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



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



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
















“Slam Stick”T Helps NAVAIR Engineers Troubleshoot Aircraft


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


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


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


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

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

Technologies Investment (ATI) Team Lead Brett Gardner.


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

was basically useless to us,” he said.


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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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FRCSW Engineer Wins 2016 Lasswell Award for Fleet Support


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


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


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

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

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

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


“I am excited and proud to be chosen (for the award),” Gardner said. “It is an honor to be recognized by industry

peers for my contribution to naval aviation in support of the warfighter.”


For the past 23 years, Gardner has worked at FRCSW to ensure the readiness of the Navy’s aircraft. During his second year on the job, in 1995, an F/A-18 Hornet fighter lost its airborne self-protection jammer (ASPJ) system

during flight. The ASPJ is an electronic system used to thwart enemy radar by emitting signals that obscure radar

returns while simultaneously disguising the its jamming signal.


Two years later, at a considerable expense, a test-equipped aircraft was used to determine that the ASPJ failure was caused by vibration up the aircraft’s keel during catapult launches. Meanwhile, before the issue was identified and the ASPJ was prohibited for carrier use, fleet-deployed aircraft were experiencing millions of dollars in keel damages.


Factors such as vibration, air pressure and temperature not only affect aircraft performance, but safety as well.

While attending a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) forum in 2011, Gardner noticed an accelerometer

manufactured by Midé that sparked his interest. One year later, in partnership with Midé, the Slam StickT

was created-a lightweight sensor and data logger that measures vibration, temperature, and atmospheric pressure.


Since, the device has served more than 300 flights, saving approximately $1.5 million vice conventional test flight methods, and increasing the availability and readiness of the Navy’s aircraft.

Gardner said that he is currently working with the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) and Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 (VMFAT-101) to pilot Slam Stick use at the squadrons to measure cockpit pressure as part of a project to assess physiological events in Hornet aircraft.


“We most recently received approval from PMA-265 to download Slam Stick data to F/A-18 AME data strippers,” he said. “This new capability will allow for cockpit pressure data collection around the globe.” Marine Corps Maj. A. Bryan Lasswell was a translator and cryptologist, who in 1942, worked relentlessly to decipher the communications of the Japanese navy. His efforts were instrumental in the American victory at the Battle of Midway Island.


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NAVAIR veteran seeks to make a difference for other vets


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – It took a few minutes for Ryan Daniels to realize what had happened.


The former Marine Corps Staff Sergeant was traveling with a convoy in May 2011 in a restive part of southwestern Afghanistan that had seen plenty of combat action. His mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or MRAP, had just hit a large, improvised explosive device, blowing off the front end of the massive vehicle, disorienting the crew and pelting them with shrapnel.


Moments after regaining consciousness and checking on his fellow Marines, Daniels moved himself to within his vehicle’s turret and began returning fire at the insurgents.


“They had an almost machine gun-like fire trained at our vehicle,” Daniels, an eight-year veteran with two combat tours now working as a Naval Air Systems Command Naval Acquisition Development Program intern, said, remembering the event. “The windshield was bulletproof, but the bullets left marks on the windshield. The windshield was covered with marks.”


Following treatment for concussions, post-traumatic stress and other injuries, Daniels left the Marine Corps as a Wounded Warrior. But the memories and horrors of war sometimes still visit him in the middle of the night.


“I’m trying really hard to make the transition [to civilian life], but sometimes I have my moments,” Daniels said. He said he values the support he receives from his co-workers at the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290), where he is a logistics management specialist, as well as the support of his family.


To better help veterans understand the effects military service and combat can have on a successful transition to civilian life, Sonny Fann, NAVAIR Veteran and Wounded Warrior Program Senior Outreach Coordinator, volunteers with a program called Semper Fi Odyssey (SFO) that helps veterans such as Daniels make that adjustment.


“We help the veterans with coping skills and help them understand themselves,” Fann said. “We also give them career advice, to include resume tips, interviewing skills and immediate feedback.”


Founded by a retired Marine Corps general in 2008, SFO takes place at a former Boy Scouts of America camp near Boswell, Pennsylvania. The six-day, holistic transition-assistance event is designed to prepare participants – mostly post-9/11 combat veterans – for life after military service.


Events are held throughout the year, and Fann, a two tour Vietnam War veteran, has volunteered at several of them. Daniels expects to attend an event this year as well.


Many of the volunteer team leaders have had the same struggles as the participants, Fann said. Almost all have something in common: They are combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, loss of limbs or other debilitating injuries.


“I can say I definitely buried some emotions and issues for some time,” Daniels said. “When I got home from Afghanistan in June 2011, I was getting married and dealing with my physical, medical and emotional issues from the deployment. That all kept me busy and out of my own head for a time. Issues persisted until 2014 when I was convinced to ask for some help. When I found out how messed up I really was, and I was failing in my relationships, that’s what made me start looking into some of these retreats.”


SFO offers a variety of tools to teach veterans – broken into groups of three or four people like fire teams – how to make a successful, productive transition from the military to civilian life, despite their illnesses and injuries, Fann said.


“The end-game in Semper Fi Odyssey is to help them understand they still have value, despite what has happened to them,” Fann said. “The attributes all veterans have, along with their life experiences, which cannot be replicated anywhere else, makes them valuable assets for the NAVAIR mission.”


One thing participants learn is how to write a personal and professional goal-oriented operations order, also known as a Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Command (SMEAC), to set objectives and hold the warriors accountable for their results. The SMEAC at SFO is written based on the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.


“Everyone in the military understands an op order, so we use something that is familiar for the veterans,” Fann explained.


SMEAC helps participants:

.               Analyze their situation.

.               Set their mission.

.               Determine the steps to execute.

.               Administer the steps.

.               Communicate the actions needed to complete their mission successfully.


Included in SFO is a trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial in nearby Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


“It is important that service members understand the reason that their sacrifices are so important to our nation’s defense and that they are valued. This is where the War on Terror started and why so many veterans wanted to serve,” Fann said.


“One of my favorite quotes from President George Washington really encapsulates what drives me to help veterans,” Fann said. “Washington said, ‘The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.'”


“I basically just hope to talk about things and get things off my chest,” Daniels said. “I’ve had to deal with some pretty gnarly stuff. So being with people who have been there, who understand, and who care will really make a difference (for me).”


“There is no shame in seeking assistance,” Fann said. “Rather, it’s a sign of strength.


“This is a tragic lesson learned from Vietnam era veterans and resulted in significant challenges and a high suicide rate, which the SFO seeks to combat,” he said “This program literally saves lives.”


NAVAIR wounded, ill and injured veteran employees can contact Fann at if they believe they can benefit from SFO. For more information, visit


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Pentagon Brass Demand Culture Change, Innovations In Buying Weapons




When retired Navy Vice Adm. David “Decoy” Dunaway thinks about failures in the Pentagon’s procurement programs, he also contemplates what killed once great civilizations.


“They get incredibly bureaucratic. There’s a fair amount of corruption that occurs in their bureaucracies. They get invested in huge amounts of infrastructure that they can’t maintain and sustain, and it’s too expensive to update. And they’re run by a bunch of lemmings,” said Dunaway, the moderator of an introspective gathering of the nation’s top military procurement bosses Wednesday at West 2017.


Dunaway’s fears played a minor chord in a lyric that’s buzzed through the halls of San Diego’s Convention Center throughout the course of the annual military convention and trade show: The Navy and Marine Corps need to do more to fix readiness problems as rival nations loom to challenge their military superiority.


Military acquisition is the way the service bureaucracies manage the procurement process to buy products and services. Congressional legislation sculpts some of the process, but other regulations stem from the Pentagon itself.


While the goal for all the services is to deliver the best weapons for the troops at reasonable prices for taxpayers, in recent years many programs have been plagued by massive cost overruns and long delays, including the much-maligned Joint Strike Fighter program, the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the Zumwalt class of destroyers and the littoral combat ships.


A career fighter aviator, the highly decorated Dunaway also served as a test pilot and helmed the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland, so when he called for the services to “blow the culture up” he was taking direct aim at a process he knew intimately.


Echoing Dunaway were Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Moore of Naval Sea Systems Command, Rear Adm. David Lewis of San Diego’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Rear Adm. DeWolfe “Bullet” Miller III of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Coast Guard assistant commandant Rear Adm. Bruce Baffer and Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader of Marine Corps Systems Command.


Moore pointed to the gutting of the Navy’s ranks of uniformed and civilian design engineers and other technological experts – from 1,300 in 1990 to under 250 in 2005. That forced the service to rely ever more on outside contractors to plan increasingly complex programs such as the littoral, Zumwalt and Ford ships.


“While speed and costs are certainly things to concentrate on, the way to not do that is to completely cut the government out of oversight and expertise and throw things over to the defense industry and say, ‘Build me this and send it back to me,'” Moore said.


Baffer said the acquisition process often gets “mired in bureaucracy,” where “things take forever.” He stressed that the services’ procurement experts need to become less “risk-averse.”


A career aviator like Dunaway, Miller noted that the Navy also has notched procurement wins such as the MQ-25 Stingray drone refueler. That was part of a real cultural shift inside the Navy that led to trimming the fat and delivering weapons that work for the military, he said, but more needs to be done and Congress can help.


“Programs right now take too long and they cost too much,” Miller said. “So that realization is there. So what are we going to do about it? Well, we need to change our culture.”


Shrader, a Marine who rose from enlisted grunt to flag officer, called for more “disruptive thinkers” in the ranks – service members who can make the system work better. Scanning an audience filled with defense contractors, he told them that they need to deliver what they promise in their contracts because “there’s no time for do-overs.”


Shrader said the Marines need weapons that are easy to operate and maintain, and that the services must own the rights to the technology to keep future replacement costs down. He urged wider adoption of 3-D printing, which allows Marine crews to fashion metal parts in hangars and depots instead of depending on logistical chains that can stretch across continents.


Lewis said the services could learn a few tricks from the private sector. He pointed to the makers of video games, who understand their customers very well.


“That customer expects to be an expert at that game in 10 to 15 minutes,” Lewis said. “If it takes longer than 20 minutes to learn how to play the game, that customer throws it away and tells all their friends that it’s a bad game…


“So in that world, there’s a very sophisticated set of engineers who deliver to that requirement, and I think we can do the same thing.”


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Get To The Fleet Faster – Big Changes Coming To A Schools


(NAVY TIMES 19 FEB 17) … Mark Faram


The Navy is pulling the trigger on radical changes to the way it trains the entire enlisted force.


Gone will be the days of long, upfront technical training known as Class A school: the one that can last up to two years and for many sailors is the only trade-school training they will get during a 20-year career in the Navy.


Instead, the new regimen will include a far-shorter stint following boot camp that will be whittled down to just what sailors need to succeed in their first tour. Sailors will get to the fleet far sooner – and with far less preparation – than with traditional A schools.


After that, additional training will be spread over a sailor’s career, coming in blocks given each time a sailor returns to sea. The new model will make enlisted training more closely resemble that of officers, who receive professional military education and career-specific training at various points throughout their careers.


The Navy’s new training system, which starts this year for several ratings, will involve less brick-and-mortar schooling and more distance learning. It will aim to keep sailors more abreast of the cutting-edge technology impacting their career field. And it will give the Navy more agility to revamp and modernize training for future missions.


“We are developing a career-long learning continuum where training is delivered by modern methods to enable faster learning and better knowledge retention at multiple points throughout a career, just as we do for officers,” said Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the chief of naval personnel.


The end result, Burke said, will transform what he calls the current “industrial, conveyer-belt-training model” into career-long training where “content is refreshed for changing technologies so sailors are ready to perform on day one at their new units.”


The new, truncated A schools will be on average about 30 percent as long as those that sailors attend today. Yet for many career sailors, the new regimen will actually increase the total amount of training and education they’ll receive during a Navy career.


The Navy calls it Ready Relevant Learning, and considers it a critical piece of the ratings modernization effort announced last year. That effort included the Navy’s controversial decision to eliminate sailors’ ratings, a move that the top brass reversed in December after months of criticism.


Nevertheless, Burke and other top Navy leaders plan to push ahead with structural reforms aimed at a similar goal of making Navy career paths more flexible, which include breaking up traditional A school into a series of training blocks spread over many years.


Over time, the Navy hopes the training pipeline will provide customized training and development for individual sailors, allowing sailors to train and qualify in an array of skills outside their own rating’s traditional career path. That, in turn, will open up new duty assignments, advancement opportunities and civilian certifications.


The biggest change of all may be the decision to transfer responsibility for most of the training to the fleet. Today training is mostly overseen by Naval Education and Training Command, but in the future, the NETC’s oversight will end after a sailor completes their initial schools on the way to their first sea tour.


That’s a big challenge – and potential pitfall – for the fleet, Navy officials say.


Who Gets It And When


The transformation of the training pipeline has been in the works for a few years, but it wasn’t until the start of fiscal year 2017 in October that the Navy received the funding to set it in motion.


The implementation will start this year as sailors in four ratings begin to train in the new system, and 15 additional ratings could get the go-ahead later this year.


Another 34 ratings are in the early stages of development and will gradually come online over the next three years Navy officials say.


By 2020, a majority of Navy’s 87 ratings will be training sailors under the new format.


The seed of the concept has been around for decades and stems from the model the Navy currently uses to train pilots throughout their careers.


When aviators and flight officers wrap up shore duty and get ready to head back to the fleet, they go back to flight school for a refresher course to get current not only in flying but in the latest technology as well.


Nothing like that happens for most sailors, who might spend three years pushing boots at Great Lakes or recruiting, and are then sent right back to sea with the expectation that they will pick up where they left off.

The time required for them to get back up to speed reduces readiness, top Navy officials say.


“The concept is called block learning,” said Rear Adm. Mike White, who commands Naval Education and Training Command and has helped spearhead development of the new custom career paths. “We take today’s curriculum [for each rating] and look at it from that lens of: When would it best be delivered across the first tour and across a career? We will then break it apart and deliver it at the appropriate time.”


Sailors will get “block zero” during their initial pipeline training on their way to their first sea tour, White said.


Block one would occur during the first sea tour, block two would be their second sea tour and so forth.


The individual training blocks completed by sailors will be tracked with a new Navy database that will allow the Navy to have full visibility on its human capital and help detailers to assign sailors in the most effective way.


‘We will need to . create a single, authoritative database that captures a sailor’s combination of NECs, experience and proficiency – a snapshot of their DNA,” CNP Burke said.


Block Construct


As Navy officials draw up new training plans for individual ratings, take a close look at not only what skills sailors will need in the fleet, but also when they will need those skills.


For example, one of the first ratings transitioning to the new model this year is logistics specialist. Those sailors are the Navy’s supply clerks, but they’re also responsible for the mail system – collecting, sending sorting and delivering the mail.


Currently in A school, all sailors training to be logistics specialists get postal clerk training before entering the fleet. But, “it turns out that most apprentice LS’s will not be a postal clerk for at least a couple of years in the fleet,” White said.


“They spend their first couple years mastering their other duties in the rating before they’re assigned to this kind of work,” White said.


That’s why the postal clerk training has been pushed out into a block that sailors will receive after they’ve served in the fleet for a while. “We believe it is best if you defer that postal clerk training; and then deliver it after a couple years when they are ready to take on that responsibility,” White said.


Deferring that block of training, which in this specific case lasts up to eight days, until later in a sailor’s first sea tour saves time and also ensures that knowledge is fresh and up to date when the sailors take on that duty, White said.


Training for tasks that more senior sailors do will be put off to for future blocks of training as they return to sea for second and third sea tours with the same idea of ensuring the skills are fresh and they have been taught the most current information.


Right now, White said, about 53 of the Navy’s 87 ratings will fit well into this block training construct. But that leaves 34 ratings to wrestle with how to put their skills into a career-long learning construct.


One such rating is air traffic controllers.


“They need to come out with essentially their FAA qualification so that they can go be part of an air traffic control team,” White said. “That was not one we could give them half the training up front and half later because they had to leave the schoolhouse ready, so we did not see a way to block that curriculum.”


Now, down the road, this effort may give us some tools to help improve the way they learn, but, it just did not fit the mold of the premise of Ready Relevant Learning.”


What happens to these ratings, remains to be seen, but officials tell Navy Times the long-term goal is to provide all sailors with career-long training opportunities, though much may need to simply evolve over time.


High-Tech Training


Today’s junior sailors are used to using technology in all aspects of their lives. That means that the Navy is looking at quite a wide range of possibilities when it comes to delivering training to sailors.


This doesn’t mean that traditional brick and mortar schools are going away. Instead, it means that schools could be augmented with high-tech tools that help sailors learn by using gaming and virtual reality along with traditional book study.


These high-tech tools could be made mobile, making training available to sailors at the waterfront without having to send them miles away from their homes and commands.


To help the Navy develop new and more effective training, White said they’ve turned to the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division out of Orlando, Florida, where Navy officials are already at work developing the next generations of training technology.


