of the report was negotiating lower contract costs.


“The report was valuable and continues to shape the way the Department is pursuing efficiencies in cross-enterprise business functions,” the official emphasized. But it’s not an executable plan of action on its own, the official continued, and the Pentagon now “has DBB looking at ways to actually achieve the $125B in savings.”


The Washington Post story has certainly turned up the pressure to save. The chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, acquisition reform crusaders Rep. Mac Thornberry and Sen. John McCain, called for all the underlying data to be made public. Their scathing joint statement read (in part), “We have known for many years that the Department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”


But maybe the reason is not so simple. Maybe it’s a complex interaction of a $496 billion-a-year organization – that’s more than Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company – building cutting-edge hardware and operating it in life-or-death circumstances, all under unrelenting scrutiny from 535 members of Congress.


“It’s an enormously important report, and I think it’s something we should look at closely,” said Rep. Smith, speaking to the US Naval Institute’s annual defense conference at the Newseum. “(But) I wouldn’t get overexcited about it – like, ‘wow, $125 million just laid on the table that we can go spend!'”

“I have not yet encountered the human endeavor that does not contain waste, fraud, and abuse,” Smith said.


“There’s waste fraud and abuse at IBM, at Microsoft, at Amazon.” (We just don’t know as much about it because Congress can’t routinely see their books or haul their executives up to testimony). “I think it’s our job in Congress and the job of whoever ends up running DoD to do their level best to get as much of that savings as possible, and I’d be interested in looking at the details of where they think they’re going to get that $125 billion.”


“But,” Smith concluded, “understand it’s not as easy as it might appear.”


$125 Billion Savings? Not So Fast, Say Experts, DoD, Rep. Smith



FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of November 28, 2016



  1. FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter
  2. Senior NAVAIR Leadership Share Experience, Advice on NLDP



  1. Kuwait to Buy 28 US F-18 jets
  2. Israel Approves Purchase of 17 More F-35s
  3. F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now
  4. No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill
  5. Canada Plans to Buy 18 Super Hornets, Start Fighter Competition in 2017
  6. The U.S. Military Will Bring F-35s Into Service Without Finishing Them
  7. The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts
  8. New Insider Threat Regulations to Hit Contractors Hard















FRCSW Sailor Named COMFRC FY 2016 Blue Jacket of Quarter


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND – Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) recently selected Seaman Deserae Kimber as its fiscal year (FY) 2016 Blue Jacket of the Quarter, fourth quarter.


Kimber, who is assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), is also the command’s FY 2016 Blue Jacket of the Year.


“I was shocked in winning the COMFRC of the quarter award. It made me open my eyes to what I’m doing and how it can benefit me as a Sailor in branching out to help other people —- the good influence I could have on other senior E-3s and other junior Sailors who come to this command,” she said.


A native of Hudsonville, Mich., Kimber joined the Navy in 2015 and, accompanied by her uncle, enlisted in Tampa, Fla.


“My uncle Rudy retired from the Navy in 2014 as an aviation ordnanceman. He was a recruiter, and actually took me to his recruiting station in Tampa, which is why I enlisted there,” Kimber said.


“I joined the Navy to better my life and to make bigger opportunities for myself. I wanted to go a different route than just going to college; I wanted to do new and refreshing things instead.”


Kimber’s uncle is not the only family member with a history of naval service. Her husband, Scott, is currently a Seaman assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 stationed aboard Naval Air Station North Island.


After graduating from Naval Training Center, Kimber, who is 20 years old, reported to FRCSW and was appointed to the Support Equipment (SE) shop in Building 767.


The shop performs periodic maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs to equipment used to support aircraft, including pneumatic and hydraulic systems and liquid oxygen systems. Its primary customers are squadrons assigned to Naval Base Coronado.


“I’d like to stay in my field of aviation support,” Kimber said. “And for now, I plan on staying in the Navy but maybe not the full 20 years.”


Meanwhile, in addition to her work in the SE shop, Kimber stays busy handling command and collateral duties as an auxiliary security force (ASF) member and an assistant command fitness leader, which is a second class petty officer billet. She is also a member of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) and an MWR volunteer.


“I like the comradery and teamwork in the Navy,” she said. “It’s a lot different than being on the outside and it’s something I’d miss if I left.”


Kimber is awaiting orders to her next duty station and is schedule to rotate out in October 2017.