“They are leading the effort to now visit the classrooms that we teach those ratings in today, and do a little bit of a knowledge capture and analysis of that training – should it continue to be instructor led? Do we have modernized delivery methods with computer simulation, or gamification, or other opportunities that would increase the retention of knowledge?”


One such technology is what he calls the Multi-Purpose Reconfigurable Training System, something that’s already in the fleet being used by the submarine community.


Simply put, this is a room of large, flat, touch-screen displays, White said. Those displays can simulate a torpedo room on a Virginia Class submarine in the morning and be re-booted in the afternoon to be a submarine radio room.


This system can be installed permanently in a schoolhouse or configured as mobile training platform, put into a trailer and drive down the pier to provide the training where the sailors are, he said.


In addition, he said, the service is also looking at other options for training, such as applications that can be accessed on personal smart phones and tablets.


Already the service has begun to offer such apps that teach some General Military Training topics. But this is expected to expand to other areas in the future, officials say.


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Navy Gives Fleet Commanders More Control Over Who Gets Training – And When


(NAVY TIMES 19 FEB 17) … Mark D. Faram


The biggest challenge – and potential risk – for the Navy’s new training program is that the fleet owns it and operational commanders will have a big say in what training sailors get and when.


Sure, the Naval Education and Training Command, which has overseen enlisted training for generations, will still be part of the picture.


But as the transformation of the Navy’s training pipeline starts to take effect this year, it will be the fleet commanders – both Atlantic and Pacific – who will decide when the sailor gets their next level of training.

“For the ship CO, he gets to decide when that sailor is ready for that advanced training,” said Al Gonzalez, the top personnel and training official at Fleet Forces Command.


“It may happen at year one plus one day, or [the CO] may say you need a little more time.”


Starting this year, the Navy will be cutting up-front training in ‘A’ school by as much as 70 percent, and the oversight by NETC will end when sailors head to their first duty assignment.


Fleet commanders will oversee the bulk of a sailors’ advanced training, that will now be broken up into “blocks” of training and spread intermittently across a sailor’s career after spending time on the job in the fleet.


It’ll be up to the fleet commanders to decide exactly what sailors will learn and when.


“Once [sailors]have been on the ship for about a year and they have proven their ability to absorb more knowledge in their particular career field . we will give the command an opportunity to get that sailor to block one, which is their next update on their career field.”


The changes signal a historic break from the Navy’s long-standing tradition of giving sailors lengthy initial training and teaching skills that sailors might not use for years – if ever.


“If we train them on something that they will not use for the next three, four, five years, they lose their skill-set in those areas,” Gonzalez said.


“What we are doing is we are looking at all that accession training and figuring out what they need in the first two years that they are going to be on the platform,” he said.


In the past, efforts to cut training invariably led to grumbling from the fleet and specifically the deck plates that newly minted junior sailors were arriving at their first duty assignment without the skills to do their jobs.


There is some anxiety about how the new regimen will work in practice. Some people in the Navy are wonder whether the shortened A-Schools will provide junior sailors with the skills they’ll need at their first job.


And there’s also concern among some senior enlisted officials that commands won’t get their sailors to follow on training – and here, there’s some historical precedent.


Fleet commands have traditionally been stingy with sailor’s time, given all the operational commitments, inspections and maintenance required in the fleet today. And the result is, sometimes, that sailors have suffered at the hands of their commands.


For example, the Navy has long required sailors to attend leadership training as they advance to the next paygrade. A decade ago, that training was a week-long and was given at training commands. But in some cases, commanders did not prioritize that training and at one point 28,000 sailors who did not have that training were at risk of not being eligible promotion.


It took a year and a concentrated effort by personnel officials, including suspending the advancement requirement for the training for a year so the Navy could get more sailors into that training course and whittle down the number of impacted sailors to 10,000.


But the problem persisted and within months the training was reworked.


But Gonzalez says that this situation will be different from the get go.


“That was a very significant point when the fleet became the leader in this particular activity,” Gonzalez. “As we looked at what we were doing to the operating forces, we did not want to put an undue burden on them, and that this effort provides tangible improvement for both the sailor and the ship.”


With the fleet running the show, he said, it’s easier for leadership to set the expectations for commanders – as well as setting the rules for ensuring sailors get their follow-on training within set limits.


This gives the command the chance to gauge the sailor’s actual performance, Gonzalez says, and to work with him or her on where their skills are lacking – and they can find the right place in the ship’s schedule.


“They can remediate a few of the things that they need to so that when he goes back to the training he is all up to speed and he is not going to be behind when he enters that course.”


Gonzalez says the rule have been set to help the sailor as well as the command.


“What we have done for the ships is a number of things, First we have given them a wide area on which to get the sailor back to the training,” he said.


“Two, we give the CO of that ship a guarantee – and in fact it is not even a question – that sailor would be going back to the same unit that he came from when he gets done with the training.


And what the command gets is an improved sailor, ready to take the knowledge he gets from that course and apply it immediately to the ship that invested that time in sending him.


“So the ship has an investment and a reward coming out of getting that sailor ready for his next block – and then when he comes back they get the benefit of that sailor having a higher level of skillset to perform on the same ship that he left,” Gonzalez said.


“The sailor benefits because he does not have to re-qualify on watch stations or warfare qualifications, does not have to move and comes back to the ship knowing that he can do a better job.”


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Visiting the Prowler: USMC Electronic Warfare Capabilities in Transition


Second Line of Defense, Feb. 22 | Todd Miller


The unmistakable Grumman EA-6B Prowler comes into view on the horizon and streaks low across the hills of southern Virginia.


“Dog 31” of the VMAQ-3 Moon Dogs is on a routine low level training mission. The flight ensures pilot and electronic countermeasures officers (ECMOs) realize the minimum designated 15 hours of monthly flight time to maintain proficiency.


Additional time is spent training in simulators to address specific threat environments.


The Prowler wings by and banks into the late afternoon sun.


It is a visual metaphor, as sundown for the Prowler fleet is drawing near.


The Prowlers remain one of the premier electronic warfare (EW) aircraft in the services and are planned to cease operations in 2019.


Prowler squadron VMAQT-1 the Banshees were decommissioned in 2016, and the current Marine Aviation plan has the remaining squadrons following one per year; in 2017 the VMAQ-4 Seahawks, in 2018 the VMAQ-3 Moon Dogs, and the last Prowler squadron, the VMAQ-2 Death Jesters will be decommissioned in 2019.


The 18 currently remaining EA-6Bs are based at MCAS Cherry Point, NC and split among the 3 active squadrons as needs (deployments) require.


During this staged sundown, pilots and ECMOs are given options to transition to other aircraft, incoming EW platforms, or pursue new occupational specialties.


In many respects the Prowler “sundown” is not a typical “retirement” where a platform with diminished capacity slowly fades away.


Today’s Prowler is the most capable variant ever. The aircraft features the improved capabilities (ICAP) III package and will receive Block 7 ICAP III upgrades to improve EW performance and operability through to the end of service life.


The aircraft are effective and future deployments are planned.


Over 46 years of service Prowlers (USN since 1971 & USMC since 1977) have been involved in scores of critical Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coalition operations. Since 9/11 Prowlers have been deployed near continuously.


Recently, the aircraft have provided extensive service (including deployment to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey) over Syria and Iraq to support the coalition in the fight against ISIS. In these theaters, the aircraft jam cell phones and other remote signals that trigger IEDs as well radars that may be tracking coalition air assets.


While the aircraft can utilize anti-radiation missiles to strike enemy radar assets, their secondary role in this region is more likely to include intelligence gathering within the electronic spectrum.


By 2020, the USMC will have adopted a revolutionary change in how they address electronic warfare.


Rather than replace the Prowler with a dedicated platform, the USMC has adopted a distributed strategy, where “every platform is a sensor, shooter and sharer.”


This new paradigm brings together both electronic warfare and cyber capability with the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) in a structure called the (MAGTF EW).


USMC Captain Sarah Burns explains, “Under MAGTF EW the Marine Corps is leveraging emerging technologies and integrating multiple aviation platforms [unmanned, fixed-wing, tilt-rotor, and rotary-wing assets]; payloads; ground-based EW nodes; and cyber capabilities to provide commanders with an organic and persistent EW capability – for every MAGTF – large and small.”


Within the MAGTF EW each USMC aviation platform will have the capability to carry its own pods packed with sensors / jammer payloads (such as the Intrepid Tiger II).


2nd Lt. Samuel Stephenson indicates:


“This integration of manned and unmanned airborne and ground EW capabilities will provide the MAGTF commander with greater flexibility and control of the electromagnetic spectrum and, in many cases, giving the commander a capability where previously they had none.


“MAGTF EW assets will be modular, scalable and networked, utilizing an open architecture that is rapidly adaptable and remotely re-programmable at the tactical level to support future Marine Corps warfighting requirements.”


The US Navy EA-18G Growler will continue the Prowlers dedicated EW mission.


The USMC F-35B & C (replacing the AV-8B, F/A-18A-D and EA-6B) will provide the tactical aviation requirements of the USMC while offering a very robust EW capability. Combined, the two aircraft (EA-18G & F-35B/C) will bring immense EW capability to the Joint Force.


As Stephenson indicates, “These aircraft, combined with the assets available in the MAGTF EW, will ensure the Marine Corps will be able to quickly innovate and adapt to the changing EW mission set and the battlefield of tomorrow.”


During this time of dynamic change within the USMC, the Prowlers remain at the ready and heavily utilized.


The aircraft train out of MCAS Cherry Point and participate globally within exercises of USAF, USN and coalition forces.


The Prowler community and aviation enthusiasts have a few remaining years to celebrate the service and enjoy the flight of the Prowler.


They can do so knowing this cat is black, and will be on the prowl until the final hour.


Visiting 2nd Marine Air Wing: The Role of Electronic Warfare and VMAQ-3


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Navy Cyber Chief: Network Protection, Data Assurance Top Priorities; Investments Needed in A.I.


U.S. Naval Institute News, Feb. 21 | Gidget Fuentes


The military services must deliver information and data to warfighters, from fleet commanders to pilots, that’s timely, accurate, secure and not compromised by the growing threats from network intruders and attacks, the Navy’s top cyber official told a San Diego defense conference on Tuesday.


“It’s about assured C2 (command and control). It’s about giving tactical operators the assurance that the data that they are looking at – whether it’s on a computer screen or the cockpit of a Super Hornet – is data that they can trust,” Vice Adm. Michael M. Gilday, commander of Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet, said in a session with a WEST 2017 conference audience.


“If you are in a cockpit, you can be assured that the track that you are going to shoot at is the track you want to shoot at. It’s the same thing for a fleet commander,’ Gilday said. “He has to be assured that the orders he is putting out to the force have not been tampered with.”


“Network defense remains our number one priority,” he said. “It’s more important than offensive cyber.”

“Our aspiration is assured C2 in a communications-denied environment,” he added.


The goal is to push out analytics “to the tactical edge” and report back to higher headquarters to provide a better cyber COP, or common operating picture, and cyber situational awareness, “which we lack right now,” Gilday said.


The Navy is on track with building its Cyber Protection Teams and other cyber forces over the next few years that provide passive and active defense, along the perimeter and at the core of cyber networks. Cyber defense is a 24/7 mission. “Our optempo is a constant 24/7/365,” Gilday said. “We are always on mission.”


The Navy retains seven of its 40 Cyber Protection Teams, half which are poised for cyber defense missions while the other half for cyber offense capabilities. They are among the 113 teams that are being formed across the military services. So far, 26 Navy CPTs have reached full operating capability (FOC), and the rest will be fully capable by summer, a year earlier than planned, Gilday said.


Already, the Navy has enlisted its 40 teams to support cyber missions to some degree after Fleet Cyber equipped them with initial kits that will be refined and standardized once an ongoing assessment is completed. “The initial push was, get them on a mission,” he said.


Much work remains, however, in the critical need to track activity and identify intruders in the network and also determine their intents and impacts. “We’re still challenged with that insider threat,” Gilday said. Attacks on networks move very rapidly, which make it harder to identify threats and respond before damage is done. Offensive cyber “will always have the tactical advantage,” he later said.


The cheap availability and rapid evolution of malware, especially those that are stealthy and lethal, aren’t making defenses easy. “I need better tools than the adversaries have,” Gilday told a panel audience later in the afternoon.


That might include artificial intelligence.


The service is looking at A.I. capabilities to defend the network, help block and fight potential intruders and analyze the “near-second turn” on critical information that warfighters need. “We’ve seen that the adversary moves very, very quickly,” Gilday said. Cyber Command is piloting with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command to take a deeper look at its network architecture through various AI subsets “so we can detect that insider threat,” he said. “We need to do better.”


“The degree of automation in offensive cyber is spiraling,” Gilday said, and that’s making defending networks more challenging. “Artificial intelligence is where we need to go, and where we need to make an even bigger investment.”


One of SPAWAR’s top priorities is bolstering the Navy’s information technology infrastructure, the SPAWAR chief told the conference. That means upgrading systems and incorporating stronger defenses to help identify cyber intrusions, protect networks, defeat the threats and respond to those threats when needed.


“Industry has gone that way. We are going that way,” Rear Adm. David H. Lewis, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, said in a morning session. “We don’t make the assumption that our insides are clean.”


Lewis equated some network attacks as “smash and grab” burglaries, intrusions that can cripple networks and compromise data and leave sometimes obvious clues or fingerprints as to the source of the crime. But it’s not always the case, though, and sometimes an attack is much of a mystery as it is a mess.


“Our adversaries don’t. want us to know that they were there.”


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Link Army, Navy Missile Defense Nets: Adm. Harris


(BREAKING DEFENSE 21 FEB 17) … Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


SAN DIEGO – The Army and Navy must link their missile defense systems into a single network so Navy weapons can hit targets spotted by Army radars and vice versa, the chief of Pacific Command said today. That’s a daunting technical task but, if surmounted, it could dramatically improve defense against North Korean, Chinese, or Russian missile salvos.


“I believe that Army missileers should incorporate their air defense systems into the Navy’s integrated fire control – counter-air, or NIFC-CA, architecture,” Adm. Harry Harris told the AFCEA West convention here.


“I want them to be able to deliver a missile on target, and I want them to be able to do it interchangeably,” Harris elaborated to reporters afterwards. “In other words, I want the Navy to be able to do the sensing and the Army to do the shooting, or the Army to do the sensing and the Navy to do the shooting.” A Navy E-2D Hawkeye radar plane might spot an incoming missile for a land-based Army Patriot battery, for example, or an Army AN/TPY-2 radar might send targeting data to an Aegis destroyer.


Getting data from any radar to any weapon this way is much easier said than done. The Army’s still working on making this happen among different Army systems, let alone with other services. Currently, for example, a Patriot battery gets targeting data from a purpose-built Patriot radar by way of a purpose-built Patriot command post. The Army’s developing a new network called IBCS to connect all its disparate air and missile defense systems, and it’s had some successful tests, but it’s years from entering service.


The Navy is further along, having already developed what Harris calls the “unbelievably powerful” NIFC-CA. That system lets high-flying, far-seeing aerial sensors like the E-2 Hawkeye or, in future, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pass targeting data back to destroyers and cruisers. That lets surface ships shoot down incoming missiles before their own mast-mounted sensors could spot them. But NIFC-CA is specifically designed to communicate over a Navy network called CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability), which then feeds data to the Aegis fire control system on Navy ships. Connecting NIFC-CA to the not-yet-complete Army IBCS network will be a very different challenge.


“These two systems ought to be talking to each other,” Harris said. “I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a technical guy, so I don’t know how to make it work … How they do it, that’s my challenge to my components, to Adm. Swift (Adm. Scott Swift, commander of Pacific Fleet) and to Gen. Brown (Gen. Robert Brown, commander of U.S. Army Pacific).”


Brown in particular is playing a leading role in wargaming out the Army’s Multi-Domain Battle concept, which envisions land-based Army missile batteries firing “cross domain” on targets well out to sea. That includes not just missile defense interceptors but offensive anti-ship weapons as well. “As I’ve already told our outstanding U.S. Army commander, Gen. Bob Brown, before I leave PACOM, I’d like to see the Army’s land forces conduct exercises to sink a ship – in a complex environment where our joint and combined forces are operating in other domains,” Harris told AFCEA. “The multi-domain battle and cross-domain fires concepts are the right approaches we need.. in order to win future battles.”


Harris is equally excited about other applications of computer networks to warfare, particularly robotics. At the Super Bowl, “300 quad copters put on light show as an opening act for Lady Gaga – who was terrific by the way,” Harris told AFCEA. “What interests me in these examples is not the drones per se, or even Lady Gaga, for that matter. What interests me is the network that allows a hundred drones or more to fly in formation, to receive new orders, and to report back. That, said there’s a dark side(:) As soon as we figure out how to do this, someone else will try to hack into it.”


To help make these visions reality, Harris encouraged the technologists in the audience to pitch their innovations to the Pentagon – not necessarily to his headquarters in Hawaii. “My wallet really is small. The combatant commanders don’t buy stuff except in specialized areas,” he told AFCEA. “You have to, at the end of the day, pitch it to the services, (to) acquisition folks at the various service secretariats and OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense). The combatant commanders can help pull, but you have to push.”


Link Army, Navy Missile Defense Nets: Adm. Harris


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DoD Will Create Diverse Teams To Cut Out Duplicate Offices In Military Services


(WFED AM RADIO WASHINGTON DC 21 FEB 17) … Scott Maucione


The Defense Department is relying on teams with broad expertise to crosscut bureaucratic tiers and clean waste in the Pentagon.


A Feb. 17 memo from Defense Secretary James Mattis is taking to heart a task Congress legally required DoD to take up in the 2017 defense authorization act.


The memo assigns “cross-functional teams” (CFTs) to consolidate tasks and duties the military services separately perform.


“I recognize the military services have unique competencies in the specific operating domains . However, we have sometimes allowed our focus on service uniqueness to extend into business operations, leading to duplications of efforts and costs we can no longer afford,” Mattis wrote in the memo.


CFTs are made up of different functional experts all working toward a common goal. A single team may include people from logistics, communications, finance and human resources from all levels of DoD and even from outside the department.


The hope is integrate the Pentagon in a more horizontal fashion, where different divisions can work together instead of divisions working vertically in a stovepiped manner.


Mattis asked the teams to look into human resource management, acquisition and contract management, logistics and supply chain management, health care management, base services and cyber/IT management.


The memo appoints the deputy defense secretary to lead the initiative and to bring decisions forward for consideration during the fiscal 2019 program cycle.


DoD has long suffered from inefficiencies and waste.


The Defense Business Board issued a 2015 report that stated DoD could save $125 billion over five years purely through administrative measure. Those include cutting back on contractors, streamlining bureaucracies and other improvements. The report stated those savings could be made without laying off any Pentagon staff.

Still, staff is a whole problem in itself.


The Joint Staff has burgeoned to more than 4,000 employees, the office of the secretary of defense to 5,000 and the combatant commands have grown to more than 38,000, Flournoy said.


They “are ripe for a real scrub in terms of the breadth of their functions and the level of duplication with the joint staff and with OSD,” Michele Flournoy, former DoD undersecretary for policy told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015. “Headquarters have continued to grow even though active duty military has shrunk. In total, if you add in the defense agencies you have 240,000 people, excluding contractors, to a cost of $113 billion, it’s almost 20 percent of the DoD budget.”


Many of the areas Mattis targeted for consolidations made an appearance on the Government Accountability’s High Risk List released last week.


The report, which points out government issues in need of critical attention, notes that even DoD’s ability to find duplicative programs and offices is a problem in itself.


Other areas GAO highlighted were supply chain management, acquisition management, financial accountability and infrastructure issues.


But CFTs may be the best way to address the problems.


“Part of the issue is that the problems we identify require multiple components of the Defense Department to work together. Many of our recommendations on overlap, duplication and fragmentation have to do with components of DoD itself rather than across government. It’s a very large operation,” said Comptroller General Gene Dodaro during a Feb. 15 congressional hearing.


DoD experimented with cross-functional entities last year in the realm of service contracts. The acquisition office created cross-functional units to better its service contracting.


“You can’t have the idea that everyone is an expert on everything. So, how do you look at and gain that knowledge and share that and create communities of practice?” said Claire Grady, DoD’s director of defense procurement and acquisition strategy. “A functional domain expert [will] have that cross-cutting look across the community field into how we are buying services. [It] is a critical part of how we are tackling this.”


Not everything about CFTs is rosy, however. An August 2016, National Defense University study noted CFTs could create friction with functional leaders as it pursues its mission.


Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter noted in his 2017 NDAA heartburn letter that CFTs would result in “increased bureaucracy and a larger, less efficient and less responsive DoD organization.”


DoD will create diverse teams to cut out duplicate offices in military services


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Navy Shifts SeaPower Strategy


(SCOUT WARRIOR 18 FEB 17) … Bryan McGrath


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has a new idea about how he wants to build the budget and is pushing the Navy to get onboard. He is rightfully concerned about the competition with rising naval powers. He is rightfully concerned that the pace of the competition is quickening. His approach isn’t getting a whole lot of press, and to many it sounds like a whole lot of inside baseball, but to my mind, it is incredibly important stuff.


Richardson is reshuffling the deck – and his dealer is the VCNO (Vice Chief of Naval Operations), who is enforcing discipline in the new process. Instead of the resource sponsors being responsible for putting together that portion of the POM (Navy Program Objective Memorandum Budget Process) that corresponds to their “Platforms” – CNO has decreed that POM’s will be built around how the Navy will fight AS A SYSTEM within the various warfighting domains.


For instance – the Director of Surface Warfare Programs – RADM Ron Boxall – is no longer just responsible to the CNO for putting together a program that deals with U.S. Navy cruisers, destroyers and frigates. Boxall is now charged with leading a domain-based view of how all platforms – submarines, ships, aircraft, space and electronic warfare systems – that deal with how we confront ADVERSARY ships.


That is, he oversees an entire architecture, the Surface Domain, and he must bring to his boss (N9, Deputy CNO for Warfare Systems) a coherent, architecturally-based view of how ALL the capabilities fielded by ALL the resource sponsors relate in this domain. The undersea, air, and Cyber/Space/EW domains are similarly honchoed by a two-star integrator.


The theory here is that at some point in the process, this domain-driven approach will then allocate functionality within the domain back to the traditional platform sponsors in a way that is derived from a coherent warfighting architecture, and so their program proposals will spring NOT from whatever community interest they’d like to scratch, but from an efficient and effective view of what is required for dominance within that domain.


Why is this important? It is important because as we all know, goodness follows money. And if we begin to think about allocating resources from a domain architecture perspective rather than from a platform perspective, the REQUIREMENTS generation process will ultimately have to ALSO be altered to reflect an architectural – rather than a platform – view.


If we are going to begin to budget from a domain architecture perspective, we are going to need to begin THINKING about warfighting from that perspective. We are going to need concept development that looks at the adversary and discerns new ways of neutralizing it, rather than concepts that look at our platforms and discerns new ways of employing them.


And if we begin to develop domain-centered concepts, those concepts are going to have to be backed up by coherent, multi-platform systems architectures, architectures that allocate functionality to achieve warfighting desires. After all – what OPNAV (Naval Operations) is doing right now is necessary, but it is NOT sufficient – because even though they are building a budget using a domain approach, they HAVE NOTHING TO CHECK IT AGAINST – that is, these domain systems architectures simply.don’t..exist.


And they don’t exist for one very important reason. Up to now, there hasn’t been a general need for them. To be brutally honest, the Navy simply doesn’t have an organization charged with or staffed for doing this kind of work.


For the full value and goodness of the CNO’s ABSOLUTELY spot-on approach to work, the Navy will have to up its domain-oriented systems engineering game, and I have a feeling that people in this room will be critical to that effort.


So now – let’s leap ahead to twenty years from now and dream out loud for a bit. Let’s assume that the Navy – way back in 2017 – stood up a systems engineering organization that held the whip-hand when it came to architectural compliance in acquisition matters, and for twenty years, Navy acquisition has steadily moved away from the stove pipes of platform capability into the light of domain driven capability allocation.


We’ll still need to build ships then, right?


So then, what would such an approach VALUE from surface ships? More importantly, if we are going to move in this direction, what should our shipbuilding, naval engineering, and naval architect communities be thinking about TODAY?


Well then. This gets to the heart of the matter.


It seems to me that in such a domain architecturally-driven view of the world, surface ships will be most valued for flexibility, reconfigurability, interoperability, and capacity. And I think if we’re honest with each other, we’d conclude that this is NOT what we prize in the way we currently build ships.


Don’t get me wrong. We build great ships. The AEGIS Destroyer I commanded was the envy of the world. But it was conceived of and built as a “point solution” to a set of requirements that produced a variety of warfighting capabilities. Insufficient thought was given to how it might evolve, and how that evolution could be enabled.


My friend and mentor retired RADM Nevin Carr has a pithy way of describing what the surface force should move toward. He talks about “big trucks”, “medium trucks”, and “small trucks”. I’ll build on this simplicity here for a bit, and what I say will be no surprise to most of you who have already been thinking along these lines – but perhaps not from the architecturally-driven perspective that I suggest.


Surface ships of the future must be built in order to be able to pace the threat. When a new ARLEIGH BURKE destroyer is commissioned, it immediately begins to decline relative to the threat, which is always upgrading.


Ten years or so down the road, at great expense and at a cost of significant operational availability, at least ten year’s worth of technology and capability upgrades are stuffed into the ship. It then rejoins the fleet – again at a high state of readiness – and begins the cycle of decline relative to the threat once again. Perhaps one more time in its remaining service life, it will get another massive modernization period in which it is taken out of service for a year and $150M is poured into it.


What if we could build a ship – build all of our ships – in a way in which regular maintenance periods could be used to accomplish major capability upgrades? These more frequent and less intrusive upgrades would accomplish two things. They would ensure that the ship remains in front of the threats it is imagined against, and because the capability upgrades will have arisen from a domain architecture – and a disciplined systems engineering process – the prospects for interoperability with the rest of the architecture are improved.


I’m talking mainly about functionality driven by open architecture schemes – -in which the Navy controls the interface and industry creates the applications to meet architecturally driven requirements. Because a coherent systems engineering organization will have been involved from the beginning, where an application for a particular function has already been created – it, or portions of it – can be integrated into the computing platform of the ship. This commonality, this reuse, also contributes to architectural interoperability.


But why stop with software? We took a stab at modularity in the LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) class, and while it was a well-intentioned stab, it appears that we may have gotten it wrong. Mission area modularity – to me – makes much less sense than component level modularity. I’ve come to refer to this as “the commoditization of capability”, and how we get there is somewhat like how we get to software architectures. The government – i.e. the Navy – defines the real estate and the support functions – in other words, it defines the physical interfaces.


Space, weight, power, and cooling are provided, and industry is asked, “what can you do with this space”? This is why RADM Carr talks about “trucks”. The ship is a truck that carries around commodities, and those commodities are capabilities – capabilities that can be switched out pierside while the enabling software is upgraded over encrypted networks.


You know better than I that this approach is not the way we do things now, and you also know better than I that the government almost certainly wouldn’t get it right if it tried to impose such a system on industry.

So why not work together?


Why not bring together the various stakeholders in this process and begin the work of creating the future?


Why not get the fleet, the requirements community, the acquisition community, and industry together and hash this stuff out?


Why not say to industry – “here is where we want to go – can you help us get there?”


I believe we can. I know it is worth doing. And I am certain that it will take inspired leadership across a number of years to accomplish.


It will certainly not be easy.


But if it were easy – the Navy wouldn’t be doing it.


Bryan McGrath is a former Navy Captain who Commanded an AEGIS Destroyer. He is a defense consultant, and is the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower. Much of this essay comes from McGrath’s Feb. 15 Presentation to the American Society of Naval Engineers:


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Trump’s F-35C Vs. F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Idea: An Interesting Debate … Four Years Ago


(THE NATIONAL INTEREST 21 FEB 17) … Richard Aboulafia


Since the election, President Donald Trump has been making headlines with his promise to look at more Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as an alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He has also discussed asking Boeing to develop an improved Super Hornet as part of this alternative acquisition path. Clearly, Trump has been reading the news about these programs … from 2013.


As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has explained, Trump’s comments only affect the F-35C model. Yet the F-35C is easily the weakest member of the F-35 family in terms of customer enthusiasm. The F-35B is needed to make the U.S. Marines’ fleet of amphibious assault carriers work (no, the F/A-18 can’t fly vertically). The F-35A is fully supported by the Air Force as the only plane that meets its needs (and the service has no interest in the Super Hornet, which is optimized for carrier operations). The F-35A has at least ten customers worldwide, while the F-35B has the Marines, the UK Royal Navy and the Italian Navy.


By contrast, the F-35C has exactly one customer, the U.S. Navy. Yet the Navy seems less than thrilled with the idea of buying it. Between FY 2013 and 2017, the Navy procured 102 F/A-18E/Fs and EA-18G Growlers. In the same period, the Navy procured 22 F-35Cs. However, some of these were destined for the U.S. Marines, and not big carrier NAVAIR. Thus, the Navy seems to have prioritized Super Hornet acquisition over F-35Cs by a factor of five or ten to one. And last year saw Boeing sign one new firm and one new probable F/A-18E/F customer (Kuwait and Canada, respectively). With Australia, there will now be four Super Hornet operators.


By comparison with those 22 F-35Cs, in the same period the U.S. military air arms ordered or requested 205 F-35As and Bs, with scores more ordered by foreign customers. In terms of numbers, the F-35C is simply not a very important part of the Joint Strike Fighter procurement program.


Meanwhile, after years of counting on Congress to add Super Hornets to its annual budget, the Navy last year resumed requesting Super Hornets in its base budget. Its current plan calls for it to keep doing so, probably with even higher annual procurement numbers. Trump will almost certainly claim credit for any block orders associated with these purchases.


As for Trump’s oft-mentioned interest in an improved Super Hornet as an alternative to the F-35C, this too dates back four years, when Boeing began publicizing its Advanced Super Hornet proposal. See here for Boeing’s announcement, and here for a good technical backgrounder. Since this idea was mooted, Boeing has continued to improve and evolve the idea of an improved Super Hornet, most recently with its Block 3 proposal.


Clearly, Trump wants to appear like he’s in charge of military requirements (and F-35 pricing improvements). But to do this, he sometimes needs to take credit for events that took place years in the past.


Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. He manages consulting projects for clients in the commercial and military aircraft field, and has advised numerous aerospace companies.






FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of February 13, 2017


  1. NAVAIR PSM standouts among peers DoD wide
  2. Pentagon officials get firsthand look at Naval Aviation’s future predictive capabilities
  3. FRCSW Production Shops Step Up to Ensure Fleet Readiness
  4. FRCSW Earns SECNAV Gold Level Energy Award
  5. Photo Release: Professional Development Council guest speakers share experiences, advice on workplace etiquette (Link)



  1. F-35A At Red Flag: 90% Mission Capable; Key Systems Up Every Flight
  2. Chinese Weapons Reaching ‘Near-Parity’ With West – Study
  3. Marines Want Their F-35s Up to Five Years Early
  4. Trio of Studies Predict the U.S. Navy Fleet of 2030
  5. Charted: Here’s How The Cost Of Each Version Of The F-35 Is Changing
  6. U.S. Navy Revives Interest In Super Hornet Engine Upgrades
  7. Navy Selects Mayport Naval Station As Location For Drone Squadron
  8. Oops. Using Wrong Lubricant Does Millions In Damages To 3 Navy Planes
  9. Marine Corps Digging Out Of Flight-Hour Deficiency With Higher Aircraft Readiness Rates





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NAVAIR PSM standouts among peers DoD-wide


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – A Logistics and Industrial Operations (Air-6.0), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) product support manager (PSM) was recognized as the 2016 Secretary of Defense PSM of the Year, Acquisition Category II, at a ceremony here Jan. 31.


Charles Dixon, Aircrew Life Support Systems PSM, was recognized for his contributions to controlling cost growth, addressing long-term affordability, and promoting industry competition and innovation, as well as his achievements in developing, implementing and executing affordable and effective weapons system product support strategies.


During the award period, Dixon provided guidance and logistics support to the Aircrew Systems Program Office (PMA-202)-which includes 15 acquisition programs-and was instrumental in fielding the night vision cueing and display device (NVCD) to the fleet. Dixon’s focus on cost avoidance and Better Buying Power was critical to the full rate production acquisition program baseline (APB) agreement update, which resulted in reducing the NVCD’s per unit cost by 40 percent and saving an overall $164 million in total ownership cost, compared to the previous APB.


He also led a team to give Navy aircrew state-of-the-art products by incorporating engineering change proposals to the on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS). His work helped increase the component’s ability to filter gas by incorporating a catalyst to oxidize toxic carbon monoxide into relatively benign carbon dioxide, reducing the number of hypoxia and physiological events. His other efforts included:

.               Coordinating with the Air Force and Army to establish an integrated product team at Defense Logistics Agency Richmond for parachutes

.               Leading an effort to establish long-term contracts on parachutes that reduced Defense Logistics Agency contract turnaround time from 12 to 14 months to two to three weeks

.               Guiding the Chemical/Biological Defense Team in extending the shelf-life of A/P22P-14 respirators by three years

.               Developing and executing the Logistics Experience-Driven Advancement Program, which gives PMA-202 deputy assistant program managers for logistics the assignments, mentoring and coursework necessary to advance into senior logistics roles


Capt. Dave Padula, PMA-202 commander, said the success of the NVCD and OBOGS initiatives was proof Dixon was the winner for the award.


“The NVCD gives aircraft carrier pilots a significant tactical advantage at night, changing the way naval aviation fights,” he said. “Charles quickly fielded solutions on the OBOGs to the fleet, in addition to his day job of supporting more than 750 critical components for aviation aircrews-that convinced me.”


Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Material Readiness Terry Emmert presented the award and said Dixon’s job in support of the more than 750 critical components was impressive.


“That is the highest number I have ever seen in a nomination packet,” Emmert said. “If you take $20 bills and stack them up, the representative value of those items would be more than 345 feet tall.  That’s the value you’re making work for the enterprise.”


“PSMs have an inherently difficult job,” Emmert continued. “It’s tough to connect product development to long-term sustainment. It takes tenacious people to latch these two functions together and make sure the products we field are up and running affordably in the years ahead.”


Dixon said of all the products he supports, his work on the NVCD was the most rewarding.


“As we fielded these assets to fleet users, the feedback was everything from, ‘I will never fly at night without NVCD’ to ‘This is a huge game changer,'” he said. “Nothing in my mind is more rewarding than providing a desperately needed product to the fleet and seeing the fantastic results of that product.”


Padula cited NVCD and OBOGS as examples of how to reduce bureaucracy to increase speed to the fleet. “What you did was not easy, and I know you had some challenges along the way,” he told Dixon. “Despite that, you’ve reduced the time to transition acquisition to weapons deployment significantly.”


Having the right tools at the right time is just one key to that accomplishment, Dixon said. “The tools have allowed us to speed up the process to deliver in a much shorter period without compromising the supportability of the item,” he said.


Leaders must also be accessible to the people who are the source of good ideas and perform the day-to-day work, he explained. “I am a people person and have an open door policy to hear their concerns and guide them with my knowledge and experience so they can excel in everything they do.”


Having a team that works together, knows they can influence outcomes and can make a difference in the fleet is another component to success, Dixon said.


“Let them know you support them 100 percent and that you will be there the whole way guiding them. Allow them to decide the right approach, and then give them feedback on the process. It’s their dedication and passion to meet the fleet’s demands and requirements and for the products they manage that made this award possible,” Dixon said. “I applaud them.”


Dixon’s focus on developing his workforce also caught Emmert’s attention: “When I review the nomination packets, I look for technical competency and business acumen. But, most important, is mentorship. You are giving back and building the next generation to do this business.”


Brig. Gen. Masiello, NAVAIR commander for logistics and industrial operations, said the award is a recognition that belongs to the larger team as well.


“Everything you are being recognized for is something that you led. It takes a large team to make this happen. You epitomize how Air-6.0 supports the fleet.”


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Pentagon officials get firsthand look at Naval Aviation’s future predictive capabilities


NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Four Pentagon officials met recently with Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0) leadership to understand better how Naval Aviation is addressing readiness shortfalls. They also learned more about how specific tools are transforming the way today’s platforms are sustained.


Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) for Logistics and Materiel Readiness Kristin French were briefed Jan. 25 and 27, respectively, on five AIR-6.0 initiatives during their visits. Deputy to the ASD, Supply Chain Integration Dee Reardon and Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Maintenance Policy and Programs Ken Watson accompanied French.


In his remarks, Davis emphasized the importance of sustaining current inventory and the need to develop new approaches to do it effectively, because Marines will have to fly many of their current platforms through 2030 and beyond.


Sustainment and its costs, French said, must be considered at the beginning of each weapon system’s life cycle. “Seventy percent of an aircraft’s cost is expended in sustainment.  Operating and support costs start as early as when someone gets an idea.  It’s a balance between funding and capability.  Prioritizing is a reality.”


Readiness playbooks assist program offices in prioritizing the two factors. Developed for each type/model/series aircraft, they list initiatives and strategies to close ready basic aircraft (RBA) gaps and sustain readiness across the Future Years Defense Program.  “The initiatives in the playbooks are ready to be implemented once an opportunity for funding has been identified,” Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning Sustainment Department Director Tracy Burruss said.  “We know ahead of time where we would put the dollars.”


AIR-6.0 leadership discussed how another readiness enabling tool, Total Asset Visibility, will provide decision makers access to real-time data on the location, status and movement of material across the fleet. “With Total Asset Visibility, we will have insight on where the material is located across the enterprise,” Deputy Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations Todd Balazs said.  “We will also be able to see where the workforce is and what special skill sets they have regardless of site. With this capability, readiness will be supported from an enterprise perspective.”


Two predictive readiness tools were demonstrated during the event: the Readiness Forecast Model (RFM) and Predictive Analytics Model (PAM). “RFM provides tactical information on the fleet’s current readiness and provides projections on what it is expected to look like in 12 months,” Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis Department Director (AIR-6.8) Roy Harris said. “This sets expectations on aircraft readiness for the next year.  If readiness deviates from the plan, or we are not performing as expected, we can look into the data and see why.”


PAM, Harris said, projects the number of Ready Basic Aircraft (RBA) that will be available up to 10 years from now. “The tool quantifies how much RBA will be recovered on the flight line for each readiness initiative documented in program playbooks” he said. “For instance, if we improve the reliability of a part, we can run an excursion and project the amount of RBA that will be recovered.  This helps program managers understand which initiatives provide the most readiness ‘bang for the buck’.  It also helps to better inform funding decisions on readiness initiatives for the POM [Program Objectives Memorandum] process,” he said.


NAVAIR mechanical engineer Allen Jones briefed Davis and French on Condition Based Maintenance (CBM), which is undergoing proof of concept in the CH-53E Super Stallion and MH-60R Seahawk communities. It enables logisticians to manage and mine large volumes of data and can be used to improve maintainability and product design.


CBM plus (CBM+), Jones said, provides engineers with real-time data pulled from sensors embedded in components. “With this data, we know when to pull a component before it fails, avoiding added costs to the Navy,” he explained. “In addition, life limits of components can be updated based on actual data, not assumptions made during the design phase.”


Proof of concept on CBM+ is being conducted on H-1’s main gear box (MGB) to reduce its high rate of removals due to quill failures in the gear. Since May 2016, the CBM+ diagnostic maintenance strategy has avoided $4.8 million in MGB repair costs.


Presentations also included the Dynamic Scheduling Tool, which provides a list of tasks for each maintenance or repair event, including which parts, tools and artisan qualifications needed; Vector, a web-based data analysis tool that pulls from 19 maintenance, supply and inventory reporting systems, providing analysts and other Naval Aviation stakeholders and providers with a single source for actionable data; and additive manufacturing, a production process that uses computer automated design software to design a part and then adds layers of powdered metal, plastic, concrete or other materials to “print” it.


Davis said seeing and discussing AIR-6.0 tools designed to enhance leadership’s situational awareness, reduce program life cycle costs and improve decision-making capability caused him to reflect on the progress being made and on the work that still lies ahead.


“Marine Aviation’s Readiness Recovery Plan is very much a fluid, multi-faceted approach,” he said. “The knowledge gained from this visit affords me and my staff yet another opportunity to pause and re-assess whether or not we’re on track, and whether or not we’ve considered and incorporated all opportunities to further optimize our ability to “move the needle” as fast as we can, as far as we can, on the road to full recovery.”


He also believes that AIR-6.0 has a better understanding of issues that are unique to Marine Corps programs, such as the implications of having 77 different configurations of the MV-22 Osprey. The proposed Common Configuration Readiness and Modernization Program-an initiative to have all V-22s with the same configuration-is designed to address that configuration challenge.


“Everyone involved in the readiness discussions were reminded of the difference between the Navy and Marine Corps readiness models and force structure,” Davis said. The Marine Corps is smaller in total squadrons and structure, but in the big fight puts virtually all of its units into action very quickly.  That means that we need to ensure our flight lines have the prescribed numbers of full mission capable and mission capable aircraft ready to fight.  That is a very different position than the Navy’s tiered readiness model.  If everyone understands the difference, then we can make better informed decisions on where we need to focus our efforts and where we need to burn down risk.  The NAVAIR team is a key contributor to that effort.”


Reardon, who accompanied French, said that the thought and ingenuity AIR-6.0 put into the initiatives were impressive and had the potential to be applied to readiness challenges beyond the Navy. “I came here to seek out and encourage the proliferation of good ideas to improve readiness and sustainment across the DoD,” she said. “You have figured out a way to determine what the priorities should be to maximize readiness.”


French said her original intention of the visit to NAVAIR was to learn about efforts to improve F/A18A-D Hornets’ RBA rates, but she came away with the understanding that Naval Aviation’s efforts extend to other platforms as well.


This opportunity, she said, provided her with the details she needed to better inform the Office of the Secretary of Defense leadership about Naval Aviation’s readiness enablers. “You are increasing your savvy on how to measure and get at the problem, using data to drive your efforts,” she said. “With what I learned here, I am better able to be your voice across the entire portfolio of requirements.”


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FRCSW Production Shops Step Up to Ensure Fleet Readiness


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. – Exemplifying determination, teamwork and dedication to the warfighter, the artisans and supervisors of Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) production shops recently met an abbreviated deadline to overhaul 14 APG-73 radar rack aft bulkheads.


The APG-73 radar rack bulkheads, which are used by F/A-18 Hornet fighters, arrived to FRCSW on Apr. 6, 2016. FRCSW had to repair and return 10 of the bulkheads to Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) by end of the month.


Each aft bulkhead is uniquely mated to a radar rack assembly. Its metal flange is unpainted, and open to damage by corrosion. Maintenance personal often find corrosion damage when removing the radar rack assembly during Super Hornet upgrades to the newer APG-79 radar rack assembly.


Without a repair procedure, the corroded $220,000 APG-73 would be demilitarized, which NAVSUP wanted to save for F/A-18 Hornet upgrades.


When the 14 aft bulkheads arrived, the FRCSW evaluator and estimator (E&E) for the responsible shop (R shop) immediately inducted and routed them to the clean shop to kick off the overhaul process.


Preference was given to the priority 10 bulkheads. After cleaning, the R shop performed several tasks including removing corrosion, a duty they had never performed before, but were more than willing to learn.


Next, the bulkheads were transferred to the production process shops where the planner and estimator (P&E) ensured no delays occurred. Paint and adhesive were promptly removed in the blast shop, and the material lost to corrosion was restored using “Cold Spray” in the metal spray shop.


Cold Spray is a solid-state process which accelerates a fine metal powder and impacts it onto a part’s surface. Kinetic energy from the impact forms a metallurgical bond.


Skillful artisans applied Cold Spray using compressed helium, a handheld gun, and a very steady hand. Afterward, the bulkheads were sent to the machine shop for finish machining.


The machine shop ensured the parts were handled quickly, yet carefully, using fixtures and a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) program created in the shop. Excess cold spray material was milled away to return the flange dimensions to drawing specifications. With the corrosion damage repaired, the aft bulkheads were chemical-conversion coated in preparation for final paint.


The paint shop masked the bulkheads for priming and topcoating. Primer was applied immediately afterward. Once dried, the topcoat was applied.


Work in the FRCSW process shops was now complete.


The 10 priority bulkheads were returned to the R shop where artisans performed the final steps including applying markings, another new process to them.


On April 28, quality assurance (QA) verified the overhaul. FRCSW had made the deadline. The P&E updated the paperwork, and the E&E closed out the overhaul. FRCSW returned the 10 aft bulkheads to NAVSUP. The remaining four were overhauled and returned the following month.


It took three weeks to overhaul the 10 priority bulkheads. This was a reduction of 78 percent when compared to the timeline from the production pilot that occurred in 2015.


Materials engineering, Fleet Support Team (FST) engineering, and production management facilitated the process, but this accomplishment could not have been possible without the dedication of FRCSW artisans. They rose to the occasion, working through weekends, to ensure that they would not let the fleet down. It is because of them that FRCSW met the shortened deadline and $4.4 million in assets were returned to service.


NAVSUP is currently negotiating with FRCSW to repair 14 more of the aft bulkheads.


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FRCSW Earns SECNAV Gold Level Energy Award


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


Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) has earned the Secretary of the Navy’s (SECNAV) Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Energy and Water Management Gold level award for FY 2014 environmental accomplishments.


SECNAV Ray Mabus presented the award to FRCSW Energy Program Manager Sarah Tuley in ceremonies Oct. 19 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) at Naval Base San Diego.


In his remarks, Mabus said that the Navy continues its efforts to advance energy independence by increasing alternative energy sources in the fleet and ashore by 2020.


FRCSW’s efforts recognized by the “Gold” level category designate a “very good to outstanding” energy and water conservation program. It is the eighth time in the past 12 years that the command has been awarded the “Gold” level category of recognition.


In total, more than 65 shore-based Navy and Marine Corps commands were awarded the “Gold” performance level, including Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton and Naval Base Coronado.


One measure of a successful energy conservation program is by meeting compliance with executive order 13423 (EO 13423). Signed in January 2007, EO 13423 directs federal agencies to improve energy efficiencies by reducing water consumption, electricity usage and greenhouse gases by three percent per year.


The new executive order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, started in the beginning of FY16 which created the new baseline of FY15 and a yearly energy reduction of 2.5% moving forward to FY2025.


FRCSW surpassed EO 13423 requirements with a 4.6 percent reduction in energy consumption from FY 2014, and reduced its utility budget by more than $948,000 from the previous fiscal year.


The energy intensity dropped from 92.57 British Thermal Units (MMBTU)/thousand square feet (KSF) to 86.58 MMBTU/KSF.


Using an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) which enables federal agencies to partnership with energy service companies, the command will save an additional 24,704 million British thermal units (MBTU) of energy, and more than $2 million annually starting in FY17.


Furthermore, the ESPC will provide for state-of- the-art laboratories with daylight harvesting, LED lighting and condensing boiler plants that are 92 percent efficient.


In other conservation efforts Tuley said that FRCSW saved over $10,000 in water usage, bolstered by a 50 percent reduction in landscape watering and repairs to air leaks coupled with a steam management program in Building 472 during the summer, gained more than $100,000 in savings per month.


She added that many projects planned during FY 2015 are being completed this year.


“In Building 463, for example, we’ll be completing a full HVAC retrofit which includes installing two new boilers, 16 new air handlers and cooling towers. We anticipate a projected savings of a little more than $1 million a year in B-463 alone once this equipment is commissioned,” she said.


FRCSW will see massive energy savings in FY17 and moving forward each year with the current projects.


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Breaking Defense


F-35A At Red Flag: 90% Mission Capable; Key Systems Up Every Flight


By Colin Clark


WASHINGTON: All indications from the pilots and commanders at Red Flag are that the F-35A performed far better than recent reports from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation seemed to indicate.


The now-departed Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, Michael Gilmore, said the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft is “not effective and not suitable across the required mission areas and against currently fielded threats” and detailed 64 pages of problems, many of them with to do with the aircraft’s software.


The view from Red Flag was quite different. The 13 F-35As maintained a 90 percent mission capable rate during the three-week exercise, respectable for any combat aircraft. Planes did have problems, including one that lost a generator, but every issue was dealt with inside of 24 hours, according to two Air Force officers talking to reporters today at the end of the exercises.


“We flew these jets hard. We flew a ton of missions in Red Flag during those four weeks. I would strongly disagree (with the proposition) that the jets are not ready. We are ready to take these jets on the road whenever we’re asked to,” Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron commander, told us. And he said the 3i software that controls the plane, its weapons, and sensors performed extremely well.


And the mission systems, which enable most of the plane’s combat capabilities, performed beyond pilots’ expectations. “All our mission systems were up every time,” Watkins said, noting that he would often fly his F-16 with one or more of its mission systems down and just have to find work-arounds. “For the F-35 at this Red Flag, every mission system was up every time.”


While Boeing continues to press the Navy to buy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for the carrier fleet and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered a review of the carrier version of the Joint Strike fighter, the F-35C, there was no doubt expressed by the pilots at today’s roundtable about whether they would prefer to fly a fourth-generation plane – like the F-16 or F-18 – or a fifth-gen plane like the F-35 for the Air Force: “The capabilities we are bringing are better than a fourth-gen aircraft. I would not want to go back and take an F-16 back into Red Flag,” Watkins said.


By the way, Navy electronic warfare EA-18G Growlers did fly at this Red Flag, with an Australian Wedgetail aircraft, along with British Typhoons, F-16s and F-15Cs.


How did the F-35A fare at striking targets with bombs? They dropped 27 bombs and hit 25 targets “exactly within a foot of where it was supposed to hit.” The two weapons that missed were caused by weapon failures, not the jet, Watkins said.


Although they don’t have an updated figure, the pilots told us that the F-35 kill ratio was higher than the 15-1 figure they initially reported. While F-35A pilots continue to say that their success against Integrated Air Defense Systems and ability to bomb targets is at least as important as their ability to kill enemy fighters, the fact is that the kill ratio is a simple baseline against which the plane can be judged.


F-35A At Red Flag: 90% Mission Capable; Key Systems Up Every Flight


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Chinese Weapons Reaching ‘Near-Parity’ With West – Study


(AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 14 FEB 17) … Jacques Klopp


LONDON – China is beginning to export its own weapon designs, including armed drones, worldwide and is reaching “near-parity” with the West in terms of military technology, according to a report on Tuesday.