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Senior NAVAIR leadership share experience, advice on NLDP


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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Kuwait Times


Kuwait to buy 28 US F-18 jets


KUWAIT: Kuwait will buy 28 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to replace a fleet of earlier versions of the US fighter jets, a top official said yesterday.


The value of the deal is not expected to exceed $5 billion, the KUNA state news agency reported the head of armament and procurement at Kuwait’s defense ministry as saying. Maj Gen Lafi Al-Azmi said the deal stipulates the supplier will repurchase the old Hornet fighter jets from Kuwait.


He added that details of the sale would only be disclosed after it is officially signed. “Given Kuwait’s proximity to turbulent locations, we certainly need effective military equipment,” he was quoted as saying.


The US State Department this month said it has authorized the deal, as well as the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Kuwait’s Gulf neighbor Qatar at an estimated value of $21 billion. In April, Kuwait signed a contract with Italy’s Finmeccanica for the purchase of 28 Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes for under €8 billion ($8.5 billion). The National Assembly in March approved spending an additional $500 million as an advance payment for the jets.


That funding came on top of $10 billion additional defense spending already approved by parliament in January to upgrade the country’s military. Kuwait is a member of the US-led coalition bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq, and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.


Last year, it bought 24 Caracal military tactical transport helicopters and French light armored vehicles.

– Agencies


Kuwait to buy 28 US F-18 jets

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Israel approves purchase of 17 more F-35s


BY: Arie Egozi


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Defense News


F-35 Joint Program Office Saved – for Now


By: Aaron Mehta


WASHINGTON – The compromise version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act protects the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) from elimination, but requires the Pentagon to report on alternatives for the management of the joint strike fighter by the end of March.


The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA, rolled out in May, included language that would disband the JPO after the F-35 reaches full-rate production in April 2019. At that time, control of the plane would devolve to the Air Force and Navy, in essence ending joint control of the jet and turning it into another traditional program.


However, the House rejected that proposal in conference, and instead put in language requiring “the Secretary of Defense, no later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on potential options for the future management of the Joint Strike Fighter program.”


JPO spokesman Joe Dellavedova said the office “appreciates the support of Congress” for the program.


The committees do want to get input from the Pentagon on how the JPO could eventually be wound-down in the coming years, senior congressional aides told reporters on Tuesday. But for now, there were no changes to the F-35 program structure, although some reporting requirements were altered.


For example, the conference report requires that the Comptroller General of the United States shall provide an assessment of the eventual F-35A IOT&E report, and submit that assessment to the committees within 90 days of the IOT&E report being finalized. That report will include an assessment on whether those conclusions were comprehensive and sufficiently detailed, as well as a list of any concerns with how the report was handled.


In addition, the NDAA also contains language preventing funds from being used to retire the A-10 Warthog, a move in line with previous years. In 2013, the Air Force began a serious push to retire the A-10 in order to free up funds and maintainers for the F-35, but ran into a blockade in Congress. While the service has backed off the idea for now, Congress remains wary of future groundings.


The compromise language did not include an extra 11 F-35 jets that had been proposed by the House Armed Services Committee, although HASC chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said Wednesday he hoped president-elect Donald Trump would add those planes back in.


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DoD Buzz

No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill


By: Oriana Pawlyk


The U.S. military doesn’t get extra fighter jets in the compromise version of the 2017 defense authorization bill.


Lawmakers in the House of Representatives had supported funding for 11 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and a total of 14 F-18E/F Super Hornets made by Boeing Co. “to address a critical fighter shortage,” according to language approved earlier this year.


But their counterparts in the Senate didn’t sign off on the plan for extra fighter jets.


Thus, the compromise version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which sets policy and spending targets for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, would authorize funding in keeping with the Defense Department’s original budget request.


The Pentagon asked for $10.5 billion for 63 of the F-35 fifth-generation fighters — including 43 A models for the Air Force and 16 B variants for the Marine Corps and four C models for the Navy — as well as $185 million for two of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F fourth-generation fighters.


The legislation also dropped a provision to shift management of the nearly $400 Joint Strike Fighter program — the Pentagon’s largest acquisition effort — to the Air Force and Navy. But lawmakers still want to study different ways to manage the program.


They opted against dissolving the F-35 Joint Program Office, headed by Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, as previously proposed by Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.


“The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the requirement to disestablish the JPO and require the Secretary of Defense, no later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report on potential options for the future management of the Joint Strike Fighter program,” states a report accompanying the bill.


Interestingly, conferees also opposed treating the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program as a separate acquisition effort — but agreed it should have similar reporting requirements.