The International Institute for Strategic Studies said that China’s official defence budget of $145 billion (137 billion euros) last year was 1.8 times higher than those of South Korea and Japan combined.


It also accounted for more than a third of Asia’s total military spending in 2016, the IISS annual Military Balance report said, adding that spending in Asia grew by five to six percentage points a year between 2012 and 2016.

Total global military spending instead fell by 0.4 percent in real terms in 2016 compared to 2015, largely due to reductions in the Middle East.


“China’s military progress highlights that Western dominance in the field of advanced weapons systems can no longer be taken for granted,” IISS director John Chipman said at a presentation in London.


“An emerging threat for deployed Western forces is that with China looking to sell more abroad, they may confront more advanced military systems, in more places, and operated by a broader range of adversaries,” Chipman said.


The report found that in terms of air power “China appears to be reaching near-parity with the West.”


It said one of China’s air-to-air missiles had no Western equivalent and that China had introduced a type of short-range missile that “only a handful of leading aerospace nations are able to develop.”


It said China was also developing “what could be the world’s longest range air-to-air missile.”


The report noted that Chinese military exports to Africa last year “were moving from the sale of Soviet-era designs to the export of systems designed in China.”


It said that Chinese-made armed drones had been seen in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.


The report also noted that European states are “only gradually” increasing their defence spending.


“While Europe was one of the three regions in the world where defence spending rose in 2015-16, European defence spending remains modest as a proportion of the continent’s GDP,” the study said.


In 2016, IISS found that only two European NATO states – Greece and Estonia – met the aim of spending 2.0 percent of their GDP on defence.


This was down from four European states that met the target in 2015 – Britain, Greece, Estonia and Poland.

Britain dipped to 1.98 percent of GDP, according to IISS calculations, although that figure was immediately disputed by Britain’s defence ministry.

But the IISS said it was more important that countries focus on upgrading their military equipment.


“This is made more urgent because of the degree to which Western states have reduced their equipment and personnel numbers since the Cold War,” it said.


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DoD Buzz


Marines Want Their F-35s Up to Five Years Early


By: Hope Hodge Seck


The pace at which the Marine Corps is getting its new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is “anemic,” the service’s head of aviation said this week, adding that the Corps could handle a much faster ramp-up.


Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, deputy commandant of aviation, spoke highly of the Corps’ new fifth-generation aircraft. The first Marine F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, relocated to Japan in January in a transition that Davis said was smooth and without incident.


Right now, he said, the Marine Corps owns 50 F-35Bs in two operational squadrons, one training squadron, and a test unit. The service declared initial operational capability for the aircraft in 2015.


“The bottom line is, we’ve had a very anemic ramp so we’ve been holding on to the older airplanes longer,” he said. “If asked by the American people to get the airplanes faster, I can guarantee we’d put them into play very quickly.”


Davis said he believes the Corps could accept up to 37 aircraft a year, between two and three squadrons’ worth. The current transition plan has the service receiving the last of the 353 F-35B and 67 F-35C aircraft it plans to buy in 2031, a rate that works out to fewer than 30 aircraft a year. The sped-up plan would see the Marine Corps complete its F-35 transition five years early.


“We’d transition squadrons faster is what we’d do,” Davis said. “We’d develop a plan where we’d be out of F-18 and Harrier completely by 2026.”


The F-35 is gradually replacing three legacy aircraft for the Marine Corps: the EA-6B Prowler, the AV-8B Harrier, and the F/A-18 Hornet, which will all gradually retire as they reach the end of their service lives.


In a real way, the Corps is betting the farm on the Joint Strike Fighter. The service plans to deploy VMFA-121 in the Pacific in the next year, and deploy another squadron aboard ship, likely in the Middle East, shortly thereafter.


Davis said he’s very confident in the platform, based on what he’s seen so far.


“It’s different than conventional fourth-generation fighters, like the Harrier and the Hornet, but I think it’s an exceptional capability. It’s just at the beginning of its production run and its development run, but I think we’ve got a winner on our hands here,” he said. “And the bottom line is, future generations of Marines will be able to fight in any clime and place with close-air support from this airplane. If I was a young [aviator], I would be fighting to get in this airplane.”


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Trio of Studies Predict the U.S. Navy Fleet of 2030


USNI News, Feb. 14


Megan Eckstein and Sam LaGrone


Three congressionally mandated studies outline what the Navy of 2030 could look like and present three very different takes on how the service could tackle its roles and responsibilities in the future.


The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis (CSBA), MITRE Corporation and the Navy completed the studies that were required by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 and would feed into the service’s future fleet design, Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson told USNI in August.


“There will be an operating and warfighting component to that new fleet design, new ways of getting at sea control and some of those other things that it describes. Some of that work is being done now, we’re using the fleet in different ways as we build that readiness and deploy that readiness forward,” Richardson said.


The three studies differ from the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment, which the service released in December. The FSA was crafted to create an outlook for the service using current platforms while the architectures are more open ended and could include new platforms and strategic ideas.


The studies were delivered to Congress on Friday, USNI News understands.


CSBA Study

The root of the CSBA study was based on how the U.S. would face armed conflict with China or Russia, which are “probably going to be the defining characteristics of the Navy of the future,” lead author Bryan Clark told USNI News on Friday.


The study plays up the speed to which expeditionary forces can arrive in conflict areas and spreads out the Navy’s offensive power away from a few heavily armed carrier strike groups. The plan includes light carriers paired with amphibious ready groups and full-sized air defense-capable multi-mission frigates and introduces a new small anti-ship guided-missile corvette to give the enemy more targets to handle in a major conflict.


For example, the corvette, which could resemble the small Visby-class used in the Swedish Navy, would field a limited air defense capability like the Enhanced SeaSparrow Missile and four to eight anti-ship missiles.


“The idea is this helps you distribute your surface fires so your [surface action groups] can be more numerous and create more places where the enemy has to consider the fires threat – surface fires or strike – as opposed to the Navy’s plan which has 108 larger surface combatants,” Clark said. “You’re really concentrating your fires in the fleet the Navy wants to have, and we’re arguing for a much more distributed surface fleet by taking advantage of some of the technologies you can get on some of these smaller combatants.


“The frigate would be a departure from the modular design of the Littoral Combat Ship and include a Vertical Launch System and an anti-submarine capability.


“We costed out the version we had was going to be about a billion a frigate, so it’s still expensive, but you can buy two frigates for the cost of one DDG and distribute your fires,” Clark said. The light carriers – about 45 to 50,000 tons – would initially be modified America-class amphibious assault ships and feature a catapult launching system so the amphibious ready group could launch larger fixed-wing aircraft to provide, for example, air search radar like on the carrier strike group. “The CVL is really designed to be part of the ARG, and it provides the long-range fires that Marines need for amphibious operations in this future environment,” Clark said.


“I need fires that accompany Marines to either do the softening up of the target or to provide [close-air support] or [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], so you need have more fixed-wing aircraft on the big deck to afford them the ability to do that.”


Ultimately, the driving force behind the CSBA study is that forces should already be operating near the site of potential conflict so they can be used quickly without waiting months to prepare a battle space – a key feature of fighting foes like the Russians or the Chinese.


One idea in that vein would be to build unmanned vehicle hubs in the Black Sea in Romania and Turkey that would create a constant U.S. presence in the region with out running afoul of the Montreaux Convention that creates specific limits for ships that enter through the Bosphorus Strait.


The surface and subsurface unmanned vehicles could provide defense and offensive power in the region quickly.


“I don’t want to garrison a bunch of ground troops in NATO like I did back in the Cold War,” Clark said. “You have to demonstrate to the Russians that you can trade the pain with them right away and not wait six months to build up to it. Right away you’re going to be able to poke them in response in what they do, so you can keep it proportional, you can keep that from escalating.”


Navy Study

Like CSBA, the Navy’s internal Future Force Assessment study focused on creating a distributed fleet that would put more firepower in more places and complicate and enemy’s targeting. In creating that future fleet, the Navy team made few recommendations for new platforms and instead focused on taking today’s platforms and netting them together, augmenting their battlespace awareness and firepower with various unmanned platforms, and creating new strike group constructs to go after potential threat sets.


This vision for 2030 operations is still carrier-focused, with today’s carrier strike group getting an upgrade into a “augmented carrier strike group” for round-the-clock warfighting operations when needed. Today’s CSG composition – with a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in lieu of a cruiser – would be supplemented by an LHA/LHD amphibious assault ship and two Littoral Combat Ships. Those ships would support 27 Navy F-35C and F/A-18E/F strike-fighters, up to 23 Marine Corps F-35B vertical landing strike fighters, 14 EA-18G electronic attack aircraft, six E-2D airborne early warning aircraft, 14 MH-60R maritime strike helicopters, six MH-60S sea control helicopters, two CV-22 carrier logistics aircraft, 10 unmanned aerial vehicles dedicated to tanking, and up to six UAVs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).


Bringing in the amphibious assault ship to carry strike fighters allows the aircraft carrier to bring along more electronic attack and ISR capabilities than today’s carrier strike group. Having strike fighters launching from two capital ships instead of one would also complicate the enemy’s targeting, the report notes, and would decrease the impact of a successful attack on a Navy ship.


Other than the addition of the amphib and LCSs to the CSG, this construct looks very much like today’s fleet. The report notes that “today’s fleet possesses most of the platform capacity and payload volume” to support this vision and that the Navy would have to focus its research and acquisition on boosting capability through prioritizing “increasing weapon lethality and more robust kill chains.” Specifically, “priority was given to next generation offensive surface warfare weapons for sea control within a contested maritime area, as well as multi-mode weapons capable of striking multiple types of targets.


“In addition to the augmented CSG, the Navy’s FFA also proposes several other strike group concepts. A “Long-Range Strike Surface Action Group” would consist of a Flight IIA DDG or a DDG-1000 with a smaller amphibious ship, with both ships carrying four to six UAVs for over the horizon targeting (OTH-T) and the amphibs carrying up to four unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) for long-range strike. This SAG would “deploy throughout the theater using a combination of organic sensors and the netted common operational picture to engage enemy forces – particularly naval targets.”


An “Integrated Air and Missile Defense SAG” consisting of two Ballistic Missile Defense-capable destroyers would “deploy to provide IAMD of critical infrastructure in the theater, particularly in the early days of conflict before land-based IAMD systems arrive.”


The collective capability of all these augmented CSGs and various SAGs operating in theater together “replaces combat power originating from a few nodes to a netted system of nodes able to sense, communicate and act in unison. At full implementation, in a major theater war the concept would provide several dispersed, netted CSGs as well as other combat nodes, supported by unmanned surface and air vehicles providing [ISR and targeting] and alternative weapons delivery options,” the report reads, noting elsewhere that the Navy would have to make investments in data links, communications and other enabling capabilities beyond what is planned today in support of the Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) web of sensors and shooters.


Due to the FFA mostly relying on today’s platforms, as well as advances in unmanned systems that are already in their beginning stages of development, the Navy could achieve this vision of 2030 operations mostly by accelerating already-planned research.


The FFA report calls for new types of unmanned vehicles, such as armed unmanned surface vehicles that deploy from an amphib and “independently deployable large unmanned underwater vehicles” – possibly akin to the Extra-Large UUV (XLUUV) – to bring sensors and weapons into contested waters unsafe for manned submarines.


The study does recommend a few new variants of ship: a CV-LX light carrier, or “Short Take- Off Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant based on the LHA-6 class but modified for a larger flight deck, fuel, and aviation ordnance, weighing approximately 43K tons. It would carry up to 23 F-35Bs and would generate 30-40 sorties per day but not be able to support the Navy’s program of record airborne early warning or electronic attack aircraft.” A DDGH would be a Flight III variant that has only forward missile-launchers, with the aft missile launch system being replaced by enhanced aviation space that could support two helicopters and four unmanned vertical takeoff UAVs.


In sum, the plan requires a modest increase in manned ships – from today’s planned 304 ships in 2030 to 321 – and a decrease in manned aircraft – from 1,555 planned down to 1,220 – all of which would be supplemented by 713 unmanned air, surface and underwater vehicles of various sizes. Though efficient due to its reliance on netted nodes and unmanned systems, the study does not address the cruiser, LCS/frigate and possibly destroyer replacements that will be needed shortly after 2030. The Navy had previously worked on a Future Surface Combatant study that pointed to a family of systems approach, which could have nestled nicely with the FFA’s desire to have a destroyer plus a more aviation-centric destroyer, a frigate plus an unmanned small surface combatant, and the emphasis on carrier operations which necessitates a suitable air defense commander capability that currently only resides in the cruiser.




On the other hand, MITRE took a very aggressive approach in its FFA, calling for a 414-ship fleet – with a preference towards expensive options such as large surface combatants over small ones, and both today’s nuclear-powered submarines and a diesel variant as well – and faster and longer-range weapons to support that fleet.


Though MITRE notes its ideal 2030 fleet is unaffordable, it still lays out a vision of 160 large surface combatants, 72 attack submarines, 14 aircraft carriers and two guided-missile submarines. In an attempt to reduce cost, the report recommends cutting LCS production to help pay for increased destroyer production, modifying the Ford-class carrier design or creating a conventional-powered carrier to reduce cost, scaling down the LX(R) amphibious dock landing ship replacement, and supplementing today’s nuclear-powered stealthy Virginia-class attack submarines with a less-expensive diesel sub to create a larger force for combatant commanders.


The current frigate plans – an evolution of the LCS, meant to create a more survivable multi-mission ship – would be scrapped, and a new frigate (FF(X)) would be designed to include an electromagnetic railgun with high velocity projectile, a Vertical Launching System with Tomahawk missiles, the ability to launch and recover unmanned surface vehicles, and the ability to rearm and refuel other ships’ helicopters.


The next destroyer would be large, displacing more than 10,000 tons, and the three Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 would serve as command and control ships when the current LCC command ships decommission.


Additionally, to supplement the surface combatants, the study recommends building a magazine ship (MG(X)) “to act as ‘wingmen’ for large surface combatants.” Each would have two to four weapons sections – with each section holding either an electromagnetic railgun with 1,000 rounds, 128 to 256 VLS cells for Standard Missiles, or 12 to 24 VLS cells for a Pershing 3-sized missile – and each MG(X) could be built with a different configuration to provide some variety to the fleet. The study proposes building these on the John Lewis-class fleet oiler hull with some modifications to increase speed.


In all, while the report talks about some cost-saving measures – such as scaling down the LX(R) plans to a modified Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) or a modified Watson-class large, medium- speed roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSR), instead of keeping it at the current San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD) derivative – it proposes a lot of pricy solutions to address future operating concerns.


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Charted: Here’s How The Cost Of Each Version Of The F-35 Is Changing


The per-plane cost for the Navy and Marine Corps variants both rose before falling.


(DEFENSE ONE 15 FEB 17) … Marcus Weisgerber and Caroline Houck


It’s been no secret that the F-35’s nine-figure price tag has been falling, but measuring that drop has been difficult.


Moreover, when Pentagon officials and Lockheed Martin executives discuss the cost of the Joint Strike Fighter, they’re generally talking about the Air Force’s F-35A variant – down 60 percent since the first two jets were ordered in 2007 – and not the Marine Corps’ short-takeoff-vertical-landing F-35B or the Navy’s carrier-borne F-35C.


So we gathered data from Pentagon budget documents and other sources, and charted the cost of all three versions, from the first purchase in 2007 to the latest deal announced earlier this month.


The data show that the more complex B and C models were never as pricy as the first few A jets, which rolled off the line at a cool $297 million apiece. (All figures are given in 2016 dollars.) But while the A has gotten cheaper with each succeeding purchase – in December, a batch sold for $95 million apiece – the B and C have seen their prices rise and fall. As expected, both remain more expensive than the A.


Overall, the price of the B has dropped from more than $226 million in 2008 to $123 million today; the C, from $196 million in 2010 to $122 million.


These figures reflect the flyaway cost of each plane: the price of the airframe, engine, electronics, and other associated costs – basically, the amount it takes to purchase and assemble the parts.


There are other ways to calculate the “true” cost of an F-35. You can include all the design and development work that took the aircraft from idea to production model, or throw in maintenance, planned upgrades, and long-term operating costs.


For years, prime contractor Lockheed Martin – would simply tout the cost of the airframe itself, sans engine and other fees that added tens of millions of dollars to the cost of each plane.


For the past four years, the F-35 program office began releasing figures that they say are a more accurate representation of the true cost, a value that includes the airframe, engine and other fees.


So far, Lockheed has taken orders for 354 F-35s, including 267 for the U.S. military and the rest for various allies. In sum, those jets cost more than $45 billion, about $35 billion for the American planes and $10 billion for the foreign ones.


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U.S. Navy Revives Interest In Super Hornet Engine Upgrades


(FLIGHTGLOBAL 15 FEB 17) … Stephen Trimble


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Navy has revived interest in studying a major upgrade of the engine that powers the Boeing F/A-18E/F, EA-18G and two foreign fighters, including the possible addition of new technologies.