“The Senate bill contained a provision (sec. 1087) that would require the Department of Defense to treat the F-35 Follow-on Modernization program as a separate Major Defense Acquisition Program (MDAP),” the report states.


“The House recedes with an amendment that would remove the requirement to treat the Follow-on Modernization program as a separate MDAP and require the Secretary of Defense, not later than March 31, 2017, to submit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the basic elements of an acquisition program baseline for Block 4 modernization,” it continues.


The bill is expected to go to the House for a vote as early as Friday and the Senate is expected to follow suit next week.


— Brendan McGarry contributed to this report


No Extra Fighter Jets in Compromise Defense Bill


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


(DEFENSE NEWS 22 NOV 16) … Valerie Insinna


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.


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War is Boring


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


Program office cuts development short




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


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


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


Development cuts breed further cost overruns


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Mission software woes top the list


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Kicking the can down the road


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


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


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


— Michael Gilmore


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The F-35 still doesn’t have a gun


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


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

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


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


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


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


A software solution has yet to be completed.


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


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


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


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


Weapons test delays jeopardize operational testing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Truncating testing and declaring success


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


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


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


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


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


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


Inadequate preparations for IOT&E


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Enhancing the political effectiveness of the F-35


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


This fact was somehow omitted from the lawmakers’ letter.


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


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


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


Digging a deeper hole


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


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


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


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




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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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Popular Mechanics


The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts


An innovative marking system spots the fakes.


By Kyle Mizokami


A V-22 Osprey, laden with eighteen Marine infantrymen, speeds towards a landing zone under enemy fire. Dodging anti-aircraft tracers, the pilot pushes the aircraft to the limit. Until suddenly the Osprey falls from the sky.


This time, the killer isn’t the anti-aircraft fire. It’s inside the aircraft—a series of counterfeit, substandard bolts holding the engines together.


That’s the nightmare scenario confronting the Defense Logistics Agency, the arm of the Pentagon tasked to ensure the services receive the correct spare parts in a timely fashion. There are 4 million repair parts in the DLA system. In 2011 according to the Washington Post, a congressional probe found at least 1,800 counterfeit parts, with an estimated 1,000,000 or more counterfeit parts hiding in the Pentagon’s global spare parts system, sold by hucksters making a cheap buck.


Fighting counterfeit parts is a tough job. The sheer number of parts and the many ways fakes can infiltrate the system is daunting. The only solution is to mark each part so its journey through the system can be tracked and verified from factory to fighter plane. But how do you mark a tiny microchip, or a bolt that holds together an aircraft engine, in a way that’s impossible to counterfeit and won’t compromise the part’s performance?


A new marking system invented by Applied DNA Sciences looks to be part of the answer. The system uses botanical deoxyribonucleic acid—that is, plant DNA—to forensically mark replacement parts. The mark, in the form of DNA suspended in a tiny dot of epoxy ink, is applied pneumatically and heat-cured.


The plant-based DNA provides a unique signature that counterfeiters can’t duplicate, and Applied DNA Sciences claims its DNA-based validation system is unbreakable. Sophisticated counterfeiters using DNA sequencers cannot reverse-engineer the mark, as the company claims to have additional levels of security and complexity built into the system. Maybe they’re right. In any case, for fake-makers just interested in selling a mountain of bolts made from pot metal, the mere presence of a DNA marker will be a big enough barrier to entry.


Unlike a barcode, the epoxy dot is tiny and unobtrusive. It can be applied at the factory to the surface of microchips destined for the military supply chain. It can be placed on tiny mechanical parts, such as a bolt face, without worry that it will fall off or interfere with another part. The mark and the DNA inside is tough, capable of withstanding demanding conditions.


Once applied, the mark can be scanned by the end user to verify the part’s provenance in the supply chain. The user can check that the part did indeed pass from the factory through the Department of Defense system.


The technology has been fast-tracked by the military. In 2014, Applied DNA Sciences received a Rapid Innovation Fund award from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to further develop the program. So far 150,000 DLA microcircuits have been marked. The technique will also be used on electrical and electronic components, bearings, vehicle components, engine parts, pipes, tubing, hose and fittings, and hardware and abrasives.


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National Defense


New Insider Threat Regulations to Hit Contractors Hard




By Daniel C. Schwartz, Andrew J. Schoulder and Jennifer Kies Mammen


The Department of Defense and other government agencies have recognized that competition and innovation from smaller technology companies are critical to overcoming shortfalls in technology and to providing proposed solutions.