In early February, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) notified industry that it would ask GE Aviation to submit a proposal for a contract for the company’s engineers to perform a study on an “F414-GE-400 core enhancement evaluation.”


Such notifications are required when the government plans to award a contract without inviting competing bids. No other details about the contents or objectives of the study were provided in NAVAIR study, which is described only as an assessment of “how upgrades … could improve engine performance, as well as F/A-18E/F and EA-18G performance.”


Asked to comment on the contract notification, GE released a statement to FlightGlobal that was approved by NAVAIR.


“NAVAIR has expressed interest in GE evaluating how our latest engine technologies could be applied to the F414 Enhanced Engine,” GE says.


GE’s proposed Enhanced Engine design surfaced as a proposal several years ago as part of Boeing’s Super Hornet bid for India’s fighter competition. GE has tested the durability or thrust upgrades in laboratory rigs. NAVAIR also paid GE in late 2013 to evaluate the F414 Enhanced Engine, with the possibility of funding a development programme two years later, although that follow-on contract never materialised.


“We believe this study would be an update of the previous work to include new technologies,” says GE, without elaborating.


A term in the title of the latest NAVAIR study – “core enhancement” – suggests the navy is focusing now on the three modules in the core of the engine, which include the high-pressure compressor, combustor and high-pressure turbine.


Any new technologies would come on top of GE’s proposals for the F414 Enhanced Engine. In the core section, these included 3D aerodynamic shaping of the compressor blades and an improved cooling system for the turbine blades. GE had previously considered inserting ceramic matrix composites in the turbine of the F414 Enhanced Engine, but as of early 2014 had resolved to continue using metallic alloy blades.


NAVAIR’s interest in upgrading the F/A-18E/F’s propulsion system comes after a remarkable turn-around for the Boeing production line in St. Louis. A year ago, the programme appeared to be close to winding down after completing remaining deliveries to the USN. Then, Boeing won long-sought deals to deliver at least 28 Super Hornets to Kuwait, 36 fighters to Qatar and a commitment from Canada to buy at least 18 F/A-18E/Fs.


Moreover, U.S. Defense secretary Jim Mattis said in late January that the F/A-18E/F could continue to be used as an internal competitor against the F-35.


“The Super Hornet now appears to be one of the more solid aircraft programmes rather than on the brink of death,” says Richard Aboulafia, Teal Group vice president of strategy, speaking at the Pacific Northwest Aviation Alliance conference on 15 February.


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Navy Selects Mayport Naval Station As Location For Drone Squadron


(FLORIDA TIMES-UNION 15 FEB 17) … Joe Daraskevich


A decision by the U.S. Navy to make Mayport Naval Station the East Coast home for the basing and maintenance of its new drone program means 400 additional personnel permanently stationed in Northeast Florida.


Mayport beat out Key West Naval Air Station and the NASA Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on Wednesday for the opportunity to become the East Coast Forward Operating Base for the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System, according to the Navy.


The plan is to establish a launch and recovery site for four drones on the base as well as a maintenance hub for up to four more unmanned aircraft, according to the Navy. Jacksonville Naval Air Station is already the training hub for the drones, and it was also the home of the first operation squadron, VUP-19, according to the Navy.


The unmanned, unarmed, remote-controlled aircraft are meant to provide tactical and strategic mission capabilities as part of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force already based in Jacksonville, according to the Navy.


“The MQ-4C Triton’s advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities bring enhanced battlespace awareness for the fleet to achieve full spectrum superiority,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces.


The drones have multiple sensors and can fly about 24 hours at a time with the capability to survey 2.7 million square miles in a single mission. They are 48 feet long with a wingspan of 131 feet, according to the Navy. The drones are used to conduct operations over water, specifically over international waters 12 miles or more offshore.


Construction on the facility will start this year with the first drone expected to arrive in 2020, according to the Navy.


Politicians with ties to the Mayport community offered praise to the Navy on Wednesday after the base was announced as the future home for the drones.


“I am very pleased with the Navy’s decision, which will not only enhance our national security by helping the Navy carry out its important maritime surveillance missions, but is also a huge victory for the Jacksonville community, further strengthening our partnership with the Navy,” said U.S. Rep. John Rutherford.


U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson also applauded the decision Wednesday after writing a letter in April to the secretary of the Navy recommending both Florida locations as prime candidates due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.


Nelson also cited the ongoing maritime patrol operations at Mayport as a reason why the base should be chosen. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also sent a letter to the secretary in June to advance the push to bring the drones to Florida.


“Florida’s military community plays a vital role in defending our nation, and the Triton system is a key component of the Navy’s maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions,” Rubio said Wednesday.


The Navy completed an environmental assessment to analyze the impact on the communities surrounding the three potential bases. But the results showed no significant environmental impact at any of the three locations.

So the major factor in the decision was financial, according to the Navy. The fact that existing facilities were already in place made it the most affordable option of the three.


Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California has already been selected as the West Coast home base for the Triton program. According to the Navy, three locations outside the continental United States will also be selected.


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Oops. Using Wrong Lubricant Does Millions In Damages To 3 Navy Planes


(NORFOLK VIRGINIAN-PILOT 09 FEB 17) … Brock Vergakis


NORFOLK – Days before the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush set out from Norfolk last month, the Navy had to scramble to fix a major problem with the ship’s squadron of early warning, command and control aircraft.

The engines on three of the squadron’s four E-2C Hawkeyes had been damaged and needed to be replaced.


The culprit?


The wrong oil was used in each $80 million twin-turboprop aircraft.


“The damage occurred over a period of time and it involved the use of a lubricant not approved or specified for these engines,” Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Mike Maus said in response to questions from The Virginian-Pilot. “A thorough investigation is being conducted to determine how and why this procedure was allowed.”

An initial estimate placed the damage at least $2 million, according to the Naval Safety Center, putting it into its most serious classification for damage.


But that figure is automatically based on 15 percent of the cost of all six engines and was made before a full inspection could occur, according to Cmdr. Dave Hecht, a Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman.


“When the engines are inspected for the damage we are optimistic that the repair costs will be less than $2 million,” Hecht said late Thursday.


It wasn’t immediately clear when the need to replace the engines became apparent, but the Naval Safety Center listed the mishap date as Jan. 19 – two days before the Bush deployed.


The replacements come at a time when the Navy says that half its aircraft can’t fly because they’re awaiting maintenance or lack needed spare parts.


“While our first team on deployment is ready, our bench – the depth of our forces at home – is thin. It has become clear to me that the Navy’s overall readiness has reached its lowest level in many years,” Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations, said in prepared testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday in a plea for increased funding.


“Time is running out. Years of sustained deployments and constrained and uncertain funding have resulted in a readiness debt that will take years to pay down.”


The affected Hawkeye squadron consists of four planes and is based at Norfolk Naval Station’s Chambers Field.


It’s unclear how long the investigation will take.


After the maintenance setback, Maus said all four aircraft assigned to the “Bear Aces” of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 124 joined the Bush on deployment the day it left Norfolk.


“The squadron is fully capable of performing” its mission, Naval Air Force Atlantic said in a statement.


The Bush left Norfolk on Jan. 21 on a seven-month deployment. The Bush has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea before transiting to the Middle East. The Bush arrived in Souda Bay, Greece, for a port visit Monday.


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Marine Corps Digging Out Of Flight-Hour Deficiency With Higher Aircraft Readiness Rates


(DEFENSE DAILY 09 FEB 17) … Dan Parsons


Not since 2012 has the Marine Corps had enough available aircraft to provide pilots the minimum monthly flight hours to maintain basic proficiency.


A combination of high operational tempo, aging aircraft and insufficient funding resulted in less than half the service’s aircraft – rotorcraft and fixed-wing – able to fly when last officially measured, according to Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.


On Dec. 30 the Marine Corps owned 1,065 total aircraft and just 439 were ready basic aircraft (RBA), Davis said during a recent meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.


“In the aggregate, if I am a businessman, I am underwater right now because I don’t have enough power tools to make my flight-hour goal,” Davis said.


“Our tactical aviation – our jets – are some of the oldest in the Department of Defense, certainly in the Department of the Navy by a factor of two in some places. Our need to recapitalize airplanes is large.”


The need to reset and recapitalize is especially egregious in the legacy fleets of Boeing F-18A/B/C/D Hornets. Of a total 171 jets “in reporting,” meaning they are under Davis’ command, 72 were ready to fly as of Dec. 30 including training and reserve aircraft.


Of those, 124 jets are assigned to active duty “gun squadrons.” On a daily basis, the Marine Corps needs 77 aircraft for its active fighter pilots to log enough flight hours to maintain proficiency. It had 56.2 available in December.


“I’m 20 airplanes shy of what I need to be able to make my flight-hour goal,” Davis said. “That’s a large number and that leads to the hours we’re producing now in hours per pilot per month.”


The aircraft are necessarily unsafe, but require ever more maintenance to make them safe for flight. Several fatal mishaps late last year were attributed to fatigue – of pilots, not aircraft – and pilot error, both of which are less likely when pilots can train, Davis said.


“We’re not seeing materiel problems,” Davis said. “We’re flying safe airplanes. We are not flying safe airplanes enough.”


The Marine Corps has a plan to restore the number of available fighter aircraft and in turn restore pilots proficiency through increased training flight hours.


Since 2014, the trend line has generally moved upward toward more available aircraft of all types, Davis said. In Dec. 2014, the service had 378 total “ready basic aircraft,” meaning they are ready and cleared to fly with the turn of key. In December 2016, there were 439 total aircraft ready to fly. The peak of readiness for 2016 was 473 aircraft at the end of October, according to Marine Corps statistics.


“That slope is a positive slope,” Davis said. “F-18s are included in there. Bottom line is that number, it’s tracking up.”


Last fiscal year the Marine Corps set a goal to return 43 total aircraft to a ready state but did one better at 44. This fiscal year the goal is to restore 35 total aircraft to the flight line, Davis said.


“I won’t know until 1 Oct. next year how we did,” he said. “I can’t collapse that gap any faster than I am right now with the funding restrictions we’ve been under in the past.”


An increasing influx of Lockheed Martin -built F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will begin to alleviate the pressure on F-18 fleets, Davis said. A recent analysis of the AV-8B Harrier fleet found that those aircraft have better readiness rates than the F-18 so the service has shuffled the order in which squadrons will transition to the fifth-generation F-35.


“Because we have additional life in Harrier, we decided that we’re going to move F-18s left,” Davis said. “We’ve actually got much better numbers out of the Harrier than we were getting … everything from the readiness numbers to the hours-per-pilot are better.”


VMFA-122 moved up and will be the next F-35B squadron and will move from MCAS Beaufort, S.C., to Yuma, Ariz., in 2018. The next squadron in line is VMFA-314, which is another F-18 squadron stationed in Miramar, Calif. That unit will transition to the F-35C, the Marine Corps’ first carrier-launched F-35 squadron. Following will be an F-18D squadron also stationed at Miramar that will move into the F-35B.


“So the next three squadrons to transition will be F-18 squadrons,” he said. “That will kind of help me take the … good F-18s we have and with three less squadrons get a better density of jets out there.”


Even with an influx of cash, the Marine Corps has a finite capacity to reset aircraft. The service has asked for additional funding in fiscal 2017 for spare parts and other accessories that would accelerate meeting its goal six months early in 2019, Davis said.


“That’s when we come up out of water, unless someone decides to build me a lot of airplanes faster,” he said.


Marine Corps Digging Out Of Flight-Hour Deficiency With Higher Aircraft Readiness Rates


FRCSW/COMFRC Top News Clips – Week of January 30, 2017



  1. Mentoring the “foundation” of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast
  2. FRCSW H-60 Facility Increases Seahawk Throughput



  1. Davis: Marines Making Aviation Readiness Headway
  2. Top Marine aviator: ‘If I don’t get more money, I’ll stop flying in July or August’
  3. Navy Commits To High-Tech Catapults, Arresting Gear For All 3 Ford Carriers
  4. Trump Says He Fixed F-35 Program in Two Months
  5. The Disaster That Is Guaranteed to Happen if the F-35 Was Ever Cancelled
  6. Mattis Orders Air Force One, F-35 Reviews As Trump Opens Door To $60B DoD Budget Boost
  7. Trump Signs Order Promising a ‘Great Rebuilding’ of the Military
  8. Marine Corps To Plead Case For More Aircraft, Spare Parts, Maintenance Crews
  9. Marines: Ground incidents continue to plague aviation readiness






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Mentoring the “foundation” of Fleet Readiness Center Southeast


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In honor of Naval Air Command’s Mentoring Awareness Month, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast presented its 2016 NAVAIR Mentor of the Year Award, along with five Dora Quinlan Mentorship Awards Jan. 26.


Sadell Crump, a supervisor in the facility’s calibration lab, was named the NAVAIR Mentor of the Year for FRCSE.

When they initially told me about it, I didn’t want to cry,” Crump said. “But it was really touching that someone even thought to select me.”


Crump has mentored several of her younger coworkers through the years, resulting in many being promoted to different positions at FRCSE. She can be her own worst enemy when it comes to keeping employees, she said. Yet the sense of pride she feels at seeing people achieve their goals and do more to help the warfighter, more than makes up for the loss.


“Some of them don’t even realize the potential they possess,” Crump said of her coworkers. “I love showing them they can do better than the goals they’ve set, and then seeing them reach those higher goals is wonderful.”


Like Crump, Dora Quinlan was a NAVAIR Mentor of the Year at FRCSE, taking home the inaugural award in 2013.

Quinlan was the FRCSE business operations director before she passed away from cancer June 14, 2016, leaving behind a son, Derek Pierotti, a daughter, Lacey Pierotti and her husband, Wes Quinlan.


All three were on-hand to witness the presentation of the inaugural FRCSE Dora Quinlan Mentorship Awards to Phil Hatzitheodorou, a composites engineer, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Fuel 1st Class Maques D. Pete of FRCSE Detachment Mayport, supervisory electronics engineer David Rolke, quality assurance specialist Marilyn Brazell and senior aerospace engineer Lindsay Colligan.


“Dora Quinlan thought everyone had potential, and some people needed help recognizing their potential – that’s what Dora did as a mentor,” said Tina Testa, a business management specialist and former colleague of Quinlan at Fleet Readiness Center Southeast. “Dora was a mentor to everyone officially or unofficially.”


FRCSE Executive Officer Capt. Trent Demoss emphasized the example Quinlan set by her willingness to help her colleagues, offering advice and simply being willing to listen.


“Whether you call it coaching, teaching, counseling, mentorship or just caring enough to listen to someone, it’s important,” DeMoss said. “It is the bedrock and foundation of FRCSE.”


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FRCSW H-60 Facility Increases Seahawk Throughput


NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Ca -Since opening its new H-60 Seahawk maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Building 325 just over one year ago, the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) helicopter program has gained operational efficiencies and staffing improvements that will send about 10 more aircraft to the fleet every year.


The intention to consolidate H-60 MRO operations from Buildings 306, 308, 310 and 333 began with a ceremonial ground breaking in December 2012.


“Our quality assurance (department) was in Building 378 and our production control was in PS 154. We were literally spread out on the northern half of this island,” said Deputy Integrated Project Team H-60/MQ-8 Lead Travis Cooper.


“Simple things like writing discrepancy work orders would go from Building 306 to 154 to 378 and back to 306. It would take a day to get one written; or half a day if I walked it through personally. Now, all of those groups are here so this procedure can be done in minutes.”


Cooper noted that multiple work orders may be required per aircraft, and that each undergoes the same processing route. Work orders are created and submitted as flaws or damages are discovered. They are not held for processing in groups.


Since transferring to Building 325, H-60 staffing increased by approximately 25 artisans, primarily aircraft and sheet metal mechanics, while the examiners and evaluators staff (E&E) doubled from seven to 14.


“The biggest reason for that is because in Buildings 306 and 308 we had a single-piece flow system, so aircraft went from one disassembly cell to wash, to one E&E cell to repair, and back to assembly,” he said.


“Now, we basically have two lines working: So we have two disassembly cells, two E&E cells, sending them over to particle media blast (PMB) every three days, and coming to eight repair cells and five assembly cells versus three.”


The H-60 MRO program applies the Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP) to assess and ensure the structural integrity of the MH-R and MH-S models of the H-60 airframe.


Under the IMP, aircraft undergo a Planned Maintenance Interval-One (PMI-1) or 2 cycle. PMI cycles are performed in two, three-year intervals. PMI-1 is done at the end of the first three-year cycle, and PMI-2 the following three years.


PMI work is divided into six sections or zones of the aircraft: zone one covers the aircraft cockpit; zone two, the cargo bay; zone three, the aircraft’s fuel system and where the tail cone attaches to the fuselage; zone four covers the tail cone; zone five, the tail pylon and tail rotor; and zone six, the upper deck of the helicopter and main rotor.