At the same time, the country has witnessed an increasing number of successful cyberattacks and insider threats against the U.S. government and the private sector, many associated with state actors.


Federal contractors face a Nov. 30 deadline to begin to implement a number of significant and potentially costly steps to protect against insider threats and outside cybersecurity risks. The new rules are found in conforming change 2 to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, or NISPOM.


Change 2, known as CC2, places a substantial cost burden on contractors, which may not all be reimbursable. Large companies are better able to undertake these costs and to spread them over a wider array of larger contracts. But many small businesses — those the government is trying to attract — will find that satisfying these requirements will strain their technical and personnel capabilities, and their budgets.


The unwelcome result may be a diminution in competition in the classified government contractor space, particularly from smaller, often more innovative entities. For the Defense Department, this means fewer opportunities to develop experimental and innovative solutions through smaller, new contractors and subcontractors, and less creativity in addressing problems.


All of this may not be offset by a significant rise in actual security and may, potentially, result in a diminished ability to protect information.


In May, the Department of Defense issued Industrial Security letter 2016-02 requiring contractors to have a written program plan to implement the insider threat requirements of CC2.


The insider threat program must detail a contractor’s system for gathering, integrating, reviewing, assessing, and responding to information indicative of a potential or actual insider threat. An insider threat is defined in the NISPOM as the “likelihood, risk, or potential that an insider will use his or her authorized access, wittingly or unwittingly, to do harm to the national security of the United States.”


The definition of an “insider” is far reaching, as it encompasses cleared contractor personnel with authorized access to any government or contractor resource, including personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks and systems. Insider threats may include harm to contractor or program information, to the extent that the information impacts the contractor or agency’s obligations to protect classified national security information. Thus, for smaller contractors, this could effectively cover all employees and contracted personnel.


A contractor’s insider threat program must, among other things, establish monitoring of classified computer networks and systems, including monitoring both systems and users and implement certain security controls on classified information systems.


In addition to cybersecurity required by contract and the agency that oversees the contractor’s facility clearance, contractors must now also develop and implement a system security plan. The SSP must include policies and procedures for the contractor to provide information security for the contractor’s information system and reduce the security risks to those systems. It must establish processes for planning, implementing, and evaluating remedial actions to address deficiencies in information systems’ security policies and procedures; and create procedures for detecting, reporting and responding to security incidents.


The SSP must mandate self-inspections of the contractor’s own performance, as well as provide draft formal reports of the inspection findings and written certifications that the contractor’s management has been briefed on the results of the self-inspection and corrective action has been taken to address any issues. Each certification must also include a statement that management “fully supports” the contractor’s security program.


This self-inspection obligation is in addition to a requirement for annual testing of information systems security and auditing processes and procedures to detect cyber incidents.

To add teeth to the requirements, CC2 requires contractors to certify that it has sufficient protections, including the appointment of any necessary personnel, in place as a condition to the government’s grant of an authorization to allow the contractor to process classified information.


Of particular importance is the wide net that CC2 casts over personnel. As part of the insider threat program, the contractor must designate a cleared, senior employee to be the Insider Threat Program Security Official,who will be responsible for establishing and executing the program. Contractors must appoint a properly qualified employee to serve as the Information Systems Security Manager to oversee the development and implementation of the contractor’s security plan. Likewise, all employees who access classified networks must receive appropriate training.


Beyond that, the contractor must provide training for identified insider threat program personnel and awareness for cleared employees, establish procedures to analyze and report personal information regarding cleared employees, and provide for annual self-inspections and reporting of those inspections.


The foremost cost wedge potentially is the requirement for contractors to hold employees responsible for SSP compliance through monitoring measures, the results of which can be used for criminal, security or administrative proceedings. Contractors will need to procure or contract for technology that will enable this level of monitoring. For contractors with tight budgets or contracts with thin margins, the burden could be significant.


As a result of these programs, individual employees may face loss or suspension of their security clearances, and termination of their employment, on the basis of suspicions of not preventing or causing a cybersecurity breach, or being an “insider threat,” as identified through the more proactive, but potentially incomplete, investigative actions by their employers. While those employees may have an opportunity to win back their individual clearances via an adjudicative process, the burden of proof shifts entirely onto the individual to establish that having a security clearance is in the national security interest of the country.