Cooper noted that not all zones of the aircraft are covered during both PMI cycles.


The primary difference between the two cycles is that during PMI-2 the helicopter’s engine and transmission are removed, the rotor heads and transmission serviced, and the aircraft is stripped and painted. Conversely, zone three (fuel system and its hoses) is serviced during PMI-1 but not PMI-2.


As the PMI induction begins, the identified zones of the aircraft are disassembled and the E&Es inspect the zones and components for damage and wear. The E&Es also determine the scope of repairs, and assign depot-level work to FRCSW, and organizational-level (O-level) work to the aircraft’s squadrons.


Degraded avionics equipment, like the aircraft weapons replaceable assembly, is returned to the squadron for replacement.


“The induction is to get the baseline to determine what condition the aircraft is in. When we’re ready to return it we’ll do an acceptance test, and if there’s anything different, we’ll know that it was something that was affected while the aircraft was here — like if one of our artisans accidently drilled through a wire we’ll be able to catch that and repair it,” Cooper said.


Depending on the condition of an aircraft, PMI processes within the cells strive to achieve specific turn-around times (TAT).


“We’re on a six-day TAT,” Cooper said. “Disassembly and E&E gets six days, but repair gets 24 days because they have the number of cells that afford them that time. Repair has eight cells, because their workload is dependent on the discrepancies that are found.”


Although out of the scope of the IMP, in-service repair (ISR) work is handled on major components, like cracked transmission beams, under a separate work order. ISR work in the H-60 program totaled approximately 14,500 manhours last year, Cooper noted.


In addition to IMP and ISR work, modifications and upgrades are also sizable portions of workload.


One current modification is the replacement of an outside beam from aluminum to titanium to stop a crack near the forward portion of the cabin door on H-60-S models.


“The first time these cracks were discovered was a few years after the aircraft was received,” Cooper said. “A temporary repair was made, and now a titanium beam is being added. Each of these mods requires about 3,000 manhours and we’re scheduled to do seven of them per year.”


An avionics systems upgrade modification is also underway in the program. It requires about 800 manhours per system, he said.


Between the IMP, ISRs and modifications, Cooper said that work in H-60 program is projected to exceed 250,000 manhours this year.


“Our goal will be to get out 65 IMP aircraft a year: or 200 aircraft every three years,” he said.


The H-60 program will soon relocate its hard-point and laser alignment fixture from Building 333, install additional shelving for storage, and setup 16 new wraparound stands to enhance artisan safety and protect the aft side of the aircraft transition section during servicing.


With 110,627 square feet of building to work with, all that stuff should fit.


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Davis: Marines Making Aviation Readiness Headway


By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent


WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps is making progress in fixing its chronic aviation readiness problems, but needs to do a better job in getting spare parts to the flight line and is working to provide the right skill levels in its enlisted aviation maintainers, the Corps’ top aviation leader said Feb. 1.


They also are working to reverse a “spike” in ground mishaps, the relatively minor accidents resulting from mistakes in moving aircraft or in maintenance, which can remove a plane from flight status for an average of 42 days, said Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the deputy commandant for Aviation.


“That’s what I call negative maintenance. We’re fixing something we didn’t need to fix,” he told a defense writers breakfast.


The shortage of spare parts means the maintenance Marines must take parts off another aircraft.


“That’s called cannibalization. That’s draining our Marines’ ability to do the job,” he said. “They’re doing maintenance three times,” because they have to replace the cannibalized part later. “The No. 1 thing we can do to fix our readiness problem is put more spare parts on flight line.”


The Marines have been conducting readiness reviews of their different aircraft types, which emphasized the spare part problem but also identified a lack of enlisted maintenance personnel with the right experience and skills, particularly in supervisory roles.


Although there are enough Marines in aviation maintenance, “we did not have the density of Marines with the skill sets we need to make our readiness goals,” Davis said.


So a new occupational specialty code has been created that will allow service leaders to track and retain the specialists they need, and have started advanced training programs for maintenance supervisors.


“These are the very best Marines we’ve ever had. We need to give them the tools and the supervision they need to be successful on the line,” he said.


After completing four reviews and addressing the problems those revealed, “we’re doing bit better in readiness,” Davis said. “Last year, we predicted we would be up 45 airplanes” in flight ready status. “We made 44. This year we project we’ll have an additional 33, so we can stay on track for our readiness model.”


Overall, Davis said, “we’re on track to meet our basic aircraft readiness goal for 2019 in all our operational formations.”


But even with the concerted effort to get more flying hours from the legacy aircraft, Davis said the long-term solution to the readiness problem is buying more new aircraft.


“Some of our tactical air squadrons are the oldest in the Department of Defense. That old metal has to be retired,” he said. “Bottom line, we have to recapitalize.”


Davis said the Marine Corps’ role in the study Defense Secretary James N. Mattis ordered to compare an updated F/A-18 Super Hornet to the F-35 involved only the four squadrons of F-35Cs that will be bought to go into the Navy’s carrier air wings. The Marines are buying mostly the short-takeoff F-35Bs.


Without prejudging the results of the study, Davis said, “my sense is, we’ll probably validate the imperative to have a fifth-generation aircraft out there.”


Asked later what would be the effect of not buying F-35s, he said “there are scenarios where we just couldn’t go,” because the Super Hornets lack the Lightning II’s stealth and electronic warfare capabilities.


Davis said he does not know why the Marine MV-22 supporting the Navy SEAL raid in Yemen suffered a hard landing and had to be destroyed. But he insisted the Osprey does not have a problem with hard landings and noted that the accident caused only one slight injury of a Marine onboard, where helicopters’ hard landings usually cause more serious casualties.


The Osprey is “the safest assault support aircraft we’ve ever had,” he said.


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Top Marine aviator: ‘If I don’t get more money, I’ll stop flying in July or August’


By: Jeff Schogol, February 1, 2017


Without more money from Congress, the Marine Corps will have to stop flying aircraft this summer, the head of Marine aviation said on Wednesday.


“If I don’t get more money, I’ll stop flying in July or August,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.


For now, Marine pilots are flying more hours than Congress has funded with a temporary budget deal and Marine Corps leaders hope lawmakers will provide more money before the end of the fiscal year in September, Davis said.


“We’re 8 percent shy of what we need to fly for our flight hours,” Davis said Wednesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast. “We’re flying to our plan right now. So I would say we’re running hot on our budget for our flight hour goals.”


If lawmakers pass another temporary spending measure for the entire fiscal year 2017, which would leave funding flat at 2016 levels, the Marine Corps will run out of money for flight hours, Davis said. However, he also assumes “the country has got more sense than that,” he said.


“I’m highly confident that no one will ask the Marine Corps to stop flying,” Davis said.


But without more money for flight hours, senior Marine commanders would have to decide which squadrons could continue flying, he said.


“If we had to do it, we’d propose that the operational forward deployers would keep flying and the guys in the back of the bench wouldn’t,” Davis said.


However, having non-deployed Marine squadrons stop flying would further exacerbate the service’s aviation woes, Davis said. The Marine Corps has not met its goal for flight hours since 2012, and that means Marine pilots today are not trained to the level they need to be, he said.


“They’re flying safe airplanes; they personally are safe; but their proficiency and experience at dealing with things that go wrong is not where it needs to be,” Davis said.


Crashes of Marine aircraft increased toward the end of 2016, and ongoing reviews show there was “nothing wrong with those airplanes,” he said.


“We’re not seeing a materiel failure component to those aviation mishaps,” Davis said. “It’s mainly human error.”


In one incident, a “perfectly serviceable” AV-8B Harrier went into a spin and crashed in September off Okinawa while taking part in a training exercise, he said.


“That bothers me because I grew up flying Harriers,” Davis said. “We don’t know why it went into a spin. The airplane is supposed to be very spin-resistant. I’ve never spun a Harrier and I’ve got 3,300 hours or something flying a Harrier.”


The plane was flying with extra fuel tanks, so Davis has ordered that Harriers not carry such tanks during air combat training in case it was a factor in the crash, he said.


The antidote for human error is having pilots fly more while enforcing standards and “doing things by the book,” Davis said. But the Marine Corps faces an ongoing lack of spare parts that keeps many aircraft on the ground, he said.


“The No. 1 thing that we can do to help improve readiness on the flightline for the Marine Corps is to fix our spare parts problem,” Davis said. “Across the Department of the Navy, we do not have the spare parts we need — it’s not just the Marine Corps; it’s the Navy as well — to sustain our airplanes and maintain our readiness goals.”


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Breaking Defense


Navy Commits To High-Tech Catapults, Arresting Gear For All 3 Ford Carriers


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.


WASHINGTON: Despite congressional doubts, years of delays, and almost $5 billion in overruns, the US Navy has now locked in two controversial high-tech systems for all three of its Ford-class supercarriers. First, a week ago, the Navy announced a review of alternative systems had decided to stick with General Atomics’ Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for all three flattops. Today, General Atomics announced it had also won a $533 million sole-source contract to install its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) on the third and final ship, the USS Enterprise.


The three carriers won’t be entirely identical. In order to cut costs, for example, the Kennedy (CVN-79) and Enterprise (CVN-80) won’t have the high-powered and high-cost Dual Band Radar used on the Ford (CVN-78). (DBR was originally designed for the ill-fated DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyers). But the three ships will share the crucial new systems that define the Ford carriers as a class, replacing hard-to-maintain hydraulics and steam with electrical power:

  • new nuclear reactors to produce more power;
  • a new electrical system (including problematic Main Turbine Generators) to distribute all the energy;
  • EMALS to launch planes off the deck without steam catapults; and
  • AAG to help planes land without hydraulic arresting gear.


In the future, the Ford‘s enhanced electrical system should also be able to accommodate upgrades like defensive jammers and laser weapons more easily than the older Nimitz class. Here and now, however, because Ford is the first new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers since the USS Nimitz joined the fleet in 1975, adding all these revolutionary technologies in a single ship has had rocky results.


Testing on EMALS is basically done, according to the Navy, but AAG continues to lag behind. Given AAG’s developmental troubles on the Ford, the Navy had considered going back to the old-school Nimitz-class Mark 7, Mod 3 hydraulics for the Kennedy and Enterprise. But doing so would have been a big step backward for the entire design philosophy.


The combination of EMALS to launch and AAG to land is meant not only to be easier to maintain than the old steam and hydraulic systems, but also to be able to keep up a higher pace of operations in combat. Whether that will work in real life is something we won’t know until the Ford begins operational testing at sea.


Navy Commits To High-Tech Catapults, Arresting Gear For All 3 Ford Carriers


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Defense One


Trump Says He Fixed F-35 Program in Two Months


By Marcus Weisgerber


Less than two months after Donald Trump tweeted that “The F-35 program and cost is out of control” and less than a week after Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered a review with an eye toward cost-cutting, the president says the project is “now in good shape.”


“The F-35 fighter jet — a great plane by the way, I have to tell you, and Lockheed is doing a very good job as of now,” Trump said Monday at a meeting with small business leaders at the White House. “There were great delays, about seven years of delays, tremendous cost overruns. We’ve ended all of that and we’ve got that program really, really now in good shape, so I’m very proud of that.”


In reality, the F-35 has been doing better for about half a decade now. Consider that between 2001 and 2011, the program was delayed six years and blew its budget by $13 billion, according to Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the general in charge of the project. Since its restructuring in 2011, the program has hit many of its milestones, though Bogdan said last month that the program might need $532 million more to complete flight testing and the Pentagon’s testing office warned of possible delays to come.


And the cost of the jet has been declining rather steadily for five years, a Defense One analysis found. Since 2007, the Pentagon has ordered nine batches of F-35s. The price tag of the F-35A — the version flown by the U.S. Air Force and most allies — has fallen with each order. For example, F-35As in the seventh order cost 5 percent less than those in the sixth order, and so on.


But when officials from Lockheed and the Pentagon sat down in 2015 to negotiate a price for the ninth batch, they were unable to come to terms. Some 14 months of negotiations led, in November, to a take-it-or-leave offer from DoD: 57 planes for $6.1 billion. Lockheed has until Tuesday to appeal the contract to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.


Last Tuesday, Marillyn Hewson, the firm’s chairman, CEO and president, was asked on a quarterly earning call whether Lockheed would take legal action. “We are just going to continue to look at our options,” she said.


But she also said that negotiations on the 90-plane tenth batch were nearly their conclusion. On Tuesday, Hewson said Lockheed and Boeing were “close to a deal” that would see the F-35A’s price tag drop below $100 million.


It appears to be this deal that Trump is claiming to have shaped.


“I got involved in that about a month ago,” Trump said this morning. “There was no movement and I was able to get $600 million approximately off those planes.”


That would represent about $6.6 million per plane, or about a 6.5-percent drop between the ninth and tenth batches.


As president-elect, Trump met with Hewson twice, one at his compound in Palm Beach, Florida, and once at Trump Tower in Manhattan. The aerospace CEO also was at the White House one week ago when Trump met with business leaders.


Trump also suggested that his December invitation to Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet” had helped bring the cost down.


“I appreciate Boeing for coming in and competing and now they’ll be competing during the process for the rest of the planes, because there are thousands of more planes coming. We have a lot of planes coming,” he said this morning.


What did Lockheed have to say about this? Here’s a company statement: “We appreciate President Trump’s comments this morning on the positive progress we’ve made on the F-35 program. We share his commitment to delivering this critical capability for our men and women in uniform at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.”


Meanwhile, Trump’s new defense secretary has ordered up a pair of reviews on the program. Last Thursday, Mattis ordered Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to “oversee a review of the F-35 program to determine opportunities to significantly reduce the cost of the F-35 program while meeting the requirements.” Mattis also ordered a review “that compares F-35C [the naval version] and F/A-18E/F [Super Hornet] operational capabilities and assesses the extent that the F/A-18E/F improvements (an advanced Super Hornet) can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative.”


Boeing has been working on a souped-up version of the F/A-18, one that can fly farther and faster than the ones flown today by the Navy.


The Pentagon plans to buy 2,443 F-35s. So far the U.S and its allies have ordered a total of 373, of which Lockheed has delivered 66, with the same number slated for delivery this year Hewson said.


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The National Interest


The Disaster That Is Guaranteed to Happen if the F-35 Was Ever Cancelled


David Axe


U.S. president Donald Trump hates the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. And that could mean trouble for his Trump’s own plan to massively expand the U.S. Navy. If Trump manages to cancel the F-35, as he has hinted he might try to do, the Navy won’t have fixed-wing planes to operate from a likely growing fleet of amphibious ships.


Trump first attacked [3] the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 while campaigning in October 2016. “I do hear that it’s not very good,” Trump told a radio host. “I’m hearing that our existing planes are better … [Test pilots] are saying it doesn’t perform as well as our existing equipment, which is much less expensive.”


The real-estate developer, who has no political experience, redoubled his assault on the long-in-development F-35 shortly after narrowly winning the U.S. electoral college and thus the presidency in November 2016. Trump lost the popular vote to rival Hillary Clinton by an unprecedented three million votes. The archaic U.S. presidential-election system awards electoral votes based on popular votes in each state, giving large states less relative power than small ones.


“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted to millions of followers in December 2016.


Trump is correct that the F-35 is expensive and late. Even the least expensive F-35 variant, the conventional-takeoff “A” model, costs no less than $100 million per copy, tens of millions of dollars more than an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-35 program is several years behind schedule, but the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force have finally declared their first squadrons to be combat-ready.


A heavily upgraded F/A-18 could, in theory, replace the F-35A and the aircraft-carrier-compatible F-35C in some missions — and at potentially lower cost. But the Super Hornet could never replace the vertically-landing F-35B jump jet variant that the U.S. Marines and the U.K. military are buying for their amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers, respectively.


The nine Wasp and America-class assault ships that the U.S. Navy operates on behalf of the Marines lack the space, catapults and arrestor gear they would need to operate a traditional carrier plane such as the Super Hornet. The Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, while big enough for conventional planes, are being built without catapults and arrestor wires as a cost-saving measure.


The older Anglo-American Harrier has long been out of production and is quickly dwindling in number in U.S. service. The Royal Air Force retired its last Harriers in 2010. That leaves the F-35B as the only fixed-wing fighter in production anywhere in the world that is compatible with the American assault ships and the British carriers. If Trump cancels the F-35, he will effectively eliminate at-sea tactical aviation in the U.S. Marine Corps.


For its part, the Royal Navy would have to spend potentially billions of dollars retrofitting cats and traps to its two flattops.


The potential problem will get worse. The Trump administration wants to expand the U.S. combat fleet from today’s roughly 280 vessels to no fewer than 350. Anticipating Trump’s willingness to push for a bigger fleet, in December 2016 outgoing Navy secretary Ray Mabus formally outlined [4] a naval expansion that, among other additions, would boost the amphibious force from 31 ships to 38.


The Navy has not specified exactly which types of amphibious ships it wants to add to the fleet, but historically the sailing branch buys amphibs in sets of three — one carrier-style assault ship, a landing dock tailored for cargo and another landing dock optimized for carrying vehicles. It’s possible the Navy could buy two more assault ships as part of the planned fleet-expansion, growing the current nine-vessel assault-ship roster to 11 vessels.


With F-35s on their decks, these assault ships would represent a powerful complement to the Navy’s 11 bigger supercarriers with their squadrons of Super Hornets. Without F-35s, the assault ships — no to mention the Royal Navy’s carriers — could become glorified helicopter-carriers.


Trump has not signaled how he will square his attacks on the F-35 with his simultaneous plan for a bigger fleet.


By contrast, U.S. senator John McCain — an Arizona Republican who is chairman of the senate’s armed services committee and a vocal critic of Trump — has called on the Navy to pursue what McCain called a “new high/low mix” in its aircraft carrier fleet, building more assault ships in the vein of the current America class not only to support amphibious assaults, but also to relieve the bigger supercarriers of some of their “day-to-day” missions.


To fill out the flight decks of these new “light carriers,” McCain proposed [5] that the Marines buy more F-35Bs — and faster — starting with an extra 20 F-35Bs over the next five years.


It’s unclear who will get their way — Trump, the Navy or McCain. The opening move in the clash over the F-35 will likely be Trump’s first defense-budget proposal, which the administration could release as early as the spring of 2017.


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Breaking Defense


Mattis Orders Air Force One, F-35 Reviews As Trump Opens Door To $60B DoD Budget Boost


By Colin Clark


WASHINGTON: After weeks of uncertainty and mounting evidence that only larger deficits were the path to a significant boost to the US military, President Trump has signaled the fiscal spigots will be opened in the interests of a larger and more capable US military.


“I think it’s significant in signaling this is a priority among the alphabet soup list of growing priorities for the new administration and Congress,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, says in an email. “But it still doesn’t change much the trajectory of his overall federal budget under (OMB director nominee Mick) Mulvaney.


“What it does mean is that the buildup will ultimately get done (mostly through debt-financing) after this Congress bangs its head against the wall of the forthcoming ideologically radical budget and watching it fail at a later date,” Eaglen said. Eaglen had predicted Trump’s policy choice earlier and made clear in the piece what his choices are.


Sen. John McCain appears to have helped prepare this battlefield, slamming Trump’s pick for OMB director, Mike Mulvaney, earlier this week for voting against military spending as a member of the House. Although McCain has said he might oppose Mulvaney’s nomination, it now looks as if the House member will squeak through.


Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s favorite Fox broadcasters, asked the president last night how important a balanced budget is to him.


” I want a balanced budget eventually. But I want to have a strong military. To me, that’s much more important than anything,” Trump said, leaving little room for him to be misinterpreted.


The president has trumpeted how he is going to help control the costs of weapons and he told Hannity: “And I’m negotiating the price of airplanes, can you believe this? But I understand airplanes. I’ve bought a lot of airplanes.”


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis today ordered complete program reviews of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force One programs, carefully noting in the memos that both are “critical acquisition” programs.” Appearing to indicate that Air Force One is the lower hanging fruit, Mattis said Deputy Defense Bob Work will execute the review with an eye to “substantially reduce the program’s cost while delivering critical capabilities.” The F-35 review is being done to “significantly” reduce costs.


During his interview with Hannity, Trump claimed he “cut off hundreds of millions of dollars off one particular plane, hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time. It wasn’t like I spent, like, weeks, hours, less than hours, and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And the plane’s going to be better.” It’s unclear whether Trump was pointing to the F-35 or to Air Force One, both of which he has lambasted for high costs. It is clear that Trump’s public pressure on Lockheed Martin, builder of the F-35, appears to have them more publicly amenable to agreeing to lower costs. But we’ll have to see what LRIP 10, the next batch, looks like.


Of course, the F-35’s cost has been dropping for several years now, and Air Force One is only budgeted for $170 million in spending so far, although the program is estimated to eventually cost $3.73 billion. The main drivers for Air Force One costs are, of course, survivability and communications. The Secret Service plays a major — if usually unacknowledged — role in setting the requirements for the plane and for the helicopters used to ferry the president and his top aides. So if the president really wants to control costs for Air Force One, he may need to push the people who protect him to lower their sights.


Mattis Orders Air Force One, F-35 Reviews As Trump Opens Door To $60B DoD Budget Boost


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Defense News


Trump Signs Order Promising a ‘Great Rebuilding’ of the Military


By: Aaron Mehta


Updated 1/27/2017 at 7:24 PM EST with the text of the executive order.


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order that will lead to what he called “a great rebuilding” of the military.


The directive, signed during the commander in chief’s first visit to the Pentagon, calls for reviews of readiness capabilities, as well as formal looks at the nuclear and missile defense portfolios now in the hands of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who was officially sworn into office by Vice President Mike Pence during the visit.


During a brief speech, Trump described the American military as “the greatest force for justice and peace and goodness that have ever walked the face of this earth. Your legacy exists everywhere in the world today where people are more free, more prosperous, and more secure because of the United States of America.”


As a result, Trump said signing what he called an “executive action” would lead to “developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform, and I’m very proud to be doing that.


“As we prepare our budget request of Congress, and I think Congress is going to be very happy to see it, our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace. And we do want peace,” he added.


A draft of the order was published online Thursday by the Washington Post. As part of that draft order, the Pentagon was directed to conduct a 30-day review of the US-led effort to defeat the Islamic State group, and to evaluate how prepared the American military is to deal with near-peer competitors like Russia and China. It also instructed the Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop — within 90 days — an emergency budget amendment to boost military spending this year, and for Mattis to update and revise existing budget plans for fiscal year 2018, the Post reported. Finally, the draft requested Mattis develop a new national security plan by next January, which would include plans for modernizing the nuclear forces and developing new missile defense capabilities.


However, the final version of the language, released late Friday, varies from the draft version.


In the actual signed version, the focus is on improving readiness long term. The language ordering updates to the FY18 budget on a timetable are no longer there, instead replaced with a broader order to “develop levels” for 2018 in conjunction with OMB. The report now orders a full-up Nuclear Posture Review and a Ballistic Missile Defense Review, which will be led by the department.


Perhaps most notably, the final language does not include any mention of the Pentagon drafting a nationals security plan, instead directing the secretary to develop a National Defense Strategy “upon transmission of a new National Security Strategy to Congress.” Loren DeJonge Schulman, a former official at the National Security Council and the Pentagon, now with the Center for a New American Security, said that language was a particularly odd aspect of the draft.


“While a new administration giving written guidance to the Department of Defense on its strategy and budget isn’t unprecedented, the draft EO is both strange and problematic,” Schulman said earlier in the day. “It’s a major case of putting the cart before the horse. Telling the department where and how to invest before the administration conducts any review of its strategy isn’t just bad process, it’s bad for the military.


“Written commander’s intent is nothing new at DoD, but giving this text force of law for the executive branch is overkill – the content of the EO could just as easily be conveyed to Mattis as marching orders. But an EO gives it a public (and press) component since they have to be published on the federal register,” Schulman noted.


More specifically, Schulman raised questions about the order for the Pentagon to develop a national strategy rather than the NSC.


“Buried in the text is a huge issue: tasking DoD to develop a national security strategy,” she said. “The National Security Strategy is a report transmitted by the president to Congress and normally drafted by the president’s national security staff. Assigning the pen to the Pentagon is unprecedented and bizarre.”


That issue now appears to be a non-issue, although other questions have now arisen. In particular, it is unclear at the moment exactly how much the executive order can do about the budget — a view the House Armed Services Committees Democrats made clear in a tweet during the event, when it sent out a note that “Fun fact: Under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the exclusive power to rebuild the military.”


Another potential challenge with the order is the expected clash between what the Pentagon wants and the views of Trump’s nominee to head OMB, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.. Mulvaney strict budget hawk who is widely expected to refuse budget increases unless they are balanced out with cost cuts from elsewhere in the government, and defense analysts generally agree that for Trump to reach the heights of military spending he seeks, he will have to increase the defense budget significantly, something that could be a challenge under Mulvaney’s strict guidelines.


Todd Harrison, a budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also notes that pushing out any sort of budget move out of OMB in the near term may be difficult, as Mulvaney’s views are likely to clash with those of the professional staff who have been there a while — requiring Mulvaney and his team to go back and redo much of the preliminary work that has been laid down already.


Before signing the executive order on Friday, Trump convened an hourlong meeting with Mattis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, who runs the National Guard Bureau. They were joined by Pence and the president’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, a defense official said.


The meeting was run by Trump and focused predominantly on his desire to “accelerate the defeat of ISIS,” the official said. The president set no deadlines, however, and “the chiefs did most of the talking,” the official added. The discussion, he said, was “very cordial.”


“I think everyone’s in agreement that we want to defeat ISIS quickly,” the official said.


The leaders also discussed the president’s focus on rebuilding the military and improving its ability to respond to contingencies.


At the meeting’s outset, Trump as provided with a briefing on the military’s geographic combatant commands, which oversee US military operations throughout specific parts of the world, the official said. “And then there was an interesting discussion on the role of the National Guard, and how they work for state governors.”


The full text of the executive order is as follows:


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including my authority as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I hereby direct the following:


Section 1. Policy. To pursue peace through strength, it shall be the policy of the United States to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces.


Sec. 2. Readiness.


(a) The Secretary of Defense (Secretary) shall conduct a 30-day Readiness Review. As part of this review, the Secretary shall:


(i)            assess readiness conditions, including training, equipment maintenance, munitions, modernization, and infrastructure; and

(ii)           submit to the President a report identifying actions that can be implemented within the current fiscal year and that are necessary to improve readiness conditions.


(b) Concurrently with the Readiness Review, the Secretary, together with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shall develop a Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget amendment for military readiness, including any proposed reallocations.


(c) The Secretary shall work with the Director of OMB to develop levels for the Department of Defense’s FY 2018 budget request that are necessary to improve readiness conditions and address risks to national security.


(d) Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall submit to the President a plan of action to achieve the levels of readiness identified in the Secretary’s Readiness Review before FY 2019. That plan of action shall address areas for improvement, including insufficient maintenance, delays in acquiring parts, access to training ranges, combatant command operational demands, funding needed for consumables (e.g., fuel, ammunition), manpower shortfalls, depot maintenance capacity, and time needed to plan, coordinate, and execute readiness and training activities.


Sec. 3. Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces.


(a) Upon transmission of a new National Security Strategy to Congress, the Secretary shall produce a National Defense Strategy (NDS). The goal of the NDS shall be to give the President and the Secretary maximum strategic flexibility and to determine the force structure necessary to meet requirements.


(b) The Secretary shall initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review to ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.


(c) The Secretary shall initiate a new Ballistic Missile Defense Review to identify ways of strengthening missile-defense capabilities, rebalancing homeland and theater defense priorities, and highlighting priority funding areas.


With reporting by Andrew deGrandpre of Military Times.


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Marine Corps To Plead Case For More Aircraft, Spare Parts, Maintenance Crews


National Defense, Feb. 1 | Sandra Erwin


The Marine Corps’ aircraft fleet — notably the V-22 Ospreys — is being flown to exhaustion in operations around the world. Crews are overextended, spare parts are in short supply and there are never enough airplanes to satisfy commanders’ demands.


On the upside, Marine aviation readiness has improved in recent years, although there is still a deep hole to climb out of, says Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commandant for aviation.


An executive order that President Trump signed last week requires Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to complete a 30-day examination of many aspects of military readiness, including equipment, facilities, maintenance, personnel and training.


As far as Marine Corps aviation readiness is concerned, Davis boils down priorities as follows: Increasing the number of aircraft that are available to fly, stocking up on spare parts and boosting the ranks of enlisted maintainers. He also intends to push the case that the Marine Corps needs more money to buy new aircraft.


“Old metal has to be replaced,” Davis tells reporters Feb. 1 during a roundtable meeting.


The Marine Corps’ tactical fighter fleet of F/A-18s and Harriers is among the oldest in the entire U.S. military. And the V-22 today is the “most operationally in demand airplane in the Department of Defense,” he says. “We can’t get enough of those. We can’t turn the maintainers and the crews fast enough, or produce them fast enough to meet combatant commanders’ demands.”


As the Pentagon gears up for a new budget submission — which in theory will be shaped by the 30-day review that Trump directed — the Marine Corps should have an opportunity to argue that “we do need to recapitalize,” says Davis. “It’s imperative for the Marine Corps to get out of the old and into the new.”


Mattis issued new budget guidance that is broken down into three parts: a fiscal year 2017 budget amendment proposal, a fiscal year 2018 president’s request and the 2019-2023 out-year plan.


Davis says more resources will be sought for spare parts, flying hours, maintenance crews and procurement of new aircraft. “The president is putting pressure on the people who build our airplanes to come up with a better price,” he says, in reference to Trump’s individual meetings with the CEOs of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. “We’ll see what they come up with.”


In a separate review, the Defense Department will investigate whether an upgraded F/A-18E/F Super Hornet — to be proposed by Boeing — could replace the F-35C naval variant of the joint strike fighter. The Marine Corps intends to buy 353 vertical takeoff F-35Bs and 67 F-35Cs. Davis would not comment on the review but says he expects it to validate the current requirement.


With regard to the V-22, Davis suggests the Marine Corps might seek to increase the approved requirement of 460 aircraft if the Trump administration directs the Pentagon to grow the Marine Corps.


The Corps is still acquiring new V-22s from the manufacturer — a Boeing and Bell Helicopter consortium. The Osprey is now the service’s primary personnel carrier, so a larger Corps would require more airplanes, Davis says.


Under a five-year contract signed in 2013, the Navy is buying 99 V-22s: 92 MV-22s for the Marine Corps and seven CV-22s for the Air Force Special Operations Command. Davis noted that the Marine Corps has “loaned” 12 Ospreys to the Navy for carrier-based operations but expects to get those aircraft back. The $70 million apiece aircraft became operational in 2007 and has become a workhorse.


The upkeep of the V-22 fleet has been complicated because over the years units have customized and modified aircraft with various subsystems for different missions. The current fleet of nearly 300 V-22s includes 77 different configurations.


The Marine Corps has funded a program to begin standardizing the oldest 129 aircraft to match the more modern versions. “It makes it hard to maintain readiness when you have to maintain 77 variants,” Davis says. The Marines also intend to continue to invest in aerial refueling kits that turn Ospreys into in-flight refueling tankers.


The upcoming budget proposal will reflect Marines’ growing concerns about aircraft maintenance and spare parts. A spike in mishaps in recent months has been blamed on human error but a number of ground-based accidents were the result of maintenance blunders, Davis says. “Each ground mishap takes airplanes out of the service for weeks.”


Because there are not enough spare parts, maintainers cannibalize other aircraft. “That’s negative maintenance,” says Davis. “Attacking those things will allow us to have more airplanes on the flight line. … The best thing we can do for readiness is fix our spare parts problem. Across the Department of the Navy, we do not have the spare parts to sustain our aircraft.”


One bright spot is Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), the unit responsible for the transportation of the president of the United States, vice president, cabinet members and other VIPs. The squadron operates MV-22 Ospreys that have a 94 percent full-mission capable rate. Only 3 to 4 percent of the squadron’s aircraft experience a shortage of spare parts, compared to 10 percent in other Marine Corps fleets. “I’m challenging the 10 percent non mission capable rate,” says Davis. “What airline plans on not having parts for 10 percent of its flying machines.”


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Marines: Ground incidents continue to plague aviation readiness


By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 1, 2017


WASHINGTON – The number of ground accidents for Marine Corps aircraft has more than doubled over the last five years, costing the Marines thousands of flying hours due to broken aircraft, the head of Marine Corps aviation told reporters Wednesday.


Class C ground incidents – when an airframe sustains $50,000 to $500,000 in damage — include damage caused while towing planes on base, or by maintenance errors, said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of Marine Corps aviation.


According to data provided by the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va., Class C mishaps rose from 12 in fiscal year 2012 to 29 in fiscal year 2016. The Class C mishaps are the third-most damaging type. Class B incidents occur when an aircraft sustains $500,000 to $2 million in damage and leaves crew with significant injuries. Class A mishaps occur when an aircraft has sustained more than $2 million in damage and leads to a permanent disability or death.


The Marines have said that budget cuts and a continued demand for its planes for air operations have led to the increases in all types of incidents.


In the last five years, Davis said, the Marine Corps estimates it has lost 1,023 flying days to Class C ground mishaps that have taken planes off flying status.


“Each and every one of those on average – those ground mishaps — takes an airplane off flight schedule for 43 days,” Davis said.


The Marine Corps reviewed the last five years of ground incidents to identify reasons behind the increase, Davis said. Besides the pace of operations and budget cuts, one of the key takeaways was that a lack of spare parts was contributing to the number of maintenance error incidents.


“They’re making mistakes in some cases because they are cannibalizing parts off one airplane to go make another one,” Davis said.


Davis said the service will press for more spare parts Feb. 8 when it goes to Congress to discuss readiness levels and budget needs.