Companies must be careful in reporting suspicious activity about an employee if a loss of that employee’s security clearance results in a loss of employment. The contractor can reasonably expect to hear from that former employee’s attorney with claims of wrongful termination, particularly if the reported activity turns out to be incorrect. In this regard, the contractor must try to avoid actions that could be alleged to be in conflict with civil rights and equal employment requirements, while also complying with the requirement to report all “relevant and credible” information about possible insider threats. Notwithstanding the best efforts of a contractor, that wider net the revised NISPOM casts over employees adds yet another layer of potential compliance costs.


Historically, the NISPOM has required contractors to file reports upon learning of adverse information that could have an impact on a security clearance or the entity’s status as a cleared facility. Similarly, contractors have always been required to report and assist security personnel to assess known compromises of classified information.


To date, these have been largely passive requirements, not requiring a proactive investigative effort in the absence of a reason to suspect that violations of security requirements have occurred. Even then, most sophisticated contractors would employ outside counsel to conduct internal investigations and advise company management or the board, under attorney-client privilege, regarding the likelihood and extent of concern and appropriate actions for the company to take in compliance with existing statutes and regulations.


That practice will change under the tenets of CC2, which requires contractors to undertake an affirmative and continuing investigative role, both as to the activities of their employees and contracted personnel and as to the security of their systems. Under the auditing and reporting requirements of CC2, a contractor must report relevant and credible information within 72 hours. This requirement must be viewed in combination with any other contractual requirements to report cyber or related incidents. The DFARS, in particular, now contain reporting requirements that are potentially more stringent than those set forth in CC2.


Further, CC2 requires contractors to grant Defense Department personnel access to the systems that are the subject of a suspected cyber threat. As a consequence, contractors may not be able to fully assess the nature of a possible breach before the government begins its parallel investigation.  While CC2 includes nominal limitations on the level of access a contractor must provide, in practice, the government may attempt to use such demands for much broader purposes.


This demand for access could begin to replace criminal investigative and grand jury subpoenas as the preferred method of initial government discovery. Contractors may choose to negotiate or even resist in court compliance with a government subpoena, invoking Fourth Amendment and privileges protections, but it remains unclear whether any such protections apply to a DoD demand for access to the contents of computer systems under the NISPOM.


Under various executive orders and a DoD Directive issued in 2014, components of the Defense Department and other government agencies were required to establish processes and policies to protect against insider and cybersecurity threats. It is apparent, however, that uniform application of these requirements across the government is expensive and time consuming and are not being met uniformly or quickly. Thus, the government is imposing security requirements on contractors that it has not itself met consistently. Furthermore, there is no real enforcement mechanism within the government to ensure that adequate programs are put in place contemporaneously with the imposition of such requirements on contractors.


As a result, the requirement that a contractor report vulnerability of its personnel or its computer systems to a government agency may simply place sensitive information where it may be no more secure from outsider access than it was in the hands of the contractor, and it may be less secure. Moreover, if the government collects all information about a suggested insider threat or the data that maybe subject to a cyber threat and places it in its own imperfectly secured systems, that centralization may simply increase the possibility that the information will be improperly accessed. This may provide cyber threat actors with a much more lucrative target for attack by focusing on the data from numerous, threatened contractors stored in a single government site, making it unnecessary to attack numerous contractors’ individual systems.


DoD has been candid that there will be substantial costs associated with complying with these requirements. The Nov. 30 deadline only requires contractors to certify written insider threat programs and begin to implement those plans, but the costs to achieve all of the policies, procedures, and programs implicated by such plans are unlikely to be fully realized for some time.


A contractor’s ability to recover those full costs is uncertain. DoD has declined to develop cost recovery models for compliance with these programs, and simply advises that those costs should be treated similar to the costs associated with any other DFARS requirement during proposal preparation. And failure by a government contractor to adequately protect against insider or cyber threats may result in termination of contracts, recovery of costs and damages, and loss of a facility clearance or status as a responsible contractor.


It is of little comfort to the small contractor for DoD to point out that the cost to the nation of lost or stolen protected information is significantly greater than any financial burden placed on contractors. DoD appears to reject any opportunity by small contractors and subcontractors to treat costs for compliance with these required programs in a way that would make them more competitive with larger contractors.


Inevitably, this may disqualify smaller firms from competing for sensitive government contracts unless they combine with other small or larger contractors so the costs imposed by these programs can be spread.

The authors are members of Bryan Cave LLP’s national security practice. Schwartz and Mammen are resident in the firm’s Washington office. Schoulder is resident in the firm’s New York office.